Showing posts from August, 2012

"Chi/ki tests"


Initially I had included the subject of "tests" of "chi" (meaning "spirit" or "breath" - spelled "qi" in Pinyin, "ki" in Japanese and written 氣 in hanzi/kanji) in my previous article; it arose out of the same "stream of consciousness" and should accordingly be read subject to that discussion. However I chose to put this subject into a separate essay because I think it deserves its own focus.

"Chi/ki tests" are perennial favourites in martial arts circles. They range from cheap parlour tricks to drills that actually require some real martial skill (a skill that is however explained in vague, mystical or supernatural terms).

In this article I propose to deal with the latter: In other words, I want to focus on two fairly common "chi/ki tests" that actually do require some skill.

In so doing, I hope to:
explain what these tests are actually "measuring" (ie. what sort of s…

Mentalism and self-deception in the martial arts

Introduction: the old "light as a feather" game

I'm sure many of you have played the "light as a feather game": one person sits on a chair and four others gather round and try to lift him or her using only their extended index fingers. Typically this is achieved with a bit of hesitancy and difficulty.

But then the four "lifters" perform some sort of "ritual": some pre-set activity (eg. placing all their hands on the sitting person's head) or just the joint "focusing of thought waves". Then the four go back to the sitting person and – voila! – he or she is lifted clean off the seat and high into the air; as if by magic!

Back in the '80s my mentalist mate Dave (one of a dwindling number who actually earned a degree in parapsychology!) and four of his friends tried it out on a Daihatsu Charade (using a full grip, naturally). Again, they lifted the car clean off the ground. As if by magic.

False assumptions

Except it's …

The beginner

Many years ago I was seated with a group of people at a wedding. We were all mostly strangers to each other. By way of "breaking the ice", the young man next to me suggested that everyone should say what he or she did as a hobby (rather than the more boring occupational recital).

When it was my turn, I said: “I study martial arts.”
“Oh? I wouldn’t have guessed it. I have a friend who is a martial artist.”
“Yes, he’s a second dan. And you can see it too. You can see it in his eyes: the look of a killer.”
“Hmm. Your friend must be very advanced.”
“Yes, he is. I can’t see that same look in your eyes. You must be just a beginner?”
“Indeed I am,” I said.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Single whip: Part 1 - defence against that first punch


When I first started practising taijiquan in late 1989 I was somewhat perplexed by the sequence known as "single whip": Here was this curious series of movements, it's final position so often captured in still photographs as the essence of taiji – one hand in front, the other out at the back and slightly to the side with the wrist bent as if "holding a dirty sock by the tips of the fingers"! It seemed totally unrealistic and irrelevant to fighting.

Try as I might, in the following years I could not think of how or why one would bother with this "posture" (it is more accurately described as a sequence of movements) as a "fighting technique".

The best I could do was "shelve" consideration of the sequence until I had further information. Since many of my most admired martial elders practised taijiquan I reasoned that there must be some good reason for it.

Then in 2005 I had the honour of becoming a student Chen Yun Chi…

Machida vs. Bader: the naihanchi connection

Here's a technique I somehow hadn't considered for the cage (although on reflection it is one of the civilian defence methods that is reasonably suited to that enviroment): the "double punch" from naihanchi/naifunchin/tekki.

It was in December 1986 and my brother and I were visiting our sensei in Durban, South Africa. One hot and sweaty morning, during one of the many intensive private trainings at his dojo, sensei asked my brother and me to consider the application of the naihanchi/naifunchin/tekki double punch technique - and report back to him in an hour or so. It was a kind of test.

Now the "double punch" is exactly that: a full sideways facing punch with one hand, the other a shorter "hook" punch (also executed sideways). Try as we might, we couldn't think of a rational reason for having 2 punches to the opponent - at such vastly different reaches. We thought it might be in case you missed with the first one or the second one... or perh…

Necessary and reasonable force


It is quite common to hear the argument today that if traditional fighting arts were "effective", they would be used in the MMA cage. The fact that they generally aren't is taken as proof positive that aren't "effective" (whether for their intended purpose or any other).

However as I have often previously argued, this sort of argument is fundamentally flawed. Why? Because it makes some assumptions that are manifestly false.

And be aware that countering these assumptions in no way denigrates skills useful in MMA (eg. BJJ), nor even their potential applicability in some civilian defence scenarios. It's simply that such scenarios involve much, much more than the two similarly skilled fighters purposefully slugging it out one-on-one in a cage or similar environment.

More importantly, what you can and can't do in these scenarios is significantly different from what you can and can't do in the cage. Sometimes it's a whole lot more,…