Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

28 Aug 2017


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

Related Links

[Traditional Taekwondo Perth | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here

Are you a Master Instructor? Please help us by completing this survey - exploring the myth that martial art experts withhold critical information from their students in order to guarantee self preservation.

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 ...

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


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

Related Links

[Traditional Taekwondo Perth | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here

Are you a Master Instructor? Please help us by completing this survey - exploring the myth that martial art experts withhold critical information from their students in order to guarantee self preservation.

14 Aug 2017

Self-Control, Aggression, and De-escalation of Violence

The Tenets, Nijukun, and various other martial precepts call for self control of all who walk the path. Self-control seems to be a core theme for those trained to inflict violence on others.

What is the relevance of such self-control in this day and age? For the most part, the general population needs lessons in how to live life fully, rather than to avoid violence and the instigation to preserve civil peace.

Sparring - but with the switch off.

Few who undergo martial training dedicate themselves enough nor have the right guidance to really become effective as practitioners. So instructors who urge self-control are taking the moral high ground and going through the motions. For what is a head high roundhouse kick? Or the backfist you use in sparring? Most practitioners have never known true violence. They would not have advantage over criminals who are more familiar with tactics that work a damn sight better the sparring moves you might have been trained in.

I'm not saying self-control is irrelevant to the dojang. A training environment needs individuals practicing potentially dangerous techniques safely. Instructors need a student body familiar with the same preamble. Registered companies need to have the right policies and waivers in place.

When does self-control become self-defeating? The answer is when it so utterly defangs the practitioner without having prepared him or her against the unknowing face of a real threat.

Preparation isn't simply turning a kill switch on, making the student an unerring assassin. An instructor who lives in a monochromatic environment, and who spouts such classic one liners like 'better to be judged by 12 than be carried by six' or 'better him than me' or 'strike first and strike hard' is poorly equipped to guide you through the use of force for your physical self defence.

I am not a lawyer and can't pretend to know any or all the nuances of the legalities of self defence. I am however very clear that the practitioner is ethically required to use tactics that only meet the level of threat. If the attacker is stealing your wallet, you can't close off his airway. If the attacker is holding a weapon but doesn't look like they intend on using it, you can't close of his airway. If the attacker is attempting to escape, you can't pull him back into your house and close off his airway.

In summary, you really can't go 'full throttle' on an attacker unless you fear for your life. Meaning, you can't use attacks to the head or neck, and if he slips and looks like he's going to hurt himself badly - you are obligated to prevent that from happening.

Most reasonable people will be intimidated by threatening behaviour, and simply by the presence of a weapon. But when does intimidation stop and when do you feel like your life is really being threatened? More importantly, when do you feel threatened to the point where you can use self defence before the point where that blade is stabbing you repeatedly in your gut? Or when that trigger is being pulled?

The signs, if they are going to be present are not unlike what you see when you have a committed sparring opponent in front of you. It begins with a steely gaze and then maybe a face wipe - that's when you have a 'thousand yard stare' where the attacker looks everywhere but you. This dehumanisation helps to reduce you from a person to a victim. Thens there's the clenching and unclenching of fists. The deep breathing. The pacing. Movements become more cagey, more erratic, and more tense. Then there's the preemptive tightening of the body before the sudden move to strike.

Some or all of these signs will come almost all at once - and that's where you can justify your full use of force until the threat has been eliminated or when you can make your escape. Remember, you can't drag a person back to the house and finish him off at your leisure - once the threat is gone, you cannot use self defence tactics and you again become obligated to help keep the person safe - unless of course the environment continues to be a threat to your person.

What if you only train in tactics that have percussive force, where there's only one dial setting for striking power? Or if you couldn't predict where your strike will land? Or you had no clue how to lock him down and control the situation? These are some of the elements absent from most hard style training. Not only absent but probably is the cause for most hard style instructors being unable and unwilling to discuss the force continuum with students.

There is no denying the difficulty in making the leap from kicking or punching targets to handling issues like de-escalation of violence, force appropriate tactics for self defence, or  the balance between sufficient self-control and then being mature enough to turn on aggressive physical self defence.

Upcoming Articles
  • Aug 21: Wing Chun v Karate Fight in Vietnam is a Disappointing Show Proving Nothing
  • Aug 28: Use of Force to F*** You Up [NSFW]
  • Sep 4 Performance Anxiety

Related Links
[Traditional Taekwondo Perth | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here

Are you a Master Instructor? Please help us by completing this survey - exploring the myth that martial art experts withhold critical information from their students in order to guarantee self preservation.

8 Aug 2017

Toughness, Emotional Connection, and Male Depression

By all accounts, I'm tough.

But this issue of toughness, expected to be part of the male identity seems to be a larger issue which may lead to some men spiralling down the dark stairwell of male depression.

Heidi, Will, and Woody's interview with Wayne Schwass on Male Depression

I was prompted by the interview Heidi, Will and Woody had with Wayne Schwass. It is a worthy topic that they're highlighting and promoting. The central theme this is is one of emotional connection and social support.

Emotional connection apparently means men can value strength of character, what they believe people expect them to be, you know the stereotype of the strong and silent man, but have the wherewithal to connect with their social network, and then have the perspective to seek help at any instance where they slip down the slippery slope of mental depression.

For me, I am not entirely convinced by the male stereotype. I do seek physical strength, tactical combative ability, and mental toughness. I train and test myself constantly. Over the last thirty or so years, I challenge myself during so many opportunities, facing down my innate fears. However, as an individual, I am not ashamed to say there are issues which push me to seek help from physiotherapists and doctors. I mean, if you need to seek legal advice, do you shy away from this? Same thing.

Over the many years of being married, the positive of being married to a very understanding and emotionally healthy spouse is that I myself am also better at understanding what negatively affects me emotionally. And when I do, I am also able to help myself improve. It's not a final destination. It's how to be aware that you need some distance from the stress, some quiet time, a way to recreate, and to manage your total emotional well-being. It could be that it is important to be candid about the last time you, as a man, cried. But really, it is to ensure you continually manage your overall mental and physical health.

Please come visit if there's anything I can do for you.

Upcoming Articles

  • Aug 14 Self Control, Aggression, and Deescalation of Violence
  • Aug 21 News: Style v Style Fight in Vietnam
  • Aug 28 Use of Force to F*** You Up [NSFW]

Related Links

[Taekwondo Techniques | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here

7 Aug 2017

Application Training is Not Complete Training

This isn't a Seagal-is-a-hack post.

This post is about applications.

There are hard style martial art instructors (including Taekwondo instructors) right now scrambling to come up with 'applications' for their patterns. Applications are used to justify aiki-type handlocks or takedowns, esoteric knowledge, to demonstrate credibility of their forms, or perhaps to solidify their cult of personality amongst their students.

It's the new trend to train applications, you could even say it's a cult of 'applications training'.

This video in particular has no 'applications'. The sensei does not explicitly show moves from his kata or pattern then try to demonstrate what they can be used for. Notice though, the man talks for over half an hour purely on concepts. He's giving a behind-the-scenes look at how things work in his martial art. You could get hundreds of applications from the concepts he's discussing. Then in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it instant, he also does eventually say that it all comes from patterns.

Key points:
  1. These concepts can be used interchangeably with each other to take down the opponent - or take his head off. 
  2. They underlie the 'applications' people are trying to come up with from their patterns. 
  3. Training in concepts or these pre-requisite skills complement kata-based training or application training. 
If you think for JDK training is about producing applications, this is not what we're about. We we do feature a lot of applications from forms - but our training attempts to be goal-oriented. Some of what we do may look like the form, some require a stretch of the imagination, while some mix a wide variety of other techniques which don't seem to come from that particular form. What I'm saying is that the form is there to set you free - not to lock you into it.

An expert created a form once. Then I learned it. Adapted it. But that form - in its 40 over moves - does not represent the totality of that expert. You can say the form is the well wishes of a friend who has long since passed. I speak like this because when we stopped looking for overzealous mimicking of the form, we were able to see the world like how this sensei does! Shuhari, folks. 

Some industrious instructor may try to deconstruct moves to where that younger black belt was holding onto the ball and moving it around. I can just imagine them saying: "Here are one hundred applications to teach you head manipulation ...". It's like trying to paint a masterpiece using a paint-by-numbers kit.

Upcoming Articles: Please note I'm taking out Tuesday articles and only publishing articles on Monday. Having the audience that I'm reaching out to, the networks that I have, and my producing articles singly for this blog it's unsustainable to do more than one article a week, and then manage the FB page, and YouTube Channel. Thank you for understanding.
  • Aug 8 - Martial Arts and Male Depression
  • Aug 14 - Self-control, Aggression, and Deescalation of Violence
  • Aug 21 - News: Style v Style Fight in Vietnam


[Taekwondo Techniques | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here

1 Aug 2017

Do You Need to Get Struck in Practice? Do Children?

The following video shows me setting up my assistant instructor Mr Holder to receive impact. It's a demonstration to show how the arms come together in order to stop an oncoming strike. That's me holding the strike mitts and hitting his arms.

The fold of the arms is a prelude to Yop Markgi, often referred to as a Taekwondo middle block, or sometimes an outside block. Often it is trained in a one step sparring exercise where an opponent throws a centreline strike, and you 'block' this strike with the extended Yop Markgi technique.

The fold of the Yop Markgi is rarely trained to cover against attack - though many 'combative' or 'self defence' type instructors would use it liberally in close quarter fighting. In JDK, it deconstructing a technique or sequence to further understand its value is vital to our practice. For beginners, deconstructing it this way is helpful to learn parts of the technique before consolidation later in the lesson.

Obviously the deconstruction of the technique is a good topic to discuss but isn't what we are focusing on for this post. It is looking at the need to receive impact whilst performing the technique. Mr Holder folds his arms, and I am delivering a firm and committed strike towards his arm. Very soon after this video, we will be delivering the same force to both of the children.

The arms will act as shock absorbers. If the students drop their chins and are ready for the strike, the rest of the impact will dissipate into their system and go down into the floor. The strike may sting their arms a little, but by and large they wouldn't feel any pain. Whilst going through the motions, I will also increase the intensity of the strikes, upping the volume of the breath, and progressively applying forward pressure as I push them back through the line.

This is the start of desensitisation in JDK. And it is of vital importance that it accompanies the trainee as they progress through the ranks. We need for the student to keep their cool and their composure whilst facing challenges. They need to think clearly. And they need to move tactically. Can't do this if they're reduced to a tears at their first jolt. Can't do it if they get panicked by a little jarring of the body.

Lastly, can't do Taekwondo if you are just practicing a facsimile of it. These techniques require you to prepare your body for combat - deliberately and safely. If you don't know how the technique really works to protect you or how you work it to apply maximum power, well, you might be in for a rude shock when you need to make it work for you.

Mr Holder said that sometimes I look a little scary. And that's why it's important to slowly nurture those children. They need to be comfortable with the situations we're putting them through. So we have to read their readiness, and to push them just enough so they're excited to continue, and not too much that we shut them down.

Keep training folks!

Upcoming Articles
  • Aug 7 - Application training is not complete training
  • Aug 8 - Martial Arts and Male Depression
  • Aug 14 - Self-Control, Aggression, and Deescalation of Violence
Related Links
Traditional Taekwondo Perth | Testimonials | YouTube | Subscribe | Sitemap ]
Please support us by liking our FaceBook page click here
How does one get a mention on Traditional Taekwondo Perth? click here