Archive for April 2013

Convenient Concepts: Drawing strength from the earth through strong roots

April 20, 2013

The term “rooting” is often used from a Chinese martial arts perspective. It refers to the instance when the human body, through the leg and heel, is connected so strongly to the ground that opponents attempting to move that body needs to use as much strength as it would take to shift the ground underneath. This has resulted in various portrays of an almost magical paradigm in China, similar to the portrayal of guns in Western culture: so powerful you don’t need skill or intent to use it, it just happens.

While the power is almost as great as it is portrayed in popular fiction, it requires skill to be used, there is no getting around that aspect. No more than a child can fly using nothing but will power magic without learning how to walk, run, or swim to the airport.

As mentioned before, usable power in martial arts can be divided into internal and external sources. The internal will run forever so long as the engine and fuel remains. The external source will run until it exhausts itself. In this fashion, a baseball will maintain momentum up until its inertial is exhausted by hitting something or by the friction through air. A jet, however, can maintain momentum so long as its engine and fuel supply exists.

Rooting is a convenient concept, but also difficult to ponder. It is convenient since it allows the human mind to easily grasp how to draw power from a source, but it is hard because these powers are not normally something humans can imagine themselves using. While it is possible to reconstruct or construct martial techniques based upon original compositions of power, shapes, and applications, it is much faster to use pre-existing concepts and applications that have been tested. It’s the difference between engineers utilizing the laws of physics to construct the strongest bridge through trial and error alone, or utilizing an existing bridge design that has been tested against cross winds and resonance vibrations.

The key power source in rooting is gravity. What allows it to be used by humans is a hybrid construction of both internal and external power sources. Mastery of gravity is done through indirect means that utilize mastery of one’s own body movements and balance. To put it another way, destructive force can be generated merely by climbing up a skyscraper, dropping a big rock, and watching it smash whatever it hits below you. You did not technically “generate” that power, nor was it an internal origin source from the rock itself. Gravity did most of the work, but you were the one that supplied external power to the rock to move it to the right height, and that power came from your internal engine and fuel source (muscles, blood, sugar, carbohydrates, nerves, etc).

Rooting is as simple a thing as understanding how to combine internal and external power sources under your own control. Gravity will not run out of power any time soon. Yet you cannot control it directly. You can control your body directly through neural commands. Thus a martial artist can integrate as their own internal power, the power of the Earth’s gravity well itself. So long as your body and mind lasts, at least.

What makes internal martial arts seem like magic without effort is merely that most of their efforts are kept to a minimum, in order to control and not obstruct the power that they are getting from elsewhere. External martial arts rely predominantly on mastery of the body in order to develop and utilize the body’s own internal power supply for attack and defense. This will last right up until you get wounded, get old, or get tired (run out of fuel). External thus means to focus on generating power, speed, and stamina to affect the outside world. Internal martial arts are focused more on what’s going on inside the body, as erasing blockages in power allows for the greatest increase in strength. This may seem like a minor detail that will get people to the same place either way they go, but it’s a rather fundamental difference. Not only in the starting point, but in the ending point (the meaning of the journey itself).

To put it in modern world technological terms, pure external strength is like a NASA shuttle packed with all kinds of liquid fuel and sent to burn into orbit using the force of the acceleration generated to overcome the earth’s gravity well. Internal mastery would be more akin to those people in squirrel suits, the size of a normal human body, jumping off cliffs and allowing the wind currents and the gravity well itself, to supply the impulse for them to maintain height and speed. They don’t have an engine on their glider. They carry no fuel. Yet they control where they move, within the context of their metaphysical world.

Using such convenient concepts as “rooting”, humans can construct and deconstruct martial techniques at an ever increasing speed and efficiency. For example, it is easy to conclude that a technique that often has both feet off the ground, such as a jumping spin kick, utilizes rooting not at all. One cannot have a root while unconnected to the ground or anything else for that matter. Why that is good or bad comes in a later section: tactics and strategy.

Principles of Martial Application and Technique Construction

April 17, 2013

All of the world’s techniques when it comes to eliminating enemies or less permanent violence, is based on the foundation of several methods and creation paths. Just as a sword and a car can be made in different fashions, yet they have minimum requirements to be functional, so the same can be seen of martial techniques. No matter whether they utilize guns, swords, sticks, six feet staffs, or one’s own body, the creation itself must meet bare minimum requirements for it to be functional.

First, there must be a power source and a method for it to be sustained. For guns, it is ammo and cleaning. For swords, it is preserving against rust, maintaining a keen blade to cut, and utilizing a combination of muscle and gravity to activate. No matter whether the power source is internal in origin or external, it must exist, otherwise it might as well be a gun without bullets or a sword without a point or edge. In those circumstances, those “weapons” would be pretty much functionally the same as a rock or metal stick. The goal is not to make things you could pick up around you just by walking around.

Second, the raw power source must be used and shaped to serve a function and then activated through the use of a “technique”. This can be as simple as a stomp to a fallen enemy’s throat, utilizing simplistic gravity, mass, and linear penetration power shaping or as complicated as restraint techniques that utilize nerve pain or joint pain thresholds to eliminate or restrain a person’s ability to resist or fight back. Shooting stances, recoil absorbing stances, are also martial techniques. Those who can negate the most recoil, fire the fastest with the most accuracy, have increased odds of killing more enemies, thus increasing their own self survival percentage.

Techniques can be seen as a way to activate the combination of a specific power source along with a functional use for that power. Few people can create their own techniques merely by copying the movements of somebody else. It would be as difficult a task as attempting to recreate a car with the mentality and technology of the iron age. It’s too complicated. There are too many principles and alien concepts to reverse engineer and comprehend, let alone the additional lack of a proper foundation technology that makes the technology. It is not surprising that in the modern age, 30 years is considered young for mastery. It takes a surprisingly large amount of time to reverse engineer someone else’s techniques without the concepts, power source, and activation methods already given to you and explained in a blueprint.

Instead of having beginners copy other people’s techniques and somehow learn to reverse engineer them decades down the path, I prefer for people to learn from the beginning and build up their foundation from there. But the beginning is not the “technique”. The end is the technique. That is the product, not the “building materials” or the “common concepts and methods of construction”.

On the topic of creative construction and artistic self expression, the general guideline I propose would be to merely fixate in your mind the problem and comprehend it entirely. Then construct a tool/technique utilizing the martial skill you already have, to solve the problem. For example, if the problem is that an enemy exists and is breathing, then to fix the problem we merely have to make the enemy non-existent by ceasing their breathing. For that purpose, we may utilize a linear explosion of force to the front of the throat, crushing the vocal cords and swelling the tissues, causing slow death by asphyxiation, and soon non-existence. Problem solved, permanently. If, however, your problem is that somebody is annoying you and you want them to stop bothering you in a social fashion… martial lethal force techniques may not be particularly suited to your issue. Judging whether this is or isn’t, is part of that “Good” and “Evil” dichotomy for more advanced students, those who already have the maturity (power) to take care of themselves. They are not for children to decide or those who cannot defend themselves yet. You cannot decide whether a tool is used for evil or good when you can’t even use that tool yet nor comprehend its function.

There are various ways to get to the same result, based upon the specific problem encountered. Thus some create their own individual creative solutions (techniques), while others use different methods. Humans like to argue about “who is better” and “our identity tribe is better than yours” but the only thing that reality cares about is whether you solve the problem or not. Be careful not to get fixated too much on the “if then” scenarios where people argue that “if the enemy can defend against your initial strike, you must have your own defense and counters”. You’re not here to be in a social contest or to glorify your name, tribe, or skills. You’re here to fix the problem. Until you see the problem in front of you, do not make up solutions based upon other people’s imagination. Get it done. When you get it done, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.

Overall when it comes to technique construction, non-lethal tools tend to be more complicated and harder to use than lethal force tools. Expect to face a more difficult maturation process when students start learning martial arts utilizing non-lethal goals. That’s not how martial knowledge was originally gained by our common human ancestors. Then again, many things in this modern world is upside down from how it originally was.

Function over Form, Mind over Body, Thought leads Action

April 10, 2013

While the existence of power may be interesting to some, I’m sure many, if not most, wish for more practical concepts and concrete methods.

Philosophy is a way to train the mind, but many start martial arts or hand to hand training merely for physical benefits. In so far as people obtain mental and spiritual benefits, it is more a direct result of hard exercise and health.

Yet, in order to handle the raw power of this universe through our mortal bodies, thinking and training oneself to think correctly in any circumstance is important. For without thinking, we cannot create what we need to or we may create that which is unneeded or disastrous. A martial artist should not have “accidents” in training. How can you have an accident and hurt someone when you didn’t mean to? Is that like having an accident and killing yourself, because you tried to hurt someone and couldn’t? These types of accidental like behavior are often seen in people who may have exceptional physical abilities, but unexceptional mental strength and concentration. They just happened to use more strength than was necessary, because they have no mental conception of what is “necessary” to get the job done. And if they did, they couldn’t perform to spec either.

People tend to have accidents using things that they are not familiar with or do not totally own. Sometimes it is merely carelessness. Concerning guns and rocket launchers, often it is not so much carelessness as pure ignorance and the inability to comprehend the power invested in the tool by human creation. Children fall down and cannot remain balanced on one leg, often times because their bodies are not yet their own, merely something they were given today, very different from what they are used to yesterday or the day before. It is not theirs. It is unfamiliar. People attempt to mimic, copy, and imitate what they see, thereby making mistakes in the learning process. Those mistakes are merely a result of the copy attempt.

What is the point of being a martial artist if all one does is copy other people’s material? If that is not what one seeks, how do people figure out what is true and false, paving their own path? Therein rests the issue of mental training. For a strong mind can detect truth from falsehood, reverse engineer other people’s concepts into their own personal ideas, and basically get jobs done by their own judgment, not the decisions of their boss or superior.

Function over form, what is the point of a form if it has no function? Is it good merely for cosmetic beauty? I do not think martial capabilities should be focused overly much on external, superficial details. Yet, I often hear from many that they learn martial arts by seeing the techniques and mimicking them. After all, all that is required is to do the movement many times over and one will achieve muscle memory, right? Why do we need this “mental training” and the ability to form independent decisions when our muscles are the one memorizing stuff…

Probably because if you want to become an artist and not just an animal, one might wish for a bit of independent, individual, artistic, “creativity”. Just a bit. Besides, if the entire totality of human knowledge and abilities could be copied by merely mimicking the movements of a skilled user, I could become a surgeon by copying the movements of one and practicing on corpses (After a Holiday Inn stay). After all, it’s not like I need the “mental training to be able to decide what is what” inside the body right? I’m not too sure how many people would trust my expertise though in saving lives.

The function of something in this reality is a test for us. No matter which way we are biased towards the forms, the truth will always be in the function or lack of one. In this fashion, can we detect inconsistencies and falsehoods between the function’s existence and its form. A sword may be rusted yet be a 1000 times stronger than the ceremonial, polished, weak metal. Test it. Humans like to claim many things, but reality has no reason to lie.

Mind over body. While the common wisdom is that our muscles do the thinking for us in getting martial techniques down, it may surprise people to know that all the “autonomic” functions are in two places generally speaking: the spine and the brain. If you get drunk and cannot stand up straight let alone balance yourself on one leg… are you telling me your muscles have forgotten its memory or is it merely that your brain has become polluted by toxins in the blood stream that the blood-brain barrier cannot filter out?

If it happens to be that the brain and the spine is what controls your breathing and automatic functions, then your special “techniques” should be initiated by the same command chain. Yet, why is it so many fighters think they need not develop the control and discipline of the mind over the body, in order to fight? Is pure instinct so beneficial and easy to use that it is merely too convenient to let the body do its own thing after a fashion… whether it is or it is not, what a martial artist should seek is even more power, even more control over it, even more conscious awareness of it. Automatic instincts are best left for the survival of animals and computers. The proficient fighter can accomplish much relying on mere instinct and reactions, yet the fighter with full control of his mind and thus his body, will be a harder entity to defeat: strategically and tactically. Most species in the animal kingdom are far better physically and instinct wise than humans, yet it is humans that seem to be at the top of this food pyramid. Why is that? Is it because of technology that humans were born with, instinctively? I doubt a newly born human in a contest of instincts would win out against even a pack of wolves, let alone the hunter killers of a lioness pride. All that humans have, was created by human thought and imagination: child or man.

Thought leads action because until the neurons fire, the body has nothing to do. Until the order is given by the chain of command, the soldiers at the bottom do nothing and know nothing. This is also why people freeze up in battle, for their brain cannot decide on the proper action or perhaps to them the proper action is to do nothing, but deciding to do nothing is still doing something. The body has been ordered to maintain and hold itself. The faster you figure out what you are supposed to do, the faster the body will do it. Yet many people expect themselves to judge the right action immediately in a life and death battle, merely by training repetitious physical movements. As if this will enlighten them as to the purpose and reason of martial power. Unfortunately, I doubt that has ever been the case, where merely worshipping an idol of power has given us greater understanding of the universe.

Make techniques yours, your own idea and execution not the copy of something else that even monkeys can do. Do not allow your body to do whatever it wants to do based upon the influence of fear, anger, or any other emotion, for the more power you have, the more you will regret letting something else decide what to do with that power. Figure out, clean out, your own mind of doubts, hesitations, questions, and desires. The body will not immediately obey a hesitant, vicefull, corrupt, stupid, greedy, ignorant, foolish, commander. In other words, that part of your brain/spine that likes to go on instinct in survival situations will start making decisions for itself and you will have a rebellion on your hands. You may be able to fool other people and even yourself, but there are hidden parts of your mind that only cares about the truth when it comes to survival (after all, it’s why our genes still exist) Yet, afterwards, it’s going to be you that has to face the court martial and the board of inquiry as to your actions, not your muscle memory. Not your instincts. Not your spine.

Emotions, adrenaline, neurons, reflexes, logical and instinctive brain functions, all were designed to help you, the human, survive. Yet it is rather sad that many choose not to utilize such tools and instead rely on merely the form, the repetition of what they’ve seen done by others. It should not need to be said that a human who wishes to wield such abilities, on top of the powers of creation and destruction, needs to be a bit more in control, knowledgeable, and “competent”.

Martial Arts 101

April 8, 2013

After a decade of searching out truths and secrets in the world of hand to hand conflict, I define martial arts as the warrior’s way, different from the hero’s journey in epic fantasy. A warrior merely has to have enough martial prowess to defend themselves and maybe some people around them. A hero often does similar things, but also leads nations, various groups of people, and inspires them directly or indirectly. Thus a warrior is more concerned about their own path and not the path of society, nations, or other people. The martial part is self explanatory as the methods of war. Whether one fights one person or a thousand, the scale is the only thing that changes, not the nature of reality. The “art”, however, is harder to pin down as it is an abstract, personal thing. What would be a good way to define art so that a warrior may strive to obtain that goal? Are they to write, make Hollywood films, and thus become an “artist”?

This goes all the way back to creation, the Big Bang, or basic metaphysics: what is reality, what is creation, and what is destruction. Artistic power comes merely from the human imagination taking shape an idea and using human resources to create that idea unto reality, given form and shape just as the Earth and Sun was given form and shape. Create that which did not exist before and make it exist. Truly a divinely inspired feat.

An artist thus creates. But a killer destroys. A killer in one second, can wipe out the work of untold decades or even centuries of human hard work and belief. Combine those two different powers together and you get something that can protect: a warrior, defender, protector, ruthless seeker of justice. A martial artist should be able to wield both the powers of creation and destruction to be complete, to know that they are on the right path in life and death. What they then do with that power… is open to interpretation on an individual level. It is certainly possible for the wielders to use it for good, but it is also possible to use it for evil.

A martial artist thus should be able to kill anyone they meet on the street, within hand range or 21 feet if one can run quickly. On the other hand, a martial artist should also be able to save humans from being killed near them. If this sounds similar to the citizen defenders of a nation, good samaritans, citizens defending their ideals and community, it should. The concept of a true gentleman planning for how to kill everyone in the same room as him, is perhaps ironic or contradictory, unless one realized that human systems function based upon a combination of life and death, order and chaos, creation and destruction. One cannot protect everything in existence, thus we prioritize ourselves, our precious loved ones, more. That inevitably means that one will eventually have to decide whether killing the enemy is worth what they are protecting. There are many methods, tools, and techniques people can use to achieve their goals. My purpose is to cover the ones that martial artists can and should use.

Since I began with metaphysics, we’ll continue on that topic. What are the metaphysics of martial artists? It’s not enough to say “imagine a result and method of defeating someone, and you’ll make it true”. How will you make it true? What methods are you able to imagine? How would you create the result in reality from your imaginations?

This isn’t a malleable physics universe we live in, so we cannot circumvent the laws of physics and divinity by merely willing something into existence. Magic, it seems, is out of the reach of mere warriors. So without using magic, what can we accomplish and with what?

There are two general forces, based upon origin, that warriors may use: internal and external forces. To use a modern example, a car functions on its internal combustion engine plus the fuel. This would be the internal power source. The external power source would then be some guy outside who you intimidated into pushing your car for a payment. When that power runs out, it runs out. You can force it to work more, but you won’t get much afterwards by beating that dead horse. The internal power, however, only runs out when you run out of fuel. You just refuel or carry the fuel with you. It’s also more efficient, as internal power is designed to work with your engine, but that external force guy was just roped in from some chain gang to do your bidding, he probably is starved and has weak musculature to begin with.

After the origin of the power source, we now come to how to shape it. Raw power, in itself, doesn’t really do us any good. What we want is to shape the power. We can either shape it into a line or a circle. In the beginning, power exists as a point source, it has no vector, intent, or design. It is just there. To use it, we must give it form and thus function. What then, is the function of a line or circle?

The line can be used as a needle, spear, bullet by warriors. No matter what form the power takes or what technology aids in its construction, the human mind is the original source of the idea, function, and inspiration. Never forget that. A needle pierces skin that cannot be pierced by one’s fist. One’s fist can break through wood, but not concrete and brick. Why is that so? It is purely a matter of power and surface area. One pound of power applied to the needle means it is focused on that pindrop of a surface area on your skin, thus surpassing your skin’s natural resistance. A fist is a broader area, but is dense enough in the bone structure, if supplied with enough power, to break through soft rigid wood that cannot run away from you. Yet, brick and concrete is too “rigid” and thus its resistance surpasses your human frame. You may have the power of a giant, but that would merely destroy your human body instead of the wall. Force follows the path of least resistance and breaks that which is weaker first. The line is thus the shortest distance between two points and penetrates through all enemies. The ideal is to focus the power from a single point in space into a line, without expanding its radius. A god like ability that can pierce through the Earth and Moon. In more practical terms, warriors train their body/mind/spirit to replicate the same results as a spear or bullet when destroying their enemies. Of course, one wonders why one doesn’t just use a spear or firearm then. That gets us back to the “internal vs external” dichotomy. When one relies upon external tools and powers, they can be taken away from you, exhausted, or destroyed. That which belongs to you, your mind, your body, your nerves, cannot be destroyed or taken away, without also destroying you yourself. Thus a warrior fights to the death even while naked, for until one kills the warrior, he is still 100% capable of destroying all enemies.

The second form we may shape power into is the circle. In other words, infinite rotation around a point following the curvature of pi. One can see the example of such power manifested in spinning tops, spinning saws, and centrifugal force. In practical matters, a warrior can use a source of power to rotate an enemy’s head 360 degrees. Or at least 180. Just depends on whether the internal or external power source is enough. Let’s say some kid pushed his cousin from a diving plank, and the cousin cratered in the bottom of the pool and died. In terms of the origins of the power exerted, most of it was due to an external force, gravity, and the only internal force came from the arm push. Many people consider certain things impossible in martial arts because they refuse to use either external or internal forces that can actually get the job done. That is a human limitation, not a limitation on the powers that exist.

Rotation becomes a hard force to penetrate with a line once it takes shape. A person can thus rotate their torso and avoid a linear strike. If the attack is coming from the front, one merely has to rotate to another side to avoid it. Tanks can rotate their turrets to apply their main gun, while a human can use the same trick to align their powerful and quick straight attacks on a moving target. The nature of the circle being a sustained infinite rotating area, makes visualizing human movements that are the same, difficult. It is just as useful and as powerful as the line in the end.

After a person has learned to visualize, imagine, and create in reality the forms for these powers, they will make quick progress. No technique is inaccessible, no method is impossible, and no falsified con job is hidden from the person that has mastered these two shapes, forms, or formulations of the origin source. One could say that these are the principles by which millions of techniques are built upon, one way or another.

Afterwards there are refinements, different ways of doing the same thing based upon individual preference. There is also the combination of powers, where a line and a circle is used together. This is not a “new” shape or power, merely a combination of old ones that already exist. Thus the spiral combines the power and utility of the line and the circle, to form the drill, the blackhole, the whirlpool, the tornado. The DNA helix contains the information and the power of life creation, through the spiral shape.

In the beginning, there was non existence. After non existence was creation and then existence. From existence, we understand the nature of creation and destruction. From the dual powers of creation and destruction, infinite and divine, we form two ways: 1 and 0: the line and the circle of Martial Arts 101. The binary code of creation and destruction must be analyzed and learned first, before a warrior can walk the path true for them.