Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pressure Point Fighting

I was reading a book on the Bubishi (also known as the “Bible of Karate). The Bubishi is a written collection of various notes on defensive hand to hand strategies, pressure point fighting, traditional Chinese medicines and philosophical assays based on White Crane and Monk Fist boxing.

Pressure point striking caught my eye. The diagrams in this book can be very detailed with all the points listed on the body as to what meridians they correspond to and what damage would be inflicted if it were struck at that point (and at what time). What I find interesting about pressure point fighting is it has one major assumption. It assumes that the attack can reach its intended target.

This, in my opinion, is a huge assumption. If you aren’t able to throw a “normal” punch and connect successfully, how can one even think about hitting such and such point with such and such hand position? It seems that the majority of fighting systems teach how the punch gets from A to B, only that it does get from A to B, hopefully. What I’ve found WT to be great at is to teach how to get from A to B, and if not A to B, then A to Y to B and so on. When I say “how” I don’t mean the pure mechanics of how to throw a punch..but how to ensure that your punch gets to where it wants to go.

If it’s true that most systems only go so far as to how to throw a punch, how then, can it teach applications on pressure point fighting since there’s nothing to assure that your hands will get to the intended target?

So yea, as cool as pressure point fighting may be. Unless you got a teacher who can also punch you at will, you will not know how to apply it.

Until then.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

How do you know?

How do you know you're absorbing the material taught in class? What things do we do to reassure ourselves that we can apply what we've learned?

Some schools put the students into tournaments, others free spar, while others just know....and some deep down know or believe that they do not know at all. The obvious way, is simply to test it out on the street or street-like scenario. I think the same advice was given by Grand Master Yip Man. How practical is that nowadays?

In a system that believes that free/tournament/full contact sparring is not good training for street self defense, then what is? what tests can we do to reassure ourselves of this? Would you want your son/daughter to pass through grade school without any exams? maybe you do! What kind of tests can we perform to assure that we can truly apply what we've been exposed to in class?

Thoughts, comments?

Until then.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Yellow Zone

If you read the comment from my last post, notice the reference to the "yellow zone." Now for myself, I'm not too familiar with the yellow zone concept but it seems to be something of keeping yourself aware of your surroundings.

If that's the case - it's definitely interesting. I mean, I don't really train how to keep yourself aware. There are standard practices (eg checking corners, avoiding isolated pathways like alleyways, creating distance from the stranger down the street) but its very difficult to apply when enjoying a downtown stroll with the girlfriend. How do you train for this? Is it even worth it? I mean if an attacker is gonna attack me at a blindspot then there is no way to prevent that is there? Or maybe the prevention is in the yellow zone training...

Until then

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm Back

Hi folks! It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been out of town for the last bit and with no computer access (believe it or not). In any event, I'm back at this...

Last night, I was strolling down Granville St with my girlfriend around 1am. Normal evening, nothing out of the ordinary. We walked passed the Granville Street skytrain station and all of a sudden I hear some shuffling of feet that's just a little TOO close for comfort. I feel something poke against the back of my neck and this guy's voice saying "give me all your money".

No joke folks.

For whatever reason, all I did was shoot my hand out as I turned to face the "gunman", resulting in a lap sao kind of move and quickly shot my free hand to his elbow to control him forcing him towards the nearest wall.

The guy's like "YAM!" ....turns out it was a friend of mine.

A couple things I realized from this instance.

  • If this was for real, I would've been shot.
  • If this was for real, the attacker would've been able to land a good shot before I even knew it since my back was facing him.
  • I didn't think otherwise to stop, put my hands up or any other response.
Is this a result of WT training? Is this a result of stupidity? or maybe just an adrenaline shot. How should it have been handled?

Until then.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kiai

In my karate days, there was a strong emphasis on "kiai" - also known as the karate yell that's coordinated with the execution of attack and exhale of air. The emphasis is on executing the kiai from the stomach/centre of the body rather than from the vocal cords. The idea here is that it enhances focus and power delivery into the technique.

In kung fu (eg. choy lee fut, hung gar, etc), the emphasis/purpose of kiai is there, yet there is less action of the vocal cords and is accompanied with, instead, a breathing/exhaling sound and is also coordinated with the delivery of techniques.

Now, in my WT experience, there is not this type of breathing. Instead, it emphasizes regular and natural breathing that's not particularly coordinated with the attack/defense/technique. Why is this? The idea being that emphasizing regular breathing, especially during times of stress, will help the body relax - which is exactly what is required to deliver powerful attacks.

Does this actually happen? I find myself mixing it up when stress levels go high. Regular, but deep breathing before physical contact w/ the opponent and then right at the impact/contact, I can feel myself performing a subtle kiai - more like that of chinese gong fu. What about you?

Until then.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

First Gen UFC

Do you guys remember the first UFC's? Back in the day when it was "kung fu vs. karate" or "ninjitsu vs. sambo"? That was cool wasn't it? There was a good mix from karateka, bjj, shaolin kung fu, boxing, and others. I think the one that really stuck in my mind was the fight between a ninjitsu guy and a sumo wrestler. This fight taught us a lot.

For one thing, the ninjitsu guy was able to deliver the first blow right to the temple, toppling the sumo wrestler (lesson 1 - speed helps and lesson 2 - first committed blow is best). This strike was a real committed swing, not like a text book jab you see at your local MMA schools. At this point, the sumo wrestler couldn't do much - he couldn't get up or move due to his hefty size (lesson 3 - fat limits mobility). Then the ninjitsu guy just started hammer fisting the sumo wrestler's neck and head until he submitted. Problem is, at that time, rules stated that the attacker must be knocked or submit but the sumo wrestler just covered up and didn't tap out while continuing to take the punishment. This lasted for a long while (Lesson 4, it takes A LOT to knock someone out..especially someone bigger than you). Finally the ref stepped in and stopped the fight, declaring the ninjitsu guy victor. Ninjitsu guy broke his hand and couldn't continue to the next round (Lesson 5, you can break your hand w/o knowing it in the heat of batter).

ALSO, as with many of these early fights - within the first 30 seconds, most of these guys were outta juice. Many were in great shape, but winded so quickly from the adrenaline rush. So does that mean that the adrenaline rush created be fear, created by being in the unknown and chaotic environment depletes energy stores beyond any trainable or imaginable amount? If this is true, is it REALLY that worth it to jog 45 minutes or longer a day in order to be able to defend yourself?

Also note that when you look at MMA now, it's all about conditioning. Who can stay up just a little longer than the other guy to perform that one choke hold (albeit in complete exhaustion).

But, to me, there is a striking inherent difference between using energy stores for a real-life fighting situation, and a more controlled and expected situation. You don't see this type of fatigue in boxing. Is it because they train so well or is it because they're more comfortable with the situation, have time to measure out distance and the opponent. Just imagine what that fight would be like if the two boxers had no clue they were going to fight that second.

Until then.

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