Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Great Don Draeger Footage: Jo Staff vs. Sword

Don Draeger on the set of James Bond "You Only Live Twice"

*Don Draeger was a martial arts legend and prolific author. His work includes:
*Judo Training Methods : A Sourcebook, with Takahiko Ishikawa, The Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1961
*Javanese Silat: The Fighting Art of Perisai Diri by Quintin Chambers and Donn F. Draeger (Paperback - Mar 1979)
*ShaoLin Lohan Kung-Fu with co-author P'ng Chye Kim (from Penang, Malaysia, 1979) www.saolimcanada.com (ISBN 978-0-8048-1698-4)
*Pentjak-Silat The Indonesian Fighting Art, Kodansha International Ltd,1970
*Asian Fighting Arts (with Robert W. Smith), Kodansha International, 1969; re-titled *Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts upon republication, 1980 (ISBN 978-0870114366)
*Classical Bujutsu : Martial Arts And Ways Of Japan, Vol I., Weatherhill, 1973, 1996
*Classical Budo: Martial Arts And Ways Of Japan, Vol II., Weatherhill, 1973, 1996
*Modern Bujutsu & Budo: Martial Arts And Ways Of Japan, Vol III., Weatherhill, 1974, 1996
*Japanese Swordsmanship : Technique And Practice (with Gordon Warner), Weatherhill, 1982
*The Weapons and Fighting Arts of Indonesia (ISBN 978-0804817165)
*Phoenix-Eye Fist: A Shaolin Fighting Art of South China
*Shantung Black Tiger: A Shaolin Fighting Art of North China (with Leo Budiman Prakarsa and Quintin T. G. Chambers), Weatherhill, 1976 (ISBN 978-0834801226)
*Judo Formal Techniques: A Complete Guide to Kodokan Randori No Kata
*Ninjutsu: The Art of Invisibility, Japan's Feudal Age Espionage Methods, Lotus Press, 1977; Phoenix Books, 1994

Check out this fantastic demonstration; Draeger with Kaminoda Tsunemori in a Jo Staff vs. Sword routine:

I have studied the Jo staff, but this clip includes techniques I was never taught. Note how he uses the jo to control the opponent's arms and sword even before it is drawn. This guy has had thousands of hours of quality training...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something Very Big About To Happen?

USS Carl Vinson Carrier Group

I don't have a single dollar in the Stock Market.
Like most Americans, I live a simple life; day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck, Beer-to-Beer.

But before the news becomes news, you have to watch what the financial guys are saying. These guys closely observe the global condition and squeeze their pennies.

One of the sites I have been reading regularly is "Zerohedge", and I have found them to be reliable in predicting trends.

With that said, there is a lot going on. As if the Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster aren't enough, North Africa and the Middle East are on the radar.

First, let's look at this chart of "money" being injected into the system by The Federal Reserve:

This was submitted to Zerohedge by Phoenix Capital Research, and here is part of their analysis:
"Why You Should Be Freaked Out By The Stock Market"
"This is a chart of the US monetary base. In simple terms, it charts how much money the Fed has pumped into the system (at least that it admits). So it’s a kind of visual of the Fed hitting the PANIC button: when the monetary base explodes higher, the Fed is FREAKING out.
You'll note that during the Financial Crisis the Fed didn't do much until the autumn of 2008 when it pumped nearly $1 trillion into the system. Think about that, the Fed didn’t go nuts pumping money until the stuff REALLY hit the fan.
"No, this is the Fed FREAKING OUT about the financial system again. And it's a freak out on par with 2008.
So if you think that all is well "behind the scenes" you're in for a rude surprise. Something BIG is going down and it's NOT good.
And rest assured, by the time the mainstream media announces what it is, it will already be in full swing."

Now, match that article up with this report. It was carried on Zerohedge again, but the source is "Stratfor", a private intelligence analyst that monitors global military affairs:
"Wonder why the administration made such a stink of reducing the US airborne presence around Libya, and handing it off to France, Italy, Canada and Turkey? Here's the answer: the CVN65 Enterprise which last week was within striking distance of Libya, has quietly left the Red Sea and is now virtually swimming in the wake of CVN 70 Vinson in the Strait of Hormuz. Because obviously whatever is about to happen in the Persian Gulf will need not one but two aircraft carrier formations."

So what is going on?
From my casual reading of the news, I suggest Saudi Arabia is the wild card right now.
The Saudis have lost their friends in the Bush family. They are frantically sending their troops into Bahrain and other countries trying to prop up fragile dictatorships that mirror their own.
I believe that the Obama administration, nursing the damaged economy that was systematically destroyed in the past administration, will do what is necessary to keep the price of oil at around $100 a barrel.

So what do we do?
Pay down your debt as quickly as possible. Grow gardens and keep non-perishable food on hand for hard times. Work cooperatively with neighbors.
Quoting Kipling; "The strength of the pack is the wolf - but the strength of the wolf is the pack"...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Complete History of Korean Martial Arts

My buddy and fellow Dojo Rat William Acevedo up in Canada has contributed a great essay on the history of Korean Martial Arts. William is a published author and martial historian. Last time we trained together he gave me an autographed copy of the "Journal of Asian Martial Arts", in which he wrote "A Historical View of Mixed Martial Arts in China" (Volume 19, number 3 - 2010).
William wanted to fill in some of the details for my previous posts on Korean fighting: "The Long and Short of Tae Kwon Do", and "Returning Korean Fighting to it's Roots".

William writes:
"Even though we support any efforts to return modern combat sports to its original roots, we need to ask, what are these roots when discussing Korean martial arts?. Let's take a look at what the different Korean schools have to say about this question.
"It is logical to assumed that Chinese intervention lasted enough to probably influence in some way earlier martial practices in Korea. Confucian thought was assimilated in Korea. An example of this is the Hwarang, who included Confucius' Six Arts and virtues as part of the their preparation; among them archery and charioteering (Henning points out that this might have been replaced by horse riding due to the difficulty of the Korean terrain) during the Silla period (668 - 935). Chinese language as well as the Confucian merit system in the form of Civil Examination was also adopted. Testing in martial skills was a requirement for entry in the elite guards, much like China's Military Imperial Examination instituted by empress Wu Zetian (690 - 705). The Imperial Examinations included several skills to be tested, varying in scope depending on the different dynasties these exams were held. The tests included: strength, archery on foot and horse, spear, boxing, wrestling, military classics etc."

This is just a small piece of William's extensive historical essay, which can be found at THIS LINK.

William also has a YouTube page "Tianshan Warrior" at THIS LINK

For those interested in Korean martial arts and Asian martial arts history, please see this article by William and others on his website.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Surfing The Apocalypse: West Coast Radiation Monitoring

Japanese child gets checked for Radiation

It's hard to say where to begin;
A series of huge earthquakes around the Pacific Rim, the devastating wall of water that swept parts of Eastern Japan; the failure of some of the most advanced nuclear technology to be contained. Scientists say the West Coast of the United States is probably next for a big shake-up.
If there was ever a clear sign that Nuclear power is far more dangerous than the industry will admit, this is it.
Skeptics say that Japan survived and rebuilt after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that was a short-term event. The destruction of the Japanese reactors is ongoing and unlikely to be resolved soon. Another key piece of information that is buried in the news is that at least one of the reactors is fueled with a mix that includes Plutonium, the most deadly of all radioactive isotopes. This is a game-changer.
More disturbing, this was reported in the "San Jose Mercury News":

"EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA's regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency's written statement would stand on its own.
Critics said the public needs more information.
"It's disappointing," said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. "I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don't want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money."

With this in mind, other nuclear energy watchdogs have set up websites that have real-time (click refresh) monitoring of radiation levels. The one below is measured in "CPM", or counts per minute:

Link to above website
Notice the unusually high readings in Colorado; that's where the Rocky Flats Nuclear Arsenal is. The East Coast has high readings around nuclear plants also.

And this website has various charts that show type of radiation and when spikes occur. Look at the spikes for certain days in Portland:

Washington's Blog has a great article describing how many nuclear plants accidents have been covered up to protect the nuclear power industry. Some of these have been very serious.:

"As a History Chanel special notes, a nuclear meltdown occurred at the world's first commercial reactor only 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and only 7 miles from the community of Canoga Park and the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
Specifically, in 1959, there was a meltdown of one-third of the nuclear reactors at the Santa Susana field laboratory operated by Rocketdyne, releasing - according to some scientists' estimates - 240 times as much radiation as Three Mile Island."


There is no way to tell exactly what is currently happening and how serious widespread radiation could be. It is certainly serious in the affected areas in Japan, and our hearts go out to the people who are suffering.
This is going to be a huge economic issue as stories like this occur:

"Large German Fund Freezes Accounts Because Tokyo Real Estate ‘Now Impossible to Value’

"Union Investment, one of the largest German fund managers with €177bn under management, said that the nuclear fallout in Japan has made valuation of its properties too difficult as its surveyors had never had to deal with the threat of nuclear contamination before.
It said that while there is no physical damage to any of Union's Tokyo properties, the threat of nuclear contamination is unknowable.
It said that it therefore had "no option" but to freeze all buying and selling of units in its Unilmmo Global fund. This means investors can neither withdraw their money nor put any extra in."

Japan will take years to rebuild.
Here on the west coast, naturopath doctors are advising detoxifying the body. This includes eating kelp, herbs, vitamin D, and even red wine and black tea. Potassium iodide is only recommended for extreme exposure as it can be hazardous itself.


When we look around the world right now, things are a mess, in a state of flux. I don't think we've ever had a U.S. President that has to deal with as much as Obama does now; The Bush Depression, the gulf oil spill (which is still going on), the revolutions in the middle east and three wars.

People hype and worry about the doomsday prophesy of 2012, a misreading of an ancient Mayan calender. Rather than an abrupt end, is signals a shift into a higher consciousness in people around the world.
Let's hope so.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Wrestling Team

Lincoln High Wrestling Team, Portland 1974

It's the toughest sport I've ever competed in, and I guess you could say it was my first martial art. This was back in the day when students died fasting and sweating trying to make weight. I remember going entire school days only eating one orange. Of course, that diet went out the door when we started drinking Beer after school.
In the picture above, you see me (with the blue arrow) weighing in at 136 pounds. As I grew, I went up weight classes; 157, 178. - As I said, we started drinking Beer.
The adults you see at each end of the bottom row are our coaches. On the left in the free-style uniform is Don Austin. Mr. Austin had a hot girlfriend and walked around the halls of the school playing a Banjo. Man, we thought he was cool.
One day Mr. Austin cornered some of us and said if we didn't quit drinking Beer we'd be kicked off the team. We said if he did that, he wouldn't have a team. So we stayed and kept drinking Beer.
On the right in the white sweatpants is Will Nettles. Mr. Nettles was the most athletic coach I had, and he was incredibly strong. One day in the cafeteria, Mr. Nettles was on duty monitoring the students. He had come over to our table and asked us to quit doing something, like writing on the tables or being loud. Being the 15 year-old smart-ass that I was, I mouthed off to him thinking I was funny. Mr. Nettles very quietly whispered into my ear that he'd see me in wrestling practice.
That afternoon, we were going through warm-ups and Mr, Nettles came in late. He pointed to me and ordered me into the mat room attached to the main room. He slammed the metal door behind us. For a good fifteen minutes, Mr. Nettles did everything that was legally possible to beat up a fifteen year-old. I got the living shit slammed out of me. The team in the next room could hear me bouncing off the walls.
At the end, Mr. Nettles let us out of the room. The team stood looking in awe. I dragged myself in, resumed practice with the guys and took the beating like a man should. I figured it was over, but oh how wrong I was.
The next day, my English teacher Mr. Johnsrud came into wrestling practice. He was a huge Norwegian dude that played Rugby. But that day, he was wearing a free-style wrestling uniform. He wasn't even one of our coaches.
Well, you can guess what happened. He opened the heavy metal door to the mat room and tossed me in. It was another legal beating. I had begun to figure it out; these guys had conspired to teach me not to be such a smart-ass. I think Mr. Johnsrud's beating was even worse, because he wasn't the technician that Mr. Nettles was. Just body slam after body slam.
And you know what?
That's the way it should be. A hundred years ago, I would have been on a cattle drive or a ship at sea. If I smarted off, the older cowboys or sailors would have kicked my ass and that would have been that. Guys can grow up with that kind of reinforcement.
It's not that I support beating kids at school, but a few of them could learn from it. I understand society's just principles, but sometimes the law of the jungle makes a deep impression.
I grew up faster because my coaches cared about me and wanted me to get back on track, and I love and respect them for it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Returning Korean Fighting to it's Roots


Recently on Dojo Rat I took another look at my experience in Tae Kwon Do, which began around 1979. "The Long and Short of Tae Kwon Do" detailed how I witnessed combat TKD degrade into a sport with a rule set that makes it only marginally useful in a serious fight.
I remember one of my instructors, who rescued a woman from being raped in downtown Portland say that without western boxing skills he could never have saved the woman from the two attackers.
There is a long, sordid history of the development of modern Tae Kwon Do, but here's the nickel tour: It originally started out as Shotokan Karate under the Japanese occupation of Korea. Many Koreans took Japanese names and were educated under the Japanese school system.
During the Korean war Korean fighters made their fame killing Chinese soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. These guys were tough, and soon caught the attention of the U.S. military. Decisions were made to categorize various schools of Korean fighters, and "Tang Soo Do" (way of the Chinese hand) became the most recognized system. By that time, the Koreans had distanced themselves from their Shotokan roots by adding spectacular high jumping kicks. These were performed at military and government demonstrations to awe the crowd, and were almost useless in actual combat.
None-the-less, lessons learned in hand-to-hand fighting were taught to Korean and U.S. military units as well as the secret service of both countries.
My instructor, the late Master Tae Hong Choi taught these techniques to Special Forces in Vietnam as well as the U.S. CIA.
Master Tae Hong Choi

Political rivalries that labored under the Korean dictatorship were mirrored in it's agents that were sent out around the world. Eventually, the disparate schools of Korean Martial arts became united under the name "Tae Kwon Do" (foot-fist way).
Originally, our TKD school practiced Korean Judo and Hapkido techniques that reflected the experience of soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as powerful kicks and strikes. One-step fighting patterns, called "Kibone" were practiced using chops, sweeps, elbows and knees.
But with the largely political push to get Tae Kwon Do into the Olympics, the fighting system was watered down to sport level, focusing on highly gymnastic jumping and spinning kicks. TKD fighters were vulnerable to systems that grappled or used fast repetitive hand strikes. The politics were insufferable.
Now it seems that "Olympic" Tae Kwon Do has run it's course. The sport limitations have shown through, and it appears that Koreans are seeking to return to more effective fighting techniques. The video above is of "Taekkyeon", the name hearkening back to an ancient Korean fighting style. While largely ceremonial and dance-like, Taekkyeon competition resembles Capoeria in some ways. The players dance about, switching feet while attempting sweeps and head kicks.
However, as demonstrated in the video above, there is an effort to put serious fighting techniques back into Korean Martial Arts.
And this is a very good sign, as in this era of cross-training with MMA and other systems, the Koreans may once again find their true fighting roots.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zac's Update From Japan

Fellow Dojo Rat Zac has been living in Japan, teaching English and practicing Aikido.
We've been sending him concerned e-mails about his safety after the horrible Earthquake, Tsunami, and now impending Nuclear meltdown.

Please go to Zac's report at "Gaijin Explorer", at this link

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Long and Short of Tae Kwon Do

My buddies Bob over at "Striking Thoughts" and Nathan at "TDA Training" have been splitting hairs over which style of Tae Kwon Do offers the most bang for your buck. Controversy centers on the WTF using chest protectors and heavy contact, but no punching to the head. The ITF does not allow heavy contact, but punching to the head is allowed and adds a sense of realism to the fight.
This is not a new discussion. In it's inception, the founders of Tae Kwon Do literally fought over these issues. Not surprisingly, rivalries focused on Korean National politics and power struggles that established hierarchy among Korean operatives and agents of the government working in foreign countries.
I'll have much more to say about this subject at a later time, but for now here is a repost of a 2006 piece I wrote about my journey in Tae Kwon Do, which I began in 1979:
The Long and Short of Tae Kwon Do - November 24 2006

Awww,... Look at the junior Rat.. He jumps, he spins; watch out he may bite!
Yessiree folks, this is an actual vintage early '80's photo of the Rat Boy, complete with authentic Beer and pizza stains. Yes, it's part of my first Black Belt test, and this photo proves that it was perfectly acceptable for an assistant instructor to wear flannel shirts at Black Belt tests in Oregon in the old days.
--With that said, this post has been a long time coming and will surely piss some people off. Let me say it now: There are a lot of shortcomings in Tae Kwon Do as a martial art.
My training came at a time when the Koreans were desperately trying to organize TKD to become an Olympic sport. This was an exciting prospect, and I'm afraid it's one that has practically ruined TKD as a self defense art.
Pre-Olympic TKD was closely tied to Hapkido and Korean Judo. Our school practiced both. Our Master, Tae Hong Choi, once commented that TKD was structurally very close to Shotokan Karate, and at the time, it was true. There were powerful sparring sequences and a lot,lot of breaking boards and bricks. We gave demonstrations in front of thousands of people during festivals where Mr. Choi would disarm swordsmen and demonstrate the best of combat Hapkido. Choi had trained Special Forces in Vietnam. Those were heady times, When after events the Master would lead us, his entourage of Black Belts into seedy bars for after-hours celebrations. The training was solid, and the anarchic structure of the organization led to deep trust and friendships I'll always remember.
Then came the Olympics. The hands came down, short-range fighting became non-existent, and head-hunting became the rule.
Tae Kwon Do has always emphasised kicking techniques, but after the Olympics, TKD fighters had stopped using their hands altogether. While the flash kicking is way fun, and excellent gymnastic exercise, it sucks for self-defense. A good wrestler can easily move in on high kicks, and the groin is constantly exposed when you kick high. I know. I lost a tournament fight when I attempted a high hook kick and a Kenpo guy blasted me in the groin with a short counter-kick.
The most natural method of fighting is to hit with your hands. It's easy, quick and effective. The best thing for me is when I started training with my friend who was a boxer. Traditional boxing drills brought my hand speed up considerably, as well as hitting power. Not the brick-breaking type of power, but stick-and-move power, very mobile. Of course, modern TKD does not allow hitting to the head, so they are miserably outclassed by fighters that can hit fast and hard.
In this way, modern TKD has lost it's way. In the past, fighters from Korean systems, like Chuck Norris, who dominated the tournament scene in the '60's-'70's, were power to be reckoned with. Now the system has degraded into a pure sport, where the exercise is great but don't try this shit for self defense.
Tae Kwon Do would find a re-awakening by going back to it's true roots as a brawling Korean art with heavy Japanese and Chinese influence, yet retaining it's Kim-Chee-flavored national heritage.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Check Out "Tai Chi With Melissa"

It's always great to find a well thought-out Blog on Tai Chi Chuan, and this is a good one.
Dr. Melissa Smith has a PhD. in English Literature with a specialization in Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and early women writers. The posts I read are clear, informative and obviously well written. Some of the posts currently up include a very detailed study of osteoarthritis, Melissa's take on Taoism, and a piece on the development of Kung Fu animal forms.
Here's a great video Melissa included of a Kitten in slow motion showing why the ancients tried to capture that powerful animal energy in their Kung Fu:

Dr. Melissa Smith trains with Dr. Christopher Young in Hamilton, Ontario Canada.
Check out "Tai Chi With Melissa" at this link.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1952 Seattle Street Fight

Ah yes; the good old-fashioned neighborhood street fight.
Back in the day when there were no lawsuits and few guns or knives, this is how grudges were handled.
I know, I had my share.

Stan Stapp, publisher of a small local paper shot this photo at North 42nd Street near Ashworth Avenue North. The back story appeared in Paul Dorpat's "Now & Then" column via the Pacific Northwest Magazine of The Seattle Times.

The fight took place two blocks from Lincoln High School in Wallingford, and Stapp published the photo and a summary of the incident in "The North Central Outlook".
Stapp wrote that Wallingford's juvenile officer Walter J. Hauan arrived and settled the dispute:
"Hauan's fatherly manner of approach has helped clear things up for thousands of local youth in the past."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Xingyi Can Be Soft

In talking with other internal art practitioners, a few have asked about Xingyi (Hsing-i). Questions center around whether it is an internal style in the way Bagua and Tai Chi Chuan are practiced. Some styles practice the form in an extremely hard and fast pattern, and you can see the dominating power Xingyi is known for. Here's one example, but some are even "harder":

The style I am learning is much softer and smoother. The master of our lineage was Li Gui Chang. He practiced his Xingyi in a very smooth way that more resembles Tai Chi Chuan, but the fa jin (explosive power) is still evident. In this way, the mind remains calm, all the elements of internal martial arts are present yet meditative like Tai Chi Chuan.
Here is an example of Pi Chuan (Splitting Fist) in Song-style Xingyi:

And here's a guy doing first the Tuo (Water-skimmer or Alligator form), followed by the Five Elements:

Note the similarities; a solid "root" is hit between transitional movement. But here is the difference from Tai Chi Chuan - Tai Chi sets the root before the technique (punch, elbow, shoulder, etc.) is executed. Xingyi is (as Tim Cartmell described) "mass in motion". It has been described as "controlled falling" into a technique. Done correctly, all of your body mass is added to the technique rather than, for instance, arm strength alone.

I always feel that Tai Chi Chuan balances my Yin and Yang energy the best, Bagua has the most Yoga and spiral energy.
But even performed softly, Xingyi raises more Yang energy and you can see why the Chinese chose it for military and battlefield use.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My New Science Project

I totally ripped this off from another site, but it just cracked me up:

Ah those crafty Russians...
Off to a training session with our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman, full report upon return.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cute Hippie Chick of the Month: Virgin Bodyguard Edition

Slimebag dictator Moammar Gaddafi is finally slipping out of power in the revolution that has spread across the Middle East to Libya. Bombed by air strikes in the Reagan era, courted by George W. Bush and British Petroleum for the last ten years, this guy is finally loosing his grip on Libya.

But if there is one thing that interests us about this asshole is that he surrounds himself with 40 "virgin" female bodyguards that are trained to kill.




For a closer look at the espionage surrounding oil giant B.P., Libyan oil, and the bombing of a civilian aircraft over Lockerbie Scotland -
Read this post