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Talking Does Not Cook The Rice

Posted in Martial Arts and Training, Strategy and Psychology with tags , , on April 24, 2012 by ctkwingchun

Just finished perusing another martial arts magazine.  Unfortunately, I’ve come to a sad conclusion after it all: I didn’t learn anything about anything.

There seems to be little point in contributing to written works and here on the blog.

When the only thing that works in the real world is real world experience, I wonder what words can hope to achieve – because talking about it doesn’t actually cook the rice.  We need pour it in and boil it up.  Read: do the work.

Therefore, upon unsatisfactorily getting my fill, I have redefined my writing goals.  A strong reminder of why I do what I do: I want to help you free your mind.


Time: An expanding Labyrinth by Sati S.

Posted in Quotes and Articles, Strategy and Psychology with tags , on January 3, 2012 by His Dark Side

Instead of considering time as a straight arrow (as suggested by the dynamic explanation for entropy), it may be more useful to think of it as an evolving network of possibilities—that is, an expanding labyrinth of diverging world lines.

This concept of time as a labyrinth was suggested in fiction as early as the 1940s in Jorge Luis Borges’ classic short story “The Garden of Forking Paths.”  The tale conveys time as a book with a non-linear narrative, in which all possibilities are realised – every potential outcome that can occur, does occur.

From the perspective of one of his characters, Borges insightfully refers to this concept of time as an alternative to the absolute time of Newton:

“The explanation is obvious. . . [the story] is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pen conceived it. In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times, which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us. In the present one, which a favourable fate has granted me, you have arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost.’’   

–   Dr Stephen Albert describes the mystery of Ts’ui Pen’s book to Ts’ui Pen’s descendent, Dr Tsun in The Garden of Forking Paths (1941), by Jorge Luis Borges (godfather of magical realism) 

“I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve the stars. Absorbed in illusory images, I forgot my destiny of one pursued. I felt myself to be, for an unknown period of time, an abstract perceiver of the world.” – Jorge Luis Borges 

read about Jorge Luis Borges here

On Good and Evil

Posted in Quotes and Articles, Strategy and Psychology with tags , , , , on December 22, 2011 by His Dark Side

“…. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

…. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008) 

The Truth About Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 9, 2011 by His Dark Side

Release Your Demons (by Becky E)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2011 by His Dark Side

“One of my biggest struggles with learning the art of Wing Chun is getting in touch with my anger. When it comes to the skills we are learning the point is to be able to, as a woman, stay safe and have some tools to defend ourselves. Getting in touch with that rage is going to come in really handy when some jerk is approaching with less than honorable intentions.”

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

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 16, 2010 by ctkwingchun

In conclusion

Be honest about your ability and your standard. If you are not as good, or as fit, or as tempered or as experienced as you should be, make the investment and place yourself before teachers of proven experience. Either that or be honest with yourself and your students about your ability, your knowledge and your lineage. There is great freedom in brevity. It doesn’t matter if a technique or an art (or an exponent for that mater) might not work in the street, who really cares at the end of the day, as long as you stipulate that in your manifesto. There is nothing nicer than doing ‘art’ simply for arts sake. If you kid yourself that you are better able than you actually are it might get you killed. When a live situation places your belief under scrutiny and you can’t make your martial art work at the most vital time, it might get your wife or your family killed.

Be honest with yourself about what a real attack actually is: it is terrifying and violent, it is explosive, it is unpredictable, it is savage and it does not abide by any rules. Often it follows you home or it turns up at your place of work and gets really personal. If you underestimate it, real violence can shatter you. Too many people in the martial arts grossly underestimate it. I speak to folk all the time who have stayed so long is safe systems that they have sanitised reality, they have stripped away all the limb-trembling uncertainty and the depressive terror that a real fight brings, and they teach defence techniques like dance moves, as though applying them for real is a walk in the park.  A walk in the park it is not.

If you are teaching it as a self defence you have an obligation, an obligation, to qualify the potency of everything you sell as self defence, because someone’s life may one day rely on it.

Train in martial art and love what you do, partake in the sport, it is a great pastime and a solid discipline, but above all esle ‘know’ what you do, know its weaknesses and know its strengths, understand where it is lacking and fill the gaps. All you need to do here is be brutally frank with yourself and with your art. This is the age of CCTV, we have all seen numerous real street encounter on film, or outside the pub. Be honest: how would your art and you ability fit into those scenarios?

I watched a ferocious gang fight in a pub when I was fifteen years old and a purple belt in karate and I knew, I just innately knew that my art, my ability and my preparation at that time would not survive an encounter like that. It simply would not fit into it. And because I could be honest with myself I was able to change the way I trained. I still practiced traditional martial art because I loved what it gave me, I still dabbled in the sport (even though I was not very good at it) because it offered challenge, but I separated the self defence element, I isolated it, placed it in its own box and practised it as a different art.

And self defence definitely is a different art.

Once you are able to strip the wheat from the chaff and master the physical elements of self defence things get really exciting, then you can start to look at bigger game, the art of fighting without fighting, where you dissolve threat at the level of thought….

But that is another article for another day.



For your FREE 200 page best selling eBook – Watch My Back by Geoff Thompson –  worth £10 follow the link;


Your Cup

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by His Dark Side

The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor’s cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: “Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in.” Nan-in said: “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.

The ‘Emptying your cup’ parable suggests that one should keep an open mind, or at the very least one that is uncluttered. Opinions and beliefs should be replaced by a willingness to learn. I’ve often found that those needing the greatest help are the ones who promote themselves as having some special knowledge.  I recognize this fault in myself.

Chi Sao; Phases of Understanding

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 19, 2010 by His Dark Side

Level 1 Mechanical Phase
Purely mechanical phase, used to learn the correct lines for the three shapes; tan (spread), bong (redirect) and fook (subdue). You work the rotating motion of the arms (luk sau) with pressing (bik) power.

Level 2 Striking Phase
Striking level. Basic hand shapes are converted into strikes. Strikes are introduced as drills. Footwork involves basic advancing (biu ma) and turning (juen ma).

Level 3 Root Phase
Where you develop good angled footwork (toi ma), root and balance. The root in particular gives rise to greater power in the arms, allowing you to experiment with breaking the opponents balance using such things as pushing and pulling. You experiment with various ways of stepping and sinking and lifting the hips (kwa) for power.

Level 4 Experimental Striking Phase
Where you develop free and spontaneous hitting.  Striking is not limited to hands, but includes strikes from clinch/dirty boxing, knees and elbows.

Level 5 Positional Control Phase
Where focus is no longer on hitting, but on positional control of opponent. The idea is to exert complete control over the opponent, removing his ability to attack. You do this by controlling his limbs, controlling his balance and remaining in a position of dominance. You are rooted to the spot and your ability to uproot, turn, redirect or hold the opponent appears effortless.

Level 6 Metaphorical Phase
The unraveling level, where the object is to develop character traits such as tenacity, perseverance and courage. The struggle to overcome adversity within the paradigm of Chi Sao is used as a metaphor for overcoming adversities  in life.

Stabbed to Death By Two Robbers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2010 by His Dark Side

Advanced Gung-Fu

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 5, 2010 by His Dark Side

The development of martial arts seems counter-logical. As a system undergoes a process of development it tends to expand as it takes on, as part of its curriculum, more and more techniques.

Advanced practitioners point out the importance of drilling basics. But then what happens to those advanced techniques which are left by the way-side only to be ignored until a person wishes to progress through the curriculum of a system in the vain search for a higher belt or certificate. The point is simple, why have these so called advanced techniques in a system if the important “stuff” is recognised to consist of only a handful of techniques? What causes people to collect, rather than discard, or expand rather than refine?

The investement in martial arts is too onerous, which explains the high dropout rate. The expectation is that one needs to practise for decades before one is classed as advanced. This also is counter-logical. If the aim of training is self-protection, then surely the value in a system lies in how QUICKLY it can be learnt, and become functional.

Wing Chun Gung-Fu, irrespective of its origins was developed as a system which could be learnt quickly. There are various fables which explain how the system came to be, usually containing references to other arts such as Snake/Dragon and Crane Gung Fu which provided the blueprint for Wing Chun. There are many practitioners who find themselves ensnared by Wing Chun, adhering strictly to its tenets and prcatising techniques which will get them INTO trouble, rather than out of trouble.

What would Wing Chun look like, were it STRIPPED to its most basic form? That is an answer that I will attempt to answer subjectively, during training.

Control, Biomechanics and ‘Snap’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 2, 2010 by His Dark Side

There is no better a venue to get a sense of the ‘self’ than in martial arts training. Training  teaches us to reach deep inside in order to muster the last ounce of energy and courage even when we are in the depth of despair. We better ourselves by training with those who possess superior skills to our own. By spending countless hours on mats, in rings and cages we push the boundaries on our capabilities. We learn about flexion, extension and proprioception. We gain an understanding of the mechanics of our bodies and limbs. By training with partners, we get to question how far we are physically and mentally willing to do. We learn to place limits and boundaries on our actions, and our training partners help us to grow, by exercising restraint and control.

This gives rise t o a question which perplexes me at this very hour… why the fuck, did Shinya Aoki’s opponent not tap? Whatever the reason, Shinya is a rudeboy!!! The snap of his arm was sick! What a great way to start the new year. Can’t wait to see him fight again.

Hei Ban Wing Chun – Forms Overview (draft)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 1, 2010 by His Dark Side

Siu Nim Tau “little idea” introduces the main hand and leg movements of Hei Ban Wing Chun. This version of the set extends the common versions from 6 sections to a total of 10 sections. The set contains 18 classical hand techniques and one kicking section. This kicking section is designed to teach stepping forwards and backwards on an angle.

Chum Kiu “searching for the bridge” combines footwork with hand and leg attacks. It continues the principled approach which began with the training of the first form and presents the student with a variety of footwork patterns to close in, and retreat away from, an opponent. The form contains 14 steps and continues the theme of 10 sections.

Biu Tze “finger attacks” builds on the foundation created by the first two sets. Traditionally, some Gung Fu instructors had a saying that “Bui Tze was not allowed to leave the room” which has two distinct meanings; that the techniques, aimed at the eyes and throat of an attacker were designed to maim and should only be used in exceptional circumstances and, the set was not openly taught to students. Leung, Kwok-Keung, being a traditional teacher had reservations about showing this form to anyone but the most trusted of his students.

Mook Yan Jong “wooden man” marked the final part of the empty hand stage of learning Hei Ban Wing Chun. The wooden man represents a tool used to remedy any defects in a student’s structure. The students’ initial expression using the dummy is via a set of movements which are practiced until a student is able to let go of the set and move in a free-form improvised manner. The man, therefore is a way for a student to express his version of Hei Ban Wing Chun without boundaries. That said, Leung, Kwok-Keung was quick to remind his students that approaching the wooden man practice in a disjointed or ad hoc manner would lead to bad habits. As long as one was prepared to use the arsenal of Wing Chun technique whilst maintaining a sound structural base, then he would be on his way in developing long term skill.

The two weapons of Hei Ban Wing Chun were introduced once the empty hand system was completed. The weapons consist of the wooden long pole “Mang Loong Goh Gong (only the fiercest dragon crosses the bridge” and Moi Fah Wu Dip Dao “Plum Blossom Butterfly Swords”.

Hei Ban Wing Chun had been influenced by a number of other Gung Fu systems, primarily Chow Gar (Preying Mantis)

Fist of the Opera

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 25, 2009 by His Dark Side

Old China was very much underdeveloped. Roads in many places consisted of paths that had been cut away in forests in order to provide access routes. Because of the many riverways, tributaries and canals, water tended to be the most prevalent means of travel throughout china. The Chinese had developed boat building techniques. Such techniques were refined and led to the creation of the ‘Junk’ types boats, with their great masts. These boats were capable of carrying heavy cargoes and hundreds of travelers and were the types of boats used to transport opera performers from village to village.

During long and boring journeys among cities or villages the daily routine of the acrobatic opera performers were virtually impossible on board the boats. As a result the shorter range required in Wiung Chun (Yong Chun) made it a popular system amongst them. The system of Wing Chun that Leung, Kwok-Keung referred to was Hei Ban Wing Chun (Opera House Wing Chun).

The practitioners of Hei Ban Wing Chu do not consider themselves to be a separate system at all. They too acknowledge the founder as the nun Ng Mui. Leung confirmed that there are different versions of the Wing Chun system which prevail around the various provinces and areas of china. Hei Ban Wing Chu was a splinter system, mostly practiced by people within the travelling opera houses.

It has to be recognized that the Wing Chun on the Red Junks was exposed to various other Gung Fu styles. This could be one of the reasons why the Hei Ban system has a wider and more general perspective that more readily available versions of Wing Chun.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 1, 2009 by His Dark Side

The moral of today’s fight lesson was;

‘the worst thing you can DO, is NOT DO anything’

DO = choice

NOT DO = choice

So despite appearances, people who ‘do’ nothing are exercising choice, in that they are choosing to do nothing, or conversely, not choosing to do anything.

This applies to the fighter who, either through fatigue for lack of muscular and cardiovascular endurance, or lack of fight spirit, or suffering the sudden and unexpected symptoms of an adrenal dump, gives up the will to fight. This usually causes the the better conditioned fighter/aggressor, to latch on to this opportune moment to cause immense pain to the opponent/victim.

You still have a puncher’s chance. Throw something, do something.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 26, 2009 by His Dark Side

He spoke;

“Your beloved was created when the original 84 congregated at the table of sin and misfortune. Yes, 84 of them there were, reduced in number by your kind to the 72 of the Lemegeton.

Brothers of your beloved, they were.

My soul was cast eastward, my water replaced with charcoal ash from the first fire.

Blessings given unto me, all under the approving gaze of our Host and Lord.

It was thus that I was created and it was with your bidding that I return.”

If we manifest that which is the focus of our intention, then what parameters should we place on what we desire?

Barefoot Ultra Runners

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 13, 2009 by His Dark Side

When you gonna learn to ditch the runners?;

Pressure Forward

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 1, 2009 by His Dark Side

In sparring we train our bodies to displace eneregy. This means for example, when we jab with our left hand our right hand withdraws to cover. In other words, as one arm goes forward the other hand comes back.

In clinch range and particularly in chi sao (sticking hands) there cannot be such a displacement. The objective in chi sao and clinch is to control the opponents’ body. To do this, the entire body must work as a unit to fill any gap created. We cannot withdraw our hands as this creates a gap which will likely be filled by our opponent at  our peril. Instead we train our hands (and body) to constantly apply pressure directed into our opponent.

(note from 24 November 2007)

Be A Mirror

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 8, 2009 by His Dark Side

Find yourself switching from your opponent to you, to him, to you. Feel his movement, his breathing, his shoulder positioning. Move from you to him, to you. Think his thoughts. What is his next move? Empathize. Understand and feel. We are biomechanically engineered to know what he is thinking. This isn’t remote viewing. It is embracing the capability of our mirror neurons.

A Stoic Prayer by Transcendence

Posted in Quotes and Articles, Strategy and Psychology with tags , , on August 20, 2009 by His Dark Side

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this and you will find strength” – Marcus Aurelius

Throughout many points in history, great thinkers and philosophers have touched on very similar themes in search of truth and understanding. Whilst bathed in different names, languages and rituals, the core of these beliefs hold the idea of an interconnected universe, where everything is made from the same substance. This view point is very clear in Eastern philosophy, where belief systems such as Daoism, Sufism, and Sikhism hold at their cores this very idea. Stoicism, which had its roots in ancient Greece, touches on the above mentioned themes and in essence puts the idea of practicality to the forefront of its teachings.

A key theme in Stoicism is the logical idea that the only thing you have any real control over is your mind. All other things are external factors and these cannot be controlled as the number of influences over them is too great to maintain any control of. Therefore if you are able to exercise detachment from emotion and make decisions based purely on reason, you will ultimately find contentment and satisfaction, seeking serenity through self discipline. On reflection this may seem a very impractical step, moving toward indifference and apathy, but the idea is a drill for the mind. The endless highs and lows of emotions can be conquered by mastering goal setting and becoming better placed in the present moment to make rational decisions that would work in the long term; not allowing emotional reasoning to affect any choices. To emphasise again, this is an active mental process, continually exercising control over one’s mind and logic.

To build upon the idea of gaining control over your emotional state, an idea that again is reflected through eastern thought is the contemplation of your own mortality, accepting that one day you will meet death. In western culture today, this idea is seen as very taboo and is moved to the farthest chasms of our minds, when  if thought about logical, an acceptance of this very idea can be both liberating and can cause an honest shift in our perspective of the world. In practical terms, a true acceptance of this idea can help us appreciate the time that we have left in this world, thus forcing us to take action and commit our goals to reality. On a spiritual level, the eradication of the fear of death and the acceptance of it allows us to view ourselves as part of the eco system that is the earth and not beings that are separate from it.

The idea that things happen to us for a reason is also paramount in Stoic thought. This is the acceptance of the external order. Seneca the Younger once said: “Things do not just happen, but arrive by appointment. Everything that happens is connected to something else. Everything that exists is connected to the logos”. According to Stoic doctrine the logos is also referred to as God, Zeus, Nature and Cosmic Meaning, it is a force that reigns over the universe. The idea of the logos is similar to The Dao, that which is everything and resides everywhere. In a practical sense, the disciplined and logical person can be happy under any and all conditions, because he has resigned himself to fact that events are neither good or bad, they just are.

Transcendence is a guest writer. Enjoy his ramblings and writings at;

On Determination

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 6, 2009 by His Dark Side

In the Korean film Oldboy, the lead character Dae-Su finds himself imprisoned for reasons unexplained to him. In an attempt to stop himself from going insane, he draws the outline image of an opponent on the wall which he attacks with punches. He does this with fury over a period of years and when he is finally  released from his prison, he finds himself disconnected from humanity but emerges with superhero-like fight capabilities. Whilst obviously a work of fiction, I find some value in his story as a metaphor for strength of character and determination.

After arriving in a foreign country I found myself without training partners and spent at least two years training in isolation. Although staying motivated was difficult, I found that through determination and the use of some imagination, I could most of the critical components needed to be a functional fighter. I innovated unique ways of adding resistance to number of dynamic movements to make them harder.

Obviously I wasn’t able to engage in live sparring, so instead decided to work on power and striking instead. To improve chi sao (sticking hand) skills, I used resistance bands and light weights. The idea for resistance bands was given to me by Jesse Glover when I met him in early 2004 when he suggested the use of bicycle inner tubing tied and wrapped around the torso when doing the rotation platform required in chi sao.

All it takes is imagination and desire to succeed.

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