Saturday, 26 December 2015

Now I have a short sword. Ho ho ho. :D

When I was 16 I have found this passage in the Book of Five Rings. 

And that amounts for as much as what I know about fighting multiple opponents and double weapons today.

My Saturday morning workouts always include a single bokken for katana practice. Shairley has however recently given me a shorter bokken to match the black one I have. (I have a natural colour varnished one as well). So- Now having the katana and wakizashi I was eager to get see how I handle the weight of a long sword being held in only one hand.

For those who don't know- This posture is Happo Biraki ("Open on eight sides"). This is a posture suited for being surrounded by multiple opponents.

One thing that really feels "wrong" about this entire exercise is that the two weapons are not balanced like my sai or tonfa

Juji Dome- Cross Guard.

The katana was further designed to be a "hand-held guilotine"- its cutting ability being optimal when both hands work together in a push/pull motion to snap the blade into its target. Now- holding this weapon with one hand that advantage is gone. If I look like I am struggling in the video- it is because I am. I am really not used to using swords like this. Well- we know what happened with Gohan when he trained with the Z-sword, right? So I won't complain.

The principles behind the Happo Biraki posture and the guidelines on fighting multiple opponents still work very well for unarmed fighters. And still- I benefit from weapons practice for amongst other reasons- that it provides excellent strength training.

I have not heard any escrimadors making any comparisons between their style and double weapons of other styles. We have the forum now and I know at least two double weapon fighters in it. So- what pointers do you have, guys?

Saturday, 19 December 2015

More than 10 000 views before Christmas! :D

I was about to write my last post for this year when I logged in and found that the views for this blog has gone over 10 000.

Yes, Vegeta. That is indeed over 9000...

Thank you to everyone who have read and commented on my blog this year. 

This year some people at lest got a glimpse of what Wenhsiuquan has to offer. Between the books and the blog I have managed to document a large amount of its principles.

What lies ahead for next year remains to be seen. The prospect of having to move to a new town has recently reared its head. What I am going to want to do next, however, is demo videos! Let's see who I find to help with that next year. 

One of the most interesting encounters I had while working on the books this year was Chris. He would have been the perfect partner for demo videos. As fate would have it, however, he and his wife Angela have returned to China. 

:D Then there was Thabo- my first student. Aiya...

If anything he has gotten me started on spending some of my spare time on teaching. 

Before I sign off for the holidays I want to thank the members of Martial Arts Forums on Google+ and Martial Arts with Colman. We are separated by thousands of miles, but that does not stop us from communicating. What I have learnt from you I continue to keep with me and nurture. I admit that the kung fu and karate people get more attention from me, but I am glad to see that all martial art styles in our community are alive and well. I hope to see lots more posts from you guys.

Until next year- train well and have fun! 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Let's talk about music

I was actually going to write a post about Musashi Miyamoto and challenge you to take a leaf out of his book and test it at the dojo (in kumite) until the news reached me about Baby Metal's new song that got played for the first time yesterday during their epic as always performance in Yokohama yesterday.

The song is playing in the background as I am typing now.

You can give it a listen here.

Now I have decided to tell you about the other music I have discovered with strong martial arts themes.

I have never known about Sia until a video got posted on my G+ timeline that featured Mahiro Takano (we all know her and love her, right? I still want to see a grown up do kata like her...). Don't care much for the song, but seeing Mahiro in action is always inspiring.

Now- on to something that is more to my taste. Anime fans will remember the Ninja Drama, Bassilisk and its moving opening theme by Japanese Metal group Onmyouza (maybe you never knew who the band was, but that opening song was catchy.

A Youtube search for material to put on my J-Rock Facebook page has brought me to this video of them. I have found at least one more video with a strong Samurai theme.

All-time favourite bandof mine- Wagakki Band has made a Samurai themed video for their song Ikusa (which means "War" in English.) The band members crossing swords in the video do not appear trained, but I loved seeing the kusarigama featuring in a music video. I love this song and this band's sound is something out of this world. Really good to listen to while your neck is recovering from all the headbanging...

In Akatsuki no Ito- from the same band- we see drummer Wasabi and guitarist Machiya reaching for their katanas to chase off a menacing CGI dragon. This scene matches the emotion of the song itself and these people's instruments never fail to move me. :) Absolutely beautiful...

Back to Baby Metal! So far I have seen Su posing with a sword- and brandishing a tanto- mic in their video for Megitsune- and I have seen Moa looking kawaii as hell in her karate outfit and showing her Sakura Gakuin classmates her Kendo skills. I have not seen Yui showing any interest in martial arts, though.

Recently I have found this photo of Suzuka's older sister Himeka posing with a katana as well. This was on the day before the new song has reached me.

As I conclude this post I want to play out with this timeless classic that has never failed to get me to train with the utmost enthusiasm. Take it away, unknown Chinese dudes! -

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The two books on my shelf

I have started reading about martial arts at the age of 9. Back then I was told that a book will not be of much help in my training. Later, at 14, I joined my first dojo and I was told to leave the books because it will not help.

Funny thing is- there were times when the dojo was the laboratory in which I have tested the theories presented to me in these books. I soon realised that one can simply not expect to find all the knowledge in the world in one place.

I am sure many of you will recognise these two books in the photographs. One was a Christmas gift in 2000 that had changed the way I practice for good. The other I have bought to satisfy my curiosity about how Bruce Lee would actually fight.

In the martial arts community I have found the jocks and the nerds just as you would in High School. I strive to be a balance of the two.

The insights a good book have to offer might just be that little something extra that you have never even known to look for. :)

Somebody was kind enough to share this most valued of texts for free on the internet. It is not a lot of reading. (I finished it in 3 days when I was 16). Give it a read and tell me what it has done for you.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Training with Whis-San

I have been enjoying Dragonball Super for quite a while now.

One character who is experiencing tremendous changes for the better at the moment is Vegeta. This proud Saiyan Prince has been plagued by being surpassed by Goku for years now. Now- we see a new Vegeta that is not only stronger than Goku (for the time being-lol), but who has changed a lot with the help of their new teacher Whis.

The first huge change is that Vegeta got humble. This humility started with him begging Whis to take him as a student. Whis takes the whole humility thing even further by having him do household chores. 

This may seem weird and comical, but pride is actually a huge obstacle in one's progress in the martial arts. One of the martial art's master's greatest assets is the ability to do what is needed without hesitation. This requires firstly that one can clearly perceive what needs to be done and then the ability to act on that knowledge.

What gets in the way of most of us doing that is our thoughts, emotions and hang-ups that come along with it.We are only free to fully express ourselves in our art when we have gotten rid of all this garbage.

Another welcome change in the fighting style of both of these fighters is that the habitual yelling and powering up during fights are now being put to a stop. Whis teaches Vegeta and Goku to only raise their power levels within their bodies so as not to alert their opponents. I think we can all relate to this. Very often we see students that try harder by resorting to longer movements that require more effort and energy and that energy ending up being wasted in unnecessary movements. To reach the level where one's movements are efficient one needs to unite body and mind and one of the first steps to that is to calm one's mind.   

Goku got warned not to be too relaxed, though. :D Things are not alright because we assume it is. They stay alright because we are ever vigilant. Learn to accept this and cultivate the habit of calm alertness and you shall find your life becoming a lot easier. 

One of Goku's illnesses that is getting treated by Master Whis is his impatience. This got done- apparently without Goku's knowledge- by having him and Vegeta change the sleeping Beerus' bed sheets without waking him up. The only way to do this is to wait for him to roll over in his sleep. It must be mentioned that with Beerus rolling over includes levitating. At this stage the two Saiyans thought that Beerus is unaware of their presence, but I suspect that he knew very well that he knew all to well of their presence. Those attacks in his sleep just seemed too deliberate... 

Whis is not muscular and does not seem athletic at all- Yet we find him blocking punches with his fingers and evading attacks from two attackers at once. It is interesting to find that he is also Beerus' teacher. I think I mentioned this in my post about Resurrection F... 

How popular is this show among your students? If you have a lot of anime fans in your dojo they are bound to know about this show. If your students do not yet know about this show- or if you have not seen it yet then you can get started by watching the episodes here:

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Without the weights

Kicks are exhausting... :D

In this short video kicks make up the largest part of the attacks I throw. Whether I would actually fight like that is another matter altogether.  Hand and elbow strikes may be easier than kicks, but they burn their share of calories. :D

I post these videos to show what my attacks would look like when I am letting fly without the weights.

The first video shows me performing a bunch of frontal attacks.

Because I like practicing multidirectional attacks as well I have recorded myself attacking in various directions as well.

I trust that the rest of you are also training hard.

Have a great week ahead.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Moa Metal martial arts girl

I love Japan's Metal phenomenon Baby Metal.

I have found some photos that seem to indicate that Moa Kikuchi is actually interested in martial arts!

Wonder if she knows Mahiro Takano...

The Gordon Ramsay of Martial Arts :D

Okay- I shall admit that his accent is not even nearly Australian, but his regular use of the F-word in his videos distinguishes him from other internet masters the same way Gordon Ramsay's language makes him distinguishable from all the other chefs on the Food Channel. :D

Most of the videos I have seen of him demonstrate street fighting moves with a strong Wing Chun basis. I loved this one Taijiquan video I have seen of him today, though.

Master Wong's no-nonsense approach to teaching appeals to those students who do not wish to embark on an academical exercise in learning martial arts and will suit those who are primarily interested in learning martial arts for self defense.

I have subscribed to his Youtube channel. Below are some links to videos of his. :)

Sunday, 8 November 2015

My thanks to those who share.

One of the enduring elements of the martial arts is mystery. Hell! Even within the world wide martial arts community there are rumours and speculation.We may argue that it serves a purpose in that it ensures that the martial arts remain alluring to a lot of us.

One thing that I find annoying in others and completely detest in myself, however, is ignorance. Thanks to our generous colleagues on social media, however, we do not need to be ignorant. Below I have provided links to videos and posts from some of the most knowledgeable and generous martial artists that I have encountered on the internet. Although my preferences lie with Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan and Korean arts I have even included a link to an Escrima video.

Back in my club karate days I have found that the amount of self-study that you do plays a huge part in shaping the martial artist that you will ultimately become. That is why I advise that it is importnat to respect your teacher and adhere to what you are being taught, but also to take the responsibility of your further development upon yourself by seeing for yourself what the world has to offer.

Have a great time learning and my we never stop training! :) Osu!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Don't be too smart

"Martial arts are for smart people" I have heard some laypersons say.

When you actually start sparring at a dojo you start realising that your intellect is not of much use, though. 

Sure- knowledge plays a huge part in your success as a martial artist, but we do not just seek to accumulate knowledge, but also to develop our minds. This is done by subjecting ourselves to training that does not only challenge us emotionally as well as mentally.

I have realised at a very early time in my training that a lot of my performance has suffered not because I have not given it enough, thought, but actually because of thinking too much. We as humans are capable of thought and it is wonderful, but it also interferes with our intuitive responses.

While you are thinking you are not actually seeing what is right in front of you. A lot of details that can be sensed intuitively get drowned out by the noise in your mind that you have created yourself.

Regarding acting on what you perceive I shall only say that thinking and talking about the appropriate response is all good and well during training, but in the actual moment you will need to switch that all off so that you can act.

That said about thinking...

Now- about overriding your learning ability-

Your smart self will tell you that you cannot fight a person who is much bigger than yourself. It will quickly give you previews of having your face bashed in, your bones broken and all manner of painful images and sensations.

Chances are that some of the above may come from actual experience. Those experiences have most likely taught you to avoid fighting- pretty much how falling off a horse teaches you not to get on a horse again.

Well- from a lazy point of view avoiding these situations may be correct, but we gain a lot more if we take the current situation, look at it, and see what opportunities it presents. Shut that nagging voice up inside you so that you can see when that huge fist is coming for your face. Ignore those premonitions of doom so that you can actually topple him when he is off balance. And when you are on the horse- pay attention to your being on the horse instead of inviting another fall with your unpleasant memories!

When you have accomplished this mastery over your own mind and emotions you will not really become stupid, but rather become balanced. :)

  Have a great week ahead, everyone!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Weighted vest training.

I am a big fan of training with weights. It is just a pity that we don't get these ankle and wrist weights much heavier than what they are.

There is something left to design for someone. :D

I wanted to show you how I perform Bassai Dai with this equipment. You can see what came of the first attempt at filming it here:

My second attempt looks like this:

The heaviest part of this whole thing is the vest. I am not really fast while wearing it. I guess I could use simpler attacks to be faster, but then again- I believe in training hard and fighting easy. :D

If there is one thing for which I never stop being grateful it is the opportunity to train. Right now- at the age of 37 my training has survived moving to two new homes, 6 jobs and restrictions on which part of the yard it is okay to practice in. For a while I even managed to keep dojo days open.

Don't stop training, people!

Have a great week ahead!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Why I don't rely on pain and fear- at least not too heavily...

This video came up on Facebook:

Those of you who have managed to train yourselves to ignore pain will know how these guys manage to take so many blows to the groin.

This actually reminds me of a lesson I have learnt as early as in high school.

Some of you might remember my post in memory of Wolfgang Goldner. It was in 1996 and I had a PR baton (over here we call it a tonfa as well, but I saw that people in the US use the term "PR". Can somebody be kind enough to spare me the googling and comment the meaning of this abbreviation? :D)

At that time I was very happy to show off this really cool arm-lock that I got from an issue of Terry O'Neill's Fighting Arts magazine. In it this guy called Massad Ayoob demonstrated self defence techniques for policemen (and there was also an article about how proper martial arts technique could have made the Rodney King incident less of the fiasco it was back then). 

But I am digressing now...

So- I show Wolfgang this move and asked him to grab me by the front of my shirt. Ever fearless (and ever ready to show that attacks don't work on him...) he grabs hold. I hooked the PR's side handle over his forearm and made the lever with my forearm as the magazine showed and pressed down...

Nothing happened. Wolf was just standing there with a blank expression. That's when I realised that the technique had no actual leverage over a person's body, but just caused a lot of pain that drove a lot of people downward. From that day on I have spent my time working of attacks that either caused actual damage or that could actually manipulate the opponent by sheer leverage and not just pain.

Sure- fear and pain are excellent deterrents and help to keep the peace by discouraging the majority of human beings from attacking us, but the minority that do feel up to the challenge are likely not deterred by pain and do not fear us to begin with.

On the reverse side I can also tell you that there are going to be a large number of attacks to which you become immune once you have mastered your own fear and pain receptors.

Train well, everyone!