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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Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Would You Do?

Into a soul absolutely free

From thoughts and emotion,

Even the tiger finds no room

To insert its fierce claws

— A Taoist Priest, from the opening pages of Tao of Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee.

While doing research for an article it happened that I got sidetracked by another blogger's post, in addition to an unrelated but relevant news report. So for now, I feel compelled to bring you a lesson in dojo etiquette and managing one's impulses out into the real world. A Karate Man Would Not is the fictional tale about a young trainee who is exhorted by his master to temper his relationships with others outside of the training hall. The master, in typical fashion, is not very direct about how one should exactly approach this, hoping that the student will get it on his own with minimal prodding. Without giving too much away, the story focuses on how to remain cool when challenged in a non-physical way. Easy in theory. Not so easy when it really goes down.

Case in point: A man confronts a group of people protesting a fracking project taking place near public schools in Mars, Pennsylvania. Clearly spoiling for a fight, the antagonist lets loose with a barrage of insults and insinuates that the camera man is somehow responsible for "milking my tax dollars" (to say nothing of the fact that oil companies are entitled to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, but I digress) because citizens have apparently little better things to do than to worry about natural gas drilling where they live.

Please watch this to the end. Examine your inner state as you view this.

DISCLAIMER: Profane and racist language

I don't know about you, but my initial viewing of this left me feeling like I wanted to put my foot through a wall. The fact that this is an environmental issue, or about free speech, or that this idiot ended up getting fired from his job because his boss saw this now-viral clip on YouTube is besides the point. The peaceful group were for the most part unfazed by this verbal attack. There's no doubt they harbored some fear, and for good reason. Realize that this guy felt that he held the moral high ground with this tirade.

Who among us could remain poised in the face of such a vicious verbal barrage? In the past I've written about honor and a real life tale of what happens when self-restraint fails. Whether your reaction is one of fear or that of anger, it should not dictate how you respond. As Musashi said, "In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined through calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit."

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rousey vs. Holm: My Two Cents

This post begins with an admission: I am, at best, a casual fan of mixed martial arts. By now, any real MMA fan has heard that Ronda Rousey, the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, was defeated last night (Sat., Nov. 14, 2015) by a relative unknown — Holly Holm. So the following is my naïve understanding of a sport that I really don't follow closely, and it is with this neophytic perspective (along with my actual knowledge of karate, among other things) that I'll weigh in.

Nobody gave Holm a chance. She was regarded as mere cannon fodder for the indestructible machine that the undefeated Rousey has been portrayed as, and justifiably so. Her last three bouts have lasted an average of 22 seconds each! An adept striker, Rousey's real forte is judo, as she earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics.

Witness the second and final round of the match. Rousey is forced out of her comfort zone of close quarter grappling by Holm's strategy of maintaining a healthy distance. Holm, a southpaw and a former professional boxer and kickboxer, repeatedly lands crushing left crosses against Rousey's unprotected face. Note the sweet slip Holm gives Rousey at 4:28. The coup de grâce was a brutal round kick to the neck by Holm.

Holm's transition from boxing to MMA may be wiser than she realizes. MMA has been shown to be less injurious than boxing.

Some thoughts I've held for a while, but culminated with this match:

  • Many fights don't end up as a ground-and-pound wrestling match.
  • MMA is not merely sportive head bashing, but a highly technical art that deserves respect.
  • Women in MMA can be as popular as their male counterparts.
  • The idea that competitive fighters of any stripe are heartless thugs that lack empathy is largely a myth.

The golden age of women's MMA has begun. Indeed, MMA in general is here to stay. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly mistaken.

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Saturday, November 07, 2015

The New App for Street Fighters

Normally I would tag a post like this one under "humor" or roll it out on 4/1. But this isn't April Fool's Day and this is not funny. There's an app almost ready to be launched for street fighting enthusiasts called Rumblr that allows users to scroll through other prospective scrappers who wish to engage in a fist fight. I kid you not.

From the website:

Rumblr is an app for recreational fighters to find, meet, and fight other brawl enthusiasts nearby.

  • Anonymously choose which members you want to fight.
  • Get matched with others who want to throw down.
  • Arrange and schedule fights right inside the app.
  • Explore nearby fights and filter by fight type.
  • Scope out your opponents with detailed statistics before fighting.

Stats on fighters would include age, height/weight, experience and "MMA Specialty."

Getting "called-out" is almost a rite of passage for adolescent males. And fights in inner cities are common, obviously. But organized fights broadcasted on social media will likely draw crowds and possibly gangs. This is a sobering thought. Check out some of the images on the Rumblr site.

Before we get carried away with visions of gang warfare, realize that this app was primarily designed to setup one-on-one matches.

Hopefully, this app doesn't survive. Between the possibility of lawsuits and the detrimental effects to already blighted environments, this cannot end well. Maybe those nunchuck wielding cops from the west coast could show up at a Rumblr event to straighten these thugs out.

Nah, another bad idea.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nunchucks for Cops

The police department in Anderson, California has decided to include nunchaku into its arsenal of weaponry. Sgt. Casey Day has recently been certified to use nunchaku for dealing with lawbreakers. "These were kind of designed with a different goal in mind to be more of a control weapon, but like I said, it's not like we can't use these as an impact weapon," Day explained. "They work really good as an impact weapon, but we try to emphasis a control tool over impact."

(For the uninitiated, nunchaku belong to a family of traditional weapons called kobudo that emphasized the use of farming implements for self-defense when weapons bans were enacted at various times during Okinawa's long history of dealing with Chinese, Japanese and Western imperialists. Nunchaku were originally used to shear crops, I've been told.)

What the criteria is to be "certified" to use nunchaku is unclear. The type the Anderson police will use will be made of plastic batons connected with a nylon rope. Interestingly, nunchaku are illegal in California. But this isn't the first time that cops have attempted to adopt an Okinawan martial arts weapon into its program. Starting in the early 70s, billy clubs were augmented with side-mounted handles, inspired by the tonfa.

Police defensive tactics, whether they involve weapons or hand-to-hand combat, generally follow the following principles in most municipalities:

  • Techniques must be easy to learn and easy to use for a majority of officers.
  • Techniques must be practical and workable in most street environments.
  • Techniques must easily integrate into department policy and procedures.

With the list of gear cops are required to use now, nunchaku would just make things more cumbersome. Police already have tasers, sidearms, batons, handcuffs, and more recently, body cams to deal with. Nunchaku techniques are difficult and often impractical. Even among experienced practitioners, at times they can be as injurious to the user as the one defending against. I vote no to this idea.

(h/t: reddit/martialarts)

(Note to readers: I realize that "nunchucks" is an Anglophonic aberration for the proper nunchaku. The use of the former in my post title was meant to have mass appeal.)

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