Friday, April 6, 2012

MMA Training: Eric Wong's 3 Principles

MMA training is intense. Competitors need to know striking, grappling and, also, it doesn't hurt to be able to take a punch in the face (or does it?). What you may be curious to learn is the type of training that these fighters do in order to get ready for a match.

kenpo karate, mma training
Yes, of course they practice several martial arts in order to compete with their opponents. Most fighters experience boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay thai, kick boxing, taekwondo, karate and judo. But they also train with programs to increase their fighting prowess and agility. Eric Wong has trained several fighters with his program that relies on three principles. Two of them are specificity and periodization.

Specificity is training the body in a very specific way. for example, the best way to train your fists is by punching, no weights or resistance.

Resistance only hurts competitors. Yes it builds muscle, but resistance is not important when training. With resistance, the arms becomes accustomed to the resistance to bring it back to chamber instead of bringing it back himself. It creates dependence on the resistance to bring the fist back to chamber. He waits for the resistance but it doesn't come, costing competitors agility and timing in an important match.

Periodization is training cycles. An athlete will dedicate a certain amount of time, typically two months, in a certain area of training. This keeps the muscles from getting too complacent and also helps athletes from plateauing too quickly.

These cycles are not about martial arts training, the cycles are about other training methods, including weight training, muscle growth, flexibility and endurance.

These are two techniques offered in Eric Wong's program, Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program. Eric has many methods to train competitors of any level to get into good shape or AWESOME shape to kick some ass in the Octagon. Click Here to learn more about these training methods and the third principle that Eric created to get his fighters to the final rounds!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Martial Arts Gi

Did you know that the first martial arts uniform was the judo uniform? Kano Jigoro, the creator of judo, created the gi in 1907. The gi was designed with long, billowy sleeves for movement, as well as long, billowy pants.

Funakoshi mimicked the Jigoro design, only he used a lighter fabric than the heavy judo gis. Thus the uniform of martial arts was born!

As you've noticed most gis look the same. The design is similar; what changes is typically reflective of the school. Kenpo students will typically wear a black gi.

This gi is of kenpo style made by Piranha Gear. It's a heavy weight karate gi, made of 100% cotton canvas dyed black. Tournament length sleeves. Make sure to check your size; these run a little big, so you may want to go a size below.

This is your standard karate gi, also heavy weight made by Piranha Gear. 100% cotton canvas with tournament length sleeves.

These are both gis for the professional/serious martial artist. Beginners will want to stick to the uniforms that their masters sell. Though those gis are good, these are heavy duty awesome gis. These are ridiculously durable as well as breathable. A uniform that is comfortable and practical for the instructor or tournament junkie.

Follow the links for customer reviews.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I've been reading a lot of posts lately on the issue of bullying and I think that there are still too few. What I mean by this is that though it may seem like a simple issue, it really isn't. Kids are killing themselves because of the torment that they receive in school.

 I used to think that I was bullied when I was in school, but I've never been pushed to the point of hurting someone or taking my life. So I can't say for sure what is going on in these schools, but I will say that it isn't the school's fault.

I feel that often parents don't spend enough time with their kids. They don't share with them lessons of kindness or generosity. But this isn't always the problem. Parents are busy; both of my parents had to work to provide for a family and times now are even harder. 3 or 4 jobs split between two people is hard. These times are hard on all of us. No it really isn't the parent's fault, not entirely.

Somewhere the child was never taught respect. They never understood the concept of restraint or empathy, so they understood when they were hurting someone. Or maybe the fact is that we are just cruel on the inside.

I honestly don't know what to say here. I don't understand why some kids bully and others get bullied. I felt like I had to say something. And if you want to join the cause to stop bullying, try these places:

I personally believe that it starts at home, teaching our children that picking on others, singling them out and joining others in harassing them is wrong. Teasing is OK; teasing is a sign of love, but there is line that is crossed when it comes to bullying. Bullying is cruel and malicious. It has no love, only animosity.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Humility

I actually posted this on my hub account, so go check it out here. Other than that, I will be gone this weekend so there will be no postings.

: (

 I know you are sad, but hey here's a video of a goofy TV show from the 90's! It's relevant! It's relevant!

Have a good weekend! : )

Oh power rangers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Drive

To defend yourself, you need drive. You can't just hope that you will be able to pull this shit right out of your ass, you need to be motivated to learn all you can to do it.

Drive (not sure why I'm explaining this; if you don't know, you live in outer space) is the passion to go without stopping until you are satisfied. Drive is what makes us human. Have you ever seen a person without drive? They are uncomfortable furniture. They lay around and aren't even useful to sit in.

Kenpo karate teaches student to strive for more. As with any martial art, kenpo karate challenges students with breaking and memorizing techniques. As time progresses, the techniques become second nature and with enough experience they will be able to defend themselves with ease. It takes drive to defend oneself, no doubt about it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Guts!

So before I proceed, I wanted to add this video that brings back fond memories of old-school nickelodeon...

Mush like the TV show of the same name, a martial artist needs guts in order to defend himself. What are guts? You know beside the organs that allow your body to function properly? (Yes, I had to). Guts are a little bit of confidence as well as what makes strong leaders. Having guts can sometimes mark weather you win or lose.

Have you ever heard the term "gut feeling"? Where you have an inkling and act upon it? Well that is half of what guts is. Being able to discern a right move. This is how mushin no shin, a state I wrote about in a previous post, begins.

Gut feelings become more and more prevalent as an artist gains more experience and as they age, they will be able to enter the mushin no shin state. The other part of guts is a little less complex, and that is the courage to act on those gut feelings.

Often we rely too much on our analytical minds to decipher everything around us. We easily dismiss anything that can't be measured by a yard stick, so gut feelings have little to know baring. However, aside from the mind and the body, a human being also has a soul and the soul is also capable of sensing, we are just not tuned into it.

It is these radical ideas that sound so silly when spoken aloud (or written in a blog). So that's the reason why many choose not to listen to their gut; it is not the eyes, nor the ears, nor hands, tongue or nose and therefore it is uttery erroneous.

Sarcasm... sarcasm... I have experienced these myself and I can appreciate the need for further study before you take me seriously. However that is what guts are to me.

In the matter of defending yourself, it is hard to listen to this feeling all the time. You'll want to ignore it at first and when you do, things won't typically work out that well. When you do listen, often times they work out fine. Not always but usually.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Leadership

Leadership is a crucial skill in the world today. Without it, it can be extremely hard to succeed in business or in just about anything. Leaders lead the way into the future. They do not just follow the path that of those before them, they are constantly learning and creating new things.

They are also great examples and inspire their friends, family, subordinates with their charisma and their take charge attitude. It may seem hard to believe, but kenpo teaches students this too. Students often are chosen to lead classes and teach new students. This helps them remember and also learn how to articulate what it is they have learned in class.

Now when it comes to defending yourself, leadership comes from confidence. A leader is born when he/she has the confidence to accept the duties that they have in becoming a leader. As a martial artist, your duty is to defend yourself and others, preferably for a just cause (personally, if it is not a just cause then you are not a martial artist). And in that respect you become the leader that you were taught to be through the training in your dojo.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Confidence

When it comes to defending yourself, you need to have confidence to do it. It you act meek in a hostile situation it means one of two things: 1, you are misdirecting your opponent to catch them by surprise or (and mostly likely) you are in fact a meek minded person who is easily trampled.

Can you defend yourself with kenpo karate? Yes! ...That is if you believe that you can.

Often we compare ourselves to the greats. We watch movies with Jackie Chan and Jet Li and see how amazing they are and we immediately think that we could never perform at that level, beat all the bad guys and win the girl at the end... Well of course you can't if you don't even try!

I'm not saying that by "believing" you can, you will be able to defeat three assailants at once without any training, I'm saying that with the training that kenpo karate gives you, you can defend yourself.

First off, those tricky moves in the movies, though they are flashy without proper practice, you could not pull those off. Unless you trained like Jackie and Jet. If you believe you can do them and practice them everyday and some how magically get into such a sticky situation, then yes you could. But you don't need to. What you want is to take out your opponent in one move. Too much energy is wasted on making the stunts they do interesting. Not really practical in a real fight.

So now you understand that comparing yourself to the greats is dumb, you need to realize the power inside yourself. Training in kenpo karate develops much of the young martial artist. As a student progresses through the ranks, they get stronger, faster, more agile, longer stamina and, of course, more confidence in dealing with a life threatening situation.

The martial arts, as I've said time and time again, is not so much about building the body as it is about building the mind and spirit. As you progress, you learn timing, your reach and also you find the inner tiger within you that can stand up against anyone.

Confidence can be attained through other methods as well. However, there is no fast way to do so. It takes a lot of effort on the part of the student. But if you really want it, you can strive to find it within yourself.

If you have good self-esteem, you typically have good confidence. How you view yourself is key. If you keep comparing yourself to the greats like Chan and Li, you will always be seeking their confidence and not your own. Start with you first!

  • Compliment yourself when you do something well. You don't have to do it out loud; people might stare... But take some pride in the good work you do (will talk more about this later).
  • Maintain a positive attitude. This is the most played out saying in the history of the world... but it's true. No matter what, if you decide you are going to have a good day or believe that you can do anything and take down any opposition the day throws at you, you will have a great day.
  • If you fail, try again. Failure is only a means of finding the way; it is not a end all situation where if you fail life ends. We often forget this. Especially teens... You can't take life too seriously or you won't be able to get over the hurdles that are constantly there. Remember that life isn't hard, it's how you use the gifts you got and kick the world's ass. DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY! :)
If you're an avid reader (I'm guessing you are if you read this far) there are a lot of books that can give you more tips on building self-esteem and confidence. I'm an avid reader myself and enjoy self-improvement reads (I know not everyone is), but if you want to give these books a try, I've found them pretty useful in terms of confidence building:

As somewhat of an introvert, I found these to be pretty helpful for me. So I hope you enjoy them too. Well, thanks for reading and I will continue this series tomorrow. Till then...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Can I Fight Back?

For all beginners of kenpo karate, you may wonder if learning a martial art is helpful or a waste of time. Growing up, I wasn't sure about it myself. In fact I would say that I really didn't become a black belt until I got my 2nd degree.

I'm not very supportive of belt systems. I understand their function; they represent skill level. However, even if you have the knowledge doesn't mean you know how to use it. This may seem like a weird way to begin a pro martial arts shpeal, but just give me time. : )

There are some white belts out there that act like black belts and there are some black belts that act like white belts. Unfortunately I have been the latter. My sensei had a word for it: paper tiger. It may look like a tiger, but it is made of paper and is no more fearful than a mouse.

I was unfortunately a paper tiger for a long time. I was big; i had strength, but as far as being a black belt, I was not. It took a real kick in the pants for me to take training seriously... but that is a story for another time.

What I will say now is what we in the writing business call a thesis statement... So yeah, kenpo karate or any martial art teaches a student how to defend him/herself. Yes, you can fight back. That is not the proper question. The proper question is will you fight back.

Like anything else, the amount of time and effort you put into kenpo karate makes all the difference. You can just barely pass your tests and gain that black belt, but if you don't put in the real sweat to go above and beyond, you are not a real black belt. Becoming a real black belt takes guts and drive. You need to be a leader and you need to have confidence in yourself. And humility goes a long way too.

Those are the main components to make a black belt. Let me rephrase that: those are the components you need to be able to defend yourself. There are plenty of street fighters that can defend themselves and the only black belt they have, they got from wal-mart. What do they have? confidence, leadership, guts...

They don't have drive, because if they did they wouldn't be thugs. And they don't have humility because they are not eager to learn. That is the difference between being a black belt and being a street fighter.

I'm going to end this for now, because I have some good ideas for future posts from this one. Check back for updates, but let me repeat myself: by learning kenpo karate you can fight back, you can defend yourself and you can win.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mushin No Shin

Mushin no shin, something that I like to call the Void Mindset, is the state of mind that comes when you are not thinking at all. The Japanese call mushin no shin or mind without mind. The Koreans call it moo sim or empty mind, but they mean exactly what I was talking about in the earlier post.

Mushin no shin is hard to understand since we are all familiar with the “I think therefore I am” phrase, but it is in fact a state where the unconscious mind is at work.

In order to achieve mushin no shin, one must be free of all thought and by this I mean free from emotions and ego.

Emotions are typically reactions to interactions. These may be good or bad interactions, which will vary in results. For instance if a person angers you, you may find it hard to think about anything other than that person for the rest of the day. This of course also happens during a more positive interaction.

A list of common emotions that will impede mushin no shin are, but are not limited to:
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Joy
  • Guilt
  • Pleasure
  • Happiness
  • Amused and so many more.
Ego is also affects achieving mushin no shin. Ego is much more complicated because it deals with how you view yourself as well as what actions you should/would take in order to do/get what you want.

Our conscious thinking is what impedes mushin no shin. The unconscious mind is filled with all the knowledge that the conscious mind has as well as much more. In kenpo karate, mushin no shin would help you defend and attack effortlessly. Your body and mind fully understand the techniques and react accordingly to whatever stimuli applied.

This state is not just for martial arts, it is used in everyday life without you knowing. For me, a common example is driving. I often find myself in that state (not being conscious of it) while I’m on the road. I am a very comfortable driver and so I don’t need full consciousness (that sounds reckless).

Mushin no shin comes with years and years of practice in one area. When you are comfortable and enjoy what it is you are doing, you may find yourself slipping into mushin no shin. This is a good thing, because you will often accomplish things you didn’t think possible.

Now I’m not saying that you totally slip out of consciousness. It is just that you are not aware of consciousness at all. There is no you; there is only the action and usually success.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Be the Lion

There's a movie that I like called Poolhall Junkies. It wasn't a great movie or anything many would remember, but Christopher Walken had a great line in it near the end, and I think it applies to kenpo karate.
You watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? You got this lion. He's the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He's laying under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He's so big, it's so hot. He doesn't want to move. Now the little lions come, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn't do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. They start to move in. The jackals; hyenas. They're barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that's in his domain. They do this, then they get closer and closer, bolder and bolder. Till one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is.
 I say this because as a lion, a kenpo karate student must be able to stand up for themselves. There comes a time (usually for young students) when they may be bullied or picked on by someone looking to prove themselves. The martial artist must not back down.

However, it is also the martial artist's job to pick their battles. There is not reason to fight a person for fighting's sake. Also, to fight someone over words is not the best time to fight either. Only fight when you absolutely have to and not to show off or be a bully. A true martial artist knows that. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Gun Defense

I was watching some of these videos and I thought that I would post them here. All are kenpo karate techniques that defend against guns. Enjoy!

The first three are from the American Center for Chinese Studies and the last is Expert Village.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Grasp of Death

Yup it's that time again where I go over a technique in kenpo karate and give you a possible counter if you find yourself in that situation.

Grasp of Death is a defense against a side headlock. You would be bent over with your head locked in your opponents right arm. To escape, you turn your chin towards the wrist to make sure you can breath. After that, take your left leg and step forward in order to jab your knee into their calf in order to get his knee to buckle.

After that, with your left hand, either grab he thigh very close to the knee or grab the groin itself. This should make your opponent release your head. Escape and grab his arm, step in front of him to make it harder to retaliate against you and then arm-bar the arm you have a hold of to throw him to the ground.

After that running or some sort of technique to the head is good.

Now let's say that for some reason you have an opponent in this situation and he proceeds to use this technique on you. There is a chance that you will have your groin grabbed, which is not a happy feeling at all. Odds are that he will at least buckle your knee and that will be your indication that he is performing the Grasp of Death. However, in most cases, your balls will be grabbed simultaneously.

Focus on the head lock. Keep your arm tight and drop to your knees. He'll have to come down too. Once your on your knees, sit on his hand (if its still there). It will probably hurt, but the sudden shift of you kneeling with him still in the choke hold will more than likely make him need his hand to support himself on the ground.

If you can sit on it, he will have to submit to the ground. There would not be much he could do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shaolin Soccer

So I watched Shaolin Soccer this weekend, and I figured I'd give a review of it for all you avid readers out there... or something.

Great movie! I love the style of Stephen Chow and company. I've only seen Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, but both are very fun. Basically Stephen Chow's movies use a lot of the same humor you would find in a cartoon. For instance, slipping on a banana peel. It may sound like an old gag, but it is very entertaining to watch a live rendition of the act.

And much like any anime series, the practice of kung fu makes every master a super hero. Like Steel Leg (Stephen Chow's character in Shaolin Soccer), who can kick a soccer ball so high into the sky that it could possibly bring down a satellite.

His movies are also filled with memorable characters. Like the best friend who wants nothing to do with him. Or the accountant who is nothing but numbers and probability. Much like a cartoon, the characters are relatively one dimensional, but that is partially what makes his movies so entertaining.

There is character development, don't misunderstand. The story focuses on a washed up soccer star who wants to show up his old rival and create his own, all-star soccer team and also Stephen Chow's character who has been trying to spread the way of kung fu to everyone in China.

Good movie! So check it out! And that's it for me. Sooooo... Talk atcha later!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Calm and Balance

It may surprise many to know that kenpo karate isn't about punching and kicking. Though the art of kenpo karate did arise from a need to defend one's self, it has become something much more than that. Kenpo karate can also be described as a way to find balance and calm.

Like yoga, kenpo is about movement and focusing your movement. Though it isn't bending and stretching, kenpo karate stretches the mind to think in new ways instead of the old.

For many, maintaining a cool mind can be very hard. Often we would prefer to lash out with our emotions instead of keeping a collect face. Through the study of kenpo karate or any other martial art, one can become as cool as a cucumber without stressing any common instigators.

Some tips on staying calm:

  1. Before you react, think about what is actually going on. Why is your temper rising? Who or what is making it or is it something deeper?
  2. Take some deep breaths and think about something else. Breathing helps the body relieve stress and taking your mind off the stresser can cool your head. I recommend something funny.
  3. Try to understand the point of view of the stresser. Why are they acting this way and what can I do to help.
If they are just trolling or are a hateful, angry person, there is very little you can do, so just move on.

Balance is keeping your mind, body and soul positive. Being positive is better than being negative because it creates a more enjoyable atmosphere for everyone. Being negative is an easier path, and often feels good for a while, but in the long run it only makes you unhappy. By maintaining a positive balance, you can enjoy a better life.

Staying in balance is much like staying calm. Think positive; I know it sounds lame, but if you picture the positives as well as what you want to do in life, you will stay more focused on achieving those goals and create a happier you than before.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Universal Kempo Karate Association

Some history of the Universal Kempo Karate Association and some basics performed by the black belts of tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Captured Twigs

Captured Twigs is a kenpo karate defensive technique used to defend against a bear hug from behind. The attacker attacks from behind, bear hugging the defender and capturing his arms in the bear hug. The defender pins the attacker's hands in place by grabbing with his left hand.

Then the defender steps to 9 o'clock with his left leg and squats into a horse stance, bringing with him the attacker, who now has to bend to keep the bear hug in place. As you step into the horse stance, your right hand should be in a hammer fist and striking the attacker in the groin. This will obviously stun the attacker.

This stunning technique should make the attacker loose his grip on the bear hug. At this point the defender lets go and gets the attacker's right hand away with a palm block. Also in this instant the defender will step his right foot into the 5 o'clock position.

Next the defender strikes with an elbow strike to the attacker's chin. After that right hand checks the attacker's right arm while the left hand guards the face and the right leg goes to a cat stance. And finally the defenders does a right snapping knife-edge kick to the inside of the right knee. That is Captured Twigs.

Now if yo have to defend against this, the prime objective you have is to guard your nuts. You may take several shots to the balls if you are not careful and make sure your opponent is completely in front of you the whole time. When your opponent steps into the horse stance, quickly move behind him to avoid the groin shot.

At this point you will be bent over. Depending on your relationship with ground fighting, you may want to knock out his knees and pin him to the ground. If not, you may be able to strike him in the balls from behind.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Getting Rest

So, I'm sick, and yet here I am writing another article. It wouldn't be an issue really to take a day off, but I promised to make an entry every day, so here I go.

Being sick sucks. I just came down with a cold and I'm feeling sooooooooooooooooooo tired. I tried to take a nap, but that didn't seem to work, because I was worried about you guys in cyber space. :)

But as one martial artist to another, in order to be at your best, you need to rest (that rhymed! yay me!)

Though you may feel that you need to practice every day and also that you can put a little more effort to increase your skill level, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off.

Sometimes we press ourselves too hard trying to accomplish much in a short amount of time. But all that does is make us hate whatever it is we're doing. You can't follow the Way if you hate it. It will become a burden that will eventually be too hard to carry.

So some tips to keep up your strength:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids
  2. Eat plenty of protein and vegetables
  3. When your body, mind or soul is tired, rest and let it rest until it is ready for more training.
Thanks; it's nap time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Short 1 Kata

Step right into a horse stance with hands in chamber position.

This kata demonstrates the four basic blocks, done twice, while moving your horsestance around.To further illustrate, each the kata is like this:
- Block two punches from the north with inward blocks. Turn your head and see the attack from your left and yell, "kiaa"
- Block two punches from the west (left) with outward blocks. Turn your head and see the attack from over your left shoulder and yell, "kiaa"
- Block two punches from the east (behind you) with upwards blocks. Then you turn your head and see the attack from the right and yell, "kiaa"

- Block two kicks from the south (your right) with your downwards blocks. Turn your head and see the finish, "kiaa"

- Return to start position and bow out.
Please refer to the video for further instruction:

That should give you a demonstration of how to do the form. Please check out more videos from <a href="">Shodanx</a>

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kenpo Karate: 5 Intangibles

With all the hype that mixed martial arts brings to the martial arts community, many individuals are led to believe that kenpo karate is just another sports. The truth is that often schools forget what the core of the kenpo karate training is.

A dojo is not a gym. It is not a place where kenpo students can get a vigorous workout and just mark another tally off their to do list (though that can sometimes happen). The dojo is a classroom where students learn more than just how to defend themselves.

There are five lessons that a kenpo student learns when immersed in a martial art: discipline, perseverance, integrity, courtesy and intelligence.

Discipline sounds like a naughty word. The world equates it to a punishment, but the truth about discipline is that it is a way to learn control. The kenpo student disciplines their mind to focus on the task at hand. They discipline their bodies through practice and the their minds through study and asking questions. Discipline also teaches a student to quiet their minds, bodies and souls to achieve a sort of internal understanding which develops as the student progresses.

Perseverance is a very important lesson. No one should believe that the obstacle is too big to defeat. They should realize that there is always a way to solve every problem and a different perspective for each lesson. It is through perseverance that a kenpo student grows and blooms into a martial artist.

Integrity is a word that had more weight than a fist or foot. With integrity a kenpo student earns respect from their peers as well as those above them. It also keeps those more aggressive from striking out at one out of respect.

Courtesy is a great way to treat everyone. Be kind, gentle, thoughtful and respectful. It is an art that is often discarded as weak, but in reality it is a hard path that only those with true discipline can travel.

Intelligence is something that a kenpo student gains through constant practice and study. Some students are gifted with vast intelligence while others struggle to understand the more complex matters of life. True intelligence is earned through study and a student who does not study is not a martial artist.

Though kenpo karate is written off as a sport, it is much more than that and to believe that it is just another way to shed some pounds is ignorant. Now most sports strive to teach these intangibles, which they should, but often they are not as easily absorbed as with martial arts. The difference here is that through kenpo karate study a student focuses on the internal and not so much on the scoreboard.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Deflecting Hammer

Deflecting Hammer is technique number four in the list of techniques learned for American Kenpo Karate yellow belt test.

Deflecting Hammer is a kenpo karate technique that defends against a right front kick. The defender shuffles back diagonally, just enough to avoid the kick while also deflecting it with a right downward hammer. This keeps the attacker's momentum going forward, leading him to a possible right hand punch. The defender then left hand blocks the elbow and right elbow strike to the neck or face.

In this instance, it is hard to determine a proper counter. If you were in the position of using a front kick defend yourself against a kenpo karate attacker, they would use your forward momentum against you and use it for their ultimate elbow strike.

One defense comes to mind: instead of following up with a punch, plant your foot after the hammer deflection; you'll know what is coming anyway since you know this defense as well. Plant your right foot and immediately turn and do backside kick. This keeps your momentum going forward and will be a little surprise to your attacker who may not be ready for this type of follow up.

You may even try a turn and left outer swordstrike to the neck.

As always, give me you feed back below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Swords of Destruction

By now you've figured out that I am going through techniques in the yellow belt test for American Kenpo Karate. Sword of Destruction is very similar to Delayed Sword. In fact they are practically the same technique only in this case you are defending against a left hook punch instead of a right punch.

Left hook comes at your temple, your left foot steps to the 8:00 position while blocking with your right arm. You counter with a right front kick to the groin and then right swordstrike to the neck. Essentially Delayed Sword from the other side.

Now for a possible counter to this technique if it should be used against you. Your opponent is stepping inside after blocking your punch. You know he's going for your groin so you have a couple of options:
  1. You can use the similar counters from Delayed Sword.
  2. Step your left leg back to 5:00 position and right side kick into the chest followed by a left straight punch or any varying techniques that don't interrupt the flow of the side kick. This counter would also work in Delayed Sword.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Alternating Maces

Alternating Maces is another technique in Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate. Like the previous post, it is required for yellow belt promotion, and I will try my best to come up with a suitable defense against it.

As I've said, a skilled kenpo karate student is very fast. Delayed Sword and Alternating Maces are two techniques taught at the beginner level, but like I said before, your basics are your bread and butter.

Alternating Maces is a technique that defends against a two armed push, the kind that may be used in a school fight or possibly a bar. The defender rotates the hips and right inner block and push down on the arms. Just a fluid motion of blocking and pushing down (I hate to use the term blocking here, because it isn't really a block, but it is close enough).

Because the attacker initiated with a push, chances are that his momentum will keep him going forward. The defender then punches (left handed) the solar plexus to stop the opponent. After this stop, the defender uses a back fist to the temple.

A couple of things come to mind. 1, as the attacker's arms are pushed downward, the attacker's motion is directed downward and forward. What a I give to those who are defending against another kenpo artist who does the common defense of Alternating Maces is a kamikaze attack: a forward roll.

Because your arms are going down anyway, direct your hands down to start the roll. More than likely your opponent will not see this coming. As you are rolling, your legs go up. If you can miraculously kick him in the face, kudos to you. However, if he is an amazing artist, he will be able to counter this with a jump back, so you must be able to land on your feet.

2, You know what is coming next after the pushing down of your arms: a punch. If you are able to redirect your velocity, you can avoid it. Swing your back leg (at the time of conflict) to the side of the other leg in order to go sideways and either inside his body or outside.

On the inside of the punch, their is a possible counter of your punch to his solar plexus. On the outside, you could punch into the arm pit or you could wrap your arm under his armpit and then around his neck and put him into a full nelson.

If anyone has any other ideas, comment below. I'd like to know.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Karate Kenpo: Delayed Sword

I want to start a series on kenpo karate techniques and go over possible counters to them. Though a kenpo karate student may know how to do the technique, what would happen if another artist should happen to use it on them? I'd like to disect the technique, and find a counter.

As most of you know, Delayed Sword is a technique from Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate school required for a student to recieve their yellow belt. Though yellow is still a beginning belt, your earliest techniques are almost always a martial artist bread and butter. To begin, I'll describe the technique.

Delayed Sword is a technique that counters a right hand punch or grab. Regardless of initial technique, the technique counters the right hand of the opponent.

The attacker punches with the right hand. The defender blocks with a right inward block, knocking the punch away and then follows with a right outward downward diagonal handsword strike to the attacker's neck.

After that strike, the defender uses a right front scoop kick to the groin to finish off the technique, then planting the right foot into a left neutral bow stance.

Now because you know the technique, you should be able to defend against it, right? Well with all kenpo karate techniques, speed is invaluable. Your opponent will be quick if they are as used to the technique as you should be. However, I believe that if you are just as quick, you can catch your opponent unaware.

So you punch and your opponent initiates the Delayed Sword technique. You know what is coming and if your opponent is using this technique, he should be be fast. You have to be faster.

After he blocks your right hand punch and is about to move in with the sword strike, pivot on your left and step your right leg back. This way you should be facing your opponent's back or side.

From here, you may be able to do a roundhouse kick to your opponent's chest. However the reach may be too far. I would suggest instead using your left foot and attacking the right knee.

As you step back, your opponent may be off balance; your neck has moved and isn't as easy to hit correctly. This will confuse the novice kenpo artist, and, as this counter is new, may surprise the seasoned warrior.

Your opponent may be off balance from the swordstrike, making a knee kick similar to the final ax strike to a falling tree.

That is my counter. If you would like, please tell me any problems or other variations in the comments below.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Yin Yang

As a youngen, I didn't understand what the yin yang was. All I knew about it was that is was Asian and that all the cool people wore them. So of course I had to have a medalion too.

What I heard about it was that it was a representation of opposites. Light and dark, right and wrong, cold and hot, stuff like that. But now I come to realize that though yin yang does symbolize opposites, it doesn't entail absolute opposite.

Yin yang is a symbol representing complementary opposites, meaning that neither is absolute but both exist in a system, differing in approaches...

Really it is really hard to describe. The best way to describe it is in terms of kenpo karate artists. One kenpo karate artist may view kenpo karate as an art-form, purely seeking knowledge and learning. The other seeks strength and learns as a means to defeat his opponents by fighting and gaining experience.

As it relates to the way of strategy, both systems reach for knowledge but in differing ways. By study, a kenpo artist will find many ideas in the Way. By fighting, a kenpo artist gains experience that allows them to go farther.

Fighting is the best way because experience teaches better than a book. However, in practicing the movements, an artist at least will gain the musculature to perform when needed. But by far real experience is the best teacher.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kenpo Karate: 10 Hand Strikes

Kenpo karate is an art that contains many techniques. These listed below are 10 hand strikes that a kenpo karate student would learn:
  1. Straight punch - stays palm up while in chamber position at the hip, but when fully extended, knuckles go up. 
  2. Vertical punch - starts palm up, like the straight punch, but when released from the chamber position, the knuckles are vertical with the thumb up.
  3. Inward hand sword - palm up to shoulder and, using the blade of the hand (pinky side), strike the neck of the opponent, going inward.
  4. Outward hand sword - palm down, raising arm across the chest, strike the neck going outward.
  5. Palm heel - like a straight punch, strike using the palm in a thrust motion.
  6. Back knuckle - raising fist to opposite shoulder, strike using the back of the hand, preferably the knuckle.
  7. Finger thrust - open hand, fingers slightly spread, and jab.
  8. Finger poke - using index and middle finger together, strike withe a thrust. Typically to eyes or soft vulnerable areas.
  9. Inward slice - using index and middle finger, slice across the eyes from outside to in.
  10. Outward slice - using index and middle finger, slice across the eyes from inside to out.
Those are ten hand strikes used in kenpo karate.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kenpo Karate: In Regards to Art

Every martial art is special... Does that sound as cheesy to you as it does to me? Regardless, every martial art, whether it be kenpo karate or kung fu, brings something good to the table. But what is also created when a martial artist begins to learn a way is an integration of personality and art.

Every martial artist is different. This goes primarily to body type. Usually big martial artists are strong and built to take a hit, whereas smaller martial artist are more agile and have to be more precise in their targets.

This is not a rule, however. At my school, my master loved jumping kicks. Being a big kid, I wasn't great at them, but as I grew up in the school, I became much more agile than I would had I not had to do all those jumping kicks.

Each master teaches skills to what they excel at, that is why so many schools are broken off and also why so many arts teach different techniques. This is not to say that kenpo karate and kung fu are the same but rehashed arts. Every art has it's home, but every master makes it their own and in turn teaches their pupils the techniques and skills they excel at as well as the skills they not excel at, giving more emphasis on their own style.

This is good because every artist is different. My school loved kicks, however I was more into punching and hand techniques. Therefore, hand techniques are a strong center in my art. I still know the kicks and can perform some of the more advanced techniques, however I preferred to keep my legs grounded at the time.

This was strictly because (and here I am, handing out my darkest secrets) I believed that kicking was like handing your foot to your opponent.This is erroneous in the fact the same can be said for a hand, but loosing your balance and falling to the ground could lead to loss--depending on your confidence in the grappling arts.

This comes to my next point: whatever art you study, it is important to remember that it is only a foundation art. Foundation art meaning it is the art that sets the ground for further study. Study all arts and learn the weaknesses and strengths. Continue until you are confident in your ability completely. That is the Way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Do Nothing Which is of No Use

I like to think of this passage like idle hands... but really what Miyamoto was talking about was all the extra movements a martial artist might do that does not lead to a victory.

I will admit I love watching talented martial artists show their stuff with complicated manuevers and flips and spins when performing a kata or weapon demonstration, and frankly that is ok. Miyamoto was strictly speaking about one on one fighting. The battle shouldn't last too long and the martial artist should be interested only in movements that dispatch his/her opponent quickly. Though it may take skill to coregraph a flip or two into a fight, there are too many things that could go wrong with it.

If you are up against a skill martial artists and you use such acrobatics, it will be easy for your opponent to trip you up. Your focus should be on your opponent, not on foot and hand placement for some acrobatic technique.

Let me be clear, you do want to focus on your foot and hand placement, but only on the points they will be striking on the body of your opponent (so many prepositions...)

Acrobatics are fun and can really add flair to your art. I am not saying that they are bad to practice, but when you are in a real fight, they can become more of a liability. There are, however, ways to make your acrobatics combat ready. Turning back flips into kicks to the chin is an obvious maneuver. However without proper practice and training, your flip kicks will not be effective. And once again, against a martial artist opponent, it will be difficult to pull off.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Pay Attention, Even to Trifles

This means to pay attention to every detail of your opponent. Take in their size and their movements because you may find something that will aid in your victory.

It is easy to see from a person's walk what kind of mind they have. Do they have confidence? Are they self-conscious? These are things that can be perceived with enough training and people watching.

Also pay attention to the way they fight. Do they attack first? What do they lead off with? Are they switching up their attacks? Do they favor a hand or a foot? Pay close attention to every detail of your opponent to answer these questions.

It may seem like these questions are pointless, but through experience and training, you begin to notice certain things about how a person fights. You can see what techniques they prefer and also how they like to attack.

That's really all there is to it. Pay attention to every detail of your opponent's movement. In time, you will be able to discern what is what. Also remember that an experienced martial artist will use tricks to confuse their opponent. They will monitor their actions and movements and devise tactics to throw you off balance. Become aware of this and learn to adapt to any situation.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Perceive What Cannot Be Seen

Perception can mean a lot of things. For instance, the most common mode of perception for any person is the senses. Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste are common tools for perception. Intuition is another, but is a less common mode of perception. In kenpo karate, and other martial arts, perception is a little different.

Perception is knowing without consciousness. Hard to understand? Yes it is; it is even harder to put into words. True perception comes with experience and training. The more experience an artist has, the higher his/her perception is... Though that is not always true.

You may be an experienced martial artist, but you may have yet to rely on true perception as a tool. However, the more I think about it, it becomes impossible for me to believe that a martial artist who practices the Way and has a high awareness of himself and the world around him, could ever not have true perception. The experienced martial artist would have to be extremely lacking in true experience to not have developed this to even the slightest level.

Perception is essentially intuition, but goes beyond it to action without thought. So without really conceiving an intuitive thought, perception comes and the body of a martial artist takes control and strikes before an opponent can dispatch him.

It is a hard topic to talk about. Perception, in my experience, comes to those who are practicing and watching. It is something that should come to any martial artist who is in the Way.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Developing Intuitive Judgement

Developing intuition can be a bad thing, and when I say that, I'm not implying that intuition its self is bad but the person who is developing it may not completely understand what intuition is.

As I understand intuition, it is feeling in your gut that something isn't right or that something is going to happen. Often it is hard to know the "what" but sometimes intuition tells you exactly why you are having the "gut" feeling.

The reason why intuition can be a bad thing is because many have strong ideological backgrounds, and they perceive the world as they wish it were instead of how it is. There is nothing wrong with having ideals, it's when you allow them to cloud your "reality" thinking that can screw up your intuitive judgement.

Developing intuitive judgement takes all the skills we talked about before, especially understanding people and the various ways that exist in the world. Thinking honestly is also key when it comes to intuitive development, because if you are always thinking of how it should be, you will have a hard time perceiving how it is.

So the best thing to remember when developing intuition is to test it (like everything else). You'll get a feeling, that is fact, but where the feeling comes from is debatable. Wait to see if the conclusion you came to is fact or fiction. If the conclusion is, by any means, something that could harm someone else, take action right away. Better safe than sorry. But many of your intuitive thoughts will be about things that are less than life-changing. The last intuitive thought I received was simply about my choice of parking. Ignoring it, I found that I was right and that I had to move my car.

They can be anything and sometimes they can be nothing. Test your intuitions and continue to study because study and training are the only ways to develop your intuition.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Distinguish Between Gain and Loss

In every action, remember there is gain and loss. In some situations, you will be met with a loss and in others you will be met with gain, each will happen and it is best not to dwell on either. Forget the loss and remember the gain--to the best of your ability--but never dwell on either. To dwell will make you sloppy.

In every decision, there is a gain or a loss. It is why we must make decisions. Whether the gain be large or small, or likewise the loss, there will be one every time. In strategy it is wise to remember this and also to observe these potential outcomes in order to make the best decision.

In kenpo karate, many of our techniques are rapid and flowing and involve a series of strikes and grabs. If you are caught by a strong kenpo karate fighter, you may have to choose where to block--which part of your body is best to protect.

Hopefully you would know and understand the technique, and if that's the case you may have a counter. If you have not devised counters for techniques, you may want to start. It is good to understand the potential outcomes of any attack with a clever counter. This may throw off your opponent, but remember he/she may be cleverer.

Know when to retreat and know when to advance. If your opponent is strong, weigh the options.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Know the Ways of all Professions

For this one, I'm going to provide a link to another blog that I have read recently. It just seemed like a better article than the one that I had in mind. So click here for Steven Barnes article Musashi #4.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Become Acquainted with Every Art

In order to grow, a student must become familiar with different arts. This is not limited to martial arts or to differing styles of kenpo. It is best to learn all arts.

Schools in the US have had a little bit of a problem with this action. It is common to view art classes as a waste of time because the student isn't solving some sort of elaborate equation or coming up with a cure for cancer. But it is through art that one learns to deviate and think outside the box, which often comes to answers and cures.

Art is a way for the mind to relax and stress, depending on the task. It is not more or less important than any other subject matter.

That being said, a martial artist should strive to perceive how art can influence their own style. The animal styles were influenced by the observation of animals and then the rigid training of the masters. Caligraphy can help a swordsman with his swordsplay. Miyamoto encourages writing and painted many beautiful paintings in his lifetime.

Art is important to release our own inner potential and can help us achieve more when we take the time to discover it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Way is in Training

Second in the principles of Miyamoto and kenpo karate is "the way is in training." As I stated in a previous article, there are many ways. Depending on the direction you are going, you can find a path that leads anywhere. But the Way here is talking about the way of a martial artist.

The Way is not something that is taught, it is learned. The cliche is tired, I know, but it is the truth. One only learns the Way. And the way that one learns the Way is through the instruction of a teacher who knows the Way. How do you know that they know the Way? You don't, because you do not know what the Way is until you get there.

The first principle "do not think dishonestly" goes in hand with this one. Your teacher must not think dishonestly; that is one way to know for sure. And the only way to know that your teacher is not thinking dishonestly is to question what he/she says, research and discover. In doing that, you may be able to uncover whether or not they know the Way.

The Way comes with training. You may learn all the techniques quickly and even have a knack at sparring, kata and all other focuses in the martial arts, but only through years of training will you find the Way itself. It comes and goes as you train and you will be able to perceive it only while you are on it.

It is not something you can find on a map, it is something instinctual. The same way that birds learn to fly and fish learn to swim. It is inside them already; it is not something to focus upon nor is it something easily grasped or put into words. But it is something that comes to those who put their passion into the martial arts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Do Not Think Dishonestly

Do not think dishonestly is one of the 9 principles written by Musashi Miyamoto and adopted by the kenpo karate community. It is not so much concerned with lying (though lying is not a very good action either) but rather a Christian practice of not relying on one's own understanding.

For instance kenpo is a martial art that originates from China but grew up in Japan. Some may say that kenpo is a form of kung fu based on this logic, however by today's standards kenpo doesn't resemble any known kung fu. So though it may have come from China, kenpo was brought up in Japan and was influenced by Japanese customs and martial arts.

There kenpo is not kung fu. But because some may believe that it is, that is a form of thinking dishonestly. Those who believe that kenpo is kung fu are relying on their own understanding. Just because the ground that you are standing on is supposedly flat, does not mean the world itself is flat.

Miyamoto prescribed study and perception in order for students of strategy to learn. It was through these actions that martial artists can see the differences. If there is something that I can add to this thought, it is to never take any information given to you at face value. Always research and test those who are your teachers before accepting their truths.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kenpo Karate and the Arts of War

Martial arts were created as a way to defend one's self. Kenpo itself was created by Shaolin monks after a visit from an Indian wanderer. He taught them the art which was not called kenpo at the time so that they could defend their temple from marauders. The Yoshidas brought "kenpo" to Japan after they created their own temple. And kenpo karate was born as it intermingled with the culture and other martial art forms in the area.

All martial arts have similar tales; there is not one that is better than the rest. Miyamoto encouraged his students of strategy to seek all arts of war and learn from them. They all have flaws; they all have strengths. They each teach a way to discipline the body and mind and give students a closer link to the third element of all human beings: the soul.

So when a teacher says that his way is the best, remember that it is not the way, it is the student. The student is the one who takes the art and makes it what it is.

Bruce Lee took his art and turned it into Jeet Kune Do by adding various art forms. He recognized what his style lacked and created his own style to make up for the flaws... however even his style is not flawless. That would imply a state of perfection which is impossible for human beings (insert Chuck Norris joke here).

I write this post because I read an article written by a teacher who thought his style was best. He chastised another style for the way that its students practiced. In his pride he challeged any martial artist to fight him in the ring so he could show them how a real martial artist spars.

It is foolish for him to do this. Though his confidence may not be misplaced and he may be the best of his time, to chastise an art based solely on one day's experience is pure foolishness.

Each art has it's place. As one way focuses on techniques more than others, still another art makes up for it by focusing on what the first lacks. Learn all that you can about all ways and create your own style; in this Bruce Lee is a true artist to develop his art: a true contribution to the arts of war.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Belt System... I'm griping!

This may sound heretical, but I'm not sure I really like the belt system. In my master's school, we the students would often listen to lectures on what being a black belt meant. For instance, a black belt is a leader, a well rounded student who displays courtesy and knowledge in order to help those lesser in rank; I'm not debating that, but often schools have black belts and students who wear black belts.

I want to be clear that I'm not saying that they did not "deserve" their promotion. They performed what ever requirements that were required in order to pass. But when a teacher looks around, they can tell who the real black belts are. 

As I said black belts are leaders. They lead the lower ranks in class and drills. But black belts are also students in the fire and wind mindsets. They are passionate and creative, finding answers to their questions through study and rigorous training. They try to best themselves as they train and push themselves farther. 

If you are a teacher, and you have black belts that are not like this, should they be wearing black belts?

Now this opens up another avenue of discussion. Not every black belt is going to open up their own school, or go to the olympics, or star in action films, or even become a major part of their MA like Ed Parker. Many martial artists have other lives and MA is just a hobby. That's great! MA is a great way to get in shape and also get in touch with your deeper self, but should they be awarded black belts?

I think they should be given black belts, especially if they are hard workers and are, in fact, black belts in class and represent their school well. There are not that many students out there that are ready to give their whole life to MA, but they are still great teachers and leaders in their schools or should be...

Some schools are black belt factories and just promote without giving their students much of a test at all. they don't challenge their students and allow them to pay a monthly fee so they can "train" and "test" every two months. Some students just want the black belt to tie around their wastes. They don't want the knowledge and responsibility that comes with it.

It's easy to get a black belt; go online and buy one from a MA magazine. It will save you all the months paying a teacher to promote you. And you can wear it to school, brag about it and get served by the guy who is easily irritated by showoffs... And so this is my gripe about the belt system. I don't really know what should be done about it.

It is a practice that has gone on since the late 1800s. It is a part of MA now and will be forever... probably. So what do you think? Should there be a different way of promoting? Or maybe we should just tear down the bogus MA schools? Your call!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Art of Control Part 2

In this second part, I would like to write about controlling one's own mind. It is one thing to be passionate about something and totally lose yourself in it. That is what being in the fire mindset is all about. However, if you let your emotions get the better of you, you may lose the fight quicker.

Whoever owns the mind wins the fight; whoever has control wins the fight. Some people are very emotionally charged. The slightest thing may get them to lose their cool and perform sloppy. Their opponents easily own them because they control that person's mind.

This can be a very useful strategy, but it takes knowing your enemy on a much more personal level than you would see at any school. However, those who let their emotions get the better of them all the time are very easy to figure out. Once you have that knowledge, it is easy to exploit and use. The trick is to understand how the person will reacts to whatever stimuli you use.

If your opponent gets angry, he may be easier to defeat but it also may make him more dangerous. If you can make your opponent feel self-conscious, you have a better shot of winning with less injury to self.

Now onto how to battle against someone who may be baiting you into losing your cool. The first step is to realize it is happening. When the stimuli is introduced that sets us off and makes us react in a certain way, it gains control of the mind because we let it. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, we become wrapped up in the trivial thing that just happened.

For instance, if you hate "your mama" jokes to the point that you take offense, your opponent may use that against you. It may make you so angry that you make simple mistakes that could have been avoided if you kept your cool. Realizing what is happening takes practice. We become preoccupied with the offense and we forget what is really important. By realizing that the opponent is using this stimuli to set us off-balance, we can stay focused on the task at hand and not the stimuli that set us off (or would have set us off).

Second step, continue to focus on your opponent like it was any other fight. Watch his movements and techniques and remember your training. What counter works best here or there. Keep your mind on these things and not the offensive stimuli.

Third step, if you are able, shrug off the offensive stimuli with some sort of retort. Smile and agree with him; what else can he say if you are fully "aware" of the things he is already saying. If you are lucky, this can make him slip up and then you have control of his mind.

Fourth step... This isn't really a step but possibly a brilliant strategy it one can pull it off: acting. You may be able to convince your opponent that he indeed has gotten into your head. If you can do this, he has a false sense of security and will more than likely not be fighting with full force. Why should he? If he has control, there is no reason to exert himself. This way you can take him by surprise and throw him off more and win.

Thank your for reading. Please add whatever you think to the comments below and we can have a discussion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Art of Control Part 1

In kenpo karate and any other martial art, there are two things you must have control of while fighting. The first is your opponent and the second is yourself. Or vice versa, depending on which one you have the most difficulty with.

As Miyamoto wrote in the Book of Five Rings, a master of strategy has control over his opponent. This doesn't mean mental control like in those comic books, this means controling the fight.

There is no one answer on controlling the fight. Each fight is different because each opponent is different. This is where the water mindset plays a key role. You must be willing to understand your opponent in order to beat him or to control him. As Miyamoto described in the Book of Five Rings, there are three ways to engage an opponent that each martial artist uses without knowing.
  1. Attacking
  2. Waiting
  3. Or Simultaneous Attacking
The one who attacks first has control of the fight. The fighter who is on the offensive controls where the opponent dodges by which techniques he uses and by surveying the environment. However, just because the attacker initially has control does not mean that he can maintain it.

There is something to be said about the opponent who waits. They can be called strategists as long as they maintain the water mindset. By waiting and dodging and perceiving, the Waiter can fully understand their opponent and utilize the right combinations to incapcitate him. Kenpo karate and most martial arts schools teach the arts to defend, not to attack. However sometimes it may be unavoidable, especially if you need to take control of the fight.

Simultaneously attacking is dangerous. Unless you have a high tolerance for pain, it is suggested you be an Attacker or a Waiter, however as you become more experienced maybe at the fire mindset or the wind mindset, simultaneous attacking works. It can be a way to fake out your opponent or even stop them from continuing his attack. Attacking at the same time can also become a defensive offense. While your opponent chickens out on the attack (if you haven't chickened out), you can continue your attack and take control of the fight. But very often it results in banged up shins and forearms, so get to know your body first before attempting a simultaneous attack.

I believe that I will save the second part of this blog for tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Leaping Crane Technique

Hi everyone! Got another video from Expert Village called the Leaping Crane. Really good technique to defend against a punch. I'm having a little bit of writer's block so I was wondering if any of you had any ideas or posts you would like to see posted here? I'm all ears and more than willing to write what you want on this blog, as long as it is Kenpo Karate or MA related.


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Book of Void

In the Book of Void, Miyamoto discusses nothingness. It is definitely the shortest book in the Book of Five Rings, spanning to (really) a full page of text. The book is so short, that I will just quote it here for you.

In this Void Book, I will record the Ichi Way of Strategy.
The Void is where there is nothing or any form. Man cannot have knowledge of this because it is nothing. Since we have knowledge of what is, we therefore know what is not. That is the Void.
People sometimes think that which they do not understand is the Void. This is not true. This is confusion.
Military strategists and those who study war sometimes think that whatever they do not understand is the Void. But this is not the true Void.
In order to master the Way of Strategy, you must study the other martial arts, and you must not abandon the Way of the warrior at all. You must set your mind upon practicing every single day, hour by hour. You must develop the double spirit of the heart and the mind. And you must appreciate the two-fold use of perception and eyesight. When your mind is clear, and there are no clouds of confusion, this is the True Void.
Before you understand the True Void, you may think you have gained understanding either through Buddhism or through everyday thought. When you realize the true Way, you will understand that each of us sees the various ways through different eyes. Seeing these other ways is to reject the true Way.
Make sure you base your practice on a wide foundation, and learn a large number of martial arts. This way, you will understand the Void as the Way, and you will see the Way as the Void.
The Void is good, and contains no evil.
I believe that Miyamoto is saying that in order to understand the Void and also to understand the Way, we must concern ourselves with the study of all things. In that way we understand what is and what is not. The Way is, of course, the way of the warrior, which narrows down the broader sense of the Void a little, as we concern ourselves with the Way of Strategy and the Art of War which can only be learned through experience and study of Miyamoto further.

In understanding all things we are less judgmental and also are able to understand people and our surroundings. I think that is primarily what Miyamoto is getting at; with understanding comes a sort of knowing, allowing students to further their advantage in winning in all things whether it be battle or in whatever way they choose to live their lives...

Follow the links below to buy your book today. Though I have summarized the chapters here on my blog, I know that this book is invaluable to any serious martial artist. It goes over strategies read here as well as more that didn't make it into my posts.

For instance:
  • posture
  • holding your sword
  • as well as numerous other techniques when in battle... or just having a friendly sparring match.

This version of Miyamoto's book is a modernized version. Some of the original text is a little hard to understand, so if you want an easier read, I recommend this one. It has everthing the original has but in more modern terms. Follow the links to find out more. Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Book of Wind

In the Book of Wind, Miyamoto breaks down why his way is the best way. He writes about other schools and their teachings and how they take pride in what they teach, however he points out all of their key flaws and writes on true strategy on their behalf.
I have demonstrated clearly in the body of this book that none of these is the true Way. I have shown all of what is good and right and all of what is bad and wrong, based on the true principles. My Ichi School idea is fundamentally different. The other schools consider this a performance, or a means of making a living. They grow their flowers, or paint decorations for sale. This is not the Way of Strategy.
In the following sections, Miyamoto points out the problems in each school. For instance, one school that teaches the very long sword prefers it over its distance. Its length supposedly keeps enemy swords out of reach of the wielder's body. However, Miyamoto points out that in snug quarters, the very long sword is not as adaptable as the long sword. 

There is also a school that prefers the short sword: Kodachi. They would rely on surprise attacks and springing feet (which Miyamoto has much to say about footwork in this chapter as well). Miyamoto points out that the short sword may have its uses, but it is not the perfect weapon. It makes the user more defensive, which Miyamoto despises.

The right way to win is to chase your opponent with a strong and erect body.
Users of the short sword must flee the long sword because of its length; in order to win they can not rely solely on surprise tactics, especially when fighting an army. However, I would like to mention that a skilled short-swordsman, if he knows his terrain and can trick his opponents easily, may stand a chance (projecting... sorry).

The Book of Wind is really a great book in the full text of the Book of Five Rings. There are more examples in this book, but I believe that you would be better off just reading it yourself instead of relying on this blog. I personally like to keep my pieces short-ish, so listing all of the wisdom of Miyamoto would be hard to do that unless I was to break the book further.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Book of Fire

I've been contemplating this ever since yesterday. I feel that Miyamoto's Book of Five Rings is a text that really can't be explained in 5 posts. I guess from what I have heard about the book, I figured that it would be simple to share the wisdom of Miyamoto in a summary. That is certainly not the case.

So I'm going to share a little about each book from now on. It's just that each book is not easily summarized. Miyamoto has added so much to the text. He has many of his own techniques inside, named, with long explanations for each one... Imagine a blog post for each chapter now.

So what I've decided is to stick with a short summary with every intention to come back to this series with a more detailed post for each technique.

For now though, let's get back to the Book of Fire. Simply put, Miyamoto says that fire refers to fighting. Fire is ferocity or passion like I described in my theory on the fire mindset.

In terms of fighting, Miyamoto says there are three ways to engage an enemy:
The first method is to attack. This is called Ken No Sen, or to set him up. The second method is to hold him off as he attacks. This is called Tai No Sen, or waiting for him to take the initiative. The third method is to attack at the same time as the enemy. This is called Tai Tai No Sen, or to both accompany and forestall him at once.
 For this post, I would like to go over these in more detail.

Ken No Sen:

Miyamoto writes that Ken No Sen is about initiative. He gives readers three strategies in regards to initiative.
  1. You want to remain calm but move quickly and take your opponent by surprise. Be wise about how much effort you put into your attacks, you do not know at this point how your opponent will react (fear is a common reaction), keep some energy in reserve in case you need to forestall.
  2. This second strategy is about overwhelming your opponent with speed. Keep your resolve and move quickly. Confuse and overwhelm with fast powerful attacks.
  3. Last one, attack with a calm mind and spirit (control the fire mindset) and create in your mind the feeling of victory. Intend to win and unleash your knowledge calmly and methodically.
Tai No Sen:

Miyamoto writes that when waiting for your opponent to attack, maintain a serene disposition. He also suggests to act weak. As your opponent approaches, watch. When he relaxes, it means that your ploy worked. At the moment he believes you are not a threat, overtake him with a strong attack. Become ferocious fire in an instant!

Tai Tai No Sen:

This type of engagement is a little awkward, but if you have ever sparred before you've seen it. As soon as your opponent moves in for an attack, attack! It takes a watchful eye and experience to do this correctly. You must be able to predict the attack and dodge and counter appropriately in your attack. Sounds a bit strange, but when you think about it, how else would you attack your attacker?

The Book of Fire is just as long as the Book of Water and filled with strategy techniques. Many are no-brainers while some are those that give you that epiphany feeling. Still a very good book. Check it out or get your own copy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Book of Water

Much like my theory on the water mindset, the book of water is about learning. Best and most cliche way to look at it is that the book of water is full of tips and tricks on how best to hold your sword and also ways to utilize it properly with differing strategies--much like a jug of water. Your mind should be empty in order to take in the knowledge with the book.

Miyamoto says this about the mind and body:
"Do not allow your mind to become slack however, or your body to relax. Your body should not relax in correspondence with your mind, and your mind must remain resolute when the body is calm. Keep control of your mind and do not allow your spirit to weaken."
I find this to be one of the strongest points made in the chapter. The mind wanders very easily (mine's doing it right now); the one who is able to control his mind is the one who has full discipline and is able to achieve anything he sets his mind to.

Also the Book of Water mentions the art of understanding. From understanding techniques to understanding one's opponents. Miyamoto speaks of height differentials in warriors:
"Men of small stature must thoroughly know and understand the body and spirit of men of larger stature.  Likewise, large men must understand the spirit of men who are smaller. No matter what your physical size, always keep your mind in check and know the difference between good and bad actions. Do not allow yourself to be deceived."
As I said, Miyamoto's Book of Water is a jug of what to do and what not to do. I won't go into too much detail (because if you want to know, you should just get a copy), but he talks about posture, gaze, holding a sword and footwork, which is very useful in helping warriors move quickly or stand firm against an opponent.

Honestly this book is very large, and for me to go through everything strategy in it in one blog is a bit much. For now I will leave you with this, the book of water is about study and practice. Study your opponent and study the art of strategy. Practice the strategies and win.

Monday, January 9, 2012

American Kenpo Karate: Broken Gift

Once again another youtube post... I'm on the next chapter of The Five Rings so tomorrow should be a better post and I should also get myself more into the game and make better post this week. Instead, enjoy this technique from AmericanKenpoist: Broken Gift.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Book of Earth

As far as I can tell my theories on the the mindsets really don't correspond with the Five Rings, though, from a mental aspect, I still believe that what I wrote is valid in it's own way.

Miyamoto begins the Book of Earth by describing what the way is. There isn't one way, there are several. Today, we could observe the way of the blogger, the way of the scientist, the way of the inventor, the way of the businessman... Every person has a way and they aren't restricted to their profession.

However, if one wants to be successful in the path they choose, he must learn everything there is to know about "their" way. This is in essence strategy, which is to learn and always be learning so that you are ahead of your competition.

So in a way, every person adopts the way of strategy whether they know it or not. But knowing this does not make you a strategist. That would be high a compliment for any novice to claim and surely Miyamoto would be laughing in his grave.

Strategy, which is what Miyamoto is writing about, is the art of a warrior. That may seem extreme after what I said about ways, but if you break down the idea of war, it is one side vs another and one side usually ends the victor--like a competition.

In essence we are all warriors of our own ways. We all seek to expand our knowledge of our way. Which is the Book of Earth: knowing.

Miyamoto used an example of a carpenter-overseer in The Book of Five Rings.
"The carpenter-overseer must know the theory of architecture which governs the towers and temples, and the plans of castles, and he must employ people in order that they will build the houses"
Building a house takes a great deal of knowledge; the carpenter-overseer must must be familiar with the tools at his disposal as well as his materials and how to utilize them wisely. Just like a general of an army, the carpenter must know where to cut, where to sand, where to place, where to hammer... And also the carpenter must know his employees in order to employ them correctly.

Which ones are good at constructing sliding doors? Which ones are good at constructing doorjambs? The carpenter is familiar with his workers so that they together can produce great work.

Miyamoto also goes into great detail of weapons and which to use and when to use and also goes further to say that none is better than all, though the long sword is useful in nearly any situation. He also describes timing, which is fundamental in kenpo karate when attacked.

Knowing when to attack and when to counter are pinnacle skills to learn as a martial artist. Knowing this improves your strategy just as knowing how to counter a on coming punch.

So the Book of Earth focuses mainly on knowing your way and also knowing when to make your move.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Five Swords Technique as well as things to come.

These videos from Expert Village are pretty good. Sorry about posting two videos instead of a real post; I'm reading a book I just bought (The Book of Five Rings) which I think will help me better understand my theories of the different mindsets that I posted earlier. I guess I should have mentioned that in the posts; if I didn't, I'm sorry. The five elements and the emotional and mental implications they had inspired me to write those first posts but I would like to read Miyamoto's actual text before I delve any further into the subject.

Thank you very much for reading and please take a look at the Five Swords Technique