Protected: How to Attack, Part I

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Update: Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter, pt II

The book is done!

I am sending the file tomorrow to be printed and bound, and right now I have someone working on creating an electronic version of it!

Expect the book to be mailed by Saturday (along with some of the orders for Make a Living…) !

Last chance to order advance copies!!!!!

You Really Don’t WANT to Learn From a Master, Do You?

Edited response from a gentleman complaining that his trip to the Philippines was wasted, as the local masters he encountered there either watered down his training, or “played games” with their acceptance of him as a student.

 

If you don’t mind me saying, you really don’t WANT to learn from a Master, do you?

I am saying this, because there you were, in the presence of not just one, but three Masters and you approached them as if they had a product to sell and were desperate for your American dollars. You have to understand the mentality of many of these gentlemen if you are serious about becoming a student. I told you last year that you shouldn’t treat this as a business relationship, but instead act as if you were preparing to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. To tell you the truth, I agree, your trip was a waste of time and money. You probably would have had better luck offering him $100 to sleep with his daughter.

By now, you should see that there are three kind of Filipinos when it comes to the martial arts, the ones who have a product to sell and they don’t care who gets it, the ones who value what they have and would like to have loyal students to teach, and the ones who value their art as one values a family heirloom. A true Master in the art treats his art as a family heirloom. My friend, you blew your opportunity to learn a very valuable art, and I don’t even know the men you met. Or their arts.

The currency we use in the true art is your patience, loyalty, hard work and trust. We do not want to teach a guy and have him go on the internet offering home vidoes of us swinging sticks for $49.95. We do not learn our skills from lumps and bruises we earned ourself, to have some bozo run out and teach them to a roomful of strangers in a seminar. And even though you know the man’s daughter, you are still a stranger, and you must know your place. The art you want can only be bought with your patience, dedication and understanding. If he cannot trust you to do what he wants with the art, he’s not going to teach you, period.

For the guy who gave you his 5 strikes… SO WHAT??? You must realize that the strike is the backbone of a system. It is not something you memorize first day, “and now, let’s get to the real meat of the art”. This is an insult and very arrogant to say that you got nothing valuable. If you told me you bought a Arnis video and only learned the first 5 hits, then I would say that yes, you got nothing valuable. But do you agree with me that an opponent can be defeated with those 5 hits?  Then the issue is, what would that Master do with those 5 hits, that is different from your old teacher and his 5 hits? Should he just give you his secrets just because you handed him some compliments and cash? This is not how it works and I hope you know more about the Filipino Filipino arts.. but then, maybe you don’t.

What you should have done is practiced those 5 hits as if he gave you gold–because he did, it is the backbone of his system–and then returned to do whatever he had for you to do for as long as he wanted, and believe me, you would of learned more here and there. This is how training with a Master is done, not “line up and do what I do”. I recommend that you take whatever he taught you and do it thousands of times, but write him letters, send him a little cash (because all teachers need money) and then promise to give him all your time the next time you return to the Philippines. Maybe you will make it up to him for your rudeness, and yes… you were rude.

He was asking for one month. Do you know, in my school, if you cannot commit to training with me at least 6 months, I won’t accept you as a student? Because if a student is not that interested in learning from me, or he isn’t sure, I am not interested in him as a teacher. A month? That’s nothing! There is plenty of beer and Filipino women here in the US, don’t insult these Masters by passing them up for a good time. If a month is too long, how long do you plan to teach the art to your students?

So, let this be a lesson for you as a teacher also, my friend. You have to valuable the art you offer, more than money, more than the pride of having a nice big pretty school with lots of students. You must selfishly guard it because you don’t want the wrong people to have it like you don’t want the wrong guy to marry your daughters. Have skills for just anyone to learn who walks through your doors, but save certain skills for the students who have earned it. And understand that there are Masters out here whose knowledge is deep and useful and they aren’t offering to just any fool with a stick and some money (even foreign money). You will be glad you did!

Peace and Blessings

The Pear Tree Parable

It’s funny how connected like minds are these days. As I was editing this article, Darrin Cook on his “Big Stick, Big Combat” Blog wrote a post that connects well with the contents of Guro’s article. When you get done with this one, mosey over to Guro Cook’s blog and take a look!

This is one of those stories we tell our children when they get older, because while they are young, the lesson doesn’t apply as much as when they are grown. I recently retold this story to my teenaged stepson, and I think it would benefit many in the martial arts to hear it.

A man who lived in a poor community came out of the house one morning to find a full-grown pear tree growing in his yard, full of fruit. It amazed him, because just the day before the tree was just a sprout of a plant. Knowing it to be a blessing from God, he picked all the fruit from it and took it inside to his wife and family. She made all sorts of sweets and dishes with the plant, and the man–being a good man, thanked God for the gift.

The next day, he came out to find that not only had the tree grown a little larger, it had grown fruit again! And just the same as yesterday, he recognized it to be a blessing, and took the fruit inside to the family. He thanked God for the gifts and went on with his business.

The day after that, fruit came again, and he repeated his same actions. In fact, day after day, he picked fruit to give to his family, thanked God, and went about his business. He never had to lift a hand to water the tree, prune it, nothing. Because he was in an area with other poor people, and wanting to spare them ill feelings because they had not been blessed as well (for whatever reason God had for not blessing them) he told no one.

After 6 months, the family was starting to tire of pears. Plus, the winter came and sweets just didn’t seem right when it’s cold outside. When wood was bare, he took a branch or two to warm his home.

That spring, the tree was dead. End of story.

There are many lessons to this story:

  1. Just because the man did not have to water the tree, it didn’t mean that he should not have. If the unwatered tree yielded fruit, a watered tree would have yielded more. He was guilty of taking from the tree and failing to put anything back to keep the tree going, instead leaving it up to God to keep the tree alive. In Islam, this is referred to “binding one’s camel”. Have faith that God will take care of your needs (like keeping your camel at home), but at the same time, do what you have to do to make sure it happens (bind the camel to a post)
  2. Too much of anything is a bad thing. The family was guilty of overindulging, and therefore sickened of a good thing because they had just too much. If they had shared with other families, everyone would have gotten enough to enjoy the fruit. Sometimes, the pleasure is taken away (as is the blessing) if you do not share it
  3. The “blessing” from God is sometimes given to you, so that you may share it with others. Wealth is not always given to men to hoard, but as a vessel to bless with others

There are others, but these are what I can think of right now. So, what does this have to do with the martial arts?

Many martial artists are guilty of taking from the pear tree. Not necessarily stealing, just using its resources and failing to water the tree and sharing with others. As teachers, we do not add to our skill by training or learning more. Many of us do not share with other teachers in our community. (I am often guilty of this myself)  Some of our teachers are in love so much with the dollar bill, that we leave many students in wont of good instruction because we are looking for the student with the big bucks. Our knowledge and reputations are the tree, the students are the fruit…

As students, we pay our tuitions (like the man thanked God) but not much more than that. If your school is small and does not use contracts, chances are that your teacher is struggling financially. Every dime he takes in pays a bill. But we have students shopping the internet for deals to save $5 on a pair of gloves, rather than pay your teacher for the gloves. He cannot offer the same discount because he does not qualify for better bulk discounts! And when you go on vacation, do you pay for the month you are gone? Or do you use that money for an hour on the slot machines? Every little thing counts.

Some of us do not understand how we affect the hands that feed us, and instead only look at how we can benefit from our teachers’ knowledge. Have you noticed how your school’s toilet doesn’t work right? Or how the carpet need shampooing? Take the initiative and do it for him! Your teacher probably has too much pride to ask someone for help!

Back to the subject of taking and failing to put back, how many of us are failing to give our experiences to our arts? Each generation should be improving the art he receives from his Master, but many students are too lazy (or scared) to go forth and build the school’s reputation or even to test and refine one’s fighting skills. Active schools tend to have good students because the students are building the style from the inside out.

I will close this article here, and let you ponder over those things for a few.

Btw, the inspiration for this article, is the closure of the school of a good friend of mine. He was a great fighter, very knowledgeable,  a great martial artist, and a good family man. He even had a lot of students. But unfortunately, they never paid their tuition on time, and he was late on rent one too many times, and his landlord cancelled his lease. He did not make enough money to get a downpayment on a new place, and was too proud to ask for help. None of us knew he was in such dire straits until he announced that he would close his doors. It is Christmas–a day of giving in this country–and for martial arts schools, our worst month of the year. Why? Because our students buy so many gifts and spend so much money outside our schools, that they often neglect to pay tuition. I have this problem myself, so I save through the summer just for December. My friend could not do so, and now he must look for a community center to teach in. This is a damned shame.

Thank you for reading my blog. Happy holidays, everyone.

FMA Media (RIP Eskrima Digest)

Today I received some sad news by email about an old, old friend of mine.

Master Ray Terry announced that he is shutting down the Eskrima Digest, which, to my knowledge, is the oldest online forum for Filipino Martial Artists. After 15 years, its archives must be a gold mine of information, as I don’t think a day passed in the 4 or 5 years I subscribed that I did not receive something from them. Prior to that, I had students who received them and would bring me pages of their messages, or forward issues by email. And before that… one of my students, who was stationed at NSA (attended the Baltimore location of my school) would bring me his laptop to read the issues after class (this was around 1996, so you know I didn’t have any form of technology). The Eskrima Digest was where I actually saw the American  as well as the Philippine Filipino Martial Arts community start to mature, as in this place people interacted–who normally would not have had access to each other.  I have seen some Filipinos who looked down on American practitioners develop respect without throwing a single strike between them, other than a few harmless insults and flames across the list. I saw Americans who thought the Filipinos questioning Dan Inosanto’s version of FMA were jealous or just “pricks”, and eventually befriend some of these Filipinos. The Digest was a community, and people exchanged ideas, shared information, learned from each other, forged friendships–even sparred– by email.

Mr. Terry, you made a great thing. Your list helped me grow up as a martial artist, because I interacted with people I knew nothing about, and probably would have never gotten to know. I have had students who found me on your list. I’ve learned about other styles and Masters there. I’ve learned new ideas about what I can do to make my classes better. I’m sure there are thousands of us who can say the same thing. God bless you.

So, what next?

I have heard that the forums have been slow too. Martialtalk  and Defend.net  have not had the activity as in past years. Could it be that people are starting to train more? Or have they just found another place to interact? The benefit of the Eskrima Digest was that everything went straight to your email account and you could simply open messages whenever you wanted–even read them from your phone. Is it convenience? I don’t know.

But there is a magazine I have been receiving for a few years–an FMA magazine–by email. I have enjoyed the issues and I think many of you would too. It is the FMA Digest, published by Master Steven Dowd. For those unfamiliar with his name, Mr. Dowd is the author of the two books entitled Kuntaw:  Fist and Foot Fighting  (I am getting this from memory, because I actually haven’t even seen the books in about 20 years). It was written back in the 70s, I believe, and featured Master Lito Lanada’s system and forms. The last time I saw a copy, Master Billy Bryant showed me his, and had asked for me to take him to Virginia Beach to meet him. I learned the form in the book from Master Boggs Lao, and showed it to Billy (I can’t remember if there were all five forms in the book. Boggs had 5 versions of the form). Master Dowd is also a master of an Arnis style called Arnis Balite. He has been involved with the FMAs long before most people knew what FMAs were–even longer than many of you have been alive. He was a Black Belt in the arts when–as my son would call it–since the world was still in black and white. I’ll bet you a sweet potato pie, that this gentleman has a huge amount of FMA knowledge. His magazine is free, and it always features little-known about FMA styles and Masters. When you get over there to get your copy, make sure you tell them that thekuntawman sent ya.

So, anyway, where do we go from here? What can an FMA guy who wants to read about his art do? The martial arts magazines barely feature the FMAs, other than the occasional self-promoting jerk-offs who use the magazines to promote their new DVDs or give credibility to the new, “ancient” arts they just made. Anyone remember the Filipino Martial Arts magazines that Eliot Shearer produced? They were good, and I really crossed my fingers hoping it would grow to international levels, but personal problems kept him from moving the project forward. I suspect everyone was looking to take away but not put back in. It is like the parable of the pear tree (I’ll post more about it later), and to do something like this takes money and it is a time-consuming mission. Now, I hear that the Philippine-based Rapid Journal is now shutting down. They’ve been around forever too!

I’ll tell you what. Everyone should get behind the forms we have now–all the forums, the magazines, etc–and support them. That means FULL support:  time, energy, positive support as well as constructive criticism, attention (like spreading the word) and MONEY.  Because these things help you occupy your time, they entertain you, and they deserve something back from you.

And that’s all I need to say on that subject.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Please, spread the word!

The One-Punch Kill

“Ikken Hissatsu”

This is the Japanese term for “one punch kill”. It was ridiculed and discounted by men who can’t do it (look for my story about the fox and the grapes), because if you can’t beat em–many martial artists would say–mock em! 

There is a lot more to the one-punch kill than some guy training his reverse punch a thousand times a day. To be honest, that is actually a great way to train your martial arts (thousand reverse punches a day) because you would have such a great, powerful punch if you did. By contrast, the average professional boxer throws over 3,000 punches a day when he is in training, but then, that is his full-time job. For the martial artist who subscribes to this philosophy, a lot of attention is given to the application of the one punch–that is to land solidly and cleanly, regardless of what the opponent does–without any chance of counter or missing. This is why in competition karate, some formats end once the first point is landed: so that fighters do all they can to not get hit and do all they can to land that hit.

But can a single punch kill?  Of course it can. In my city alone (Sacramento, California), at least four people have died in one-punch fights. Some of these fights are justified (somewhat) in that the person who did the killing was actually defending himself. I have had three students since 2002 go to jail for injuring their attackers.  That’s right, someone attacked my students, and my students went to jail. Go figure. (Separate incidents)  There have been some good people pay the price for defending themselves, and some not-so-good people paid the price for poor judgment in failing to walk away from a fight. Take a look at this Google search, and you will find possibly hundreds of cases where a single punch killed someone. Involuntary manslaughter. Didn’t mean to kill them, but you certainly did something that ran the risk of killing someone.

There is a saying, that it is better to be tried by 12 than to be carried by six. There’s a lot of wisdom in this, because the one time you fail to defend yourself adequately you may be the one who dies. Still, we should at least explore the importance of developing this concept into a skill in the event you need it. I am not advocating killing attackers; I am simply saying that we should develop the ability to take out an opponent (not necessarily fatally) with a single punch. The one who has this ability is one who can apply the right amount of damage for the situation he finds himself in when he needs it. Something to think about.

And develop the skill to take out your opponent with a single hit, and your survival skill in the street will be just that much better. If some untrained guy on the street can do it accidentally, a deliberate, trained fighter can do it as well.

So, the next question is, should you?  This is an issue I have with the lot of knife-pukes (and in the FMAs we have plenty). These are guys who are so afraid of fighting, they only prepare for one type of fight, and that is where they find ways to plunge a knife deep into their opponent… makes them feel safer.  As warriors, we do not go for the kill everytime a guy looks at us funny. And just as we need to discern whether we should fight or not, we must also determine if this fight is one where we will need to justify the level of damage we inflicted later. A real concern, because in the process of defending ourselves, there is a pervading possiblity that we will kill our opponent.

I will leave you to ponder this subject on that note, and we will revisit the one-punch kill some other day. Thank you for visiting my blog.

The Knuckle as a Weapon

In the Filipino Martial Arts, we sometimes forget that we are all born with a very potent weapon–if we learn to use it–the knuckles.  I will refer to the “fist” as the “knuckle”, because there are other parts of the hand we can use in fighting, but I will talk only about the knuckles today.

Many martial artists do not think much more about the fist other than ways to throw it. However, if they learn more about the parts of the fist, what damage the fist can inflict, how to train it, and where to aim it, the fighter will see that the potential for a deadly weapon had literally been in their hands all along.  The knuckle is a very powerful weapon because it is a bone at the end of a limb we use all day long–especially in training. However, the knuckle is not a stick, it is not a knife, and we must find practical uses for the knuckle as a knuckle.

A good start is to study the various punches and where they are best used:

  • the jab–the eye, the corner of the chin, the teeth, the jaw, the nose, the center of the chest and the shoulder
  • the cross/reverse punch–anywhere you’d like!
  • the hook–the eye, the side of the nose, the jaw, the back of the head/neck, the side of the neck, the ribs, the solar plexus, the liver, the spleen, and the hip
  • the uppercut–the chin, the throat, the armpit/upper-upper arm, the floating ribs, the solar plexus, the liver/spleen, the belly
  • the backfist/back knuckle strike–the corner of the eye socket, the nose, the jaw, the teeth, the temple, the side/rear of the neck, the collarbone

There are other punches, but I thought these punches would be a good start, since they were universal to most fighting styles.

So, the next factor to consider is how the knuckles can be applied in each of these punches, relative to their targets. For example, a punch to the collarbone will use a different angle (slightly different, at least) than the same type of punch to the eye. you will use a different set of knuckles–the first two vs the last three–as well as alter the angle of the punch to hit the target.  When hitting the eye with a jab, you will have to consider the angle the opponent stands when you launch your attack:  an opponent who holds his guard to the side (like in a horse stance fighting stance, for example) vs an opponent who is squared shoulder when facing you (like in a traditional Muay Thai stance). The angle you hit him will change, as well as the side of the eye you will be attacking. How tall the opponent is will be significant also. A taller opponent will require a verticle fist/last three knuckles vs an opponent who is your height, against whom you can use the traditional palms-down/first two knuckle attack. (In case you are confused, consider this:  a palms-down punch, when aimed upward, will not hit with the knuckles, but the second knuckle of the fist)

Lastly, we must address training the knuckle. I did write an article about this subject. I would like you to take a look at it and utilize this system I introduce, as fist training is vital to your ability to use a fist.

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you have found this or any other article on my blog to be helpful, please spread the word and tell others about it!