Showing posts from March, 2010

"Rise and fall" ≠ sine wave theory

The need for distinction Recent discussions with martial arts colleagues on the Traditional Fighting Arts Forum have made me aware of the need to enunciate the difference between using "rise" or "fall" in your martial techniques and the "sine wave" theory of ITF taekwondo . "Rise and fall" "Rising and falling" in martial arts techniques not only makes sense, but it is necessarily built into most human movement. The problem arises when one attempts to become dogmatic about using a rise or fall. Rising and falling should occur naturally; movements should not be forced into a "rise/fall" mould. And as with " koshi " (using the hips to add force), while rising or falling can be used to add force to a blow, one should not focus too strongly on this aspect. There are multiple ways of generating greater force, and all of them are both valid and necessary. Not one of them is, of itself, some kind of panacea. And all of t

Fighting like your grandfather: the meaning of "style"

Many years ago I had the good fortune to meet and train under Professor Bata Milosevic of the Belgrade University, a researcher of medieval Balkan fighting methods and the founder of "Svebor" - an attempt to collate these fighting methods into a modern system. I recall Professor Milosevic making the following statement: "When you fight, you fight like your grandfather fought". By this, I think the professor meant that when you are faced with the pressure of a real attack, any semblance of "style" goes out the window and you fight according to your primeval instinct. While I greatly respect the professor, I disagree with him in this regard. I see any default to "instinct" under pressure (and a corresponding abandonment of any sense of "style") as a sign of insufficient training . Doubtless, Professor Milosevic was drawing on his own lengthy experience as an aikidoka, noting how differently some practitioners of that martial art react w

Wu-wei vs. pacifism and appeasement

Introduction: the need to differentiate wu-wei and pacifism/appeasement I've been surprised by the response I've had to my recent articles about the Daoist/Taoist philosophy of wu-wei . I've had quite a number of emails in addition to the comments posted on my blog and on the Traditional Fighting Arts Forum . Furthermore I note that the number of daily hits on my blog reached an all-time high in the last week (more than 3 times the average!) - largely due to these articles on wu-wei . There appear to be some recurrent themes emerging, so I thought I'd address them here comprehensively. Many readers of my blog were (quite rightly) incensed to read the account I gave of my friend being physically threatened by a pipe-wielding lunatic in a road rage incident - all because my friend had clapped sarcastically as the lunatic swerved dangerously around him in a mad attempt to "get ahead". A large number of my correspondents felt that something needed to be done; s

The sight of 2 hands clapping: wu-wei and the threshold test for "aggression"

In previous posts I have outlined the Daoist concept of wu-wei and how it can be applied as "enacting aggression only when it is a regrettable necessity". Last time I discussed what I meant by "regrettable necessity". But what constitutes "aggression"? You might be surprised by my definition. Again, I will explain my argument by reference to recent events. Just last weekend I took my family to a local beach that has a wonderful children's playground, grassed areas and barbecue facilities. I watched happily as my 2 children ran ahead of me across the park towards the sand dunes. But my serenity was soon shattered as I saw my youngest slip on a concrete slab surrounding a barbecue. She fell badly, her head whiplashing onto the concrete with a sickening crack. As I got to her I slipped as well. It was only then that I saw the entire area was coated in a thick grease that had oozed out from under the barbecue: a torrent of grimy cooking fat that

Bar stools and mosquitoes: more about wu-wei

I experienced an unpleasant event a couple of days ago: I was walking along a busy walkway at the Wellington Street Bus Station here in Perth when a bus pulled up and people started pouring out. A fellow stepped off the bus straight into my path and we bumped into each other. I apologised (even though it wasn't my fault) and I stepped to the side to give him room to pass me. This is consistent with my nature: my first reaction is always a conciliatory one. And usually in such "bumping" cases the other person also apologises, we both smile and head off in our separate directions. This case however turned out to be different. Even though I stepped to one side in a conciliatory gesture, the other fellow decided to plough straight into/through me (rather than avail himself of the gap I'd created). He was a big fellow - at least a foot taller than I am and about 40 lb heavier. As he started to push into me I could see him looking straight ahead with a sneer, as if I didn&