Some thoughts from Lawrence Kane about distance and time in self-defense situations.
Some thoughts from Lawrence Kane about distance and time in self-defense situations.
Just back from Kansas City. Even though it’s been a week I’m still thinking about the seminar and the post-seminar discussion time.
Discussing training and kata application with Eric over beer, the subject of Sanchin kata came up. There are of course combat applications found in Sanchin, but frankly it’s not a kata that I look to for applications. Sanchin just teaches you so many things about good structure – creating a solid, internal frame and a strong base of support for firepower. It’s all about moving correctly, hiding your technique, taking the enemy’s balance, and blasting the stuffing out of him. But as much as I love this kata, application-wise it’s just not so interesting.
Then Eric put into words something that I’ve thought about but haven’t actually, well, put into words:
“The structure IS the application.”
Sums it up perfectly.
Bonus: some pictures we took a few weeks ago. I could say they’re studies in depth of field…but really we were just mucking about.
Had a great couple of days at the seminar with the Blue River Martial Arts Club in KC. I love sharing the material, but as usual the thing I like most is the people. Eric Parsons, the host and head instructor at the club, has a wonderful group of people…down to earth, fun, great training attitudes, hungry for new information. I just had a blast.
Craig and I have been working for some time to systemize all the material we’ve picked up over the years. Things from multiple instructors and disciplines, ideas, concepts – almost all of which is useful but not necessarily coordinated or easily translated to a curriculum. I am NOT claiming we’ve come up with our own style, only saying we’ve been working to teach the ideas more efficiently and effectively. Hopefully, it will save people some of the years of trial and error that we’ve gone through! I think we’ve finally come up with a good set of principles that cover most of it.
I set out to share these principles, how to build them into daily practice, and of course a few of the practical fighting applications. I actually did a Power Point presentation to help reinforce the ideas, which is saying something about the importance of the material, given how much I loathe Power Point! I think it worked out pretty well – and if nothing else I didn’t expose anyone to my illegible white-board chicken-scratch (as NWMA students can attest). It also made a handy packet to share with folks; perhaps it will be helpful in retaining the information.
Day one, from my perspective at least, was a little dry. This material is necessary and fundamental though, and it takes a lot of time to lay the groundwork before you can even get to the juicier bits. I think most appreciated it though, and hopefully they didn’t get too bored. We did some fun applications but before I knew it our time was already up. I also felt bad because other than lunch, I really didn’t give the guys a break…and before I knew it, our time was already up. Sorry guys!
There were more than a few bruised knuckles thanks to the telephone books. Guys – buy this stuff, it works.
Day two was more fun. I still don’t think that we had enough time to cover everything (barely had time to adequately cover two of the four principles), but there’s only so much time in the day. I think we laid a good foundation given the short time, and folks seemed to really have fun with some of the applications we practiced.
Most important to me was that the applications all illustrated the principles, rather than just a bunch of completely unrelated techniques. I also wanted to drive home the point that even when techniques that look very different, they may actually have a lot more in common…and it’s these underlying principles that make everything work better.
Seeing someone’s eyes light up when they “get it” is just incredibly satisfying. It’s even better than a good glass of scotch…though afterwards we had a few of those too, just to be sure.
Rakesh will be teaching a Feeding Crane Gung-Fu seminar on June 5th. Here’s the write up he gave me:
Feeding Crane is part of the White Crane family of Gung-Fu schools, developed originally by a woman named Qi-Niang in Fuzhao in southern China. Although it has died out in mainland China, the system survived in Taiwan, and several Okinawan Karate practitioners, including Morio Higaonna, Matayoshi Shinpo, and Kimo Wall (founder of Okinawa Kodokan Karate) have trained in the Feeding Crane system.The system emphasizes soft blocks and explosive strikes, but does not rely on physical strength for power. Instead it relies upon developing internal power through a series of exercises that include basic techniques of Feeding Crane Gung-Fu.In this seminar we will study the series of basic exercises and techniques that form the basis for Feeding Crane. We will be practicing applications of these techniques for self-defense, and learning how these techniques help their practitioners develop power.Martial arts experience is not necessary. Casual attire will suffice; a gi is fine, but not required. Comfortable clothing as for a gym workout are sufficient.
Spent the better part of Saturday at Rory Miller’s seminar. This one was just fun, not as much of the deeper stuff, just running through a variety of drills. A few scrapes, rug burns, bruises…my favorite kind of day.
I’ve been through most of the drills before so I don’t have much to say about the seminar itself, other than it’s always great to roll with folks old and new. Drills, practice, new knowledge – all this stuff is valuable (which is why I do it so much). But the best part really is seeing old friends and making new ones.
As an added bonus, Rory had copies of his new book for sale. I’d been looking forward to it…started reading on Sunday and already most of the way through (long hours in the airport help). Meditations on Violence is a great book and I’ve long recommended it to students, mostly as an eye-opener and something to make them think. I have to say though if you’re only going to read one, pick up Facing Violence. I wouldn’t say it’s better, because it’s not, they’re just different books. But for those that need to pick up a lot of solid, useful information in a short time, this is the one. It’s well-written, to the point, and a fast read. Read it twice.
Koichi Tohei passed away May 19, 2011.
Tohei Sensei was a giant in the Aikido world…a direct student of Aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba, the head instructor of the headquarters dojo at the time of Ueshiba’s death, and later the founder of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. He was also Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei’s teacher, and so Tohei Sensei’s influence is very strong in our dojo.
I believe that martial arts, when it is done well and shared with others in the right spirit, has the power to dramatically improve people’s lives. By extension, that makes the world a better place (and we need all the help we can get on this front). People with power and influence – presidents, dictators, CEOs, celebrities, etc. – can impact people by the millions simply with the stroke of a pen or the words in a soundbite (and it’s infinitely easier to make things worse than it is to make things better). “Regular” folks mostly improve the world one person at a time.
Tohei Sensei is one of those rare people who did something particularly special and outstanding; who created for himself an opportunity to positively and profoundly impact countless people, and his influence will continue to be felt long after his passing.
Here’s some interesting video of Tohei Sensei. Lots more on Youtube as well.
One of the things I like about Rory Miller’s writing is how he describes violence. There are different types of violence, and they require different responses. Just knowing that isn’t sufficient, but it’s a necessary first step.
His new article goes into some detail on one of the more common types of social violence, the Monkey Dance. Everyone has seen it, and if you were a young man at some point, I’m 100% confident you’ve personally been in the middle of it. As common as this may be, it’s still good material to read and understand “academically”. Knowing it helps you recognize it (easy to recognize when you’re outside the situation, less so when you’re in the middle of it), and if you recognize it you can avoid it easily. If you’re a martial artist, just consider this part of your training.
A small excerpt:
This human dominance game, the Monkey Dance, follows specific steps. You have all seen it:
- A hard, aggressive stare.
- A verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?”
- An approach, often with the signs of increased adrenaline: gross motor activity of arm swinging or chest bobbing, a change in color, usually with the skin flushing.
- As the two square-off, there may be more verbal exchanges and then one will make contact. It will usually be a two-handed push on the chest or an index finger to the chest. If it is an index finger to the nose it will go immediately to step No. 5. If there is no face contact, this step can be repeated many times until one of the dancers throws
- A big, looping over-hand punch.
This description is simplified and shows only one side. It must be emphasized that there have been thousands of generations conditioned to play this game in this way. It is easy to get sucked in and a very difficult thing to walk away. Backing down from a Monkey Dance, unless you take or are given a face-saving out, is extremely difficult and embarrassing, especially for young men.
I consider this necessary information for those interested in self-protection. It’s not a long article, so read the whole thing: Violence Dynamics.
Speaking of Rory, I’ll be at his seminar this weekend. Like usual, I’m sure he’ll have lots of material I can bring back and share in class. I don’t know if there’s still room, but info can be found here: Real World Drills.