Monday, July 28, 2014

The Family Tree of Fighting

(Click on image to expand)

This is interesting.

I've never heard of Muslim Kung-Fu, Glima, Indian Kickboxing, Gatka or Wheelchair Fencing until I stumbled upon this chart.

  • Glima is a style of Nordic combat devised by the Vikings about 1200 years ago. It is sometimes referred to as Icelandic Jiu-Jitsu. Here are a pair of Glima grapplers:
  • Gatka is a weapons system practiced by Sikhs that was created in the 15th century in northern India. Modern exponents use sticks in lieu of a live blade to simulate swordfighting. Here are a duo of Gatka fighters:
  • I had no idea there was such a thing as Wheelchair fencing. Here is a bout featuring duelists in wheelchairs:

I'm still discovering.

(h/t: Shapeless Randomness)


Friday, July 25, 2014

Looks That Kill: The Alpha-Male Face

A friend sent over the image above that made me think of somebody I used to train with. (The meme is titled Becoming A Black Belt: Expectation vs. Reality.) "Alan" was an intellectual type with an advanced degree and a facial symmetry that made him appear like a milquetoast. He was a decent karateka, a good fighter, but he looked like a pushover. Depending on one's perspective this could be either good or bad. At any rate, Alan was a self-described geek that could kick ass.

Judging a book by its cover is something we all do, but research has revealed that face symmetry in males can reveal how effective they are as fighters. In one study,

The researchers first analysed the facial structure of 241 competitors in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Why choose this competition? "[T]he 'no‐holds‐ barred' nature of the fights and the process of 'cutting' serially defeated combatants from the championship makes for a somewhat Darwinian environment, well‐suited to the investigation of fighting ability," they explained.

The paper reveals that "the width of a man's face [determines] with accuracy his likely fighting ability." Survival of the fittest apparently correlates with having a relatively wide mug, or in scientific lingo 'facial Width-to-Height Ratio' (fWHR). The paper also suggests that a wider face may have evolved as a structural mechanism to be more resistant to punches.

So I did a little more digging on this facial-width indicator, and another study claims that traits such as racism are prevalent among males with broad faces, adding that "fWHR may be a physical manifestation of dominance motives in males and may be best described as an inclination toward interpersonal social dominance and related behaviors."

Both studies cite the presence of high levels of testosterone in males as the culprit. I've posted about the male hormone previously.

As far as facial configurations go as a predictor for fighting prowess or social (or anti-social) dominance, I'm a tad skeptical. I'm reminded of the old wives tale of "criminals have shifty eyes" from my parent's generation. Perhaps more research needs to be done before fighting ability is potentially conflated with negative stereotypes due to face broadness.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blast From The Past

Those guys could use a little more room. (I gotta get me some barbells like that!)

Now go check out this fine article on Okinawa's history of karate and kobudo.

(photo h/t: Isshin - Concentration the Art)

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Self-Defense We'd Like To See

Master Ken's quick tutorial on how to counter a two-handed wrist grab.

Wait for it...

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Too Extreme For The UFC

Years ago I went to an Eskrima workshop that was offered at the karate school that I was attending at the time. Eskrima is a Filipino martial art that employs the use of rattan sticks (among other weapons) of various length, similar to the Japanese jo. Eskrima calls for a pair of sticks to be used in unison (at least as what I had been shown on this day). The strikes, parries, blocks and counters of the style knows no bounds. For sure, any type of weapons training will end things quickly in the real world. For the uninitiated, one hard whack on the knuckles from these things and it's game over.

In the late 80s, students of Dan Inosanto (a master Eskrimador and former disciple of Bruce Lee) developed the Dog Brothers style of full-contact weapons fighting. Practitioners use little or next-to-no protective gear for single and double-stick sparring, but also mock knifework and even chain whipping that combines standup hand-to-hand fighting and ground game similar to MMA complete with tapouts. Matches are often brutal and bloody preceded by the caveat that "there isn’t any suing each one spends the night in the hospital" and at the end of the day "we’re friends."

The credo of the Dog Brothers system, "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact," refers to the centering of awareness despite the intense adrenaline rush and pain experienced during a real fight. It is with the hope that the practitioner's lessons "carries over to the rest of one’s life; and should one ever need to use one’s skills that it will be done with a calmness that allows for good judgement as well as good skill."

When the UFC began building steam in the mid 90s, they considered using Dog Brothers stickfighting for airtime. But after viewing a demo tape of DB in action, the UFC decided against it as it was deemed too violent, even for the type of viewership they were catering to. A letter dated 1995 to DB's headquaters reads:

[T]he UFC tournament has pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable in TV sports entertainment. The political foes that this event has attracted, because of the tournament, has made us acutely sensitive to what the limits are on North American television. So it is with great reluctance that I must tell you that stickfighting, such as your group has pioneered in the USA, is just too extreme for the UFC format at this time. We have the utmost respect for your group's skills and fighting spirit. Perhaps like the UFC, your type of fighting is just ahead of its time.

In addition to the stick (30") a DB stylist should be able to handle himself proficiently with clubs, knives, staff (54"), improvised weapons and empty-handed techniques in all ranges and against multiple assailants. Like Filipino arts, empty-handed skills are learned after weapons training.

The Dog Brothers martial arts are not for everyone says the group's guiding force, Marc 'Crafty Dog' Denny. Players could fortify themselves with heavy protective gear, a la kendo, but that would be counterproductive. "The danger and risk are necessary to the transformitive nature of the experience."

(h/t: reddit/martialarts -- link includes mildly graphic video)

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Translations of Chinese Martial Arts Manuals

For those into Chinese boxing and weapons systems here's a site written by Paul Brennan that translates into English an impressive collection of original Chinese works by various authors dated from 1875 to 1963 on Taiji, Shaolin, Xingyiquan, among other arts.

Texts include sections on self-defense, saber training, pushing-hands techniques, fitness, diet and philosophy.

Esoteric topics such as breathwork ("energy" or chi) and intent (xing) are discussed in Li Jianqiu's treatise on The Art of Xingyi Boxing (1920):

If you gather energy into your chest, you will gasp and it will not stay for long. If you gather energy into your lower abdomen, it will stay long and not hinder your breathing. It will accumulate gradually until it is abundant. This kind of energy is vast, and is more readily led by the intent.

Explanations and illustrations appear throughout on form and function as well as the differences between internal and external theory. Many of these works emphasize the unity of mind, body and spirit along with encouraging the would-be aspirant to cultivate a proper attitude and moral integrity in relation to the martial arts.

[Note to readers: Chinese martial arts are not my forte; for those schooled in this area I'll leave it to you to decide the value of these texts in today's world.]

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Leaving My Style

I have decided to embark on a new path. It is with a heavy heart that I will no longer be associated in any way with Isshinryu karate. You read that right. This is no joke, I assure you. In the coming weeks I'll be traveling to Italy to begin my tutelage under the world renowned grandmaster Gilberto Pauciullo. I'm sure you've all heard of him -- who hasn't? Professor Pauciullo holds the distinction of earning more black belts and honorary certificates than anyone in martial arts history. He has attained 10th dan black-belt rankings in twenty-two styles; five in jiu-jitsu, one in mexed [sic] martial arts (MMA from Mexico?), one in plain ol' self-defense, and others that I have to admit I've never even heard of.

Why waste my time with one style when I can have pretty much all of them?

Check out this (abridged) list of the master's achievements:

10th Dan – Katory Yama RyuJu-Jutsu
10th Dan – Okonawa [sic] Go JuRyu
10th Dan – Street Rapid Defense System
10th Dan – WOSD/Kapap System
10th Dan – Self-Defense
10th Dan – Agni Kempo
10th Dan – I.F.Knife Fighting System
10th Dan – Ju-Boxing Full Contact
10th Dan – Shin KakutoJutsu-Hanshi
10th Dan – Gung Chi Pai Gung Fu System
10th Dan – Ju-Hitsu AJJIF
10th Dan – Ju-Jitsu IJJF
10th Dan – Ju-Jitsu ACJJ
10th Dan – Ju-Jitsu UAJJ
10th Dan – Martial Arts Police Method
10th Dan – Makoto Ryu Ju-Jitsu
10th Dan – Bu-JutsuSigung
10th Dan – Mexed Martial Arts
10th Dan – SERCSU [?]
10th Dan – Dim Mak
10th Dan – Nefusen Submission Ju-Jitsu
10th Dan – Vietnamese Combat Martial Arts
9th Dan – Ken Jitsu
9th Dan – Tatsu Seiki Kikou-Do
9th Dan – Kamishin Kai Ju-Jitsu
9th Dan – Chinese Kempo
9th Dan – Kokusai Sin JutsuKempo Kai
8th Dan – Judo
8th Dan – Kimuchino Aikido
7th Dan – A.O.S. Tai Chi System
7th Dan – Ashihara Bu-Do kai
7th Dan – Ting Ho Dao
6th Dan – SeishinryokuGoju Kick Boxing
6th Dan – Kendo
4th Dan – FULUNGJJ [??]
2nd Dan – Sakibo

I never knew the Police Department had their own martial art, complete with a kyu/dan ranking system. (To say nothing of the Japanese rank of dan being used in Chinese and Vietnamese arts.) Pauciullo also claims 11th duan (?) in something called Man Seer Kung Pai Kung Fu, a style he created in his spare time before he became too busy collecting black belts. I heard he was invited to enter the UFC but declined because, obviously, the techniques he uses are just too lethal. I have my work cut out for me. When I come back from overseas I'll be describing my training experiences in future posts. Wish me luck!