Thursday, December 18, 2014

Which Way is Up?

 Teaching people to be able to move their feet and not stay planted is not easy. The 'freeze' tendency in all of us, alongside the one that automatically resists being pushed, and chooses to push back instead of move, makes a great deal of footwork almost counterintuitive.

In a way one has to 'unlearn' heaviness/plantedness but not at the expense of losing structure and connection through the body. Move WITH someone trying to run you down or throw you and WHERE you move in relationship to THEM is even more important. You can't gain the advantage unless you understand the geometry of the whole.

Where is the 'space'? Where is the resistance? Which way is down? Where is weak? Where is the way out?

Here is a compilation clip of Mansur Isaev. He's a Judo player. Check out his footwork. That Cossack dancing really comes in handy doesn't it?

Big thanks to Steve Morris, a man with a superior understanding of movement and power and with some of the best eyes in the fight business, for finding the clip.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Long Time Coming

 Well it seems to have been a bit of an epic adventure getting the book done. I mean it's been done for a while now, but getting it actually 'out there' seems to have dragged on a bit. So apologies for that, but it's all a whole new world for me, and one that I seem to have little aptitude for. I am however hugely grateful for all the advice and support I have gotten from those that have helped in the adventure and very happy that it is almost almost there. I have the hard copy proof in hand, and if it scans will publish ebook and hard copy versions this weekend, available through amazon, Kindle, Smashwords ... the usual suspects.

So just a quick word about what's going to be available. There's going to be an e-book, a real print version, and then a set of downloadable videos made to accompany the book.

The book contains 68 drills which have been condensed into about 40 video clips ranging in length from about a minute to about 6 minutes with a total run time of about 114 minutes. The drills cover the set of skills one needs to practice to be able to fake and bait an opponent successfully.

To be clear, these videos are not a record of Sonny Umpad's Visayan Corto Kadena Eskrima system. They are purely an aspect, a view point if you like of Sonny's sword ideas, that teach a very specific, yet fundamental skill - How to deceive your opponent, and how not to get deceived by them. Basically the more mental or psychological parts of the fight that make 'why' you do 'what', 'when', make sense. Understand this, and you can take the concepts to everything else you practice.

So if you are curious about what I got from Sonny, how I got it, and why it was such a revelation, buy the book. The ebook is of course the easiest way to do this.

If you are more old school, like to hold something in your hands, make notes and find it on your bookshelf to reread again later, buy the hard copy.

If you are actually interested in gaining the skills and trying out some of the ideas, buy the videos too.

The books will be out this weekend, but the videos will take a bit longer to become available for purchase. Keep tuned for that :-)

Of course nothing beats a real time teacher, with video coming in a very poor second, and the written word a far flung third. However it's the best medium we have for remote learning, and as a bonus feature I will be starting a private group on Facebook (as it seems the most universally accessible network right now) for those that buy the drills VIDEO set, where I will answer questions, take feedback and requests for 'in fill' videos, etc to help folks get a better handle on the material.

Honestly I am hoping this first set of videos will be just the start of the conversation. They truly are the bare bones of what you need, and it took me over 4 years to even start to get a handle on what the hell I was doing, let alone gaining control of it.

Actually quite excited about this :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


 This is a video of Markus Brinkman, one of Luo DeXiu's earliest students. I love watching his material because he can show so clearly how the principles of Bagua and Hsing-I work. Here he takes a few different entries, and does the same one over and over, just varies the angles of the hands, the body and the placement of the feet.

The hands, though possessing some intrinsic power ( for instance whipping and dead hand), really are best when used as ways to connect your body to that of the opponent.

You move your feet so you are aligned with your power and potential future options, and go where your opponent is weak and has none. (a.k.a. being pretzeled). Connect your body to your hands and voila! You can use your legs and the planet earth to add force into the system.

What is going to work when, will vary depending on the opponent. It matters not! There's always somewhere that will! See the momentum and connect. The reaction to the entry will tell you if you succeed, or how to counter their resistance.

Great stuff 

Edit: I have been told that the link above has been changed to 'private' which is unfortunate, but this one was just uploaded:

It has some of the same entries and progessions as the previous clip - Basically using one idea and extrapolating.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cause and Effect

I am starting this post with no idea where it is going to go, or how it will end ...

It's strange what inspires one to write.

Inspiration has been somewhat lacking recently (as you may have noticed). The book is done, and almost out, and I have not found, or even sought it out. For me inspiration has to come from the outside ... at least the trigger does, or perhaps better - the frame. The frame gives the thoughts inside my head a shape worthy of sharing. This inactivity may be because the book contains everything I want it to say, and to say more would just create noise. Like an over painted painting, or a recipe with too many ingredients there IS a time to stop. And until I get questions and critiques, there really is nothing more to add.

A couple days back, however, some floating thoughts found their matrix, and apparently the impetus to speak out loud again has followed :-)

It could be because of the mid term elections here in the States, perhaps conversations on line, comments overheard, or posts on Facebook I read. In any case I got to thinking about time, how we perceive it, how we use it, and far ahead (and back) into it we tend to look.

And no, this is not going to be a tirade against the supposed short attention spans of people these days because I actually think this shortness of focus has been around for a long time, at least since people moved away from the land and the progress of the industrial revolution. It may have gotten worse ... but it is certainly not new.

Everywhere I see people pointing at 'problems', in themselves, and in society, both physical and psychological, and trying to come up with ways to 'fix' them. Some even try these fixes, but most seem dissatisfied with the 'results'. Over and over again.

So the thought occurred to me - Why do people expect the first thing they try to work? And secondly, why do so many rush straight at a problem, guns blazing as it were, thinking that the 'other side' will just capitulate? (You can see the parallels  to sword play here no doubt ...)

Where's the subtlety? Where's the 'long game' Where's the understanding that there are short, medium, and long cycles to change? Any student of conflict resolution from one on one sword play to international politics knows that resolution can be a circuitous path - admittedly faster in a one on one setting with pointy objects than in major world affairs, but still, it's not always the direct path. And then there's the delusion that blurting out exactly what you want, ultimately GETS you what you want.

Everything you do and say sets up the relationship you are going to have with your adversary. The adversary is already your adversary. This we know. But what kind of adversary ....? You want them to be the kind that YOU WANT THEM TO BE and YOU CAN CONTROL THIS by how they perceive you to be.

Getting your way, getting what you want, is rarely about getting the adversary to admit they are wrong, or to admit you are right. It is about getting them to do what you want as though it was their idea all the time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Floyd Mayweather Analysis

 The guy that turned me on to most of the boxing clips that I post is, perhaps predictably, a fellow student of Sonny's. He's been boxing since he was a kid and has been studying the sweet science for a long, long, time.

He got together with a boxing friend to put together this compilation of Mayweather clips. The words are his.

I love it when someone can point stuff out to me that my own eyes cannot follow. What he sees because he understands the sport is way more than I will ever be able to, but once pointed out, the principles that underlie why you do what when, are as clear as day, and wonderful to appreciate in real time.

Like the Maestro said - "To hit is easy. To get hit even easier. To not get hit? this is where the art is."

The clip is over 20 minutes long, but spare yourself the time, it's worth it. AND the music is awesome.

This link might work if the one above does not:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Same Same Not Same

Last night was the first Hsing-I workshop with Luo DeXiu. As per usual, and still following form, he turned up looking younger and more powerful as he always seems to do.

I too follow a yearly pattern. I see the schedule of what he will be teaching, and sometimes think 'Oh, he's teaching that again, maybe I'll miss that one'. Then remember that ever year I think this, I go to the first seminar, learn loads, and can't believe I had even contemplated not going.

So it was this year. The 5 Elements. How many times have I practiced this? How many workshops have I gone to on this material? Sigh. Just go.

So I go, and of course have a fabulous time, find new things to work on, get corrections, and notice a bunch of new stuff I had never noticed before. Now, I won't say it was not there .. only that this is the first time I actually heard or saw it.

This got me to thinking. Has he always said these things but I just did not notice? Has he changed his method? Or is it me?

I reckon it's a mixture of all of them. He teaches, sees what people don't understand, and modifies his approach, he also sees people are getting things on one level, and adds some subtleties to play with, and, probably, what I notice about how he moves and plays has become more sophisticated, so I now notices more stuff. Ah! look at that, he totally accelerated and stopped dead to accentuate the draw. Or - He sheared the line, and his foot is on the outside. Never saw that before .. Of course that's why it works!

They say the old masters practice the basics over and over. They don't stand in San Ti for an hour and do complex forms, they do maybe 20 reps of a basic half step drill and move on.

When you are fully engaged in your practice, improving and reaching for better performance, you can stay with the simplest of movements and still find new ways to build skill and understanding. Thing is, it's alot easier with a teacher who is doing the same.