Pop! Pop-POP! Pop, Pop-POP!

In other words, “How to Throw the One, the One-Two, and the One-Two-Three”.

If you’re a die-hard FFSL reader, you may recognize that I have written about this series of techniques a few times. This is one of those pillars in my personal fighting system that comes from my Kuntaw, which I have applied to point fighting, to my Jow Ga, my Eskrima and my boxing. If you check out the “How to Supercharge Your FMA Empty Hand” article, I explain how to come up with your personal fighting system. For those who don’t know, the “personal” fighting system is your own specialty within your chosen system(s). I have a personal fighting system that no one knows, even my own students, but they all learn it. This is a basic set of fighting techniques I teach to all my fighters, regardless of what system they are studying with me, besides the art they are paying me to teach them.

That said, I am only going to tell you about three parts of this series of techniques.


I don’t believe in striking once, and then stopping. It is, however, the most oft-seen technique in fighting. Regardless of whether you are watching a boxing match, an MMA fight, an Olympic TKD match, a point match, a Muay Thai bout, a fencing match–the single, isolated attack not immediately followed up by anything else is the one technique you will see the most. If you are not a student of fighting strategy, this is the primary form of attack you will use. Why this is true can be blamed on how teachers teach their students to practice.

Think of how you teach a typical martial arts class:  You line everyone up. Tell them to get into a fighting stance. Then you call out the technique they are preparing to execute. Finally, you call cadence; and for every count you make, or every yell, or every beat of a drum, tap of a stick, clap of the hand–they throw one repetition of that technique. Not just that, but your students will spend most of their class outside of drilling and sparring with this kind of practice.

Did I get that right?

No, I am missing something. You guys are FMA people. Okay, your abecedarios/numerados… So, the feeder throws ONE strike, you block, you counter with a hit or series of hits, then disarm. Or he strikes ONE more time, then you throw another counter, then disarm.

Now did I get that right?

Of course I did. I’ve been doing FMAs since most of you were chasing behind the girls trying to get phone numbers with your Jheri curls and mullets and “Members Only” jackets (sleeves rolled up, of course) and still practicing Karate, Kenpo or Tae Kwon Do, not yet aware that FMAs were cool. I know my stuff.

But the single, isolated attack has a useful use. You can use the monotony of the single attack (POP!) to lull your opponent’s edginess to sleep. Throw single attacks deliberately, and your opponent will relax a little and then get into that rhythm with you. Before you know it, he is looking to defend with ONE block, and if he counters it may or may not be right away. Chances are pretty good that his counter will also only consist of ONE technique. See, there is this thing called “mirroring” that opponents will do. Next time you spar, try it: you dance, he will dance. You load up on power, he will load up on power. You strike by combination, HE will strike by combination. Jedi Mind Tricks, guys–it’s some real stuff, lol.

While you do this, look out for a break from the monotony, though. Not all fighters can be influenced this way. Many experienced fighters will notice that you are throwing a single shot and will plan to make you pay for it. So stay on your toes, and when you use it don’t use it too long or you might get caught. On the other hand, if you use it and get him into the rhythm with you, he will be susceptible to the


Throw that single shot, and at the moment he reacts to the single shot–exploit his reaction. You will have to have good timing. I recommend throwing your second shot on the half-beat, which means whatever speed the first attack was launched–your second attack, the follow up–will be twice as fast. This will allow you to land the punch, kick, strike or throw/sweep while the opponent is defending himself against the first.

For example, say you are throwing a quick, downward attack with the stick. In Modern Arnis, this is called the #5 (of the 1-6) or the #1 (of the 1-12), basically an attack to the crown. How is your opponent likely to defend against it? With a high block. Well, while he is raising his stick to block that first strike, you will quickly retract the stick and then throw an out to in strike against his left elbow (if he uses both hands to support the block) or the left temple (if he is only use one hand). But the timing must be such that the second strike lands while the opponent is still blocking the first shot.

They can be two of the same hit. In boxing this is known as the “Deuce”, the double jab. Every self-respecting boxer knows how to use this technique well. If an opponent has been trained to use the “catch-return jab” response to the jab, you’ll kill ’em. Catch-return jab only works against novice boxers, as experienced coaches will slap the crap out of you for even practicing single jabs. Catch-return jab has no place in a serious fighter’s arsenal. I’m just saying… Any hoo, the Pop-POP! can be thrown with the same type of attack, or two different attacks, but preferably with the same limb. It is more about the timing than anything else.

The Pop, Pop-POP!

You will have a slight gap between the first and second attack. This is so that you can set up the third, more powerful attack. The first attack creates distance and a gap in the action. The second elongates the gap, and sets him up for the third. The third attack is a huge, fight-ending shot. Use this technique as often as you like, but just make sure that the power difference between #s 1 and 2 vary, and make sure #3 is a different technique. This way, in essence, you are throwing a different technique each time you throw it–despite the fact that you are throwing it with the same strategy.

Example:  Jab (make sure you step in with it; we don’t want to throw away punches to ineffectiveness), Jab-CROSS! >>>> Jab, JAB-HOOK (same hand) >>>> JAB-Jab, slip/feint CROSS! Notice I moved the Gap. Yeah, you can do that…

This series is very effective. Just make sure to take it with you into your sparring sessions, and use them frequently until you have them burned into your “second nature” muscles. Good luck! If anyone is in the Sacramento area and would like to try it out, I’d be glad to show you in person. Just email me.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Make sure to check out our “Offerings” page and get my book!



Teaching vs Training, part II

This is a follow up from a post from 2009, and is a subtopic in my book, “Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months“.

If you are a Guro and were to meet me in person, this subject would be one of the most likely things we will talk about. I just met a gentleman today who told me he expected me to be unfriendly and cold, but was surprised that I was the opposite. We did talk a little about my *favorite* subject concerning the FMAs–commercialization–but when we shifted the conversation to the solution, we discussed this:  How to teach the FMAs.

So, Rob, this is for you.

In the process of developing students, you must identify your goal–your purpose–for teaching. Is it merely to keep a system alive? Or are you attempting to create superior fighters? What about self-defense? I have met many teachers who say they are only interested in “teaching people to defend themselves”, but what does that mean? Defend oneself? Wouldn’t that require that your student be superior in combat to the average man on the street? Or at least the average attacker?

Who do you believe is attacking law-abiding citizens on the street?

Yuppies? Businessmen? Overweight or out-of-shape thugs?

I would like to suggest you consider this. The average man knocking people over the head to rob them or prove their “manhood” (whatever that is) is most likely a career criminal. Chances are that your student is NOT the first guy he has attacked, and your attacker is stronger and more aggressive than the average man who spent the last 3-5 years working–rather than working out–on a job instead of a jail cell. I doubt highly that weak, passive men are out there starting fights. I also doubt that men unsure of their fighting ability are initiating attacks. Wouldn’t it make sense that your students be stronger, more experienced at putting hands up, and more confident, fit and aggressive than those punks?

So, I ask you again: Are you casually training your students to simply impart martial arts knowledge, or are you training superior fighters?

When I meet Arnisadors with smooth arms and a weak handshake, I want to go somewhere and cry. If this guy can’t squash a grape, how is he going to bash an attacker’s head in? What is the purpose of swinging those sticks and slashing knives when your grip isn’t strong enough to do some damage? Somebody get the “Pool Noodles” over here! Not meaning to compare apples to oranges, but have you ever seen the arms of a wu shu artist who’s specialty is the Dao (broadsword) or the Gwun (staff)? These guys, whom you would likely laugh at, are buff. They can swing their weapons (in between doing the splits, ballet moves and somersaults) with more power than your smooth-armed Guros. It’s not supposed to be that way.

I cannot emphasize enough the need to train your students in the same basic techniques and see to it that they are stronger, faster and can generate much more power than last month. And if they are not–we should see this as a failure on our part as martial arts trainers. Simply coming to class and breaking a little sweat is not good enough. I once heard a teacher say, “Well Mustafa, I’m not training these guys for a heavyweight championship fight. Just a fight on the street that should only last 60 seconds or less.” Oh no? Why not? Suppose the attacker on the street is not a flyweight amateur, but a big and powerful heavyweight? Another Eskrima teacher told me, “If this art is done properly, your fights shouldn’t last more than a few minutes, so why would we need a whole lot of stamina? You don’t need stamina to plunge a knife into a belly…”  I dunno… maybe because opponents don’t stand still? Maybe you have to run from your attacker to get to the trunk where your weapons are? Or maybe you have to chase your opponent to get your wallet back? Or maybe the opponent was harder to fight than you thought, so the fight lasts TEN minutes instead of 2?

Please don’t use clichès to get out of training seriously, folks. “Boards don’t hit back.” It’s a MOVIE, y’all. Bruce Lee broke boards to demonstrate his power! If boards “don’t hit back”, well neither do people who get HIT by fists that break boards! How else are gauging your power? By asking the guy who’s holding the focus mitts for you? (“Hey, how’s that feel?”…. “Man, you have power!” You’re kidding, right?)

We train our students because casually learning only ensures that they “know” how to throw the techniques. But being able to execute those techniques, under stress, while tired, in pain, scared, injured, fatigued–is another thing. In order to prepare for the worst, you have to train your students to the point of exhaustion, under stress, when they are in pain, scared or fatigued. If not, you are robbing them of being properly prepared.

This is why when I see students leaving a martial arts school with smiles, it sends the wrong message. If you walk into a dojo and smell deodorant and cologne and perfume, something’s wrong. When a student asks to try a class to “see if he likes it”, you should explain to him that if he is properly trained–he won’t like it. When a teacher says in an interview, “Oh, the martial arts is for everyone! Whether you are 5 or 95, man woman child…. anybody can do this!” He should be lying. Because the real art is not for the weak-hearted or lazy. It is not for those who are too immature to embrace the philosophy of the art. This is an activity–if it’s done right, or if it’s done wrong–that can end up with someone’s death or survival. It is not something you do for entertainment, fun or “trying it out”. You are not just teaching students for knowledge’s sake; you are training them for the horrible event that could cause him to take or lose his life. Never forget that while teaching your classes. And make sure you students have this in the back of their mind while training.

Thanks for visiting my blog. By the way, folks… My new book “Philosophy“, will be live on Amazon in about two weeks. When that happens, I will not offer it on this blog for the discounted rate that it is now. If you want to get the cheap copy, now is the time! Don’t procrastinate!

History of De Kwerdas Eskrima (My Version)

A few weeks ago, I attended a Karate tournament in Stockton, CA, and overheard a young man telling his students about the history of his Eskrima which is the De Cuerdas style. Because I was at the tournament to support my students, I didn’t care to talk FMA and I resisted the nosy urge to join in. The gentleman then proceeded to tell the students about “other” versions of the history of De Cuerdas that were not valid or untrue. I made myself a mental note that the next time I saw him, we would talk. So, I went from pretending not to listen to actually not listening–as difficult as it was.

I would like to share with you the history that I am told about this style of fighting.

During the late 1800s, Filipinos in the Visayas were planning an overthrow of the Filipino government supporting Spanish occupation. Many Filipinos at that time were losing pride in themselves and their culture, dropping their own people’s practices in favor of European practices, adopting Catholicism and their ways over the Filipino’s own ways. There was a large group of people wanting to preserve the old ways and kick the Spaniards out of Filipino politics. Many of them were bitter to the wealthy Filipinos who wished to both hold onto their riches as well as eliminate competition for wealth. They were equally resentful of the wealthy and educated who looked down on the poor man and oppressed them as badly as the colonial masters. There was too much corruption and betrayal for revolutionaries to be effective, so the groups became secret societies and armies.

One of these armies was known as the Dyo-dyos. The Dyo-dyo had a three-part philosophy that was their strength:

  1. fierce loyalty to preserving and observing Filipino culture, language and spirituality,
  2. physical prowess and fearlessness, and
  3. a rejection of wealth, power, fame and lust.

They were mostly Catholic, but many practiced local religions and all were very superstitious. They believed that Eskrima practice strengthened the body and the spirit, and as proof of their indominability–performed feats of strength and displays of courage, such as diving off of cliffs into water, cutting themselves with knives, and fighting blindfolded. The Dyo-dyo also believed that because the Spanish and the Church had ordered so many Filipino deaths, any life they took was repayment of those deaths and that they could take lives for 100 years and the debt would not be repaid. Because of this, the Dyo-dyo felt justified in killing anyone they saw as a traitor to the Filipino people, including women, children, and old people. If you harbored an enemy, you were fair game.

They never revealed real names and often wore turbans, bandanas, and scarves to make themselves difficult to identify.

They believed wearing white during the day, black at night, and red in battle would protect them. Underneath their clothing they bound their bodies in hemp rope to resist cuts on the body and bullet wounds. They wore coconut shells in their turbans and bandanas to resist bullets to the head. Some covered their bodies in coconut shells and husk underneath clothing to resist bullets. Others wore red to hide bleeding injuries, but carried a white cloth in the left hand, believing the cloth could protect them. In fact, many cited being able to get close to their enemies in order to use their blades because of those rags. (I was recently told by a friend, that many soldiers would hesitate to shoot a man waving a white flag, because this was seen as a sign of giving up.) They prayed before combat, and came to fight swearing to take as many lives as possible before dying. In case you haven’t read it, check out my article on the “Spiritual Warrior”; no warrior is more dangerous than one who has already embraced the possibility of his death. These men took the cake. They are the Filipino Kamikaze. The Suicide Bombers with a machete. The story of Filipino “Juramentado” is incorrectly assigned to Muslims, in which being a Juramentado is a sin; the men who did this practice are the Dyo-dyo.

When it came to their martial arts, which was top-notch, the Dyo-dyo were almost unbeatable in man-to-man combat. They practiced their Eskrima to kill, they practiced their bladework to inflict as many life-threatening injuries as possible, since they were often outgunned and outnumbered. In battle, one warrior could run amok into a camp and take out 20-30 men by hacking limbs, necks, sides (below the rib cage), and insides and tops (pelvis) of thighs–before being killed. A preferred time to do so was after midnight while soldiers slept. One man would wake the camp, and another would run between the tents and inflict the injuries on the waking soldiers, from man to man, until he was either satisfied, or until he was killed. Even if not every man was killed immediately or later by the cuts, survivors could not stay and fight, and those who were unharmed were afraid to sleep. If the Dyo-dyo lost a man, it was no more than 1 man a night fighting this way.

They practiced their art at night, which improved night vision, sharpens the mind (since most people are groggy and tired at this hour) and made fighting at night easier. “Rusted iron doesn’t give you away like muzzle flash does.”  “Learn to fight when most men yearn for the bed.”  These are rules I learned when I was very young, which is why to this day, I prefer dark blades to shiny ones. And why my advanced class also got their training late at night.

The Dyo-dyo had two styles of fighting, the Eskrima is called “de cuerdas” and the empty hand is called “karate dyo-dyo”. There were other names, but I cannot remember them, they were in a Visayan dialect. The Karate Dyo-dyo, is a local style of fighting and I cannot remember why the name was called that. But here is where the name “de cuerdas” originated.

In order to join the Dyo-dyo, you had to prove that you were tough, unafraid of death and pain and torture, and willing to push forward regardless of the danger involved. Before being accepted, there were different tests you went through, and the final one was to be beaten by all the members of the group. The last test would be held in a secret location, like a cave or a secluded area in the jungle. The new member was either blindfolded or not, but a rope is tied around his waist, and he is pulled between the group, armed with nothing but a stick. The group also have sticks and you could fight them back. You could stop the beating at any point by refusing to move forward, or stopping. But once you went back, you never got another chance. When you made it through, you were now a member of the sect, and received your new nickname. Each group knew next to nothing about the next group, and each group had its own martial arts teachers. The Dyo-dyo was replaced by the Katipunan, who had more money and better weapons and no requirement of suicide, but those who were originally Dyo-dyo were held in very high regard as superior fighters and fearless. Few Dyo-dyo members would admit to being so, as they were still wanted by the government and offended many Filipinos through their many murders. In fact, so respected was their fighting skill that many Eskrima masters claimed publically to be Dyo-dyo members or trained by a dyo-dyo member.

Dyo-dyo members identified each other by referring to their Eskrima training as “de cuerdas” (“from the strings”), their nicknames, and scars on their bodies. If you encountered someone with a scar or some other marker, one could “start” a conversation by placing the right hand over the heart (a gesture very common with muslims as well as Eskrimadors) while greeting him, and if a certain hand sign was given, you knew he was a member. Then there were other signs. Some Muslims Dyo-dyo members would tatoo “la illaha il allah” on their bodies, so they could be identified as muslim for a muslim burial if they died in combat (tatooing is forbidden in Islam). Others would tatoo a Christian prayer if they were Christian. And then some others scarred or branded themselves. Outside of your own local group, however, few Dyo-dyo members knew each other, except for the leaders.

Over time, it became fashionable for some Eskrimadors to claim to have been a member, in order to give their Eskrima more notoriety. But there are still many Eskrimadors who did learn from a Pulah/Pulahan (another nickname, meaning “red”), but did not find out until the teacher was an old man. I am positive that wherever you hear this name, “De kwerdas”–the origin of the art is rooted in the Filipino Revolution, whether they were actually from the Dyo-dyo, or just inspired by them.

A side note, before writing this, I tried looking for the history of this group on the internet and could not. Perhaps it is just an oral tradition from an old man to his grandson, or this is a lost piece of history. But this is the story I was told as a kid. Just wanted to share my version.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

The “Other” Kid

Also known as “One Reason Why Your Kid Needs Martial Arts, Part II”

Anyone remember the first article?

I made myself a note to write about the “other kid”. In case you didn’t catch the clip (go back and watch it!) closely enough, at the end of the altercation between the boy who body slammed the bully the other boys approached as if they were going to fight him. But something not many people noticed. A girl walked over and got between Casey Heynes and the approaching boy. She’s the “other” hero in the clip, but it appears no one noticed.

How many of us watch an injustice occur and do nothing? I doubt many of you have actually done nothing. The reason for this is that if you are reading this blog, you are a martial artist. We are not the kind of men and women who will do “nothing”, therefore we are the “other” guy in someone else’s altercation. In my entire life, I have only pulled a weapon on a few occasions and the first time I pulled a knife with the intention to use it was at the Baltimore Inner Harbor when I was with some students and a man was being beaten on the sidewalk. I wanted to walk away. (Yes, I was guilty of minding my own business) We didn’t know if those guys had a gun or not, and then getting involved with an altercation is scary stuff. But the young woman who was with him begged some passers-by to help, and I couldn’t do nothing. So I pulled my knife, and without a fight–the guys stopped. Thinking the knife did the trick when I turned to look at the guy, I saw that my students had run across the street behind me. Good work guys.

But what is it that makes people do nothing? Fear. And two things usually help you overcome fear–self-preservation, and fear of not doing anything. Often, for the untrained man, even those things will fail to empower him to fight back or assist, even when the person being hurt is himself or a loved one. Training then, helps you face that fear and do something. Lack of training intensifies your fear, and this is what makes victims and witnesses to victimization. I have broken up fights on several occasions when the fights are “fair” fights, that’s the easy part. The hard part has been to break up fights where they weren’t fair fights, and I regret to say that I have failed to do it more than I have gotten involved. This is a demon I fought against as a young man, and I have done it more lately than I did when I was in my prime. It is something to think about in your training–and in your own level of courage. One thing to fight when transgressed, but what if you encountered a stranger? And you know nothing about it? You don’t know if the man being beaten has done something to warrant his beating. You don’t know if the beating will result in the victim’s death. You don’t know if you will feel the torment of guilt if you don’t involve yourself and something worse happens.

Tell you what I’d done in recent years. I watched, and when the altercation looks like it had run long enough, and the combatants have had their fill. I step forward and assure the winner of the fight, “You got him, he’s had enough. Don’t go to jail over it.”  It works. You stop the fight from going on, you’ve reassured the winner that he’s accomplished what he set out to do, and you did it without being confrontational and was able to calm the guy down. Plus it gives you a chance to be nosy and find out what happened. But most of all, you know that you’ve stopped the beating from becoming fatal. Some may criticize this because it isn’t soon enough, but to each his own…

Back to my topic, few people will involve themselves in an altercation that is not close enough. The martial artist–excuse me, the warrior–should have one extra factor helping him overcome the fear (or “hesitation”, call it what you want), and that is duty. If we have the ability to stop a man from being hurt unnecessarily, we should act on it. Imagine how you would feel, as the witness to a fight or beating, doing nothing, and then discover that the man being beaten was a father who was just minding his own business and going to work? Well, a good friend of mine had this experience. His brother-in-law was beaten, but not robbed, by a group of thrill-seeking teens while walking home from work in Southern Maryland. He ran while being beaten and chased, and finally a woman blew her horn from her vehicle and the boys ran off. This man–in his 40s with a teenaged boy himself–is a good man. He is raising three young children and a teenaged step son, on two jobs so that his wife can stay home with the children. He had lost his home and had to swallow his pride to live with his mother-in-law. His second job was a weekend job at a fast food restaurant, where he was mistreated by his uneducated, immature and young manager–but he endured it to take care of his family. He is a gentle man who had never been in a fight in his life. His pride was hurt, and who knows what emotional or psychological issues he may suffer today as a result of the humiliation? Would you have done something to help? Of course, which of us wouldn’t? But when the altercation happened, no one knew this about him. All they see is a middle aged, pudgy man being chased and beaten by young punks, and no one helped.

Well, one guy did, but in my opinion–he helped himself.

While licking his wounds, he was approached by a witness offering to give a statement to the police. The man then handed him a card for his business, offering discount Tae Kwon Do lessons. Excuse me??

Yes, a martial artist saw it, and then did nothing but seize an opportunity to try and recruit a student. I’ll let you ponder on that one.

We must train ourselves and prepare ourselves to do what is right, even if the idea of fighting for someone else frightens us. What’s the use if we don’t use it? There is a saying about blessings: that often we are not blessed with gifts to be used by us, but to share with others. Perhaps we were led to the martial arts–not because we may become victims, but so that no one around us would become victims? Ponder over that one as well…

So, the girl in the video was the real hero, along with Casey Heynes. She was unlikely a martial artist. And she was a girl. Yet she still got between those bullies and the victim, as if to say, “no you won’t–not today.” Without a doubt, other children saw Casey Heynes being bullied. Sadly, the only two people who raised a finger to do something besides himself were two girls–his sister, and the little girl in the video.

Mrs. Mom, Mr. Dad–your child taking martial arts lessons keeps more than himself/herself safe. It gives your child the courage to protect his siblings and the other children around him. To act when most others won’t. Let your kid train with me–even for just one year–and he will never be a victim or the do-nothing-witness to a victim, again.

Thanks for visiting my blog. For your entertainment, I found this commercial on Youtube, that addresses school bullying. Hope you like it!



Mustafa Gatdulas World Famous BBQ Lamb STEAK

put charcoal in your bbq grill, and when they are ready, put them either in a + shape or a circle, or in two straight lines, side by side. the meat will not go right over the coal.

i like to use lamb steaks cut long, with the bone or without doesnt matter, and the best is the one with the ribs, or you can just do it with ribs.

these are the ingredients. the day before you cook them, cut onion and smash garlic, wash the steaks, and rub these vegetables all over them. when they are in the pan, you should not be able to see the meat, with that much onions and garlic (garlic is rubbedin the meat first, and then onions on top). cover it tight with saran wrap. you might want to rub water along the sides and top of the pan so you get a good seal with the saran wrap.

5- 6 hours before you light that grill, take your meat out (save the onions), use these ingredients in a mixture:

black pepper




crush bayleaf

a little cayene peppers


now mix this up in a small bowl, then rub it all over the meat, and set out the meat wheere flies cannot get to it. we need the spices to get a crust all over it. don’t be cheap, use a lot. when your done, wash your hands two or three times because the cayenne will jack you up if you rub your eyes.

when the charcoal is ready, put your steaks on, but not right over the fire. make sure you cover the top and just let it smoke, it will take a while. a few things:

– you can shake some of the powder mix on the charcoal

– not too hot. lamb cant be rush, or it will be tough. if you do about 30- 45 minutes each side without burning it, your doing good.

– right before you turn over your meat, then add the salt, but not before the meat is done.

-only turn the meat over 2, 3 times in the hour that it cooks, or everything falls off the meat.

– you can also do a little brown sugar when you add the sal. but put the sugar on the top side so it will absorb into the meat.

– or you can do bbq sauce, but then you can’t call it “mustafa gatdula’s world famous anything. i keeps it real, bros. you dont need it. if I would do it, i would add it maybe 25 minutes in, and then when its almost done, put the steaks WITH the sauce on it, right over the fire for 5 or 10 minutes to make the sauce really crispy. but thats just me.

– if you are a real man, use charcoal. if your metro, use easy light. weenies, use the propane. 😉

– if your a real, BIG man, then done use charcoal, use wood. good luck if you use green wood or the wrong kind. it might make your food taste like tarzan made it. cedar is good, but its expensive.

if you want to impress your friends, do this instead of beef or chicken. everybody does that, and lamb is really good if you do it right.

thanks for visiting my blog.



Learning to Punch for *Fighting*

This article is going to present some info that should be self-explanatory, but you know how we FMA people like to over-complicate things. While most FMA people I’ve met are also Bruce Lee nut-huggers, they violate his most basic tenet: a punch is just a punch, and a kick is just a kick. Ask an FMA guy, a punch is also a knife technique, is also a stick strike, is also a whip snap is also a disarm, to a trap to a sweep, to a bite to the kitchen sink. For a genre of fighting styles that love to claim simplicity and practicality, we sure have gotten flowery and un-practical lately.

Take a look at the following “typical” clip:

Never mind. I was just offered some upgrade for $59, and I’m not taking it. But here’s the clip, so just check it out and then come back. I’ll wait. Grrr…


Apparently there is a boxing style in the Philippines called Panantukan, that is supposedly derived from the knife and it sure looks like Wing Chun mixed with sloppy boxing mixed with kung fu disguised as Silat mixed with Muay Thai. The usual line up for an “FMA” seminar that supposedly has everything in it already. The only trouble is, you have to find an American, or an American-trained FMA guy to learn it. You know how we Filipinos love to hide our secrets.

We FMA people love exotic, flowery, complicated-looking stuff, and if it’s some shit we don’t know how to do–it comes off as “deadly”. (Wait, I thought we were simple, to-the-point, direct and brutal? More on that later) So rather than waste precious seminar time on developing skills, we’d rather spend it “drinking from a water hose” and trying to retain all those neat tricks and drills they demoed at the seminar. Thank God for DVD.

The sad thing is, the one thing our FMA boxers are not doing is Boxing. We are coming up with counters to jabs that are longer than a kenpo technique on meth, and somehow our fighters forget that the average puncher will punch by combination. And here’s a little piece of info for you “I-only-fight-to-the-death-not-in-sport-event-so-I-won’t-spar-for-shit” types:  The combination they throw often come so fast, one of you won’t have time to complete what you planned to do. If he throws all three punches of a three-punch combination, you won’t be able to throw your shots. If your shots make it in, he won’t get out all three of his combo. That stuff you’re showing can be proven ineffective in 3 short minutes. If any Panantukan experts make it to the Sacramento/Northern California/Bay Areas, stop by; I’d be glad to show you what I mean.

There is a very simple formula to learning to punch correctly–that is, learn to punch for FIGHTING–that is so simple and effective, if you followed it, 90% of the stuff your Guro shows you will be completely useless against you. Don’t believe me? Go into a boxing gym and pay for one day of training, which is usually about $12, and ask to spar three or four guys. I don’t even know you, and I guarantee you will get whipped three or four times. Well worth the $12 bucks.

Problem here is that we spend too much time learning neat counters and combinations and pad drills, but very little time is spent actually learning and developing the punch. The attack combinations are not well researched and tested in fighting. After all, you’re training for the street, right? Does your Guro fight in the street? The counter combinations are even worse. For safety purposes, your partner is not supposed to really try to clean your clock. So you are practicing your defenses on everything but malicious punches. There is very little cross-training into rival gyms (dare I say NONE?), so every time a guy is in front of you, he is a training partner–never an opponent. Trust me on this one; you’re not learning to punch. And you damn sure aren’t learning to stop a puncher.

But this article is not about strategy, it’s about learning to punch, and learning to punch for FIGHTING. Without further b.s. from the always loquacious (got that from my 11 year old, who looked it up after hearing the word at a spelling bee) thekuntawman, here is the formula that you need:

  1. You must learn proper form from someone who knows how to punch. Trust me on this; boxing is not so simple that what you think you’re looking at is how to punch. That’s the problem Bruce Lee made. He was a horrible boxer. And generations of JKD guys learned by imitation, of a Wing Chun guy who studied Muhammad Ali videos to learn to box. Ali violated darn near every rule of boxing. But he could get away with it because he’d boxed most of his life, he’d fought most of his life, and he had the speed, the timing, and fighting experience to pull that stuff off. The few JKD guys who broke away from the box-by-seminar mold and actually went into a gym are now learning to box, and they are leaving  the majority of the JKD/Kali world in the dust. Wing Chun is Wing Chun, and it has it’s place. Boxing is Boxing, and it has it’s place. If you’re going to try and box, then really learn to box = Is all I’m saying. Learn proper mechanics and execution, and then excel at it. Stop going along with martial artists-in-boxing-gloves. You’re only fooling the ignorant.
  2. Although it’s a punching bag, you’re supposed to move around it. You never stand in a small spot in front of the punching bag and think you’re developing punching skills for fighting. Yes, you are developing a powerful punch (that’s what the bag is for). But what is power if you cannot connect? What is power if you don’t have the footwork to land that punch? Surely, you didn’t think your opponent would stand there like he was doing a drill with you? Opponents move, bags don’t. With the bag, you move. It’s only there for you to have resistance when you hit.
  3. Focus mitts are overused in the FMA/Martial Arts-in-boxing-gloves world. Mitts, my friends, are not for accuracy–contrary to popular belief. Mitts are so that the puncher can work his combos and have (1) a connect point, (2) sound feedback when he hits that thing right, (3) a living, breathing, moving body as a reference point when he throws a punch (helping to gauge distance) and has to move while “combinating”, and (4) to have that living, breathing, moving body throw punches at him, block, slap, grab, blah blah blah. It is so you can work the same combos over and over with a semi-cooperative partner/opponent. Most people outside the boxing world either have a partner who is too close (not making him reach or step) or too far (not giving him the right distance to have an opponent at).
  4. A mirror is really needed–or a teacher who will stand directly in front of you to tell you if you’re doing it right. I’d actually prefer a mirror. I didn’t put mine up because my students weren’t focusing. But they already knew how to punch. But best believe I am ultra picky about my student’s performance. They still need a mirror while shadowboxing to connect what’s in their mind with what they see.
  5. Finally, a speed bag. The term “speed bag” is a little misleading, because it isn’t “speed” we are trying to develop on it; we are trying to develop timing and accuracy. Now, the surrealist martial artists will try and say that they aren’t punching like one would punch in a fight. That’s because you are trying to teach yourself. Go into a boxing gym, homeboy. A real boxing gym. Youtube won’t teach you what you need to know, and neither will some silly blog written by a guy who can’t spell well enough to write his own stuff. (lol) I cannot emphasize this enough.

Okay, we just passed the 1,300 mark and we still have to edit.

Let me close by saying this. Folks, this is entertainment. Some of you martial artists are more sensitive than one of my 6 ex-wives. You’re supposed to be tougher than that. I have had far more people challenge me on my views than you can imagine, even had a few try me out. Trust me, I did not get this way on poor fighting skills. And I am not talking out of the side of my neck. This is why every article on technique on this blog offers, “come over and I will prove that my theory is valid”–I can and will prove every word I say. But if you aren’t man enough to come and check it out in person, then shut up and stay in your chat rooms and dojangs and dojos and run your mouths there. You know how you like to brag that your Guro has had a whole bunch of matches under his belt? Well I’m one of them. If you’re not willing to be the next, then stop spamming me or talking behind my back–I am very easy to find. I write these articles because there is a side to the FMA that you won’t get on the mainstream, and I don’t say it, very few people will. 15 years ago, I said that Kinomutai is not a real art in the Philippines, Kali was not the “mother art”, and drill-based art is not practical. Y’all cried like a kid who just found out Santa was dead, but you’re here right? How many of you really think Kali is the mother art now, besides Leo Gaje? Or Lito Lañada really invented Kuntaw from Spanish word and a Chinese word? You know what? The truth hurts. So suck it up and take it like a man. Arguing with boxers on youtube saying that Panantukan will destroy boxing is just juvenile and dare I say it, “pussified”. It makes the FMAs look bad; all of us. Put your money where your mouth is, and do what you challenge people to do all the damned time: prove it. Go into a boxing gym, and fight a boxer. See where your hands really are. It’s the only way your empty hand skill will really develop. The truth is, your FMA Guro was NOT the champion of all the Philippines. He never fought in death matches. You don’t fight in street fights, nor do you test your art. You don’t really have confidence in your art, that’s why you still take seminars and try to learn something that will give you confidence. And you know damned well those stick/knife counters won’t work empty handed. If you fight with your FMA empty hands against a real machete-wielding attacker, he will kill you.

So take some practical advice, swallow your pride, and shut the hell up and learn. Unless you are willing to come to my gym in Sacramento and show me that I’m wrong. You’ve read about those old men who have had more matches than he can remember? Well, you’re reading words written by of them. And I’m still young enough to prove it.

And if there is anyone in the area who would like to clarification on this or anything else I present on this blog, please contact me and I’ll even go a round or two with you. Thanks for visiting my blog.


On the “Ultimate” Warrior: The Spiritual Warrior

This will be a series. I can tell. Unlike many other articles I’ve written, this one does not begin with an outline; I am writing this article from the heart–as it is a topic very close and dear to me.

Islamic wisdom tells young women that in order to find a good husband, she must hide herself within the bosom of God Himself–buried so deeply, a man must search for God in order to find her. In the world of the martial arts, the warrior must wrap himself in the armor of being the ultimate warrior in order to be found.

My use of the term “ultimate” warrior is several layers deep. I will attempt to describe them in this article and then expound on the subtopics in subsequent articles. Please check back with me, as I will be teaching you some life-changing/course-changing things in this serious. They will be free, of course–although the knowledge I will be sharing will be priceless.

Many of the themes I learned from my teachers as I grew up are found in very few places as I looked around. Later, in adulthood, I found myself developing a newfound appreciation for these things in the most surprising places. The same topics that bored me and amused me as a child now have a deep meaning that guide me as a teacher to the point that they now define me both as a man and as a martial artist. Most of them were told to me by my grandfather, and some were echoed by my Kung Fu teacher, who spoke of them in passing (I was a teen and perhaps not ready for those lessons in his eyes). So, not wanting to give full credit to my grandfather–many are rooted in what is known as “wu de”, or Chinese martial philosophy–although much of what I write about is from an FMA point of view.

The martial artist who embraces his art to a near religious or spiritual point is certainly on his way to becoming the Ultimate Warrior. I define an ultimate warrior as one who is far superior to the masses of warriors. “Warrior” does not simply mean that you are a martial artist. To me, a warrior is one who takes the role of being a warrior as his role in life–next to his role as a man, as a husband, as a servant to his Creator (whoever that Creator is). No man is as dangerous on the battlefield than one who is not afraid of death, as he will endure more than what the average man will endure before falling. He sees his role as having an almost Divine mission, and no amount of training will be equal to this. If you read what the Samurai say about their mission as warriors, it darn near reads like a religious text. They speak of their Shogun almost as a Diety. This role supercedes Clan, class, occupation, familial ties, even self-preservation. This is what defeated many of the Crusades in their wars. Although many of these men wanted to spread their religion into the Holy Land, most were driven by racism and greed–and ended up fighting men who believed that their death will be rewarded in the Afterlife, among others who were simply defending an invading force destroying their homes.

I read somewhere that in the Congressional hearings debating whether or not America should enter the War in Vietnam (which was never really declared a War), one veteran who fought in the Philippines stated that America should not, as our (American) soldiers would strive to live on the battlefield–while the Asian often sought to die. Nothing could be more dangerous than a fighter unafraid of death. Contrary to the saying that one shouldn’t “bring a knife to a gunfight”–a fighter unafraid of death can win gunfights with a knife. Many of you reading these words possibly could not fathom such a notion, and that’s why you are just a martial artist and not a “warrior”. See, you put your faith in technology and what you deem “superior” firepower and technique; while spiritual warriors put their faith in God. You fight for a purpose, and they fight for a cause. You practice the martial arts, they define themselves by their martial arts.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, death while in service of religious duty is seen as the “ultimate” sacrifice–whether that is patriotism, martyrdom, or simply trying to protect your family. The same way a fraile mother will fight barehanded against a wild animal or gang member to defend her child, we are talking about 13 year old Palestinean boys unafraid to go up against American tanks driven by Israelis armed with nothing more than a rock. And you talk of courage versus stupidity? Most people know nothing of courage compared to this rock-wielding boy.

As a martial artist, you must see your role in a different capacity than the seminar/video hackers looking for the next buck on the internet. In the next day or two, I will post video of old men far past the age of vigor for most men. These men are not cut of the same cloth as you whose days are spent handing out certificates to men you would never vouch for in a fight through these seminars you teach. They treat their art as a precious pearl that must be highly polished and treasured before they “certify” as a teacher. When you teach classes, you are simply “sharing knowledge”, but for a fee. When they teach a class, they are trying to build the most capable fighters they can, and they are almost never satisfied. Like I said, many of you know nothing of this kind of thinking.

Some martial artists are satisfied casually practicing, while others train rigorously and frequently compare themselves to another–striving to best the next man, and the next, and the next. Just as the “lover” in Rumi’s poetry, who wanders the desert looking for his love, always worried that he is not good enough, hoping to be noticed by his lover (God): The pious man strives to become better as a man and as a servant of God, and is ashamed even of the small thoughts that enter our minds in passing–the lustful thought when we saw a woman in a short skirt, the selfish feeling when someone asks us to borrow money, the lie we tell a beggar (“sorry, I don’t have any money”, yet we have $10 in our pockets) at the gas station–that most people wouldn’t even think of. He becomes more and more pious because he self-polices. The warrior never allows himself to slip in training and in practice:  he hates his fatigue when he trains, he kicks himself when he is lazy, he replays his lost matches in his mind obsessively, he is never satisfied with his skill–although those around him believe he is the best. It is when this fighter believes that he can not improve that becomes his downfall; like the martial artists who get angry when another martial artist states that perhaps your style is not superior, you have now cheated yourself by thinking that you cannot improve.

The warrior who sees his role as God-given will always be superior than the one who is simply filling an occupation. His martial arts is more than a technical skill to be sold on the market and displayed for public praise on Youtube. He was called to the arts for some purpose inspired deep within himself. It transcends money, ego, or wrath. It is not to be treated casually, and it is not to be shared with just anyone. It is treated as a responsibility–even moreso as a duty. It explains why these Masters die penniless, but happy; why they divorce rather than give them up; why they will take secrets to the grave rather than pass them on to undeserving students; why they will take a bullet to the abdomen rather than allow a thief to get away with their crime; why they will face 3 attackers alone, than to allow their wives to be disrespected and those men go unpunished; why a fighter will run 3 miles in 100 degree weather during the Month of Ramadan; why a machete-carrying husband will face an invading army to protect the family he loves; why an already popular President will free slaves when he knows they will kill him for doing so; why a boy will face a Giant armed with nothing more than faith and a rock. You call them stupid and foolish, warriors call them “fellow” warriors. They know that courage and higher purpose go hand-in-hand.

Thanks for visiting my blog.