Sunday, 12 January 2020

Best wishes for 2020

Welcome back, everyone.

Christmas is by now a pleasant memory, some of us have already settled into the habit of writing the date correctly-

2020 is here and we are ready to work...

One of the disadvantages of training alone is that there is nobody but you to keep your mind focused on the job.

I have found that I have a lot on my mind this year. Nothing special- we all do at some time.

And- it does affect our training.

The funny thing about it is, however, that you need to leave all thoughts and cares outside the dojo when you are training, right? Well- this is why I love martial arts. Once you learn to properly focus on your training, you learn to give yourself a break from all those work problems, family issues and whatever is waiting to eat you outside the dojo.

Giving your mind that break actually helps you better to reach a solution for whatever problem it is with which you may be dealing at any given time.

Thing is- life is always going to have problems. That does not mean that you should live your whole life dwelling on them. Well- if you are a professional fighter your training may very well be the source of your worries and then it means that you need to give yourself a break from that...

Well- I hope you are all fully rested and ready to tackle this year!

By the way-

Some of you may know that this coming Chinese New Year shall be the Year of the Rat (some say "Metal Rat", but I don't get why...).

That happens to be the year in which this special little lady was born.

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She is going to be by my side as I make the best of this year for the two of us.

Whatever goals you have- I hope you have a good journey.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

2019 is at an end

This is usually the time when we take some time to look back to the highlights of a year.

This year I became aware of the end to three things approaching.

The first thing that I have seen coming to an end is this blog.

Well- I am not done yet, but I can see that I am running out of things to say here. :D

I used to announce my December Break from blogging at this time of the year, but this is the first year in which I have stopped writing new posts for a long time to come.

Still- the Wenhsiuquan Facebook Page got started this year. You might find some new posts from me or some shared posts from other martial artists on it from time to time.

Be assured, though, that I may stop blogging sometime, but I will never stop training.

The next thing of which I have seen the end is single life. :D

In this case I have not just seen it coming. It has arrived. 

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Xiaowei and I have been dating since July now. This in itself is a huge change for me. One of the things I like about her is that, just like I have a morning workout with my martial arts she has a morning workout with Yoga.

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Before she showed up my friends in the online communities were the only people with whom I spent my spare time.

Having a real person to talk to and spend time with is something that has been long overdue.

With this came the third thing...

My days of living here with my parents are coming to an end.

In martial arts nowadays it is alright to see yourself graduating from one belt to the next. Life n itself, however, has its gradings as well.

I have been training for a long time to get the courage and strength to face life itself. These changes promise to put that to the test for me.

It is a challenge that I gladly accept, since I have been wanting somebody like Xiaowei in my life for an immensely long time now.

Those of you who are taking a break from training this December- enjoy it. Yes- taking breaks is part of training too. :D

Let's prepare to meet 2020 with loads of courage and enthusiasm!

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Leg Takedown Defense/ Defense against Tackles

Hello, everyone. :)

Recently I have begun teaching someone. As is often the case- this student did not approach me to learn a martial art, but needs to learn to defend himself.

Well... self defense is only about a third of what Wenhsiuquan is all about, but I am always happy to share what I know in order to get the word out there.

A question that came up in our conversations during lessons was what to do when somebody grabs your leg. It is not the first time I had to answer this question and I think we have the Gracies to thank for that.

You see- long before they cake and ruined it for everyone schoolyard fights and barroom brawls had pushing, punching and maybe the odd bit of wrestling. Nowadays, however, a lot of kids watch MMA takedowns and now choke holds and leg takedowns get seen a lot...

So... where a lot of us used to learn and rehearse responses to punches, kicks, front grabs and wrist grabs- we now have to know defense against leg takedowns as well.

Before I get to show you my responses to leg grabs- let's look at what Bruce Lee had to say on the subject back in the 60's. Many of his fans will tell you that he was way ahead of his time with his approach to martial arts.

Now- we know Bruce was not fancy. He did not mess around with fancy or complicated techniques and it made him very popular with people who wanted to learn quick, simple self defense techniques.

He had an answer for leg takedowns as well. Well... He had a couple... As could be expected- they were not fancy at all. Here are three that I was able to find:

Well- Bruce certainly did not mess around... I think a lot of kids out there would be very reluctant to go for the legs if the thought of getting kicked in the face entered their heads. If you think about it- dropping your guard and charging face first towards your opponent actually seems really stupid. This simple response to the attack establishes that it can be very stupid indeed.

This is definitely illegal in MMA! Well... any martial artist can tell you that the risk in using a sports technique in a real fight is that your opponent may counter it with an illegal attack. You know for instance that those high roundhouse kicks some of you like to throw around expose your nuts, right?

Here Bruce just realised that is opponent is actually giving him his head- and he goes for the hair!

Still think leg takedowns are cool...?

Now this may be allowed in MMA fights, but it looks really dangerous. Just fall down while doing this and you may break your opponent's neck!

The scary thing that we have to admit about these responses is that none of them require much training to pull off. At least- they are good to know.

So- what have I brought to class today?

Well- you know I love my Taijiquan and I love my Karate. I am also a big fan of Sensei Iain Abernethy. So- my contributions look like this.

If my opponent's head is high I will block the grabbing arm with a downward parry and scoop it up in an underhook while I push against the opponent's head or neck with my free hand or forearm. The beginning of the technique closely resembles the double block at the beginning of Shotokan's Sochin, doesn't it.

With one arm under control and leverage against the head or neck I keep a low stance to root myself and twist my body to send the opponent on his way. What is really cool is synchronising this movement with your opponent's forward momentum. The more force he uses to charge in, the further he stands to fly...

"But-" you say "many brawlers nowadays want to go lower than that..."
Yes- they want to go for that double leg takedown, don't they?

Well- if you have two arms grabbing you- you can choose to scoop up either one while pressing against the neck with a lower parry (gedan barae for those Karate Kids out there...). Once you are firmly locked together- just twist the hips and...

Neither of these techniques would work without Karate's basic stances of course- and I cannot stress the importance of stance enough when it comes to clinchwork and grappling.

After all- you wnt to be immovable as a rock while you swing your opponent around like a rag, don't you?

That is it for now.

I may not be writing for this blog as regular anymore, but I certainly still train. I also keep an eye on my page. If you feel like chatting, feel free to comment or inbox me. :)

Until we meet again- train well!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Triggered out of dormancy

Hello, everyone!

Just when I thought that my break from this blog was going to be a long one, some smartass went and posted this on Facebook:

So- I thought it necessary to say a couple of things about an attitude that seems to be spreading among people who consider taking up martial arts.

Well... It seems that Greta Thunberg is a good way to get people triggered about anything, but I would most likely not have even begun writing this post if it did not have something to do with martial arts.

First of all- my view on criticizing any style of martial art has been made known in an earlier post, along with my reasons for holding that view. To save some new readers the trouble of searching through my older posts- let me just say that I am against it. Okay- for my reasons you are free to search through my older posts...

Secondly- I have found a correlation between people saying any technique "does not work" and unwillingness to train.

It was only in very recent times (by which I mean after 2010) that I have noticed more and more people labeling martial arts as ineffective. What is easy to forget is that many of these martial arts have been around for literally centuries. They were developed through experience and have survived this long because somebody considered them worth passing on.

Well... It is already well known that not all martial arts are practiced or taught with fighting in mind.

I guess, though, that the person who created this meme was probably talking about combat effectiveness. That is usually the first standard by which the public measure a martial art, isn't it?

Well... If you like- you can get pitted against other students twice a week and figure out for yourself how to beat them in a fight. That would not really be teaching then, would it? Sure- sparring is important, but you won't learn anything about it if you do not know at least some of the underlying principles.

You see- I know the difference between Japanese Jujitsu and Brazillian Jujitsu. It is about the same as the difference between Karate and Kickboxing.

Where the older martial art has formalised exercises, drills, basic techniques and kata, the other one has less standardised techniques, no kata and lots of sparring.

I have gained enough experience on getting my ass kicked while learning traditional martial arts. Back then in the 90's, however, we did not rage quit and say that it was a crappy style and that it did not work. No- we found out why our attacks did not work, why our blocks were too late and why I was not able to get my opponent into that arm-bar. 

Nowadays- Wenhsiuquan contains techniques from a number of old styles, that all work. If you use them in the wrong way or at the wrong time, however, they won't work. And- it is not only Wenhsiuquan that works this way. It works this way with every martial art under the sun!

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Striking Form: Movement No. 6- Hammer Fist and Cannon Punch

Hello, everyone and welcome back! :)

We are finally here...

The last movement in the last form to be discussed on this blog. Well- at least for the time being...

I had lots of fun creating these gifs and will most definitely use them in future posts. Thank you to those who have followed this series, thus far. I know many of you are far away and we may not be able to meet in person. You are, however, welcome to email me or inbox me with any questions or comments that you may have.

Well... on to today's move...

In the book the movement starts with an outward block like this...

From there you can assume that you have a firm hold of the opponent's attacking arm when you move in with the hammer fist.

After striking downwards with the hammer fist the fist shoots diagonally upwards with an uppercut or as we call it here- a cannon punch.

I must admit that I am using more of a downward forearm strike than a hammer fist in the above demonstration. The downward blow to the opponent's extended arm is meant to have a sudden shock that either dislocates one or more of the arm's joints or perhaps even breaks bone. If none of that happens the shock should at least cause the opponent's posture to be broken- if only for a third of a second. That time when the opponent's body is affected by your strike is the time during which you have no threat from the opponent at all. This, however, is when you deliver the finishing blow.

The uppercut here hits the opponent with his own lower teeth.

A good sign is seeing the head rocking backwards when the blow hits. If this movement is sharp enough the opponent can be knocked out. 

From a grappling perspective a blow like this can raise an opponent's energy and disrupt his rooting. This is then an excellent opportunity for a takedown...

In the second application I have intercepted a weapon attack by stepping n with the block. I still hold on to the opponent's attacking arm when I strike his carotid artery or collar bone. A broken collar bone takes one hand out of the fight.

The uppercut here does the same as in the above application. I can punch the stomach or ribs as well.

Both blows connect as you sink your weight into the ground. Do this right and your hammer fist will definitely break your opponent's posture and set him up for that uppercut- regardless of where the hammer fist hits...

-This brings us to the end of this series on forms in Wenhsiuquan.

Right now- I am actually at a loss for what to write about next...

Send me your suggestions on what you wnat to read more about in the comment section of either this post or on its links on Facebook, Twitter or Qzone.

In the meantime I will start a new blog that is not martial arts related at all, but still something I have been wanting to do for a long time now. It is called "Wrongs to Write" and features me and some other characters fixing some of fiction's mistakes.

Until we meet again- stay well and enjoy your training! :)

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Striking Form- Movement No. 5: Downward Pressing Block and Cannon Punch

Hello, everyone.

Today we are at the second last movement in the Striking Form.

The movement is shown like this in the book and I do admit that those are not very good photos to illustrate the movements involved. In the Form this movement takes you back to the place from which you have started. For this reason my back is turned towards you in the photos.

Well... you would still get the movement if you read the text, but we do like pictures better than words, right?

Well... here is a demonstration of what the movement is supposed to represent.

The downward pressing block is not unusual and can be found in a number of Asian martial arts.

I got tired of defending against straight punches in my gifs, so I had my shadow clone try to shove me.

As you can see, I (the one without the shirt) ride the oncoming force as I step diagonally backwards. Had this been Push-Hands practice I would probably just have pushed back, but in this movement we consider a situation out of which you want to get as quickly as possible so-

the opponent is not going to get a push. Instead he is going to get his two rows of teeth banged against each other with disorienting force and maybe, just maybe, he is going to bite off a piece of his tongue in the process.

The Cannon Punch is the most recognisable technique of Xingyiquan for me. Xingyiquan specialises in the development of explosive penetrating force in one's punches and the Cannon Punch is an excellent way for students to practice all the elements of a powerful Xingyi punch.

Unlike Karate punches there is no hip rotation to help with this blow. What we do have, however, are the following:

1. A lowered centre of gravity;

2. A relaxed upper body at the beginning;

3. Gathered energy from the block;

4. A very sharp forward body movement;

5. Harnessing of this momentum and putting it into the punch;

6. An explosive discharge of energy.

Elements 3, 5 and 6 are internal elements and only you would know in most cases whether you have mastered them or not. Until you have mastered these internal elements it is important to note the following mechanical aspects of this blow:

1. The fist shoots diagonally upwards to channel the forward momentum from the body's movement. If you just punch upwards you could do so without bothering to move your body.

2. When the punch shoots into its target the body simultaneously drops its weight onto the lead foot while the trailing foot is light and free. The lead foot is flat on the ground at this point while the trailing foot maintains contact with the ground through its ball.

3. The fist clenches and the arm stiffens upon impact. At this point you should actually be able to feel the force shooting through the arm and out the fist in a sudden jolt, but give it time. You will feel it when you do.


That is it for this post.

Next week's post features the last movement in this form. 

See you then. :)

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Striking Form: Movement No. 4- Reverse Punch and Vertical Back Fist

Hello and welcome back, everyone.

Today we look at this movement in our Striking Form.

Shaolin students would probably call it "Black Tiger and Stopping Fist". Karate students may say I stole this from Heian / Pinan Nidan (although I have recently learnt that some styles actually call it Pinan Shodan...). 

A demonstration of the move is here below:

When we attack first it is better to attack a target that is opening up than one that is closing. We know that by now, right?

We are all familiar with opening up the body with a jab to the face. As the opponent's guard raises his ribs open up and we can take the shot.

Well- now we have a way to open up the face...

Unless the opponent sidesteps one of two things will happen. Either he will get hit or he will block the punch to his midsection. If he retreats in a straight line he will get hit anyway...

Now... if the punch does connect the opponent is likely to drop his arms in response to the pain. That opens up his nose to get broken with the vertical backfist.

If the opponent blocks the punch his hands will be lowered and the way for the back fist to the opponent's face will be cleared.

Attacks that draw an opponent's defense from one direction to the exact opposite are very effective.

This is why I recommend that we pay attention to what our opponent does when we attack instead of just blindly flying in with a flurry of punches.  The trick is to get the opponent to move and to use that movement against him. This is much better than just swinging and hoping for the best, isn't it?

What kind of combinations do you like to use to set an opponent up for your strike and then to take it?

I 'll look for your answers in this blog's comment section and on my Facebook page.

Until next week- Stay well and train hard! :)