Showing posts from February, 2013

Banishing self-doubt

Introduction I was going to title this essay "In defence of faith". But as you'll soon see, the mindset I am going to defend falls a bit short of "faith" in the strict sense of that word. Rather, I will be talking about the importance of "banishing self-doubt" . My reasons for this subtle, though important, distinction will become clear later on. Regardless of what we call it, I think this mindset is nothing short of critical to your "success" and general happiness – whether in martial arts (as depicted in the adjacent meme) or life in general . I hope to explain and evidence exactly how and why I think so in this essay. But first, let me first discuss "faith" more generally. Faith: is it the "antithesis of reason"? "Faith" cops a lot of bad press from modern skeptical thinkers. And, to a large extent, I can see why. Faith is, after all, "blind": it is the belief in something without (

It's all about technique

I saw this video featuring Michael Jai White on the subject of "telegraphing" quite some time ago, but here is the "extended version". It is certainly worth a watch: I have posted this video because I often get skeptical looks from other martial artists when I raise the issue of telegraphing and other extraneous movement . "Surely it doesn't make such a difference," they say (or, at least, they think - I can see the raised eyebrows, if nothing else). "Telegraphing might make a difference if the movement is huge. But some subtle shoulder lift or twitch that happens a microsecond before the punch? Are you telling me I need to be fussed about "refined" technique when my "rough and ready" does the job? Are you telling me that I am being "inefficient": that I can't do a little hip load before the punch - to give it "power"? You obviously haven't seen how fast I hit!" Well here is my

Step-through lunge punches as "stem cell movements"

Introduction In my previous article I discussed how the humble "lunge punch" (oi zuki) of karate is largely scorned by combat sports practitioners and other "pragmatic" or "reality-based" martial artists. I'm not just talking about a "lunging punch" executed the leading arm: that technique is as ubiquitous as any other common technique. No, here we're talking about the standard karate-style punch as seen in basic kata – you know, where you take a full step (with your legs passing each other) into a forward stance (zenkutsu dachi) then, at the completion of the step, you execute a punch with your leading arm. The classic example of this is to be found in the kata heian shodan. Defending the step-through oi zuki I've had various responses to my previous article, many defending the lunge punch after a step-through. But ultimately I've been unable to come up with a single video example of such a punch being executed (at

Lunge punches: why bother?

Introduction The lunge punch is possibly one of the most identifying features of karate (and the external martial arts generally - eg. shaolin gong fu, taekwondo etc.). What is it? I define it as a punch with the leading hand, executed in a forward or "bow and arrow" stance (zenkutsu dachi or gong bu). In arts like karate it is typically launched after a full step-through. But how "useful" or "practical" is this? Some would argue not at all. Consider this account from John Vesia's "Martial Views" blog where he includes the lunge punch as one of 3 karate moves we could do without . John says: "Lunge punch. This is punching that corresponds with the same side stepping foot accentuated with a long stance. Sometimes called a "chasing" punch. Lots of instructors like to demonstrate a self-defense technique against a lunge punch (or a knife in lieu of a punch); the lunging posture puts uke in a compromising position con