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Extract #2 from "Essential Jo"

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Here is the second extract from my forthcoming book "Essential Jo".

Informal grip

As with golf, tennis, or any other activity which requires using a stick-like object, your grip is one of the most important features.

The “informal grip” is one you adopt when you are not actively engaged in training. We use the traditional method also seen in other Japanese and Chinese weapons arts: the weapon is held palm down and behind your shoulder. This is not only subtle and non-confrontational; it also provides an element of concealment and surprise, should you need it against would-be assailants.

Surprisingly, the hold is also quite effective in allowing a “quick draw” for defence.

The key to this “quick draw” is to hold the jo slighly off-centre, palm closer to the end facing downwards. I’ve found that the ideal point is approximately one palm width from the centre (or slightly less than that).

What this means is that when you drop the jo naturally it slopes upwards at a gradual incli…

Crescent stepping

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A colleague at the Traditional Fighting Arts Forums recently posed this question:The only explanation i've ever heard for the crescent stepping (other than just being able to generally move in various ways) comes from George Mattson's "The Way of Karate" where he states that it represents protecting the groin as you move into the opponent's range.

Any other explanations? Surely there's more to it than that..?
My answer is: not really.

To my mind, the crescent step is the way one should perform basic ayumi ashi (natural stepping) when there is no initial lunge with the front foot (more on this in a minute). This is primarily so as to protect your groin (which the crescent step achieves by bringing your knees together during the step).

There is very little "time loss" because the arc drawn by your knee inwards does not significantly alter the path taken by your hip. So crescent stepping is quite useful for general movement because it is inherently protect…

Mathematical dimensions and martial arts analysis

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Introduction

The other night I dreamt I was back at university, in a mathematics lecture. The lecturer writes up Pierre de Fermat's last theorem1 on the board as follows:

cn = an + bn, where n = 3 or greater, has no possible solution.

Instead of asking us to prove the theorem, he simply says: "How many variables are there?"

I woke up and wondered about that piece of cheese I'd eaten the night before. Then I started thinking about the substance of the dream: How many "variables" are there in, say, c3 = a3 + b3? And how does this compare with the number of "variables" in Pythagoras' theorem c2 = a2 + b2?

Pure mathematics relating to number theory arguably has no practical application. Yet I realised that maybe, just maybe, my subconscious was telling me something "useful" in martial terms.

Flawed dimensional analysis

It seems to me that when marital artists analyse techniques, they often do so in either 2 dimensions without considering t…

Another award for The Way of Least Resistance!

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I just received word that this blog has received the honour of another award - this time selected by Home Alarm Monitoring as one of the "Top 40 Tae Kwon Do Re Mi Blogs".

This is especially an honour since I don't practise taekwondo. I'm glad it has been of some use and interest to those who practice this fine art.

I'd like to thank Allen Wright and Home Alarm Monitoring for this honour.

Copyright © 2010 Dejan Djurdjevic

Dojo kun or con?

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Many karate schools have a "dojo kun" or a set of rules or mottoes by which the schools are said to function.

These are usually traditional, inherited from the original dojos in Japan or Okinawa. More recently, Western-based karate schools have started to develop their own.

What is the function of the dojo kun? Rob Redmond of 24 Fighting Chickens argues that it is nothing more than a "con": it purports to preach a set of "moral" guidelines, and to elevate the status of karate instructors beyond that to which they are entitled. He makes a good point.

Arguably the most well-known dojo kun is that of Gichin Funakoshi, founder of shotokan karate. It is this dojo kun that Mr Redmond has particularly in mind in his blog article. The shotokan dojo kun is commonly translated as follows:
Seek perfection of character
Protect the way of the truth
Foster the spirit of effort
Respect the principles of etiquette and respect others
Guard against impetuous courage and refr…

Dan interviewed on the Demzley Show

I thought I'd break from tradition and have a "video only" blog entry today.

This is in an interview conducted by my friend Duane Emsley who runs the Youtube-based "Demzley Show" - a great idea and heaps of fun. If you haven't caught Duane's show before, please do. He is a very able and talented martial artist and a highly creative individual who brings his own quirky style and colour to Youtube. It was an honour to be asked on his show.

In the interview I cover my thoughts on a wide range of martial matters including kata, the origins and evolution of karate, conflict management and resolution and much, much more.

I hope you enjoy it!



Copyright © 2010 Dejan Djurdjevic

Stopping techniques at a pre-determined point

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I have previously discussed how traditional strikes are stopped by the practitioner at a pre-determined point; they do not rely on the target to stop the strike. [For the purposes of this article I shall simply refer to “strike”, but you can take this to refer to any kind of strike, punch or kick.]

I have discussed how this needn’t mean that the traditional strike is “weak” – it may not carry as much force as a “follow through” but it makes up for this at least in part through concepts like “kime” (focus) and hydrostatic shock.

But what is the imperative that causes virtually every traditional Far Eastern traditional martial art to stop strikes at a pre-determined point? Why not simply follow through with each technique until it is stopped by the target?

The answer lies in priority. Unlike, say, combat sports or military disciplines, civilian defence does not prioritize hitting. It prioritizes not being hit. Accordingly, civilian defence strikes are inherently conservative insofar a…

Simultaneous techniques: Part 3 - a case study

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Introduction

Following my previous article about late, simultaneous and pre-emptive initiative, I thought I'd examine a real-life civilian defence encounter caught on video between a person obviously trained in boxing facing multiple attackers.

Given the argument that "late initiative isn't as effective/important as simultaneous or pre-emptive initiative", I thought I'd count the number of times the late, simultaneous and pre-emptive initiative were used and also note the circumstances in which the strategies were employed.

If my theory is right, the initial part of an attack is going to occur in what I have called the melee range. It will initially feature late initiative because the defender will, to some extent, be surprised by, and responding to, the aggression (he won't be initiating the aggression). This will be despite the fact that the defender knows from an early stage that a fight is likely; not being the aggressor means he will not launch the first …

Simultaneous techniques: Part 2 - seizing initiative

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Continued from Part 1

Introduction

In my article "Why blocks DO work" I set out my arguments as to why traditional "blocks (better termed "parries", "interceptions" or "deflections") are indeed very effective.

In that article I also discussed how the failure to understand and apply blocks correctly has led people to dismiss them as ineffective. This in turn has led some traditional martial artists to reinterpret blocks as strikes, locks or holds in order to justify their continued presence in the traditional curriculum.

One of the more sophisticated revisions in modern karate is the reinterpretation of block/counter combinations. According to this theory, there are no such combinations in karate: rather, every block is itself a direct attack. The theory holds that there if you block, then punch, you cede the initiative to your opponent and give him or her the advantage. It is better to respond to every attack with your own attack - what is…