Friday, June 26, 2009

Real fights and "Complex movements"

Here in my time in the states I have found most people believe that the concept that the simpler movement is the most effective movement. That many movements take to long or are too complex to remember in a real fight when your full of adrenaline. It is true that in a fight you don't have much time to think about a movement or you will freeze. However this has nothing to do with the complexity of the technique, but rather its related to how familiar you are with the technique. Also don't believe that when your adrenaline kicks in you will become some kind of werewolf with no mind at all. In fact you must always be keenly aware and mindful of your surroundings at all time. Where is your opponent? How many people might get involved once it begins? Where are my exits? How can I use the environment to my advantage? These are all things that must be immediately evaluated before your fray begins.

As for which techniques are going to be most effective, it's going to be the techniques that you have practiced the most. Muscle memory is developed after doing movements thousands and thousands of times. So at the time that you are in a battle everything should be second nature and nothing should seem complex.

Actually you can see how muscle memory works in sports. If you play basketball all the time you don't have to think about the rules. No matter how intense the game is or how much adrenaline you have going on both sides you can't just pick up the ball and start running. You have to obey the rules of the game at all times just as you have to obey the rules of your art at all times. Is Kobe Bryant thinking about dribbling while he is playing? Or is he thinking about the open opportunity. Most people don't practice as much as Kobe at basketball and may have to think about things such as passing, dribbling and shooting. A movement like passing behind the back would seem foolish for someone who has not mastered the basic passing. This is also the case with martial arts. Just remember how many thousands of years have been spent to perfect the martial arts . There is nothing that is designed to be "flashy". It is only arrogance to believe that in your short life span you can develop something better than what has already been refined for generations. This includes Bruce Lee who even though is the greatest hero of martial arts. Even after he developed his own style, he could never beat his master.

My advice is to make sure that you can do all of your techniques in real time. Have your friend start punching at you slow while you perform the counter. Do it over and over, faster and faster. Do it everyday with the same technique for a month, a year, a decade. I promise you that movement will be effective no matter how complex it may seem.

In the end I hope that all of you can understand when it is time to fight. When someone disrespects you? Betrays you? Steals your girl? Takes your money?
Of course it is up to ones own discretion to decide whether or not this is the time. When I was younger I used to fight a lot more over many different situations. As I grew wiser I was able to realize the unfairness of the situation. Even though this guy is bigger than me, stronger than me or even has friends with him, it is still unfair. I spend all of my time understanding the weak points in the body. Thousands of techniques a day trying to develop the most power and speed that is possible. Maybe this guy did call me a nigger. Maybe I do have the right to respond with force. But in the end he is only trying to fight with me because he is ignorant. No matter how angry or crazy someone is, they cannot overpower the physics of martial science. You should consider your art the same as carrying around a gun. Would you pull out your gun for any argument that you had at a bar? The techniques that you may be fiddling around with are the same ones that were used in the battle fields of China to kill thousands of soldiers. Make sure you weigh out your options.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fox doing the Six Connecting Kicks or Six Harmony Kicks

This is a small clip from a demonstration from a while back. This style is a part of our system of Gao Bagua as a supplement to teach kicking. It is known that you cannot understand soft style until you have first learned hard style. Otherwise your movements we be empty. So this lineage has many other styles that have been adopted in order to emphasize certain techniques that later could be attached to your Bagua learning. We most often use Baji, Seven Star Palm, Wu Dang Fist, Five Elements, Six Harmony Kicks, Crouching TIger Sword, Six Harmony Sword, Strange Spear, Gao's Staff, Double sticks, Qing Ping Sword etc. All of these systems are not part of our system of Bagua but all teach fundamentals needed to understand the nature of combat. I know that a lot of people don't like forms because they believe it is some sort of performance but that is not what it is designed for. Think about any form as being the ABC song. We have to learn it when we are young so that we don't forget any of the important letter when trying to spell a word. Just as a form you must take the letters and movements out so that you can begin to write your own story. So it is best to take the movements that you need the most and then practice them over and over in a combat scenario.

Master Wu Guo Zheng Doing Preheaven Demo

This is a demonstration from a few years ago with my master showing a few movements from the preheaven set. Watch for his alignment of structure and how he seemlessly transfers power from his legs to his body to his hands.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bagua Seminar in Seattle Before I Leave

I have recieved a lot of emails from individuals that wanted me to teach them or open a school in the Seattle area. Before I leave I would love to at least provide an opportunity for individuals who are intrested to learn a major section of Gao Bagua. I am going to offer lessons for those who are dedicated from the 22nd of June untill the 26th of June in the Seattle area. I will teach the complete Heaven section which includes 8 post Heaven movements, foot work, applications for combat and Pre heaven movements. For those who have an intrest in Bagua this will be a great opportunity to begin your training. For others who are more experienced it will be an opportunity to advance your skills. All individuals with good attitudes are welcome. It will be 5 days filled with a lot of information so is it is recommended that you bring something to take notes or video record. Classes will be held for 2 hours and the total price will be 50 bucks. Making classes 5 dollars an hour. I will decide the location as the date gets closer but all of those who are intrested please make a comment or send me a personal email. It might also be a good time for you to learn more about Tian Wu Dao.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Questions about the Arts?

A lot of the post that I place on my blog are based from questions that people have about training or anything. If anyone has any questions about anything (hopefuly martial arts related) I will be more than willing to place it on my blog for the benefit of everyone who might have the same questions. Thank you guys for your support, its appreciated.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Learning a new style

Recently I had someone ask me if learning martial arts for so long makes it easier for me to pick up a new style. His thought was that developing different muscles through time would allow an individual to pick up another style faster than the average person. I'd have to say this is unfortunatley for me never really the case. Granted if the style that you are changing too is related to the previous style you study such as Taekwondo to Hapkido. Then the transition is very smooth because all of the ideas are the same but Hapkido provides more movements. However if you have learned Ninjitsu and are transitioning to Wing Chun then it can actually play against your learning. Its the same as a gymnist switching to swimming. Even though he is used to exercise and hardwork he will still have to make a major adjustment mentally before understanding the new movements. He will even have to untrain some of the muscles that now are a hinderance. When I first met my master Wu Guo Zheng I had already been training martial arts for twenty years. But when he had me doing the new stances my legs were so tired that they began burning and shaking like never before. I used to pretend I had to go to the bathroom to make the pain stop. Until of course he asked me, "Why do you go to the bathroom every time you start to learn?"

I think the most important factor is having an empty mind. It seems like something that we hear all the time in the martial arts world. Yet it is something that expereinced martial artist can not do easily. I admit there have been times when I was younger that I would come into a new dojo thinking, "I already have my black belt in two other styles, this should be easy to learn." It is that very thought that restricted me from understanding the new philosophy that the master was trying to teach. If you use the same kick from Muay thai, kick boxing, Tae kwon do, Ninjitsu or whatever, it may appear the same from the outside. But on the inside the concepts are very different for reasons of power, speed, stealth, evasion etc. If you see your teacher do a kick that you assume you already know, then you have missed the whole point. Now you have become too smart to learn and this is where your training will plateau.

An open mind means that you have to completely forget that you have learned anything when you step into a new classroom. Even your thoughts can make you miss many points of the lesson. After you leave class you can begin to compare, contrast and research your other knowledge. Simply put, humility is the path to power.

It does pay however to be mindful of who you are learning from. Anyone who has more knowledge than you is qualified to be your teacher. But only someone who understands the art as well as your goal is qualified to be your master. I have had many teachers in my life time but I have only had one master. A master can not only teach you the movements but also he can teach you how to conquer yourself. Our bad attitudes, impatience, anger etc. We all have very complicated problems that distract us from not only learning our martial arts style but also prevent us from becoming the best version of ourselves. I believe your true master will be able to teach the art while placing you on a path to your success in life. Which means you have to have a personal relationship.

If you are getting in to a classroom and it is your first time or you are a veteran you shouldn't be thinking about whether it is what you expected or not. The basics are NEVER exciting. The same stances or structures for hours on end is not something we look forward to. It is the transition from boy to man, man to warrior, warrior to master. If you just rush through them, you will always have the same weakness and eventuallly will have to start over anyway. So get it right the first time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sorry about the delay

Well I know I was planning on working in the crossfit Gym with my good friend Morgan but there has been a change of plans. Because of financial reasons I won't be able to settle in the states for too much longer. I will be heading back to Taiwan to take advantage of some new opportunities that will lead to the construction of the University. I feel that it is better if now I just do seminars from place to place in order to find which place is best suited for me in the future. In the meantime I will return to teaching classes in Taiwan along with training with my master Wu Guo Zheng. After I get a little real money and see exactly where this economy is heading I will be able to make better decisions on where to teach. In the meantime if you are in my area I am more than glad to help you out in anyway I can. Also I should mention I will be back and forth through America quite often to teach many of the Tianwudao so send me and email and maybe we can work something out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Don't Leave Empty Handed

This is an article written by my master which had three different sections. The first section focuses more on the technical movements of the way of the hands. Snatching hand, capturing had, dropping hand etc. Though there are many methods to getting to the point
that we can grab our opponent, more is needed before we can control him. This is the section I decided to translate which is part two: Strengthening your grip.

Written by Wu Guo Zheng

Translated by Warren Fox

Grabbing, strictly speaking is the meaning behind not leaving empty handed. It doesn't matter if you use the leading palm, inside lead, dropping palm, taking palm, snatching palm, capturing palm etc. All of these hand techniques are related to grabbing. Simply put, after grabbing your opponent the power is placed at his hands. You can take him left to right, up to down or front to back. This is the standard method of grabbing. So all of the techniques mentioned above capturing palm, dropping palm, taking palm all come down to the grab and then we can follow up. Grabbing the opponent and moving force from left to right is the leading palm. A single handed grab which moves the power backwards is the capturing palm. A two handed grab which forces them back is the taking palm. A two handed grab that the power drops their weight is the dropping palm. So grabbing is the meaning of not leaving empty handed, which means if don't get a grab on them we leave with nothing. This excludes movements such as the wrapping palm, dragging palm where we use a staining or sticking method.

In the realm of Bagua the grab is extremely important. So when we practice our post heaven movements, we must practice the gripping motion very clearly. That's how we practice our precision. First off the power relies in the fingers. So without finger strength we can not capture anything. In the application methods of Bagua, finger strength is crucial. For this reason it is important that we go through many different types of finger strengthening training methods. The following is practice methods for finger power.

Generally speaking there are a lot of different types of practice methods. But now I will introduce our systems most commonly used concepts. Training grabbing involves two types of power: pointing power and holding power. Even though the types of power are different they are also related and cannot be separated. Pointing power is purely the power of the fingers while holding power is the power of the palm. When the powers come together it is grabbing power.

This systems most commonly practiced finger strengthening technique is called the Iron Ox Plows Earth. The method of practicing must be slowly progressed. You can't immediately practice this on the floor. First it must be practiced while standing. Face the wall with your hands about a foot away then your hands push against the wall much like a push up. But this type of push up is very different than normal. Normally for push ups your elbows are pointed outward, but for this your arms absolutely must be squeezed inward. Use your finger tips to support your weight, keep your shoulders forced downward and your finger tip position must be in front of your chest cavity. This is the form you must use when pushing away from the wall. When you first start don't do too many, 20 to 25 is about enough. After practicing with the fingers you can also practice with your fist and palms and do another 15 to 20. Remember that your arms have to be squeezed inward otherwise you will be strengthening your muscles and not the internal power.

Again I emphasize that this must be slowly increased in difficulty before you can do a standard Iron Ox Plows Earth technique. For the reason that your tendons in the beginning are not strong enough and you will certainly injure yourself. So it is better to begin slowly. With this type of iron body training we are focusing on the finger power as well as the triceps. We know that when we are doing a pulling technique the power comes from the triceps. Make sure you drop your shoulders and squeeze your elbows in and then do a pulling technique to feel your power is coming from the right area. When doing a taking palm, capturing palm or dropping palm you should feel the triceps tighten. When practicing the Iron Ox Plows Earth technique using the wall is not enough to develop power but it is the first level of training. How do we know when we have finished the first level of training? Simply put do it consistently for a month to the point where you can do 30 to 50 in a row. Remember to keep your arms close to your body and don't let your butt stick out. Otherwise all of your practice will be in vain.

After finishing the first level of training we can move to the next part. This time we will train a motionless push up. In short we use the same method that we practiced on the wall on the floor. On the floor we use our fingers to support our weight, keep your legs together and the more level your body is with the floor the better. But don't let your body touch the floor. Again are arms must be tight to the body and make sure the back of your arms are level with the floor. Don't rely on the floor, slant, lean or stick your butt up. Keep your body completely still for at least a minute. Repeat this five times. This is the second level of the Iron Ox. The most important point is that your arms are level with the floor or this exercise loses all meaning.

The third level uses all the basic principles of the second except for now we move from high to low while moving forwards to backwards. Now the but raises up as we move backwards and then levels out while going forwards. The more the body can extend forward the better. This really puts all the support on to the finger tips but we can still practice on the palms and fists. After practicing this well we can also raise our legs onto a step while keeping our hands on the floor. Then we can add weights while using the same method. Finally we can practice this method one handed. But this cannot be done in a short period of time. Absolutely do not rush this training. It is very easy to hurt yourself. Later all of these exercises can be done using only three fingers. But first make sure that your five finger power as been achieved.

The Iron Ox technique must be slowly developed level by level. Just the same as kung fu, this way it becomes harder to injure your fingers.
Another training method for finger strength is handstands against the wall. Of course in addition from the fingers we can practice on our fist and palms. Just the same as the other methods we can begin to perform the handstand push ups and switch from five fingers to three fingers. But remember to first complete the Iron Ox training before starting this technique.

Another practice method we use for this system is holding jars. Naturally the weight of the jars must be slowly increased. Always remember with Iron Body training to not start of too heavy. We usually practice this while walking the circle or practicing Tan Yi Bu (Preheaven). Now go through the movements with the Jars in your hands. I usually use a thick bamboo Jar and fill the inside with coins. I practice sometimes grabbing atop the jar and others around the sides. The effect is excellent. Bamboo is better than clay jars because clay jars tend to stick out on the sides making it easier to hold on to. But bamboo is slippery from top to bottom so I have to use more focus in order to hold onto the bamboo. Its a great training tool.

Aside from this there is another training method. That is to practice with rice bags or sand bags. The goal is something from 100 to 200 hundred pounds. Practicing holding the bag can develop a great deal of strength. Grabbing it our carrying it on your shoulder makes you use all of the muscles in the body. Especially if your grab it with only your two hands. It makes all ten fingers strengthen quickly. So grabbing a bag is a great training method. My two kung fu brothers Hwang Ji Yu and Deng Wen Tang their family opened a rice store. So from very young they practiced carrying bags of rice on there shoulder. Because of that they have always had more power than most people. I believe there power is definitely related to them carrying rice all day. Just like the Judo master Hwang Li Shi Zhang. Because he always practiced bag training when he grabbed someone it was impossible to escape. Also he could do the Iron Ox technique twenty times the first time he tried. When I was young I used to see him painstakingly carrying rice back and forth. I would ask him how long he could hold it for. This was over a 200 hundred pound rice bag. Most people who try to pick up a big that heavy can't move with it at all. He answered me unenthusiastically, "Probably for thirty minutes isn't a problem." So I thought at this time no way he could hold a bag that long. We made a bet and had a contest in the rice warehouse next to his shop. My little brother was there with me. Without saying the answer can you guess who won? I can tell you at that time I was the loser. He held the bag and only after five minutes he was covered in sweat. After ten minutes he was already exhausted but his endurance was adamant. Still he held the bag high with two hands with no intention of quitting. Me and my brother we cheering him on and helping him wipe the sweat away. Minute by minute the time passed as he was closer to reaching thirty minutes. But maybe we were cheering too loud and were disturbing Deng Mu (his mother). She came over and saw here baby covered in sweat holding a big rice bag and ordered us to stop the game. Everyone has to listen to a distressed mother, so he put the bag down. But when he put the bag down it was 27 minutes and 50 seconds. Even though he didn't get to 30 minutes I know if his mother didn't stop him he would have succeeded. So as for the bet in the rice warehouse, I was the loser. I don't remember how much money I lost. I don't know if he remembers either.

Just an example of the many different types of training methods there are. Not everyone has a rice store in there back yard and not everyone is willing to go through this much strain. But if you do have the chance go ahead and try it. See how long you can hold a two hundred pound bag of rice over your head.