Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: "Black Belt Karate"

For me, browsing through "Black Belt Karate" by Chris Thompson was somehow familiar and comforting - like coming home to the smell of fresh baked bread on a winter day.
In these days of Mixed Martial Arts and exotic forms of all varieties, Chris Thompson has provided a no-nonsense overview of traditional Japanese Karate. Thompson, 8th Dan Black Belt and Chairman of the British Traditional Karate Association, covers the history and development of Karate from it's Chinese and Okinawan roots. He outlines the various contemporary Japanese styles currently in the WKF (World Karate Federation).
I have to say, the high production quality of "Black Belt Karate" is probably the best of any martial arts book I have seen recently. The large color photos are beautifully captured, and the layout of techniques and forms are easy to follow. This book would serve other authors well as an example of how to produce a readable, attractive presentation.
Thompson goes on to illustrate self-defense techniques, the rules of traditional point sparring, and how to judge in tournament competition.
As I stated above, it's heartening in these times of anything-goes martial arts to see a welcome example of pure, traditional Karate.
I would recommend "Black Belt Karate" as an inspiration to a beginning traditional Karate student, and it may be of real value in the libraries of schools and universities that have traditional Karate in their physical education programs.
You can find "Black Belt Karate" and hundreds of other martial arts titles at the link for BLUE SNAKE BOOKS.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What A Turkey!

Our long National Nightmare is almost over...

-Thanks to all the Dojo Rats out there, our friends new and old. It's exciting to build a community of Martial Brothers and Sisters, and exchange tremendous amounts of information in the blink of an eye.
Have a warm and safe Thanksgiving Holiday, I shall slosh down a few Beers in honor of all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seagal, Schmegal...

Something must be going on in the fetid world of Steven Seagal: my statcounter has regestered hit after hit for two Seagal articles I wrote. I mean it's off the charts.
The first article, Lebell vs. Seagal, details how Seagal allegedly got his ass kicked by legendary Judo man Gene Lebell (shitting his pants in the process).
The second and highly requested article "The Company He Keeps: The Mafia, CIA and Steven Seagal" details Seagal's shady dealings with mobsters and intelligence spooks. For some reason, there has been a huge spike in hits on these articles. The only thing I can find in the news is this:

Steven Seagal Gets a Real Badge, Reality Show
Josh Grossberg Josh Grossberg
Mon Nov 24, 3:23 pm ET
Los Angeles (E! Online) – Steven Seagal is out for justice again...this time for realsies.
The erstwhile big-screen action hero has become an honest-to-goodness crimefighter in New Orleans, a gig he's ready to share with the TV-viewing public.
His movie career mired in the direct-to-DVD dustbin, Seagal, 57, has now been deputized by the Jefferson Parish County Sheriff's Office, and he's preparing a Cops-like reality series for A&E that documents his efforts to clean up the Big Easy. The show is set to premiere in late 2009.
We're just waiting for the inevitable programming block of Steven Seagal: Lawman and Dog the Bounty Hunter. TiVos set for stunned.

So for whatever reason, let's satisfy that Seagal curiousity with a rehash of "Bad Boy" trash stories about our favorite bloated Aikidoka movie star:

The Company He Keeps
The Mafia, CIA and Steven Seagal

Of all the Hollywood martial arts stars, Steven Seagal may be my favorite. His stunts are no-nonsense and he uses techniques that any competent martial artist could use. No incredible 360-degree jump-spin crap, just good solid Aiki and “crash-and-bash”. Stuff I could use. One of my Aikido instructors in the past, Robert Button trained with Seagal in a Dojo in Tokyo. He said he had never, ever, been thrown harder by anybody than Seagal. Seagal was the real deal.
Despite my leanings towards Seagal’s techniques, movie-star looks, and story plot lines, I have already trashed Seagal. In February ’07 I wrote about the legendary story of Seagal getting his ass kicked by aging Judo man Gene Lebell. As the story goes, Lebell choked Seagal out to the point where Seagal shit his pants. (LINK HERE)
But Seagal has more in his background than his current washed-up movie career, he has a whole host of bad-boy friends.
The Girls
Despite his suave and swarthy approach, Seagal has consistently had trouble with relationships with women. His first wife was Miyako Fujitani, a Japanese national Seagal followed from California to Japan.
They had a child together, and Seagal’s Dojo in Japan was actually founded by Fujitani’s father, owned by Seagal’s mother-in-law, and managed by his wife.
John Connoly, in his epic expose’ of Seagal in “SPY” Magazine reported that Seagal was assigned four women to be his “production assistants” in 1990. All four quit in 1991. Connoly writes that as assistant Raeanne Malone was brushing her teeth in Seagal’s quarters during an interview, he commented publicly that “You look like that when I come in your mouth”. (ouch) Two of the women were paid around $50,000 each to drop charges against Seagal.
His Japanese wife, Fujitani, went on to describe how Seagal told her “I never will betray you”, right before he took all her savings and moved back to America to pursue his movie career. Without seeking a divorce, Seagal went ahead and married Adrienne La Russa in 1984, followed by actress Kelly LeBrock. La Russa told Connoly that she couldn’t say much, “Because I am afraid of Steven and his friends”. As alleged, Seagal was so broke in 1985 that he arranged for LeBrock’s Porsche Carrera to be stolen so he could collect the insurance money.
The Boys
Seagal apparently had developed other sources for money; he was said by friends to have disappeared while flat broke and returned with a new car and a stack of $100-dollar bills six-inches high. Seagal boasted to friends that he had done a job for the mob.
Seagal’s mob ties were known at times. His one-time partner Julius Nasso was a pharmacist from Staten Island and owner of a company that “supplied pharmaceuticals to merchant vessels”.Nasso and Seagal formed a production company that was headquartered in Brooklyn. Nasso had served as an assistant to Sergio Leone in the Mafia film “Once Upon A Time In America”, which spawned his movie desires. Nasso’s uncle was the owner of a concrete company that was involved in a Mafia bid-rigging scheme and company employees testified for the government, leading to the imprisonment of Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno. Nasso was also the best man at the Seagal-LeBrock wedding, and held the deed on Seagal’s house.
Much later, the tables would turn and Seagal and Nasso would be at odds, but more on that later.
Perhaps even more curious than Seagals Mob friends, are his seemingly outrageous claims of having been a CIA contract employee. Robert Strickland, an actual CIA contract agent claimed that Seagal made him a $50,000 offer to kill Gary Goldman, a former Mercenary who had collaborated with Seagal on movies but threatened to expose Seagal’s exaggerated CIA ties. Other mercenaries and agents Seagal associated with claimed he started telling stories of their mercenary adventures as if they were his own. This certainly did not set well with the rough boys, one of whom claimed Seagal “Would surely die of starvation if he was given a compass and a map that led to a restaurant five miles away”.
But the Truth was, Seagal was indeed running with a very bad crowd.
Robert Booth Nichols
It’s a little unclear how Seagal hooked up with Robert Booth Nichols, identified in Federal wiretaps as an associate of the Gambino Crime Family. Nichols became one of the technical advisors on Seagal’s film “Under Siege”, and actually had a bit part in the movie. An associate of Nichols said Nichols once hung an adversary up in an airplane hanger and started up the propeller plane in front of where he hung. We don’t know what happened after that.
Nichols has a reputed history during the Reagan administration of being involved in the Nicaraguan Contra re-supply operation. That means Guns down, Cocaine back. How else does the CIA fund an “off-the-shelf” operation? (To quote Oliver North).
But it was Booth’s relationship with murdered investigative reporter Danny Casolaro that really creeps people out. Casolaro had befriended Nichols as he was researching deep levels of government corruption in the Reagan era. His thesis was called “The Octopus” a criminal enterprise involving the Mob and the Reagan administration that had “tentacles” everywhere. Casolaro was using Nichols as a primary source, and was found dead in his hotel room before he could publish his completed story.
Nichols had been the owner of “Meridian arms”, and had been accused of attempting to take over Howard Hughes’ former company, The Summa Corporation.
At the time, Nichols was involved in a scheme to manufacture arms on an Indian reservation in California, the reason being there was no authority other than reservation law, and the airspace was open for uncharted, un-inspected flights.
Casoloro was at some point clearly over his head. I remember hearing about his death when I was writing for alternative newspapers in Portland. One of my contacts was Heinrich Rupp, a survivor of the Nazi Luftwaffe who claimed to have flown George Bush senior to the treasonous “October Surprise” meetings with the Iranians – to hold the American hostages until Carter was defeated by Reagan. Rupp referred to Casoloro’s death and warned me off of a subject I was writing about. I wrote it anyway.
Danny Casoloro was found in the bathtub, in his hotel room. None of his friends or family said he had been depressed, yet he was found with dozens of razor cuts to his wrists, some down to the tendons. No one knows how this was possible, and plastic bags and bloody towels were found on the floor. Forensic evidence was destroyed when Casolero’s body was embalmed.
According to an FBI agent named Thomas Gates, who was dogging Nichols and was actually being sued by him, Casoloro had told Gates that his life was in danger. The last known contact with Casoloro was Nichols, who may be the main suspect in Casoloro’s “Suicide”.
As reported, Casoloro had discovered that Nichols had one weak spot, one that he might have to kill for. Federal agents had told Casoloro that Nichols had offered to be a snitch against the mob, probably to cover his ass. One way or the other, Casolero died with that knowledge, His death ruled a suicide.
Detectives, Movie Stars and Hillary Clinton
Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano is in big trouble. Remember Seagal’s pal Julius Nasso? He and Seagal had now fallen out, with allegations by Seagal that Nasso and the Mob were attempting to extort money from Seagal. Seagal was deeply intertwined with various crime families and was treading water, trying to stay on top. Well, Pellicano’s name came up in the course of the Mob investigations. He was already known for his connections to the Clintons. According to Judicial Watch, a citizen’s legal watchdog group, Hillary Clinton had previously hired Pellicano in 1992 to get dirt on Gennifer Flowers, who had claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton. Pellicano is now awaiting sentencing for 76 out of 77 counts of racketeering, wiretapping and operating a criminal enterprise. The list of his clients and targets is a virtual whose-who of Hollywood.
Allegedly, Seagal hired Pellicano to go after writer Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times, who had written unfavorable reports about Seagal. As the story goes, Pellicano allegedly detailed associate Alexander Proctor out for the job. Anita Bush came to her car one day to find the windshield smashed, with a dead fish and a rose stuck in it, along with a note saying STOP!
Authorities investigating Pellicano and Proctor raided Pellicano’s Sunset Boulevard office and discovered C-4 plastic explosive, hand grenades and presumably other weapons. As stated, Pellicano is currently awaiting sentencing.
While Seagal's Mob ties are certainly more clear than his association with shady intelligence operatives, he has at times been involved with some bad cats. Seagal has attempted to live his life like one of his own movies.
And come to think of it, I haven’t seen a Steven Seagal movie come out for quite a while now…

Further reading:
The Waterfront Trials
More on Pellicano
Reprint of 1993 Spy Magizine article

*(Go to link above for embedded links and comments)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wim Demeere: Combat Sanshou

I'm terrible at updating my links list, but at the right of the blog you will see I have added Bruce Frantzis Energy Arts, a great resource for Internal Martial Arts and Chi development.
Also new to the list is Wim Demeere, a tough fighter out of Belgium. In this video, he demonstrates Combat Sanshou, including some really good applications of the Tai Chi Chuan form. Currently on Wim's blog he is featuring a preview of a pressure-point video by Loren Christiensen. Loren was a long-time fixture in the Portland, Oregon martial arts community. He was at one time the lead cop in the police gang unit, and as I remember, he had good negotiation skills and was well respected.
Wim's blog also has links to his other websites, check it out - it's a good surf.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Nice Visits

Internal Arts Expert Bruce Frantzis

We've had some interesting visits from some great martial artists in the last few weeks;
While discussing Bagua and Expert Bruce Frantzis, we had some very interesting commentary by Jess O'Brien, author of "Nei Jia Quan- Internal Martial Arts"
Jess's comments on the fusion of Bagua and Aikido, and what Aikido practitioners might find useful in exploring Chinese internal arts can be found HERE.
While refering to Bruce Frantzis, I neglected to include a link to his website and was contacted by Erin Gilton, who asked if I would post a link. Bruce Frantzis has an incredible history in the Internal arts, and lived and trained with many famous masters in China, Taiwan and Japan. He has a new addition to his famous book "The Power Of Internal Martial Arts and Chi" which is updated with the emphisis on Chi. He also has many new titles out, including "The Chi Revolution". The Energy Arts Website for Bruce Frantzis can be found HERE.
Nando Raynolds (Website here) wrote in to let us know about his new book "The Push Hands Workbook- Tai Chi Partner Movement For Sport And Personal Development". The book is spiral bound so you can open it flat for reference while you practice, and has a written recommendation from my Tai Chi Chuan instructor and push-hands champion, Michael Gilman. I hope to review it soon!
We also had a nice e-mail from fitness trainer and SanShou expert Wim Demeere, who wanted to let us know about the release of his Six-dvd series on "Combat SanShou". His main website is HERE, and his blog with reviews and commentary can be found Here. If you surf through his various web pages you'll see some photos of great knockouts, and clips from his brutal "Combat Sanshou" videos. It looks like there's a lot of great Martial Arts coming out of Belgium these days (Watch out, Mike Martello!)
Thanks everybody, for checking in. I'll try to get a little better at including links!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

For news geeks like me that are following the meltdown of "The Second Republican Great Depression", take a look at the absolute best insider story of how this all happened at THIS LINK
--And I mean this is the BEST first-hand story of this crapfest I have read yet...

And in The Tai Chi Chuan department; take a look at Andrew Dale's compilation of "The Taiji History Of Seattle", at THIS LINK.
Andrew Dale has put together a thurough list of internal arts masters in Seattle from the early 1960's to present day, lots of big names and outlines the developmental process of the arts in the Pacific Northwest-- Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chin Na in Israel

Here's one for Bob over at "Striking Thoughts", who is currently enrolled in a very painful Chin na school right now...

We know that Israel is the home of the ultimately practical "Krav Maga" self-defense system, but it looks like there's a few good Internal artists there also!
"In this clip, Efi Dinar, from the Nanking Tai Chi School of martial arts in Israel, demonstrates only a few of the various techniques taught in the ancient art of Chin Na".
-- I love the concepts and movement. Notice about half-way through when the "attacker" spins out of the shoulder/elbow lock, the instructor demonstrates several ways to salvage the technique for a takedown.
My only criticizm would be that these techniques are pretty hard to set up against a resisting opponent, unless you have a set-up strike first.
While stylisticly different, you see here many techniques that would also be found in Aikido and traditional Jujitsu.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Training Speed In Tai Chi Chuan

Everybody has probably heard this joke:
"A guy goes into a bar-
-outside the bar, a Tai Chi master is defending himself from a drunk-
-the first guy has three drinks, then leaves the bar-
-outside the bar, the Tai Chi master is still s-s-slowly defending himself-
-(que snarky laughter)...
When people think of Tai Chi, they usually picture old people moving slowly and methodicly in a park. So what is it about this art that manifests it's nature in slow movement? How can something so slow be used to defend oneself if attacked?
For the purpose of this article, I will generally refer to the Yang style, which I practice, and is the most common style practiced world-wide. It is true that the Chen style (and perhaps others) have some explosive movements in their forms, and Chen appears to be the root of other styles. But let's look at the Yang form.
It is generally believed that moving slowly and carefully allows the practitioner to measure each movement precisely. This makes for smooth efficiant movement.
At a seminar several years ago, Stick-fighting expert Bruce Chu told us about an expert marksman he knew in the military. When asked about his shooting success, the marksman said: "Smooth is fast; slow is smooth; so slow is fast". In other words, his success was from slow methodical method, even in "rapid fire".
In Bruce Frantzis' book on "The Power of Internal Martial Arts", he describes a paradox in how slow movement manifests itself into incredibly fast and efficiant actions. He suggested there is almost a time-lapse phenomenon where an old master is not necessarily faster than a young attacker, but finds the gaps in the attacker's techniques and exploits them in a seemingly magical way.
Part of the illusion of Tai Chi as strictly a slow moving form is that most people never learn the CHUAN (fist) aspect of Tai Chi Chuan. While it used to be called "The Supreme Ultimate" of Chinese boxing, it is precieved in the west today as new-age hippie-dippie yoga. To a certain extent, that is true. Many Taiji students never play with push-hands or partner forms. Most can't figure out applications of the form because they have never tried, and are happy to just be doing some gentle movement that makes them feel good. Well, that's fine, but they are missing so much that they could explore to make every aspect of their skill better.
In an excellent article by Peter Lim Tian Tek titled "Taijiquan Training Speed", he reviews historical record of fast, compact and explosive fighting techniques in the Yang family forms. For instance, here is a quote refering to the form of Yang Chen-Fu's older brother Yang Shao-Hou:
"His taijiquan 'frame' style was originally similar to his brother's, but later it gradually changed to the style of high 'frame' with lively footwork and well-knit small movements, alternating quick with slow actions. He was swift and powerful in delivering his blows and, with eyes blazing like torches, a grim smile on his face and roaring and howling as he darted back and forth, he was held in awe by others" (Gu Liu Xin, his introduction to 'Yang Style Taijiquan' by Yang Zhen Duo, 1988, page 7)
-- So while learning the form, it is necessary to be slow and precise. But once the form is committed to memory and you have complete freedom of movement, we should have elements of fast, explosive action spontaneously come out in the form. Not a whole series of movements, but a piece here and a piece there. Moving Yin (slow) into Yang (fast), is perfectly in keeping with the philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan. Please check out the article linked above for further historical context.
And remember; "Smooth is fast; slow is smooth; slow is fast".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Congratulations Jake Burroughs!

Well, well... look who made the big time!
Our old buddy Jake Burroughs of "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center" has an article published in the prestigious "Journal Of Asian Martial Arts".
Jake's article is titled “A comprehensive introduction to Sun Family Taiji boxing: Theory and applications”, and this publication is one of the very highest quality martial arts magazines I have seen. (I guess I'll finally have to get my subscription now).
Jake has worked tirelessly to bring many high-level martial arts instructors to the Seattle area, including various seminars I attended with Tim Cartmell and Mike Martello. He has built a strong body of knowledge and his school is very hands-on and grappling oriented. If you are in the Seattle area and want to learn more about Jakes school and upcoming seminars, please check out "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center". Good Job Jake!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Shutdown, Part 2

In a previous video we discussed the "Shutdown", jamming the opponent's weapons at his biceps. In this video, we have a flow drill that comes out of it. Don't let the appearance fool you, that shot with the shoulder is more powerful than it appears. Combined with the elbow smash and eye rake, it's a pretty devastating technique. Go easy on your training partner!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Master T.Y. Pang

Last week I had the great opportunity to visit with Grandmaster T.Y. Pang. Mr. Pang lives in our area, however he has largely retired from teaching. Pang's martial lineage goes directly to some of the most famous masters of the last century. He trained with Taiji masters Dong Yingjie, Wu Tunan and Bagua master Sun Sikun (also spelled Xikun). Mr. Pang is one of their last surviving students.

Pang's teacher, Bagua master Sun Sikun
Lineage: Bagua founder Dong Hai Chuan, to Cheng Ting Hua, to Cheng Yu Long, To Sun Sikun, to T.Y. Pang
Much of my early Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua practice was with two of Pang's senior students Joel Chung and Jack Greene, and I attended a Chi Kung seminar taught by Mr. Pang many years ago. Pang generously accepted me to visit and discuss his Bagua system, which I had many questions about. Pang had just returned from China, which he said is moving and changing unbelievably fast right now. He said everywhere, everything is mechanized, and people are becoming more like machines. However, we are indeed living beings, and we should strive to feel what is going on in our bodies as we move. His example was picking up a coin: if you quickly toss it away, you can't feel what kind of coin it is. But holding it allows you to examine and feel the coin.
It's a simple parable, but one that speaks to me as I approach fifty-years-old. I've done my share of tournament fighting, as well as brick, board and rock breaking.
I'm entering a mindset where I want to explore the dynamics of movement, and Taiji and Bagua are the perfect roadmap for that.
Another thing I began to understand from our conversation was how each master left their mark on the art by emphasizing their best skills. Much like the differences in the Yang Taiji form between masters, Pang's Bagua has it's roots in the Cheng lineage, but it is somewhat different than other versions of the Cheng style that I have seen and read about. In fact, in the December 1991 issue of "The Pa Kua Journal", Seattle-based instructor Andrew Dale stated that "Pang's Pa Kua (Bagua) was the most intricate he has seen... Seeing Pang do Pa Kua was like watching a powerful snake coiling, attacking, twisting, darting, spinning and turning".
-- And that's exactly what it feels like. Meeting and discussing with Mr. Pang again has opened up yet another door of opportunity for me. I now have better understanding of Pang's Bagua system, his lineage and intent, and we discussed the possibility of having him teach another Bagua seminar.
If you are interested in reading more about T.Y. Pang, and purchasing his newly released Bagua DVD video, you can check out his website at THIS LINK.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check This One Out!

Take a visit over at Bob's 'Striking Thoughts", and look at this video of the Aikijutsu group he went to visit.
This is the cool thing about Aikijutsu, which predates Aikido; it employs all kinds of striking as well as locking and throwing. When I was in my twenties our TKD group cross-trained with some Aikido guys. One of their instructors was a guy named John Clodig, an old Navy guy that had inherited the Head of the Yanagi-Ryu Aikijutsu system. When he got a hold of me, I didn't know which way I was going, but I knew he could dislocate or break me at any time - it was quite an experiance.
Check out the link above to Bob's post and see how Aikijutsu works!

UPDATE: Here is the direct link to view the Aikijutsu video: (LINK)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neutralize With "The Shutdown"

Boy, we are such amateurs at video production, but we're having fun with this stuff.
-- This is a simple drill from the Small-Circle Jujitsu system, called 'The Shutdown". The purpose is to establish a control point and body awareness when you are confronted at close-range. It is best done slowly with eyes closed, feeling your way to the control point on the opponent's bicep area on the upper arm. Once you get on it, you keep foward pressure on the opponent, preventing them from hitting you. This gives you a split second to fire off your own technique. As stated, this is NOT intended to try to hold or restrain the opponent, merely to jam them up while you transition into a strike, lock, takedown etc.
This is the most basic level of this drill, others involve moving to the flank and grounding opponent by draping your arm across theirs, pressing their arm tightly against their body and hitting with your free arm. We'll try to get some of that on video next.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

End Of An Error

From Economist Paul Krugman:
November 5, 2008, 8:25 am
The monster years
Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.
What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.
And in our national discourse, we pretended that these monsters were reasonable, respectable people. To point out that the monsters were, in fact, monsters, was “shrill.”
Four years ago it seemed as if the monsters would dominate American politics for a long time to come. But for now, at least, they’ve been banished to the wilderness.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More On The Fusion Of Aikido And Bagua

The October 28th post on Bruce Frantzis demonstrating Bagua has brought some interesting discussion in the comments section. I had claimed that Master Uyeshiba of Aikido was likely influenced by martial arts he witnessed in China.
Martial Development stated:
"Aikido inspired by Bagua? ORLY? :)
I'll believe that when I hear a more convincing argument than "they both have spirals".
As I wrote in THIS POST in 2007, there is first-hand knowledge from people who hosted Uyeshiba's visits to Chinese martial training in 1936. Take a look at it for further background.

We also recieved a series of fascinating comments from author and practitioner Jess O'Brien, one of which I would like to include here for those who might have missed it:
j said...
"As for the Aikido/Ba Gua connection, that's a topic that deserves a much deeper examination, by people who understand the issue much more than myself.

I think what's more relevant is that Ba Gua, and Xing Yi to some degree, can offer a few training methods that would be quite valuable for the open minded Aikidoka.
Aikido's strengths are in it's emphasis on two person training and tactile awareness. You learn so much about how to engage and respond within the fluid, smooth rhythms of Aikido's throwing practice. The structure, connection and footwork all share so much with Ba Gua.
What Ba Gua can offer is the integration of slapping, striking and smashing palms that flow in and out of the throwing techniques very naturally. Aikido's atemi is often an afterthought, whereas in good Ba Gua training, striking integrates instantly and usefully in the throwing. Ba Gua's full body approach to striking would suit Aikidoists quite well, it's based on turning the core of the body to create power and that fits perfectly with Aikido's body movement and footwork. The constant stepping of Ba Gua is very similar to Aikido's way of moving, in contrast to the block, plant and strike of harder arts.
This allows for extremely powerful strikes that are used to open up the opponent to throws, sweeps, trips and reaps. One central tenant of Ba Gua striking is that it's intuitive, based on unconscious openings that the other person has for you to exploit. Their "ki" has gaps for you to enter, if you will.
Aikidoists would love the two person training of Rou Shou which Ba Gua uses to create an intuitive understanding of these gaps, and the slight angle changes needed to enter in on them. The standing grappling and pummeling of Rou Shou is a perfect adjunct to the bigger, run at 'em and chop training that Aikido is more commonly known for.
There's a lot more usefulness in Ba Gua for Aikidoists. Not really to change what they do but to help open their eyes to some new ways of using what they already do. The Tai No Hen Ko stepping of Aikido is identical to the Ko Bu/Bai Bu stepping of Ba Gua. The unbendable arm body structure is the same as Ba Gua's Zhuan Zhang extended arm. The only difference is that Ba Gua's striking techniques flow very naturally from this shape, whereas Aikido doesn't focus on that much.
Another interesting thing for Aikidoists would be looking into the sister art of Ba Gua, called Xing Yi Quan. In many Ba Gua schools Xing Yi is trained also, they have been connected for over 100 years.
Aikido's main striking techniques called Shomen Uchi and Tsuki are identical to the prime Xing Yi striking techniques of Pi Quan and Beng Quan. Xing Yi fighters ahve been famous for a long time for hurting people real bad with these two techniques. It's what Xing Yi's fierce reputation is built on. Contrary to the stereotype, Aikido's striking is meant to be extremely powerful and utilitarian, not a fake gimme for the thrower to get an easier throw. Shomen Uchi and Tsuki are plenty to win a freestyle fight with, forget the throwing. They are the main techniques because they WORK not because they don't. 6 months of work on Xing Yi would utterly transform the Aikidoist's striking techniques, not because they'd need new strikes, but because they would make a few mental shifts that change Shomen Uchi from a big fake over hand chop to something much more utilitarian. It's hard to explain in type, because the Shomen Uchi and Pi Quan look exactly the same, but perhaps it's the intent that shifts slightly to make them feel so different in practice.
This is one of my favorite topics, because I've seen how a short course in Chinese internal martial arts can unlock the potential power of Aikido into something vastly more useful for freestyle, full contact training. The only hurdle to overcome is that you gotta put on gloves and get punched in the face a few times. It doesn't hurt as bad as it looks though".
Just a few thoughts!!

Jess O

(D.R.) Now that's some great stuff...

November: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

I know, I know, I'm two days late on "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month".
-Was away at a Tai Chi Chuan seminar, Martial Art Posting coming right up.

--As far as our picture of the Golf Pro, Is anyone else old enough out there to remember Arnold Palmer's wife appearing on The Johnny Carson Show? The banter had to do with balls and putters...