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A wonderful new review for Essential Jo

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I've received an absolutely wonderful New Year's Eve gift from Dr Arnold Rosenstock in the form of a 5 star review of Essential Jo.

Thank you Arnold!


Edit: and a great 5 star review from Josh Fiebig - thanks Josh!



Copyright © 2015 Dejan Djurdjevic

Essential Jo - an official Amazon bestseller!

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After making an entry several times this year into the "hot new release" list (but languishing in the top 200 generally), last night "Essential Jo" finally cracked Amazon's Martial Arts Bestseller list overall, reaching at least 46. [Edit: as of 31/12/2015 it is at 33!]

Given that the sales have steadily been increasing from month to month - and the fact that I'm about to release the companion DVD in the next week or two, I have no reason to suspect the situation will change except for the better.  Every single month brings increased awareness and sales.

Either way, I'm officially a bestselling writer!

So much for the two publishers who, after a full year each of wasting my time with indecision, finally rejected my text as "not commercially viable".  (One of them had the gall to write to me recently asking me to review their titles on my blog!)

Anyway, look out for the DVD folks!



Copyright © 2015 Dejan Djurdjevic

Physical prerequisites for grades

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Our Wu-Wei Dao syllabus at the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts contains physical prerequisites for grading.

The first reaction I tend to get from more mature students is one of horror.  I guess that is understandable: the older I get, the less I like the idea of having keep up with 20-somethings.  I guess I feel a bit like some ancient police sergeant having to do an obstacle course in under a certain time.

There are the usual arguments I face - like "I'm learning martial arts skills - not training to be an MMA fighter, a law enforcement officer or soldier.  Why the heck do I need some kind of physical test?"
And the answer is: "You don't." We have plenty of students who train in our non-grading classes - in particular my Chinese arts class.  There we don't have any gradings at all.  I teach certain techniques and coach students in developing their skill in these techniques.  And all of this is done without any reference to a particular physical &qu…

Kata-based defences against combinations

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Over the last 2 decades I've noticed an explosion of interest in karate in "bunkai" - applications of karate's kata (forms).  There was a time (in the not too distant past) where karate had stagnated badly.  Kata were practised almost in a vacuum: forms as a series of movements and no analysis on one hand - sparring or two person drills with no nexus to the kata on the other.  This seemed to be the case since karate became popularised in Japan in the 1930s and was diluted for teaching to school kids.  It only got worse in the 1950s and 60s when it spread to the West.

By the 1980s I noticed a few teachers trying to claw the way back to bunkai as the primary source of karate knowledge.  As just one example, Higaonna Morio sensei of goju ryu released his 8mm and later video tapes of kata and applications.  Meanwhile, other teachers, like Hirokazu Kanazawa sensei of SKI shotokan, handled the dilemma in a totally different way, cataloging hundreds of two person sparring …

Blocking the jab

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"You can't block a jab - and that shows blocks don't work"

I recently made a video on this topic and I'm surprised by the reactions - especially the private ones: my inbox this morning is full, mostly of some very strongly worded negativity towards what I thought was a fairly honest, unremarkable analysis of the possibilities and limitations of blocking jabs.  I guess people can't seem to understand that a video filmed in class doesn't provide a full analysis of a topic and relies on some background.

I made the video recalling an event that occurred some 20 years ago.  I was training in a gym which had boxers training.  One young trainee there knew I did karate, so he came up and challenged me.  "Blocks don't work," he said.  Then he mimicked a jodan uke and a chudan uke, showing he'd done bit of cursory study in karate.  "You couldn't possibly use these to stop my jab."

I'm going to put aside the obvious absurdity of h…

DVD launch in Perth

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Today I launched my 3 new DVDs, Internalising Karate, Bridging Hard and Soft: Vol 1 Fundamentals and Chang Dao: Chinese long Sabre at the Ray Hana's Superstore in Perth WA.



It was great to meet some new people and wonderful to see some old friends too!

Videos now ready for download

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And just like that...

All of my 3 new videos have been approved for download and are available from Amazon.  Just click on the links or pictures below! [Note: Amazon have just confirmed that the download option is only for the US and its territories.]

Internalising Karate







Bridging Hard and Soft Vol. 1: Fundamentals






The Chinese Long Sabre: Chang Dao








Three DVDs published today!

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Just in time for the Christmas season, I'm proud to announce the publication of 3 of my instructional martial arts DVDs today (one is a re-issue to facilitate a download version which is coming soon).

These are:
Internalising KarateBridging Hard and Soft Vol. 1: FundamentalsThe Chinese Long Sabre: Chang Dao For a description of these DVDs go here!

The direct download versions of the above videos are now available in the US but it will take another week or two for them to become available in other countries.

Copyright © 2015 Dejan Djurdjevic

What makes a beginner?

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The title to this essay might seem like an odd question.  On one level the answer is really quite simple: the beginner is the person who just walked in through the door.

But on another level, you'll sometimes hear experienced martial arts practitioners say: “I’m still a beginner.”  This isn't just false modesty either.
There is some truth to the notion that even an experienced martial artist can be a beginner. How? Because in the end, it’s all relative.  In February I will have celebrated 36 years of continuous training in the martial arts.  Am I a beginner?  Manifestly not, in the ordinary sense of the word “beginner”.  But how does my 36 years compare with Kyoshi James Sumarac’s 50+ years of training?  Or, for that matter, Master Chen Yun Ching’s 72+ years of training?  In relation to them, I am a beginner.
It also depends on what type of martial arts you’re talking about, hence my gif above of Ronda Rousey - a judo expert - boxing (more on her in a minute - note this is not

Standing arm bar - issues and solutions

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Introduction

I've previously written about how civilian defence grappling differs from full grappling in that it maintains a kind of "buffer" that avoids clinches and other grabs that take you into a range where you can be tied down (a situation that might be quite useful in combat sport, particularly if you're good at grappling, but which is contrary to the objectives of civilian defence, as I've often discussed).

You will see from my civilian defence grappling article that I'd chosen to illustrate my point (at least partially) with the classic (and oft-seen) standing arm bar - noting the pitfalls of this technique and how easily it could take the unsuspecting traditional martial artist out of the melee range and into the grappling one.  Indeed, at one point I went out of my way to point out how traditional martial artists seemed largely unaware of this factor in demonstrating their suggested applications of traditional forms.

Unfortunately, I took a partic…

Using overhand inverted punch as simultaneous deflection

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My recent article on the overhand inverted punch covered the surprising utility of that technique.

It's main use, as exemplified by Holly Holm in her fight against Ronda Rousey, is of course, as a punch - one that can come from an unexpected angle.

In my article on the punch, I also added an extra video showing its use as a projection/throw.

But something I neglected to discuss was actually one of the most important attributes of the punch: the fact that it can, while striking, also "simultaneously" intercept and deflect (what some people call "block") an incoming attack.  This should be apparent from the animated gif below:


The key to understanding how it works lies in understanding one of the most basic techniques of traditional martial arts - and also helps explain the function of that technique.  I'm talking about the humble "rising block" (age or jodan uke).  I've previously dealt with this technique in "Back to basics: blocking&quo…

"Superfluous" technique names in karate

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I noticed my previous article on the overhand corkscrew punch being discussed on Sherdog.

One member there said:
For some reason it rubs me the wrong way whenever someone wants to attach a superfluous name to movements of striking arts.  Presumably this is because in the second sentence of the article I said: "In karate I suppose it would be an otoshi ura zuki (an inverted dropping punch)."

I think it is hardly "superfluous" to mention this in relation to karate which, like judo, is remarkably codified - each technique has a name.  Generally speaking karateka of various styles agree on the names (with minor variations).  So just as a judoka knows full well the difference between "o-uchi gari" and "ko-uchi gari", a karateka understands the meaning of "jodan zuki" and "chudan uke".

Since about 70% of my readership appears to comprise karateka, I took the liberty of guessing (note my reference to "I suppose") the cor…