Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Horse Tai Chi Chuan

Tip of the hat to the guys over at "The Rum-Soaked Fist", where I found this guy.
His name is Casey Payne and he runs "Black Horse Tai Chi". From his website, it looks like he trained in Taiwan, and he's a damned good athlete. It looks like he specializes in push hands, and as you can see it serves him well in his first Chinese "Shuai Jiao" Chinese wrestling competition.
One of his posts says he is attempting to bring all the Tai Chi schools in Milwaukee Wisconsin together in a unified spirit of fellowship and competition. I think he'd be a great guy to train with if you are in his area.

Here he is in a nice arm bar submission:

I'm going to watch his website for a while and it might end up on my links list.

Here's the link to his site: Black Horse Tai Chi

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Fun: On The Hunt

Ah yes.
I've been snowed in for a couple of days here in the islands, 17 degrees last night.
Cuttin' firewood, thawing pipes and playing music.
Here's Lynyrd Skynyrd" "On The Hunt", from 1975. Hmm... 1975, I had a '66 Barracuda with a fold-down back seat, great for dates.

I have the riff down, it's pretty much an Em-G thing, but it's hard for me to play the riff and get the lyrics in their right place. I am reminded how much it stretches your brain to use both left and right side- ie; singing while playing a challenging riff.

--While I'm in a music mood, here's The Marshall Tucker Band's "Take The Highway".
I nailed this a month or so ago and have performed it live a couple of times.
My wife plays the flute part and my lead guitarist pulls some great fills. This is one song that has to be sung at full volume from the bottom of your diaphragm:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Did OJ Get His Ass Kicked?

Murder can be miserable.

Word from British paper "Mail Online" Former football star, accused murderer and memorabilia thief OJ Simpson got his ass kicked in prison:

"Shamed football great OJ Simpson was beaten unconscious in a racially motivated prison attack, according to a report.
A skinhead inmate is said to have kicked and punched Simpson to ‘a bloody pulp’ after allegedly overhearing him bragging about his sexual conquests of white women."
Bruce Fromong, Simpson’s former business partner, told the magazine that ‘The Juice’ was boasting about his success with white girlfriends while behind bars.
‘Unfortunately for OJ, a group of young skinhead punks were within earshot and they were enraged,’ Fromong said in an exclusive interview.
‘They waited for a day when he would be in the exercise yard without his usual posse of black prisoners. OJ was completely unprotected when one of the toughest of the skinheads - who's in his mid-20s - jumped him.
‘The skinhead rained blows on OJ’s head, shoulders and upper body - and continued to punch him savagely after he fell unconscious to the ground. He was covered in blood from deep cuts on his face,’ he added.
Fromong was one of the memorabilia dealers Simpson robbed at gunpoint, but the former friends declared ‘no hard feelings’ during Simpson's Las Vegas trial and they have been in contact since the ex-sportsman's 2007 conviction.
‘He's fallen into a deep depression. He spends most of his time confined to his cell, refusing to venture out unless he's surrounded by a posse of inmates he pays for protection. He’s fearful he’ll never leave prison alive,’ added Fromong.
Simpson is said to have trouble getting around with arthritic and bad knees as a result of the hard hits he suffered during his football career.
(D.R.) "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit"...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Barbarian Brothers Fight MMA

My how the worm turns.

For those of you who have been following our saga of the Barbarian Brothers, our buds from the Mainland that we have been training - here's an update.

These guys joined our little Dojo a while ago, mainly because they were refered by a Tai Chi friend of ours. Little did we know, they had their sights set on MMA - something I have mixed feelings about.
But here's the story:

These guys were raw green recruits. They are big, atheletic and work hard. But they never had any Martial training, except the older Bro wrestled in High School.
The younger bro actually fought an MMA fight about two months ago, and lost. He hung low for a while, and his older brother stayed consistant in his training.
Tom worked them hard on boxing, Corey has the most ring experience (semi-pro) and I filled in with some stuff I have learned from Tim Cartmell. We are in no means the kind of guys that train MMA fighters, but we were just in that position when these guys committed to the fights.
Both brothers had fights Saturday night. The location was an old fish canning warehouse in Anacortes Washington, their hometown (it was billed as "The Shred in the Shed"). Anacortes fielded at least four fighters out of eight fights, all amateur.
The building was very cold, with scant overhead infrared heaters. There were only two restrooms (one toilet each) for five hundred people. You know what that means, people pissed outside. Hey, it's the Pacific Northwest.
Most of the fighters were light or middle-weight. The promoter did a good job matching fighters, and about half the fighters had talent.
Lots of hot chicks everywhere, Beer and whiskey served. Only one fight in the crowd that I saw.
Our guys were very "green". Young Bro had lost his first fight before, and older Bro fought the same guy. But let's start with Young Bro.
He had a guy that outweighed him by thirty pounds. Young Bro landed a few lucky punches and got a reversal to top mount on the ground. Both fighters were out of steam at the end of round one. Young Bro won because his opponent stayed on all fours barfing into a bucket in his corner, and could not continue.
Older Bro was scheduled for the main event, even though it was his first fight. His opponent had beat his younger brother a couple of months ago, he was bigger and had some good background training. He was tough.
Older Bro did very, very well. He went all three (three minute) rounds and lost by two to four point margin (Something like 28-32) from the ring judges.
He was terribly disappointed, and took it pretty hard in private.
But he fought very well, and looked good on his feet.

I went to the after fight party where everyone was shitfaced. Met some of the fighters, promoters, trainers, and wanna-bees. All these guys were gentlemen and their trainers were very open and friendly. We drank heavy.

What did I learn?

Conditioning is king.
All these guys were good sportsmen, no temper-tantrums or problems.
I've had a bad taste in my mouth about MMA in the past, and this went a long way to changing my attitude.

Am I going to restructure my martial training?
No. I prefer "Art" over "pugilism".

But the Barbarian Brothers needed us to get them up to speed, and we did that.
Now I need to send them to BJJ ground school training with my guys in Seattle, where they will really get it together.

Al-in-all, a good report.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Paradox of the Yapping Master

Dr. Yang Jwing Ming

Here is a classic example of what we might call "The Yapping Master".
Probably nobody in the field of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts has produced more research material than Dr. Yang Jwing Ming. People all over the world, including myself have benefited from his dozens and dozens of books and videos, and he now has his own publishing house. His skill level and detailed analysis of Chinese Martial arts are unparalleled.

But, I've had my second report of a student who was somewhat unsatisfied with his seminar presentation.

We have all been to seminars where we had high expectations. Lights, camera, action -let's rock and roll!

And then the Master Yaps and Yaps for an hour about whatever is on his mind.
I do not intend to single out Dr. Yang specifically, but here's the rap:
A while back my martial brother told me he went to the promoter of a Dr. Yang seminar halfway through and asked for his money back. They kept it pretty quiet so as not to disrupt the rest of the seminar.
Now another martial brother sends me this:

"I had the Yang Seminar this past weekend. Take this with a grain of salt as I can be a glass half empty sometimes. We started both days with three hours of lecture in the morning. The focus of the seminar was Chi Kung. There was a lot of Taiji theory and Daoist philosophy background, etc.....Which was fine with's interesting stuff and intellectually stimulating.
However, Dr. Yang took an opportunity to go off on tangents and talk about Nuclear War, life on Mars, quite a bit on the human reproductive system and other non Chi Kung topics. I'm sure some students found this all very interesting, but, if you had an opposing view or ideology, it's hard to just sit there and drink the koolaid.
The afternoons were spent doing Chi Kung and some Sticky Hands type of partner drills. We mostly focused on doing the figure eight Taiji Symbol type of Push Hands if you will. This was more of what I was looking for.
Yes, there were several verbal advertisements for DVD's and Books from Dr. Yang during his lectures. It wasn't overly obnoxious in my humble opinion."

These seminars are quite expensive.

Now, I've attended other seminars with other Masters that have rambled on and on.
I have been guilty of that myself.
One time my Aikido instructor asked me to lead a group through a jo staff form. I described the movements and names as I went through the drill. He stopped me and said "Sometimes we talk too much, just demonstrate the movements".
That sunk in. Now, it drives me crazy when instructors yap all the way through a form. At first, it will help beginning students to hear the description, but after that just shut up and do the form.

Now look at me, rambling on and on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

WMD's found in San Diego? --with update

I don't quite know what to make of this.
We know for a fact that the Bush administration intentionally raised terror alerts whenever politics were going bad for them.
On the other hand, we know for a fact that the Anthrax used to attack media groups and Democratic members of the Senate was made in US weapons laboratories.
Inside job. Blame it on a dead scientist.

Now this.
False Flag operation?
Actual terrorist attempt?
"Red Cell" US team testing security?

You gotta love the blanket denial by Homeland Security
Here is more detail from a British news service.
It's been kept pretty quiet here...


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Comparison of San Shou Fighting Forms

The guys over at "The Rum Soaked Fist" have been bantering back-and-forth about their experience with 2-person Taiji San Shou forms, and since I got some skin in the game I'll post our form again at the end.

First from Steve Rowe's school; a very smooth version. However, there is less lateral or circular movement, tactilely very light, resulting in a few obvious openings- but I like the intent and smoothness:

Next, two guys in a park in China doing the form. Note the very large frame as opposed to Steve's video. This too results in the form becoming too dance-like for actual combat techniques to emerge, but this is the best pace and distance to learn the form in. It can be aesthetically very pleasing to both the performer and viewer.

Here is a version by Paul Brecher's students.
It is done so fast it starts to resemble Wing Chun or other styles, but this is the best for actually learning to use the techniques in a fight. The speed forces the players to use less yielding movement, the hallmark of good Tai Chi Chuan. The result is a lot of jamming and less leading the opponent into the abyss. I like the energy and intent though, and it can be a good workout at this speed.

And here is our version, some of you have seen it before. This was when we first learned it about three years ago and it's a little short on intent as we struggle through the form. The lineage is from Jou Tsung Hwa to our teacher Michael Gilman to us.
Clearly, this form does not teach students how to fight. But what it does is take all the techniques from Yang style Tai Chi Chuan and let the student experiment with attack and defense in a cooperative pattern.

You can check out other versions of the form and the rancorous comments at "The Rum Soaked Fist"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chang Tung Sheng: Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

I ran across this video again and looked at it in a new light; this is how a true fighter interprets Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan.
Chang Tung Sheng is one of the most famous of Chinese Shuai Jiao wrestlers. It is said he was never defeated in challenge matches.

No silk pajamas.
No fancy stylistic flair.
Pure efficient movement.

Here's from Chang's Wiki bio:
"Nicknamed the "Iron Butterfly," Chang would go on to win numerous challenge matches before entering China's armed services - traveling across the Kuomintang controlled areas of China to seek out other shuai jiao practitioners in order to test his skills. He may also have first started learning xingyi in this period.
He taught as the youngest faculty member in the Nanjing Central Kuoshu Institute (中央國術館) and exchanged knowledge with other martial arts experts. He created his own variation of Tai Chi and xingyi, Chang Tai Chi, based on Yang style tai chi chuan, xingyi and his shuai jiao knowledge.
Throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, of which China became a part, Chang instructed large numbers of Chinese Nationalist troops in Shuai Chiao (including the elite Red Wall paratroopers), while continuing to fend of numerous challenges. When not otherwise occupied, Chang visited several POW camps to test his Shuai Chiao against Japanese practitioners of judo, jujutsu and karate."

A couple of observations:
He moves through the form at about twice the speed that other masters do. That may be for the filming time length, or he may normally do it at this speed. This dispels the myth that Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan must be practiced at excruciatingly slow speed.
In the end, he demonstrates "Snake creeps down" in a relatively high posture with a bend in his lead knee. I read somewhere that he saw dangerous flaws in the traditional low ground sweeping method with the knee locked straight.

As far as martial tradition, Chang's method is similar to my studies: a wrestler who went on to train in Yang Tai Chi Chuan and Xingyi, a pretty formidable mix of traditional Chinese Martial Arts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Trees...

There is unrest in the forest; there is trouble with the trees.
For the Maples want more sunlight and the Oaks ignore their pleas

-Rush, from "Hemispheres"

Trees, trees, trees...
Above you see the close call we had in a November storm, where the top of a hundred year-old Maple tree blew out and barely missed this corner of our house. There is probably 10,000 pounds of tree laying there. I had a friend who makes musical instruments survey the wood and he says it's the right kind of Maple for high quality instrument wood. The rest of the tree was going to be a problem; forty feet of trunk still leaning towards the building site. So we recruited a friend that is a tree climber to help us bring it down:

The trouble with the Maples (and they're quite convinced they're right);
They say the Oaks are just too lofty and they grab up all the light.
But the Oaks can't help their feelings if they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the Maples can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest, and the creatures all have fled,
as the Maples scream "Oppression!" and the Oaks just shake their heads.

So the Maples formed a union and demanded equal rights.
"The Oaks are just too greedy, we will make them give us light!"
Now there's no more Oak oppression, for they passed a noble law.
-And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw.

So we had rigged up a line and pulley and tied off to my tractor. This is right before he made the final cut and I was going to pull it over.
Best laid plans and all that; the tree was supposed to land about twenty feet away from me.
Instead, it missed the tractor by about three feet, a very close call...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Scandals of Sumo

Probably no martial sport practiced today is more closely tied to tradition and shamanic ritual than Japan's Sumo Wrestling. The wrestlers have long represented Japan's Samurai heritage and stoic work ethic. They are national heroes.
-But now the close ties between Sumo and The Yakusa, Japan's mob, have risen to the surface. From a great series with embedded links, The New York Times investigates:

Beginning in July-
"On Sunday, the Japan Sumo Association, the sport’s governing body, announced the firing of a top wrestler and a stable master — a powerful coach who controls a cluster of wrestlers — for betting on professional baseball games in a gambling ring run by organized crime. Two other stable masters were demoted, and 18 other wrestlers were barred from competing in the next tournament.
This came after an apparently unrelated scandal two months ago over the sale of tickets for prized seats at the foot of the sport’s raised dirt ring to around 50 members of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate. The seats allowed the gangsters, known as yakuza, to be clearly visible during television broadcasts of the bouts, a brazen display that sumo experts said was aimed at cheering up an incarcerated syndicate boss watching from prison."

And now, text messages indicate wrestlers are "throwing" matches in pre-arranged wins and losses.

"“Please hit hard at the face-off, then go with the flow,” one of the wrestlers, Kiyoseumi, texted on the afternoon of May 10, according to a transcript of the messages leaked to local news media and published this week by the daily newspaper Mainichi.
“Understood,” Kasuganishiki, his opponent in the following day’s match, quickly replied. “I’ll go with the flow and put up at least a little resistance.”

"Now, government officials have said sumo may lose its status as a national sport, a status that has given it government backing, tax exemptions and guaranteed coverage by NHK."


Supporters say Sumo has always been rigged, as well as remained in contact with organized crime. Without such funding, the grand theatre of Sumo may fall into decline...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Batman Tai Chi

I found this in my inbox at yesterday, pretty cool.
It's amazing how technology has changed and the video artist can mirror the movements of a human performer.

--But Chen-Style Taiji guys... why is Chen looked upon as being a more "martial" style than say... Yang style?
OK, I see the stomping, spiral energy, fast fajin - but to me it is actually harder to discern the martial movement than in the Yang style that I practice.

Any thoughts?