Sunday, 30 November 2014

So... What have you been up to?





2 things I have been meaning to do, but never got around to until now were: 1- to design a logo for Wenshiuquan and 2- to record myself doing a traditional kata from Shotokan.

I had a great time training this Saturday and this morning was devoted to an extra long Taijiquan and meditation session.

Stay well and train hard. :) 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

So you've blocked... Now what?


I'm sure a lot of readers will remember how Daniel-San spent days painting a fence, waxing a car,  sanding a floor and lacquering a wall in order to learn how to block. 


Fact is- I loved my blocks as a Shukokai white belt. Despite having been shown the simple slapping block and pressing block for kumite I wanted to use uchi uke and all those other cool blocks.
And yes- I love Bassai Dai too.

Later on (in my case as 1st kyu brown belt) I realised that my obsession with blocking was hurting my karate. Sure- I could deflect blows, attempts to grab me and the odd finger poke at school, but still sucked at kumite.


The main reason for this was simple. Blocking itself does not do much (unless you are a master who is able to break someone's arm with that block- people like that exist!)- Blocking has to be followed by a counter-attack! I'm sure many readers have also come to this realisation early on in their training or were taught this universal truth.

The other truth I wish to share however is the following:

Blocking, ducking, slipping, side-stepping and circling are not meant to get away from an attack, but past it.

In all fights your adversary can leave you alone, attack or defend against your attack. The first option is his choice. The latter two are yours.

Multiple blocks are good if you can manage them, but trying to go through a real fight by seeing how many attacks you can avoid is asking for trouble. Any altercation has to be stopped at the earliest opportunity possible. Harmless opponents can be subdued with a throw and arm lock or just an arm lock. More dangerous opponents should be incapacitated with something more severe.
In order to reach this objective you do not want to have to move back into range after an attack has missed and another attack is already on the way. Yet- you do not want to be a sitting duck either.    

Another purpose of a defensive technique is to set the opponent up for your attack. The opponent is open for attack at that exact moment when he is either busy launching his own attack or just before he launches the next one- or before he recovers from the last one. Your block should help you to create these openings and to use them.

For more info on how to train to use these tactics you are welcome to email me at boshoffm3@gmail.com or to just comment to this blog.

Enjoy your training. :)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

What will stances help you? More than you think...





Somehow the first thing that seems to disappear when a style goes full-contact is traditional stances.

Yes- I also know the story where Bruce Lee punched the martial arts master and told him that he does not pull or push. Some of you may have seen that as a master's blessing to let go of an odious part of your training.

Well- fact is: MMA has taught us that punching and kicking only gets you so far. (I am still not a fan of MMA, but you can learn a great deal from watching MMA fights.) Further I trust that many will agree with me that the adversary that is probably going to test your self defence skills is not necessarily going to be in your weight class. Further- not all attackers punch, kick or swing a weapon at you. Many will push, grab and maybe even pick you up.

In my post on footwork I have already touched on the subject on how stances help us move faster in a fight. What else do stances do for us?

1. First of all- proper stance gives techniques power. They enable us to hit harder and to push and pull our opponents- even if they are heavier than us.

2. Then they also reduce the amount of targets available.

3. They provide secure footing- whether it be on a slippery surface or an uneven one.

4. Lastly (or last I can think of now) they assist the proper channelling of qi into techniques.


Okay- I admit that not all these benefits (if any) are obvious benefits of using traditional stances, but that is because stance training to me goes beyond knowing the Japanese/ Chinese/ Korean name of the stance and making sure your toes point the right way.

You have to practice the stance with the job it has to do in mind. Whether it be moving forward, sideways or back, punching, throwing, escaping a hold or something that I cannot think of you have to be sure that you will get the job done. 

Many of you already practice a martial art and have been taught the proper way to perform these stances. I do not feel the need to elaborate thereon here. If anyone reading this blog is not studying any martial arts yet, but is nevertheless curious about the difference a stance can make they can message Marthinus Boshoff on Facebook or email me on boshoffm3@gmail.com.


Train well! 

O! I remembered one more benefit! Stance training strengthens the legs!

:D      

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A look at footwork.

For the light, mobile fighting stance which is mainly on the balls of the feet we can thank Western Boxing and Bruce Lee.  


This may not be the popular fighting stance in your dojo, but Chinese fighters did very well using it.


And we have teachers saying that you can't move fast enough from this stance...

I remember my days as a white belt (and even up to Brown Belt) obsessing over my footwork. Like many karateka we were taught a fighting stance that did not feature in any of our kata. Legs were kept bent and ready to spring forward, but we never leapt towards or opponents- or maybe we did, but very very low above the floor...

At the time I made a point of retreating very quickly, but when the time came to counter-attack I was not so quick at reaching my target. Also- I often got hit on my way to attack.

By the time my fighting improved, however, my opponents found themselves getting hit while they have not yet even finished attacking. They found my attacks to be quick and my withdrawals equally speedy. 

The reason behind this was simply a change in fighting stance. 

Despite what you are being told and how you feel, the distance you need to move in a fight is no further than the space between your feet in a full forward stance. If you feel the need to do more your timing is out- or your opponent's reach is enhanced by the length of his limbs or a weapon. In the instance of an opponent with enhanced reach, however I'd rather take two steps toward him than trying to reach him in a single lunge.

Three types of fighting stance exist. Below is a brief discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of each:

1. Light even-weighted stance:

This is the kamae we find in sports karate, the light, bouncy stance of the boxer and the bouncy fighting stance that we see in competition Taekwondo from time to time. Users of this stance tend to drive off the rear leg to shoot towards their targets. They also do not remain static, but are constantly moving to confuse their attackers.

Arguably- the mobility, speed and reach cannot be denied, but my number one reason for not liking this stance is the lack of control it inherently displays. If you want to know what I mean- try fighting with it on a slippery surface. You'll find yourself doing the splits in no time. Another reason I don't like it is that it's is very vulnerable to grappling attacks and sweeps as it is really not stable.

Tip from me- if you encounter a bouncy opponent the best time to hit him is that brief moment in which his bounce is at its highest point. :D 

This way of fighting also uses a lot of energy. It tires one out.


2. The single weighted stance:

In kungfu we talk about the tiger stance and false legged stance, but other variations exist in other fighting arts as well. 

The stance works by having the body's weight in one foot while the other is kept light. This foot is usually moved in the direction the fighter wants to go before he shifts his weight onto it. We actully find this way of movement in a lot of known katas. Muay Thai fighters use a stance like this to enable them to launch quick front foot kicks.

Why I like to use this stance is that it enables swift movement when it is needed, but gives you control over your own momentum. You can use this stance to fight on a slippery surface.

The only drawback of having your weight on one leg is that it is not the best position from which to strike. It is basically asking to be swept, thrown or pushed off balance...

You may want to start from this stance to get into striking range, but you do not want to be in this stance when you are already there- or when your opponent has come within range...

Xingyiquan exponents might argue that the following step- which entails shifting body weight onto the leading foot and taking it off the rear foot enhances the power of one's push or punch. They would be right, but bear in mind that if such a strike misses an alert Aikido exponent or Jujutsu fighter you will find yourself in trouble.


3. The flat footed stance.

Weight distribution may be 60/40 either way or 50/50. This type of stance is found in all known katas and forms in martial arts.

It is the stance in which you want to be at the very moment you hit your opponent. Throws, joint locks and pushing also rely on the stability provided by this stance. 

I like the balance this stance provides. 

The drawback of this stance is that it feels heavy and you can't "fly like a butterfly" as Muhammad Ali would have it. The power it provides, however, is what makes this my choice of stance for the street. 


Now- Wenhsiuquan does not use that bouncy ball of the foot method of getting into and out of fighting distance or to sidestep- so how do I do it then? The answer is simple: If I need to move quickly from a long stance I simply move into a short stance. That means for instance that if I a in a forward stance and have to avoid a straight punch I just shift weight onto my rear foot to land into a cat stance and slap the fist aside. Now- to counter in that moment after the fist has missed its mark, but before a second attack can follow I extend into a forward stance again to shoot my own fist into its target.

Even in the Tao Te Ching is written that one is not strong when standing tiptoed. This universal law is demonstrated well enough in footwork.

With what I told you here you ought to be able to not only move backwards and forwards, but also to sidestep. I'll just mention that I would not sidestep if a simple hip rotation will also cause an attack to miss its mark. :)

If you have any questions about this way of fighting you are welcome to ask me at boshoffm3@gmail.com.

Train well! :)        


It is almost ready




The first sample of my first book on Wenhsiuquan came fresh from the printers yesterday. 

Although I am very excited to see an actual printed copy I have to make sure that the book that goes out to the public looks like the type of thing I want to release into the world. This is about my martial art after all...

In due time I'll post the link to a separate page on which the book can be ordered. At the moment I am certain that it will be available in South Africa. Because I have no PayPal account- or know of any other way to receive money from overseas yet- availability overseas is going to be very limited.

Instead of writing about the entire style in one go I have decided to first write a separate book on each aspect that I feel deserves specific attention.This first book is about pulling and pushing techniques. That means it will explain the mechanics of throws and joint locks amongst other things.

Other books to follow are going to be about kicking and striking, blocking, meditation and mental fitness, qigong and lastly training methods. 

My main objective with these books is what I have had with this blog as well- to make martial arts knowledge available to those who seek it. Anything I withhold from my books or from my blog is intended to be passed on to students who wish to study long enough under me to develop these skills.

Keep well and enjoy your training.

Any questions about Wenhsiuquan, martial arts training or self defence can sent to boshoffm3@gmail.com.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Goodbye to an extraordinary person

Wolfgang Goldner

I moved to Nelspruit with my parents in 1995.

Back then we were 17. Back then as well I was fanatic about martial arts. On my second day in school I found Wolf giving a someone a quick demonstration of his techniques.

Now- there will always be karate kids that get made fun of. I think it is safe to say that nobody would have dared to take this guy lightly...

At the age of 17 his speed and technique was lightyears ahead of that of his peers and even those older than him. In 1995-1996 he was definitely the one guy that you would not have been able to beat up.

Although Wolf had the ability to literally kill a grown man with his bare hands- he was one the least aggressive people I know. Not that it helped much- He still scared the living shit out of me.

Wolf never told me what style he practised, but what he showed me was that a lot of black belts out there are not ready to face an opponent like him. Inwardly I am grateful for the fact that the mugger, drunkard or sparring partner one might face is most likely not going to be as strong, fast and skilled as he was. Whenever I would feel complacent about my training the thought of facing this guy spurred me on to train harder.

After finishing school in 1996 I have not heard from him again.

Today, however, I was informed of his untimely and unexpected passing.

Rest in Peace. You will live on in our hearts and memories.