Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

18 Sep 2017

Ten Ways to Spot a Fraud in the Martial Arts

I knew this one fraud in the martial arts who happens to be a highly intelligent martial artist. No, he doesn't practice Traditional Taekwondo. And no, he doesn't live in Perth, Western Australia.

Let the word 'intelligent' sink in a little.

Yes, you heard me right - he is an intelligent martial artist. In fact, at some time in his career he must have been an amazing instructor. He speaks well, explains his concepts clearly, has a good working knowledge of technical moves, but as he stands there and waffles on, you have this nagging suspicion he's become jaded with that fundamental knowledge.



So while able to converse in depth on subjects which may convey practical and effective combat methods, everything now issuing from him has to include some esoteric concept drawn from acupuncture, aikido, kyusho, dim mak, no touch knockout, or other vague oriental gobbledegook.

That's a warning bell - as soon as he opens his mouth, you are struggling to understand how to use what the fraud is telling you. How would this new knowledge be used to defend you in a life and death struggle? The information seems so important - the man is an experienced martial artist, is convincing, and is backing his reasoning with a heap of arcane-sounding knowledge.

Compare this to my instructor - when I went up against him in 2006, he was a 9th degree, and had become an old man with bad knees. I was in my mid 30s, knew my stuff, and I wasn't about to go light on him. Yet he beat me thoroughly - with better timing, good technique, and excellent control.

Ten Ways to Spot a Fraud in the Martial Arts

  1. A fraud requires extensive elaborate and esoteric commentary about technique (almost always including the words chi or ki) to make it work. 
  2. Frauds need you to think of themselves as an infallible repository of martial knowledge.
  3. The fraud thinks that the more you train, the more your hard style system needs to look like Steaven Seagal's Aikido in Under Seige.
  4. Frauds love surrounding themselves with legit high-ranking practitioners.
  5. Frauds often point out what they have done for other expert-level martial art instructors and fighters. Helping beginners struggling with basic moves is too pedestrian for them.
  6. Frauds disappear when either a true expert or loud disbeliever appears.
  7. Look at their uniform - it's spotless, almost shiny. Frauds will never test themselves.
  8. Frauds will fail to try, will avoid mistakes, or will talk their way out of a mistake. Martial artists are real - mistakes are real - and we address mistakes. Not ignore them.
  9. Frauds love their certificates and ranks. Either they're yammering on about their achievements or they've returned to a 'menkyo' system where they're just beyond it, and all other ranking is child's play to them.  
  10. To frauds, a well placed kick in the you-know-where is beneath them.
Last, I'll leave you with some entertainment from YouTube - and perhaps you can see the related humour.



Keep well my friends.

And train hard.

Upcoming Articles
  • Sep 25 Learning Martial Arts from YouTube
  • Oct 2 The Modernity of Yesterday is the Tradition of Today
  • Oct 9 Talking about One Technique


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11 Sep 2017

Criticising the Low Block



To be sure, I'm not really criticising the low block - I'm criticising my video 'Using Taekwondo's Down Block as Limb Destruction'. I'm also criticising the lack of negative feedback as people lap up what could be a poor approach to developing self defence skills by sticking to a by-the-numbers training exercise.

In the video I'm shown stepping to the inside, deflecting oncoming strike, holding on to the proffered arm, and then performing a down block or hardan markgi to the extended limb. In later iterations of the move, I counter strike to the opponent's head before hitting the top of his forearm, and add in a headbutt when I'm up close.

To be fair, there are some good takeaways here - the deflection of the striking arm, the ability to use the down block in a devastating strike to an extremity, and of course the introduction of a function for this basic technique which tends to be ignored by yellow belts and above.

This video is public - yet no one has picked me up on why I chose to step inside the strike. Why would anyone in their right mind do that? And if ultimate relates to self defence why the adherence to a regimented one-step framework for the exercise?

If the opponent is going to strike me, he's going to come barrelling into me, striking me with both hands. Tactically, I would prefer to be on the outside and counter striking him. If he has a weapon and striking to my centreline, that deflection is only going to work for maybe a split second, and then I'm going to have to deal with the secondary tool and the follow up strikes with the primary weapon.

Of course there is the situation where I had no choice but to go to the inside. In which case, the above video should be contextually part of a larger series which shows how to control the limb and to fight back from exactly the position I have found myself in. Just compare this down block with the Wedging Block from Dosan used in that position.

All these videos and blog articles are great - but people need to be aware that training methodology hardly comes through from a specific video like this. Guard against thinking such a one shot approach covers it. Guard against the tradition-was-how-we-did-it teaching. And you should question everything you see online - even if it comes from a well respected practitioner.

Upcoming Articles
  • Sep 18 Ten Ways to Spot a Fraud in the Martial Arts
  • Sep 25 Learning Martial Arts from YouTube
  • Oct 2 The Modernity of Yesterday is the Tradition of Today

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4 Sep 2017

Performance Anxiety


In addition to being a martial artist, I have also have a long history as an archer. The following article was sent to one of my archery students and his parents. I have modified it slightly so that it reads better for martial artists. While the article can be specifically applied to events which cause anxiety such as competitions and events that require physical self defence, any instructor knows that the positive effects of good training impact all other areas of a practitioner's life. In this case, the discussion pertains to all issues impacting the individual, and how we may better cope with such pressures and continue to perform at our very best. Cheers, Colin

The BIGGEST cause of choking and how to prevent it!
Posted by Dr. Alan Goldberg- Peak Performance for Athletes, Coaches and Parents on Thursday, 18 May 2017

In 1985 Olympic Gold Medallist in Archery John Williams came to Singapore on an IOC Sponsored Coaching Seminar of which I was one of the participants. One of the biggest things he communicated - if you're competing you shouldn't be coaching. To paraphrase for the martial arts community - You shouldn't be looking at video of yourself practicing, and you shouldn't be trying to analyse what you're doing. You should just simply do what you do to perform your best. Simply said.

That's me in 1985 - by that time I was already in my second year of representing Singapore - and training martial arts. Because of archery I found I could skip school for cool events like this one plus go on free trips through the year. 

I have a article I printed off some years ago on 'Test Anxiety'. There are three components of this anxiety. In summary:

  1. negative thoughts and self depreciating self-statements during pressure tests
  2. appraisal of your personal physiological state, and 
  3. behavioural tics which affect preparation and training.


As a coach I like to focus on broad concepts and the ideals of what we're trying to do with the individual archer. I say this to frame instances when I do have to correct aspects of a practitioner's form. Again, I'm careful not to use the word 'goals' as reflected in Dr Alan Goldbergs video above. Such goals as he mentions are training-oriented, or at least is a practice-oriented process, and should be left in training.

In my own experience there are times when I may correct an archer, or when I attempt to modify a certain aspect of their form, this may result in a better or more consistent shot. However, left alone, that archer then might think that to continue to emphasize that specific instruction or to work on that specific component to the nth degree - which results in an over-exaggeration of the initial tweak - which in turn results in over-correction, and then screws up his form.

Dr Goldberg mentions that an athlete can even bring these goals or expectations or understand to a competition. "I want to win" or "I need to push myself harder" or "I want to beat this competitor". However, he says when you bring these goals, it creates an inner urgency which then wrecks your performance.

The more you focus on the process or the outcome or the game plan, the further you are from being "in the moment".

As an practitioner, or as a parent, or as a coach ... we must guard against anything that brings you 'out of the moment' or away from 'the zone'. When the coach tells you to focus on something, you may temporarily do so, but being in the moment is where your efforts should be directed to. This pertains to both sportive competition and self defence!

What to do during practice - take some time to dump all unproductive thoughts on paper. Or compartmentalise them in your mind and park them - and resolve them later. Focus on positive thoughts during your setup and warmup.

What to do before an event - have a plan of what you're going to do, sleep well, do not eat a heavy meal, banish neurotic thoughts, and go through personal relaxation techniques.

During the event - step through the mental visualisation plan that gets yourself into the zone.

After the shoot - reward yourself regardless how well you did. Give yourself a good break. Other pursuits are important too. And make sure you go through rest, recuperation and rehabilitation!
This is a really good video for all of us.

ps. Look at the martial arts weapons he's got hanging on his wall!

Upcoming Articles
  • Sep 11 Criticising the Low Block
  • Sep 18 Ten Ways to Spot a Fraud in the Martial Arts
  • Sep 25 Learning Martial Arts from YouTube
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28 Aug 2017

USE OF FORCE TO F*** YOU UP [NSFW]

JDK Instructors during cool downs led by Sifu Vincent Cordeiro at IAOMAS Masters Feb 2017

No video snippets on YouTube is presented with full context. So any video is open to criticism.

Saying that, when I forwarded a clip from a RBSD self defence seminar, and where the instructor extolled the need to use techniques on his opponent that would 'fuck him up,' my black belts pointed out this was inappropriate verbal scripting - especially featuring on a public YouTube video.

Some self defence instructors while pressure testing participants need to rile you up. To press emotional buttons. They do that so you can perform under the pressure of real combat. The word 'fuck' is deployed often, as are techniques that allow self defence practitioner to indeed 'fuck a person up'. I understand where they are coming from and have no issue with that.

Our black belts however, were questioning the sharing of this training tactic, especially when broadcasted to the general public via YouTube. In our training, we talk about use of force and reasonably force. We escalate our techniques as the situation dictates, and simply use the minimum of force required to escape or stop the threat. It's not that we do not use aggressive force or cannot mount hard core physical self defence - it is that we need to promote the using of reasonable force to stop the threat that's coming their way.

From a private conversation, one of our black belts said "I appreciate a certain level of aggression is required in a self defence scenario, but I don't know about enjoying or celebrating aggression at that point." What he's saying is that aggression is needed up to a point, and when it goes beyond that, it becomes a level of violence that is unnecessary, inappropriate, it is against our tenets, something which we should not promote, and which our teaching method should actively avoid.

I'm really proud of how far we've come and our ability to juggle the conflicting pressure to do the right thing, and the positive and nurturing messages we're sharing about martial arts. If you are able, come chat with any one of JDK's instructors about the issues of martial arts and self defence.

Upcoming Posts
  • Sep 4 Beating Performance Anxiety through Proper Training
  • Sep 11 Criticising the Low Block
  • Sep 18 Ten Ways to Spot a Fraud in the Martial Arts

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21 Aug 2017

News: Style v Style Fight in Vietnam



Xu Xiaodong a Chinese MMA fighter recently knocked out a Taichi Master and went viral for issuing a challenge to other traditional stylists whom he claimed were 'frauds' has sparked other 'style v style' fights. This particular one seemed to have occurred mid July 2017 between Canadian Wing Chun exponent Pierre Francois Flores and Vietnam Karate Black Belt Đoàn Bảo Chau.

Here are some observations from the fight:

  1. Why are they fighting on a non-matted tiled floor?
  2. Does anyone notice that there's a massive weight class difference?
  3. Anyone bothered there's no referee? No mouthpieces? 
  4. 0:20 Flores asks if it's okay if he uses an open hand or closed hand striking - meaning that there were no real talks before the event to solidify ground rules.
  5. Đoàn solely depends on kicks. He has absolutely no guard up. And little or no ground experience. 
  6. 0:36 Đoàn is in trouble when Flores gets him in a standing clinch. His body shots are absorbed by Flores, and he narrowly escapes a knockout hook by Flores. He does land a glancing hook to the jaw, but because of the angle it causes little damage. 
  7. The fact he uses a side kick whilst Flores closes at 1:05 and a roundhouse at 1:06 indicates to me that he has little experience against opponents who engage in close quarter fighting. 
  8. The tackle at 1:09 by Đoàn seems to be a result of desperation rather than a tactical move. 
  9. Flores connects with a non-Wing Chun head high roundhouse kick in 1:42 that rocks Đoàn. 

While most of my observations are done from the perspective of the Vietnamese, I find this fight uneventful and non-inspiring. Đoàn seems to have little real experience in combat beyond the confines of mid to long range exchange of kicks. This was a mode of training which was in vogue 30 years ago - and he's not evolved from it. The following video is of another sparring match I found on YouTube featuring our plucky Karateka - he sure loves his side kicks.



Flores seems to blend some MMA moves with his skill set though I am unconvinced he does credit to the world of Wing Chun. I just haven't seen the breadth of his experience against a worthy opponent, and I feel like this video - especially if it goes viral, will be shared for all the wrong reasons.

This next one is of Doan practicing in his backyard.



While this is an unfair statement - unfortunately, I've seen better exchange of skill in my garage between open styles and open weight divisions. It's not that I'm saying that these two practitioners aren't quality guys - I'm pretty sure this event didn't do justice for either of them.

Here's a video of the post fight debrief ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIBDhk2MrWE

Want to see style v style that's got a little more organisation and excitement?



Colin

Upcoming Articles
  • Aug 28 Use of Force to F*** You Up [NSFW]
  • Sept 4 Performance Anxiety
  • Sep 11 Criticising the Low Block

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