Teaching Joint Attacks

First, let me define “joint attack”.

I call a “joint attack” any technique designed to destroy, dislocated, or hyperextend a joint. In most other schools, joint attacks are in the category of grappling. In my art, the skill of grappling is a separate skill from the skill of destroying a joint. Allow me to explain how I approach these two related–yet separate skills.

A sudden elbow lock is an example of a joint attack, while the same lock being slowly cranked is what I consider grappling. The difference is that the quick lock would be applied in the midst of fighting while striking. This is not an easy task, and the lock must be employed as quickly as a punch or a kick. In doing this, the fighter must be accurate and his opponent offers little to no resistance, because he is not expecting the attack. The same lock being applied in a grappling situation is done on a resisting opponent who is also grappling with you. In this situation, the opponent knows that you are attempting to apply a lock (or not, but he knows that you are not striking and kicking) and you must force your lock on him. In the joint attack, strength is not an issue as much as timing and accuracy; while in grappling you are relying on sensitivity and timing, yet its own special brand of timing.

When teaching the joint attack, teach the attack in the form of a fist-fight. You may do this as an attack or a counter attack, and the fighters must have several ways to execute the techniques. I recommend practice as a naked attack (that is, simply the attack without a combination) as well as in combination with other techniques. These techniques should be practiced as often as your punches and kicks, and treated with the same respect as your punches and kicks. When I say “respect”, I mean that you do not gloss over the techniques as “now you know it, let’s move on”. When techniques are treated this way–and I believe they are done so in most schools–the fighter never has a firm grasp on these skills as they do their jabs and hooks and frontal kicks. Give the joint attack their own place in training and they will be useful to your students when they need them.

Finally, have a system of using these techniques as a follow-up to an attack. In other words, you will throw an attack to induce a movement by the opponent–and then apply the joint attack based on that response.

I wanted to convey this small bit of advice, without giving too much of my system. I hope you find it useful. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Good Soup Takes Time

I remember my mother taking all day to make her soups–my favorite being a soup called “sinigang”, a salty and sour soup. I watched her recipe over the years and have become pretty good at making my own style of sinigang. The base of a good sinigang isn’t the tamarind (which makes the sour taste), nor the salt–but the meat, which gives the soup its umami (savoriness). What makes the meat so special in a good soup is that it is cooked long enough to draw out most–but not all–of the flavors of the meat to season the soup. If you don’t cook it long enough, the soup stock is only flavored by the seasoning you add, while the meat is tough and undercooked. If it’s cooked too long, the stock absorbs more umami than is necessary (which over powers the salt and the sour and hot, if you like to add peppers) and it leaves the meat bland. The meat must be nearly perfect so that it (1) lends the perfect amount of flavor to the stock, (2) is cooked fully but not too much, and (3) gives the perfect combination and percentage of salty, sour, umami and heat. In order to achieve this balance, you cannot just buy a book and get the exact recipe–you must have made this soup many times. And this will include experimentation, failing several times, modifying your method, getting feedback from your dinner guests, tasting/testing the soup during the cooking process, and finally:  perfecting your version of this soup. It takes time, you must be patient. You must know this recipe like the back of your hand. But don’t take my word for it; you must have this experience yourself. Because if you come to my house to try a bowl of my ox tail sinigang, you will turn your nose up at anything that comes out of a can. And I’m sure you will be looking through my kitchen to see if your grandma is hiding back there. Not trying to sound arrogant, but my sinigang is world-famous. Even vegetarians like it. 😉

Uh, what were we talking about?  Oh, so good martial arts skill takes time…  Funny how everything I say seems to come back to either religion or martial arts.

Every month, it seems I meet martial arts students who inquire about my school because of my website, blog or reputation. Often when they come to join or see the training, the mystery is gone and they lose interest. Yes, it is not like the movies.  Yet often, when I get to know some of these men I realize it isn’t that I dress in baggy jeans and timberland boots when they were expecting a robe and long beard. No, what keeps many students from joining and staying at my school (or any other school) isn’t the teacher–it’s the student. The external things brings them here. The internal things drive them away.

See, the martial arts student is the kind of guy who wants soup, and he goes to the cupboard to fetch a can, empty its contents into a bowl and nuke it for 2 minutes. The kind of martial artist who becomes a real master is more of the wait-6-hours-for-a-good-bowl-to-simmer kind of guy. The one who uses the can will have his black belt in 2 or 3 years, might even rack up a nice resume in 10 years, have a school, a reputation, and even a lot of students and money and titles. And no matter what kind of things you add to his repertoire–chopped onions, garlic, a bjj certification, a jkd/kali instructorship, a USA Boxing Coach certification, fresh ground pepper, or sour cream–what you have before you is still canned soup. And the guy with the canned soup, with all his ranks, titles and croutons–will always fear the guy with the slow-cooked sinigang in his bowl, on the mat.

Martial arts students all want the same thing:  fighting skill and to look good in a T-shirt. But they are not all willing to do what it takes to get it. So we end up with guys who train like senior citizens on the mat, but they supplement with weight training, Insane workouts, P90X or kettle bells. While others are patient because they know that, in time, they will have everything they dreamed of when they were 12 year old boys watching Bruce Lee videos. It is important to understand that the training of a serious martial artist will not yield results right away. It won’t look like Jean Claude Van Damme’s training in “Kickboxer”. And you may not always look like LL Cool J with your shirt off. Hell, your teacher may not look like LL. Skill is something like soup, in that at the first stage it just looks like water, raw meat, and some stuff that looks like twigs and dirt in the pan.  Simply by hanging out long enough, you will discover that your pan full of wierd stuff will taste better than any crap you get out of a can.

Or as my Dad would say, just eat it and you’ll grow hair on your chest. Whatever it takes to get you motivated, understand that your training will pay off handsomely if you keep doing it, and keep doing it long enough. You may not see the results before those around you notice them. Or you could just fill up on that canned stuff and then watch with envy when I show you what I have 6 hours from now.

Below, I am going to do something most of my students know is rare for me! Forget martial arts secrets–asking Mustafa Gatdula for a recipe is like asking me to show you my underwear or sing Kareoke in front of strangers. This is a watered-down version of my famous ox-tail soup (you didn’t think I would actually give the real recipe did you?). Try it on your own, and if you can stomach the idea of eating a buffalo’s tail (it’s actually pretty darned good), you may have to try it a few times (make the kids eat it first, until you perfect it) but you will impress the in-laws with this Filipino comfort food!

And thanks for visiting my blog.

Boil about 3 to 4 pounds of ox tail in a big pot of water. Ox tails take about 1.5 to 2 hours to cook fully. Make sure not to let it go too long or the meat will be bland. A good test would be to see how easily a fork will go into the meat. If the meat comes off the bone easily, then it’s done (you can always taste one piece. if its easy to chew, you’re good. you should be able to get everything off the bone easily). During the first hour you boil the meat with nothing but a large onion diced, about 4 or 5 slices of fresh ginger, a hand full of garlic, a small handful of bay leaf, and a hand full of black pepper. I would recommend waiting for the meat to boil for 30 minutes before adding those things, so that you can skim off the foam that comes to the top first–then add the spices.

At the one hour mark, add another diced onion, three diced tomatoes, and root vegetables. I like taro, but you can add carrot, radishes (yuck!) or yucca. Make sure you dice them. Add about two hand fulls of salt, or if you’re really daring, try salted fermented shrimp. Also, add a handful of fresh tamarind (or if you’re the McDojo type, just add a packet of the premade stuff) and three or four dried chillis. Leave the chillis and tamarind on the top, and cover for ten minutes.

In ten minutes, take out the chillis and tamarind and put them in separate bowls. Split them open with a spoon and scrape all the meat out of them and then mash them with about a cup of soup. Get rid of the seeds and peel. Add them back to the soup.

Right after you begin stirring the soup, add a bid bowl of cabbage, or chopped bak choy, or my favorite:  Chinese Broccoli and sitaw (stringed beans). Also, egg plant and squash is a good thing to add. Try the sweet kind (squash). These veggies only take about 10 minutes to cook and then serve it immediately. The vegetables may look undercooked, but I like mine crunchy and they will be perfect.

If anyone reading this blog tries out the recipe, please post a comment! I’d love to hear how it worked out. Thanks for visiting my blog.

The 60 Year Old Guy with the 3rd Degree

Not long ago I was talking with a gentleman whose name escapes me. He was a 1st degree Black Belter from the 60s who had studied Karate in Japan, and had not “updated” his training since then. He was an older gentleman–I’d have to say he was easily in his 60s–and very fit. We talked about the martial arts and how they had changed over the years, and he mentioned that his children had studied the arts in the 80s and how disappointed that his children (1) reached the Black Belt level far sooner than he had without the skills to match, and (2) his boys did not have the level of indominability he possessed upon reaching his Black Belt. While he was lamenting this state of the martial arts, I wondered if he retained his fighting skills after all these years and sure enough–I overcame my shyness and asked for a match, and he obliged.

Now, I don’t want you to criticize me for challenging an old man to a match. First, it wasn’t a real match, as he and I only played hands for about 3 minutes and I certainly would not have fought him like a young man (unless I needed to). Secondly, this gentleman’s physique was not indicative of his age and I would bet the house that he could have held his own against any man I put before  him. Bottom line, he was skilled as a fighter and I know his kids must be proud of him. I wish him many years to come and I know that God has blessed him with the gift of youth and wisdom in his older age. But on to the point of the article….

He struck me with something he said:  (and I’m paraphrasing) I had not taken on another teacher because I already felt safe with the skills I was given and I never met another teacher who could match my own. What a blessing. I have an issue with people who insist that “the Black Belt is only the beginning”. I believe it is the end. It is only the beginning when your teacher bestowed the belt on you before you had become an expert and the last time I looked, the black belt was supposed to mean you were an expert. And the second thing here is that he was blessed to have a teacher he felt was the among the best, and he never met another man whose skill matched his teacher’s. This is something I would hope every martial arts student had. Yet I know that it is not, and that is because we tend to give rank to people who really don’t deserve it.

And now, my real point.

I have met many a 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th degree master who couldn’t hold a candle to my skill level. And I have also met 1st and 2nd degree fighters who were better than me. There is something to be said about the level of hunger in a man striving for the next degree when he is in the lower levels of the Black Belt that isn’t there once he reaches the 4th degree. After the 4th, they seem to become more of political ranks than earned degrees of skill. One man I know of–Dr. Jerome Barber–is one of them. Our paths have only slightly crossed in my years on the East Coast. According to my old friend Billy Bryant, he introduced me to him years ago (although I don’t remember) at a seminar in upstate New York. Like Billy, Doc B was a student of Kenpo and Modern Arnis, who was one of those old-school dojo-hardened fighters from the 70s. And like Billy, he did not pursue the next rank as much as he pursued more skill. And trust me, if Billy Bryant says you’re good–you know what you’re doing because this man didn’t pull punches with his opinion. Well, when Modern Arnis leadership was up for grabs I had hoped that the best of his students, like Doc B, would take the reins but I was wrong. The guys who promoted seminars, chased the paper and wrote articles for GM Presas all fought for the “sokeship”, while the real warriors stayed in the background and continued their path of martial arts enlightenment on their own. But I don’t doubt that in Modern Arnis circles, even the “Masters of Tapi-Tapi” know who the big dogs are. There is a saying that you achieve what you strive for, and those who pursue high rank get them (or give it to themselves), while those who pursue better skill get them as well. Billy Bryant–surprisingly–was only a 1st or 2nd degree Black Belter in Modern Arnis. I don’t believe he achieved any other rank in the FMAs–other than what he was gifted through honorary ranking. (Side note:  During my time in training with him, Billy’s organization [the Maryland Black Belt Association] awarded me a 3rd degree Black Belt in 1994–not for martial arts knowledge but for tournament performance, and I am proud of this honorary rank. At the same time, I received a 5th degree in Tae Kwon Do from a teacher I won’t name… because of SALES PERFORMANCE. That’s right, because I sold a lot of memberships, I received a 5th degree black belt from a “kwang jan nim” of Tae Kwon Do. It’s disgusting. I never mention that…) Doctor Barber made his reputation the old fashioned way, and although he never posted youtube clips all over the place and chased behind GM Presas, itching for higher rank, his reputation as an Arnisador is without question. Who knows why he never went for higher rank? But I’m willing to bet that it was because he was too busy training to stop long enough to take a test. So maybe his resume doesn’t read like a book, but his skill and reputation speaks for itself.

In my travels and experiences, I have found far more functional fighting skills in lower ranking black belts than I have in Black Belters with advanced Black Belt degrees. And where I have met guys in their 50s and 60s, yet they still hold a low degree–like a 3rd degree–I have always found those men to be superior in knowledge and skill. In my own Jow Ga system, one of my older brothers, Tehran Brighthapt, is one of our best and most accomplished fighters. He was on the first US team to fight San Shou in Taiwan in 1979. When Sifu went to confront another martial arts school or even local gangsters, he brought Bright with him. Even when Billy Bryant came to our school in 1984 looking for a match, it was Tehran who fought him and recruited him as a student. Yet I have outranked Bright on the Jow Ga curriculum since I was 15 years old, and I don’t even think I can defeat him today at 42. Rank means nothing. Skill means everything. Never forget that.

So when you meet a 60 year old guy with a 3rd degree Black Belt, ask him for a match (respectfully, of course). Pay close attention and take mental notes, because you are about to learn something valuable.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

The Traveling Warrior

There was a time that the martial arts “expert” was a fighting man. Regardless of age, size, style–he was a man who could hold his own against any opponent, armed or not. He was able to face and give trouble to any man or group of men. He was expected to have nearly superhuman physical ability, and had a martyr’s level of courage in combat. To call a martial artist an “expert”, you assumed that this man was among the best of the best; a warrior in every sense of the word. When among groups of regular men, the martial arts expert gave his neighbors the feeling of extreme safety while in his presence. Even strong men would be intimidated by his skill and potential. Other teachers of the martial arts would feel inferior to his knowledge and ability, because his aura oozed expertise. No one questioned his theories and his judgment, because it was apparent that this man was clearly speaking from experience. He did not need to quote bulletpoints from his resume, nor did he feel it necessary to announce his martial position. He did not name-drop his teachers and acquaintances. He did not associate with other masters for anything other than to feed his pool of sparring partners. He closely guarded his skills and did not show off his knowledge. He hesitated to allow others to get too close because of his need to keep his secrets to himself. He was a man who stood on the shoulders of his own exploits, rather than those of his teachers or his clan. He was not afraid to face the martial arts community alone, nor was he in fear of a challenge. On the contrary, it was HE who posed the threat to the community’s champions. Not only did this man not fear anonymity; he embraced it. His notoriety and his reputation derived from his ability and the trail of opponents he left in his past. There was no need to announce himself, because where the martial arts expert stood–everyone could feel his presence.

The so-called “expert” of today does not compare.

I am going to tell you how this expert of yesteryear came to be.

I’m referring the days that most martial arts training occurred within small groups and student-teacher relationships were familial and not a business arrangement. In these days, a man most likely learned from a family member or local master or champion. By comparison, today’s martial artist shops around for the most appealing schools and the teachers with the longest resumes. At worst, today’s martial art student shops around to see who will allow himself to be negotiated down to the cheapest tuition. The expert of yesterday, studied with whoever was closest to him. He learned his lessons when they were offered, and spent most of his time practicing and refining his skills. Rather than travel the globe (or the internet) looking for newer techniques and the coolest-looking drills, yesterday’s master-in-training simply learned whatever his master decided to teach him. His time with his master, when he was there, was fully focused, patient, and respectful. He did not spend as much time learning as one would think; the student spent as little as a few months at a time with his teachers. But he would spend his lifetime training and sharpening those skills. There were no advanced levels or certificates to chase; those students were only interested in learning skills. When training was complete, he was free to go.

And where did he go?

Out into the community. After learning his skills from his teacher, the student became a traveling warrior–not really a vagabond, but a freelance martial artist who refined his technique in practice and tested his theories in combat with other fighters. Some men literally traveled from town to town; others stayed in one place but frequented another fighter’s doorstep. When he heard a call for fighters to engage in a contest, the traveling warrior answered it eagerly. He felt he was the best fighter, and sought to prove it to himself and others. When defeated, he rarely asked for instruction or switched his methods. Instead, he understood that his own method simply needed more practice:  he sought to refine his technique application, he strove to get faster, stronger, more accurate. He was never complacent because there was always another opponent out there–better opponents, untested opponents, doubtful opponents. He wouldn’t think of turning down a challenge. In fact, he was often the one who would go looking for a challenge. This was all in the effort to perfect his technique.

The traveling warrior did not have the protection of a clan or a school. He stood alone and knew his place as a result of it. And because of this position in the community, mediocrity was unacceptable. He was good, and he didn’t just say it–he knew he was good because he’d proved it to himself again and again. It was he who progressed the art–not the man hiding behind his popularity and school. The static instructor, unless he frequently engaged in contests, tended to fall into complacency and mediocrity. By comparison, the traveling warrior always had a something new to add to the dynamics of his martial arts experience–whereas the static teacher often felt compelled to preserve his system intact as he received it. The travelling warrior was forced to create his own version of combat and establish his own legacy, while the static teacher inherited his. Therefore, the static instructor rarely evolved, while the traveling fighter was ever-evolving. And many a well-known teacher had been discredited, by the traveling, unknown warrior.

The tournament fighter of today embodies the young, traveling warrior. Just like yesterday’s traveling warrior, the tournament fighter has had more opponents that he could remember. He is often discounted by the more well-known, but complacent, static teacher. He is dismissed as young and foolish, and his accomplishments are downplayed as children’s games, by men who could never prove their statements in a real match. And even when he is among so-called 6th and 7th degree masters and grandmasters, the tournament fighter can enjoy a level of position that few in his presence has ever experienced. He is not just talking the talk, he is walking the talk and everyone knows it. When the tournament fighter boasts, he is boasting about what he has already done. By contrast, the martial artist who puts down match-fighting can only boast about what he would do, but has never done. Just as a man walking a dog can “call” himself the “master”, that 100 lb pitt bull knows who the real master is. When people are around a man with proven fighting prowess–even high-ranking martial artists–it is the same feeling a Chihuahua has being in the presence of a calm, but potentially dangerous pitt bull.

In the real FMA tradition, it is only after several years of traveling and duels against many unfamiliar men that one can say he has acquired the experience and wisdom of a lifetime of fighting knowledge. And it is only after this experience should he consider undertaking the prestige of teaching. Men who do not have this knowledge will always discount the value of actual fighting experience. Instead of fighting experience, they say, you should have a “skill” in teaching students or transmitting fine details. I say, hogwash. (I once learned Chi Sao from a man in a bakery who spoke only Cantonese, and after about 4 hours of Chi Sao matches with him, my fighting improved 100%–so much for the need for “communication” skill) If you are to be an effective teacher–regardless of communication skills–you must have valuable information to pass on. If you have poor knowledge of fighting, a PhD in English will not help your students become any better as fighters. This has nothing to do with being able to give an oral presentation. It has everything to do with knowing how to stop, injure, or kill a man–and teaching others to use this knowledge in the dramatic event when a man can lose his life. If you want to help people learn to survive an attack, you must obtain this knowledge and experience yourself.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Teaching Advanced Students

The teaching of advanced martial arts students is very different from teaching beginning students. I want to start this article with this simple statement, because I think many teachers treat the advanced level the same way they treat the beginner levels of the martial arts. It involves more than just “advanced” curriculum. The whole method of instruction is a skill, and it is a separate skill than the way you teach beginners. Some teachers are better than others at teaching basics. Others will excel at teaching intermediates. Others will master teaching the advanced. And then you have the teachers who can only teach teachers, and their skill at teaching beginners is not very good.

This is the reason you find schools that are bottom-heavy with low belts and very few intermediates and advanced students. Yet in other schools you will find few beginners and few advanced students, but a lot of intermediate students. And perhaps the most common situation you will find with Asian teachers in America:  Nearly no beginners at all, a small following of intermediates, and many advanced students. And further, with mostly older masters, you will find no students at all, and all of his “students” are instructor level students of other masters, or former students who are now teachers that hang around the master.

Each of these levels of students require a different kind of training and instruction, and the teacher must know how to address their needs, how to produce results, and how to prepare the students for the next level.

The Advanced Student

The advanced student does not require so much a formal class (unless he is naturally lazy by character), nor does he need to have his basics checked. I should hope that by the time your student reaches the advanced level, his basics are solid and he is able to execute techniques at a flawles level. He also does not require a lot of instruction of fighting strategy, as this knowledge should have been studied at the intermediate level. The focus of the advanced level student should be three-fold:

  • refinement of perfect basics
  • alternative applications of techniques learned at lesser levels
  • learning to apply one’s fighting skill against any opponent

In some systems, little to nothing new is learned at the advanced level. In my Eskrima style, for example, all techniques are learned before completing the intermediate level. The advanced level is where those techniques are perfected. Yet in my Kuntaw system, I teach very little before the advanced level, and most of the techniques that are unique to my style are only taught to my instructors and instructor candidates. And in my Jow Ga system, most of the advanced students learn something new all the way to the end of the curriculum. Every style will be different. Yet the focus should fall into these three things: perfection, alternatives, and application.

refinement of perfect technique

The advanced student should be striving to perfect the skills he learned at the beginner level. This is accomplished through individual practice. Students do not need to come to class and have repetitions counted out for them. They also do not need to come to class and have the teacher explaining how to throw techniques. If they are doing that, then they don’t belong in anything labelled “advanced”. Perfection is what they should be striving for. At the beginner levels, student may practice to “get” their basics. At intermediate, they may practice to “get gooder” at their basics–becoming faster, stronger, more accurate. And at the advanced level, their basics should be flawless, and you should be able to throw accurate, quick and powerful techniques from any position, anytime you wish. The advanced student, therefore, should never be caught off-balance, or miss shots thrown, or anything else. To practice with this in mind requires that you do little more than casually practice; not even “rigorously” practice…. you must train.

He can either practice alone or with a partner. He must have things to hit. He must drill his techniques with an insane number of repetitions, and do each strike, each punch, each kick as if he were trying to kill someone. Because at this level, the student is no longer striving for “good” skill; he is striving for lethal ability. He must train as if his life depended on those skills, because in reality, it does. If he wants to use a partner, he should not train with a weaker classmate or one that is too new to be a good partner. He does not want a partner who is weaker or afraid of him. The advanced student must have a true partner, not a target-holder. He needs to be challenged, and forced to give his all with every rep. As the teacher, you must ensure that this happens. Not practice at one’s leisure–but they have to train with a sense of urgency, and the intensity of a champion fighter preparing to defend his title.

This kind of training will ensure that the so-called “advanced” student walks away with “advanced” skills, and they are apparent each time he throws a punch, kick or strike.

In part II we will look at the other goals for teaching advanced students. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Real Martial Arts Training Is Not Entertaining!

Today I had lunch with a female Sifu, whose permission I did not get to use her name. She and I lived in the same neighborhood in Taiwan–called Tien Mou, a little north of Taipei. She will trading with me soon, lessons in Mandarin in exchange for the Fu Hok Sern Ying Chune (Tiger/Crane Combination Shape Fist) technique I learned as a boy there. In discussing our training as children, we compared notes about our teachers being “mean”, the lengthy sessions consisting of not more than stance training and perhaps one or two techniques. My training–as was hers–was like this for the bulk of my career as a student.

She made the observation that I completely agreed with:  American students would view this type of training as a waste of time and money, because they like to be entertained in their martial arts lessons.

This is the problem that traditional teachers face. Martial arts students wield the power to withdraw their enrollment and go elsewhere. In order to keep their students coming, teachers must teach what captures students’ interest:  new and exciting techniques, rather than the high numbers of repetitions required to master skills. Student will watch movies and see what that training looks like, or youtube clips for the fancy techniques demonstrated there, and turn their noses up on things like stance training or “mindless” (as some so called experts would call it) repetitions of basics that a traditional teacher would call for.

Let me break for a minute. I want to expound on something. Martial arts media is good. But there is a problem in that students will take the word of authors they read or videos they’ve seen over their teachers. Take for example the writings of Bruce Lee. He has made many assumptions, that martial artists will quote as one quotes Bible passages:

  • Boards don’t hit back
  • Forms are useless
  • Traditional training is outdated
  • Karate and Kung fu are impractical
  • There are no secrets in the martial arts

But the truth is, that while “boards don’t hit back”, neither do people who get hit by fists that can break boards. Forms may not make sense the way people perform them, but the secret is in the application of those techniques contained within the form. If you don’t know, you won’t know. Traditional training, which people will discount at the drop of a hat, is just as effective as “modern” training. And if you think pure kung fu or karate is impractical, I would like to invite you to a kyokushinkai dojo and make that statement. And finally, secrets in the martial arts are exactly that:  secrets. If you don’t know what they are, you can’t argue that there are none. People who dismiss secrets simply don’t know them.

And the result of all this media “knowledge”? Martial arts students who think they know more than the masters, and they think they know what “real” martial arts training looks like. They like being “entertained” with techniques that look neat in demonstration (youtube has millions)–and FMA people are famous for collecting them. So you end up with a so-called Arnisador who knows a ton of drills and 10 ways to disarm a stick, but he isn’t strong enough to fracture a skull with one. Or a “Kadena de Mano” practitioner who can demo all kinds of “what-ifs” in the form of patty-cake drills, but he can’t land a solid punch on a combative opponent to save his life.

Entertaining martial arts is all about showing people what you know, while real martial arts is all about proving what you can do. And you don’t get skill in the “proof” part of the martial arts by casually practicing new stuff. It comes from thousands upon thousands of repetitions of doing basic techniques more times than you can count. It comes from hundreds of matches where you execute those techniques against opponents who are attempting to truly stop you from being successful. It comes from facing not training partners, but opponents who are doubtful of your abilities and the validity of your style. This process is not fun, nor is it interesting, and it certainly isn’t entertaining. But it is necessary to say that what you are doing is “real” martial arts.

Everything else is just “for entertainment purposes only”.

Thanks for visiting my blog.