Let conflict pass you by

March 23rd, 2007

An old friend is getting really good at finding trouble. He is not overly physically large, but his behaviour is as aggressive as it is provocative. It’s like he walks around the generally quiet and peaceful Brisbane looking for violence. This type of guy can be a menace for everyone around him, and you really want to stay out of his way; but the way that he projected his violent nature was interesting to me.

He was acting as though he could take on the world – that he was indestructible and violent and felt no pain. In short, he acted crazy! And by acting crazy, he communicated to the world that they didn’t want to rumble with him. Along the way, he was an obnoxious creep, but if you can choose to behave just a little bit crazy at the right times, you might manage to psych-out potential problems.

As I thought about it a bit more, I came across this article talking about how to handle bullies. One of the highlights is to be aware of what you communicate to a potential aggressor. To avoid a conflict, when the potential aggressor comes into your presence, you will want to be calm and focus on what you’re doing; don’t keep looking back at him (or her) and certainly don’t just steal glances before quickly looking down from time to time – that just makes you into a victim.

When you drop your ego down, you can effectively go into a ‘stealth mode’ that will make you less attractive to potential aggressors.

Still, when push comes to shove, you might want to make sure that you remember how to drop him with a punch to his chin, forearm to the throat or elbow across the jaw… don’t make a mess, but get the job done.

Resolving conflict

October 17th, 2006

The end result of our martial arts training is to increase the amount of freedom that we have. We seek to eliminate the threats that may prevent us from having the world as we want it to be. We do not train to hurt other people: hurting others is sometimes necessary to maintain our own security…

Training this week

June 16th, 2006

We have been training with weapons, especially eskrima sticks, in the past few weeks

Applied self defence techniques, especially on Tuesday. Focusing upon fundamental defences, especially against basics like frontal attacks.

Thursday, Paul led through punch routine, kick routine and five one-on-ones before focusing on ido kihon waza. We then focused on purposeful movement: Projecting energy in the direction of motion while keeping the head level so as to drop the weight into the technique. A few laps of the dojo in zenkutsudachi and shikadachi helped cement the movement.

Ran through naihanchin as it was taught in 1993, then sanchin, tensho and seinchin.

Yaksuko: based upon the defence against double head punch from the start of tensho, slipping into the snake position.

Training this morning

May 17th, 2006

Thanks for a great session this morning. This was one of the longest sparring sessions that we have done for a long time. Multiple attackers: Hit the first one, move to the outside of the circle and fight them one-on-one. Unless you are Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, don’t fight more than one person at a time!

We train to test what we have learned and where we still need to grow. Being ‘thrown’ or making mistakes is part of learning: If you aren’t stuffing up, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. So be kind to yourself, remembering that your mistakes are the key to your improvement.

Thursday is likely to focus more on yaksuko. Remember the criteria: Fast initial response, Robust and effective techniques, Degree of difficulty. Double grab from behind: Step out and away, turn with the hands high into trapping their arms. Sleeper: Flip-top head.

Training this morning

March 28th, 2006

Thanks guys for a great session this morning. A quick review:

  • Footwork provides the foundation. Remember that the full motion shuffles, changeovers etc are not the ultimate outcome in mobility, as usual, they are tools for training… moving is the purpose. JKD would teach more just half shuffles, front, back and side to side.
  • Using focus mitts, working on our straight punches and roundhouse kicks; singles and in combination. Another technique that we haven’t worked on as much is the low jamming side kick.
  • Defending against punches by using heavy gloves… next thing will be to train some more with focus mitts to get use to slipping punches.
  • Defence against weapons, especially knife and gun.
  • Think of your punch as a weighted iron chain rather than the iron bar that our karate punching can often train us in executing.

Be like water – form yourself to your environment and use whatever you have to best effect.

Scott’s observations on Seinchin kata punches

March 1st, 2006

RUE (chin), RUP (chin), RDE (throat), RBF (fist upward), LLP (hidden punch), RGstrike (pivot back left foot)

Then pivot 180degrees shikodachi.

In the kata it becomes: catch the elbow. Vertical punch, retract, 45degree punch, hidden punch, groin strike in shikodachi.

Then pivot 180degree backwards shikodachi. Remember inline then pivot at the end.

Sempai Juan’s ideas from a quick session…

February 15th, 2006

Scott’s observations: “Columbian techniques from a young man who came to training.”

  • All kicks begin with a high vertical knee lift then pivot for side or roundhouse remember foot inline pointing backwards as well as whole body in one line.
  • Remember the hip thrust on all kicks and knees.
  • Best stretches are inline splits, and leaning forwards so head tries to touch your ankles.
  • Stretch after warming up for best results.
  • Remember pressure points, inside arm above elbow, inside wrist, outside of forearm, solaplexes.
  • Use a rope to pull the foot up to stretch or a partners shoulder.

Balanced stances, traditional techniques

September 27th, 2005

Keeping a balanced stance is fundamental. Without your foundations secure, you cannot attack with any power nor defend with any confidence. This is especially true when we change our focus or direction.

Box Patterns

One of the best ways to develop a rock-solid stance that is robust when changing directions is a set of exercises that I refer to as ‘Box Patterns.’ In our training, these are generally introduced just after the two-directional footwork exercises (Shuffle and Changeover, forward and backswards with the respective permutations) have been internalised by students. These exercises are very traditional in form, based around repeating specific techiques to the front, right, back and left sides of the room, generally in clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. From the most basic, here are some of the ones that we might use:

  1. Changeover, Turn.
  2. Shuffle, Changeover, Turn.
  3. Shuffle, Turn, Changeover back.

Note: in box patterns, “Turn” refers to pivoting on the balls of the feet 90 degrees.

This morning, for example, we practiced the Changeover-Turn Box Pattern, starting with just the footwork, then adding a punch with the changeover and a chudan uke with the turn. We extended this by moving to #2 and adding a jab with the shuffle.

In each case, increasing complexity is designed to stretch the mind so that the more simple body movements require less or no conscious attention to execute precisely, thereby making the techniques more robust and the technician more effective under stressed or when otherwise impaired (such as by alcohol, fatigue, stress, multiple opponents, extreme conditions… when you actually need to use the techniques!).

If I may add to the comments made in class last week:

  • Legs like Earth, solid and strong.
  • Body like Water, fluid and dynamic.
  • Arms like Fire, fast and powerful.
  • Mind like Air, omniscient and adaptable.
  • Spirit like Void, aware and unattached.

On the topic of traditional techniques, we spoke a little on traditional blocks today. Traditional blocks are useful for two main reasons:

  • Building focus and mental discipline
    As you are drilling your traditional techniques, you can develop strength and robustness in your mental focus… the focus and discipline necessary when stresses reduce the effectiveness and value of your conscious mental state.
  • Developing strength in a compound motion
    Although largely impractical for street applications in the form that they are most commonly taught, traditional blocks are very effective when applied in different contexts. There are many applications of these blocks, though some appear below.

High block/ Jodan uke: Defence against single lapel grab by trapping the grabbing hand and striking the jaw with the lower forearm or hammerfist.

Mid-section block/ Chudan uke: Defence against wrist grab by rotating the arm around as you move blindside and dislodging the grip. This is most effective if you are moving your body also.


September 7th, 2005

Reverse or Changeover
Strike using the arm or leg that is furthest from your opponent. For instance, when you are left leg forward, a right leg kick would be a reverse kick.

Shuffle Up
Move your back foot up to your front foot, and step forward with the original front foot.

Step Through
From left leg forward fighter’s stance, step your right leg through, bringing your knees together as your feet are together, and moving to right foot forward fighter’s stance.

Cut Back
Pull your front foot back to your back foot, dropping your body weight downward to enhance your stability. This is often followed by a front kick, and is then called a “prop front kick.”

Without changing your hand position, swap your feet from left leg forward to right leg forward (or vice versa). Jump slightly into the air and slide the feet. A switch kick will have the kicking leg land first, then the front leg, then the kick.

Step your back foot behind you to the same width as your original stance. Pivot around to face the opposite direction.

Zen Do Kai vs Bushikai

May 31st, 2005

There are more differences between the parts of Bushikai than there is to the whole of Zen Do Kai.

There are more differences between the parts of Zen Do Kai than there is to the whole of Bushikai.

There are very significant overlaps in theory, purpose, technique and structure. While not the same, having trained at some length with instructors and students of each, I believe that we are very much part of a similar family. That said, I believe that parts of each stray away from what I consider to be true martial arts.

I will refer to “the path” below in reference to what I consider to be the true path of Bushikai and of Zen Do Kai.

  • When we train to get a belt, we are not following the path.
  • When we train in a particular way because of tradition rather than because it is the best way we know of, we are not following the path.
  • When we act from ego and delusions of power rather than serving our students and developing ourselves, we are not following the path.

The path for Bushikai and Zen Do Kai – the path of pursuing successively higher standards of excellence or the best of everything progression – is the same.

And whether you are from Nemesis or White Fury or Black Dragon or Brotherhood, to the extent that you are pursuing improved technique and improved techniques of teaching techniques, you are following the path.

The techniques of Zen Do Kai have changed in focus radically. Recall in the Goju Rebels days, leg kicks were not permitted, blocks were traditional and blood flowed freely. Many changes were made to bring Zen Do Kai to where it was when I started training in the early 1990s.

Bushikai’s grading syllabus, while published online in only basic form, is more extensive and transparent than what is available from Zen Do Kai. Furthermore, they have the most recently published kata video.

It was the diversity that made Zen Do Kai strong. It was that same diversity that made it difficult to control.

Indeed, a well known Bushikai Master has been known to say that ZDK/ABK is really just Goju… it’s just that most people don’t realise it.

In my opinion, Bushikai is both the latest manifestation of Zen Do Kai, and an entirely new concept just as Zen Do Kai was to Goju in the 1960s.