I’m still here

I haven’t posted since January. I know. Rest assured that I will post a few new articles shortly. Just got busy with life, training and other matters such as work.

While you’re waiting, why not comment on this question. Should Shaolin Kempo combination 8 be replaced with another technique since it is so similar to combination 9?

I learned a technique from Nick Cerio’s Kenpo that would make a perfect replacement.

Be a Modern Warrior: Assertiveness and Self-responsibility

Martial 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.

Understanding Adapting, Adjustment and Gauging Points

Where 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.

Help raise $350,000 for charity

Bryan’s Viral Network Challenge: raise $350,000 (or Euros, etc.) by July 1st for Mayan Families (http://www.mayanfamilies.org), a non-profit working with indigenous Mayans in Guatemala. Sponsor a child to go to school, feed a family, provide water filters and fuel-efficient stoves, repair classrooms, and ensure animal welfare. If everyone sends in $35 that reads this we can achieve that goal. Please post this on your Wall, Tweet it, Blog it and even Text it to your friends and family. Can we reach 1 million people? Are you up to the Challenge?

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.

Monkey style block against street fighters

One of the key strengths of the monkey is its adaptability. Therefore it behooves the student to practice in street clothes, in their normal shoes and in common environments like doorways, small rooms, and so on. This type of training is also found in our Filipino Arnis and Japanese Ninjutsu traditions. By removing the shock of a new environmental situation, you can focus on the task at hand, namely your defense.

When defending against the hook punch, it is better to fight someone trained in pugilistic arts rather than a completely untrained fighter. Someone without training is very unorthodox because they don’t know any better. His reactions can run the gambit of possibilities, often times unknowingly thwarting your defense and counter attack. A trained fighter, boxer or karateka is predictable. They know the best attack opportunities and you know where to defend against them. Effectively defending very strong positions conserves energy while defending small-value areas can lead to wasted energy.

Learn to fight from a cold position when fighting an unorthodox fighter. Let them set the pace of the confrontation and “floor rules”. This requires you to have really good timing since you need to launch an effective defense after they strike. The defense must also open the opponent up to a great counter-attack.

Against a hook punch, the traditional outward blocks won’t stop it. The fist comes around the block, still finding purchase on your head or core body.

For instance, the hook punch from the right hand travels in an arc towards your left side. Catch it with your left arm whipping the hand over and grab the biceps area. This secures the elbow and neutralizes the power of the attack. Weight it down. You can use a monkey grip or seize various pressure points on the arm. I prefer just to keep it weighted for unbalancing in the counter offensive.

With this grip defense, even if he forces or powers through your lock, it will turn your whole body not just your arm. In other words, if the defense doesn’t stop the punch it moves you out of the way. That’s a great feature of this technique. From there you have options like leg-hocks, knee-stomps or reaps.

Using this grip doesn’t require you to seize, though that’s an option as mentioned before. It is more important to stay relaxed. Dropping your weight onto the arm may unbalance the opponent. Use that in conjunction with a right slap or strike. Stay relaxed and allow the force to upset his balance. Take advantage of his new state – usually falling over his arm.

Keep them distracted with a flurry of strikes to the face and vitals. The monkey is very deceptive and flurries to the unprotected eyes can cause frustration in your opponent. By changing his emotion, you can gain even more advantage in the fight if it’s not over by that time. Always move to keep or add to your strengths in a fight. The only fair fight is one you win.

Practice the difference between a superior fighter and a regular street fighter. These modes of condition will allow you to adapt to the unpredictable confrontation you may experience. You can’t prepare for each unique fight but you can prepare for the flavor of the fight.

Yudansha Units System

I haven’t written in a while so I thought I’d post something I give my Brown Belts, an article from our first issue of the Black Belt Bulletin — a newsletter for members of the Black Belt Club. I hope it inspires other Black Belts to continue their training.  Enjoy.

Level progression in the Black Belt ranks works a little differently than earlier ranks. You still must complete the requirements of kata, techniques, defenses, and kihon. However, the field of material that must be covered is vast, and not taught in a linear fashion. This is why Master Bagnas developed the Yudansha Units System (YUS). You can earn points for various activities, specialized training programs, tournament participation, and instruction duties. However, there are minimum time-in-grade requirements that must be met.

Time-in-Grade Chart:

Rank Minimum Time-in-Grade Units Needed
2nd Degree 1.5 years 50
3rd Degree 2 years 75
4th Degree 3 years 100
5th Degree 5 years 125
6th Degree 5 years 150
7th Degree 5 years 175
8th Degree 5 years 200
9th Degree 5 years 225
10th Degree 10 years 250

What is the Yudansha Unit System?
Traditional Japanese dojos call the body of Black Belt members the Yudansha. This term is excellent for what the YUS represents, a tracking and training system for Black Belt members. As part of the Golden Leopard Kempo Yudansha, you are offered a variety of training paths. This system helps the GLKO track your training so the Testing Board knows what to expect from you during the Black Belt test.

How does the System work?
You can earn points by participating in various activities, including seminars, tournaments, and special classes. Since Black Belt material is taught on a rotating cycle, everyone may acquire different knowledge yet still be eligible for promotion. This allows you to choose your emphasis in the arts, whether you prefer the gentle training of Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) or the ancient weapon arts of Okinawan Kobudo.

By the master level, you must know all these sub-arts however you get to choose what you start first or what is offered. The amount of work you put into your training will produce the best results and the fastest promotion cycle. Some of the options allow for personal study and research, in addition to life-skills improvement.

An instructor must record all points gained on your permanent record to count. If you feel there is any discrepancies or errors, please contact your Chief Instructor to get it resolved. Once you believe you qualify for the next test, your instructor will verify your units and put you on the next Black Belt test.

If there is interest, I’ll post the ways to earn points. All you have to do is write a comment below. When I get enough interest, I’ll post it as a new article.

How to Become a Martial Arts Instructor

Have you ever thought about being an instructor? Do you often ask, “How do I become a Kempo instructor?” My answer is quite simple. First become a member of the GOLD Leadership Team, which teaches you leadership skills, teaching skills and coaching or interpersonal skills. You need some experience and training in the martial arts. Knowing Kempo is different from teaching Kempo. Teaching others how to do a technique or move is quite a bit different from knowing it yourself.

Black Belt in meditation

Black Belt in meditation

Being an instructor takes leadership qualities to inspire others to continue training when they become frustrated. It takes patience as you explain moves in detail. It also takes knowledge on how different people learn. No two people are the same but they can be lumped into general learning-style groups such as visual learner, auditory learner or tactile learner.

These skills and plenty of practice with real people are what programs like GOLD Team provide. Many schools have some sort of leadership team often using the name SWAT or STORM. They all let you practice your mentoring and teaching style with fellow students under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor–who will help you improve by providing pointers and feedback.

Ask your instructor how to get ready. They will surely provide good advice and training tips to you. You can eventually teach full or part time if the school is hiring or expanding. Once you complete the GOLD Team program, you will be able to join the staff as a part time or full time instructor — if the school is hiring or expanding.

Maybe you have what it takes to be a sifu, sensei or instructor? Ask your instructor how he or she can help you on that path.

GOLD Team Program: Leadership Training

GOLD stands for Guidance on Leadership Development.  This program includes comprehensive training on leadership skills that build personal character and life skills.  The GOLD Team Program creates a solid, high-quality leadership team, which serve as exemplars to the student body.  Benefits of the program include:

  • Personal development through character enrichment
  • Effective communication to individuals and groups
  • Leadership skills essential for getting groups to work together
  • Motivation skills and how to maintain it in a group setting
  • How to teach our curriculum effectively
  • Mentoring other students to help them stay focused on their goals

The GOLD TEAM is (usually) made up of Advanced Training Club or Black Belt Club members who show excellent interpersonal skills and a super-winning attitude. Having Olympic-level technique is not required. Acceptance onto the GOLD team is based mainly upon great attitude, world-class effort, and consistent attendance.Correcting a child's body position

This program allows a student interested in taking a leadership role to be mentored under a Certified Master Instructor. GOLD Team members are eligible for jobs as Junior Assistant Instructor (at lower rank classes) and attend staff workouts and meetings.

GOLD Team is the first step in the journey to becoming a Kempo or Martial Arts Instructor. A candidate student must show a passion for the art of Kempo and excel at displaying all the moral tenets Karazenpo go Shinjutsu / Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo. The candidate should also demonstrate a desire to share his or her knowledge with others and maintain a goal of Black Belt Excellence.

For our younger members (Keiki Kempo), we require a report card that reflects good behavior and good grades along with permission from their parents. To be considered for GOLD, a student would inform the Senior Instructor of their interest.

GOLD team members are considered leaders of our school and are trained to assist in classes along with our professional instructors. It makes a great place to get your start if you are interested in eventually teaching martial arts as a job or career.

Membership Rules

  • You must be at least 5 minutes early for the class or classes you are mentoring.
  • If you are unable to make class, you must call the school and call someone on the list to fill in for you.
  • Always be in a good mood, don’t come in if you are less than 100% (positive attitude, good health, fully rested).  Anything less and you are a distraction to the students and parents.
  • Someone always needs help. Seek them out and offer your assistance.
  • You must wear a clean school shirt underneath your clean kempo uniform.
  • If you miss 3 times without calling the school or calling someone to fill in for you –you are off the team.

“Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors share a common goal. It is having the passion, enthusiasm, and pride to be able to teach and help others become successful. Having the ability to motivate and encourage students to challenge themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically, to set goals and to achieve them.” — Master Bagnas

All of Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors and GOLD Leadership Team are personally taught and mentored by Master Bagnas in GLKO’s extensive GOLD Instructor Training Program (Guidance on Leadership Development).

Regular attendance at weekly and monthly Instructor Training Sessions with Master Bagnas is mandatory. Golden Leopard Kempo expects and seeks the high standards from its students. GLKO’s GOLD Team is expected to attend professional development courses, workshops and seminars throughout the year. Finally, First Aid, CPR, and/or baby-sitting certifications are a mandatory requirement each year to ensure student and community safety. Remember that we are warriors in and outside the Dojo.