Archive for December 2011

Britney Spears in Japan

December 30, 2011

Nan des te!

Do you believe in the external philosophy, the internal philosophy, or the hybrid?

December 28, 2011

As defined thus:

External schools believe one can take a short cut to battlefield application or self defense application, by training the muscles and gaining muscle memory in actual fighting methods and techniques first, and then gaining inner mental understanding later on. This is why external schools for individuals at very high levels, become soft, like Morihei Ueshiba. There are other reasons, like age, but this is a key concept for external philosophy. Train the muscles first, and the mental understanding will come later.

Do you believe in the internal philosophy, such as Taiji Chuan, that says once one trains the mind and concentration and sensitivity for years, and then learns the martial applications, that student will have far higher fighting abilities than external martial artists of an equal caliber?

Or do you believe in a hybrid, such as the balance between Ying/Yang, where mental and physical training proceeds equally, never one outpacing the other?

That’s the basic topic I raised on one question site. The responses were interesting. As I suspected, a majority chose external. While they were leaning towards saying hybrid, what they meant was a hybrid of external/internal benefits, rather than a hybrid of external/internal philosophies. The benefits are easy to combine. The philosophy… not so much.

What I see in most martial arts training is an extremely high bias towards external training. They teach you forms and only until you memorize them, do they start talking about applications, if they even do start. They teach techniques without the user fully understanding key core fundamental principles such techniques are based upon. They teach variations of techniques, without the student first understanding the universal broad spectrum application of certain movements those variations were based upon.

This is why so many martial artists have problems actually “fighting” as popular society perceives. There’s an entire mythology built around the “Black Belt”, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris, even. Even a student that has learned 10 years of an external martial art, cannot integrate the moves in his head because he hasn’t done any appreciable internal training: mental training. Training the mind is crucial to developing a fighter, but what most people do is train their bodies and leave their minds behind. A rather counter productive production scheme if you ask me. It’s like being given all the answers for your Ph.D. dissertation, but if you don’t understand the theories, equations, and concepts in your thesis, the “answers” aren’t going to do you much good.

Tai Chi Chuan and other internal arts have their own problems using the internal philosophy. They spend so long developing abstract theories and sensitivity training, that they begin to forget what the moves are for, if ever they even thought about it. The external martial artist can strike, but doesn’t understand how to recompile and reverse engineer his technique to make it better. The internal martial artist doesn’t even know that the movement he is doing IS a strike, so thus never attempts to decompile it to make it stronger, even though he could.

This is why I favor hybrid methods of teaching. Even if a person in external or internal martial arts can get to the same place (Victory), the journey they will have taken will be very different. But hybrid methods of teaching utilize the best from both, since it does both. It teaches people an attack and then explains the principle behind why this attack works. It teaches people a principle, and then shows them a movement that they can use for many things. Hybrid teaching methods can start from external and go to internal. Or go internal to external. Very versatile compared to the philosophy that says “external first, you’ll get all the internal training as you do your external training” or “if you focus on internal training and concentration now, you’ll know how to fight after 10 years of never thinking about using this stuff for fighting”.

I feel sorry for these people. Yes internal power can be used to destroy or heal, but there’s something called the inverse square law when it comes to propagating power over distance. If the sun obeys it, then your body probably obeys it as well. By disconnecting themselves from the laws of physics, they aren’t going anywhere fast.

EDIT: This was a question I posted at YA Answers. You can read the responses it got here.

What Self Defense Really Is

December 27, 2011

Dimensional physics meets brutal deathmatch fighting.

My original training was already at the 4-5 level. Not because it was hard or all that advanced to learn, but simply because it was lethal force situations only and thus one had to learn how to differentiate between justified lethal force and unjustified lethal force situations. This is the same issue firearms training addresses for their students. It’d be mighty regrettable if someone spooked you from behind and you turned around and shot a cute little girl trying to play with you. On the other hand, it’d be mighty regrettable if you tried to take it easy on a serial killer and rapist, and ended up getting killed and having your entire family grilled on the BBQ after being tortured and raped. Both are extremes, and justified lethal force attempts to weave the virtuous and correct path in between.

Chi Gong

December 26, 2011

Chi in modern Chinese is written Air + Rice. In chemistry, it is written glucose + 6 O2 = 6 H2O 6CO2 + 686 kCalories. kCalories is expressed through heat, bioelectricity, light, etc.

Woah, way to demystify the supernatural “chi” huh.

More on Chi Gong later.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2011

Now if this was true, the world would be a little bit more interesting. I’m always a skeptic. Not because I disbelieve the benefits of Qi Qong healing, but because I don’t believe anything until I have my own independent confirmation and explanation of it. If it doesn’t come from me, if I am not the one figuring it out, then I’m always relying on others and that is a great way to get fooled. Against yourself, you’re only up against your own ability to self deceive, not everyone else’s combined.

If quantum mechanics is really the reason why the human mind can affect matter, then that’ll be an interesting way to view religious miracles. Everything won’t be explained, but the ideas will be very new and applicable.

Chinese Martial Arts History

December 24, 2011

The never ending martial arts posts continues uninterrupted by the holidays.

Today we have something I read months ago, but provides a very different view of China than the current government of China has shown to the world.

The material is in research format and requires effort, time, and patience. Three qualities you will not find much on the internet, or in the current American socio-political climate. But for those who seek the truth as well as knowledge about many facets of human existence, they should take a look here.

Some specific sections I found worthy of note:

Sun Wu was from Qi (Shantung province), his original name was Tien Hun Tien. He escaped some political intrigue against his family in Qi by defecting to Wu, where he promised the Wu King that he could help him to overcome all of his neighboring enemies. Sun Wu`s military strategies were highly effective and the Wu troops totally baffled the Zhu and Yueh states with heretofore unorthodox assaults that caught them off guard, avoiding the Wu much bloodshed. Sun Wu`s strategy involved much yielding, segmenting, combining, changing, and transforming maneuvers as necessary (making much use of the Five Elements theory). To avoid headlong confrontation with the very powerful Chu, Sun Wu worked the Wu troops so as to use the terrain to its tactical advantage, to spread the energy out, to choose objectives carefully, and to suddenly concentrate its forces when and where it was unexpected. Many people studied Sun Wu`s ideas and his book became highly influential to the art of fighting, both in battle and later as people applied his ideas on a lesser scale, to hand-to-hand combat. Much use was made of the Five Elements idea of antagonistic and protagonistic forces, changing and transforming in mutual promotion and restraint.

Another great army general, Woo Zhi Shung, defected to Wu from the Zhou kingdom, because his father had been betrayed and killed. Both generals Woo and Sun advised King Wu Kwang (20th generation) and taught the king and his sons fighting skills. The 18th generation King, Wu Sou-Wan`s military advisor was General Seng Woo, who also defected from Chu and changed his family name to Wu. Sometime during the 500s BC, King Wu Sou Wan`s son, Wu Ji Zhe, achieved much renown for his sword fighting skills.

During the Spring and Autumn period, the Chu discovered the making of steel and soon after longer swords were able to be crafted. These longer swords were widely adopted in warfare. Many people became sword experts, especially in the Wu and Yue kingdoms. King Wu Kwang himself practiced sword fighting and many huge contests were given. He owned a pair of specially forged swords that are legendary to this day: a male sword called the Kan Jian and a female sword called the Muo Xie.

Around 496 BC, one of ancient China`s best sword fighters was a woman named Yue Nu. She practiced developing her idea and methods for years in her land. Her fighting theories and techniques became another major influence on Wu-Shu theory.

For King Gou Jian of Yue, she wrote her theories:

1) Combining position, breathing, and consciousness;
2) Balancing the internal and external states of the body in harmony;
3) Simultaneous offense and defense;
4) Using both static and moving states.

She also wrote much about: being calm and unassuming in appearance, but fighting as vicious as a tiger; reacting fast enough to reach the opponent first with a strike, even though the opponent started first; uniting spirit, form, and intent. She was acclaimed for her skills all over ancient China and much respected by all.

Learned people and military fighters soon saw that the concept of `Wu-Wei` – doing nothing out of harmony with the flow of things was at the heart of many skills. It was found as an idea in common to many ideas that were then currently developing: Taoism, Yue Nu`s sword fighting, the Five Elements battle strategy of Sun Wu, and the Dao Yin qi-gung practitioners. In their explorations on the ways of or the nature of the universe (`The Tao`), Taoists began uniting all these different expressions of Wu-Wei. The circular movements of sword fighting were seen as putting man in tune with the natural cycles of the universe (stars, seasons, water, birth, death, etc.). The effect was seen as even more pronounced if the actions were combined with qi-gung breathing exercises and the mental exercises of military strategy. Taoists of the war-torn time saw warfare as an element of all life, against mortal and immortal enemies both outside and within the human body. People who were learned in all these concepts were soon in high demand in all the Chinese courts of the various kingdoms, as they were sought as advisors to the kings and nobles (princes, lords, etc.).

Wait, there’s more.

As the chaos of the times increased, the countryside became full of groups of criminal gangs, robbers, thieves, and outlaws. Interstate trade was greatly increasing and the need for good bodyguards was great. Being able to fight in close quarters, small scale, combat became a necessity and bodyguards on long journeys with trade caravans occasionally exchanged ideas and techniques with other traveling bodyguards. They looked for the best techniques for attack, attack-defense, countering, controlling, feinting, evading, and more. Hand fighting skills became highly developed and the best fighters were known for their main technique of striking, kicking, joint-locking, throwing, and hitting vital points. People tried to distill what they knew and consolidate the various techniques into one or a few main moves that they could always count on and each great fighter was known for their main technique. People sought to develop their fighting into an art that transcended all that they know into a highly effective small set of moves, if not one main move.

According to Ssu Man Chen`s book `Records of the Great Historian`, a new class of roving people emerged during these times, called the `Knights Errant` (Yu Hsieh). These were professional ex-soldiers that roamed the countryside offering their services as mercenaries. They were skilled in the military arts, especially sword fighting. They had a code of conduct and tried to be honest and fair, helping even ordinary people in distress. The Knights helped to establish the idea of using martial arts for self defense and helping those who were weaker and in need. This idea was also a great influence on Wu-Shu theory and many people embraced the idea of using martial arts for good and only for fighting against wrong doers.

By the end of the Warring States period, all the groundwork had been laid for the theoretical aspects of Wu-Shu. People used self defense to stop a fight, improve their health and physique, and test their skills, rather than just for killing in war. As people combined these ideas and concepts with the most efficient and effective hand to hand combat techniques, Shaui Jiao (grappling and throwing) techniques, and sword fighting techniques, the practical side of Wu-Shu developed as well into an all encompassing way of life. Once these areas became further united with Taoist spirituality and health (Dao Yin/Qi Gung) theories, Wu Shu was turning into a complete martial arts system, covering all aspects of the martial arts that we see today, as early as 3000 – 2500 years ago.

Thus, in order of their appearance, during the entire Zhou dynasty era (covering about 800 years!), these concepts influenced the development of Wu-Shu and were combined to transform Wu-Shu into a self defense and health enhancing art:

Xiang Wu (war dances)
Wu Xing (5 Elements) theory
Jiao Ti (Shuai Jiao)
Sun Wu`s Battle Strategy
Quan Pu (hand combat)
Yue Nu`s Sword theory
Yin/ Yang theory
Sun Pin`s Battle Strategy
Ba Qua (8 Diagrams) theory
Zhung Zi`s Ingenuity theory
Dao Yin (Qi Gung) theory
Qi`s Chi Chi Boxing
Taoism & Wu Wei theory Knights Errants
code of conduct

EDIT1: I am currently studying some Japanese Sword Arts, known in Japan as kenjutsu or iaido. I can definitely see how someone could adopt moves from a sword perspective to an open hand format. After all, the aikibujutsu I train in is technically just the kenjutsu lines without the sword. The Japanese banned the samurai class and the sword during the Meiji Restoration so all the kenjutsu schools either had to close down or convert to open hand format only: aikijutsu.

Basically, JSA is swinging a wooden stick around until your forearm becomes as big as Popeyes. Absent that, at least as strong and 10 times faster. I have also picked up an idea, from myself who else, that aikido’s tendency to grab the enemy’s encroaching hand is based off the depth perception, hand to eye coordination, and hand speed of a sword user. A person trained in the sword would find it relatively easy to see and grab someone else’s hands, a necessary component in several aikido exercises.

One of the primary unification principles in Chinese martial arts, entering an opponent’s space and taking control of their momentum, is the same as “blending” in aikido, except the Chinese material explained it better.

Bas Rutten and other tough big guys you may be afraid of

December 14, 2011

A few people on the internet (okay, a great many) probably think a smaller person can’t take on a tough, trained, guy like Bas Rutten or MMA superstars, etc.

But look at this.

A person, without strength conditioning, can generate this power just with their body weight, and inflict the same damage, if not more, to the liver. And look how long a trained, tough, strong boxer is on the ground, completely helpless. This was past the 6th round in boxing. All the punches to the head before did nothing compared to this. Injury is what matters. And this wasn’t even an injury. This was the guy feeling a spinal reflex because his liver got “impacted”. It wasn’t even ruptured. My original training system told me I had to shoot through the ribs, shatter them, force them into the lungs, and also impact and shatter the liver. And if the first shot doesn’t do it, then when the enemy is on the ground, and you put another 100-300 pounds of force into that area, it will definitely shatter then.

So what’s this big, tough, guy deal people seem to believe in? This myth of Goliath vs David thing.

So if anyone wonders where my confidence comes from when I don’t consider MMA fighters invulnerable or big guys on the streets invulnerable, this is why. I don’t rely on 10 “light strikes” to be able to “convince” a person to “go away”. One strike is all I optimally need, but there’s always more after wards. Bas Rutten is also a specialist in the liver shot, btw. Doesn’t mean he is less vulnerable to it. Or any of the other 52 targets on the human body that does similar paralysis effects.

Motivation: If you want something, what are you willing to do to get it?

December 14, 2011

Here’s one example

A pretty good choice in my view, since it shows the “gan batte” philosophy of Japan as well. Most English speakers translate it as “good luck”. It actually means “do your best”.

Body Mechanics in Martial Arts

December 12, 2011

Just one of my favorites. There are more, but I’ll post them later. For a martial artist, these resources are incredibly valuable. And they’re even free, which is even rarer.

Eien no Aselia: Aselia the Eternal

December 8, 2011

This visual novel is one of my top 5 in terms of quality and enjoyment. It’s definitely worth more in terms of value than the 40-50 dollar range of triple A games in the US.

The sheer force it pulls you into its universe is stupendous. You really feel like you are playing the main character and thinking his thoughts, feeling what he feels. The combat system is a bit slow, but very enjoyable, even after you beat the game once. Then you go back and unlock different plot endings and increase the level of your characters. I do wish there was a skip function for battles, because I want to see the endings of everyone, but perfection is not yet here.

The plot is so long that more than once I thought to myself “this game already ended right, because I feel more than satisfied”. But it didn’t end yet. There was more to it.


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