Saturday, February 02, 2008

Daily Increase

Bruce Lee once said (and I am paraphrasing here) , "Jeet Kune Do is not the daily increase but the daily decrease of knowledge." This saying can be applied equally to any art you practise be it Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Karate, Aikido etc. I have noticed that most people who cite this quote tend to forget a big and major point of contention. Which is that before you can get to a point of cutting down you have to unequivocally build it up. If you have nothing to begin with then how can you start the process of hacking away the inessentials? Even if you have started off then how can one you immediately begin the downsizing process when you have very little to begin with? The idea is to build up your arsenal and then start cutting away. You will observe this happen quite naturally as well; as we grow skilled at something we start to find ways that suit our working style and leave those ways that we can't work with which is essentially the hacking process Bruce was talking about. Be careful when you apply this principle. You need to build up your skill first and one you reach a point where you feel you are skilled enough than you can start the hacking. But before you even do that there is something more important that you must possess. That is honesty to yourself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Sometime ago I stumbled across a secret or what I thought is a secret with regards to kicking. The result of this is that kicks are faster and not telegraphed but it assumes that you have a more face on stance like in Wing Chun which I prefer but more on that later. To do this kick you pick up your leg until the thigh is parallel to the ground or somewhat parallel and then from that position you launch whatever kick you intend, the side, front or roundhouse whatever tickles your fancy. The one thing is that you take a lot of the oomph from the kick but the speed and surprise advantage you get is tremendous! Try it, but it takes a lot to bring the rest of the body to bring such a kick into being especially with the side and roundhouse kicks.

With those kicks you have to swivel your supporting leg very quickly to counter-balance the effects of the rotation so as to not hurt your knee. Let me know if this helps.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Being level headed

A point that is not stressed enough in many martial arts is keeping a level head. I do not speak of the mental aspect but rather the physical position of the head. When one is moving it is really important to try and not vary your height, by that I mean, when one moves forward many people have the tendency to rise which gives off an alarm to your opponent who will then aptly react to your head movement. Even if you try your best to conceal your attack, the change in your head's latitude will without a doubt forewarn your adversary of your intentions. A good exercise is to look at oneself up close in a mirror and note if your head keeps still or not. Of course ducking an oncoming attack is a completely different scenario altogther and in such a case it is best to move your head out of the way!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kata, hyung, quan and forms

Everyone who has come up to me regarding forms (kata, hyung, quan etc.) has always seem to berated them.

"Oh a fight is never played out like that," they say.
"That is so fake! What if the guy kicks you in the nuts," and so on and so forth they continue.

As if I was completely unaware of those arguments.

During my education of the martial arts I have learnt tons about forms and why certain arts have them which lead me to draw my own conlusions and attach a value to such a training tool.

I really don't think that forms should be criticised and berated so harshly. Most arts use them as a supplemental training tool but one should not view them as a mock fight. They are more than that. The traditional Okinawan forms are known to disguise certain joint-lock and pressure point moves; this is formally known as tuite. Since most Japanese forms, Japanese arts being by far the most popular around the world, take root in the Okinawan forms it is natural to conjecture that Japanese forms would also contain these elements. However, now since most arts are taught as a competition form, this aspect tends to be diluted out very easily.

Wing Chun, my art, views forms differently. They view them as a reference book for moves, like an encyclopedia. All the relevant moves are present in the forms and each form is presented for a general situation. The first form for instance is used to define the centerline which is the most important concept of the art. The second for lays the groundwork for closing in on an opponent. The last empty hand form focuses on getting out of precarious positions. Moves from the forms can be viewed singularly or as a compendium of various moves depending on the situation one finds oneself in.

These are but two different opinions on forms and I am sure there are more than just these. All things aside, even if we do not look at forms traditionally there is one thing prevalent in all forms whether karate kata, taichi quan, taekwondo hyung etc.; concentration. All require the practitioner to concentrate very hard on what they are doing forcing the mind play to an active role during training and for this reason I personally believe that a martial artist should not give up form practice. Bruce Lee's famous essay "Liberate yourself from classical karate" teaches otherwise, and although I am a huge follower of his teachings I would love to differ with him on this. I feel that the concentrat on that forms teach and the obstacles they present are extremely important to a martial artist's repertoire. These things are hard to train and forms present an excellent pathway to that goal.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Karate Ni Senti Nashi

Karate Ni Senti Nashi.

There is no first strike in karate.

I believe this axiom is very important for martial artists to remember and keep at the forefront of their minds. Martial artists have a bigger responsibility than most people when it comes to violence, since they are trained in combat, one would think they could easily come out the victor in a challenge. In most cases this would be true - ceteris paribus - the person with the higher skill level would be the victor. Martial artists must remember that the best way to avoid a fight is to not partake in it. However, if things get really bad then by all means do so, but if one can avoid a fight one should do so. There is no shame in walking away from a potential altercation before it exacerbates. This way pain and damage is avoided. It is easier to hit a person than not hit.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ken Zen Ichi Nyo

I decided to start another blog on one of my favourite topics; the martial arts. I have titled this blog "Ken Zen Ichi Nyo", after a famous Japanese training maxim, which is loosely translated as "The mind and fist are one." This, I believed would be an apt title since I do not intend to cover the technical aspects of the arts only, I will try to envelope the spiritual/mental portion of the arts as well. Most students and teachers nowadays, I feel, are caught up with winning trophies and advancing their ranks etc. that they tend to lose sight of the other half of what makes up their respective art. I frankly believe that the mental portion is as important if not more so than the physical aspect. We can all mimic the moves after a certain amount of repetition and habitude, it's the neglected portion of exercising the mind that is often left out simply because people have other goals in sight. Winning trophies etc., are fine but they should not be the end in of itself. The martial arts were set out to formulate a code of ethos which practitioners could apply to their day-to-day lives as well. Delve deeper into the history of most traditional arts and you will always come across a set of rules that will dictate how a martial artist is supposed to carry out his daily routines as set out by broad and general dictums. The "Dojo Kun", "Kuen Kuit" are such examples that are used still today in many training halls to fortify the mind and whilst retaining the "martial arts" aspect as well. That being said remember "Ken Zen Ichi Nyo".