Archive for May 2012

How Martial Arts Students should be taught: Part 2

May 31, 2012

This is where I start info dumping a lot of the sources and conclusions I’ve collated together over the years. My conclusion, or thesis if you will, is that traditional arts as seen in modern 1st world and 2nd world nations, particularly from the origin points of Korea or Japan although all arts suffer from this due to congregating influence vectors, has misaligned the rightful order and harmony that a student should progress from start to finish. In other words, I believe there is a more natural, more efficient, better training methodology than has been generally adopted by the rest of the world so far. This is not limited to one style or field of fighting, but to all styles, all fields, and all circumstances. That is in fact the point, if training does not positively affect all circumstances, the chaos of the butterfly wings, it is of limited use. I wish to accelerate, as much as humanely possible, a student’s progress from beginner to proficiency, and from proficiency to mastery.

First we’ll start with Bruce Lee’s journey. Bruce Lee grew up in the crime infested streets of Hong Kong, post WWII while it was still owned and controlled by the British. Hong Kong was a curious mix of Oriental (Chinese) and Western (British) customs. This was partially to account for Bruce Lee’s interest in dancing, such as chacha. But for Bruce Lee, of far greater importance was the fact that he couldn’t defend himself adequately against others. He sought out one of the most renowned fighters, with a great reputation, Yip Man to address this deficiency. Lee had heard that these wing chun students were fighting others on rooftops and was being taught by this great master from the Chinese communist/national war era. Bruce Lee thus began his Wing Chun journey much as many people do in America: learning how to take care of yourself and defeat rivals. When Bruce Lee moved to the US, he could no longer train in Gong fu or Wing Chun, because the US only had Korean or Japanese arts at the time. The Japanese are very good at exporting their cultural beliefs, just look at anime. Bruce Lee did not want to separate from learning the forms or methods of his teacher, but he was forced to anyways. And in so doing, Bruce Lee found it necessary to discover his own way, one way or another. You will find a primary source detailing these matters in the link. All of Bruce Lee’s writings, efforts, and training in the US (of himself and others) was sourced from Lee making use of what he learned from Yip Man (although it would be more accurate to say Yip Man was really a hands off kind of teacher) through a Western context and background. In effect, Lee had to discover his personal ownership of Wing Chun in a way that was exactly what Yip Man told him to do, but had not yet understand until he had to figure things out for himself with no teacher to rely on.
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How Martial Arts Students should be taught: Part 1

May 31, 2012

I would like to mention some things from Taiji Chuan’s training, but that would be using my internal knowledge, which people who don’t do that type of training won’t easily understand. Dan may understand it and see the connections I pulled, but that’s a different matter.

Instead I’ll use something akin to TKD, JKD, or hapkido. A few specific training methods should illustrate a few of my claims.

In general, the number one issue I have had with Korean or Japanese martial arts teaching (philosophy) is the attempt to acquire both mastery and technical proficiency at the same time. Moosool combined with mooye combined with moodo, using Sanko’s terms here. The way the training system is set up, it tries to push a student into these things all at the same time. And they get none of it as a result.

The many many techniques martial artists currently practice, were not designed with “moosool” in mind. These were techniques designed to counter other techniques. They are too complicated or advanced for merely technical proficiency. They are instead more geared towards moodo or mooye (such as aikido transformed from aikijutsu). Basic technical proficiency starts from learning the simplest, most basic, movement: gross motor skills. As fighters became more advanced and started using counters to techniques, counters to the counters had to be created, thus they became “complicated”. Thus a fighter that can counter, defend and counter attack, counter the counter, attack while defending, is near or beyond the point of mastery because it assumes the advanced student has the basics down. The Ancient Chinese arts achieved highly advanced internal concepts as early as 500 BC, if not before. Before the development of Wu-Shu, Neigong, Neijia, Yu Nue’s sword theory, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and so on and so forth, fighters spread their fighting techniques by word of mouth and a famous fighter was always known for his “technique” that he had honed to perfection. “Sanko the Kicker” may be the title appelated by popular appeal. These ancient mercenaries and fighters were not masters, but very proficient technicians that focused on one thing, and made it work. Proven by the fact that they were alive to tell about it. This then developed into advanced styles such as Taiji Chuan, Xingyi, Baghua, where the focus wasn’t on technique, but on dominating the battlefield strategically and logistically. So that even if you lose a tactical battle, your position is still so strong, you win anyways. The early basic fighters used the simplest moves they could find, trained it to high levels, and used just that. These were then “collated” together by schools or individuals, and transfred via forms or memorized patterns. Thus a good fighter could learn a lot just by doing the forms a few times, but borrowed techniques were never as effective as their namesake’s original developed skill/waza/jutsu.

By having low level students drill in these techniques, they are in essence dividing their time between different goals: the long term goal of mastery and the short term goal of technical proficiency (it works). Modern first or even second world students are not particularly born from a warrior culture nor do they undergo warrior or soldier training, necessarily. Thus they not only lack the physical attributes but also the mental attributes that the ancients took for granted when they created forms and teaching methods to transfer knowledge of techniques. This is combined with the fact that the ancient methods of self defense were lost in translation when karate migrated from Okinawan to Japan and then to Korea. Even if you had the ancient methods step by step transfered from the past, to today, you would still have issues. Just not as many as we see today with McDojos.

A rock to the back of the head “works” but it’s not considered mastery. A stomp to the head “works” but it isn’t considered to be a technical skill. Jumping into the air and landing with both feet on someone’s torso/body, will do more damage than 10 minutes of “ground and pound”, but it’s not considered a “technique”. What “works” is what “works”. And what first worked was Cain murdering Abel, or some caveman figuring a sharp obsidian stone or a rock could kill someone faster than his bare hands. Technical proficiency should never be about achieving mastery nor is it self defense via “proportional force”. That’s like putting the cart before the horse. Proficiency must be acquired first, else the things that were derived from mastery cannot be utilized by the student. And in terms of proficiency, the historical development was that lethal force methods came first, then non-lethal crippling/maiming blows, then non-lethal non-crippling techniques. In modern martial arts, they do it completely backwards. First they try to get a student to mastery and technical proficiency of the most advanced, most complicated material first. Then they work backwards in the timeline. (more…)

Benefits and Thoughts of the Sword

May 30, 2012

I’ve noticed that I’m much more able to visualize the realistic functions and limitations of swords as used historically for self defense or war due to my training with both blunt edged iaito katanas and shinken/sharp katanas. The maintenance of sword steel is indistinguishable from the maintenance and cleaning of a gun, down to the exact oils used to prevent rust. Although obviously one doesn’t need solvents to clean gunpowder residue. However, the sword often gets stained or blemished due to nicks, scratches, and other stuff in the target (blood, vegetable sap, etc). Modern cleaners from Metal Glo and the micro cloth from Miracle Cloth, are a very convenient answer to this ancient issue. Gives me more time to appreciate the hamon on my sharp katana.

In the morning light, tipping the edge up and facing me, while I look from the base of the hilt to the tip of the sword, the light glances off the blade geometry in a way like liquid mercury or water.

As for what I’ve learned from maintenance, it really gives me a sense of what people back then used their time on: polishing, sharpening, or cleaning their swords. It also gives me a noted appreciation for the various different ways people figured out how to carry the scabbard. If it isn’t tied to the belt or body tightly, it can go flying off or otherwise obstruct the body’s movements. Sheathing a sword without looking down at the scabbard, for Japanese katanas, is also interesting and makes noted use of “sensitivity”, much like Wing Chun or internal Chinese martial arts. This gives me a lot more “visualization” power when imagining the circumstances of historical individuals.

Physically, the exercise of cutting air with the sword builds my wrist, forearm, and shoulder strength in a way that is much more interesting and realistic than weight training. Although I often switch to my iaito for complete glycogen exhaustion courses. My body kinesthetic and awareness is sufficient to feel the tip and blade of the sword, much like my hand, and thus I can stop it from touching my own body, without having to use my eyes to check. However, that doesn’t necessarily apply when I’m tired.

It’s a very different appreciation and feeling in knowing something theoretically from actually physically gaining the methods and skills other people have described. The process is very different. One might call it the difference between classroom-book theoretical knowledge and hands on field knowledge. There’s a stronger sense of identity when I learn things from doing, since that knowledge is mine and not something “I was told” in a book or by a speaker. This is often the cause of education dysfunction in cultures like the West.

The mental training is also quite stretching on the horizons of the mind’s eye. Having to send my intent and will past my finger tips and to the tip of a sword that I can only gauge through feeling, requires far greater dexterity, touch sensitivity, and mental focus than simply exerting power and transferring it into a punch on a heavy bag. A person that cannot exert power transfer to their hands in bare handed fighting, may rely on weapons to shore up what they are missing, but that’s very unlike a person that uses a weapon merely as another tool to extend powers and abilities they already have bare handed. When a weapon becomes part of a user’s body, one uses it much like one uses a hand to swat out mosquitoes.

A lot of Americans already buy swords for backyard recreational cutting, with or without any Eastern traditional training. There are also Western trained individuals, trained in ARMA or SCA based off of extinct Western fencing styles and their manuals, that do the same thing. These hobbyists are often targeted through sword manufacturer’s advertisements, such as Cold Steel’s aggressive video test cutting campaign. I do think that there are even more Americans that have the interest, but lack either the idea that they can train in such fields or the motivation to start. Many I’ve found are interested, if only because it is an “exotic field”, but few have the willpower to take the first steps on the road to knowledge.

Ending on the point of Western decadence: history is boring to many American students because their knowledge isn’t really knowledge. It’s just some rote memorization of dates and events that impact them not. When they are required to actually show skill to pair with their comprehension of the theoretical data, males are usually hooked right then and there. As Western civilization has moved more and more away from “hands on learning”, decadence has corrupted all aspects of Western life and culture. That’s pretty sad; when high school and college students tell me that they loved the movie 300 about the Spartans at Thermopylae, yet find “Ancient Greek and European history boring”, the cause is very obvious. The less supply there is of martial theory and knowledge, the greater the demand there will be amongst American youth.

P.S. A word of warning. If you don’t have sufficient body kinesthetics or skill, don’t buy a sharp sword and swing it around. Even an iaito or bokken in the hands of the untrained and careless, will result in injuries one way or another. Stories of people playing around and hitting some guy in the eye with the bokken do exist. Other stories of people who cut off their ear or hacked into their leg, also exist. I don’t ever tell people this in person, least they get the wrong idea, but I treat the iaito as a lethal weapon, because I know how to use it as one. I’ve also impacted and cut through small plant branches, about the width of one’s ring finger. They break like chopsticks against the blunted edge of the iaito. The point is also sharp enough that I can stab straight through the aluminum on soda cans using only a medium level of force. Your stomach and skin won’t be any harder. Half the people in a kenjutsu dojo I go to, are not yet at the level to graduate to the blunt edged steel sword. Either they are reckless and uncoordinated as teenagers, or lacking in the sense and moderation to control their movements as adults.

Reply to Sanko: Martial Methodology

May 27, 2012

A discussion about certain martial ideas brought about this reply, which was too long to post in the comment section so I rerouted it here for convenience.

Tim Larkin never specifically advertised that he was teaching a hybrid or internal style, nor did he say his line/lineage was from San Soo. So I had to undertake a personal discovery quest to see what, if any, relationship his training methods had to martial arts.

A lot of what you say makes sense, Sanko, and I don’t necessarily disagree with. I believe that having a different perspective and experience, has led me to slightly different conclusions. They do not negate your views, but more like adds to them.

For the last few months, I’ve had weekly conversations with a (true) pacifist, a Jehovah’s Witness. They’re related to the Seventh Day Adventists in general Protestant doctrine/dogma. Their information network is surprisingly advanced across the world and their Watchtower magazine has some accurate intel on human affairs. They sent me a martial arts article: the Witness’ stand on martial arts. Much of what it wrote was unsurprising to me, since a lot of American martial arts dojos are external and focused more on fighting than resolving conflicts, legal or social. This is seen by them as escalating conflict, not a solution to conflict or an avoidance of it. My views agreed with the article’s statements and facts, but not with its conclusion. For I am not a pacifist, true or fake. I don’t participate in anti war protests only to join OWS (as many did) when Bush went out of office and Afghanistan/Iraq disappeared off the 24 hour news cycle. My motto on self defense, in answer to people’s queries were: “Peace through superior firepower”. Whether that’s a .50 caliber bullet or a gravity driven strike using human bone and mass matters not in the least.

Most students in martial arts, in general, start out as people who need a pattern to adhere to, else they get confused and cannot assimilate information. You may print out some of the information on the differences between power generation for external vs internal and how it applies to joint locks, strikes, and throws, and a beginner isn’t going to be able to just absorb that data the way more advanced/experienced students might. The Japanese believed stringently on pattern learning, partially due to cultural reasons, partially due to the lack of teachers in Japan at the time of Funakoshi. They got kind of overloaded. In the US, that produced McDojos. In Japan, it produced something similar. This means that on top of the habits people learned in life, they also learned a lot of other habits in martial arts that they couldn’t control. I bring this up not to belittle the pride and work of the Japanese, but to describe the setting in which martial arts came from Japan to the US. The US took even faster to the “pattern” drills and learning methods of the Japanese mass produced form of karate, since it was “exotic Asian culture” to boot. However, the problem was that the Japanese often tried to tell their students to think for themselves because Japan is a strict hierarchy in which the subordinates have little freedom of action to begin with in business and daily life. But in America, nobody felt confident enough to challenge the Japanese methods and culture they learned, because they weren’t Japanese. They weren’t “authentic” enough. That kind of “lack of confidence” breeds cult like behavior, which has resulted in training methods which have been passed on for generations but have never been questioned. These habits have resulted in students that have never surpassed the Shu stage of learning through copying what they see. Not even in their own style they spent decades learning and practicing. It’s not because they were physically lazy, but because their mind never expanded the way it should have. People often coral these negative trends unto McDojos like ATA TKD, but this trend is manifest in almost all dojos/dojangs one way or another. It even extends to Wing Chun, due to its popularization. Shaolin Temples have also gotten on the game one way or another.

Now, for someone who grew up in a part of the world that was surrounded by social and asocial forms of violence, what is the point of knowing that? When an American has to use H2H skills, attacks or defenses, for real, they won’t have their Master or instructor there to tell them what to do. For them to adhere to the legal rules as well as the ethical rules, American students must learn what it is they are facing and the consequences of their actions. It cannot be a habit of where people punch each other in the face like some kind of social monkey protocol dance. I’ve seen several people who may have a superficial level of physical skill in fighting or striking, but they have absolutely no control over it. They fight dirty and as powerfully in sparring as they do as if they got jacked in the streets. These individuals have inculcated martial habits, but they have no control and thus these “skills” will avail them not in a real life encounter. They’re just playing Russian roulette. Either they over react, and kill someone they shouldn’t have, or they underreact and not kill someone they should have (which means they are the one that die). Other martial artists call this “mushin” or Musashi’s Void/state of no mind, but I don’t consider it real mushin. I call it a habit. They have a habit of punching strongly. They have a habit of panicking when they feel like they are in danger and so they use moves they know worked, because these moves they used to survive a knife assault. Except they’re sparring in the dojo (or tournament) and there is no knife. The context is inappropriate, but because they acted “without thought”, only luck determines whether they end up in a body bag due to a bad decision or whether they end up in jail due to manslaughter. Either it works too well, or it doesn’t work at all. That, on a self defense level, is inadequate if you ask me. One guy I know keeps getting disqualified from tournaments because he starts using eye rakes and groin strikes because he once survived a knife attack. That response is now “conditioned in him” and he can’t get rid of it. That is not so much self defense as a form of PTSD. The inability to operate effectively in all contextual environments.

To go back to your comments on habits, specifically mental ones, the human body has two brains (or even 4). The one at the top of the spine and the one at the bottom or base of the spine (also known as the dan/tan-tien in Eastern spheres). A student first uses the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobes, to process martial knowledge, especially the ones that use vision (monkey see, monkey do). However, this is not the part of the brain that handles 100% correct judgment in survival conditions of life/death. The hindbrain, the back of the brain right above the cervical upper spine, aka lizard brain is what one needs to activate and train. Almost everybody knows of situations where a trained fighter suddenly starts brawling and forgets everything he learned or practiced. This is a case of where the hindbrain rejects the data from the logical front lobes as being insufficient for defense (or its rejected by the emotional monkey brain). Theoretically it may look good on paper, these martial art complicated moves, but the hindbrain rejects them as taking too long and requiring too much complicated processing. External martial artists in the ancient histories thus chose to solve this issue by attempting to turn off the brain at the top of the spine and use only spinal type reflexes, dantien thinking. Since power also came from the hips and torso, as well as power of breath and oxygen, a lot of attention was focused there. When it came to a life and death encounter, the less time it took neural signals to go up and down the spine, the better, since the option was always “kill them first before they kill you”. Doesn’t require a lot of thought and these actions/reactions can be trained and conditioned to be almost automatic.

In civilian life right now, this kind of reaction is inappropriate and also often times ineffectively conditioned. Meaning the highest probability of a person who has to choose between reacting via killer instinct and escaping is… freezing up and thus dying. Often times when the brain triggers a feedback OODA loop that says “signal invalid” when something happens that the trained student never saw before in the dojo, there’s a system stall effect, and then a reboot is attempted and if the person survives the time it takes to reboot, the hindbrain then takes control. And then the hind brain overrides the inculcated conditioning of reflexes and replaces it with less complex, more certain, solutions. The human mind is a bit more complex than that, but in general it’s a good description of the process, I believe. This doesn’t even include situations where people kill each other in bar fights due to some argument or issue over a woman or some song some guy was playing on the jukebox machine. You just have to look up the obituaries in the US to see how many those happen in a month. I’m pretty sure the incidences are higher, not lower, in South Africa. These “emotional” fights are triggered by the monkey brain, the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and social survival. If a person reacts to a life and death struggle with conditioned reflexes, they will never know if their reactions were correct, nor will they know whether those reactions will even activate. If their dojo training does not 100% mirror the reality of street violence, they will lock up, because they are operating on “no need to think” habits. Habits only work when there’s no interference. Habits also either kill people in emotional fighting or gets people killed in emotional fights. Since their habit is to fight, fighting thus escalates the problem, does not resolve it.

That’s one reason why inculcating habits is not necessarily the best thing for a student in martial arts if they seek self defense.

Historically, the ancients solved this matter in a relatively brutal yet simple way. They trained in a fashion that very closely simulated battlefield and life/death conditions. Deathmatches, duels to the death or to first blood or first maiming/crippling, were common if not expected of a traveling warrior. The warrior thus learned while traveling the world, not sitting in a dojo all the time. Those that lacked the ability, died. A relatively good way to tell between the real deal and the BS deal. However, modern Americans don’t train that way. I don’t even think Wild West Americans trained that way either… Thus relying on the habitual reactions to save one’s life, is not a good bet when training American civilians or military personnel. Miyamoto Musashi first killed an opponent in a duel when he was 13 years old. That’s the “external training” used by the ancients. The modern day “external training” is nothing but a pale shadow compared to that. Musashi even wrote in his book later that he does not know what brought about his early victories. It was not skill, as he considered it or mastery, but some element of luck, natural talent, or just the fact that his opponents lacked strategy (they became predictable). That included the 26 or so duels/matches he had while he was young.

Without my experience with Tim Larkin’s methods, I would have continued attempting to make my training more realistic, like the Kyokushin guys have. But I was given an alternative. One that didn’t prioritize external training methods for results, but one that prioritized internal training methods for results. It was a hybrid, something that had the same goal of many external martial arts (immediate skill, power, and ability to defeat one or many foes) but used the methods most often found in Taiji Chuan (slow movement).

My point in the end is that because external training has become a pale shadow of itself (necessarily so if you ask me given the situation most civilians live in on this planet), internal training has just as many benefits, and less of the risks or detriments. Instead of going extreme with external training (like Kyokushin or Kajukenpo folks that I know) I instead work at it from the other way around. Instead of saying “I need to improve my power in this hit cause the foe isn’t feeling it”, I ask myself “based upon sport medicine analysis, what kind of hit did it take to produce permanent damage and injury in a patient?” And then, how do I generate and conserve that power using my body? If the power generated is too great for my muscles to make, I use my body weight. If the power generated is too much even for that, I find ways to make my transfer more efficient by increasing my accuracy. The concept that a needle doesn’t need a lot of force to penetrate your skin whereas a baseball bat has 10X-1000X the force, yet cannot slice through your arm…

To improve accuracy, I must improve my mental intent. I cannot simply go on auto pilot and let habits do the work. By working my brain more, I also am challenged by the different levels of force required for things like criminal violence, kidnapping, robbery, social fighting, drunks acting out, and so on and so forth. I don’t habitualize myself to doing one thing in every situation, but in judging the correct context and using the correct tool for all situations. That requires judgment abilities, the mind, whether monkey brain, logical cortex, or hindbrain. Instead of reacting to sight, which is predominantly a visual cortex task, I focus instead on feeling. This taps into the hind brain and the central mid brain that controls motor coordination. The pathway between mid brain and hindbrain is much shorter, so I can act almost as fast as a dantien/spine base reflex, but with far better “timing”. Timing, by Musashi, is superior to “speed”. He should know given what he went through. My sources and experience concur. The use of superior sensitivity to gain superior timing is worth it. More than worth it.

To move away from theory and go into applications, which all martial arts have a kindred liking for… It had been a few days since I entered the aikibujutsu dojo taught by a student of Obata Toshishiro, founder of Shinkendo (in the US). We were doing self defense drills with a tanto, acting as a gun. Someone points it at the small of your back, you then turn around, sweep/clear the gun, control the arm, then throw the foe using forearm under/around chin + step from tenkan *180 degree turn* I had a very strong visualization of the move, but it was the first time for me doing it. I moved automatically and smoothly, using my body weight to accelerate my forearm, hook under the chin, and combine my center with their center, to move them down and back out. I wasn’t using the technique. I was creating reality from my imagination. When they wanted me to make more complicated movements like wrap my forearm around the head, things got disconnected, but the first time, it was very smooth and I had relatively good power transition, for moving from a standing start backwards at least. When I turned around, I was looking at her chin. She was around 17-18, and she had this look of surprise on her face, or at least what I thought was surprise. At the time I was taking her down, meaning my weight was distributed almost totally on my front knee, bent slightly forwards, I suddenly made the decision to grab her to halt her fall. The force I used on my forearm was very light, as I powered it with my body momentum, not the muscles or momentum impact. Once I felt the head move up and back, I stopped moving it forward and simply maintained contact. While we were on mats and she should have enough experience at ukemi to fall on a mat backwards without hurting herself, none of this even entered my thoughts.

The reason was simple. I was practicing this move because I wanted to preserve the safety of both myself and my partner. Because while visualizing the move to do it for the first time, I immediately went back to my TFT training and visualized slamming the target’s head into the ground, shattering the skull via using my body weight momentum to accelerate that skull as fast as I can downwards. Thus I had automatically made corrections to the movement to prevent such a consequence. I didn’t even expect my first try to drop the other person. Thus I was taken by total surprise. I was taken by total surprise but my body had already acted according to my previous decision to prevent any harm to my training partner. I had given my body the objective, and my body obeyed, without sending a clarification request back to HQ center asking “should we move, she might fall and get hurt”. In case you are wondering whether these matters were something I over exaggerated for aikibujutsu, in another few weeks, a student of around 16 years old came back after a long hiatus of training. We’ll call him “A” for short. “T” is an adult, with kids, who trained in karate and has a conditioned response to go hard or fast because that’s how he was trained. When doing shihonage

T went at his usual brisk pace, which resulted in A hitting the back of his head on the mat and then getting rather dizzy for a few seconds. And I saw it. I was about 20 feet away but I saw it. I knew immediately that given the way T was exerting the rotational energy and transfering it, and A’s obvious “rustiness”, that A was going to hit the mat hard. And he did hit pretty hard. I flinched at what would be the :27 second mark in the video. Just before the drop. Imagine if that was on concrete or dirt. T afterwards looks regretful and sad, guilty that he hurt someone. Well, if he didn’t want to hurt someone he should have stopped himself by issuing a command, but he didn’t. Because that wasn’t how he was trained. He was trained to act using habits. Habits that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.

When Martial Arts in the Ancient Days, 2500 or more years ago in China, was developed, people mostly used it as a battlefield weapon. Then later, as things calmed down a bit, they couldn’t go around killing everybody in a bar brawl so they learned “self defense” applications that moderated things that were absolutely lethal into things that could be controlled (chin na). But these techniques were developed by, for, and with the thought in mind that the student was already an accomplished warrior and had at least survived one life/death encounter. Because if they hadn’t, then it was meaningless to teach them how to defend themselves against drunks when they would easily get killed by bandits. Bandits first, drunk brawlers second. Taiji Chuan, from what I’ve researched, was a system designed with the intent in mind to re-train various martial artists that had been trained in the hard external arts from Persia, Muslim, or Mongolia. Arts that deviated from Chan Buddhism, Chi gong, pairing breathing with movement ,Sun Tzu, Taoism, etc. People often told me that community hall Taiji Chuan is only for health and it cannot teach a person things they can use for self defense. The first time I went into a Taiji Chuan class, I did a few brush knees form movements, and I already learned a few things I could apply to my own abilities and toolbox. It was not what people said should have happened, so I often wonder how different I am from the average student that does these things… What this tends to mean for me is that martial arts in America attempts to teach the complicated techniques and ingrain them as “habits” and “reflexes” when in fact they are training out of order. Their students lack a fundamental foundation, so they have to make up things as they go, which can have disastrous results years later. By training the internal way, in the simplest fashion, and at the lowest order of difficulty, lethal force, a student will be given a far stronger foundation in learning other martial art styles. The combination of both external and internal ideas and methods. I focus on internal methods right now, but I used to have to focus on external methods to build a foundation.

Dan, over at his Traditional Fighting arts blog, suffered a spine injury in some gashuuko or training camp in SA I believe. Because when he did a kick, and it was grabbed, some guy who didn’t like him then look at him, and instead of dropping and resetting the spar, swept Dan’s other leg, resulting in Dan landing on a rock or some hard object on the ground, dislocating a section of his spine. External training of that kind, what many consider risky while others consider traditional and useful, does not so much as prolong people’s life as it ends up shortening it. I don’t think self defense, in order to acquire it, requires you to damage yourself in such fashions, accidentally or on purpose. Since there’s no one size fits all solution, the best bet is to teach the student how to fish, not keep giving them fish to feed themselves with.

When I want to kill, cripple, or maim someone, that intent is crystal clear in my mind and I will devote my entire being to accomplishing that goal. I will desire and want it more than I want water or food when thirsty and starved. When I don’t want to do that, I will devote the same energy to preventing it from happening, the same way I would stop a saw from cutting off my arm. Everything my body does follows my intent. That is my goal, and it is far more effective, in my view, than the conditioned responses of most students in martial arts that I’ve seen. Not for tournaments, but for the chaotic reality of life itself.

P.S. At the time and afterwards, I had wondered if what I did was because I was training with a female. Then I realized I did the same thing with the 14 year old brown belt (that looks like he’s 18). Until I was comfortable with the technique, I was going to make sure that everything that happened was according to my will. After about 4-5 reps, I felt a lot more comfortable that they wouldn’t crack open their skulls from anything I or they did.

The reason why I like Taiji Chuan and slow movement type training is not because I think I’ll need to fight other martial artists in tournaments or streets or Taoist masters. It’s because it gives me a level of control over myself that I find very beneficial. When I know that I won’t kill somebody accidentally or in a fit of berserker rage, I can attack people without hesitation when needed. Before, I was often worried that either I would do too much or do too little. Before TFT, after 9/11, I was mostly worried about getting killed, etc. After TFT, i was worried I would kill people who didn’t need to die. Problems problems as they say. If it isn’t one thing causing hesitation, it is another thing. To me, it’s not reflexes that slow me down, but all the mental processing that happens depending on the chaotic unpredictable nature of fighting, wars, or battles. Instead of increasing my reflex speed, I increase my timing and judgment abilities, to the point where I can shut down my monkey brain, divert processing to the cerebral cortex and other parts of my brain that control perception and body coordination. That stunt guy you linked to before about the phonebook and the hammerfist shock transfer, he was standing on one of those plum poles in Fight Science and some guy threw ninja stars at him. When he was up on the 8 feet one, wobbling around, he said he experienced a matrix moment where he slowly saw the star pass him by and had plenty of time to process things. He sounded like that was his first time. I rely on that far more than I rely on “conditioned reflexes”. This, however, is not something people often can get through “training”. It’s something they are either born with or they develop through encounters with deadly danger. The ability to Turn Off portions of your brain and divert the processing power to what matters in a fight, while at the same time shortening internal neural communication loops and streamlining orders and obedience. Mushin

If I have students or friends whom I can train to the point where they start worrying about the same things I worry about after I took TFT… I will have considered that training a success.

For the time being, I focused primarily on American issues, and avoided South African or South Korean issues since I don’t live there nor have I studied the martial culture to a sufficient point where I can get a grasp of their training requirements.

P.P.S. I hope I have aggregated the data points together in a sufficiently cohesive manner. This topic started linking together a lot of things that aren’t necessarily a single topic to most other people, but to me it all happens as if they are the same core strand of thought, bound together. Some things like neurology and battlefield psychology and OODA loop cycles, I avoided elaborating on. Suffice it to say that years of research and development can’t easily be summarized in a convincing fashion.

Assignment in Eternity: How humans think

May 24, 2012

“We defined thinking as integrating data and arriving at correct answers. Look around you. Most people do that stunt just well enough to get to the corner store and back without breaking a leg. If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logics. If he is exceptionally bright, he may use two- valued, ‘either-or’ logic to arrive at his wrong answers. If he is hungry, hurt, or personally interested in the answer, he can’t use any sort of logic and will discard an observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking. He uses the technical miracles created by superior men without wonder nor surprise, as a kitten accepts a bowl of milk. Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal. “For explanations of a universe that confuses him he seizes onto numerology, astrology, hysterical religions, and other fancy ways to go crazy. Having accepted such glorified nonsense, facts make no impression on him, even if at the cost of his own life. Joe, one of the hardest things to believe is the abysmal depth of human stupidity. “That is why there is always room at the top, why a man with just a leetle more on the ball can so easily become governor, millionaire, or college president- and why homo sap is sure to be displaced by New Man, because there is so much room for improvement and evolution never stops.

“Here and there among ordinary men is a rare individual who really thinks, can and does use logic in at least one field-he’s often as stupid as the rest outside his study or laboratory-but he can think, if he’s not disturbed or sick or frightened. This rare individual is responsible for all the progress made by the race; the others reluctantly adopt his results. Much as the ordinary man dislikes and distrusts and persecutes the process of thinking he is forced to accept the results occasionally, because thinking is efficient compared with his own maunderings. He may still plant his corn in the dark of the Moon but he will plant better corn developed by better men than he. “Still rarer is the man who thinks habitually, who applies reason, rather than habit pattern, to aU his activity. Unless he masques himself, his is a dangerous life; he is regarded as queer, untrustworthy, subversive of public morals; he is a pink monkey among brown monkeys-a fatal mistake. Unless the pink monkey can dye himself brown before he is caught. “The brown monkey’s instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs. “Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption, and non-fact. Such men exist, Joe; they are ‘New Manf-human in all respects, indistinguishable in appearance or under the scalpel from homo sap, yet as unlike him in action as the Sun is unlike a single candle.”

DaWade. ASSIGNMENT IN ETERNITY (Kindle Location 1206).

This miniature essay on human thinking was something I thought quite applicable to the modern day status quo. The number one advantage humans have over any other species is our ability to think. We cannot outmatch the physical or body power of other animals nor the persistence and numbers of insects. This has formed a key part of my education in H2H training.

Many people, even with the tools provided to them by the internet, do not make effective use of such tools. Things are tl;dr, meaning it was too long for them to read. They want something summarized in 2 or 3 sentences, usually at your expense. They want to hear the interesting and fascinating thoughts of the creative author, but don’t want to deal with the process and work required to produce that product. It’s as if they are parasites and they get angry if you refuse them or call into question their vice-full lack.

In the current environment of welfare, redistribution of wealth, nationalization of American companies, and socialism writ economically, politically, and spiritually, this is just as, if not more, important to understand than ever before.

What some people said in 2008 that others thought were ridiculous

May 22, 2012

I do things like that as a sort of time bottle test. Just so I can come dig it up in the future, via the net, and slam it into people’s faces. It’s also a way to use real science in a real experiment to test for real data

It is rather sad that the author of the Uplift novels, stories about the responsibility and duty owed by more powerful and wealthy species towards those younger and weaker than they, would so willingly support the Democrats in demolishing those weaker than the Democrats.

Where has the idealism for a universal standard of ethics gone? Where has the concept of fair play and justice gone, when a man who writes about the requirements of justice will not apply that justice against the Democrats and their actions in this election?

-Ymar

It would be one thing, if these were normal times. Goldwater’s version of conservatism had much to recommend it… though even he, late in life, looked with chagrin at the things that he opposed, like civil rights bills and environmental bills, with regret.

But these are not normal times. By any stretch og the imagination, Republican rule has been catastrophic for the United States of America. The US army has been nearly destroyed, the reserves demolished, our allies driven away, our finances ruined, our credit gone. There are NO metrics under which the previous democratic administration was not better.

That’s the problem with guys like the two (above) who come in and wave a general and theatrical statement, without offering a single reason why it would actually be so.Even worse than the harm done to America has been the harm done to Pax Americana. In 2000, the US was the unipolar leader of the world, respected, admired, and apparently all-powerful. All of our brigades were combat ready (none are today), were were strong by every possible metric.

I invite these fellows to offer one unambiguous and clearcut-provable way that things are better. Instead, we have seen a tsunami of outright corruption and theft.

-Brin

Let’s see here. “The US army has been nearly destroyed, the reserves demolished, our allies driven away, our finances ruined, our credit gone.”

The US Army has been nearly destroyed? Casualties in Afghanistan twice as much as those suffered under Bush, check.

The Reserves have been demolished? The military budget has been cut and all manners of specialists and other job positions have been cut, forcing many to retire earlier than planned and preventing the military from recruiting as many new people as it could, check. Credit has been destroyed? Obama certainly made sure to recover the credit, I think the US finally lost its triple A credit rating under a Democrat. So Maybe the Dems just wanted First over Bush. Allies driven away? Let’s see here, ipod speeches of Obama given to the Brits, slapping around Israeli PM, letting Iranian death squads kill protestors, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists in Libya, letting his Syrian dictatorship buddies kill protestors in Syria… well I’m not sure who is an ally of whom these days. Does the US even have finances any more or are we just printing more money to pay off the debt that comes from paying Obama’s all black pure raced Secret Service orgies?

Maybe Mr. Writer here, David Brin, has gotten into the habit of thinking he’s the God of this universe, being a writer and all. However, I would like to say that that is not the case. It wasn’t the case in 2008, and it surely is not the case in 2012.

Differences between Okinawan makiwara training and JKA makiwara training

May 21, 2012

JKA

Okinawan

The JKA version seems to be using more external mechanics in terms of a push or mass type strike. The Okinawan method seems to be using an external application of fajin, using the momentum and power of opening the qua (the hip seam). This illustrates one of the divergence points of karate, when it was imported from Okinawa to Japan. The Japanese chose to specialize in striking for karate, due to various reasons.

Coordinating both hands together

May 19, 2012

This is something I picked up from watching Wing Chun and other chinese martial arts. Iain provides a good set piece example here. I recommend people who are studying oyo or bunkai for kata, to look at this and benefit.

What it is is essentially a training method that allows a person to use both hands and increase their kinesthetic awareness, thus reducing their visual perception time and the time it takes them to physically act. It’s something people who think learning is sparring, have a deficiency.

Wisdom of the Ages

May 12, 2012

Here’s a quote hunting contest mini game.

I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.

‘He either fears his fate too much,
Or his desert is small,
Who fears to put it to the touch,
And win or lose it all.’

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Apathy, the soul of brevity

Lacking core strength or real accomplishments, bereft of the courage of their convictions, the only thing the low quality human has is the self-aggrandizement through the praise of others.

To be honest I do not think whether they live or die is the matter at hand. Life is not always better than death. It is not that simple. Living and being made to live are very different things. What matters is what the person chooses of their own free will. Whether or not it can be achieved or how difficult it is.

I want you to think about this: imagine if what matters most to you was taken away against your will. If that is indeed worth less than your life

SCARS Personal Testimony

May 12, 2012

I thought this was pretty good review.

Know them by their fruits
First post on E-budo. Love this discussion Board!

SEAL’s: Say you trained, trained with, or saw a SEAL training and you have instant credibility in many minds. Good marketing plan!

I understand that the Naval Special Warfare community has placed as much distance as possible between themselves and Mr. Peterson. He is not the first, nor will he be the last.

One only needs to read the bombastic ads associated with the group to arrive at a logical conclusion. I understand the need for advertising, but…

I have had some contact with SCARS and SAFTA as a member of the Naval Special Warfare Community. I was active-duty at SEAL Team One and spent quite a few years as a reservist on the West Coast. Honor Graduate of BUD/s class #105 for those of you who will be checking.

I am a trainer and director of the Sure-Fire Institute that works with law-enforcement and military clients. See http://surefire.com/institute.htm for more data. Anyway, I am not an operator anymore, so I humbly approach this topic.

From the law-enforcement point of view, SCARS has to be out for most. Just the name alone has to be a juicy target for some civil rights attorney. Very little ability to regulate force, an in my mind this is a critical short-coming with dealing with John Q. Public and his brother standing there with a video camera.

Most military units don’t place a lot of emphasis on combatives as they have belt-fed machineguns and things that go boom. But in today’s low-intensity conflict scenarios, Close Quarter Combat is a valid concern and some units spend the time developing “systems” that meet mission requirements. We just finished a course with a U.S Army Special Forces Group and combatives was one of the training blocks. They are still open and willing to adopt principles and techniques germane to their mission. This is in stark contrast to an almost cult-like following found in some SCARS advocates. Keep in mind we are not talking about street fighting with “Tank” Abbott. These guys will find themselves in situations where they are wearing a lot of gear, helmets, body armor, low-light conditions, uneven terrain, projectile based threats and many other environmental factors.

I first came in contact with SCARS as a reservist when it was the “buzz” around the community. I met a few guys who had taken the SCARS course(s) when they were first being presented. For the most part the graduating students seemed to believe that what they had learned was undefeatable. IMHO a dangerous mental position. It is great to have a powerful, decisive, positive mental attitude, but please temper it with reality. As one looks around at any physical/mental activity that men attempt to conquer, 40 hours just doesn’t cut it… I can defend myself against most after years of training. But the reality is there are many, many who can defeat me in H2H combat, plain and simple. I train and hope I don’t run into them in a lethal force confrontation. Odds are I won’t and for that I am grateful.

While working for the Federal Government as a program director for Shipboard Security, I ran into a proponent of SAFTA who was telling me that ALL people ALWAYS react in certain ways to certain stimulus, a pillar of his system, as I understand it. He then attempted to physically demonstrate the principle by shoving me as hard as he could in the chest while at the same time stating that I would put a foot back. As he shoved, I executed a basic sword turn found in the Yanagi ryu curriculum. It is one the first things you need to understand and apply to successfully evade sword strikes and facilitate dropping people to the ground. My feet were still in place, and he as completely off-balance, ripe for a counter. I was and still consider myself a novice in Aiki JuJutsu. So went the theory that ALL and ALWAYS can be found in close quarter engagements.

With a puzzled look on his face, he asked what I did and I tried to explain that it comes from a system that has its foundation in edged weapon conflict. The individual quickly interrupted and stated that “knives are !!!!!!!! to us, we treat them as hands attached to the arm”…A truly scientific analysis. When he finished his monologue, I felt humbled as I had met Jesus Christ Incarnate prior to his Second Coming. This individual can also be found in similar ads of the SCARS variety.

I have posted on: http://www.aikidojournal.com/ubb/For…ML/000213.html as to the effectiveness of Yanagi ryu strategy and techniques when employed by a skillful practitioner with a bit more than 40 hours of training.

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure what the relationship of SCAR/SAFTA is but there are striking similarities in its advocates.

The good news maybe that SCARS, SAFTA and similar systems might be well-suited for inculcating an aggressive mind-set and never die attitude to young lads in compressed timeframes. Trainees leave with a high level of confidence and basic plan of attack. Most plans are better than none.

On the other hand, instilling a sense of invincibility can lead to foolhardiness. I selected Naval Special Warfare as a community because of the strategies and missions, and left attacking machine-guns on fortified hills to the immortals. It was a longer more difficult road, but worth it.

The more difficult weapons based arts involve traveling down a similar road. Outcomes of weapons-based, multiple adversary fights from my viewpoint favor those with the greater sense of balance, sensitivity and awareness over one-dimensional aggressiveness. I have observed over the years that those with an overly aggressive/ballistic mind-sets tend not to fair well in projectile-based training/operational situations. Bullets doesn’t really care what is on your chest; SWAT, SEAL, SPEC this or that. They just fly and comply to the immutable laws of physics. It is much better to blend and outthink your opponent, adopting the effective strategies of the Aiki principles. Allow or cause your opponent to overextend in mind and body, and then cut them down with your weapon.

I have quite a few e-mails from folks that I have trained attesting to this. I would like to think that the approach we are presenting actually saves lives and puts bad guys away. As effective as our training is, it could never approach the 100 percentile. You can only increase your odds of prevailing in a lethal-force environment. The rest is what I term “the Grace of God Factor”. Face it, no matter how invincible you may believe you are, you will more likely than not need the benefit and immediate support of others when multiple opponents have weapons than can kill from a distance. It is not about you anymore, it is about us. SCARS seems to be “I” centered from this vantage point.

In closing, (finally!) I have met a few of the SCARS instructors at some of the SPEC OPS trade shows I have attended. They were always extremely helpful and friendly, the same could not be said for Mr. Peterson himself.

I would like to have the opportunity to discuss the merits of this or that technique, principle and training methodology in an intelligent manner with him personally.

I would love to change my opinion of the SCARS approach as it resides in the negative.

Respectfully,

Ken J. Good


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