Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Break the Neck!

So I came across this video the other day. It was quite entertaining. It’s a self-defense-for-women instructional video that teaches you how to “break the neck”. Are you kidding me? Are you joking? Obviously not. You can tell by her serious intonation and her numerous repetitions that breaking the neck is a worth while option.

It is incredibly scary to think that there are people taking this video seriously and truly believe that they can break the neck of their assailant….let alone learning from a clip on youtube. This is incredibly unrealistic and very irresponsible of the person teaching this “solution”. It would only put the defender in harms way even more so.

Also interesting, is that she’s so focused on breaking the neck that she never even teaches you how to get out of the bear hug. Notice how the bear hug was not even properly applied! Focus on step 1, before step 2, I say.

Could I break the neck? Probably not, but then again, I wouldn’t really consider that an option.

Until then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Martial Arts Rant on Craigslist Posting

My comments to follow next posting. In the mean time, enjoy. What are your thoughts?

Thanks to Gary K for sending this to me.

Until then.

*****************************************************************************

My qualifications for writing all this are: 8 year wrestler, former corporal in the marines, football (fullback) my whole life, martial arts for 3 years, 6 years of studying exercise science, and currently a personal trainer on a military base. I also take kickboxing classes 4 days a week, but i dont spar. Back in the day when i was a fighter, people faught for what it was and they showed respect, nowadays people fight in anger, for brutality and violent entertainment, fight for pride, fame, money. I know how fighters think, because I used to be one. Years ago if someone told me all this, I too woulda laughed and called them ignorant and stupid (which doesnt show much "respect" lol), but then I came to reality and realized I was only fighting for fame, pride, anger, to beat someone's ass. And I think its time most fighters realize that.

These sports are nothing but pure violence, and instructors try to brainwash you into thinking otherwise. Instructors try to say its about scoring points and about "finding out your strengths and weaknesses which leads to self-discovery", when its really not (ya cuz u need to beat up someone to discover yourself, lol). But you need to ask yourself, "whats the point of me kicking him in the head?" etc. I signed up to serve my country, to defend against people attacking my country. But what on earth did the guy/girl standing in front of u in the ring/cage/mat, do to you, to cause you to beat them up? Would u beat up a random person on the streets? Of course not, they did nothing to you! So why do it to them?

The other night, there was UFC 100, where Lesnar beat Mir. Lesnar flicked off the crowd and practically bullied Mir after...and I for one thank him for it, because he showed over one million viewers just what the sport is all about. Many people say "oh look, over one million watched it! thats alot!".....no its not. One million people IN THE WORLD (not states)...compared to 50 million who watch the super bowl (and super bowl is american, mma is done all over the world). One million is nothing. Boxing has been around since the early 1900s (probably earlier), and still only has a million viewers.

First of all, let me explain to you the science behind "fighting": Knockouts, occur when there is "trauma" to the brain stem, usually by a sharp rotation of the head. So thats why you see many fighters aiming for the chin, it causes a quick rotation which leads to a trauma of the stem, if a person drops, it hits the nose, if they flinch back it hits the neck, if they move sideways it hits the jawline. Jaw and cheek: There is a nerve in that area of your face that runs directly up to your brain and when your face is struck hard it causes the brain to shut down. A hit to the facial area will cause lack of balance, focus, and disorientation. Now, this sport claims to teach focus and balance, by doing things to make you LOSE focus and balance??? Lol, makes no sense. Fighters will also watch their opponent when they are breathing IN, and hit them in the gut area as theyre breathing in, causes them to lose breathe and be knocked out. Some fighters will repeatedly hit their opponent in the head, because it causes a concussion. Often you see a fighter kicking an opponent on the side of the head, because it causes a quick rotation which traumatizes the brain stem. Many times they go after the temple, because its softer, and easier way to apply trauma. Sometimes you see a knee to the ribcage area, it practically pierces the lungs, causing a direct trauma and losing breathe. Choking, a fighter will choke you because it cuts off the trachea, and cuts off blood flow to the brain, thus making you become unconscious. Arm breaks, leg breaks, etc: In submitting, grappling, etc...theyll grab your arm or leg/foot and keep pulling. If the fighter doesnt tap out, youre supposed to simply break the arm by pulling it as much as you can, tearing the ligaments. All of this, sounds SO SAFE doesnt it???

All of this, can lead to paralysis or death. If there was no referee to stop the chin pounding and all that, the person WOULD die. Regardless of whether or not there is a ref, its still inhumane and flat out disgusting. Some instructors try to tell their students that beating someone within an inch of their life and then STOP, so they dont die, is respectful...because youre respectful enough not to kill them. ..............Seriously, were these people born yesterday? Mostly, fighters make hits to the head (the control center of the body), the area most likely to cause trauma, death, paralysis, etc. In most sports, head hits are banned (football, hockey, etc)...thats why they wear pads. Yet these sports, they go for the head. Oh oh oh, almost forgot: Instructors will defend all this by saying "well thats why we use gloves"....lol no, the truth is...gloves are worse, because it allows you to hit HARDER. Gloves arent that soft, it still hurts like hell. Some instructors will defend all this brain stem trauma by saying they dont allow hits on the back of the head for safety reasons, lol...thats a lie. They dont allow hits to the back of the head because its too easy. Fans want to see a long fight, not a 10 second pounding. If you're allowed to hit in the back of the head, the fight will be over in a minute. Think about it...if they didnt allow you to hit to the back of the head because of safety reasons, they wouldnt allow you to hit someone in a way where it traumatizes the brain stem, or cuts off blood flow (choke). Didnt think about that, did you?

If anyone tells you nobody's ever died in these sports, theyre lying. Look it up online, people HAVE died and ruined their lives from it. Unfortunately people these days believe everything they hear. Remember the first time you got drunk? You didnt do it alone, you were with friends, they gave u a drink and kept pushing u to drink more, but u said nooooo. Then they 'peer pressured' you into it, and now you LOVE it. Same with fighting....anyone with a brain who watches it is gonna say "umm, whats the point of his brutality?"....but after awhile of your "friends" pushing you into it, you're gonna fall in love. People will do anything as long as their with friends and having fun. Basically, people need to start thinking for themselves, stop being fake, use common sense, stop listening to friends who u wont see in 20 years anyway. I cant count how many people I know with PhDs and Masters degrees who are doing shit jobs now because of the decisions they made when they were young, im sure they LOVE those 'friends' of theirs now! I mean, dont you have anything better to do with your life than beat someone up???

Soon, New York will vote on whether or not to legalize mma in their state. Obviously many fans are writing and saying how safe it is, but many reps and state senators are calling it brutal, mindless...but regardless, it may just become legalized (and in my opinion, it will be). Here's why: Money. I have several buddies working on capitol hill who speak with people about all sorts of issues, and i myself know a governor and a few representatives. The ONLY reason these sports are legalized is simply: Money. It brings the state a lot of money (and people), and a state like New York who is currently losing lots of money, will get lots of money from it. But rest assured, most congressmen, senators, state senators, assemblymen, delegates, etc, ARE opposed to the sports. Yes, people get hurt in all sports, but only in combat sports, do people get hurt PURPOSELY. There was a poll that went around in new york, and 67% of residents said they didnt want these sports legalized, and over half the legislature said the same, BUT...they said it would bring money to the state. That'll be a huge shame, putting money over brutality. But im not worried....because there are so many whiny parents out there who wont let their kids watch porn or Rated R movies, and the moment they see this stuff mainstreamed on channel 4, theyll complain. And who knows, it may get banned all over. But do know people, the ONLY reason its legalized in many states, is because of the money it brings in. Out of the 37 states its legalized in, 31 of the governors, think the sport is brutal, barbaric, and violent. The government tries to make laws against abuse, violence, bullying....why on EARTH would they allow this stuff then?? Money. The only reason it seems like many people enjoy these sports, is because you never hear from the people who are opposed to it. I guarantee if people went to the polls in every state and voted on election day to ban or not ban it, itd get banned in at least 40 states. I guarantee ufc and all those sports have deals with television stations to promote their stuff. So many commercials and shows lately have been showing boxing gloves, or a fighter, etc....and as we all know, this nation IS controlled by the media.

Is that not enough? Try this, i read in an article: In July, the chairman of the new york state athletic commission was removed as chairman (he was very much opposed to mma). Two days later, the governor (fight fan) announced that a person whom is a vocal proponent of MMA would chair the commission. Hmm.......are you thinking what im thinking? I withheld names for privacy purposes. Not to mention even the dean of sportswriters, and the heads of boxing organizations are opposed to MMA. A few representatives who voted against MMA, received threats....wow, that doesnt show much "respect" or "discipline" does it? Some fight fans will say the violence rate dropped when MMA was legalized, but let me explain why. Because beforehand, people were fighting on the streets where cops could arrest them. Now, those people are fighting inside (and for sport), so cops cant arrest them, lol. So actually, the violence rate is on the rise...you just dont see it!

Have you ever looked up in a dictionary what "martial arts" means? It means "art of war". Hmmm, art of war? Why is "art of war" being taught to people who arent in war, or to 5 year olds? These people think they are warriors...well thats funny, because warriors go to war, so why arent you people in Iraq? And warriors are supposed to kill and fight, not display respect, discipline, self-control and all those other words that fighters use (and cant define lol). Didnt think about that, did ya?

Over and over again, people in these sports talk about how safe it is, how its MUCH safer than gymnastics, soccer, hockey, etc. Compare the amount of blood spilt in martial arts, to soccer. Compare the amount of people passed out in MMA, to gymnastics. NOW which is worse? What fight fans dont realize is, the long term effects of this stuff.

If soccer, football, hockey, etc has more injuries, perhaps its because soccer/football/hockey players compete on a WEEKLY basis for HOURS. Whereas in MMA and all those violent sports, they compete every month or every few months for 5-15 minutes.

So martial arts teach balance, focus, concentration, coordination, body conditioning (along with every other sport lol). So how come some fighters get winded and knocked out in minutes, yet football and soccer players can go for hours and still be topnotch. How come Brock Lesnar went out for football and couldnt even make the practice squad for the Vikings? Try being a Tour De France cyclist, see if you can cycle for 8 hours up and down mountains. I dare you, fighters.

Martial arts isnt about fighting? So why did Chuck Lidell say in an NBC interview, "we wouldnt be doing this stuff if we didnt have issues".

Many times, martial art people try to say, "its about self defense. If someone came in your home and tried to attack your mother, would u just sit there?"....uhh, what on EARTH does some criminal intruding in my house and attacking my mother, have to do with me getting in a cage with some random guy who did NOTHING to me?

Why do people enjoy martial arts so much? Because they enjoy violent entertainment. What, do you REALLY think the fans watch it for any other reason? You wonder why you never hear the crowd cheering when the fighters are standing and staring, yet when one guy is on the floor pounding the other one repeatedly, the whooole crowd cheers as the top of their lungs. Because thats what they want, to see a pounding. And when a guy gets knocked out, everyone cheers. Now in most other sports, everyone is in silence and wondering if the guy is okay if he passes out.

What exactly is the benefit of martial arts? Tell me how this "discipline, mental toughness, coordination, balance"...is useful in your life? Please someone tell me, because whenever I ask, I dont get an answer...and actually a few times Ive been kicked out of gyms when I started asking. What, are they hiding something? People these days are not capable of being disciplined. BUT, studies have shown that video games can improve mentality, coordinaton, focus. So can fish oil! So can ANY other sport, lol.

Martial Arts is a foreign "sport". The people who enjoy these sports the most, are usually....yes, country people, rednecks, southerners, people who live in the midwest, hicks. Now correct me if im wrong, but dont THOSE people in particular, despise foreigners? So why on EARTH would they like "martial arts" then, seeing as how its a foreign "sport"? They hate soccer, hockey, etc. They like martial arts because they enjoy watching brutality and violence.

Some say they take it to give themselves control so they don’t bully, and that’s sad (and a lie). I had perfect control before I took mma. Im sorry to tell you all this, but you CANT TEACH RESPECT, you CANT TEACH DISCIPLINE. The military cant even discipline their soldiers, and since kindergarten we were all taught to respect, and years later we are bullies, at war, showing hatred. You.Cant.Teach.Respect.Or.Discipline, OR self-control, coordination, etc. You just CANT.

This makes me laugh. Ive heard of some "arts" that say you have to fight, or beat, or knock out a certain amount of people to advance to the next stage. Umm, please tell me none of you are dumb enough to believe that? So maybe thats why some fighters parade around the cage (or ring) after knocking out someone, because they seriously think its advancing them to a next level or stage of their 'art'. Wow, ive never heard of so much ignorance before. You think its sane, humane, justified to knock someone out for ANY reason???

Ive read articles, ive spoken to trainers, instructors, and the consensus is…martial arts, boxing, kickboxing are WORTHLESS on the streets. So why teach this stuff if theyre WORTHLESS in the streets? See, if youre on the streets, youre “off guard”. You don’t know if someone is gonna attack you, so if you get attacked, youre “off guard”, and you lose. Studies have shown that these simple “self defense” classes that last an hour, are MUCH more useful than combat sports. Plus, most people on the streets, arent TRAINED. Cage fights are worse than high school fights because you actually know HOW to knock someone out.

Some instructors try to say that fighting is human nature, that even animals do it.....well wow, its surely not MY nature, lol. Ive been in this world for a looooong time, and never once needed to "fight". So I have no idea what nature they are talking about, lol. They compare it to the days of Jesus, or the Gladiators in Rome, where people killed each other...and thats sick. Do you REALLY think God approves of two people fighting for no reason whatsoever?

You want to know why the people who do it, enjoy mma and all those sports? Because their people who love fighting. So they view this as a way of fighting legally, committing assault and getting away with it. In order to make it legal, these instructors CANT say its about fighting and bloodshed, they HAVE TO say its about confidence, control, etc...otherwise itd be banned in a heartbeat, lol. And since these instructors and lovers KNOW that people believe everything they hear, they go after the younger people mostly, but hey, adults can be dumb too. And then when girls come in, the instructors try to make them think we live in a violent world where self defense is a MUST, when its not (i know tons of women who've never been attacked).

Not to mention, almost every medical association alive, speaks AGAINST the sport. Almost every doctor, speaks AGAINST the sport. I wonder why. Id rather trust a doctor than some bloodshed loving guy. And those docs who do speak FOR it, are usually the younger ones who are still drunks and living the "party life". And girls being a part of combat sports disgusts me. Go ahead and learn, but compete? Thats not lady-like. Girls say they want a man, well men want a WOMAN. No "MAN" wants to date a girl who fights (unless its for sex).

I first took a big stand against it when I was walking through the Holocaust museum with a girlfriend. I told her I cant believe people would do such things to each other (the holocaust), and she told me im no different, that I beat people up, inflict pain, promote violence on people who never wronged me. At first I laughed and tried to explain to her what the sport was about and how its much different than murder OBVIOUSLY, but as I kept going through, I realized she had a point, what IS the point to fighting someone??? A guy friend of mine who is a state champion wrestler and anti-martial art guy, told me to look back 8 years ago when this country was attacked, do we really need more violence? 8 years ago 3000 people were killed, and in Iraq more than 4000 soldiers are killed (whether its an inside job or not, murder is still murder), then we come home and beat each other up for sport.....how is that necessary, justified, humane? He has a point. Most of all, if it teaches "respect", why are you HITTING the person? lol, do i NEED to say more? If you respect someone, you dont fight them!! DUHHHHH

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gong Fu in MMA

Hi folks,

thought it's time for a lighter post today...

I came across this in one of the forums. Definitely gave me a good chuckle...

http://forum.kungfumagazine.com/forum/showthread.php?t=54723

Until then,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Progression

Then things got blurry when I went from student levels 8-12. The concepts, chi-sao drills, etc weren’t as defined as the previous materials. I didn’t learn in a linear fashion anymore. Instead, things varied quite a bit. The different pak-da, tan-da, bong-da (as per student levels 7, 8, 9) were introduced but mixed in with other things like emphasized mobility (eg. cross-step, side stepping, etc) to adjust for the incoming force. Mobility was introduced here.

Levels 10-12 got even more blurry. But I noticed, as soon as I hit level 12, things turned up a notch. Hits felt harder and being the “dummy” end of Sifu’s explanation in class felt different – more intense. I thought it was just me, but then I noticed how those were recently promoted with me started to dwindle. It seemed like, to me, that student level 12 was a defining moment for many. It seemed that getting to level 12 is good enough - the equivalent of a “black belt”…more a high degree “brown belt”.

I remember, at level 9 or 10, I felt that I would be REALLY good by level 12 and that by the time I hit 1st technician grade, I would have all the tools I needed. WRONG. There’s so much more – and I’m not just saying that at a philosophical level. There really is so much more, technically, skillfully and physically.

Do you remember in grade school math, when the teacher said that you can’t subtract a big number from a smaller number (eg. 3-7 = ?) but could only go the other way (eg. 7-3 = 4). Do you remember the moment when the teachers told you that was not true and instead 3-7 = -4? How about in chemistry when a reaction 2H + O -> H2O. We were told that this reaction is one way for the longest time. Then the teacher says that it’s not true and in reality, all reactions go back and forth, but one reaction nets more product than the other. So really it looks like 2H + O <-> H2O.

Of course, teachers had to do this to properly educate us. To provide us information in stages in order to understand the concept, only to remove it so that you can use this foundation to understand the next one?

The same, I’ve realized, occurs with WT once you get into the technician grades. So ya, LOTS to do, lots to re-train and lots to incorporate into my arms and legs. Although there is structure to the curriculum, it was loosely applied in my case. (Most likely due to my fluctuating attendance throughout the years.) Do chi-sao sections here, do some forms training here, some partner training, concept A, punching B, etc.

THEN, to top it off. The concept of “boxing” has really hit me as of late – Chinese boxing. Wing Tsun is Chinese boxing, as my instructor says. And when he said that, I couldn’t agree more. To sum up as “Chinese boxing” conceptualized WT into something more than drills and chi-sao. So simple but hard to pull off. This concept frees one of the rigid boundaries set by all the previous years of training. Of course, the irony is that all those years of WT training is absolutely needed.

So this is my next step – to evolve my wing tsun into the expression of its true form: boxing. It sure feels awkward. I know my Wing tsun still has lots more room to progress. Once I get this whole boxing thing down, then somehow, I’ll have to transform it so that it reflects me – so that it becomes natural, automatic and full of Grasshopper 2.0 flavour.

One step at a time…

Until then.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cons of Full Contact Fighting

In my last post, I discussed some of the benefits of full-contact sparring. My personal view is that, when it comes to the street environment, full-contact fighting is simply part of an arsenal to add to your training routine, but not the determining factor for realistic self-defense. I understand, and agree that with full-contact fighting, the adrenaline rush is something that might get you incredibly close to the “real thing”. It’s a great test to see how you’d react to the nature of that adrenaline rush, to the tensing of muscles and to the stress.

But there are some drawbacks.

1) Full-contact sparring creates habits – squaring the opponent up, for example, either with distance control or jabs may work strategically in the ring, but the street fight may not start off so fare and square, nor would there necessarily be much space to do so. Chances are someone has already been hit, or perhaps cornered into people or into a walls, tables, etc.

2) Squaring up takes away from that initial burst of energy and that opportunity to attack. Full-contact fighting in the ring is controlled and highly strategic. There is more time allowed for decision making and it is not too often where the person would throw a barrage of attacks at the start of the fight. However, in the street fight, chances are that punches are thrown before a fight even starts! There’s no time for strategy, only reaction.

3) Over time, as you get used to full contact fighting in the ring, the adrenaline dump wears off. Of course, there is still the rush, but the territory becomes familiar and your body becomes more efficient at handling that situation. The street fight presents a different environment and the different stimulus would provide an extra boost of stress that your body is not used to..or better said…that your mind knows it should be used to, but your body reacts otherwise.

4) Hits, as sloppy as they may be, are 100% committed. However, in the case of full-contact fighting, there is room to throw feint punches and kicks to measure distance, to force a reaction, etc. In the case of the street fight, the guy just wants to hit you and will do what it takes to do so.

5) The guy attacking you doesn’t know nor care about martial arts. Chances are you small you’re going to fight a skilled MMA guy or Thai boxer. Most of these guys are incredibly nice guys! It’s the jerks that cause the fights. It’s very rare that such “jerks” have the determination, drive, and discipline to learn such a complicated art like thai boxing or MMA.

Now of course, there are exceptions to every rule. You may end up fighting some MMA guy in a situation where you have lots of room to roam around and there’s a mutual start to the fight. Like I said above, full contact sparring definitely has a significant role in one’s training, but it’s not everything. Drills training, in my opinion, can be tweaked up a few notches to present quite an intense sense of street fight (think, 2-3 second fight). The hard part is finding the right people to train in such a way. And it’s not easy. It’s exhausting both physically AND mentally. It’s also hard to find a partner who’s willing to take hits, know how to throw a good un-wing chun punch, and let their ego’s go.

I have to give credit to the full-contact fighters. They are able to take hits and not give a damn. But us wing tsun/chun guys aren’t like that at all. It’s kind of annoying. Boxers don’t care if something doesn’t work, they just go back to the drawing board and train harder. I think we can learn something here.

Until then.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pros of Full Contact

To many in the wing tsun/chun circles, full contact sparring is either not encouraged, not needed, not realistic or not practiced. Instructors have their reasons, many advocating that it deviates from the realistic nature of the street fight. Others take a different approach and feel that it may be too dangerous to apply in the sparring situation. Whatever the case may be, I think there are some benefits to exposing one’s self to the adrenaline rush of a full-contact fight/sparring experience.

1) There’s just something intrinsically primal, and well, REAL about your opponent throwing a punch, kick, elbow or tackle at full power. This is hard for your partner to replicate in class. Many of the punches thrown in the drills are half-assed or “too nice” as to always make the drill work.

2) Exposes weaknesses in conditioning – full contact fighting brings out quite the adrenaline rush and, with it, exhaustion. It shows us how much is really in our gas tank and gives us some perspective as to how much we have in a street fight.

3) Spontaneity – the attacks coming at you are completely unknown. Unlike the drill setting where an attack is pre-determined, the free fight scenario carries an element of surprise and a refreshing experience of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

4) You get to hit hard back! Now it’s your turn to unleash your powerful punches…no need to worry about pulling your hits back like that in a drill.

5) You learn pretty quickly how much more “boom” in your punches you’ll need.

6) Against a grappler, you can see how effective take downs can be….or ineffective. You will also learn how the ground game is very different when facing someone who is skilled in the art of ground fighting.

7) It’s not as bad as you might think it is. You won’t be facing an Iron Mike in the ring…but most likely someone of similar skillset or experience as you have. Like you, they don’t know what the next hit is going to be. Things are relatively controlled and safety comes first.

Something to add to your training repertoire I would say. Next post, the cons of sparring.

Until then.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Modding Your Punch

I was watching an episode of Top Gear (for those that don’t know, it’s a UK-based tv show featuring super cars, luxury cars, etc). On the show, the hosts were given a challenge – to make a regular car A (Renault) go as fast as sports car B (Mitsubishi) around the track, with a budget of 8K and 48 hours.

Given those restrictions, the hosts had to determine what modifications were quick and got the most bang for their buck. Initially, the first instinct is MORE POWER..but realistically they couldn’t do it due to the constraints of budget and time. They decided to switch to high performance brake pads so that you could brake later for the turns. Next they added performance tires so that they can stick to the road better and push off the ground and handle the turns. They also reduced the weight by removing all the chairs and replacing with sport performance models. Finally, they gave the engine a good tune up/regular maintenance. With these simple mods, they were able to shave off 10+ seconds!

It was interesting to see such quick mods make such a difference! They didn’t really do anything crazy like add a new engine or NOS to the system. They kept it relatively simple, using common sense.

The same idea, I thought, can be applied to punching power. Generally, we assume that in order to add more boom to our punches that we should crank up the weight training or start hitting the heavy bag even harder. What if there are some lower key modifications we can add to our training or to our technique/conditioning that can help give us some added boom?

1) Much like a tune up, how about just getting in shape and eating healthy? Getting your body in overall shape (and weight) can help decrease the overall load that our body has to carry and can increase endurance required for repeated firing of the muscles during punching. Proper nutrition will also ensure strong bones and lubricated joints.

2) Conditioning of the wrists and hand – I’m not saying that you should bash your hand into the wall bag. But a simple drill like holding the pushup position on your fists for 30 seconds can start training your wrists for proper alignment and hold a significant amount of force. This will start sending the signals to your body as to what’s required to maintain such a force, let alone a punch. Too much horse power (really fast punch or strong muscles) might be too much to handle (whether it’s for a car or for your wrists). In essence, your wrist becomes the limiting factor in how much force you can throw out there.

3) Grip – connecting yourself to the ground is essential when trying to stay planted to really throw a punch. Good shoes may help. But more importantly, proper body alignment from fist to ground would be essential. Take lots of time to train this – the power of the punch is proportional to this connection. An intimidating chest and huge arms is useless when it has nothing to “push against”.

4) Flexibility – in wing tsun, it’s a given that you should be stretching your tendons and ligaments. But don’t ignore the major muscle groups too – chest, back, triceps, biceps and shoulders. The greater the range of motion, the more room for boom in your punches.

Adding a bit of each of these to your repertoire might result in some decent gains after a year or so. Every bit helps, and it’s not particularly demanding.

Until then.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Own Enemy

The chain punch is probably one of the most distinguishing offensive weapon that defines wing chun. It’s all about trading the one hit knock-out for rapid fire attacks that over whelm the senses of the attacker. To some, that’s a drawback, to others, this is the advantage. Either case, there is something that is usually over-looked:

Lactic acid buildup. Because chain punches are fired at such a fast rate, it can be seen as an anaerobic attack. Unlike your typical 1-2 combo, it’s also much more difficult to time the breathing with chain punches to minimize the anaerobic effect. What does this all mean? Well, your muscles get sore, tense and motion is restricted – pretty much countering every concept that defines wing chun. When the lactic acid builds up, you can feel your muscles swell. The problem then becomes the inability to relax, so your range of motion decreases. Arms get stiff, and your chain punches turn more into rabbit punches. Not what we want.

There is no real “cure” for lactic acid buildup. Especially, during a scuffle. Conditioning can help. Generally, you increase your muscle’s threshold via conditioning (endurance training), to lactic acid buildup. But, depending on how long the scuffle is, eventually lactic acid will build up. Especially, again, since wing chun favours the chain punch.

The other aspect, with respect to conditioning, is that in a street fight, the adrenaline rush is on a grander scale (in my opinion) than, say a sparring match or, at least in a controlled setting. Especially, say in a surprise attack scenario. Adrenaline becomes your enemy. Yes, it will help you move faster, stronger and feel less pain, but it will also increase the lactic acid build up as well. Let alone, take your body to a different level of exhaustion. Yes, conditioning may play role in minimizing this, but the adrenaline reaction is something that is hard to mimic, in particular a street fight scenario.

What does this mean? It means our window of opportunity is small even for well conditioned folks. It means that we don’t want fights to last that long. It means, we should get the heck out of that situation as fast as we can. It also means that conditioning is something we can’t ignore – it must be trained at the endurance level and at a stress-exposure level.

Many argue that sparring or tournament/cage fighting is the closest thing you can do safely to replicate this. I think that generally, this is true. But after a certain number of fights in this setting, some do become acclimated to the setting and the environment should be changed.

For those that can’t or don’t spar or cage fight, you’ll have to find ways to replicate stress-exposure. I’m sorry, but performing lap-sao punch fast is not going to do much for you.

Although it may take practice and a creative imagination, you can replicate stress conditions through the mind. Picture an attacker with a knife. Picture your worst enemy before you. Etc etc. It’s mentally exhausting, but you’ll find yourself shaking, roaring to go. You’ll also realize that you might get your ass whipped even more easily, but that’s ok – now you know…and now you know what you need to do.

Until then.

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