Showing posts from August, 2014

Left single whip: taijiquan's "hidden power"

There is a movement in Chen Pan Ling taijiquan called "left single whip".  It leads to a sequence known as "raise arm and step forwards".  These movements seem very weak and soft - yet they contain within them concepts of "softness overcoming hardness" that can make your mind spin.  As far as I'm concerned, they are as close as you get to something "mystical".

Yet it's not.

It's really just simple mechanics.  But who would have thought those mechanics would be quite so powerful!

Part 1 was filmed last week.  It shows a performance of the part of the form I'm talking about.  Part 2 was filmed this morning.

I do the applications slowly (mostly).  But in reality, they are, of course, done fast.

Both videos involve some aspect of "stand up grappling" - which will no doubt surprise some folks given my last two articles.
Except that it shouldn't.   I make it clear that I am an ardent practitioner of stand up grappling - I…

Avoiding the clinch: more on civilian defence grappling

In my most recent article I discussed a certain (currently popular) view that traditional "uke" aren't really all that useful in blocking/deflection/parrying.  Under this view it is proposed that "uke" function more as as "striking, unbalancing, trapping and limb (and head) manipulation movements in stand up grappling" (to quote "jwt" - John Titchen).

John added recently:
"[M]oving and manipulating others to gain a position from which to strike, control or escape (predominantly extracting oneself from multiple punches, grabs, high tackles and clinches)... make up the majority of the 'action' in close range combative situations and it is those movements which both full and partial Uke sequences excel at. " It is clear that for people like John, stand up grappling is really what "uke" are mostly about.  And John notices that:
"[T]he majority of the movements being drilled [should] navigate the most …

"Deflecting attacks doesn't require any specialised training!"

Where angels fear to tread
I did something the other day that I normally don't do: I was enticed to go onto one of the big forums where, it seems, they were discussing one of my articles.

All I can say is, I realised after a few minutes why I don't frequent forums any more.

Despite my own promises I couldn't resist replying to one train of thought by a certain "rne02" who raised that old chestnut: "There are no blocks!".  I've dealt with that subject exhaustively and if you haven't read my article on the subject, then I encourage you to do so here.

But another writer, "jwt", did go on to say some related things that demand separate analysis.  Here are a few quotes:

I'm saying you're not really using the Uke. You are essentially just parrying with a tiny rotator cuff movement and body shift online and telling yourself that because you have done something that resembles the tail end of the Uke technique, you have done the Uke. W…

What would you have done?

You come across two people fighting at a train station.  They are wrestling on the ground.  One guy is on top of the other.

Suddenly the guy who is on top pulls a knife...

[Warning - disturbing footage following.]

The video below was posted on Facebook with the following comment:
I just saved dude life,i have blood all over me,i almost got stabbed in the neck,i missed my stop,came back to save somebody life,oooooomy god im shaking

Clearly the bystander then stopped his own video recording of the incident and went to the aid of the victim.

It seems the victim survived.  This separate footage taken from the train was also posted on Facebook, accompanied by the following comment:
Fools fighting at ashby trainstation...#901 rice street...smh

Would you have intervened sooner?  If so, how?

I'll leave you to comment, but please keep your comments restrained - not to mention respectful towards the bystander who, whichever way you look at it, put himself at risk and rescued the victim.

Bear in…

Traditional techniques in MMA - Part 2

So how often do you see traditional techniques in MMA?  Rarely is probably a common answer but it would be a wrong one.

Noah Legel's recent recent essay on this topic on Ryan Parker's blog highlights just how many traditional karate techniques are actually used in the Octagon.  I really can't improve on Noah's work so I'll simply give you the link to his article.  After reading it, I'm sure you'll agree with me that traditional karate/gong fu techniques are everywhere in MMA - even if the practitioners are unaware that they are using "ancient knowledge".

But what if I told you that MMA would feature basic, formal karate of the kind you see in dojos throughout the world?  You know - the kind everyone lampoons: the stepping up and down the floor in forward stance using blocks and punches?

What if I told you that these techniques would not only work well enough - they'd win the day?  And what if I told you that they'd be executed against by…

Naihanchi in shiko dachi

One of the mysteries of naihanchi dachi is its stance.  I've previously written about this at some length and voiced my own conclusion that it is a variant on "mabu" - the horse stance.

While many karateka would disagree with me, they are at least used to seeing naihanchi performed in a horse stance - ie. the "kiba dachi" (as seen in both Funakoshi's and Motobu's karate). 
What surprises many karateka is the discovery that some schools practise naihanchi in the "Naha te" version of horse stance: shiko dachi (known by some as "sumo stance") - where the toes point outwards rather than straight forward or slightly pigeon-toed.
Nor is this a modern innovation: photographs of old-time karateka show both kiba and shiko variations.
So what's going on here?
I think the answer lies in understanding that each variation represents a different tradition within the shorin ryu school of karate: kiba dachi for Shuri te, shiko dachi for Tomari t…

Why traditional martial arts punch to the chest

Here is a topic I've been meaning to address for some time.

I hear a lot about how karate and other traditional martial arts "have lost the plot" with all "all their chest punches".

Most commonly I hear the refrain: "Who does that anyway?"

Disregarding the fact that body blows occur, it does seem a bit odd to see so many punches seemingly directed to the chest in forms, traditional two-person sparring etc.

So what's it all about?

I've heard every "theory" under the sun - "They aren't really punches!" (yeah right), "They're hidden/secret techniques!" (not that again) and "There are death points on the chest! (so why aren't people dying around the world?).

I believe the answer is rather more simple.  It's all about training at the at the correct range - and accordingly making your training more realistic and practical - and doing it with reasonable safety from injury.

But what do we end up seei…

The truth about palm blocks

As readers may or may not know, I've been engaged in a number of large projects this year, both martial and non-martial.  I'll detail these another time.

For now, I'll restart my blogging here with "micro posts", featuring mostly videos and brief commentary.  In that spirit, here is the first of my entries on the subject of "palm blocks".

It is important to note that the palm can be used to "block" an attack at its source (eg. by jamming the shoulder or hip or other part of the "core") but I haven't gone into this in the above video which is simply taken from class.

For more on the topic of forearm vs palm blocks see: "Why block with the forearm rather than the palm".

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