Sunday, May 30, 2010

"I'm Wasted And I Can't Find My Way Home"

Ha, ha...
I know I've posted this before, but it always makes me happy!
Pure Hippie goodness.
We had a band practice in the Saloon last night, kind of a warm-up for the big June party, and we played this.
We've got the instrumental part really good, but lining up the vocals is tricky with the walk-down on the guitar.

It gave me pause to reflect that in our discussion on Martial "Art", the subject can be viewed from very different perspectives.
I myself play music (Guitar and other strings) and write (sometimes I have even been paid for writing). That is what I call "Art"

-So, there is no doubt my experience in martial arts is colored by my experience in other "arts".
I seek the art. I like to think about it and feel it.
It's not just doing "push-ups", or getting hit and kicked for me.

Maybe I am just getting old.

Here are the best comments we received on the subject:

From Jess O'brien, author of "Nei Jia Quan"

j said...
I think it's a good idea to make a distinction between something that is primarily a Combat Sport and something that is a Martial Art.

Although there are places where they both cross over and interact, they should be looked at as apples and oranges.

I'd say that there is no equivalent of Asian Martial Art in the American society that I was raised in.

Our sports fulfill what Asian martial arts fulfilled in Asian society before the 1980's or so when sports entered the scene in China.

There weren't really widespread sports in China until recently, CMA filled that role.

They are functionally equivalent but not the same.

Like religion, Christianity and Buddhism are both religions, they fulfill the same roles in society. But the religions themselves are quite different with different goals, methods, etc.

Western Sports are as deep and rich and wonderful as Asian Martial Arts. But they are not the same and both come with way different cultural assumptions, training methods and worldviews.

Both are fun! And both are great. Saying they are different doesn't demean either of them.

There was a time when Chinese were ashamed of their CMA and took to Western sports to "modernize". Whereas there was a time when Americans were wild for Judo and Karate and left our combat sports behind. Both cases were a mistake and a more balanced approach of appreciating both makes more sense to me.

MMA is a semantic mistake in my opinion, it should probably be called NHB or something like that, as it has very little to do with Asian martial arts. But then again, things get very tricky and complicated! Tai Chi is not a combat sport, but perhaps Judo is? My definition is far from perfect.

Good topic to discuss and think about!

Jess O

And from "Nemovic", who also (with Kostas) provided us with a cool link between Alexander The Great and Buddhism:

nemovic said...
DJ you are writing related to the comment from "Religion, Morality, and Martial Arts":

"So we see that the intellectual, philosophical element in Chinese martial arts has been included in their training for over one hundred-years!
"That's a pretty good track record for me. I consider it evidence of the evolution of Chinese martial arts in a time of increasing industrialization"

I wonder if the quote can be read the other way around, since the martial arts stopped to be practical for every day life they became upper class that was forming itself from the benefits of industrialization started contemplanting (just as we do now) about the "deeper" meanings of the martial opinion is that at that point martial arts lost the touch with reality and became dead, a playground for intellectuals.

Maybe the brutal working class boxing is the real "art"??

I myself practise ving tsun, that is considered an semi-internal art, but I see the danger to become "intelectual" and involve to much in the details of technique rather to stick to the target........

keep posting m8....

(D.R.) Thanks to all the Dojo Rats out there who contributed!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Martial; Where "Art" Thou?

The last couple of posts (Is Western Boxing An Art? and Western Boxing Influence In Asian Martial Arts) has sparked a lively debate in the age-old question of "what makes an art?" in general.
Let's take a further look; first of all, the reality of my past Karate, especially Tae Kwon Do, sucked until I took up boxing hand drills. My friend Tom brought his past boxing experience to our Dojo, and it improved our fighting skills by huge leaps and bounds. Western boxing is undoubtedly the easiest learned and fastest path to fighting skills that I have practiced.
Now, let's examine the historical development of the so-called "Asian Martial Arts".
Not long ago I was at a training session with Tim Cartmell. People familiar with Tim recognize him as a very capable authority on traditional Chinese martial arts as well as a champion Brazilian Jujitsu competitor.
I asked Tim what he thought about the trigrams in the Bagua symbol and how they related to the practice of Baguazhang.
Tim pretty much shrugged it off. He told me that the interjection of Taoist symbology in the fighting art was a relatively modern phenomenon, supported by Chinese intellectuals in a time of relative peace. This helped spread the practice of "internal" arts and the element of mysticism appealed to the upper middle-class.
Tim's student (and my Xingyi instructor) Jake Burroughs added these comments in the previous post:

"JAB said...
LOL! Got news for you brother, the Chinese fit their fighting arts to their philosophies. Originally there were three fists in Xing Yi, but that did not fit the five elements so two more were added.
Traditionally there were three palm changes, single, double, smooth body palm... did not fit the philosophies of the I Ching, so they added 5 more to make eight.
Qi is a Chinese word for energy. Energy is in every living thing regardless of that things awareness, nor how any of us define it. Trust me... boxers have PLENTY of qi when they hit!
Meditation is a religious, personal endeavor. To link it to "art" is not contextual.
Of course this is all subjective. Is boxing dangerous... of course it is! Does not negate the art does it? All MARTIAL arts are inherently dangerous if practiced properly. We minimize risks, but they still exist.
To watch the greats like Ali, Fraser, Louis, Foreman, Mayweather, pacman..... to watch them move, strike, slip, step is simply beautiful IMO! The athleticism and ability to perform a skill with such intent and focus is not an art form? By your definition no Olympic sport is an art, BJJ is not an art, pretty much everything that does not have an asian-mystic-metaphysic-religious slant on it is not an art according to your definition. Hell even art is not art in most cases according to your definition!

Jake makes some good points. But if I stay true to my position, I will say that when I was our high school's all-around gymnast and on the wrestling team, I was practicing a sport, not an art.

Additionally, I think what we understand about the Chinese internal arts in particular, is that they have evolved from pure pugilism to a holistic practice combining all the elements of physical and mental health, self-defense applications (even though they may not be the most cutting-edge in effectiveness), and lineage to an ancient historical perspective. Think about how ritual dance in tribal times reflected the success of the hunt or victory in combat.

As I wrote in the last post, I'm reading Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Gou's book "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals; A Historical Perspective". The author's speak directly to this subject:

From "Religion, Morality, and Martial Arts", page 85
"The idea that martial arts were linked to either Taoist or Buddhist philosophy came about when martial arts stopped being a practical trade and started to be a form of recreation for the upper and middle classes. This process began in the late 1800's and accelerated at the start of the Republican era (1912).
To enhance the image of their arts, teachers started connecting up Chinese philosophy with the study and practice of their styles. Doing so brought an intellectual element to what had previously been a physical trade or skill".

So we see that the intellectual, philosophical element in Chinese martial arts has been included in their training for over one hundred-years!

That's a pretty good track record for me. I consider it evidence of the evolution of Chinese martial arts in a time of increasing industrialization. A connection to something greater than life prattled away in a factory job and the hustle of modern society.

I've really appreciated all the comments in the past few posts, everyone had great perspectives.
As promised, I will soon have a review of Kennedy and Gou's "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals", I want to give it a solid read first.

For more thoughts on this subject, see "Why Do I Train In Ancient, Obscure Arts?"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is Western Boxing An "Art"?

The last post on the influence of Western boxing on Asian martial arts brought these responses:

samuel.x.killer said...
big fan of the blog, but i humbly disagree that western boxing lacks philosophy. "fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee" may be one of the most zen lines about combat i know. i would be interested if there are other boxing quotes which exemplify universal aspects of martial arts


JAB said...
Pu En Fu, Hu Xi Lin's Shuai Chiao coach, studied with professional boxers that were part of an Italian delegation that came over in the 40's or 50's to Beijing. Pu Laoshi stated many a time how good their boxing was, how tough they were, and he became a student and studied boxing with them. Combined with his already legendary throwing skills this made him a often sought out trainer!
As for boxing not being an "art." You have not been exposed to good solid boxing then mi amigo. I look at what influence Cus D'Amato(?) had on Tyson, and what could have been if he had lived longer. He took a punk idiot and made him somebody with hardwork ethic and discipline. That in itself is an art form!

My response:

Samuel and Jake;
I guess I've gone over and over this before, but I consider boxing and wrestling (and the misnamed "mixed martial arts") combat sports. Don't get me wrong, I have a great appreciation for both and have practiced both. I wrestled in High school for four years.
There is technique, self-improvement, conditioning and self-defense in boxing and wrestling.
But there is NO underlying philosophy such as Zen aspects in Japanese arts, Taoist or Buddhist aspects in Chinese arts, calligraphy as practiced by martial masters, etc.
There is also no aspect of health improvement (other than raw conditioning) such as Chi development or meditation. In fact, boxing can even damage our bodies (My friend Brian boxed with some pros and loved it. He had to quit because he developed skull fractures in his cheekbone) and wrestlers have even died trying to make weight classes.
Now, I suppose all those arts can be practiced without any thought to those underlying philosophies. Then I would consider them combat skills like boxing and wrestling.
Combined with philosophy, they become an art.
-Just my opinion.

Let the shitstorm begin...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Western Boxing Influence In Asian Martial Arts

In our recent review of the book "Chin Na Fa", we read that author Liu Jinsheng held Western boxing in great regard:

""Those who have practiced these (edit-Chinese martial) arts twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or Judo. Why is this? It is because the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms - they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors. Hence, our martial arts are viewed by outsiders merely as rigorous dancing."

In a discussion in the comments section, I brought up the theory that Western boxing had influenced the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu. This is something I had heard and read about, but never confirmed.
Sean Ledig, who writes from "Tales From The Carport Kwoon",

Karl Godwin, a Wing Chun instructor in Altamonte Springs, Fl., wrote an article about that idea for Black Belt in 1986.
I can't remember which issue, but Google books has a complete collection of Black Belt from the first issue to present day.
Karl hypothesized that Wing Chun was a synthesis between Western Boxing and Taijiquan.
I've heard similar things. I'm sure there's some cross-pollination between fighting arts. Good teachers and good fighters, no matter what country they're from or what time they live, are always on the lookout for anything that they can add to their arsenal."

As it happens, I just started reading "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals - A Historical Survey" by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo (review to follow).
In a short chapter on Western boxing, the authors write:

"Noted Chinese martial arts researcher and teacher Tim Cartmell wrote, "When the Chinese army was researching and developing their hand-to-hand combat, (which later evolved into the modern San Shou/San Da tournament fighting popular today) they researched all the popular forms of martial arts, including their own. The conclusion was that Western boxing hand techniques, when it came to developing practical striking and defensive abilities in a reasonable amount of time, were superior to all others, including their own".

So it appears that there is no doubt that Western boxing had a great influence on Asian martial arts, especially after 1900.
However, in my opinion, Western boxing is not necessarily in the "Art" category. Western boxing combines exercise, sport and combat skills. It is perhaps the most effective and easily learned fighting method, but it lacks the philosophical grounding that would put it in the "Art" category for me.

Combat brings necessary pain. Art necessarily brings pleasure.

This opens the door to a future discussion, also fueled by Kennedy and Guo's book "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals" on the integration of religion, morality and the martial arts.
Review to follow soon.

You can read Sean Ledig's training log and martial musings at "Tales From The Carport Kwoon"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: Chin Na Fa

Chin Na Fa, first published in 1936 is the first modern look at the grappling arts of China. Originally written by Liu Jinsheng and Zhao Jiang, this new edition is translated by martial artist and grappling expert Tim Cartmell.
As Cartmell describes in the preface, "This work represents primary source material of ancient combat techniques designed to restrain, control, injure, or kill an opponent in hand-to-hand combat."
Cartmell goes on to say that the intent of this book is to provide historical documentation for ancient techniques that have been modified for competition and self-defense.

With that in mind, techniques shown in this book will be familiar not only to Chinese martial arts practitioners, but to those who study Judo, Aikido, Jujitsu and similar arts. Perhaps being somewhat Chinese-centric, the author provides us once again with historical evidence that Chinese Grappling arts pre-dated those of Japan:
"During the Ming Dynasty, Chen Yuanbin traveled to Japan and taught the skills of seizing and locking as well as wrestling."
Another startling revelation author Liu Jinsheng provides, referring to traditional Chinese martial arts:

"Those who have practiced these arts twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or Judo. Why is this? It is because the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms - they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors. Hence, our martial arts are viewed by outsiders merely as rigorous dancing."

That's a pretty strong indictment of traditional arts, coming from a master of those arts.
"Chin Na Fa" was written for the battlefield soldier and policemen. The techniques can indeed cripple or kill.
As I stated earlier, this book is important in it's historical context. There are generally only one or two pictures of each technique, but the text reads clearly and it's easy to follow. There are however, no contemporary names or numbers for the acupressure and vital points, which only have Chinese names in their description. People familiar with the points shown will recognize them by their description.
Grapplers in other methods will also see techniques they practice, some that have interesting entries and counter-techniques. There's lots of tearing, ripping, choking, and even techniques for tying people up with a belt.
While it's not the most comprehensive book I've seen on the subject, it provides an honest historical view of combat arts in the time of trench warfare. Practitioners of Chinese martial arts as well as other grappling arts will find the book useful.

You can find "Chin Na Fa" and hundreds of other martial arts titles at the website for Blue Snake Books, LINKED HERE.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview With A Zen Master

Today on the Huffington Post, there is a very good interview with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Here's a bit of the exchange:

"Thich Nhat Hanh: The therapeutic power of meditation is very great, as modern scientific studies are now showing. The practices of mindful breathing, sitting meditation and walking meditation release tensions in the body and also in the mind. When we give ourselves the chance to let go of all our tension, the body's natural capacity to heal itself can begin to work. Animals in the forest know this; when they get wounded, ill or overtired, they know what to do. They find a quiet place and lie down to rest. They don't go chasing after food or other animals -- they just rest. After some days of resting quietly, they are healed and they resume their activities.
"MS: What is your concern for the children growing up being so tethered to electronics?

TNH: There are a number of scientific studies showing the negative effects of this.

I have seen that one of the biggest drawbacks to relying on electronics as a primary refuge - the place we go to be entertained, to feel "good" - is that we end up feeling not happier, but actually less happy. Electronics can be a constructive tool when used mindfully; but so often we use electronic media and games to distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, boredom, etc. We use media in an attempt to cover over the painful feelings inside us, to fill up the feeling of a void in our lives.
What happens when we habitually run away from what's going on inside us and in our relationships, though, is that we end up becoming even more alienated and sad. A lot of TV shows, music and games out there can be quite toxic, watering seeds of craving, fear and violence in us. Yes, life and relationships can be challenging at times; but the more we habitually rely on electronics (just as with drugs, or mindless eating) to numb ourselves to what's happening, the more our problems will persist and proliferate.
That's not to say that we should sit around obsessing and ruminating over our problems, either. Meditation - sitting quietly, calming the activities of our body and mind, and enjoying feeling our aliveness as the breath moves in and out - is the most effective way to clear our mind and make a breakthrough in whatever places we're feeling stuck."

You can find the rest of the interview at THIS LINK

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: "Needle Through Brick"

This Kung Fu documentary, "Needle Through Brick", literally brought tears to my eyes.
Set on the island of Borneo in Malaysia, this is one piece of cultural eye-candy that looks both forward and back in history.
Stemming from the horrors of The Japanese occupation and the Communist revolution in China, many Kung Fu Masters had fled to save the lives of their families. Malaysia is an exotic island archipelago where jungle meets sea, but like the rest of the world, technology has captured Borneo's youth culture.
"Needle Through Brick" examines the legacy of surviving Kung Fu masters, their attempt to pass on their knowledge, and the age-old gripe about "kids these days". The beautifully filmed movie traces the sorrow of knowledge lost to the promise of generational change, and within that change lie the seeds that keep traditional martial arts alive.
While students have drifted towards flashy Wushu or large organizations such as Tae Kwon Do, those who stick it out know something is missing... and eventually they seek out the traditional Masters for the true Kung Fu skills.
One of the stars of the documentary, Eric Ling, is featured in my links list at the website "Many Trees, 1 Forest". Ling has traveled far and wide collecting information from Kung fu Masters and is recognized as an expert in the subject. Ling's voice is one of many that speaks to the past and future of traditional martial arts, and an entire movie could probably be made about his career alone.
"Needle Through Brick" is touching, inspiring and informative.
The website for the film can be found at THIS LINK, and Eric Ling's websites can be found HERE.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

How To Freak Out People In The Park

This is a master named Tong performing a Xingyi routine and then some Bagua work around trees in the park.
I'm not sure of his lineage. There are a few things in his Xingyi that I find fault in, and his Bagua demonstration is evasive movement and not technique oriented. It is however, a pretty good demonstration.
What I thought was interesting was the people that were watching him in the park.
I live in the deep woods and mostly practice outside in private. There are times however, when I find myself practicing in a public park. I usually try to pick a corner out of the way of people, but you just can't hide.
There are lots of whispers as people go by, sometimes explaining to their children what that guy is doing over there.
I remember a comedian on a TV show mocking "The Tai Chi guy in the park". He wanted to know how many dead people were in his freezer.
In the demonstration above, the Chinese people seem pretty used to martial artists practicing in the park. Over here in the states, people find it odd, or amusing, or threatening.
Do you practice martial arts in public? Have you had good or bad experiences doing this?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shuai Jiao: Chinese Wrestling

Here is a dramatically overproduced video showing an example of Shuai Jiao, or Chinese Wrestling.
Note the conditioning methods, they produce very strong fighters.

And here is Yang Jwing Ming demonstrating Shuai Jiao as it is practiced in Tai Chi Chuan. This will give the viewer an example of the varied self-defense aspects of Chinese wrestling:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: The Method Of Chinese Wrestling

In primitive times, unarmed combat was survived in two ways: running or wrestling. Wrestling is the natural way of dealing with an aggressor, perhaps more so than striking which is very specialized.
As legend has it, nearly all Asian martial arts came from India and spread throughout China to neighboring areas. There is much historical information to suggest that Chinese Wrestling is the basis for Japanese Jujitsu, Sumo, Hapkido and related arts-- From Tong Zhongyi:
"Wrestling arts were most popular among the Manchurians and Mongolians. Most of the northern martial artists are skilled at these wrestling arts. During the Ming Dynasty, the Japanese obtained a copy of a book on our comprehensive martial arts. This is the origin of Ju jutsu in Japan"
So begins "The Method of Chinese Wrestling" by Tong Zhongyi, translated by expert grappler and martial artist Tim Cartmell.

Culturally, in Northern China the climate is colder and heavier clothing is worn. This favored the grappling methods and the physically larger body types associated with the Mongols. My Korean Tae Kwon Do Master, the late Tae Hong Choi told me a story of his family traveling to a festival held by the Mongols when he was a very young boy. At night, they entered a large tent to witness this scene: Mongol warriors were wrestling everywhere. There were whole animals being roasted on spits over open fires. One huge Mongol approached young Choi; he was eating an entire leg of a sheep, grease dripping down the front of his chest and clothing...
This is the historical background for the type of wrestling favored by the Chinese, commonly called Shuai Jiao.
"The Method Of Chinese Wrestling" provides us with a fairly comprehensive view of the history, training methods, conditioning and techniques of this art.
For a reproduction of such an old book, the pictures are remarkably clear and the text is simple and readable. Tim Cartmell has done a very good translation, and the forwards by other masters provide context.
One thing that students of other grappling arts may find unique about Chinese Wrestling: they have solo forms, intended to be practiced by the individual. I have not seen other grappling arts use such form work. Additionally, conditioning methods use simple sticks, posts, weighted baskets and large barrels. Modern fitness buffs will be amused yet appreciate the simplicity of such training.
This book may also give Judo players another view of grappling, with variations of techniques such as entangling legs and knock-downs as well as common high throws.
Typically, Chinese Wrestling does not include ground fighting, so consider this strictly a book on takedowns.
From the historical aspect, elements of conditioning and use of techniques, this book will compliment the library of any grappling enthusiast, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

You can find "The Method Of Chinese Wrestling" and hundreds of other martial arts titles at the website for Blue Snake Books.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mike Garafolo's Xingyi Resource Page

I was browsing through Mike Garafolo's Blog "Cloud Hands: Mind/Body Movement Arts" earlier today.
Mike has collected hundreds and hundreds of resource links for various Chinese Internal Martial Arts. While there is generally tons of information on Tai Chi Chuan (so many people practice it) it's harder to find stuff on Bagua and good stuff on Xingyi (Hsing-i) is really sparse.
The Tai Chi stuff is obvious. But I wonder about Bagua. There seems to be more stuff available on Bagua, beginning to rival Tai Chi. It must be the mysterious ways of Bagua, the spiraling animal forms and grappling applications. But Bagua is undoubtedly much harder to learn and apply in combat.
That leaves poor Xingyi, the red-headed stepchild of Chinese Internal Arts in third place for information distribution. Xingyi is hands-down the easiest art to apply for the time spent training. It is the only CIMA to have actually been taught to be used on the battlefield. This is why I am so amazed that there is so little published in English about the art.
Fortunately Mike Garafolo has spent a great deal of time collecting links to Xingyi schools, books, video's and links to articles. I intend to review it thoroughly.

The link for the "Cloud Hands" Blog is HERE

And here's the link for the Xingyi resource page

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Take This, Arizona! *UPDATE*

Hmmm... looks like they may have decided to block this video now. It worked for a few days...
***Click the picture of the guy with the beard in the bottom left corner. It will show another version, but the one that is being blocked is much better, and updated to include the Arizona content. Somebody must be pissed at ol' Dojo Rat...

**UPDATE** It Seems an anti-immigration group has caused quite a stir about this spoof:
"But what happens if the movie is based on a fake trailer, and a second politicized fake trailer is "leaked" to help promote it?
Weeks after putting out an alert about illegal immigrants allegedly plotting armed rebellion with shovels and axes, the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC is now concerned about a new film which depicts "an army of machete and AK-47 wielding illegal aliens in a violent uprising."


They Just Fucked With The Wrong Mexican!

Ha, ha, ha...
This Grindhouse spoof trailer was re-released after Arizona became a "Failed State".
I told my relatives I couldn't travel to Arizona to visit because I don't have a passport. Wouldn't go there anyway.
I swear, they just shot themselves in the foot with this wave of anti-immigrant legislation. Hundreds of conventions have pulled out, people are refusing to send their kids to college there, and business is poised to fold due to lack of labor.
Good luck with that, Dudes...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Apocalypse Now

Collapse of the drill rig "Deepwater Horizon"


Happier days:

What went wrong?
Listen to environmental lawyer Mike Papantonio lay the blame squarely with Dick Cheney's energy task force and the across-the-board deregulation during the eight years of the Cheney/Bush administration. Starts about 3:00:

And on to the Greek Riots:

Greek rioters protest austerity measures imposed to pull the financial mess back together. They've already burned down one Bank, killing three people.
How did things get this bad? Ask the Masters Of The Universe at Goldman- Sachs. From The New York Times:

"Even as the crisis was nearing the flashpoint, banks were searching for ways to help Greece forestall the day of reckoning. In early November — three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety — a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting."
"As in the American subprime crisis and the implosion of the American International Group, financial derivatives played a role in the run-up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere."

So This:

Was Caused By This:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Xingyi Dragon Discussion

Last week I wrote "Chasing Another Dragon", In which I bumble my way through learning the Xingyi Dragon form with instruction by Jake Burroughs.
As it happens, the folks over at "The Rum-Soaked Fist" have had a lively discussion on the Dragon form the last few days.
The above video was posted in the discussion, and represents three methods of performing the Dragon form. The last version, at 2:10 is similar to the way I am learning it, rising with the kick. Our kick however, is slightly lower and stomps through the opponents knee. It appears that this practitioner retracts the kick a bit.
Otherwise, the form looks nice, and I like the different expressions. As you can see, this is a very strenuous form, great for conditioning.

Check out the discussion over at "The Rum Soaked Fist".

Monday, May 3, 2010

The SeaBees In Da Nang, 1965-66

We were off on a short trip this last weekend, and I came across something that really interested me and gave me pause to reflect.
My wife and I stopped in a typical "Greasy Spoon" to get breakfast near Whidbey Island Naval Air Station here in Washington State. The restaurant was covered with military pictures and local news articles about soldiers and airmen from the last five-or-so wars, not something I usually experience.
On the window ledge next to me was a hardbound yearbook; the accounts of a SeaBee unit at Da Nang Vietnam, 1965-66.
For those who are not familiar with the SeaBees, they are a "Naval Mobile Construction Battalion" (CB's). In this case, they were building the airbase at Da Nang.
The yearbook was quite a bit like my high school yearbook, which I received ten years after the Da Nang edition was published. Along with individual pictures, there were hundreds of candid pictures of young men engaged in all forms of construction. This included road building, well drilling, and assembling temporary and permanent structures. They also detailed social services the SeaBees provided, including work at an orphanage and medical attention for the local population.
All the guys were so young, many listed with nick-names or staging practical jokes. Many were sporting those clunky government issue heavy black-frame eyeglasses.
One pic showed a SeaBee holding a Civet Cat he had shot raiding the food stores, it was about the size of a Bobcat over here. A couple of pages were produced in amber or purple tint, reflecting the emerging psychedelic culture back in the States.
The obvious high point in social life was captured in a USO show, hosted by Bob Hope and a large number of pretty girls. Ann Margret also hosted a similar show, and no doubt gave the guys something to dream about. There were lots of very pretty Vietnamese girls, of course.
What really stuck out is that these guys were really proud of their engineering work, and they were practicing a trade that they could take home after the war, continue in construction and make a good living.
I can only hope that the men and women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan can return home to a similar bright future.

Here's a very short video mash-up of the SeaBees in Vietnam: