You are the director of the combat

Approach and delivery

I’m often asked how to succeed in combat or self-defense situations. The answer doesn’t involve an ultimate technique or secret finger strike. Rather it is a state of mind, a warrior’s mindset: you must direct all the actors of the confrontation and make them do what you want. If you are confused, you won’t make the proper decisions during the conflict. One of your priorities is this, you want them to loose.

Grab them and pull them to you. Make them comply with how you want to fight.

Don’t let the aggressor dictate how the fight will be fought. If he wants to fight on the ground, stay up. If she wants to engage in a kicking match, slip inside to punch and throw. If he wants a punching match, pull back and start kicking. Or better yet, move the conflict to one of your strengths.

Five Black Belt Club Seminars

Black belt takes time

Black belt takes time

The Black Belt Club members are invited to the following upcoming seminars.

  1. Quick Takedowns covering the fastest way to get an opponent to the ground using control techniques.
  2. Bujutsu 101 showcases the guest instructor teaching a compilation of techniques used in different arts.
  3. Technique Round Table — Each student picks an art, studies one or two techniques and then teaches a segment to the class.
  4. Te Waza covers traps, wrist locks, takedowns and throws using only hand techniques.
  5. Demo 101 covers what elements make up a great martial art or Kempo
    demonstration.

Sign up with the front desk or with your instructor.

Humility

cherry-blossomsHumility is a great character-builder, especially if you value your friends. It means you have self-control and are not arrogant. Leaders practice humility. People who are humble do not brag, criticize others and take others’ criticisms personally.

Humility is a positive quality of a good martial artist. As a student, you must be open to criticism from your instructors or you will not improve your skills and advance. Arrogant students can interrupt classes and everyone’s opportunity to learn, which can lead to injuries and negative confrontations. Those students that demonstrate humility, however, become the best leaders and martial artists, due to their unselfish manners.
Humility puts you more in touch with your real self. It also makes you more genuine, more approachable and more loveable. If you practice humility, then you will be much happier and healthier.

Are you a humble person? Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When you win a game, do you boast and brag, or do you simply enjoy the moment?
  2. When you meet people who are less fortunate than you, do you put them down or do you openly accept them regardless of their situations?
  3. When you are faced with a new or unfamiliar task, do you struggle to complete it or do you have the courage to ask for help?
  4. When someone puts you down, do you take it to the heart or do you disregard his comments and focus on your goals?

While being humble means that you will be vulnerable, you will have more pride in yourself and you will worry less of what others think of you. You will also have the courage to admit your ignorance, which means that you will learn more.

Your life will be better when you practice humility. When you knowingly resist the temptation to brag, you are gaining maturity. When you accept a friend into your life that is not as fortunate as you are, your heart will become more loving. When you have the courage to admit that you have much more to learn, you will open your mind to new abilities and opportunities. There is no better lesson than humility. Practice humility, experience the positive feelings it causes and you’ll know it is one of your greatest character traits.

Is combination 14 really effective?

Sideblade kick

What are the chances that two people will be in the exact position to make 14 truly effective? Why would you, with good foundational training in key fighting concepts and strategy, decide to jump into the air when two attackers are so close to you? It seems to defy the very strategies and principles of Kempo as learned to the point of introducing this technique. Like my discussion on the redundancies of Combination 8 and 9, I posit that Combination 14 is due for an overhaul.

Again using the inspirational work of Prof. Nick Cerio’s Master’s Text book, he is after all in our line of grandmasters, to find something simple yet effective. What really shines is his Tiger technique. I learned a simplified version of it that I prefer to teach in my school and think that it would make a great replacement for Combination 14.

One of the first things I like is the forward advancing step.  This direction is sadly neglected in other techniques yet provides combat benefits. You are right in the opponent’s face and in a great spot for some powerful strikes.

We often learn in Kempo that there are several directions you can step to defend against an attack. The least effective but most common is directly backward to 6:00. More effective and reasonably common are stepping to 8:00ish, 9:00 and 10:00ish. Other options are 2:00ish, 3:00, and 4:00ish but these are uncommon. In ninjutsu they have techniques that attack at 12:00 angle and they take a lot of confidence and courage to execute.

My point is adding a technique at Blue Belt level that steps to this uncommon area is both beneficial and important. Kempo is successful because of its font of techniques that can be effortlessly pieced together in the chaos of combat. The more tools the fighter has, the better they will be. Shaolin Kempo Karate needs to take a cue from FMA by addressing the angles of attacks equally both in terms of footwork and incoming attack angles. The key word there is ‘equally’, in the sense that all angles should have an equal amount of emphasis.

The bottom line is this, should Combination 14 be changed to something more effective and realistic? Put your answer in the comments below.

Why are combination 8 and 9 so similar?

They both start with a block, a front kick and then a round house kick. Nine has an additional side thrust to the upper ribs. Questions I ask myself as an instructor: “Why spend so much time on basically the same move? Wouldn’t another technique provide additional skills?”

Right jab and left cross punch

The technique is no more important or effective than others. It would be better to modify the curriculum and provide another simple yet effective technique in place of combination 8? The Shaolin Kempo Karate purists are probably coughing up a lung right now in righteous indignation. I’m sure there is a reason for the similarities but I don’t think it justifies such a repetition.

What technique should take its place? A perfect example is Prof. Nick Cerio’s battering ram technique found in his Master’s Text book. It has an angled retreating move—it’s not the same step back or cat stance move so prevalent in early combinations. This same right retreat move is found in combination 20 and provides an introduction or foreshadowing of that technique.

It uses the back fist strike or upper cut, which is often neglected at early ranks. Finally, it provides a solid elbow strike to the head—a truly effective and basic move. This technique has the same number of movements and can be adapted to include other material. For instance, I utilize block 10 which is a high block against a haymaker. This in itself is a benefit for intermediate students who are now too accustomed to attacks presented as a straight front punch. It changes the attack and makes them think.

What’s more frustrating is other techniques are likewise very similar. Combination 89 and 90 are so similar that they don’t deserve to be presented as distinct techniques. I understand the value of using variations of techniques and codifying them for the curriculum. That has value and we use it both in Punch Counters and Kempo Punch Techniques. This value is supported by giving them different identifiers such as 18A and 18B. I see the Combinations as the core of SKK. These are the roots or key elements that make SKK distinct and teach the proper way to defend one self. By loading the core with filler techniques is not the way to develop effective students.

Perhaps a better way of codifying the core combinations is to base them on Master Key moves, the fundamental elements of a Shaolin Kempo Karate defensive technique regardless of initiating attack.

What are your thoughts? Put your answer in the comments below.

Request for Testimonial or Review

old-radioI have a favor to ask of you.

I’m in the process of putting together a list of testimonials about my services and our school from satisfied clients like you.

Would you take a few minutes to give me your opinion of our school? No need to dictate a letter; just jot your comments in an email and return it to me.

I look forward to learning what you like about my service…but I welcome any suggestions or criticisms.

Many thanks.

Be a Modern Warrior: Assertiveness and Self-responsibility

karate kids 1Martial artists in modern society are modern warriors. No, we aren’t running to the next state to steal their cows or horses. I mean warriors in the ideal sense — the noble knight or valiant soldier. Many of us are not professional soldiers but we are a part of our local community. We are the guardians of our neighborhoods.
You should rise to the character expectations of all warriors. We are not thugs or bullies. We are pillars of the community who meet danger with action, not flight. Here are some ideas that wrote using free association:

  • Stand your ground and protect your honor and beliefs.
  • Help others especially those who can not help themselves
  • Be prepared for disasters with food, supplies, medicine, guns, and ammo.
  • Know CPR and first aid. Be willing to perform it on others.
  • Maintain your beliefs regardless of the situation
  • Remember that not everyone has the same beliefs as you. Americans and warriors both protect everyone’s rights to have or not have religion.
  • A secular society maintains fairness, self-responsibility, and openness.
  • Do not stand for the trampling of rights of smaller groups. One day, you may be in a smaller group.
  • Keep yourself responsible for your own actions.
  • Take actions that are responsible, noble and just.
  • Help others selflessly

This list may be high handed and a bit self-righteous but that is how one must live to be considered a warrior in my book. Don’t agree, let me know in my comments.

Lifeskills Training at our Dojo

tournament kidsWhen you compare Golden Leopard Kempo to any other school you will quickly find that we are miles ahead of the field! Our carefully structured programs go a lot further than just punching, kicking, and blocking. As professional martial arts instructors, we feel that it is our duty not only to help our students develop self-defense skills but also to provide a complete program of personal development to enhance the students quality of life.

“Golden Leopard Kempo offers a complete program for teaching self-defense as well as the all-important character building life-skills.”

Lessons of the Month
Each month our program will focus on a specific aspect of martial arts training such as fitness, confidence or persistence. These individual subjects are addressed each week in our Lesson of the Month, where we highlight just how martial arts can help improve many areas of our students’ lives. These virtues and themes are what differentiate martial arts training from typical team sports. We build the spirit, mind, and body through positive messaging.
Stories of the Month
Our Stories of the Month program is another innovative way we help educate our students about important lessons in life. Stories are not just for children, but for adults as well, as we rediscover the benefits of honesty, respect, work ethic, friendship and other values that make our lives more enjoyable. These stories align with the Lessons of the Month, reinforcing the virtues of proper behavior and character.

Understanding Adapting, Adjustment and Gauging Points

wing-tsun 1Where a fight starts and how close the combatants are very important things to know. These ranges and the opponent’s reaction also play a part in the overall outcome of the conflict. As I said many times before, there are an infinite number of variations to a situation. No two are a like.

But then why do we practice a set routine of techniques? And why do I get corrected all the time in class if the technique isn’t going to happen that way? To get yet another answer, you need to know a few terms.

  • Adapting point is the section of a technique where you make changes to accommodate for how the opponent reacts to your initial strikes. Did you hit the pressure point just right and now the opponent has completely crumbled in front of you? Did he shake off your devastating strike or counter it, now what do you do? You adapt the technique.
  • Adjustment points are the sections of a technique where you make adjustments to the performance of moves in response to environmental and structural differences as compared to practice in the dojo. Are you about to do a jump-kick in a low-ceiling room? Is there room for you to back up in the crowd or a room full of pillars? Rethink the next few moves to keep yourself out of harms way, allow yourself room to actually perform your moves and use the pointy end of the table as a weapon or landing platform.
  • Gauging points are sections of a technique where you shuffle in or out to maintain optimal distance to the opponent. Does the opponent step out to the side to catch his balance thereby taking him out of the next counter’s optimal range? Well, you adapt by shuffling up to him or changing to a longer ranged weapon.

These three are really different sides to the same concept, making changes on the fly. You may be hurt or protecting someone else. No fight is going to occur as practiced in the dojo. No opponent is going to match your uke in size, mass and movements. Therefore it seems only natural to accommodate for these differences in your technique.

We naturally do them when we change uke during class. In fact, that’s the reason you are asked to change your uke so often. Get a mix of body types, speed and range of motion to develop an understanding of these points.

By isolating the sections of a technique, you can see the best time to make changes and adaptations. This also helps you combine moves together to improvise as needed. Don’t let changes in the circumstances through off your game and unsettle your mind. Remain calm, mushin, and go with the flow.
Also read my post on the three levels to improve your technique, zone defense strategy and the can’t reach situation.

Do you have a story about how you or someone else adapted, adjusted or changed the gauging of a technique that you thought was cool? Tell me in the comments.

8 Steps to Self-defense Review

Just taught another self-defense class on Wednesday. We reviewed my 8 Key Points of Self Defense Basics , 10 Things to prevent attacks3 Things to think about before getting mugged, and demonstrated a few easy techniques.  I decided that I should really explain or recap those techniques. These techniques are designed for complete beginners. There are better methods and moves but these should serve those who have little or not training — other than my class.

Pinning the attacker

Pin the attacker

Squat
Step out in a wide stance and bend your knees. In formal training, this will be called a Horse stance, Half-moon stance, or Fighting stance. Just remember to lower your center of gravity by squatting down. This is the first move of all the following techniques and happens after you remember to breathe.

Windmill
These arm moves can be done downward or upward. It looks like you’re madly crushing crackers in a bag on the table. These act as scans to deflect in coming strikes, as blocks for incoming strikes and as hammer strikes (your offensive strike). Remember that unless you learned how to perform a front punch properly, it is better to do a hammer or elbow strike. A poorly done front punch will hurt you more than your opponent.

Secondly, this Windmill move is also a wrist escape — a grab defense we teach at White Belt. Spin your arm in the direction their thumb is pointing or on. This releases the grip. After you are free, you run away.

Choke Defense
The key to all defenses against grabs and chokes is to start it before it makes contact. Use your upward Windmill to deflect the attack. Shuffle or step in and double hammer strike the bad guy’s collar bones. Screaming like a berserk Viking helps too. Yes, then it is time to run away.

Shoulder Grab
From your squat position, knuckle-strike the inside of the bad guy’s upper arm. Don’t hit the tricep or bicep. Strike the flat tender section in between. While he thinks about how much that actually hurt, you slap or hammer strike his face. Then you run away.

Bear Hug
Think of bears, honey and bees. This will help you remember the trick to get out. As the bad guy starts to hug the life out of you, pinch his ribs or fleshy inner upper arm like a bee. You can also bee sting (the pinch) the inner thigh area. Once he lets go, run away.

The final rule for self-defense is never, ever stop fighting. Never, ever give up unless you get your way. Punch, strike, hit, yell, and scratch until you are free. Pretend you are a cat just about to get a bath. Be the cat.

You should also read my posts about personal space and 5 ways to distract your opponent to round out your self-defense preparedness. Getting comfortable with a mugger so close to you and having a plan to distract him will provide you with ample opportunities to get away.

For those who attended my “Self-defense Workshops” long ago or more recently, I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope you never needed it. Either way, leave a comment below with questions or high praise for my class.

Until next time, train like a warrior.