Sunday, 29 March 2015

Now it's Heian Sandan's turn... And- My book is going to get printed!

I am happy to say that my second book will soon be printed- in my hands. :D Hope you guys enjoy it.
Meanwhile- I still enjoy training.

video
I was very glad to get a nice response to my last post that I decided to share my work on this kata as well.
The karate form is from Shotokan. Lots of us know it. It starts with a series of blocks, goes into that rotating escape from a wrist hold and at the end there are those two punches for someone grabbing your from behind, right?

video

Now... The kungfu version was tricky. Initially I thought that I'll find everything I need in Wingchunquan, but I have never found a rotating escape in any Wing Chun forms. So- I borrowed "Snake Shoots Across Valley" for the spear hand. Kept the escape and for those two attacks to the rear I added two doses of "Tiger Bites it's Back".

video

Now- Taijiquan seems to interchange nicely with karate for some reason...

I inserted "Snake Creeps Down" with a rotation after seeing it done this way in "Man of Tai Chi" (awesome movie, btw). For those two punches at the end karateka may frown and ask what the hell that is, but Taijiquan practitioners- especially from the Chen Style and the 24 Step Combined Form- know "Punching Under The Arm". Well- Taiji people, in karate we punch over the shoulder in that situation and you seem to prefer going for the ribs...

Thank you for reading this blog and thank you for your comments.

Hope you all have a wonderful week. 

Train well!  

Friday, 20 March 2015

Giving Bassai Dai a makeover

I am not going to pretend to be the first one to do this. In fact- if you have seen more than one style of karate you'll find that different versions of a certain kata often exist in different styles (and some styles have kata that others won't).

I decided, however, to adapt one of my favourite Shotokan katas so that it can be practiced in two of my other favourite martial arts- Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan.

With each video I'll tell you a bit of how I experience each art:

  1. Bassai Dai in Karate Mode:


video

I was told that "Bassai Dai" is Japanese for "Storming the Fortress". It was my favourite kata in my Shukokai days and I like the Shotokan version as well.

When I began learning karate I had to learn the basic blocks and punches. Each punch and block had its own Japanese name and also each stance. Stances and blocks/ attacks got combined later on, but the lessons for white belts were broken up into these bits which made the technique easy to learn.

Karate people can list each block, punch and stance found in this kata.


2. Bassai Dai for Kungfu (Maybe now we should call it Daliang Kanfa)


video

My kung fu training did not start with learning stances, punches and kicks. Instead- the movement as a whole- meaning the stance, body movement and limb movements- each had a long, poetic name which did not often make sense. Karate people might not recognise the kata now, but anyone studying a traditional Shaolin form will recognise movements like "Poisonous snake shoots Venom", "Double Dragons play with Pearl" or "Crane drinks beside Stream". Also- the Chinese word for kata is "Taolu". 

I tried to translate "Bassai Dai" to Chinese using Google Translate. What I got was "Daliang Kanfa" which translates to English as "Cutting Down Large Quantities". Let's take poetic licence and say that it is actually "Striking Down a Large Number", shall we?


3. MyTaijiquan Version of Bassai Dai (Still Daliang Kanfa)

    video

If this was my attempt at cooking a new dish I'd say this one actually tastes good! 

A form of Wudang Kungfu- Taijiquan also has long, poetic names for their movements. Replacing the Shuto Uke (knife hand blocks) with "Playing the Lute" some even say ("Playing Guitar") did feel awkward at first, but actually ties in nicely with the rest of the movements. I decided that the back and forth rocking motion of "Single Whip" is the closest to what one feels when going from that throw to the knife hand block at the end of the karate form. 

A notable difference between Taijiquan and a large number of other styles lie in its footwork. The body is never shot forward as we find in karate or hard styles of kungfu. The leg is rather cautiously extended before weight is shifted onto it. One thing I like about this way of moving is that it gives your stepping punch ("oi zuki" in Japanese) a real wallop! 


Two more kata I am already working on are Heian Sandan and Jion. :D If this post gets enough likes, +1's and favourites I'll post videos of them as well.

That's all for now.

Enjoy your weekends and train well.  





Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Nine Levels of Power (I know a certain girl in Malaysia who will enjoy this post)



These days I am certain that whenever an initiate- especially someone who has not even read anything about martial arts- asks what martial arts can do for you the answer depends on who gets to answer that question. 
If you know me by now and you have been reading this blog for a while I am sure you will know that my answer will differ significantly from the one you'll get from an MMA coach or BJJ instructor.

I shall not say that my answer is the right one, but it shall be different. Here is why:

As shocking as it may sound to some- martial arts were not developed with enlightenment in mind. And no- The Chinese are wrong- Not every martial art under the sun came from Shaolin. :D A lot of martial arts did, but not all. 

What the Chinese forget to mention is that even Chinese people fought before the Shaolin Temple was founded. In Japan history also shows that there was a time when the emphasis and main objective of martial arts training was combat. Only when the feudal age passed did Budo get the opportunity to flourish.

Now- I want to get to the point of this post today before I run out of space to type...

We know kickboxing was developed as a sport, karate as a method of self defense and Aikido as a spiritual exercise, right? These are just examples to show that each martial art has its own history and context and that its teachings shall not have the same objective in mind as the other.

One type of warrior that had even through the feudal age stayed a perfect blend of warrior and mystic was-

Wait for it:




THE NINJA!

Whereas the rest of the world's warriors had their masters to serve and their kingdoms to protect the Ninja was concerned with the maintaining of a balance that kept everything running. Through rigorous mental training and self denial they were capable of feats deemed impossible by most of us. Sure- Shaolin Monks have the Iron Shirt as well, but nobody could rule the night and people's imagination like the Ninja.

Now- me being an avid reader managed to read two books on Ninjutsu in my entire life. When I read Stephen Hayes' book (The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art (1981), Charles E. Tuttle Co.)
 I was not looking for a new martial art, because by that time I already had a system that worked for me. I was merely reading, because Ninjas were the coolest and most mysterious thing the martial arts had to offer.
From this book I still remember the basics of shurikenjutsu, kiaijutsu, kenjutsu and of course taijutsu that became inextricably incorporated into the way I train and fight now. This- however- was not the best thing I have taken from the Ninjas.

Ashida Kim's book (Ninja Mind Control) introduced me to Qigong. I actually learnt this Qigong before I even learnt Shaolin Qigong and Taijiquan! The knowledge on how to cultivate one's Qi is a cornerstone of Wenhsiuquan. A while later Wong Kiew Kit's book on Shaolin Kung Fu gave me the knowledge with which to channel this energy into my techniques. 

Kim's book also spoke of something that makes any level of Black Belt pale in comparison: The Nine Levels of Power.

Now- if you have played Tekken 5 chose Raven- and won of course- you would see Raven going through his Ninja hand signs ("Rin! Pyo! To! Sha! Kai! Jin!..."). In fact- many Ninja fans would know these kuji kiri  hand signs to be a Ninja trademark.

Well- Kim had a hand sign for each level of power.I want to discuss each one to give you an idea of how martial arts training can change a person and his circumstances:

First Level: Rin (Chinese "chu")- Strength

You used to be nervous and smoked 12 packs a day and now you forgot that you even smoked! You also don't get bored and have become very patient with a level of focus and concentration that enables you to actually do what needs to be done instead of lazing on the couch thinking about it. You don't get annoyed easily and also feel no need to raid the fridge for comfort food.In fact- you managed to ignore your whims and excuses. You are ready to start serious self improvement!


Second Level: Kyo (Chinese: Shen) Direction of energy


Good for you! Now that you have managed to shut out all the noise from outside your body to tune in on what is actually going on within you- you have met your own energy! Now you learn to channel it into movements, attacks and techniques. You do Qigong exercises effectively and see the benefits of Shaolin exercises like "One Finger Shooting Zen" and Taijiquan forms in which you send your energy flowing through your hands and limbs at will!


Third Level: Toh (Chinese "Tai")


Done playing with yourself? Good! You have mastered your own energy and find that you are in full control of your emotions. In fact- control over your energy gives you immediate control over your emotions without you realising it at first...

Now that you have yourself sorted out your awareness can be tuned into the world around you. Now you can actually notice what your senses are telling you and you can use that knowledge to do whatever is necessary to maintain harmony within yourself and with your environment.


Fourth Level: Sha (Chinese "Sha") Healing (I'm sure it also means killing. The number 4 is also not really a number we associate with "healing", but I am not going to argue with Ninjas...)



So- you realised that illness, pain and discomfort are just disruptions in the harmonious flow of Qi that get fixed when you restore the balance... You are now in tune with your own body and can identify sources of blockages in your qi flow and the qi flow of others. You have the ability to heal yourself from illness and injury and can even help others. The flispside of all this is that you also now know how to disrupt a person's qi flow to upset him, injure him and even kill him...


Fifth Level: Kai (Chinese "Kai") Premonition

Yes! You came to a shocking realisation that psychics are real (In your face, Mr Jane!) because- you found out that you are one! How did this happen? Well- you have spent years going through the previous four levels calming your mind and freeing your energy. Where you used to suppress and ignore the visions you see when you close your eyes or the voices you hear when it is actually dead quiet you realise that these omens actually make sense and you become able to link it with actual events taking place afterward. You have a strong sense of premonition as well and can sense danger and trouble in time to avoid it. But wait- There is more! You may now have the Iron Shirt skill as well. You can take blows without injury(or serious injury- I'm still doubtful as I am not fully invincible yet...). You can withstand, pain, injury, insults and your neighbour's Jazz band without flinching! 


Sixth Level: Jin (Chinese "Jen") Empathy

What? Now you read minds too? At this level the Taijiquan expert has developed "listening jing" and can sense his opponent's movement and adapt thereto. The Aikido expert is now "blended" with his opponent.
You? Yes- you can now sense your opponent's attacks and if you are married you become the envy of all married men you know, because you actually understand your wife! 


Seventh Level:Retsu (Chinese "Tung") Mastery of time and space:


     

There was a time when you complained that there just is not enough time in the day, but now you have become time's master. You actually get a lot more done. Boredom does not exist in your world. Additional abilities also include being able to slow down your metabolism. This helps to slow down the effect of toxins like snake venom. On the dojo floor you have also found that your mind and body has become really fast and that you strive to move at the speed of your thoughts.


Eighth Level: Zai (Chinese "Hua") Control

Others may complain that they are a product of their environment, but you actually influence those around you. Not the other way around. Depression and despair is not for you. You find opportunities in each situation, bide your time in unfavourable conditions and make your environment work for you. During meditation you also feel a sense of euphoria as endorphin-rich blood course through you. A real natural high!


Ninth Level: Zen (Chinese: "Tao") Enlightenment

The Christian would now be able to say "The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want" and truly understand what it means. The Buddhist shall now realise his own Buddha Nature. You? Well- why don't you tell me when you get there...?


Trust me- these levels have no shortcuts and no grading panel or association shall be able to just give them to you. A teacher can point the way, but you are still the one who has to take it. No one will be able to tell you how long it will take.

To me- this is a worthwhile pursuit. Wenhsiuquan itself is most suitable for reaching the first seven levels. The remaining two levels I believe are on the one hand a matter of choice and on the other a matter of  Jodo -"the Will of Heaven". Others may believe differently.

I can tell you now that you are highly unlikely to experience this type of training at your nearest karate dojo, MMA gym or kickboxing club. The type of teacher who teaches these things are not necessarily that keen to advertise. 

Because I believe that it can improve the world if more people learn this art, however, I am willing to make it accessible to as many people as possible. By now you have my email address: boshoffm3@gmail.com.

I may not be able to physically travel the whole world, but I am pleased to reach every one of you via this blog. 


Wherever you are- train hard and have fun! 

:)  
  

  

Thursday, 12 March 2015

"How are you going to get the guy to stand still so that you can do all this to him?

This was a question my grandfather asked a much younger me one day when I excitedly showed off my newly learnt kicks.

I think we all agree by now that we would be surprised if our opponents did in fact stand still.

If you are already an accomplished fighter you most likely know the things I am about to tell and you are then welcome to skip this post. If you are someone who has trouble landing blows you may find this helpful-

The secret to making your throw, punch, strike, armbar or wrist lock hit its mark lies in timing.

Kihon (basics) and kata practice do not teach timing and may have you imagining an opponent just waiting for your attack to reach him. Timing is developed with sparring practice.

That- most of us seem to know. What few seem to know, however, is that meditation is actually crucial.

Thoughts and emotion actually slow down your responses. Guessing is also thought- and it does not help. When you have pushed all that aside what you have left is...

Awareness!

Now- What should you be aware of?

Fact is- I don't have enough time for a complete list of things to notice. A grappler would like to see the arm about to straighten. A striker would appreciate that rib opening up as the opponent punches. You may appreciate the opponent about to be in range for your favourite kick...

And when you stumble upon the opportunity which you appreciate, but not consciously look for, your body should seize it without hesitation and without thought. :)

Then, I hope, you realise why a martial art can be regarded as moving Zen.

Wenhsiuquan focusses on this type of awareness.

I can type long passages about transcending the ego and reaching a higher plane of awareness, but your best hope of understanding it is training in the way I have just described.

Enjoy your training. :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Do you know these people?

Okay. We watch martial arts movies and know some actors- there are even some sports stars in the martial arts world that a lot of us may know about, but which martial artists do you admire and follow? 

Because I have nothing else to write about for now (You can buy my book on defense, though. It is done!), I decided to tell you about the people in the martial arts community that have my "like", "follow" and now- my share:

Rika Usami:

Yes- she is no Rhonda Rousey. It never fails to amaze me how she can transform from a beautiful, soft-spoken lady to a fearsome killing machine. It is no secret that I love kata. I also love Asian ladies. So- she was meant to be on my timeline... 




Hitomi Tanaka

RED ALERT! Ban this post! AV Star detected!

Relax, everyone! When Hitomi-chan is not filming or shooting photosets that help us guys clean out the pipes every now and then she studies Goju-Ryu karate. I never asked her whether she does K1 as well, but this photo suggests that she at least dabbles in it. Umm... I admit that I did not come to know about her via karate pages...



 Emil Martirossian:

Bruce Lee's legacy is alive and well in this guy. You don't see me posting Danny Innosanto here. No offence, but THIS guy is the face of Jeet Kune Do in my book. Check out his videos on Facebook.

Shifu Yan Lei

Taking Shaolin into the competition arena could have been a disaster, but Shifu surprised me by showing that Shaolin can still retain its traditions and be effective in the ring. Those interested in learning about the Shaolin arts should really consider this man their first option.

Jade Xu:

One thing that is more enjoyable to watch than kata is Wushu form!

Jade is not only a champion in the sport, but also an actor. This lady needs no cables to make her jumps work... 

Chen Xiaowang

I'll never forget Wudang! So relax. Chen Taijiquan's chief instructor is the stuff legends are made of. I don't know whether he or his grandson was the first to take on a gigantic wrestler, but I do know- like the wrestlers- that this family's martial art is to be respected.


Jesse Enkamp

I love karate. That was the starting point of my journey into the martial arts and shall probably be where I return home. Jesse is not only an accomplished athlete- and in my book he does not need to be. He is the best sensei ever... 


You should really read his articles if you are not already doing so...



That's my list! 

Feel free to tell me about the celebrities on your timeline. 


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Almost done!- and Congratulations to a little dragon in our area!


I am really excited as I am getting to the last chapter of this book. Soon- this one will be printed and ready for circulation.

Although I know that there are many people feeling okay without it I do not think the world should ever be without the knowledge of martial arts. In my opinion it is one of the highest achievements humanity has ever reached. No matter how stressful our lives are, what difficulties we shall face or what harm awaits us- we shall be able to meet the challenge if we have the martial arts to strengthen our bodies and spirit!


In other news- My dear friend, Lindie Delassus' son Jean-Michael has won two gold medals in a recent karate tournament! Why two? One is for kata- and the other for kumite of course! :)

He has started karate last year and looks like he is going to make his mark.

Well- to Jean Michael I want to say what I say to you:

Train well and have a good week!