Sunday, March 24, 2013
This is a common quote you will hear in the martial arts. I feel this quote is often times abused and totally misunderstood. You fight how you train therefore you should train hard and give it your best. I feel this is the true quote, although it can still be misinterpreted. By training hard I do not mean hard contact. The bottom line is that martial arts is a simulation of combat. Even though martial means war, what we do is not actual war. It is preparing for combat, but it is never the real thing. I think most people totally misunderstand this quote when they take it literally. If you take it literally then it suggests that training needs to equal fighting. Which would be the stupidest way to prepare for a fight simply because the stakes are too high. Only a reckless person who doesn't value their well being would train by fighting. As rough as boxing is, it's still a sport, and boxers who understand the value of fighting experience, still try to make sure that they work their careers by fighting the right opponents at the right times. I train with many weapons, many of which I will never walk around the city with. Training with these for home only weapons has really helped my fighting skills. This is because I understand how to apply one set of knowledge to another set of tools. This is the spirit of improvised weapons training. Martial arts in itself is about applying what you learn in training to your actual life. So being able to apply a skill from one discipline to a totally different area in your life is true martial arts, and true practicality. A beginner will not be able to do this, so if a beginner wants to be practical they need to be very literal which is highly limiting, but that makes sense because a beginner is limited in their abilities.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I teach FMA (Filipino Martial Arts). In FMA we have something called Hubud, which is very similar to sensitivity drills taught in JKD which is Bruce Lee's system that was highly influenced by Wing Chun Kung Fu. Wing Chun Kung Fu is known for their trapping techniques. Many people have argued against trapping techniques saying that they are not realistic. I think one of the main problems here is that people look at these trapping techniques and expect to see a knockout. I do feel that it is possible to knock someone out with these techniques, but I also do feel that it is very difficult for two reasons. The first reason is because knockouts are hard to come by period. You can watch a boxer fight 12 rounds and it may go the decision with no KO finish at all. That doesn't mean that boxing techniques do not work. The second reason is due to the fact that there are not many if any people at all that are trying trapping techniques in MMA. For example we know that it is possible to KO someone with a spin kick. There are a few fights that you can see where people have been able to. But the sheer number of people trying stuff like this is low, so we don't see it often. The other main problem is that people are only thinking of seeing 100% success of the technique in order to consider that it works. If I'm a BJJ fighter, and I get struck repeatedly standing up, so then I go to the clinch, and there I get kneed, so I try to take them down, but they reverse my takedown with a counter throw and end up on top of me, from there I try to submit them from the guard but they repeatedly land blows using the ground and pound method. I lose a complete unanimous decision holding my bloody nose and swelled shut eye. Does this mean that BJJ doesn't work? From another perspective I can say that while my opponent successfully struck me, I was able to prevent them from knocking me out, I successfully got the clinch even though I was kneed, and then even though I got taken down, I was able to drag them with me and take the fight where I wanted. And from there I was able to prevent them from knocking me out by using the guard position. So a series of failures is still actually a success of certain portions of the strategy. Because if not, I would have gotten beaten a lot worse. We need to view trapping techniques the same way. It's not just about successfully tying up their arms and landing shots that lead to a KO. There is a whole series of "failures" that can still elude to the success of trapping style techniques. If I can protect my centerline and prevent from getting majorly hurt this is a good thing even if I'm taking shots. If I can stay at an angle relative to their body position to limit the amount of attacks they can do, this is another success of trapping principals even if I am only able to decrease their attacks, and if I can simply block some of their shots by using my arms as a barricade even though I'm getting repeatedly shin kicked in the thigh, this is better than getting KOed.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Sensei Rick from DTG Taihojutsu made an excellent video discussing many of the problems found today in the online martial arts community especially on Youtube. So here are my 2 cents on a topic I feel is important. Some of the stuff he talked about was politics on martial arts rank. My philosophy on politics is that, sometimes politics is necessary to accomplish good things, but if it's not required, I tend to stay far away from it as possible. First of all I want to make clear of myself on a few things. Many of you know me as the guy who teaches FMA on Youtube. I learned other styles but FMA has been the most convenient style for me to teach online. I learned Arnis from my Kuk Sool Won instructor, who learned it from Prof. Remy Presas. I have no rank or certification, but that is my lineage. It sounds cool, but so does this, I am Japanese, I am a Samurai descendant. That is also my lineage, but I do not put heavy importance to such things because, it can make one arrogant, pride can become a sin. And the truth is, there is nothing special about it, every culture historically has had awesome warriors, whether your from Mexico, Canada, or Ireland. The best credentials I can present to a person is not my lineage or some certification, it is the dedication and time I've put in. I learned Arnis in the early 90s and I've been training in the FMA ever since. That is my best credential because I know the amount of work I've put in, and nobody can take away that from me. Now it wasn't just all me, I had trained with some very talented FMA people along the way who definitely added to my experience. I also have to say that even though I started training in the early 90s, there were many times where I focused on other styles such as Karate, BJJ, Aikido, MT, and JKD. The good thing was that I continued to train in FMA and kept it alive in my training even if I was spending most of my time in other styles. Also because I have no rank in FMA, I never claimed to teach pure FMA. This is my own interpretation of FMA. This is my own style. I've been attacked many times about terminology and I have to say whatever terminology I'm using comes from the people I've trained with, if they learned it wrong or I misheard them then that is that. There are people who train in styles for the specific purpose of maintaining all the info on that style for the next generation. These people are strict traditionalists and preserve the style, I have nothing against people like that, I think it is important, and I understand that I am not one of these people. Sadly because people like this have tremendous knowledge, skill, and lineage, people tend to think they can fight. I'm here to say that fighting is totally different. Being knowledgeable and able to demonstrate a technique perfectly is different from fighting. So please do not mistake the two. Until you see them fight many times you have no idea. The next thing I want to talk about is my purpose, my goal on Youtube is to present solo training material so that students can develop good body mechanics. I am not making any claims that a student will be able to fight well, or survive a street altercation. Even though I personally developed my own style for the street and have used it many times to survive street altercations, it worked for me personally because of my background and many other factors. For me to say watch my videos and practice the Heaven 6 and you will be able to defend yourself on the street is silly, there is no style that can make such a guarantee period, and solo training is simply not enough. I've had street experience living in bad neighborhoods, experience working a rough security job, BJJ competition experience, a ton of sparring experience in various styles, unsanctioned challenge matches, and even a few fights in high school. All these things plus more enabled me to survive the streets, but even then there is no guarantee, I could go out in the street tonight and get assaulted and beat up to a pulp or worse! The problem with today's martial arts community is that people make outrageous claims. They do this because this is how they get attention. They open their big mouths and talk with authority and soon people will start believing them. One thing that Sensei Rick taught me was to be professional. A professional does not make exaggerated claims, a professional does not mud sling and get into juvenal verbal fights. If an instructor lies, is a fraud, con artist, or immoral/unethical I think it is important to inform this fact to those that are interested, but once again, it needs to be done in a professional manner. Skill seems to intimidate many people, but skill has nothing to do with any of this. A person can be mega skilled, but if they are making exaggerated claims, they should be attacked for these claims, not for their skill, if a person is mega skilled and makes false claims about their credentials, then they should be attacked for lying, not for their skills. I think too many times people get side tracked by the skills, and from another spectrum, we can also say that if a person is mega skilled and wants to have sex with your daughter are you going to let them do so? Of course not, because it doesn't matter how skilled they are, that is not right. Sadly people often times are willing to look the other way because the person is skilled, and they allow the person to be rude, loud mouth, make exaggerated claims and so forth. We the public have been trained to idolize skilled people regardless of their moral and ethical values. And this is wrong. Skill is overrated, and it needs to be valued beneath being professional.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
In one word, marketing. In order to be successful in today's modern society, marketing is so important. Sadly because of this fact, the loudest rudest person gets the most attention making their marketing campaign a success. These big marketing claims are targeted towards the consumers weakness. You have to ask yourself what do you want and how much of that is unreasonable. People want to hear guarantees that if they train in a certain style then they are making the right choice and they will be fine. The truth is there is no such guarantee. There is no short cut to hard work. There is no style or technique that is better/superior than another. Understanding the plus and minus for each style/technique is the key. Another thing you often times hear is that if you train wrong you will get killed in the streets. Don't fall for this fear tactic. Once again this is marketing that is trying to exploit your insecurities. Nobody starts off good, everyone starts off making a ton of mistakes, you have to learn how to make mistakes your friend and they teach you how to improve, so don't be afraid of making mistakes. The only problem is when someone starts to make huge claims and believes them, you have to understand that these people make their opinion in to law. And this is completely wrong. Opinion is just an opinion, it is not fact. There is nothing wrong with having preferences. I can prefer kicking over punching. However if I say kicking is better than punching then I am stepping my boundaries and you should understand that such a claim is really just an opinion and therefore ridiculous that a person would say that. Cults get started because there are evil bastards out there that will make these outrageous claims as facts and say it with the biggest confidence, no shame, no conscious that they are lying and manipulating, and sadly every single one of us at one point in our lives are vulnerable to this because we want to hear what they are saying, we want, we desire such things even though may not exist because we want the comfort. But part of the martial path is to over come such tendencies and learn how to not idolize/worship talented people, and just merely work hard and develop the confidence from within. Like I said sadly there are bastards out there that will say, yes I am your idol, worship me, they will take anything you give them, and ask for more, they will milk you dry. So be careful, if it sounds too good to be true, well it most likely is!
Intro My stick fighting background comes primarily from my Arnis, Kali, and Eskrima training. I don't limit myself to just the Filipino styles and I have expanded my stick fighting to include other methods as well. Can't Block Everything One of the biggest misconceptions in stick fighting is that people think that the art is designed to block everything. If done right, you can block all the opponent's attacks because this is how we partner train and demonstrate things. You have to understand that demonstrations are not all like real fighting, and that partner training is used for skill development, and that skill development is not the same as fighting. In real life, you can block maybe one or two hits. In Boxing sometimes a fighter after a few rounds can read their opponent's attacks and can go in with no guard and evade all the attacks to show how much he outclasses his opponent. This can happen in stick fighting too, but you shouldn't expect to be able to do this. If you know that you can't block everything then you will use long distance as another means of defense or close the distance to neutralize them. X Block The X Block is highly misunderstood, many times people criticize this technique and say it is ineffective. Many of these people do not realize that the X Block can be done many different ways. Once you understand this, you can put them into a strategic flow that helps you know what to do in combat. Going from further away to closer and closer, the X Block can be done as an instinctive parry when startled, it's basically a quick check that helps you evade attacks and keep distance. If an attack is more committed the X Block now becomes an actual block. You will take the hit with the meaty part of your arms. If you have the opportunity you can counter strike by spiking your elbow at the opponent, or if you have a blade you can counter cut their arm. If the opponent is even more aggressive then you can use the X Block to close the distance and catch/trap the arm. Once you do that you can secure the arm and go for a joint lock or disarm. The X block is typically the name of a technique in Karate. In Stick Fighting we call the X Block the Arms Crossed position.
This is a surprising match for me, I've been watching Nate's career since his Pancrase days, the guy is a well rounded and super experienced fighter, I've even trained BJJ with one of his students from Denver. For this match up, the commentators said that both fighters have impressive power in their punches. I think to understand the reason why Nate got KOed, actually is a strategic mistake on his part. Because he is so well balanced I think he thought he could do it all, but against a tough opponent, what your actually doing during the match is something more important than what your capable of. During the match, Nate was using a barrage of kicks very impressively, from low inside kicks, to high kicks, these are designed to wear down your opponent. His opponent Jake looked to me like he was looking to land some bombs and look for the KO. I think Nate thought he could KO his opponent against a guy who was working to KO him, and even though what Nate was doing the whole time was not setting up for a KO. I think if Nate stuck to taking his time and just completely work on wearing down his opponent I think he would have had the advantage for sure, and who knows in the process a KO opportunity may have presented itself. Anyways lesson for me that I learned here was that your mind and your actions need to be in sync. And sometimes such as in this case being well rounded and talented in all areas can end up messing you up by confusion.