Friday, September 28, 2007

French Farmers Battle It Out

This cracked me up! Some old farmer with a tractor in a French village and guys in a truck have a heated dispute over who will pass down a narrow street. It turns out that all these guys are packing walking sticks and a stick battle ensued. If any of these guys knew any real techniques, there might have been some serious damage. The farmer with the tractor looks about seventy years-old, and after he is disarmed he goes back to the tractor for his "back-up" weapon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Profile Of Scott Sonnon

Dave over at Formosa Neijia had a post letting us know that Scott Sonnon was offering a conditioning DVD for just the cost of shipping. I got it, and am very impressed with the simple ideas Sonnon introduces. It will however, take me some time to work up through some of his techniques, which were probably better suited for my body some twenty years ago.
This guy is fantastic. He is a Champion in Russian Sambo submission wrestling and kickboxing, and is a world-recognized conditioning coach.
The martial arts segments are at the begining and end of this eight-minute video, so stick with it, it's well worth it. He practices something many of us have written about-- a flow training that cranks along at less than full speed, at a comfortable rate for learning but still presenting a challenge. I love this type of training, so I intend to integrate some of his conditioning off his DVD into my warm-ups, and experiment with his flowing movement in grappling and light sparring.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Line "Em Up !

Turkish Streetfight

Su Dong Chen

Last night I introduced two students to how to apply the rooting and yielding learned in fixed-step push hands to a person giving them "random movement". The aggressor just moves at half-speed into them, not hitting, but just giving the other person "random movement". The defender can try rooting, yeilding, peng, rollback, etc. This is an intro to something like Aikido Randori, at a very basic level, and emphisis is put on staying relaxed. A great pace for students to experiment and learn. At the end, I had them both come at me. I did my best to not get caught between them, and was successful at "lining them up". Keep moving, never get caught in the middle, and line your opponents up so you only have to deal with one at a time. If possible, use one as a shield against others and a weapon against the others. Back in the old Tae kwon Do days this was pretty tough with three attackers coming at you.
Look at the first video. This Turkish guy obviously has good rooting and hitting skills, sticks and moves, and takes the fight to the crowd. Great movement, he is able to nail these guys in unstable positions and knocks them down.
The second video is of a skilled Chinese master using similar movement against multiple attackers... He definately works these guys over!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grappling vs. The High Kick

This video demonstrates Aikido defenses vs. Tae Kwon Do kicking techniques. Back in my old TKD days, everybody used to say "Hey! You can't grab my leg"! This grabbing the leg was usually done by a beginning or mid-level student that is overwhelmed by the superior kicking of a high-ranked student or instructor. It is done instinctivly and without effort. That is why relying on high, long-range kicks SUCKS for a real fight. Anytime you extend your limbs too far beyond your core area you risk being taken off balence, thrown to the ground and could potentially have your leg damaged.
This isn't to say that a kick to the head isn't a powerful finishing technique, but it should never, never be used as a lead-in strategy. I read something by a Vietnamese martial artist who was very small in stature. He said "When you want to chop a big tree down, you don't start at the top". In other words, take out the base at the knee, shin, stomp to the ankle or instep. I have come to favor the Wing Chun "toes out" low stomping kick to the shin and knee. You can face centerline-to-centerline, allowing you to fight with either arm or leg. It does require you to be in closer, but you can avoid the long, reaching overcommitment of high side and round kicks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Old Geezer Fights

Purse-To-Purse Combat

Aging Stallions... And The Office Smackdown

Well, last post we focused on a 114-year-old Tai Chi Chuan Master. Today, we look into the world of pissed-off geezers. In example one, "purse-to purse combat", a dynamic weapon system is displayed. Note that the weight of the weapon and the repeated use of the weapon surpass sophisticated technique.
In example two, we have first "the aging stallions". The Geezer in the white shirt is clearly defending himself, and through skilled angle positioning, he lands the knockdown punch. Adding insult to injury, he lashes out at his fallen opponent with a threatening backfist.
And finally, in "the office smackdown",come on, ladies. Tell me you haven't wanted to really let that gossiping bitch really have it! Look at the other office workers; they think she deserved it! A good hammer-fist to the cheekbone will settle any office disputes... and get you fired. But everybody will be buying you drinks at McTipsey's Bar and Grill afterward!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Introducing A New Blog

I'd like to introduce a new blog, the very last blog on page two of toplist:
Riposte -Martial Arts News Around The Web. This is why we all should check out page two on Toplist, there are many good blogs there and Riposte is one of them. It features a wide variety of Martial Arts news, and while it's sitting in last place at #69 on Toplist, I predict it will rapidly move upward. Check out Page Two on Toplist and give some lonely Blogs a visit!
Here's one of the news articles off "Riposte"...

The Martial Arts Master Who Has Lived in Three Centuries
The Epoch Times Sep 09, 2007
He is a legendary man whose life has crossed three centuries. Born in the 19th year of Emperor Guangxu's Reign of the Qing Dynasty (1893), he is 114 years old. His name is Lu Zijian and he lives in Chongqing City, Sichuan Province, China. Despite his age, he is healthy and lithe. Once considered one of the top three gong fu masters, Lu is adept at martial arts and can still move a young man of around 150 pounds 15 feet away with just one push. When asked what his secret to longevity is, Mr. Lu said, "The key to a long and healthy life is a combination of movement and stillness—cultivating life by guiding the qi, the vital energy in the body, and moving the hands and feet through practicing Chinese boxing." According to Xinmin Evening News, Lu Zijian started learning martial arts with his mother at the age of seven, and in 1920 the 27-year-old Lu won the martial arts contest held at Yuhuatai, Nanjing City. He became famous in Shanghai in the 1930s and was granted Level Nine status—the top rank in Chinese martial arts.
Lu Zijian never tires of reliving his past. He fought foreigners on two occasions, and before each of the competitions he signed a waiver that said no one was responsible should a death occur during the fight. The first foreigner was an American named Tom, who was over six feet tall. The two men battled for more than an hour and still there was no clear winner. Lu's hands were badly scratched when one of his disciples called out, "Master, use Eight Trigram Palm!" Lu recalled, "I was in a hell of a fight and had become confused." When his mind became clearer he began to walk around Tom, using Eight Trigram, and finally hit Tom's chest with his palm. Tom stumbled backward a few steps then fell to the ground, blood gushing from his mouth. The second fight was with a Japanese Tae Kwon Do master in Shanghai. He was simply no match for Lu and ended up in worse shape than Tom.
Lu is the only unschooled martial arts master who has been granted Level Nine status by the China Martial Arts Association. Since he turned 86 years old Lu has attended every martial arts contest he could. When he was 93, he joined the Martial Arts Training Team of Sichuan Province and took part in the National Martial Arts Competition held in Sichuan.
Many articles on the Internet call Lu "the Great Master of the Yangtze River," joining the ranks of Huo Yuanjia, the Great Master of Eastern River, and Du Xinwu, the Great Master of the Yellow River. Mr. Lu is still capable and travels all over China. When he matches wrist strength with strong younger men, he is able to beat them easily. When he walks or climbs a mountain, he feels light as a feather.
A close-up look at Mr. Lu reveals that his face is almost free of wrinkles and his skin has an iridescence to it. His shoulders are broad and his arms are muscular. His gray hair is dotted with newly grown black hair. At age 95, his skin began to peel. Years later, the skin on his face, hands, and body was gone, and a new skin appeared. According to Mr. Lu, now his skin changes every three years.
Mr. Lu Zijian, named by the United Nations "the healthy old man," gets up at 7 a.m. every day, practices gong fu in the morning, meditates, paints, reads, and visits friends in the afternoon. He is as alive, alert, and as amusing as any young man.
He is a vegetarian, staying away from meat and fish. His favorite food is tomatoes. He meditates for an hour and a half starting at 2 p.m., goes to bed at 11 p.m., and lives at his grandson's home where he eats anything they cook. He told others a secret: eat raw tomatoes every day. They are a good thing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shall We Dance?

The Aikido Tango

You gotta love this! Harald Ross and assistant Stefan in one of the absolute best Aikido demonstrations I have seen yet. Watching this has given me several new ideas to add to some of our lock-flow drills, as well as some Bagua applications.

Tai Chi Chuan Stepping and Aikido Stepping:
Here is part of an exchange between Pat at Mokuren Dojo and myself from earlier this year:
Hey, dude,
I have a question i've been pondering and I figure youre probably the one to answer it since you apparently know a ton more about Chinese arts than anyone else I have access to.
Why in the Chinese martial arts does it seem that they make a point of stepping down onto the heel first, when in Japanese martial arts they tend to preach to land on the ball of the feet first?
Well, I don't claim to be that expert on Chinese arts, but I have discussed this in the past with my Aikido instructor, Chuck McCarty.
He said the Japanese method of stepping method is do to rigid adherance to the sword arts, and possibly a bouncing mobility as in the way some systems spar. (think Kendo)
Chinese arts use a slightly less mobile root, in my opinion. Even in Bagua, which employs twisting and turning footwork, the foot is generally placed flat or heel first.
Formosa Neijia had a recent blog on how immobile some Taji practitioners are in their defense demonstrations, which is to a fault. I have learned a lot from my somewhat limited Aikido training (two years), and feel that cross-training has really helped my Tai Chi.
So with this in mind, I returned from a seminar with my Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman last Saturday with some more "rooting" information.
When recieving a push or incoming force, we "root" to THE INSIDE of the rear foot, then release, return or discharge energy back through THE OUTSIDE of the rear foot. As you approach weighted root on the front foot, your root goes to THE INSIDE of the front foot. In this fashion, the root will always be in the INSIDE of one foot and the OUTSIDE of the other. Furthermore, another thing that was made evident is that the Aikido "hanmi" or basic stance is much narrower than the Tai Chi Chuan root. Much more like "walking a rail". This works for Aikido's rapid stepping patterns, (and sword technique) but not for more rooted things like push hands or close grappling.
Moving through the form and push hands with this new rooting technique (which he has been trying to get us to grasp for the last three seminars) has given us a new, deeper level to practice at.
Anybody have other ideas?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Martial Arts For Disadvantaged Youth?

Has anyone else recieved an e-mail like this? Boy, what an opportunity!

Dear Sir,
I am a senior at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and have
recently been presented with the opportunity to receive a $25,000
fellowship to research a topic of sociological importance abroad. My
interest lies in the ability of martial arts to improve the quality of
life of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Very little real
anthropological research has been done on the subject, and I would like
to explore martial arts from an academic viewpoint. I'd focus on
questions like: Does training in martial arts produce positive social
outcomes? Does training produce dedicated and respectful individuals?
And when does training fail- effectively arming the student with
dangerous technique but no sense of restraint?

The project is quite vague at this point, but what are your opinions?
When is training a good thing, and when is it not? How should the
philosophies to martial arts be imparted? And lastly, where would you
go in the world to study the interactions of martial arts and culture?
Right now, I'm thinking Brazil and Israel for Capoeira and Krav Maga.
Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. My deepest
respect for your arts,

Curt -------
Whitman College

And my response:

I would loved to have recieved such a grant, what an opportunity.

The martial arts are historicaly filled with stories of wayward youth that have found focus and a sense of self through guidence and training.
My feeling is that many aimless youth are ready to fall into lockstep with anything that represents family to them, replacing troubled relationships with actual family members. This can obviously lead to criminal elements and an unmotivated life.
The other aspect of this is that troubled kids are often picked on by others. Some may join gangs for protection.
While not a complete family, the martial arts Dojo may provide elements that disaffected youth may be drawn to in a respectful and healthy way. While the instructor may not (and perhaps should not) be seen as a father figure, he (or she) may be thought of as a big brother/sister/uncle. This places a great deal of responsability on the instructor, who is already dealing with many levels of human interaction. Much must be assessed about the character of the youth. Nobody should teach a bully how to be a better bully. The instructor must also have clear communication with the youth's parents, even if the parent/child relationship is problematic.
With dicipline, guidence and trust, a troubled youth may indeed find a sense of self, gain confidence and develop relationships with people outside his or her normal circle of family or friends. These may include unrelated adults, who have no familial expectations of the youth other than behaving in a socially responsable matter with the rest of the group.
These are valuable life skills that go beyond mere fighting or self defense ability.

As far as my training, I fought hard in tournaments ages 19-28, fought in my last tournament at 38, won my division and have no further need for tournament fighting. I was 2nd Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and went on to get my 3d Dan in Kenpo, studied two years of Aikido and now mostly persue the Chinese Internal Arts of Tai Chi and Bagua. If I had the opportunity, I would go to China and Taiwan to study those arts.

I am very interested in your project, please keep me updated and let me know if there are any other questions you have.
Good Luck, John at Dojo Rat

If anybody has any other thoughts or Ideas, you can leave them in the comments section, and I will foward Curt the link for this post.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Should We Sponser "Black Belt Mama" In A Challenge Match?

Now this is Americana!

Should we sponser our favorite "Black Belt Mama" in a challenge match with these gals?
The Great Lakes Women's Wrestling Association is a new, all women's, wrestling association.

It is the goal of the GLWWA to put on FAMILY ORIENTED, all women's, wrestling shows. Family oriented from two aspects.

FAN ASPECT - It is our goal to make sure our shows are geared to the entire family. This means it is reasonably safe for children.
TALENT ASPECT - Our ladies are not only wrestlers, but humans. In general, they are wrestlers only on a part time basis. They hold "normal" jobs as accountants, factory workers, students, teachers, on-air media personallities, etc.. Above all they are women with husbands, boyfriends, and young children. Recognizing the family aspect, we recognize that we have an obligation to not only the ladies, but their families.
We recognize that we have an obligation to make sure our shows are safe for the children of our ladies to see.
Unlike some promotions, it is our goal to foster an environment where the families of the our ladies can be backstage with them.
We do not permit our wrestlers to use profanity, make obscene gestures, use color (bleed), etc.. And we intend to limit the use of foreign objects, such as garbage cans, etc..

(D.R.) You gotta love the part about not using garbage cans as weapons...And what about "Reasonably safe for children"!
--Check out "Black Belt Mama" and get your vote in today!

Later That Day...

(Black Belt Mama)
Can I bring my kobudo weapons? I mean I get the no garbage cans, but what do you think?

(D.R.) Ok, But how are you going to hide nunchucks or sai in those tights?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Taiji Chin Na

Well, I hope everyone has enjoyed this little spin through the pain of grappling techniques. I tried to mix it up with different styles while showing how truely similar they all are. One clear difference between the Chinese styles and the Jujitsu styles is that the Chinese systems have very little (if any) ground fighting in their systems. I have heard many reasons for this, but the best one is this: If you go to the ground, you will be killed. Historical, battlefield knowledge. In armed combat the idea is to knock your opponent down then finish him off with sword or spear. Personally, I feel this holds true for today. It's best to avoid rolling around in the mud and the blood and the Beer. Let's practice getting back to our feet quickly instead.
Featured in this video is Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. He is a prolific writer and world famous Martial artist. I have at least five of his books, on Chin na, Taiji applications, Bagua and Xing-Yi. The guy provides some of the best information available in an easy to understand format. I highly recomend his material, which is available on Amazon. For a review on his "Taiji Chin Na" book, see MY REVIEW at TDA Training.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Professor Wally Jay: Small-Circle Jujitsu

"Dance Of Pain"

The stand-up grappling skills we learned at our Dojo are directly from Professor Wally Jay and his son Leon Jay. Wally Jay revolutionized traditional jujitsu by integrating "Small-Circle" aspects into techniques. My Dojo training partner studied directly with Leon in London, and brought us many of the various lock-flow drills we have shown on video. The concepts taught by the Jays enhance any joint locking techniques, reflect many of the elements within Chinese grappling systems, and have been adopted by instructors such as George Dillman in what he now calls "Okinawan Tuite". We are shown in a picture on the right of this Blog With Leon Jay and Stan Miller, a Portland Dojo owner.
In the video above, Wally Jay demonstrates finger and wrist control techniques in his "Dance of pain". This one might be good for the club bouncers also.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mike Martello On Chin Na Grappling

Mike Martello

Some of you may have seen this video before, it's one of my favorites. This is the type of grappling I like, it deals with defense from strikes, combines striking, locking sweeping, and choking. There is obviously no heavy clothing or Gi to grip, so locking the wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck is necessary. If you watch, in many of the techniques he begins with a high or low pass of the opponents arm, then works into a locking technique. Mike Martello is a very talented internal-style martial artist. He's coming to the Seattle area this fall, I hope to travel down and have an opportunity to train with him.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Get A Grip

Some damned good Judo here. I wanted to include this while we are in somewhat of a grappling theme for a few posts, but I can't let it go by without a little criticism.
Nearly all of these techniques require heavy clothing to latch on to. A guy in a T-shirt (or no shirt) is much harder to get a hold of. Furthermore, sweat makes it even harder to grab or hang on. The other thing is, once you have got the guy on the ground, you have to finish him off. In that case, you might as well be training in Brazilian Jijitsu. As I've stated before, even with my wrestling background, I don't think intentionally taking a fight to the ground is a good idea. It's just too easy for someone (who you are not fighting) to kick your head in while you are attempting an arm bar or choke on a guy. Now, in a law enforcement situation with back-up, it may be a good method, but not in the parking lot of some rowdy bar.
For these reasons, the next few posts may veer back into the stand-up grappling of Chin Na and Small-Circle Jujitsu...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

September: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

Ah, yes. German girls on the run.
Due to the current lack of video of the usual unshaven, stoned, cute hippie chicks, we will be bending the definition of our favorite monthly post a bit...