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Martial Concept Explorations.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Chapter three continued
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: Abney Park live from convergence 13
Topic: the art of war

It has been awhile. With training, other things have shown themselves to be less important and this is one of them. Sorry if that created a problem for you. 


12. Consequently, the art of using troops is this: When ten to the enemy's one, surround him. - When you are in a superior position, there is no need to continue. Maintain your range and let the enemy realize his situation. This does not mean punch and run away or stay out of reach. This means that you put the opponent in a position where any move they make opens them to your attacks.

     This concept is most clear when being grappled. While many submission holds are in fact stalemates; being in a better position means trapping your opponent. The attacker is on the ground and any attempt to move not only allows the defender to attack, but allows the attacker to know that he is allowing the defender to attack. You do not surround and attack, you just surround and let the opponent hurt himself through his own poor decisions.

13. When Five times his strength, attack him. - Five to one seams like a big deal but that one can still be pretty dangerous if your attention wavers or your force becomes divided. It would be foolish to allow the opponent time to grow.

     In a personal combat situation, this concept is used (in its most basic level of understanding) in joint breaks and dislocations. You find one limb on its own and you throw all of your attacks against it until it breaks. An arm bar is Two to one odds. Holding the limb against your body, twisting it, and then using the knee strike to cause the break is closer to what this concept preaches. Also remember that I am not speaking of tournament fights, sports, or tough guy competitions. I am speaking of combat where one, or both combatants is focused on the death of the opponent. I include accidental death.  This is not a game and damage to the organs and brain will kill regardless of the intent or ability of the opponents.

 14. If double his strength, Divide him. - Two to one odds are too easily nullified by skill. To make such a battle more than blood bath it is important to divide the forces of the enemy whether by dividing their command staff, actual forces, removing weapon capacity, or removing food.

     In personal combat, this is usually the ambush. Telling a joke and then striking during the laughter, "Hey, Dead bird!" while pointing upward, and the punch to the nose are all attempts to divide the opponents attention and dis-harmonize his physical movements so as to make the attack that much easier and the win that much faster. They also used to pull the opponents pants down to their ankles before the attack. It makes the low slung thug pants that much funnier. In movies, this is also why the bad guy kidnaps the hero's wife and children; so his thoughts are divided.

 15. If equally matched you may engage him. - Engaging does not mean combat it means to draw the opponents attention. Combat with equal forces is difficult to predict and all of the commanders skill is focused on positioning and maneuvers. The training of the individual troops and reaction time will have a huge impact on the out come.

In personal combat this concept is often illustrated by the angry out burst, the insults, and the dancing around of the opponents. They test each other's emotions, willingness to fight, reaction time, look for any group members who might be setting up an ambush and possible other options to fighting. The Chinese saying is this. "When two tigers fight, one dies and the other is crippled."

16. If weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing. - Quite frankly, the easiest way for the weak to control a fight is to run away. Survival is a win.

17. And if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him, for a small force is but booty for one more powerful. - It is ignorant to fight a losing battle. It is also ignorant to draw the attention of an opponent you cannot defeat. Hide and grow, for time and distance are your friends when weapons would fail.

In the American military, all military assets have a threat level. Different weapons and skills are threat multipliers. They do this to make the computations go easier. Fanaticism, hatred, rage, and fear are also threat multipliers. While the T-shirt says "it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog", in real life it is both the size of the dog and the size of the fight in that dog which are important. There will never be an action movie with an angry Steven Hawking kicking a drug cartel's ass. Although, If you are looking to kick a drug cartel's ass; Steven Hawking would be a definite asset in the planning stages.

Posted by bullsnake at 4:57 PM EDT
Monday, 22 September 2008
I have posted my Lin Bu Chuan instructional video on ebay. Search for LinBuChuan or one stance fist.

Posted by bullsnake at 4:11 AM EDT
Saturday, 19 July 2008
advanced concepts
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: something on the military channel

This involves concepts like the previous post. However, it is about how these concepts are trained in relation to your style.

In Kung Fu, concepts are sometimes called essence. I may switch back and forth between the two. These concepts are separated into related groupings such as the five elements, the animals, weapons, tactics, or whatever. These style divisions are arbitrary and depend upon the culture which developed them and the physical limitations these people had to deal with. This means that the order of these concepts is just as important as the concepts themselves.

It is important to know that some styles feel that all concepts are equally important. It does not matter what the order is in relation to combat and are often ordered upon some other concept.

In the styles I have trained, concepts can overwhelm each other and get lost. For this reason, order is important.

As an example of the pattern, I will use a Tiger Dao set. In the Styles I have trained, the order is stances, hand and leg movements, power, style essence, weapon essence, and then animal essence.

When building skills into a form you first need to imitate the movements. It will be wrong but allow you to actually work the form. You would begin working on the stances punches and kicks like any other form.

Once you are punching in the right direction, you begin to add power. The need for power in combat means that power overrides any other consideration. Stances can shift and lean, punches and kicks can change speed and range, and/or you can step offline just for the power.

After power comes the style essence. There are certain fundamental skills which need to be known in order for you to say you are performing a specific style. This comes after power because a style essence does not create power; It focuses the power you have. The style concepts override all previous training.

After style comes the weapon essence. The weapon further focuses the previous skills to support the concepts necessary to efficiently use the weapon. For example, a sword has to move in specific ways to be effective. If you won't do that, then get rid of the sword. It is just as foolish to cut your own leg off because your style doesn't step that way.

After all of that training comes the animal essence. The animal essence goes on top and changes all aspects of previous training. Whether your style does it or not is irrelevant. The animal essence becomes the primary judgment of what must be done and what will be avoided.

These levels exist in every style. Like physics, every concept is based upon perceptions of reality. Every new concept must also contain and refine all previous concepts. When taking a style from static punching drills up to transcendent energetic movements you will pass through all of these levels. It is impossible to skip any concepts and still achieve mastery.

Practice does not make perfect.

Right practice makes perfect.

Posted by bullsnake at 1:46 PM EDT
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Concepts as they apply to forms.
Mood:  sharp
Topic: physical training

For this discussion we will use two forms which I have on my youtube site.

One Stance, One Punch at

Cannon and Hammer Boxing at

In each form, any form really, there is more than one way to do it. There is the teaching mode where the form is done at a medium speed and there is a pause between each defined technique. The stance work does not shift much and there isn't much power. A student often does not have the skill to recognize the movements and can only see the beginning and end of a movement. This recognition can actually be of the beginning of one movement to the end of a second or third movement.

The second way to perform any form is to allow the student to self define the movements. Attack, defense, joint locks, and throws are defined based upon the students own skills. The student simply imitates the teacher until the form is close enough. While this tends to make the form almost unrecognizable, it saves time for the teacher. The teacher receives an incredible insight into what is missing and the mental structures the student. This information will determine what is taught first and how in depth each individual concept is presented.

The third way is often the way most teachers present information. Each move is presented alone. One movement is taught, applications are shown and it is left to the student to combine the movements into a set. This way allows the instructor to teach in a very detailed way while still leaving out the concepts which define the form. Some styles, such as Karate, benefit from this type of training. Other styles don't.

What it all eventually comes down to is the attention paid by the teacher. If the teacher is lazy, the student can not hope to perform correctly. If the student is lazy then he or she will simply suck until they get their act together.

During the practice phase, there are other ways to perform a form that still do not require conceptual understanding. The form can be performed high, medium, or low. In addition, the form can be performed fast, slow, and medium along with powerful or precise. This gives you twelve variations of performance just when learning the form.

In any form, there will be hight variations, speed changes, angles of attack, and the direction of focus. This proper performance requires an understanding of the concepts. This is when we get into the two forms that were mentioned earlier. One Step, one punch is a simple form with simple movements. Each movement is self contained and the form will look choppy. The concept is that one stance generates the power and one punch can efficiently transmit that power. Multiple strikes will simply take away from that one punch. You do not blend movements. There aren't important movements and unimportant movements. The posture provides the power. the block opens the way, and the punch goes fore-ward. There are no tactics. If a move is blocked, you simply step to the next stance and punch again. Many people make the form too fluid and weaken the techniques. Some also make the hand movements so fast that the stances cannot keep up and the feet begin to roll. It is important that the feet be on the ground and the legs performing a stance when the strike is executed.

Cannon and Hammer boxing is the name. You strike as if your fist was a hammer shot from a cannon. This form almost looks like you were running or jumping into the opponent. The stances are large because you can't fire a cannon from a canoe. The punches are big and contain the whole body. Cannon and Hammer should result in the opponent actually flying back-wards or spinning just like the movies. Many people try and perform this form with solid stance-work which actually slows the fist down. The performer almost leaps into the next posture and the punches feel like you fell out a window.

Without the concepts it would be easy to make both forms look the same. If they were the same, One stance, one punch would look like the more advanced set from the intricate hand work. With the concepts, it becomes apparent that the intricate hand work is the result of the need for defense. Without the concepts Cannon and Hammer looks like a stance form with rudimentary punches. With the concept, it becomes apparent that cannon and hammer uses a tremendous amount of power and requires advance tactical knowledge to use correctly.

Your forms should not look the same.

It should be very difficult to do every form you know in a row.

Each form is a different aspect of your style which will be combined in fighting. In training they are separated so that details do not get lost.

Train hard.

Train smart.

Train better.


Posted by bullsnake at 8:46 PM EDT
Monday, 16 June 2008
Monkey Business
Topic: mental training

The emotional training of a style is very important.  Like meditations, emotional training is often removed by people who are "fixing" a style. As such, few people have any experience or understanding of what this means. I will say that many people do approach the emotional side of training, but they are inefficient and incomplete.

The process of emotional training has a large component of social awareness. Emotions have a place and time. If that given emotion is expressed, then it will add power to any action. If the emotion is withheld, then the body must contain it or it will damage the physical body.

Emotions also have a direction. If a technique is in the direction of the emotion then it will be strengthened. If the technique is in another direction then it will be weakened.

These factors come together and create a pattern which efficiently teaches a person a given martial art.

The pattern I will be going over pertains to the variation of monkey that I have trained.

Every animal style has a quality which represents a beginning of it's path to mastery. Monkey starts with desire. Obviously they have to desire kung fu skill. Specifically, it is the quality of desire that wants you to constantly get more information. Whether the techniques work, or are even possible, is secondary to whether they exist and can be learned. Monkey wants all of it. This apparent ADHD does eventually get in the way of training. which brings us to our next stage.

Obsession allows the Monkey stylist to limit the training to a manageable level. It is also the beginning of the end of communication with other schools. While the total amount of information becomes limited. The level that Monkey takes it to will easily transcend the limitations that other schools work with. I personally have had whole schools stop talking to me after demonstrations. They thought they were masters and I could do more. It becomes a source of depression until the next stage. This obsession requires an explanation. It does not make you a dick. It simply causes you to work on a training program and see how far it will go. You read, see, or hear of a limit and you need to go there and look for yourself. People tell of sitting in a horse stance for two hours as some transcendent stance work. I have done it and it is no big deal. Literally, the first ten minutes is training and the rest is just boring. If you have a book, TV, or friends then the time just blows by. You can have children do it simply by having them take turns with story time. I read of how Bruce lee could do ten push ups with two fingers. The story was vague so I trained to do the two finger push ups one handed as well. It turned out to not be a big effort over my normal workout. I eventually trained to do ten push ups on any two fingers. The pinkie sucks. Since it did not improve my punching or finger training, I stopped it. You may read this and think I am lying, get in line. I train everything like this and it is a source of anxiety for every teacher who thinks they have achieved the most of anything. The only time I truly enjoyed this experience was a San Da person who had a list of subjects which Traditional Martial Arts practiced and were useless. Low stance work was supposed to be slow, hindered kicking, and was easy to grapple with. When he was proved wrong with each opinion; as in low stance work could be fast, you could kick high with power from a low stance without rising, and was easy to defend against grapplers; he just walked away and stopped talking to me. He actually pretended that he had never spoken to me. - this level of emotion tends to coincide with perception abilities and training.

The next level is selfish.The only thing which keeps this level from being an addiction is survival. If the Monkey stylist doesn't get what s/he wants, they won't die. However they want it and they are going to get it. This is the point in training where the artist decides to make the Kung Fu the number one priority. This has to be explained since the number one priority is never the one people say. Many people want to be loved, safe, rich, the center of the universe or some other nebulous concept which colors every decision they make. Every Martial Artist must, at some point, make martial arts the number one priority in order to achieve mastery. This point for Monkey is when they become selfish. They are simply important to everything. Their friends are the best. Their training is the best. Their way of life is the best. The best way to protect and enhance all of this is simply to master Kung Fu. This level of emotion tends to coincide with compassion training and skills.

Beyond this level of emotion nothing is explained. This is not withheld for any reason, it is simply beyond most people. You can be told but it will have no meaning. There is simply a description of the Monkey style and it's actions.

The Monkey Style has a perception of a perfect balanced world. All under his protection will receive the benefit of his skill. Monkey is the master of all and yet loyal to the least among his crowd. He carries all with him. If he sees it, it will belong to him. In Myth the Monkey style is described by the monkey king in China and Hanuman in India. Monkey is power, control, loyalty, and protection. Monkey is beyond your perception, out of your control, and too subtle to be noticed. The technique can not be stopped, controlled, or predicted.

The Monkey perceives all, feels all, and has all power.

If this does not help, Monkey may not be for you.

Posted by bullsnake at 8:00 PM EDT
Saturday, 10 May 2008
five elements

This was a blog on my MYspace page. While my page has a lower level of Five element info, I will leave it. The lesser understanding of the five element correlations between buddhist and daoist arts is still usefull for the lower level student. At some point, your understanding must grow to truly achieve the higher levels of your art. What follows is for people at that stage of their training.


The Five elements are taoist. period. The Buddhist five elements are not five elements. They are four elements.

The Taoist five elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. Each one is the equal of the others. There is an interaction between the five elements and all coexist. You cannot have one element. Any one thing that can be defined is made up of a combination of the five elements. All Elements exist at all times in everything. When all elements are in harmony you can begin to work on yin and yang. With the five elements, they can be expressed physically, energetically, and through intent. Often an art uses all three levels of expression with some elements being physically expressed and other elements being expressed energetically and/or mentally. This is what makes a discussion on the elements so difficult when of different styles.

The Buddhist "Five Elements" are not five elements. They are four. Wind, Water, Earth, and Fire are dualities which oppose each other. When they are harmonized, they give rise to the Void which is often considered the fifth element. What this means is that Two energies need to be balanced, then the next Two. When each duality is in harmony, those two dualities become oppositional and must be harmonized. This finally opens the way to the Void.

As an example to help people understand the difference between the Buddhist and Taoist concepts.

In a Buddhist art the animals are usually Tiger, Leopard, Snake, Crane, and Dragon. This is the basic five Animals which correspond with the Five Elements. The Tiger and Crane balance each other with Leopard and Snake as the other duality. Dragon is the ultimate creature which is the result of combining the other four.

The Taoist arts use the same animals. In the Taoist arts, each animal is equivalent to the other four. They tend to mix up the order depending on what the student is good at. Easy animal first then up to the difficult animal on a person by person basis.

Most of the confusion between styles comes from a few directions.

 One direction is those arts which separated the fighting from the healing. This resulted in different animal/element correlations. This is usually a benefit since the techniques often developed in unique directions without the five element concepts guiding the early training into acceptable directions.

Another Direction was the switching of animals. Tiger, Leopard, Snake, Crane, and Dragon are the basic Five. Leopard and Snake were the most often switched out with Mantis, Monkey, and Eagle being the most popular options. When the animals switched out, often the Element correlations were changed as well.

A third direction is from separate animal arts. When Crane became its own art, it achieved skills which were more advanced, precise, and wide ranging than was ever required when Crane was merely a component of a larger art. In the common time line of the animals, Tiger was the first separate animal. Then Snake, Crane, and Dragon. Leopard was the last of the Five to become its own Art. Other Animals were developed after and some were specific combinations of the first Five. When Five Animal styles began to incorporate these advancements back into themselves, It often became difficult to perceive the Element of a given animal.

A fourth direction is arts which jumped on the Five Animal Bandwagon, which is to say that they took all of their techniques and made five arbitrary divisions which were named after local animals.


The Five Animals were supposed to be used as beginner level to the five element training. If you have Chi Kungs, Pressure points, Energy Work, and/or healing with five divisions which are all equal and interacting with each other; then you have five element energies in your art.

If your divisions are a different number; then it is not the Five Elements.

If you have Void; then it is not the Five Elements.

If one Animal is superior; then it is not the Five Elements or you have a favorite.


To further develop the concept It should be noted that they share a few things. Each system has its own corresponding healing program, chi kungs, and meditations. Many Martial Arts have combined the two systems of thought into their physical training.

Since every art has a physical, energetic, and spiritual manifestation; It is possible to have more than one philosophical system.

There is an aurvedyc system which uses a base three organization. Fire, wind, and earth are the physical metaphors which all information is measured against.

There is the Buddhist/Tibetan system which has a base five system. This system involves the four elements which come from and become the fifth. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water balance to become Void, or Spirit. This is a duality based system.

There is a Daoist system which uses the Five elements. Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth are the elements which are all equal and interact with each other.

There is a Daoist system which only uses dualities. The Daoist symbol we are so familiar with, is the metaphor. The System gave rise to the four seasons, eight directions, and the Iching.

There were other systems. These tended to be absorbed into other arts. The information still exists but other systems receive the credit.

Feng Shui, for example, uses a base nine pattern to create growth and energetic balance. The magic square that many math books touch on and soduku comes from. Feng shui, with its many spellings and pronunciations, also contains chinese astrology, Eight direction information, Iching, Five elements, meditation, chi kung, and many other studies which are difficult to seperate out.

 Hung Gar, itself a combination of at least nine styles of kung fu, uses the five animal and five element form as a piller, which is Buddhist. Another piller is the Iron Wire training which is unique in application and theory from any other system. I couldn't begin to tell what influenced it or where it came from other than to say that it is an iron body, iron palm, healing, and enlightenment practice which was not developed in any Temple. The Tiger Crane set uses the Daoist Yin/Yang concepts. Most of the meditations are from Tibet.

While Hung Gar has a well mapped out history, other styles are much more confusing. Many styles had a "learn and don't question" mentality which means questions were not asked and information was not explained. Everything came from the teacher. This makes it very difficult to keep concepts from being missunderstood in the midst of competing philosophies.

It should be noted that there is a Nordic Five Element system which uses Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Ice. You would think that it would be almost the same as the Daoist Five elements, but it is not.

When training on your own, it would be in your best interests to have access to books on the different systems. It would go a long way in explaining the apparent conflicts born of poorly explained or missunderstood information.

Posted by bullsnake at 1:51 PM EDT
Friday, 18 April 2008
Conceptual development.
Mood:  mischievious
Now Playing: porn

I was having a discussion with my student the other day about concepts. This has caused me to re-evaluate the commonly accepted understanding of concepts and how they apply to martial training. While many things have appeared self-evident to me, I often realize that there are flawed concepts which are supported by translation problems and the Malice of those who wish to be better than others, no matter the cost.


Bruce Lee taught that the most important aspects of a Martial Art were it's concepts. His Books used many quotes from other, better, books to illustrate the importance of concepts. Every Master teaches this irregardless of the art. In fact, this is what turns training into a martial art.

Every art has a purpose. The purpose could be enlightenment, combat, healing, protection, or any social interaction with all their variations. The concepts are the pattern which combines training aspects into a cohesive whole. As such you can't "Combine" concepts. You must have one concept. All other concepts must be looked at as different facets of the same jewel. Anything else will cause the training to conflict with itself. Like physics, in order to develop more advanced understanding, any understanding must encompass all previous understanding.

A sample concept, for discussion, can be "All things are one half of a  duality." This concept is pretty big. We can shrink it down with semantics to apply to combat. "Every strength has a weakness" is a good example. Through this we can guide our training. Because every strength has a weakness, we can begin to look at strengths and weaknesses of different techniques. Many people are willing to point out that a stable posture lacks mobility. They ignore that mobility lacks stability. While both concepts are oversimplified, and therefore flawed. They can still lead training toward skill.

We will use blindfold sparring, or blind-fighting, as an example. If you are in a stance, opponents tend to try and get behind you. The obvious reason is to attack without being seen. The easiest way to simulate this is to wear a blindfold. As your training partners step in and perform an attack (hopefully one at a time) you would focus on the concept that someone is fast, or skilled, enough to move out of the visual field and attack from surprise. This would allow you to explore the fact that you always have a weak area and a strong area. Hopefully you would build up the capacity to move your strengths and weaknesses around. This would help to define those weaknesses and strengths so that you could do two things.

1. You can predict the targets. If the opponent steps behind you, you will be aware of the most likely targets when you consider the attacks you have already witnessed.

2. You will respond by moving an appropriate strength to defend an apparent weakness. It stops the problem where people tend to walk into punches and kicks which have surprised them.

What nobody does is take the blindfold off and maintain the awareness of strengths and weaknesses. The ability to lose track of an attack and predict the most likely target. This is the purpose of blind-fighting. It is possible to use the blindfold to develop awareness but there are more effecient ways to build those skills. The blindfold simply simulates a lack of visual awareness and forces us to use the other senses. When that is achieved, the blindfold comes off and other levels are introduced. These levels are related to how precise the concept becomes defined and how deeply it is understood.

If every strength has a weakness then creating a weakness will cause the creation of a corresponding strength. The question becomes "how do you define strength and weakness and how does this fit into your concept?"

Posted by bullsnake at 4:11 AM EDT
Monday, 14 January 2008
Chapter Three: Offensive Strategy
Now Playing: white and nerdy
Topic: the art of war

1. Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this. - It would seem, obvious that this involves conquering an enemy. To take a state intact implies that all functions are maintained and can be used by the winner. When the earth has been salted, what is the use of owning it? Keep in mind that the state is the purpose of going to war. In a fight, what is your purpose? Will fighting actually help?

The  Five Factors are

  1. Moral Influence.
  2. Weather.
  3. Terrain.
  4. Command.
  5. Doctrine.

Seven Elements are:

  1. Which Ruler possesses Moral Influence.
  2. Which Commander is more able.
  3. Which Army obtains the advantage of Nature and Terrain
  4. Which organization better carries out it's Regulations and Instructions.
  5. Which Troops are stronger.
  6. Which has the better trained Officers and Men.
  7. Which administers rewards and punishments in a more enlightened manner.

9 Deceptions.

  1. Capacity.
  2. Activity.
  3. Distance.
  4. Vulnerability.
  5. Location.
  6. Emotions.
  7. Status.
  8. Effort.
  9. Unity.

To take the state intact requires that the concepts listed be understood. Their effective understanding and implementation is what allows a force to achieve an objective. A lack of understanding results in suffering for all involved. To take a state intact is literally the same concept as punching without breaking your hand.

2. To capture the enemy's army is better than to destroy it; to take intact a battalion, a company, or a five man squad is better than to destroy them. - It would also seem obvious that this is true in a moral sense. Let us not forget that capturing the enemy does less damage than killing but may require more time, and the cost of each option should be considered.

As far as personal combat goes, this applies to getting things under control. If your opponent has a weapon which you destroy, they just compensate for the new parameter. If the opponent has a weapon which you can control, then it can be used to exert further control over other aspects of the enemy.

3. For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. - Quite frankly, nobody is a dumb ass in every other aspect of life but an awesome tactician during combat. If a situation reaches the level of physical confrontation, It is because of a few things. The opponent has compared war with other possibilities and found war the most viable option. The opponent has also judged war as a potentially successful option. When you meet someone and they know you can kick their ass within the first few interactions, that is skill.

4. Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy. - In early fights, say a schoolyard, the strategy was pretty obvious. The fight happened so someone could impress others or release frustration. As we age, the strategy often becomes more difficult to to discern. The fact which remains is that the fight is only one tactic in the overall strategy. Only fantasy novels have a group fighting for the sake of violence. If you can give the opponent a more efficient option or make war appear less efficient; then the tactical options will change and war will not happen. This concept applies to all interactions irregardless of age, temperament, group size, and technology. When you attack strategy, you are changing the values of options and altering perceptions for the opponent. This level of interaction tends to be joint locks and pressure points.

5. Next best is to disrupt his alliances. - For the purpose of personal combat, alliances are simply any harmonious interaction. Team work is also a name given to this concept when more than one person is involved. For most Kung Fu schools, this simply means the six harmonies. Left side and right side, top and bottom, front and back, Chi, yi, shen, and any other definition involving the number six. Joint-locks, trips,  breath, and posture are the main targets for this concept. Power is based upon coordination of the body, to limit this coordination is to limit power. This level of interaction tends to be represented by throws.

6. The next best is to attack his army. - This is where the actual war, or fight, becomes recognizable to spectators. This is also the level of most techniques that are considered too violent to teach. Quite simply, if the opponent punches; then break the hand and if the opponent kicks; then break the leg.

7. The worst policy is to attack cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative. - This is combat as most people understand it. Punches to the ribs, head, and stomach. Boxing and other sports limit interaction to this level so that combat becomes a test of strength and power as opposed to skill or ability. Those people who really want to hurt or kill you will avoid this level of combat at all costs. The ambush, betrayal, and other "dirty" tricks are designed to keep you from defending yourself and keep you from initiating an attack. When starting combat training, the targets are usually the head and the chest which are, literally, the most protected parts of the body. Genetically, most animals are designed to make those targets the most difficult to damage. If the head and chest are your targets; then your fight is going to be long and painful. If the opponent(s) don't share your target choice then the fight will be short and painful. Your ability to survive is in question either way.

8. To prepare the shielded wagons and make ready the necessary arms and equipment requires at least three months; to pile up the earthen ramps against the walls, an additional three months will be needed. Not only is the "siege" going to take time; but the preparation for such an endeavor can take even more time. Have you ever seen professional sport fighters? They are monsters! Have you ever watched the news and seen a picture of terrorists and murderers? Those people are much smaller. How about military forces which avoid long term combat and fortifications? Lean and mean is how the survivors describe them. Fortifications are built over time and require an incredible amount of money and effort. The Power to destroy such fortifications takes just as long to build. How much time do you have?

9. If the general is unable to control his impatience and orders his troops to swarm up the wall like ants, one third of them will be killed without taking the city. Such is the calamity of these attacks. - The frontal assault is great when the enemy is not fortified. Against fortifications, or someone who can block, a frontal assault requires that you take more pain than the opponent. You must take losses just to reach the limits of such fortifications, take losses to breach the fortifications, and then take more losses to achieve victory. Infighting is where the "dirtiest" of techniques are used just as room to room fighting, or close quarters combat as it is now called, is the most brutal wartime combat. This is the tactic used by terrorists. The surety of death requires that only those willing to commit suicide even make the effort.

 Tactically you want to be fortified and capture the enemy while convincing them to swarm like ants. Then; any death is caused by their own actions and your actions simply maintain safety for yourself.

10. Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle. They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

11. Your aim must be to take All-Under-Heaven intact. Thus your troops are not worn out and your gains will be complete. This is the art of offensive strategy. - Your plans must be so complete as to envelop the opponents decisions. Your actions must be efficient and total.

Posted by bullsnake at 8:02 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 28 November 2008 3:47 PM EST
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Physical effort
Topic: physical training

     Power, Force, and Kinetic Energy are words which are used to support theories. Like Chi and Prana, the words have taken on a magical meaning. However, punching and kicking are not that difficult to describe and do not require much math. Math only comes into play when a person wishes to confuse the issue by throwing numbers at you.

     As in any discussion, we will begin by defining the terms which will limit the discussion.

Power is the total possible output of a given system.

Force is an amount of power which is focused by purpose in a direction.

Kinetic energy is the force which accelerates a given mass to a given velocity.

Energy is that component which is not physical. When my punch hits you, a part of my fist is not left behind. Energy is transfered. 

Chi is energy. In translation, all definitions, chi is similar to the concept of mass/energy of physics. In practical terms of the martial arts, Chi is anything which cannot be explained but can be felt. After Chi is experienced, it can be defined much like light can be divided into a spectrum. There are qualities, essences, components, and many other varieties of definition depending on the culture, depth of experience, and specific Martial Art.

      To further limit this discussion, I would like to point out that every Martial Art was developed by people who were poor, illiterate, and had limited social skills. Further, the training was developed and results noted long before anybody bothered to wonder what was really happening. Our current Scientific Training, which every public school teaches, teaches us how to compare data and test theories at an incredibly fast rate. Most Martial training can take years to develop any skill and development of these programs often took generations. It is easy to listen to stories of Martial History and only remember that one guy developed a style. It is easy to forget that these styles were the result of training multiple other styles which developed from combining "traditional" training methods.

       As an example, Hung Gar is the result of multiple masters combining and refining the complete training programs of at least ten styles. This was before the Tiger Crane set which every one talks about. Tong Bei is the result of over seven styles which was refined on the military battlefield by the general who named it. It is also easy to forget that Shaolin Long Fist is not what every body learns. The Ten forms of Shaolin are the beginner levels. The other styles were to be learned after a person had built this foundation and Long Fist is only one of them. When the Buddhist temples were burned and the monks hunted down, most of the kung fu knowledge was lost.

     Hopefully we are now in a position to discuss physical training in an adult manner.

     Physical damage caused by punches and kicks is often described as the result of mass and speed. Since you cannot change mass you should work on speed. This is a horrible simplification of the process. The mass behind a punch or kick is variable. This concept also assumes that force is efficient and enough time has passed for that energy to transfer. It also assumes that you are capable of transferring that amount of energy.

     First I will go over limitations to striking and what training, at the basic level, which removes or controls that limitation.

     Second I will go over the aspects of force which are overlooked by most people, even when their style has that ability, and the training which develops it.

     The primary limitation to the application of energy is stability. Stabilizing movement of any kind limits the amount of energy which can be transmitted. Moving the feet, maintaining balance, recovering balance, entering range, and countering attacks all limit the amount of energy which can focused into an attack. As the saying goes, you should not fire a cannon from a canoe. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The power of the strike is, simultaneously following the path backward. Therefore, whatever force you are directing must be equal to or less than the force which you can withstand without falling over. The training which allows you to control this limitation is stance work. How you stand and what direction you strike in from a given posture is the result of training to be stable. The more energy focused, the more stability needed. With proper stance work the only limitation is the strength of the ground you are standing on.

     The next limitation is the strength of the bones and joints. If you break your own bones with a strike then you did not transfer all of that energy into the opponent. You might as well hit with less power since a broken bone imposes a serious limitation on the energy transfer of the next strike. There is also a factor of time. Everything has a plasticity which determines how it will break. Wood, bricks, steal, and bones all bend before they break. When any energy is introduced into any system, this energy builds up in a location depending on the rate of introduction and the rate at which this energy is conducted by the system. A small amount of energy applied quickly will damage a substance when a slow introduction of a tremendous amount will have no effect. Think of the difference between a cutting torch which can burn through metal in seconds and the heat which a pan will endure while cooking in a restaurant over the whole day. Alternately you can think of the strong man who can pull a plane with his teeth and who would not try to catch a hammer with his teeth. This limitation is over come through choice of targets and through experience. Everybody knows how a heavy bag is used. What they ignore is that the experience teaches you how to hit without injuring yourself. Most Martial Schools have the students hit a variety of objects to teach them how to hit various parts of the opponent without damaging their ability to focus energy in later strikes. They will also teach the students to hit specific targets with specific body weapons to further limit the possibility of unfocused and unwanted damage.

     Speed is the next limit. It should be noted that speed is the result of coordination. There is much discussion over the speed of the hands when punching. Everyone ignores baseball. A good pitcher can throw a baseball at 100 miles an hour. Rarely do you get to be a pitcher under 80 MPH. Untrained people at Six Flags have been clocked at about 30. What this means is that how fast the arm moves is the result of the whole body being coordinated. It is relatively easy to get beginners fast enough where their punches whistle through the air. However, most people can actually be seen punching while their body is moving away from the target. Hardly good coordination. Speed also allows the student to cause damage to select targets when hitting with the wrong body weapon. For example, a punch to the side of the head will often break the hand. Of course, knuckles can be trained to strike surfaces while the side of the head is rarely trained to be a weapon. An important factor to consider is that the skull has the brain behind it while the knuckles have more bone behind them. A slow and powerful strike to the head will be absorbed by the skull and neck muscles. A fast strike will conduct through the bone and the energy, minus what was needed to damage the skin and muscle surrounding the skull, will continue into the brain. An even faster strike can actually use the bones behind the target as a brace which will allow more control over the resulting damage. The training for this is the boards and bricks which are broken. Each requires a different amount of speed for a given force to result in a break.

      From this basic information we can determine a simple way to predict whether we can efficiently transfer energy and control the result.

The amount of force our stance can withstand should be greater or equal to the amount of force we can conduct which should be less than or equal to the body weapon used. The resulting energy should be considerably greater than the target can safely conduct. Many people are proud of knocking someone off of their feet. However that is wasted effort. Knocking someone over actually means that the target has conducted enough energy to the rest of the body for the body to respond with movement. The force which knocks a person back is power which is not causing damage. So the energy applied should be faster than the target can conduct (intensity) and less than the force necessary to move the body.

This appears simple enough. Now we shall move on to concepts which are often overlooked.

Kicks are just powerful steps. The whole point of training to kick is so that you can increase your stability. If you can kick with power then you can punch while stepping. A good kick should add tremendous power to the following punch.

The flaw in most popular kicks, I hesitate to say all kicks, is that they are viewed as a range attack rather than a powerful step. without the hands striking it is easy to catch the leg. With "kicking" range the leg takes too long to fully extend and then pull back to the original position. With chambered kicks there is even more time used to get the leg to the chambered position and often the leg is chambered again before it is put down. This need to chamber coupled with range has caused most people to fully extend the base leg. This causes the kick to rely on balance rather than stability and reduces the amount of energy which can be conducted to the target.

This leads us to the popularity of jump kicks. Jump kicks have the primary limitation of gravity. This means that during a jump kick you are trying to focus the energy of the jump or the energy of the fall into the target. This requires a high level of coordination and a very fast kick. It does not make the kick more powerful! The stability of the posture in the air must be balanced by the power of the kick. If the kick is too powerful or too weak then you will land badly. The only way to increase the power of a jump kick is to jump higher which only increases the amount of time an opponent can use to disrupt your focus. A jump kick simply teaches a student to step faster from one stance to another. A jump kick is not an advanced kick.

Body conditioning has to be over the whole body. Simply conditioning the hands, forearms, or any individual body part simply moves the damage to the next weakest location.

Push-ups, sit-ups, running, and squats are whole body exercises. All injury and "danger" from those exercises is the result of bad form and people who try and "maximize" the preferred results. The first achievement of these exercises is efficient coordination, then endurance, then power, then development of the obvious muscle groups. This is why bad push-ups damage the shoulders, bad squats damage the knees, bad sit-ups damage the back, and bad running gives shin splints. People have been using these four exercises as the foundation of all training for thousands of years. Many martial art programs only have this training and most yoga postures are variations and combinations of those exercises.

Muscle groups work in opposition. Coordination is also in opposition. Expressing power is different from dissipating power. Attacking is different from defending. Both must be trained and be in balance. This is why "Traditional Martial Arts" has such a range of training techniques.

This is also why so many people think the exercises are useless.

Why would "breath control" be so important when most people don't have the skill to take advantage of it. The obvious fact that ribs break when inhaling, lungs are damaged when the breath is held, and strikes can be withstood by exhaling should support the importance of breath control as a basic skill.

The fact that fighting requires focus and the maintenance of an emotional state should support meditation as a basic skill. It is always the first thing removed when someone creates their own style.

The statement that most fights end on the ground should support training not to fall or be thrown. Why does everybody just train postures which make it easier to throw them? If ground fighting is so effective, why don't most people train to stop it? Ground fighting is not a basic skill. Stopping grappling is a basic skill and this is why every body teaches to keep stepping and keep the hands moving. A powerful punch does not need to move around. You simply strike when the range is correct. The attacker needs to pass through the punch to reach you. How can you not hit him? After the kick is the punch, then the knees, then the elbows so how does he get by all of them? Maybe the opponent sucks at hitting? I wrestled and was taught to stop grappling with an elbow to the neck and shoulder. How can someone taught to strike with the elbow not be able to do this? Elbows are basic.

Basics are an incredibly powerful aspect and they need to be explored to the fullest. The Egotistical need to learn the "important" moves is the greatest cause of weakness in every Martial Art. This need to bypass basic techniques to learn the "advanced" simply causes students to perform advanced movements without the benefit of basic power or stability. This is why techniques "don't work in a real fight". This is why Controlling the Ego is taught as a basic technique and is the most important aspect when applying any physical effort.

Kung Fu is not only effort over time, it is efficient effort and correct effort which is maintained over time.

Posted by bullsnake at 4:58 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 October 2007 5:49 AM EDT
Monday, 3 September 2007
Waging War
Now Playing: Anarchy club
Topic: the art of war

The Second Chapter of the Art of War does not actually concern the waging of war. Ironically, or appropriately, the second chapter is concerned about the preparations for war. The name is what is most ironic.

This chapter is filled with statements which only appear self explanatory after a defeat. I have attempted to translate the phrases into something a little clearer for the average student. I do this mainly because the book is meant to be kept secret and tends to be even more vague than I usually expect from a philosophy text. Therefore I have meditated upon the statements and my own training to come up with these conceptual translations.

Chapter II - Waging war.


1. There is a minimum level of preparation, below which you cannot wage war. This preparation must be made before battle. You cannot train during combat. The sword must be in your hand and the armor on your body before a battle ensues. It seams silly to say this. I can only say, "how many of you have gotten into a fight and realized you were outclassed?" How many "black belts" or "masters" get into a simple fight with an "untrained" person and get their ass kicked. I simply say that they weren't really black belts or masters. They should be. They have the training and had the time. They also have the belief that the training in their school was correct and people outside their school did not compare. They also believe that because they work out with people, who they are impressed by, they are somehow better than people whom they aren't impressed by. People, every day and of every style, fail to understand this simple concept.

2. Preparation takes time, effort, and a consistant plan. Also self evident until you see the number of certificates from weekend seminars which you can see hanging on the wall of any school. You cannot learn something new in a weekend. You cannot learn to beat someone with years of training in a weekend. If you are lucky, you may get an experience similar to wing chun. By this I mean that you are threatened by someone better than you, you have access to a master to can give you a crash course which will take advantage of your opponent's specific mental and physical weaknesses, you have time to do such training, and you are willing to build the skill which you are taught. For those of you who are not a pretty little girl who is going to fight a man who wants to have sex with you, you are going to have to work very hard and train for a long time.

The consistant plan is the most important. With the plan time and effort can be varied as necessary to fit with the environment, such as a job. Without the plan, there is never enough time and effort is wasted.

3. Victory, the achievement of a goal, is the purpose of War. All effort must be focused on developing skills and capacities which are useful in combat. When those first skills are achieved, they must be refined while new skills are developed. There is too much possibility in combat to depend on a few weeks or months of training. weaknesses must be assessed and ruthlessly removed so that strength will take it's place. This must take place physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is important to note that combat, by it's very nature, can create a situation which makes victory impossible. As such, war should be as short as possible and decisive.

4.  You cannot fight forever. A long fight leads to injury and fatigue which leads to inefficient technique. You cannot win with inefficient technique.

5. Fatigue is a weakness. Even winning a battle leaves you fatigued and this will be taken advantage of by the next opponent.

6. Speed can hide a lack of skill but, a slow attack will merely expand weaknesses.

7. A long fight benefits nobody.

8. Those unable to understand weakness cannot employ strength.

9. Skill in waging war means winning with what you have. This is basic efficiency. Why try are out-power a more powerful opponent? Do Not use Force against Force. Every body has heard of this statement. Most have read it in the tao te ching, some have heard it from instructors, and others on television. It means a specific force. Do not use power against power, speed against speed, range against range, size against size or anything which may be equal. You must use what you have against whatever the opponent doesn't have. You must know what you can do better. You must have technique.

10. If you need anything which you do not already have, you must take it from the enemy. This has the added benefit of depriving the enemy of something they need to kill you.

11. The reason troops slay the enemy is out of rage. If there was no rage, they would stop when the opponent is defeated. This might leave them so injured that they die anyway. They might simply dissarm the opponent and leave.

12. They take booty from the enemy because they desire wealth. They take trophies for honor and recognition. Basically they take because they want.

13. It is important to achieve Victory and become stronger. Take their weapons and make them your own. Treat your defeated enemies well so they become your friends.

These are all important considerations in any preparation for combat. Preparations are simply training. And training is just as focused as anything else. Do not train for the ring and pretend the street will be the same. Just as many people who can kill in the street look nearly incompetant with gloves on. You can do what you train for, but you must train for it without lies.

Posted by bullsnake at 1:40 AM EDT

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