Grandmaster Michael Fugate

Last Saturday, I got to reconnect with a long time friend, student and teacher Michael Fugate at his dojo in Santee. It was great to see his students work on their Tai Chi and see how he continues to propagate the true arts. After all these years, I realized that when we don’t take care to make time for our friends life will sweep you away.

To all my former students, please take a moment to send me a message if I haven’t reached out to you. It only takes one person to start a conversation and I tend not to be that individual. Each of you have made my life a little richer just by knowing you. As for GM Fugate, I think I learned more from him than I ever taught him. Martial arts training always attracts the best kinds of people.

Train hard. Train often. Train with intent.

Comments are spam

I just spend the last hour deleting four thousand comments on this site. Not one came from a real reader with a real comment or question. They were all spam for all sorts of naughty or stupid things. Perhaps that is why I turned off the ability to leave a comment.

If you would like to leave a comment, please send me an email and we can set you up with an account. Then you can leave a nice comment or ask a question.

One of those days

Did you ever have one of the years where everything seems to go wrong? Well, I had that year last year in regards to Internet. My computer broke and lots of important data was lost including passwords and such to various sites. Thus why this site has remained dormant for a while. I even lost all the articles I was going to post here dated from last spring. Ugh.

Well, now I have access again and I’ll need to rewrite my articles. Hopefully they’ll be better this time.

Defense against kicks aka kick defense techniques

Great side kick.During my initial training, we only learned a few defenses against kicks. To become proficient in fighting especially in a kick heavy confrontation, you need a better repertoire of defense moves or counter-kick techniques. The most common kicks can be distilled into two types: those that come in straight like a front or side kick and those that come in across like a roundhouse or crescent kick. For simplicity, we’ll just consider those angles of attack since other kicks mimic the entry into your defense zone.

Here are a few techniques I gleaned from the far reaches of my memory, our Black Belt curriculum and sharing with Hapkido instructors. They make up a portion of the curriculum called Kick Defenses Techniques or just Kick Defense for short (as we do for Gun Defenses and Weapon Defenses).

KD 1 (vs. round kick)

V-step forward

Lift the same side leg up and block the kick

 

KD 2 (vs. front kick)

Step to outside, downward block kick and then roll arm around leg

Dropping elbow on thigh

Sweep foundation leg

 

KD 3 (vs. round, front or side kick)

V-step to the inside and jam the kick

Backfist to the solar while the other hand checks leg

Tiger’s mouth to throat

Leg hock

 

KD 4 (vs. round or front kick)

Fade to the side with guarding arm

Round shin kick to the foundation thigh

 

KD 5 (vs. front or side kick)

Fade to the side with guarding arm

Side kick the foundation knee or back of knee

Switch round kick to the head

 

KD 6 (vs. front or side kick)

L-step back with guarding arm

Slide up leg and grab toes and heel with hands

Turn waist as you whip the foot around towards inside zone

Leg lock

 

KD 7 (vs. front or side kick)

Cat stance and absorb the kick with a trap

Step back or turn waist to pull opponent off balance

Front kick the groin

Drop leg and spinning dragon tail sweep

Stand back up

 

KD 8 (vs. front or side kick)

Cat stance and absorb the kick with a trap

Step back or turn waist to pull opponent off balance

Turn the foot so the opponent is on his belly

Cross step over the thigh, trapping the foot on your upper thigh (lock)

End in a seated position and apply pressure on the submission lock

 

KD 9 (vs. front or side kick)

Fade back, tap and grab the foot

Spin-whip the foot towards the outside

They will fall

Heel kick the groin

Standing leg lock

 

For the truly clever, consider adapting some of the Combinations, Punch Counters and Defense Maneuvers to be effective against kicks. You do adapt these techniques for use against armed assailants, right? You have tried these techniques armed with a pocket stick, right? If not, I just provided you with a month of training ideas. Now go practice, practice and practice again.

Warrior Weapons

To be a modern warrior, you should (or must) know how to be a primitive warrior. The ability to build and use simple, effective weapons from our collective history provides a wealth of skills that transfer very well to modern combat. Primitive Tech such as throwing rocks, tomahawks, throwing knives, spears, and bows are important weapons. These simple weapons were effective and easy to learn. They sustained humanity for hundreds of years. They can also keep you safe if all you have to defend yourself is a handful of rocks or a pointy stick. In our dojo, these are training tracks in the weapons program.

The ‘traditional’ weapons of American martial arts movies are the weapons from Okinawa. Even though ninjas hail from Japan, in movies they are often depicted with nunchuku and tonfa, which are Okinawan weapons. Japanese warriors had a lot of unique weapons as did the proud traditions of Chinese martial arts. It is a shame that American movie producers don’t often use the Chinese Hook Sword or the Japanese Kusari-gama. They are dazzling, interesting weapons.

What I call Low Tech weapons are the traditional martial arts weapons from various cultures like Okinawa, Japan, and Europe. Yes, Europe. I feel the German Longsword and other Western weapons are just as valid to study as the Japanese Naginata or Okinawan combat hoe. Yes we wear Japanese gi in the dojo, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a valid fighting technique from Russia, Germany or Spain. Open your mind and drop the bias.

We live in a modern world with modern weapons. This is evident in the newly created gun and rifle defenses of many current styles. High Tech weapons include guns. Therefore, we should learn how to use them, and use them accurately. This will help in defending against an opponent who is using a gun against us. In certain forms of Ninjustu, they have a tradition for using traditional guns of an earlier era. That era was current when the style was developed. Likewise it is imperative that we do the same.

Style of No Style

I have peppered this post with inspirational quotes from Bruce Lee’s book. This whole post was inspired by Bruce Lee and his book—his practical view on the martial arts. I am not fortunate enough to have trained in Jeet Kun Do but that doesn’t mean I can’t take his wise words and apply them to my situation. I believe that was his intent. He wanted us to break out of the mold of old-way thinking and embrace the thought process of scholars. It is the only way to improve what we have and pass on something wonderful to the next generation.

This is of course a hotly debated topic in the martial arts community. Feel free to express your opinion in the comments below. Be civil and professional, please. We are all martial artists and deserve courtesy.

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.

Missing Author and Dojo Update

pocket-watchIt has been a very long time since I wrote a post to this blog. It seems abandoned, and honestly, it was for a bit. I just haven’t had the time to devote to writing articles. My topic list ran dry and I had writer’s block thinking of new ideas. For those remaining readers, I apologize for not being as consistent. Hopefully, my new list of ideas will pan out better. Be warned, I won’t commit to daily or even weekly posts. Let’s set a goal of once per month right now.

In truth, I was working on another blog which led to his one being left in the “to do” pile. Maintaining a blog is quite tough and I thought doing two would be cool. I was wrong.

What’s new in our little dojo? I’m working on actually getting certified to teach Tai Chi. This process is bringing in load of developmental and foundational curriculum to my anemic Tai Chi program. As a result, the Chi Gung section is getting a boost too. As I make adjustments to how I teach Introductory Tai Chi classes, please bear with me. There will be a few road bumps and a few mistakes as the new ranking goes live next year. This study may even lead to some Tai Chi related posts.

It’s been over ten years since the web site has had a make over, not counting the recent addition of this blog. I think it is high time I did something about that. There hasn’t been anything new on the site since I discontinued the monthly Leopard Pause newsletter and quarterly Black Belt Bulletin. If you miss those features, let me know. Be aware that producing them cost me money that I had to cut from the budget. If you like them, I will attempt to find ways to finance it.

Have any other questions about the dojo, blog or the students? Write to me.

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.