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Showing posts from February, 2011

An interview with John Will: Part 1

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This is a first for me. I haven’t thought of presenting a transcript of my radio show on this blog before, and for obvious reasons; it is just too darned labour intensive. Try typing out an hour long interview! But in the case of this interview with John Will, Australian BJJ instructor and pioneer, I simply had to make an exception. And I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s been worth it.

John provides one of the most entertaining, informative and, ultimately, profound interviews I’ve ever had the honour of recording/conducting. We touch on his background and martial training, the many characters he has met, trained with and taught, and much of his inimitable, accessible wisdom. I think this is a must-read. So sit back and enjoy Part 1 of my interview with John, which aired on 91.3 SportFM on 4 April 2010.


DD: Good evening everyone, you’re listening to the Combat Sports Show on 91.3 SportFM. I’m Dan Djurdjevic and I’m here with Paul Marston. Tonight we’re speaking with one of Austral…

Soto uke: unfairly maligned cornerstone of traditional deflection

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Introduction

Some years ago I was surfing a particular online forum when I came across a "bullshit martial arts" thread in which the basic karate "soto uke" (outside block) was lampooned.

The essence of the thread was that here was a technique that could never be used in "real fighting". In other words, it was held up as the archetypal "karate fail" - a classic example of why karate "doesn't work in the street".

I agree that soto uke is "archetypal" of karate. It is arguably the cornerstone of karate forearm deflection. However I disagree completely with the assessment that it is a "fail". Rather, I think it is one of karate's most applicable and useful techniques, eminently suited to the task of civilian defence.

What I mean by soto uke

Readers of my blog will be familiar with my use of the term "block" to encompass deflections, interceptions and parries as well as literal "blocks". The …

Memories of Taiwan: Third eye blind

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The sun has set behind the Kaohsiung skyline as our bus rattles along in the congested rush-hour traffic. I lie back against the head-rest, feeling the vibration on my scalp through the velour, and try to doze. Every now and again a jolt throws me back into the real world and I see flashes: flashes of the faux wood-panelled interior of our vehicle, the slumped, silent silhouettes of my fellow Chen Pan Ling practitioners, chaos passing in every direction, the smoky-red stain on the horizon and the neon glow of the pea-soup sky.

We’re travelling from the Fo Guang Shan monastery into the city centre for our respective appointments with blind masseurs/masseuses. “Go on!” James had said to me in 2009. “Do it. You’ll feel like a new man.” But for whatever reason I declined – a decision I’d come to regret deeply. In fact, the moment I saw them arriving at the Kingship Hotel (each on the back of a scooter) and being escorted in through the foyer to the elevator (aided by the directions …

Memories of Taiwan: Synchronicity

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It’s almost midnight and I’m limping in the blue shadows of the monastery grounds finally deserted by the maelstrom of day-time activity. I'm limping because I’m alone and no longer inclined to hide the pain in my lower back – pain that stabs like a thick syringe-needle with every step and the slightest knee lift. It is an injury I sustained in my very first training, and which scans will later reveal to be a prolapsed disc in the lumbar spine. Here’s a tip: don’t travel for almost 36 hours, then attempt long xing (dragon form of xingyi) without a sufficient warm-up.

What am I doing? Oddly enough, I am searching. I’ve arranged with my photographer friend Lucia to take photos at the following dawn for the cover of my book “Essential Jo”. I’ve carted my gi and hakama all the way from Australia for just this purpose. I have come completely prepared – except that I have no jo (4 foot staff). You’d think that a Buddhist monastery built on a bamboo-forested mountain would have su…