Lull in activity

My apologies to those who come by this blog for my lack of attention the last year or two, I’ve been busy with all sorts of things. One of which is to come up with more ideas for the blog. Previously I had years’ worth of articles written or about to be written from my monthly newsletter. Eventually that pool of resources dried up.

I’ve also been distracted by trying to maintain my skills and get a handle on my new combinations. With over 90 combinations, it takes a bit of time and focus to keep them all straight. Sadly, I’m not doing a good job of it at the moment. I won’t even mention the number of open hand and weapon katas that need constant attention.

The key to success in the martial arts is plenty of practice. The more you do the better you become. Years ago I was fond of saying, “If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.”

Enough about my situation, what about the articles? I did start an on-going series of articles that I never quite finished relating the Art of War to hand to hand self-defense situations. I hope to get back to that series again. I also hope to revamp the aging website yet again. It really hasn’t changed in ten years and I’d really like it to reflect the ongoing work of our instructors and students.

My pacing for the next year is to ease back into blogging again by posting monthly. There is a plan to post videos now that I have access to a good camera and video editing software. (Caveat is I’ve said all this before and still have produced any videos. Maybe I don’t like to watch myself on video.)

Without further ado, I leave you to the next post. Thank you for staying faithful and train hard.

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.

How to control your enemy

One of the keys to a successful self-defense situation is controlling the enemy. Here are more principles from the brilliant mind of Sun Tzu.

21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

If the enemy is powerful and ready, he will soon attack. If he is obviously better than you are, get away. These are ways to control the enemy by knowing their next move. Bait them with smack talk if the enemy looks easy to make angry. As stated in the last post, fake being weak and injured to make your enemy feel superior. That will often make them choose to attack with fewer defenses up — committing more to the attack than necessary or safe.

Also, if the enemy it knocked off balance or tired, continue a relentless assault to finish him off. Likewise, a group of enemies must be attacked one at time. We use the rule of two, hit each opponent twice and then move on to the next one. Attempt to devastate the opponent as visually amazing as possible. Make it gory, thematic, and audible — scream a lot. You can also divide up the enemies by closing doors or blocking others out while you finish off an isolated opponent.

Another rule of martial arts is you can’t defend all areas at the same time effectively. Therefore, there is always a weak spot in their defense. The trick is to find that area and attack it. Attack in a way that they are not expecting.

What ever you think of or implement, do yourself a favor and don’t tell anyone. The best military advantages are secret, so keep yours secret too.

Deception in self-defense

The goal of any self-defense situation is to survive the assault. We prepare for it physically through our martial arts training but there is a mental component to it also. There is an old saying in the arts, 99% of combat is mental and only 1% is physical. Sun Tzu explains why this is true in the next section.

18. All warfare is based on deception.

19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder, and crush him.

Part of the role of humility is to not be seen as a threat. Aggressive people seek out threats to eliminate them before they in turn can be threatened. This is one of the main reasons martial artists are told not to boast about how they know Karate or Kempo. It tells would-be-enemies of your abilities. They can then take measures to defend against your skills. It is better to be thought of as weak and unable to defend yourself than give up your secret weapon.

Feign injury when you are able to attack. Hold your arm or limp so the enemy thinks you are at a disadvantage. Sneak in on the enemy from a blind side so you can surprise him by your appearance. In self-defense training, we talk about throwing things at the attacker so it can ricochet off the wall. Then the enemy thinks there is someone behind them. Of course you don’t throw it while he’s looking directly at you. You must be sly and deceptive.

Feigning confusion and panic is a great way to get your enemy to over commit with their next attack. Likewise, you must know when to show irrational behavior and rage. This tricks the enemy into thinking you are losing your rational, tactical mind. It can also be used to scare the enemy into routing the field.

We’ll talk more about this next article. Meanwhile, have you ever used some of these principles in your own self-defense situation?

Following Sun Tzu’s advice

The next section recommends that the good general or in our case, martial artist, listen and implement what he suggests.

15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: let such a one be dismissed!

16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

Even while using his recommendations and theories to guide your defense, his also recommends using any helpful circumstances that occur. If the circumstances are covered by the rules he supplies, Sun Tzu recommends making use of it anyway if it will help your situation.

Therefore, in a self-defense situation, when something helpful happens integrate it into your counter strike. For instance, the confrontation or fight takes you to a spot where you can duck into a room and lock the door to escape. Take the fortuitous opportunity. If your opponent slips on a greasy spot on the floor and stumbles, take advantage of it right away. The list is endless to a creative mind. The trick then is to spot them when they occur naturally and then make use of it.

Use the environment to supplement your skills and situation. Leave comments below if you have ever used some of these principles in your own self-defense situation.

Who wins a self-defense situation?

Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:
(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?
(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

Let me paraphrase this list into modern parlance and in self-defense jargon.
(1) Which combatant is willing to defend themselves regardless of the danger and has the stern resolve to do it?
(2) Which combatant has strategies in place for confrontations?
(3) Who uses their environment and available tools to defend themselves?
(4) Who is trained to be more disciplined?
(5) Who is mentally, physically and spiritually stronger?
(6) Which combatant is the most trained in martial skills?
(7) Who has trained most consistently for confrontations?

As you can see from my new list, the winner of a self-defense confrontation is someone who has trained consistently in an effective art such as Golden Leopard Kempo-justu. It doesn’t really matter which art you prefer or study. All the arts provide benefit of discipline and martial techniques. Some are more applicable to actual street level self-defense situations.

What is most important is the preparation for the situation. Hoping it won’t happen doesn’t aid you when the time comes. Take charge of your life by learning how to defend yourself. This eliminates the effects of fear allowing you to focus and assess the situation.

While speaking of self-defense, preparation also includes things outside of carrying a small weapon or making your hands lethal weapons. It includes disaster preparedness — do you have survival kits, food and water, tents, cash. Do you know first aid techniques, CPR and AED? Situations are infinitely diverse. The more you learn and prepare the wider your range of effectiveness. It also provides you with a broader scope of skills that can be modified for other situations.

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.

Dealing with a busy life and hectic schedule

caution-signI know I haven’t written in a while but life gets hectic. One thing is for sure, writing a newsletter or blog are both very time consuming. Just to catch you up, I continue to teach my classes weekly and train my own material. Like all things, my material started to degrade from lack of practice. So I follow my own advice and began hitting a practice routine with more vigor. Of course, that means writing time diminishes.

Then there are the other projects I’m working on and having children on Summer Vacation. Now that school started again, I find myself still without a lot of spare time. My advice is to schedule all your activities as if they were job related tasks. If you want to accomplish something, you need to chip away at it one hour at a time if necessary.

So I hope my lack of availability and posting inspires you to keep working. It may remind you that “Yes, I’m a regular dude” too. As always, if you have a topic idea or question, please submit it to me either by email or comments. I read both often.

Please tweet about the blog, join our Facebook page or subscribe to the RSS feed if you want to stay up to date with any new releases. There’s no reliable schedule yet so this is the best way to get notified.

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.