Showing posts from November, 2014

Asking the wrong questions

Following my last article "The woo way of taijiquan" I have received a lot of feedback in various places (Facebook, forums, etc.) .  Most of it has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive.  This is heartening.

Some of it has been very negative.  I suppose that is to be expected when your write polemics as I do.  In relation to the latter, I've had a number of consistent questions and I thought I'd address them here:

"How can you say you're being 'scientific' when you haven't done any kind of proper study?"

This argument suggests that I haven't really done enough to claim that "science backs me up".

Well it's true that I haven't done a scientific study.  What I have done is point out that basic physics doesn't support the woo merchants - ie. that their claims are extraordinary.

And, despite any initial sophist protestations, I think they would have to agree:

If basic physics did support their claims, they would…

The "woo way" of taijiquan

Okay after I got home after Wednesday's taijiquan training I posted this YouTube video, taken during the class.  It is simply me teaching (as are all my videos): there is nothing rehearsed and nothing contrived.  What you see is what happened spontaneously on the night.

I also posted it on a Facebook page called "The Fajin Project" - an excellent group (created by my friend Stuart Shaw) that is "dedicated to advancing the empirical and practical investigation of Fajin within the Chinese Martial Arts" (Fā Jìn, 發勁, is translated as "launching power").  I did so with the following comment:
"I think my video from last night's class illustrates the need for good basics. And also the need not to deify a teacher. If you look closely you'll see that when my basic technique is off, the application doesn't work. When my basic technique is on, it does work. In other words, my students aren't giving me a free pass." Of course inevitably T…

Bruce Tegner: another Western pioneer of martial arts

Oh boy - if you thought Ed Parker was just a little "unorthodox" in his technique, you haven't seen anything.

Along with Ed Parker's "Secrets of Chinese Karate" my brother's and my martial bookshelf was also home to a couple of other books that were "cornerstones" of martial information in their day.  One of these books was Bruce Tegner's "Complete Book of Karate".

Straight off, we could pretty much tell it was very, very basic: lots of stepping in zenkutsu dachi (forward stance) with single, rather awkward looking, rising blocks or simple lunge punches.

The "kata" were really endless reconfigurations of the same basic patterns - sometimes a step to the left, sometimes a step to the right, sometimes a kick, sometimes a punch, sometimes a rising block, sometimes a rather awful chest level block.  Sometimes a chop.

Looking back, I can see that someone must have shown Tegner some shorin ryu (I am reminded that it was Tan…

What did Ed Parker study?

Ed Parker is today one of the legends of martial arts.  He is the father of "American kenpo" and is regarded as one of the original pioneers of traditional eastern martial arts in the US.

It is widely accepted that Parker developed most of what became his own martial art.   And some of it, as practised today, is very good indeed.  But just how "good" was Ed Parker himself?  What did he study - and what did he originally teach?

We know that Parker was a student of William KS Chow in Hawaii.  Chow was himself a student of the infamous James Mitose.  While Chow might have evolved the system a little, it appears that at the time he taught Parker it was essentially still Mitose's: shorin ryu karate, as passed down from the likes of Matsumura, through Itosu and people like Funakoshi and Choki Motobu.

So it's hardly surprising to see that Parker's first book, "Kenpo Karate" (published in 1961) shows what Wikipedia describes as the "hard linear m…

Will I ever switch from "external" to "internal"?

I have lately become quite disenchanted with using the term "internal" or "external" in describing myself as a martial artist.

For 25 years I've practised the internal Chinese martial arts (and some external Chinese systems) along with my karate. Yes, I've tended to move more towards the internal arts in my own weekly practice. That's because it's a lot easier on my body. But I've never "switched" from one to the other.

Apart from the obvious references to the 3 main arts of China that comprise the neiji (internal) family of boxing (xingyi, bagua and taiji) I suppose I have also used the term "internal" to refer to a gradual "softening" in my training so that it was "smarter" - ie. more efficient, more economical, less reliant on simple force and more on timing and placement.

However judging by comments I get via email, Twitter, G+, YouTube and Facebook, a very large percentage (dare I suggest a majority?…

Side thrust kick knockout in MMA?

My second-most popular article is "King of cool: the side thrust kick".  Even though I love the kick myself, I'm not a huge fan of using it in civilian defence.  And I honestly never thought I'd see it turn up in MMA.

Yet here it is:

On 7 November 2014 Louis Smolka knocked out Richie "Vas" Vaculik in their third round of UFC Fight Night Sydney when he was well on the way to losing on the fight cards.  Impressive!

Copyright © 2014 Dejan Djurdjevic

Why do you train? An interview with Dan

I had a university student interview me today for the purposes of a paper he was writing.  These were my responses:

1. How long have you been practicing martial arts?
I have been training for 33 years (just coming up to 34!).2. What has your experience in practicing martial arts been like?
Mostly my experience of martial arts has been a very positive one.  Occasionally it has involved some rather unsavoury characters, some bruises, bleeding and broken bones, some disappointment, some lack of enthusiasm and sense of resentment and some feelings of inadequacy.  But for the majority of the time I’ve been training, martial arts practice has given me a great deal of satisfaction, sense of achievement and focus.3. Describe what happens during each of the classes you teach (What is the basic structure)?
Each class begins with what the Okinawans call “junbi undo” – warm up and conditioning exercises.  I go through my set almost religiously.  In fact, if I ever vary from this set, I always hav…