Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Internal Strength Exercises

Here's Mike Martello again showing some techniques for developing internal strength and power. Rather than using isolated muscle groups, the internal arts use relaxed, whole-body unified movement. This is a long segment of a seminar, and there are some examples of fighting applications at the end.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Salute To Mike Martello

Chin Na

Basic Bagua Class

These video's are of Mike Martello, who may be the best non-asian internal stylist I have seen yet. The Chin Na is a re-post but I wanted to include it to contrast it to the slow, classical and elusive movements of the Bagua Kung Fu. Martello is only 5'2" but really packs some power in a small frame. Many of his other video's show him training with his teacher in Taiwan, and his website says he is based in Belgium, Taiwan and New York.
Here is a post he wrote on Youtube about his decision to give up all hard style arts, something which is difficult due to years of training.
Mike Martello:
A small rant below, open to comments...

Many years ago 10yrs and a bit more, I decided to quit, stop all my hard styles, Baji, HsingI and Chen, lets say to retrain the inner connections. Not forget just stop, I felt I was using wrong intentions and ws being guided to the wrong idea of practice because I realized even the teachers were off in their approach...

I decided this after I met teacher Wang Chieh who demonstrated to me the idea of inner power and smoothness, and I knew I did not embody what he so seamlessly showed me, but I knew this is what I was searching for as soon as I made first contact to his arms and his center just engulfed me by light touch..

So I decided at that point all my training was wrong mind idea but which was good for foundation training and form training, but lacked real IMA. I knew to myself as many people are so afraid to say to themselves or confront themselves, once they have achieved a good level, to say I am empty and still don't know why, yes strong but empty inside. Many know what I mean and then overdo strength to make up for what they don't understand, and perceive they think they understand...

Well for me the answer was easy, I am no fool and play no fools games... When I am told if you practice it will come and years of hard training which brought me great forms and basic fighting self-defense skills, is NOT inner strength... Not inner power that enlightens ones mind and spirit...

One hears the stories of masters that can do wonderful things with there chi and mind and power that we want to train to achieve so idea, but we never get there, either bad teacher or style or whatever we blame it on, but ourselves for not opening our eyes... Our culture and food and the way we perceive CMA is all wrong for most... You never leave your town but you found the magic bullet in martial arts and all of a sudden you become sifu?? Man we are distorted aren't we...

One must travel and go down the mountain to understand why ones inner connection lacks what we train so hard for... I am sorry for such hard words, but I feel this way by watching all the crap out there, being a good fighter does not equal IMA... So decided to retrain and be honest to say to myself these ideas and learn from the beginning again....

Its a phenonomen for martial artists, they search and practice and find there power but never truly know themselves... The ones who read this and understand will laugh to themselves because I speak open heart... Sorry for the rant...

I hope all enjoy objectively.
mike martello

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Legacy Of Howard Hunt

Click on above article to read it full-screen

Lots of secrets have gone to the grave with the recent death of Howard Hunt. Some of the readers may have been too young to have lived through the assassinations of the '60's, Watergate and later Iran-Contra. Each of these events were elements of an authoritatian attempt to steer and control the fragile Democracy we feel slipping away today. There was an attempted coup against Franklin Roosevelt, an actual coup against John Kennedy, and near coups with Watergate, Iran Contra and the 2000 presidential election. Howard Hunt was deeply involved in a thrity-year slice of deceptive government. Here's a polite summary from Bloomberg news:

E. Howard Hunt, Spy Who Organized Watergate Break-In, Is Dead

By Vivek Shankar

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- E. Howard Hunt, who organized the Watergate break-in that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, has died. He was 88.

Austin Hunt said his father died today in Miami after a long battle with pneumonia, the Associated Press reported.

Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy were members of the so-called White House plumbers, the secret team formed to stop government leaks after defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg sent documents that became known as the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

Besides Hunt and Liddy, the plumbers included Cuban exile friends of Hunt's. They ransacked and bugged the Democratic Party office at the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C., in May and June of 1972, as well as the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

Hunt was convicted of conspiracy, wiretapping and burglary and served 33 months in prison. He said he preferred the term ``Watergate conspirator,'' AP reported.

Hunt served in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Air Force and the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA, during World War II. He then spent 21 years with the CIA, during which he wrote several books, mainly spy novels under pseudonyms.

Guatemala, Bay of Pigs

Operating in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s, Hunt orchestrated a U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala that toppled democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954. He said he was involved in the botched Bay of Pigs attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in 1961.

Hunt's first wife, Dorothy, was killed in the crash of United Airlines Flight 533 in Chicago on Dec. 8, 1972. The National Transportation Board, the FBI and Congress investigated the crash because $10,000 was found in her handbag, money that some believed was paid to Watergate defendants to keep them silent regarding White House involvement in the break-in. The crash eventually was ruled an accident.

In 1981, Hunt was awarded $650,000 in a libel lawsuit against Liberty Lobby for publishing an article in its newspaper, The Spotlight, that accused Hunt of involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The award was overturned on appeal in 1985. Lawyer Mark Lane defended Liberty Lobby, and in his 1991 book, ``Plausible denial,'' outlined his theory about Hunt and the CIA being involved in Kennedy's 1963 assassination.

The Cuban Issue

Hunt had expressed bitterness about the Bay of Pigs operation's failure. In his semi-fictional autobiography, ``Give Us This Day,'' Hunt wrote: ``The Kennedy administration yielded Castro all the excuse he needed to gain a tighter grip on the island of Jose Marti, then moved shamefacedly into the shadows and hoped the Cuban issue would simply melt away.''

``I found out the CIA was just infested with Democrats,'' Hunt told Slate magazine in 2004. ``I retired in '70.''

After that he served as a consultant for the White House. Later, Nixon's special counsel Chuck Colson asked Hunt to work for the administration.

``I greatly respected Nixon,'' Hunt said.

He told Slate he didn't hold anyone responsible for Watergate and said Nixon shouldn't have resigned.

Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment on Aug. 9, 1974. He was later pardoned by U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Hunt said he applied for a pardon but no action was taken.

``I thought I'd just humiliate myself if I asked for a pardon,'' he said.

Born Oct. 9, 1918, in East Hamburg, New York, Hunt is survived by his second wife, Laura Martin Hunt, and six children, AP said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vivek Shankar in San Francisco at vshankar3@bloomberg.net .

Monday, January 22, 2007

Counter-Lock Flow Drill

I realize now we have to do this with a brighter background, but here's some more lock- flow stuff.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

It's not my intention to post music videos, since they're everywhere-- but here goes.
This is from the late great Warren Zevon, and I love almost everything he's done. His music is often understated, with tons of social overtones. From "Lawyers, Guns and Money" (getting caught in a bad drug deal in Central America) to "Carmelita" (heroin addiction), his songs were covered by other artists from Linda Ronstadt to Prince.
"Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner" is one such epic piece; European mercenaries steered into a double-cross hit by the CIA, with Roland's wandering ghost seeking revenge-- eventually ending up in the famous bank robbery by the SLA and Patty Hurst. Enjoy....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Born Losers

As a "prequel" to my Billy Jack post, here's the trailer for Laughlin's first movie, Born Losers. Gotta get my hands on a copy of this one, a review will follow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Significance Of Billy Jack

"You think your Green Beret Karate tricks are gonna' save you from all these boys"?
That's how this breakthrough movie scene begins. Unfortunately the clips I reviewed for this post don't show the complete fight scene, which includes a great spinning heel kick and a nice Hapkido defense against a club attack.
I cannot overstate how much this movie influenced me, sitting in the theater when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. It had everything; cute young hippie chicks, evil rednecks, horses, Jeeps, Corvettes, motorcycles and some of the best fight choreography ever.
While actor-director Tom Laughlin was the hero Billy Jack, Hapkido Master Bong Soo Han did all the most complex fight stunts. I read a review of this in a magazine years ago, and a few of the stunt rednecks got hurt pretty bad in this scene.
The movie was a spin-off of Laughlin and wife Delores Taylor's original flick "Born Losers", which I am tracking down. That scenario was Billy Jack vs. evil bikers. The big follow-up was of course, Billy Jack, which is still a cult classic.
Billy Jack treaded on many social taboos of the time: exploring murderous prejudice, alternative education and communal living, rape and revenge, and the most controversial aspect-- using violence to stop violence.
The movie is steeped in the paranoid culture of the late '60's and early '70's, touching on the assassination of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, racism and the unknown territory of alternative lifestyles. This film is so much more than a Karate flick, it's loaded with questions about ethics and honor and pride.
I know friends who go nuts over Jet Li movies and the like, but have never seen the pure simplicity of the fight scenes or social commentary of Billy Jack. There are also some famous supporting actors, like Howard Hessman from WKRP in Cincinatti.
Tom Laughlin has remained politically active, even running for Congress several years ago. He and wife Delores Taylor have been working on a sequel (Billyjack.com) that is filled with events of our time, such as the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
For those who have never seen the movie, or need a good recharge of 1960's-'70's energy, watch it again -- I highly reccomend it...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ice Age; Part Two

Snow blows in the outhouse,
it nips my frozen toes
with every gust a drift blows in,
my bowel movement slows.

We never thought we'd need a door
For want of privacy
for in the woods we've solitude
to take a dump or pee.

And now I am reminded
with every drift and gust
how pleasant it must surely be
to sit inside and flush.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Urban Combat Training

I love this guys stuff.
It's not polished, it's raw. He goes by the name B.T., for Black Taoist, and hangs with a bunch of other cats that are really into internal Chinese arts, specifically Bagua and Hsing-I.
In other videos, their forms are crisp and uncomplicated, and they put a lot of emphasis on reality-based training, something not always found in the "heady" and theory-infused world of Internal Martial Arts. His website is listed at the end of the video.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

No-Touch Knockouts??

Jack Hogan Demonstrates A "No-Touch Knockout"

There is probably no technique more controversial in the martial arts as the phenomenon of the "no-touch knockout".
For years I have seen video and actual demonstrations of pressure-point knockouts, mostly performed by George Dillman and his students of Ryukyu Kenpo. While the theory for these light-touch knockouts has a foundation in the Chinese five-element science and meridian pathways of the body, there are also explanations by western medicine. There are obvious "release points" on the body, as when the doctor hits below your knee with the rubber hammer and your leg moves. So there is no suprise that when you jerk a persons body one way, even with a minor strike, and slap a point on the head, driving it the other way, something's gonna' give. Bruce Everett Miller describes in his book "The Complete Book of Light Force Knockouts", how even a subtle movement of the brain rebounding from one side of the skull pan to the other will cause a knockout. There are also techniques that can send overload signals to the brain, which shuts down as a matter of self-protection. This is also done when an internal organ is affected with a sharp impact, which may be a light-touch if directed expertly. The blood is forced out of the organ and the nervous system senses a sharp rise in blood pressure. The strike is withdrawn, and blood rushes back to the organ causing a drop in pressure. This mixed signal again shuts down the brain, causing a knockout. Don't try this stuff at home, kids. Despite mystical explanations, much of this can be understood.
No-touch knockouts are a whole different thing. They occur without any contact at all, and I have witnessed several great examples. I have also seen some miserable failures.
No-touch ko's border on shamanic mysticism, hypnosis and sometimes hoax. I myself have dabbled with pendulums and dowsing rods, and can find buried electrical and water lines. I have no doubt that we are capeable of sensing things that are not otherwise evident to our eyes, ears or cognitive thinking. Likewise, humans have been involved in inducing trances since the dawn of time. This was brought to the west in the early 1800's by Franz Anton Mesmer, hence the term "Mesmerism". Mesmer practiced his art as a healing mechanism, but I have seen old drawings depicting him performing "no-touch ko's". Many of us have also seen evangelical preachers get a crowd wound-up and someone will pass out, "touched by the hand of god". Whatever...
The point is, despite some attempts I have witnessed that have failed, something is going on. I spoke with Jack Hogan (pictured above) after a seminar several years ago. He had demonstrated the ko pictured above, and detailed an experiment by George Dillman that he had recently witnessed. Dillman and his students hooked people up to medical equipment such as ekg's. Blood pressure, heart rate and other body functions were measured. Serious, serious effects were regestered, and the most severe were due to no-touch ko's. Dan McCusky told me That the wife of one practitioner complained that her husband pissed blood after every no-touch ko that he performed - on other people! The inference is that this practice has an effect on the person performing the knockout, and of course the kidneys are the root of certain energies in Chinese theory.
There is another interesting book on this subject; "The Men Who Stare At Goats" by Jon Ronson. In it, Ronson details how the U.S. military has experimented in this technology. I have also read accounts about the Russians getting really deep into this stuff. You can bet there are things going on out there in the field of psychic warefare that we have absolutely no idea about.
Like anything, if you believe in something, that is your reality. Can non-believers remain unaffected by induced psychic trauma? Perhaps.
But who really knows what is guiding the whirlwind of events that shape and form our lives, in a world where quantum physics is proving that everything is indeed...connected.