Saturday, 30 May 2015

Every journey begins with a single step ( plus- a defense against a million punch combo!)

You probably know how many bricks it took to start building the skyscraper-

and with how many steps a journey begins.

This simple rule explains how we can solve some of the largest problems you may face. By taking care of them before the get that big!

If you don't like getting chased out of the ring in a sparring match- or getting beaten to a pulp then your training should focus on forestalling attacks. This pass/block, backfist, uppercut combo may seem incredibly simple. I have heard my fair share of wise-cracking members of the laity saying that block/counter drills are useless as your opponent will never attack with just one blow/kick.

Maybe- but his attack has to start with one move. :)

Forestalling does not have to be limited with blocking the first punch/ kick. Intercepting at the turn of a hip, the movement of a shoulder or the raising of a foot can also help you diffuse a confrontation before it gets out of hand.

The highest order (does not make nice videos or even sketches, but works) of applying this universal law is sensing the approach of the fight and avoiding it at minimal cost. This of course requires a level of sensitivity snd alertness above that of the average person.

In karate we used the word "zanshin" (continuing mind) to name the overall awareness we have of our opponent on the dojo floor. If this alertness is a state of fearful concentration, however, it is not very useful.

The awareness that is equally helpful in timeously perceiving threats in your day to day life as much as during your sparring sessions- or even real fights- is sustainable and does not exhaust you or stress you out.

It even helps at work- when you identify risks/ threats and take the necessary action to eliminate them.

When training- an emphasis on the dangers of fighting, the pain or serious injury that comes from getting hit and pressure to attack does not help to create this type of awareness.

What does help is to tune into a calm, open state of mind that puts thoughts and emotions aside in order to allow it to clearly perceive its environment. From here training the body to respond timeously is the other essential part.

Now- it may be true that you will forestall a lot of threats by getting the drop on every person you meet from the first moment you leave home, but that will undoubtedly create problems of its own.
So- don't expect me to bow and call you master if your key to victory in the ring is jumping in with guns blazing and being the first to swing wildly (don't laugh now, but there are black belts who do that!)


CTFD! And meditating will not hurt you either...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Principles vs Moves (And why Wudang doesn't bother teaching you how to rescue your teacups...)


We all watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, right?

If you have you will remember Chu Yan's (Michelle Yeoh) subtle, ingenious test to confirm her suspicion that the unassuming Xiao Long (Zhang Ziyi) actually had martial arts training.

She dropped a tea cup.

Now- we all know that Wudang has never taught anyone how to save their fine china from getting shattered on the floor. So- why was Xiaolong able to do it?

Those who are used to me by now will know what my point is here. Xiao Long's alertness and quick reflexes were a benefit of her study of martial art. You don't need to search very far for people to tell you that traditional martial arts are full of fixed positions and form- and then there are the moves with the poetic names... All these things seem to hinder one more than helping in an actual fight.

But don't believe for a second that it's useless!

I have noticed that, despite how the world's knowledge of martial arts seems to have grown, and despite the large number of martial artists I find on Facebook and on Google Plus we still find people who are already considered suitable to get into a cage and fight that criticises a move that's being demonstrated by saying that it "won't work in a real fight". A while ago someone posted a video that compares the self defense drills some of us may use in the dojo with a real life version of the situation it was designed for (and now I don't find the video.)

The video's message may have been news to many people, but I think to anyone that has been practicing any style of martial art up to the equivalent of black belt (meaning that you know the basics by now and are expected to work with it) it was old knowledge. 

You may be one of those guys who took up karate to defend yourself and who ended up getting beat up because the moves you have learnt did not work. So- what do you do?

What I did- was spending years on developing the most effective moves with which I could come up- only to find them failing me again when I rely on them the most. So what can we actually do?

That's the joke-
Every move under the sun has a weakness. That's not necessarily the reason why it does not work. External factors like the opponent's strength and timing play a large part.

In Wenhsiuquan (and no- we're not the first to do this. I learnt this from other arts- ones used for things like assassination for instance...) moves are considered to be for randori. It teaches students principles to apply in free sparring and self defense. These principles remain the constant in the fighter's decisions while the techniques he chooses may differ. So- in other words- if you understand what moves are made of, you can make your own moves! That brings me back to a principle to which I hold on since I have discovered the benefits of meditation: If your school spends lots of time on teaching you how to use your hands and feet, but does not bother to teach you how to use your mind you are not learning a proper martial art. Sounds harsh, but let's face it. There are various ways of hitting, kicking and throwing which belongs to one style or the other, but technique is just one of the three vital elements that make up a martial art. 

Sure- Martial arts give us awesome moves to get us started. But from there on- what we get after that depends on us. If you have just started I can assure you that there will be a time when blocking, punching and kicking is old news. When that time comes I hope that you can say that you have changed for the better- some way or the other.

 Train well, everyone!

Oh! And I gladly admit that not all MMA fighters are like Goomer! I want to thank Code Red for posting this video showing a defense against a tackle. It gave me a new set of building blocks for other moves. I hope it does the same for you!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Wrote the last page!

 76 pages later I am finally done! This is the last book on the technique and fighting method of Wenhsiuquan.

Now- I have to get this baby printed!

The next book- before I write a comprehensive summary of the principles of Wenhsiuquan- I have to write a book that focuses on training and conditioning.

Now- before I get to all that I want to thank everybody who reads this blog- to those who follow me and to those who have taught me. 

So- here goes:

Thank you!


Xie Xie Nimen!


The last page! YAY!

Have a great week and train hard!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Partner Exercise for beginners

Today's post is about an exercise in Wenhsiuquan to train the reflexes as well as posture and technique.

I am not entirely against one step sparring, but I also don't feel the need to cover lots of ground to practice harmonising. This exercise is very simple, but effective in teaching beginners to blend their movements with that of their opponents. It also cultivates the much-needed sensitivity one needs in sparring.

It will start with one partner in forward stance- fist out in reverse punch position while the other is in back stance arm in blocking position.

The one in back stance then shifts weight forward to punch while the other shifts back and rotate his hips into back stance to block the punch inward.

Then- immediately the roles are reversed. If done correctly the partners will move back and forth- punching and blocking.

One can start slowly at first to work on technique and posture and then increase speed and power to condition the arms and to cultivate the habit of moving in harmony with the opponent.

Have a great week and train well. :)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Long weekend

I am particularly glad about this long weekend. I have finished taking all the photos needed for the chapter on basics in my book.

The next set of photos- if they are going to get taken- will feature one of my friends who have helped out with the book on grappling. 

After the books have been completed I shall post some more about the actual experience of learning Wenhsiuquan. Sure- we get a lot of info on a style's ideals and values- even its techniques, but what about the stuff you actually experience when you are at the dojo?

Thank you, everybody who has been reading my blog up to now. I hope you enjoy what is to come.