Stone, Paper, SCISSORS!

Today, I was driving home from class and I was listening to my 8 year old girl teaching my 5 year old boy the game, “stone, paper, scissors”. I was laughing to myself because just a year ago, my 10 year old boy (then, 9) was teaching her to spar using the same terminology and hurriedness that she was using:

Kuntawman Jr:  “NONONO! You have to use the backfist! The backfist beats the front leg round house kick, but you have to use it when you step away! At the same time!”

Kuntawgirl:  “NONONO! You have to use the paper! The paper beats the rock because it covers it! But you have to try and see what I’m going to throw out so you know which one to use!”

There was a lot more, some arguing, but I think you get the point.

I laugh because I have taught my children to be calculating and plan their attack–even use “cheap shots”, like waiting a split second to see the opponent’s “hand” in a game of point fighting or “rock, paper, scissors”. In this one conversation, I can hear my big boy talking of timing, patience and a swift counter… but it’s the little girl using the same principles. And she’s teaching it to a Kindergardener. I only regret that I was not paying attention to her while she was sparring with him earlier today, so I didn’t get to see if she passed down the same lessons with fighting.

But it taught ME a lesson. Just as my son breaks down sparring to “Spin back kick is used against the back leg roundhouse kick” and “backfist versus front leg roundhouse kick”, a good fighting and training plan should at least have these basic “facts” drilled (there goes that word again!) into your fighters’ minds. My daughter was teaching my five year old to not jump the gun until you have gotten a chance to see what the opponent will do (“usually the other kid won’t put the same thing out twice, so if you lose one, throw it again and again, you will win at least one of them”… this kid–despite being spoiled rotten–is brilliant).

How do you teach fight preparation? By hitting focus mitts and bags?  Why not take a lesson from the Gatdula family planbook, and set up some basic “counter attackings” against identified common attacks:

  • the jab
  • the jab cross
  • the back hand/front hand hook
  • the skip kick
  • the back leg round kick
  • the skip side kick
  • blah blah blah…

Once you have a few good reliable counters–not any “slap block, catch, return” BS either–drill them 500 times, then spar with them, and then drill them another 500 times, but against an opponent who is really trying to hit you. I don’t like to guarantee much, but I can guarantee that your fighting ability will improve 100%. If you have questions, post them here, and I will try my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

I know it was short, but I wanted to send this off and get to bed. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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The Lower YOU: Path to Mastery

Generally, a man can only rise to the limits of his character. In the pursuit of martial arts mastery, it is imperative for one to have first mastered himself. We call this “mastering the lower self”.

The “lower” self–which we call the “nafs”–is referring to the basic instincts, impulses and desires of a man. It is in this place where most of a man’s faults lie, as are the foundations for his best traits. Greed, weakness in sexual desires, pride, wrath, envy, laziness, and gluttony are among the characteristics of the undisiciplined man; while inside the one who has mastered them are the opposites of those traits. You may find those who excel in spite of the presence of those faults, yet he has placed a glass ceiling to how high he can go as long as he has not learned to control them. On the other hand, you will have men who have controlled those desires in the pursuit of greatness–just to begin their decline after developing flaws in their character. Look at your favorite athletes who have been caught in scandals:  Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods, Shaq O’Neal–all whom have seen problems in their personal lives affect their game. Then take a look at other men:  businessmen, politicians, religious leaders! A man can only rise to the limit of his character. This is important, especially for the martial artist, as there is a direct connection between one’s ability to develop fighting skills and the discipline he has in his life. A man who cannot resist the pull of alcohol, an extra marital affair, an honest dollar, or even a CHEESEBURGER lacks the control it takes to take his training, focus, and ultimately his skills to a higher level.

This is why we consider technical development to be at the lower levels of the person as well as the lower levels of a man’s soul. When he has developed as far as his physical person will allow him, a fighter will need to rely on those things that extra pushups and weight lifting cannot bring him. Think of Masutatsu Oyama in Mt. Minobu, Muhammad Ali at Deer Lake, or a celibate, alcohol-free Mike Tyson in the Catskills! Can you become strong and durable while chasing women after training? Yes. But you will be sorely limited in how far you will develop. And herein lies the place where potential champions and true masters of the art lose the fight against themselves, while others–who may be less talented, yet more determined and committed–rise above the expectations of their dreams.

I find myself delving into a book I am currently writing, so rather than spoil the book, I will end this article here. Thank you for reading my blog. Please come visit us again!