The upper skills
- Channeling of Power–In traditional Kuntaw and Silat, this is often attributed to spiritual energy, even spirits (jinn) or a type of force that can be used as a weapon, such as “ilmu”. In my style, I do not believe in this type of combat; this makes reference to the ability to channel one’s power and energy for fighting. This is the difference between one fighter who pushes his power forward, and another fighter who thrusts his power forward. The first fighter relies on his weight and physical strength for power, while the second fighter relies on speed and explosiveness to multiply the power his physical attributes can muster. Let’s call this “refined power”. You take what you are capable of generating, and then find ways to double it with mechanics and velocity. Does this make sense?
- Air–The Chinese call this “Chi”. The Japanese call it “Ki”. For me, it’s just air. You need proper breathing to last longer in a fight, and your body needs an efficient way to turn the oxygen it takes in to convert to power. I often hear FMA people say, “You don’t need endurace to win a knife fight.” Oh, yeah? What if you have to run 25 yards to your car to get your knife? What if you are fighting a group and they have weapons too–and you can’t take them out in 2 minutes? How will you keep fighting if you can’t breathe? And I sure hope you aren’t planning to chase people with your knife, but if you are stupid enough to do so, what are you going to do when you catch him? We need air for several reasons: (a) for endurance, (b) more lung capacity will increase your strength, and (c) to generate power (okay! okay! maybe I do believe in Chi… a little bit!)
- Knowledge–Strategy and fighting philosophy. And when I speak of “philosophy”, I am not talking about Mr. Miyagi-style philosophy: Daniel-san, karate not for fighting, for defense only! I am referring to understanding fighters, combatants, and ultimately–you, as the fighter and combatant. We must know what goes on in the minds of our opponents and how to manipulate it. You must be able to recognize when an assailant is really an assailant, and when he’s just popping off the mouth to impress people. You must be able to take a man who wants to hurt you, and convince him that he is making a mistake. They don’t teach this in your weekend seminars! Of the upper skills, this is one of the most advanced–as well as one of the rarest to find. A true warrior fights least, but when he does, you will always remember this fight.
- Courage and Fearlessness–I’ve dissected this subject in detail on this blog; look for it! In the pursuit of mastering the martial arts, we must master our weaknesses… therefore, mastering ourselves. Show me a man who claims to experience no fear and I will show you three things: a liar, a coward, and a man who carries weapons because he is a liar and a coward. Courage is walking into a place you fear and staying strong when you do so. Fearlessness–TRUE fearlessness–is knowing that you can take care of yourself, but being afraid to put those skills to use. Understand that all men face fears, and learn to control them so they don’t paralyze you when you cannot avoid facing them.
- Awareness–The warrior is acutely aware of what is happening around him. I am not just speaking of possible friends your opponents; what we are talking about here are those things you cannot easily see: jealousy, envy, fear, manipulation, conspiracy. Recognize when men are trying to conspire against you, or when they are plotting to hurt you. See through their facades and expose their weaknesses and insecurities. Show a man who is being confrontational because he’s really a coward that you see him, and you can give yourself the upper hand. Learn to figure out his fight strategy early, and finish your opponent with the correct counter without breaking a sweat. Being aware means more than just looking out for opponent’s helpers in combat and scoping out your surroundings; being “aware” is the acute 6th sense that fighters and warriors develop when they are true fighters. It is the thing that you gain from knowing that you know far too well that no man can offer you combative competition. Leave the trash talking and posing to the fakers; the warrior who knows well who he is, knows well where he is, and knows the opponent/rival better than he knows himself, and no man is your match… whether we are talking about fighting, climbing the corporate ladder, or navigating and negotiating through our personal relationships (with friends and enemies alike). This is the skill that transcends fighting–where your martial arts affects your intelligence, personality and your character–regardless of station, education or caste, and can be applied to any situation. This skill gives true power, because it is supported by the lower skills (physical prowess), and allows you to dominate without using any of the fighting skills unnecessarily. This “awareness” is the essence of the saying, “war without battle”, or “fighting without fighting”, and is the highest of the upper skills.
Okay, I am about to watch an old tape of Clottey beating the snot out of Zab Judah, so I’ll close here. I’m going to need my martial arts skills to prevent calling my old friend Chris Godfrey (and Zab Judah fan) to gloat and scream in his ear. Hopefully you haven’t bet on the Pacquiao-Clottey fight, thinking Clottey is a bum… it’s going to be a good one! If you have never seen Clottey fight, skip over to youtube and check it out. Clottey is a killer.
And hopefully, you have read plenty to chew on. Make sure to get over to my “Offerings” page and order my book!
Thanks for visiting my blog.