Showing posts from 2017

"Looking away from your opponent" in traditional forms

The double punch of naihanchi by Choki Motobu In traditional forms-based martial arts, whether they be Okinawan, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian etc., there is an unspoken rule - a cardinal assumption - that your head should face your "imaginary opponent" at all times. And when you think about it, this seems to make sense. Almost every analysis (in karate called "bunkai") of traditional forms takes this into consideration. So, for example, the sideways punches of the karate kata naihanchi/naifunchin are interpreted in a variety of ways - but all of them are consistent with your opponent being generally to your side. Then along comes the odd form/kata where that rule is broken - for no immediately apparent purpose. The most obvious case I can think of in karate is in the goju ryu kata saifa (see the technique below). Higaonna sensei performing saifa kata This technique is commonly interpreted in a way that largely, if not completely, ignores th

3 reasons why learning to "horribly injure someone" isn't "self defence"

Introduction Photoshopped image. Original is by Wikimedia Commons user Stillwaterising A particular approach in reality-based self defence (RBSD) is becoming increasingly popular: that of learning how to inflict maximum damage to dangerous attackers. On paper this approach looks like it could have merit - and correspondingly any criticism (of the kind I'm about to make) might seem to be totally inappropriate. After all, consider this example: "He came in the door of my office and shot two people already. I saw him drop down for a reload. When he dropped down for the reload, I was able to tackle him and get him on the ground. Then the first thing I saw was his eye, and I gouged his eye out, which stopped him from going on."  I got this from an article titled " How to Horribly Injure Someone ". And yes, it is worded in such a way as to be rather unobjectionable in philosophical terms: first an horrific scenario is created - one where the worst violenc

"Combat tai chi"? Seriously?

Back in about 2009 I was talking to a friend of mine who does krav maga, telling him I was off to Taiwan to train in combat taijiquan (tai chi). He laughed. "Combat tai chi? Isn't that an oxymoron?" I can see why he thought that. Because when you look at the soft, slow art of taijiquan, adding the descriptor "combat" does seem to be a contradiction in terms. In fact, the idea of it being used for fighting can appear  ludicrously funny . And to be frank, in the case of most taiji practitioners - including many who profess "fighting skill" on the interwebs   - it almost certainly is. [In the case of the preceding link, note the string attacks against zombie opponents - more on that later!] By now, I doubt there is anyone in the martial arts who hasn't heard of the debacle that constituted the recent fight between MMA fighter Xu Xiadong and self-described Yang style taijiquan "master" Wei Lei. Xu beat Wei senseless in under 10

'Receiving' intent: the art of flipping the script

Here is an excerpt of part of my interview (from around the 59:33 min mark) with Ken Gullette on his podcast. This excerpt deals specifically with the use of "uke" - ie. "receiving", not only in the sense of receiving techniques, but also in the sense of a wider meaning of "receiving intent" in order to diffuse conflict. Enjoy! *   *   * On receiving generally - "I win if I don't get hit" KG: I encourage everyone to read your blog. Just Google The Way of Least Resistance and you have excellent articles on there. And one of your blog posts recently about the Ronda Rousey fight actually triggered some practices of my own with my students where we were practicing basic slipping of a punch. Bobbing and weaving leaning and things like that for just basic boxing technique. One of my goals as a fighter, if I have been in a fight (and I haven't since I was eighteen), is I don't want to get hurt. I want to avoid getting head. D

Live blade forms practice

I had the following query from a fellow named John: How often do you practice forms with a sharpened blade vs training weapon, do you see extra benefit from using the live blade? My answer was as follows: I actually practise almost entirely with a live blade - at least on forms with which I am sufficiently familiar (I tend to start with a blunt weapon first - until I feel I know it well enough to move to the next level). I wouldn't recommend it however to beginners or to anyone who isn't interested in martial application but just wants to do forms for the sake of the art form. What are the benefits? For starters, you are wielding a real weapon, with proper weighting (not some wooden "equivalent" or some flimsy wushu blade etc.). You realise a whole lot about where you need to improve when you start working with a real sword. You also realise how much conditioning you lack (not just in your wrists/forearms but also in the rest of your body - your back, yo

My podcast interview with Ken Gullette

I was very honoured to be a guest on veteran US radio and television journalist Ken Gullette's Chicago-based podcast show a few weeks back. The interview ranged over a wide variety of topics and ran for 90 min. I didn't expect Ken to include all of it in the podcast, but he did! And I'm even more amazed that people are still downloading it and giving me positive feedback a week later! Most seem to have listened to it on a long drive or, in at least one case, on a flight, but I had a call from Melbourne from an old friend who stayed up to 2 a.m. listening to the entire thing - which is all deeply flattering! Anyway, here it is - I hope you find at least parts of it interesting. From around the 1:00 hour mark I talk about a young man who turned up to my front door late at night armed with a knife - and how I dealt with the situation. Copyright © 2017 Dejan Djurdjevic