Sunday, January 01, 2017

Nunes vs. Rousey

Striking is back in style:

The UFC bantamweight title match pitting champion Amanda Nunes against former champ Ronda Rousey Friday night (Dec. 30, 2016) looked more like a boxing event than anything else with each opponent getting off few kicks. Rousey's head movement and defense was non-existent against the superior striking Nunes who scored at will. Rousey was stopped by Nunes after 48 seconds.

A world class judoka, Ronda never got to close the distance to use her grappling skills. Like I've said in earlier posts, I don't really follow the sport, so who knows how Nunes — who like virtually all MMA players has trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu — would have fared on the ground against the likes of Rousey. The majority of Rousey's wins came by use of an armbar and have lasted on average less than a minute. Nunes lost in her pro debut via armbar submission in 2008. Grappling techniques like those found in judo, wrestling and BJJ dominated the early years of MMA.

Prize money was lopsided as Rousey was guaranteed a 3 million dollar purse to Nunes' $100,000, plus a "matching win bonus."

Ronda doesn't need to do this anymore. Hollywood's calling with even bigger paydays.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Glenn Morris: Profile Of A Ninja

Recently I received a copy of Shadow Strategies of an American Ninja Master by Glenn Morris (1996). Morris wrote a trilogy of these ninja books and I've previously reviewed one of them. (This post is not a new review, but an overview of the rather eccentric and controversial author who passed on in 2006.) All three works, which were written during the 90s, discuss the esoterica, history, and psychology of martial arts in general as Morris had an eclectic background. He held rank in Bujinkan Ninpo (a ninja ryu) and something called Nihon Karate Jujutsu, among others. Morris was a fan of mysticism and Jungian psychology. Testimonials from people he trained with credit him with mind-reading and the ability to generate ki (chi, qi) to greatly enhance self-defense techniques.

I realize that Morris' now-dated writing emerged in the aftermath of best selling books in the 70s and 80s by the likes of Fritjof Capra and Gary Zukav, who attempted to fuse hard science and mysticism. If Morris' books were published now there is little chance they would survive the scrutiny of a readership that is the predominantly info savvy critical-thinking crew who frequently visits Bullshido, an online forum debunking spurious claims made in martial arts. Without a doubt, Morris was out there in his views, but to his credit he was no Ashida Kim. Still, his combination of academic achievements and time spent teaching leadership courses and martial arts at colleges and abroad lend to a worldview and writing style that is unique and entertaining.

In his writings Morris laments that ninpo (ninja ways) have been misrepresented in the West, courtesy in part of a string of bad movies depicting ninja as crazed gymnasts (my personal favorite) and resulting in every huckster martial arts wannabe jumping on the ninja bandwagon. Following the ninja craze of the early 80s, comic book ad sales hawking shuriken (throwing stars) and ninja garb went through the roof. Suddenly, ninja masters appeared out of nowhere selling their wares.

(Click on image to expand)

Throughout his trio of works, Morris recounts his travels to Japan to train with the grandmaster of the Bujinkan, Masaaki Hatsumi (who for whatever reason occasionally dyes his hair purple), contacting colleagues via dreams, communicating with kami (spirits), and enduring the awakening of kundalini, the serpent energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine that when activated engenders superhuman strength and a sense of cosmic unity. The kundalini process is brought about by meditation, qigong, and specialized breathing practices associated with certain martial arts.

Before this is all dismissed as woo — let's not throw the baby out with the bath water — Morris does impart some conventional wisdom regarding the martial arts and the art of living. To paraphrase:

  • Finding a qualified teacher in a true bugei (non-sportive combat art) will likely be a daunting but worthwhile undertaking.
  • Take care of your body and mind with a meditation practice, exercise and healthy diet.
  • To get ahead in life use your brain to acquire an academic degree or skill. The alternative is not pretty.
  • Be kind to everyone you meet. Karma.
  • The way is in the training. Keep going. Keep playing.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sore Loser At The Olympics

The following is a story taken from a news report dated 8/12/16:

Israeli judoka Or Sasson defeated Egyptian rival Islam El Shahaby in the first round of the men’s over-100kg competition at the Rio Games on Friday, and was left standing when his opponent refused to shake his hand at the end of the match.

In judo it is customary to both bow to opponents — a sign of respect in Japan — and shake hands after a bout is over.

El Shehaby had been well beaten but stood impassively and then backed away as Sasson tried to shake his hand.

As he left the mat area, El Shehaby was called back to the center by the referee to bow.

But he was then loudly jeered out of the arena by angry supporters.

He later announced he was quitting judo.

The story resonates with the long history of social, political and religious schism in the Middle East. Many are defending the actions of the Egyptian, claiming he received heavy criticism online for "shaming his faith and nation" for merely competing with an Israeli at the Games. A handshake at the end of a match is not mandatory.

Sadly, disrespect is nothing new in martial arts events at the Olympics. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, a competitor received a lifetime ban from the World Taekwondo Federation after he kicked a referee in the head, pushed a judge and then spat on the floor before being ejected by security. Of course, while the recent tale lacks the blatant violence of this one, it's indicative of the lack of dignity and self-control in the face of defeat.

Jigaro Kano (1860-1938), the founder of judo, sought early on to include judo as an Olympic event. He died before his dream was realized at the 1964 Games in Tokyo. We need not imagine what the master would have thought of what happened this past Friday in Rio. In his words:

Judo should be free as art and science from any external influences, political, national, racial, and financial or any other organized interest. And all things connected with it should be directed to its ultimate object, the benefit of humanity.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Have Kung-fu Weapons — Will Travel

Somebody was caught about a week ago (5/7) trying to get through security at LaGuardia Airport in New York with a cache of martial arts weapons that he must have been saving for the coming civil war, the apocalypse, or maybe his ex-wife. He had some collection. Really, what was this nut thinking?

The unnamed New Haven, Connecticut resident was arrested after being stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at the airport’s check-in area on Saturday.

Several martial arts weapons described as deadly, including three throwing knives, a traditional throwing star, expandable throwing star, as well as a dagger were located after the officers detected weapons among his carry-on items, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a statement.

Expandable throwing star. That thing is more than half-a-foot in diameter. How about that! Does it return to you like a boomerang? In kobudo arts which are taught alongside of Okinawan karate, weapons are rarely thrown. I want to keep my weapons close to me, but not when I'm traveling abroad. Daggers and throwing stars are definitely frowned upon by the TSA.

For the curious, here's the TSA's list of self-defense items that could get you thrown in the pokey if you try boarding a jumbo jet with them. (Click the "self defense" tab if you visit the site.) Note that these may get you through a checking area, but not as a carry-on.

The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
  • Billy Clubs
  • Black Jacks
  • Brass Knuckles
  • Kubatons
  • Martial Arts Weapons
  • Night Sticks
  • Nunchucks
  • Self Defense Sprays:
  • One 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Self-defense sprays containing more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited in checked baggage. For more information, visit
  • Stun Guns/Shocking Devices
  • Throwing Stars
Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

In the meantime, happy traveling!

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Friday, April 01, 2016

Serious Question From A Reader

Yesterday I received an email from someone who follows my blog. In it, he asks a question that has been posed to me in various guises through the years. Here's part of it, followed by my reply:

So I rented this movie the other night about Ip Man, the wing chun master. You know who he was? BRUCE LEE'S @#$%ING KUNG FU TEACHER!! Ip Man was badder than Donald Trump. Anyway there's a part in the movie where he uses his wing chun kungfu to demolish 10 black belt fighters all at once! How badass is that! It looked pretty real but I wanted to know if this is even possible. Cause I want to do that $#!t to some people I know. They have it coming, don't worry, and these punks ain't no black belts anyway. Let me know as soon as possible. Thanx, Timmy

Yes Timmy, it is possible to beat 10 Black Belts® like that, or anyone else for that matter. Actually, I do it all the time. You see, in karate and many other systems of martial arts we have solo exercises handed down through antiquity that used to be taught in secret, known as kata ― which is Japanese for "The Dance of Death." Check out this diagram of an old time karate master demonstrating a kata:

And that's all you need to know about facing multiple assailants in a crisis. Because it's common knowledge in the martial arts community that kata was created to beat the daylights out of numerous thugs simultaneously. Now go get some kata DVDs and study them at home Timmy, and get back to me when you get out of the hospital beat the hell out of those damn troublemakers. Good luck!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bearing The Storm

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

― Tsunetomo Yamamoto


Saturday, March 05, 2016

Cashier vs. Gun-Toting Punk

I'm not a big fan of gun disarm techniques for obvious reasons. A while back I posted about a murder trial that involved Chuck Norris testifying for the defense, demonstrating how to disrupt a gun wielder.

This past week, a cashier working at a convenience store in Georgia (US) thwarted a 17-year-old robber brandishing a gun. Bhumika Patel was ringing up the youth's purchase of soda when he flashes a gun in her face. Attempting to slap the weapon away, she hits him over the head with the cash drawer and then promptly chases him out of the store with a hammer. The suspect was caught later. Christian Thornton faces charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a crime. Check out the video here.

Everyone is hailing her as a hero. I think she's more crazy than heroic. I'm guessing this was not her first rodeo — who knows how many times this store has been robbed or shoplifted — but this could have ended tragically very easily.

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