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The farther you go, The less you know

Posted in Health and Wellness, Martial Arts and Training, Quotes and Articles with tags , , on May 28, 2012 by ctkwingchun


This is a guest post from the author of

Random workouts.  Random results.


Sometimes it’s nice when you wake up and find that something you know has changed…

Atten-HUT! Listen up, you squishy globs of mule excrement!  All of you reading today have been asked here to perform your sacred duty for your country, and I’d sooner give Che Guevara a lap dance than let you pimple-butted pinworms fumble this mission under my watch!  Am I clear?


Right now, right at this very moment…you are nothing!  You are the rubbish that rubbish throws in the tired old bin!  You are less than a single aromatic molecule in one of Satan’s farts!  Is that understood maggots?


When I am finished with you, each one of you will be a mindless, deadly human weapon of randomness!  You will be a social miscreant!  You will seize the emotional core of your each and every breath and rip its heart out with your teeth!  You will do this or by God as my witness…I will impale your limp asparagus frame on a spire in the latrine and use you as my personal toilet paper until Gabriel sounds the trumpets!  Comprehend?


Now get out there and do your duty before I personally polish your empty skulls with the rough side of my…Hold on a second?!?  What is Ricky Oh doing here?!?

Mastering Taijiquan: The Full Curriculum Approach by Sam Masich

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 18, 2011 by ctkwingchun

Greater than the sum
It is interesting to observe what sends taiji practitioners into heated debate.  It seems we are often driven to fits of criticism by motives of self justification. I have heard countless lamentations about the loss of traditional forms in taijiquan and, if I am honest with myself, can also tread self-righteously along these byways without much provocation. The incessant promotion of the latest pop short forms, the dearth of principled push-hands training globally, the ever-changing gymnastic requirements of official taiji forms developed by the China Wushu Association—all these are don’t-get-me-started issues.

Of course I, like most taiji players, value the practices I’ve devoted myself to over the years and decades and wouldn’t have continued in them without some belief that they were worthy of effort. I would defend my approach to the art with considerable conviction and so appreciate it when others do as well. Still, I always feel uneasy when debates fall into either: ‘they don’t do it traditionally’—where ‘traditionally’ often reveals a thinly disguised ideology rather than researched observation; or, ‘in our style we do it like this’—where ‘like this’ is more a disclosure of obsessive fixation around a cherished method or a pet peeve.

Many of the ‘this style versus that style’ debates regarding the direction the art is taking somehow miss a fundamental point, this being the importance of promoting taijiquan styles in their wholeness. Before the last half of the 20th century, this is what taiji masters did. Although participation in the art has surged, there does not seem to be a proportionate increase in the numbers of serious, full curriculum practitioners or instructors. From the standpoint of maintaining and continuing the development of traditional taijiquan, this may be deemed a crisis.

It was an ambition for the innovators of all schools of Chinese martial arts to develop a fully rounded syllabus of training—this being passed down from master to master through generations. Virtually all traditional systems of wushu present a central theory elucidated by a full and systematic course of study. The training regimen was designed to adhere to the central principles around which the art was based, theory and practice being inseparable. This is particularly true of traditional taijiquan which offers a plentiful curriculum developed in the light of a rich literary storehouse.

One would not attend university to become a physician and only take preferred miscellaneous courses. Acquiring reasonable expertise in a full taijiquan curriculum could be likened to doing a masterʼs degree as the thorough learning of an entire curriculum takes somewhere between four to six years depending on student aptitude, time commitment and training circumstances.

The regimen of practices is designed to take the learner, in a principled way, through a wide range of experiences equipping him or her with a complete set of skills which can be employed under any circumstances. It can be argued that full understanding of early items in the curriculum and of the literature associated with the art cannot really be achieved until one has embodied the whole training. In this important sense, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

For example, it is difficult, if not impossible, to truly understand a basic solo barehand form without studying push-hands and the applications of that form. Likewise, it is improbable that one will achieve any high level of skill in tuishou by foregoing traditional studies and only practicing freestyle. Fixed-step push-hands practices are deepened by an understanding of moving-step drills and barehand training is greatly enhanced by the study of weapons.

It is through the interplay of these yin-yang dichotomies—solo and partner work, barehand and weapons training, theory and practice—that the art does its transformative work. The traditional styles evolved into their late 19th and early 20th century forms enabling practitioners to experience full understanding and mastery of the art.

There are of course, examples of schools offering a full and intact taiji curriculum but this is increasingly rare. A plethora of new simplified and synthetic solo forms appear yearly in the marketplace, often devoid of any reference to any other aspects of the art. The recent fusion—and confusion—of taijiquan with qigong gives little clue to masses of new practitioners what taijiquan is, how it works or what it is for. The dominance of Cheng Man-ch’ing’s highly abbreviated syllabus in the West for the last forty years has siphoned off thousands of potential full curriculum candidates as well.

When eager new taiji-fans do cotton on to the idea that there is something more to all this and feel moved to seek out something of greater range, they are deluged with data in the form of books, DVDs and YouTube clips, and confronted with an inverse scarcity of instructors fully versed or qualified in the entire syllabus of any style. This has lead to a generation of what might be called ‘taiji bums’; enthusiasts seeking out patchwork solutions as they study odds and sods from various sources to gain some semblance of a complete curriculum.

These days taiji practitioners typically learn a basic solo barehand routine, some qigong/standing practices, a weapon (usually straight-sword) and perhaps a few pushhands drills. This is most often heavily augmented with ‘freestyle’ push-hands workouts (a practice which exists nowhere in any formal traditional taijiquan curriculum or writing but which dominates taijiquan training worldwide). While this is certainly enough to give a recreational practitioner a general sense of the art, it must be asked whether a deeper and fuller experience and understanding couldn’t be accomplished through an actual traditional curriculum.

When teachers of high calibre are to be found they are often unwilling or unable to teach their whole system due to discouragements such as high dropout levels, time versus finance constraints, student usurpation and other frustrations prevalent in the modern mentoring-scape. There is little personal incentive today for teachers to develop the next generation of traditional torchbearers in the whole-art sense. Although there is much commerce done in the taiji teaching trade in modern times, it just doesn’t pay to try to appeal to serious acolytes.

While there is certainly nothing wrong in studying with many teachers to gain varied perspectives and new movement vocabulary, the result seems to be the formation of a taiji community composed largely of ‘forms collectors’. While the open-mindedness of this approach may have real benefits for taiji society, building one’s repertoire in this fashion may lead in the long run, to an endemic problem as successive generations of teachers pass down increasingly hodgepodge curricula.

What is a full curriculum?
This issue of full curriculum study is complicated by issues arising both in interpretation and in historical fact. Taijiquan styles developed over generations and vary greatly based on factors such as: from which point in history the curriculum is being studied, which branch of a particular style is being studied and which aspects of the style were made known to the school promoting the curriculum. Indeed, given the previously mentioned tendency toward self-justification, promoters of various styles have been known to depict taiji history/lineage/curriculum in a just-so manner as to create justification for their own particular body of knowledge. Anyone can say anything they like about these issues—and they do.

Regardless of the particulars however, a full curriculum in any style of Chinese martial arts will include: preparatory practices; solo and partner bare-hand forms and exercises; solo and partner short and long weapons forms and exercises. In Chen-style Taijiquan for example, the curriculum is broadly outlined as follows:
1. Zhanzhuang (Standing Post)
2. Cansigong (Silk Reeling Training)
3. Taolu (Bare-hand Forms)
4. Wuqi (Weapons)
5. Tuishou (Push-hand)
6. Fangshengshu (Applications)

Within wuqi, there exist several weapons routines (sabre, straight-sword, pole/spear, halberd, double sabre, double straight-sword) and depending on the branch there can be even more. Likewise there are multiple forms, drills and practices within each of the six outlined categories. In most Chen schools these various aspects will be taught in a somewhat intermingled fashion. The practical teachings are normally interspersed with wisdom around principled practice and in some cases guidance toward improvement of personal character qualities derived from Chen family ancestral doctrine.

In the case of Yang-style Taijiquan the curriculum is structured in consonance with the teachings of the Taijiquan Classics which essentially submit the possibility of spiritual illumination (shenming) through a mastery of the thirteen powers. These thirteen can be subdivided into, those having to do with the legs and waist (the wubu or ‘five stance phases’), and eight core kinetic possibilities which are dependent on an intact leg/waist structure. Ingeniously, the ‘eight gates’ (bamen) study is broken into two main categories, ‘the square’ and ‘the diagonal’ (sizheng and siyu). These function interdependently to manage a vast range of martial situations. The standing practices, solo bare-hand form and push-hands training are crafted to take the learner progressively into the square/diagonal study. The work then continues to extend outward through weapons training.

The full curriculum in my own Yang-style Taijiquan program looks something like this:
1. Taiji Preparation studies:
Zhanzhuang (Standing Post)
Luodian Qigong (Breath Placement Training)
Taijigongli (Taiji strength, flexibility and conditioning training)
2. Taiji Solo bare hand:
Yang-shi Taijiquan (108) (Yang-style Taijiquan solo form)
37 Essential Forms
3. Taiji Push-hands:
Bapan Jiazi Dingbu Tuishou (Eight preparatory fixed-step drills)
Sizheng Tuishou (Four-square Push-hands. Fixed and moving variations)
Dalü (Large Rolling)
4. Taiji Sparring:
Yang-shi Taijisanshou (Yang-style Taiji Sanshou: 88 form, mix & freestyle)
5. Taiji Sabre:
Yang-shi Taijidao 13 (Yang-style solo sabre—‘Fu Zhongwen’)
Yang-shi Taijidao 32 (Yang-style solo sabre—‘Chen Yanlin’)
Yang-shi Taijidaofa Shiyong (Yang-style Taijidao Applications)
Shisanshi Dao (13 Power Sabre—solo & partner training)
6. Taiji Straight-sword:
Yang-shi Taijijian (54) (Yang-style solo straight-sword)
Shisanshi Taijijian (13 Power Taiji Sword—solo & partner training)
7. Taiji Spear & Halberd:
Shisanshi Taijiqiang (Yang-style 13 Power Spear—solo & partner training)
Sanfa Taijiji (Taiji three method Halberd—solo & partner training)
8. Taiji Literature
Taijiquan Jing, Yangjia 40 Pianzhang (Taijiquan Classics, Yangfamily
Forty Chapters and other literature)

While the details of a full curriculum program will vary from teacher to teacher even within a style, the list above gives an accurate representation of a traditional taijiquan program. Each facet is considered to be integral to the understanding of what the art is and how it is intended to function in theory and in practice. Generally the biggest differences occur around preparation practices, sparring approaches and the long weapons. Some styles also include apparatuses like the fan, double fan, the staff and other weapons which were not documented in former times.

Many books released over the last century have purported to be ‘complete’ taijiquan books. The better ones at least give a summary of a full curriculum and some are excellent, but for the most part, these publications have done a poor job of presenting the full method of any taijiquan system. There are some notable exceptions. Tseng Ju-Pai attempted something akin to a full Yang-style curriculum in two volumes in 1975 and Dr. Yang Jwing Ming presented his full version of Yang syllabus (sans sabre and spear) in 1981. The best full curriculum book remains Chen Yanlin’s controversial 1943 manual: ‘Taiji Boxing, Sabre, Sword, Pole, Sparring Compiled’ (Taiji Quan, Dao, Jian, Gun, Sanshou Hebian). Although there are several chapters of this book available in English and French the work has yet to be translated in its entirety.

What ‘full’ has to offer
I can imagine some readers thinking, ‘Well this is all well and good for people wanting to become teachers and masters but I just do taiji for me. I don’t need to learn all that stuff to be satisfied.’ Many recreational taijiquan players are very serious about their practice. They exercise their form daily, go to classes regularly and attend workshops and events because of a real interest in the art. Often they have learned many different forms and still feel something missing in their basic understanding—the difference between snacking on bits of this and that versus getting one’s teeth into something deeply nutritious.

It’s possible to practice many forms of very different character and remain always at the same skill level. Like a music enthusiast learning to play song after song in the same way without deepening understanding of the music and their instrument, many taiji players cruise along for years and even decades, without quite getting it. They read books, watch videos and go to workshops but always with the same eyes—eyes searching for something to help them break through.

This is what the curriculum does. The preparation work breaks ground for the solo form. This in turn sets the conditions for basic partner practice, then advanced and so on. Each new stage of the process stretches the player, as in the making of a Chinese sword, where each beat extends the block of raw steel until it can be folded back on itself, lengthening, strengthening and becoming malleable. Step-by-step one is moved past their limitations, through their resistances and beyond their expectations into the very world of grace, coordination and connection that first drew them to taiji. Learning to experience oneself in new ways through taiji and never getting bored—this is not only for elite players, its for every player.

Mastering a full curriculum in taiji is not about checking off boxes on a list or collecting certificates, its about entering a world where a new type of dialogue can occur both with one’s playmates and with oneself. Its about touching into and even living through something ancient, something classic and something profound. Ultimately everything in the whole world of taijiquan can be found in the full curriculum study.

In the past the masters said, ‘If it doesn’t contain the thirteen powers, it cannot be called taijiquan.’ Today it’s not uncommon to find practitioners who don’t even know what this refers to. Taijiquan requires serious effort but it offers high benefit. So there are two questions: Is the art worthy of my effort? And, am I worthy of its benefits? To change one’s thinking, to value one’s own commitment, to go the longer path up the higher mountain.

Only by the willingness of teachers to pass down, and students to learn, whole taijiquan systems, can the technical knowledge and holistic insight gained over generations be preserved. To push ourselves and our teachers is to keep a living art alive for future generations.

Sam Masich has mentored about 50 students through the full Yang-style Taijiquan curriculum in the last thirty years. He has taught his three month Yang-style Taijiquan Full Curriculum Intensive twice, once in Canada (2001-02) and once in México (2009).

He lives in Berlin, Germany. Information on his work can be found at

Coming In May 2011 – Sam Masich Guest Article

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 28, 2011 by ctkwingchun

Stay tuned to your favourite blog for a wonderful guest article on Tai Ji from Sam Masich:

Sam Masich is one of the most accomplished mid-generation practitioners of Chinese internal martial arts in the world today. Having trained and taught for a quarter century, Masich has studied with several of the great masters of his era from both North America and China including Liang Shouyu, Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, Jou Tsung Hwa, Yang Zhenduo and Chen Xiaowang. He has taught around the world and is the subject of two internationally airing documentaries. Sam has made some 20 films on Tai Chi and Neijia related subjects.

Peace, CTK

Why Intelligent People Fail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 27, 2011 by hardworkpaysbills

Interesting read from the book “In Search of the Human Mind” by Robert Sternberg. It lists a series of points on, as you may have gathered from the title, why intelligent people fail. I’ve picked out what I find to be the most pertinent points, but do click the link at the bottom for the full list. (emphasis by me)

1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.

7. Inability to complete tasks. For some people nothing ever draws to a close. Perhaps it’s fear of what they would do next or fear of becoming hopelessly enmeshed in detail.

19. Lack of balance between critical, analytical thinking and creative, synthetic thinking. It is important for people to learn what kind of thinking is expected of them in each situation.

20. Too little or too much self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence can gnaw away at a person’s ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, individuals with too much self-confidence may not know when to admit they are wrong or in need of self-improvement.

Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind.


‘Does Self Defense Work?’ by Geoff Thompson (Part 3/4)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 12, 2010 by ctkwingchun

The pre-emptive strike

If your choice is a physical response, my advice is to be pre-emptive and strike first – very hard – preferably on the jaw (it’s a direct link to the brain). The concept of defence at the point of contact is not only unsound it is dangerous and extremely naive. Waiting for someone to attack you is strategic madness because blocks don’t work! The Kwai-Chang-Cain theory of block and counter-attack is even more absurd, especially if you are facing more than one opponent. There is no finesse about fighting multiples, they do not line up and attack you one at a time they strike like a swarm of bees and luck is the only thing that’ll keep a beat in your heart. If you look at any contemporary CCTV footage of street attacks you will notice the immediate and ferocious nature of this kind of attack. It is merciless and it often leaves people dead.

If you honestly believe that you are about to attacked, hit them before they can hit you. Once you have landed the first strike, run. Many defence gurus advocate a second strike, a finisher. I advise not. Your first strike buys you vital getaway time. If you’re dealing with a determined attacker (many are very experienced in the street) and you don’t leg it after the first strike, chances are he’ll grab you and snap you like a twiglette.
Self-defence is about doing the minimum a situation will allow to ensure your own survival. It’s not about defending a corpulent ego or misguided honour.
Having been involved in thousands of live encounters the pre-emptive attack was the only consistently effective technique I could find.  As for the current trend in ground fighting, forget it! Grappling is an amazing art, I spent 18 months as a full time player in Neil Adams’ international judo class, and I loved every minute, it became a magnificent back up for me, but a supplementary support system as far as self defence is concerned. It is a match fighting and competition art, not suitable for a concrete mat – and if you face multiple opponents (and cowards always usually come teamed up) and choose to grapple the chances are you have just chosen to lose, and in an arena that is as brutal and explosive as it is unpredictable to lose often means ‘to die.’
My advice is to stay on your feet, hit first, hit as hard as you can, using your fists (or your head). These are (usually) the closest naturally available weapons to the target (your opponents jaw), and offer the safest and most direct route. At this point it would be a great advantage to have a heavy investment in a punching art – preferably western boxing. Most people think they can throw a good punch. From my experience – and certainly under pressure – few can. A great way to learn is to go to a boxing club or do focus pad work with a friend to develop the skills.

If you do employ the pre-emptive attack make sure you know your legal rights (a little more on this later) or you might be in for a double jeopardy when you have to defend them against the second enemy – the law.

You dictate reasonable force; although you may have to defend your interpretation of reasonable in a court of law. If you are so frightened by an assailant that you have to hit him with everything but the girl on your arm, then that is reasonable force. If, however, you knock someone to the ground and then do the fifty-six-move kata on their head, you might well be stretching your luck.
I can’t guarantee that you won’t end up in the dock, but I feel that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

Forget the films where the good guy – using empty hands – prevails over the knife-wielding psychopath without ruffling his own hair or popping a shirt button, because on celluloid is the only place it’s going to happen. Someone once asked me at a self-defence seminar ‘what could you do against a knife?’
‘About 50 miles an hour’, I replied.
I’ve faced a few blades and I’ve been stabbed some in my time and on every occasion I was terrified. If your antagonist is carrying and you have the option, run. Even with 40 years of martial arts training under my belt, it was providence and not skill that kept me alive.

If you are facing a knife, the best-case scenario is that you don’t die. If a knife is pulled and running away is not on the option list, throw anything that isn’t nailed to the floor at the attacker, and then run. If projection range is lost your only other option is to blitz the attacker with head strikes until he is unable to continue his attack.

The rule of thumb here is that stabbers don’t usually show the blade, they just sneak up and insert it when you’re not aware. If they do show you the knife they are usually just posturing. Always check the hands of your antagonist – if you can’t see the palms, or a hand is concealed, you have to presume they are carrying.

If the attacker does have a weapon and doesn’t respond to your verbal dissuasion, your options are two-fold: give them what they ask for (and just hope it’s not oral sex) or be prepared to get cut in the affray.

As important as the law may be, contemplating the legal implications of defending your self in the face of ensuing attack would be unwise. It can cause indecision, which usually leads to defeat.
I call the law the second enemy: this is not meant disparagingly, but, having been on the wrong side of it a few times I feel duty bound to highlight the inherent dangers of dealing with – what can be – a sticky judicial system, post-assault.
Many people are convicted for what they say and not what they do. This means you could legally defend yourself and yet still be convicted and sent to jail (do not pass go…) if you don’t claim self-defence (correctly) when giving a statement to the police. Many of my friends ended up in prison because they didn’t understand the law. Paradoxically many known criminals have avoided prison because they (or certainly their solicitors) did. So, if self-defence is your aim, then an appreciation of this judicial grey area has to be an imperative.
Post-assault, you’ll probably be suffering from what is known as adrenal-induced Tachypsychia. This can cause time distortion, time loss, memory distortion and memory loss. You may also feel the innate urge to talk, if only to justify your actions (Logorrhoea). All of the latter affect your ability to make an objective statement if the police become involved. When/if you do make a statement it is hardly likely to be accurate considering these facts. Six months down the line when you end up in court to defend your right to self-defence, everything will hang on your statement. So make sure you’re clear about your rights. If you’re not clear, insist on waiting until the next day before making a statement or ask to see a duty solicitor (or your own). It’s your right. Don’t put pen to paper otherwise. A police cell can be a very lonely place when you’re not used to it, and the police can often be guilty of rushing, even pressuring you for a quick statement. This pressure can be subtle but effective; being left alone for long periods of time, being told that you might be sent to prison, even the good cop-bad cop routine (yes, honestly). Many a tough guy has turned from hard to lard after a few hours surrounded by those four grey walls. Under these circumstances it’s very easy to say things you really don’t want to say, just so that you can go home.

If you have to defend your self and you damage your assailant my advice is not to hang around after the dirty deed has been done. This minimises the risk of legal (or other) repercussions. Attack victims (especially those who successfully defended them selves) often feel compelled to stay at the scene of crime post assault. Do your self a favour; make like Houdini and vanish? Your life and your liberty might be at stake. Better still don’t be there in the first place, that way you won’t have to worry about long months waiting for the court case and the possibility of suffering from a sever loss of liberty.

Almost there!  Part Four coming at you very soon with a special offer from Geoff Thompson!  Peace, CTK

‘Does Self Defense Work?’ by Geoff Thompson (Part 2/4)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 9, 2010 by ctkwingchun

The interview

Pre-fight management is vital if you want to survive an altercation intact; the winner is usually the one who controls the seconds before an affray. Most situations start at conversation range and with some kind of dialogue. If this is mismanaged the situation normally – and quickly – degenerates into a scuffle and then a scrap on the floor amidst chip wrappers and dog-ends. The current crop of defence innovators recommends the floor as the place to be when a fight goes live. In the No-Holds-Barred one-on-one match fight sports arena they’d probably be right, but outside the chippy where the terrain is less predictable and the enemy nearly always has allies, taking the fight to the cobbles is suicidal. It leaves you open to (often fatal) secondary attacks, especially if you’re facing more than one opponent.

The fence

If you are approached and the dialogue starts (this is known as the interview), take up a small inconspicuous 45° stance and put up your fence: place your lead hand in that all-important space between you and your antagonist to maintain a safe gap. The fence gives you a degree of control without your aggressor knowing. Placed correctly, your lead hand and reverse hand will block the thoroughfare (without touching) of the attacker’s right and left hand. If he moves forward to butt/kick/punch, be prepared to shove him back and/or attack. Try not to touch the assailant with your fence unless you are forced to, as it can trigger aggression and possibly a physical attack.

If you want to stay in one peice, don’t let a potential attacker touch you at any time, even if he appears to be friendly. An experienced fighter will feign friendliness, even submission, to make an opening for his attack. Another common ploy is for an attacker to offer a handshake and then head-butt/knife you as soon as the grip is taken. If you fall prey to the verbal opener you will quickly become work experience for a student nurse at the ER, so use your fence to maintain a safe gap until the threat has gone.


Expect to be scared because, no matter how experienced you are, you will be. If you are not taught about pre-fight, in-fight and post fight fear in your dojo maybe it is time to look for a different teacher. Fear will be present, not matter how capable you are. And if you have not learned to manage massive floods of adrenalin you are un-prepared. Get yourself as close to reality in training as possible, so that you can get used to this often overwhelming feeling (see my DVD Animal Day). Fear is the natural precursor to confrontation. I’ve worked with some premier league players and privately they all tell the same story; at the point of contact they’d rather be any where in the world than where they are. So don’t let self-doubt enter the equation if you feel like crapping your Calvin’s because you’re not on your own, we all feel fear even if some of us pretend that we don’t. Shaking legs, trembling voice and feelings of cowardice are all natural by-products of the adrenal release.

Verbal dissuasion

Try and talk the situation down. Again, the battle will be more with your own ego than it will be with your antagonist. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t want trouble and beat a hasty retreat. Better to follow the Judo adage and walk away with confidence than to end up in an affray that might change the course of your life for the worst.


If talking fails to make the grade (and you think it might work) you could try posturing. I made it work for me as an 11 stone novice doorman so you don’t have to be big to be effective. Posturing entails making like a woolly mammoth in an attempt to psyche out your antagonist. Create a gap between you and your aggressor by shoving him hard on the chest. Once the gap has been secured go crazy; shout, salivate, spread your arms, bulge your eyes and drop into single syllables. This triggers the opponent’s flight response and often scares him into capitulation. As soon as he backs off beat a hasty retreat.

Again this need to be practiced in the dojo. Whilst it might not fit in with your idea of the traditional ethos, it is essential preparation for the contemporary enemy. Posturing is like using your kiaa, but with expletives. If you look back at warfare throughout the ages you will see that everyone from the American Red Indian right thought to the Paras in Northern Ireland used posturing to intimidate the enemy forces.

If escape, dissuasion and posturing crack at the spine and if you have honest belief that you are about to be attacked you are left with two choices; hit or be hit. As a realist my duty is not to tell you which to choose, only to offer you the options, and allow you to select for your self.

Stay tuned for Part 3/4 where Geoff covers more aspects of Self Defense and don’t forget the special offer coming at you at the end!

‘Does Self Defense Work?’ by Geoff Thompson (Part 1/4)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 4, 2010 by ctkwingchun

Geoff Thompson

Violence in society is pandemic: punch ups, muggings and even fatalities are frighteningly common in a society that is bulging at the waist with unsolicited assaults. Due to astonishing growth-rate of violent crime in Britain, skills in self-defence are almost a pre-requisite if you want to get from the cinema to the Chinese and home again in one piece.

But what is self defence?

And does the martial art that you are taught in the dojo and sold through the magazines really work when the mat is concrete and your opponent does not know the rules?

One of the many things I have learned in my forty years of martial arts training, from working with masters and from following the deity of my own experience hard won is that self defence and martial arts are not the same thing. Sport MA and self defence are not the same thing either. And recreational training – twice a week at the local sports hall – certainly does not constitute a serious investment in real self protection.

When people talk martial art they think that they are automatically talking self defence but they are not. And when they talk self defence they believe that it is synonymous with martial art. Again, it is not. The two are very different, and they should be separated and taught as such.

There is nothing wrong with sport martial art, I love it, I am a big fan. And recreational training is better than no training at all. But if people are ever to survive a violent encounter on the pavement arena, it is imperative that they learn to distinguish between the two.

If you train twice a week in martial arts and think you are a serious player in self defence you’ll be in for a big shock when it kicks off outside the chippy on a Friday night. If your penchant is for sport martial arts (and all that it entails) and you think it automatically translates to the street you too will be in big trouble when the pub-warrior breaks your rules and twats you while your un-zipped at the communal troth, or turns up for round two at your work or your home with a hammer and a bad intent.

I must stipulate that I am not having a go at traditional arts, at sport or at the recreational player. I have a deep love for MA and for its practitioners but mine is the reality game so I have to honour the truth above all else. And my truth is not based on theory of folk law or how well I can make it happen in the dojo, it is based on vast experience in all things real. I have hurt many people to acquire this information over a long period of time. I am not proud of that. But I do hope that the reader might learn from my knowledge, so that they do not become a victim of violent crime, or the next digit on a home office statistic about unsolicited assault. Because it is not bad technique or even bad teaching that gets people killed in street encounters, it is denial.

People are in denial. With their art, with their ability and with reality its self.

You may well ask, what is the truth?

The truth is that real self defence in its concentrate is not and should not be about a physical response, as I will explain further into the article. When I teach self defence I may flirt around martial technique, and encourage people to invest in a core system, but the bulk of my teaching is in the art of avoidance. And if an encounter does by necessity become physical I teach and I preach the pre-emptive strike (attacking first). It is the only thing that works consistently. All the other stuff that you see, that you are taught or that you imagine might work ‘out there’ probably will not.

Here is my advice for those with an open mind: if it works for you I am delighted, if not don’t complain, I’m not interested – just press delete.

I’m sure you have already seen – and are tired of – the wristlocks and shoulder throws that garnish just about every article and DVD on self-defence. They only work in Bruce Lee films and on police self-defence courses so I’ll spare you the embarrassment of a photo-shoot-re-run. If you don’t mind I’ll stick to the stuff that works when the pavement is your arena, and there are no referees with whistles and bells to stop a point scoring match turning into a blood and snot debacle.
As I said earlier, my premise is basic but empirical (I have as they say, ‘seen the elephant’) and at some point it might prove life saving.

Whilst some situations actually start at a physical response (in which case you either fight like a demon or you get battered), most are preceded by some kind of pre-fight ritual and introductory dialogue; even if it is only the uninspiring ‘are you looking at my missus?’ The Real art of self-defence is not in bringing the affray to a messy conclusion with a practised right cross, rather it is in spotting the attack ritual in its early stages so that a physical encounter can be avoided.

Hard Target

As a man with a varied and brutal background I can tell you with sincerity and emphasis that violence is not the answer. Reflecting this, my opening advice is to avoid violence whenever and where ever possible. Make yourself a hard target by giving volatile environments a wide birth. James Coburn was succinct when he advised us to ‘avoid arseholes and big egos, avoid places where arseholes and big egos hang out’. He could have added ‘don’t be an arsehole and don’t have a big ego yourself’. It helps. The inevitable consequences of toe-to-toe encounters are rarely favourable to either party so around-the-table negotiation should always be exhausted before sending in the troops.

Stay tuned for Part 2/4 where Geoff covers more aspects of Self Defense and don’t forget the special offer coming at you at the end!

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