Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sword Play

Two contrasting styles of fencing (with different weapons).

First the two handed sword, showing techniques from Lichtenauer's style.

Interestingly these fellas are going at it full tilt with swords but their tai sabaki is excellent. Note how they attack with their *bodies*, always pushing into the centreline of their opponent. When attacking they force forward and finish with feet pointing towards their partner's centre (not always). Solid parries and attacks with the body is essential-they're not relying on their weapon even though it looks formidable. More is needed and in this case you can see how everything comes into play: body, feet, sword and (probably) breath.

Check out the intriguing ways the Fabris fighters turn around a linear attack. They curve and circle in an almost grotesque way. Equally other times the parry is very small: just enough to knock the opponent off the line of attack. At about 1m 50s you see the active agent take the initiative to attack and also protect himself from the line of attack by turning his blade up, deflecting any forward momentum. Mind you, a couple of times it looks like the passive agent was so passive he was asleep!

Great hip movement and rotation for extra reach.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Karate Kid 2010

I came across this trailer for the Karate Kid 2010 the other day whilst surfing youtube... Looks fun. I'm intrigued by the fact that Jackie Chan is playing a wizened old martial artist teaching a youngster the tricks of the trade in order to beat the 'bad' guys... (Same old story, huh?). From the clip I saw this suits Chan: older mentor, unassuming ordinary bloke. Or maybe he just plays it well (after all, he is an actor).

What intrigues me most is that it's called 'karate kid' and it's set in China! Now I know that kara te originally held the meaning 'China Hand' but I think this is pushing the link between Chinese and Japanese arts a bit too far. (Interesting article here on the history and meaning of Kenpo/Chuan fa/Karate)

I haven't seen the film yet, but maybe it should be called The Chuan Fa Kid?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Brain health

Singing helps repair damaged brains and naps boost brain learning power!

Teaching stroke patients to sing "rewires" their brains, helping them recover their speech, say scientists.

A nap during the day improves the brain's ability to absorb new information, US scientists claim.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cafu Santos headbut knockout

So I was watching this video looking at the poor guy in the blue shorts (Gledson) getting belted by Santos and at just under 1minute in it looks like he's treading water. He's tied up by Cafu against the wall and it looks like he wants to create some breathing space for himself but Santos is relentless. His knee digs and punches are getting through. Gledson is using his limbs to defend so he's holding out but Cafu sees this and uses his head. No, really, he uses his *head* to butt into Gledson. Gledson neutralises the potential of a next head butt by pushing Cafu away with his arm, but now he is one limb 'down' on his opponent and can't stop everything and receives a dead leg for his trouble. At this Gledson winces and tries to draw breath. Cafu must feel his opponent weaken, pulls back his head and butts Gledson again, this time sending him to the floor, knocked out.

I suppose head butts can be difficult to pull off as if it's not done well and properly you risk damaging your own head but this guy really pulled it off, fought strategically and used his head to strike hard at the moment when his opponent had eased off.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Spinning kicks

Last night's Tang Soo Do lesson went well right from the off. The children's lesson came together nicely and by the end of the hour we were enjoying ourselves and pulling together nicely, making a good job of technique and attitude.

The adult class was varied and interesting but something that *always* kills me is spinning kicks (I was reminded of this by SueC at I know it's pathetic for someone who practices a Korean martial art but I am extremely sensitive to spinning and after about 5 reps find myself clinging to the floor trying not to fall off it. We were kicking an outside to inside kick swiftly followed by a spinning wheel kick which has a good solid feel to it, especially on focus pads when you can thud into something. usual after 5 kicks I was gasping, fighting back *the* urge... Shame really as I love to kick.

Later in free sparring I executed plenty of spinning kicks which didn't affect me as they were spaced out enough to get my balance/wits about me again. Good sparring session with a young adult and a fit brown belt. One of these days he's gonna 'get it' and flatten me... (in the nicest possible way). I was really choosing my points and fighting strategically. I'm too old to go flat out, all guns blazing and I don't think this is very effective anyway.

Good session leading to healthy fatigued feeling....(and some unhealthy looking shin bruises...)

Gratuitous Van Damme spinning kick compilation.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Scots pensioner awarded Judo's highest rank

Well he may be a pensioner but he looks as hard as nails!
Let's hope we're all training long into our later years...

"A Scottish pensioner has become one of only seven living people to hold judo's highest rank."

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Awareness in modern life

So we were talking about ki no sen the other day in Shorinji Kempo and from what I can grasp of this it's a bit like using your common sense or keeping your wits about you (OK, probably a bit deeper than that but let's work with 'awareness' for the time being!).

And then I watched this following video on YouTube... It made me think how easily we get distracted by all our modern easily we can focus so much on our mobile phone or ipod or whatever and forget about the real life around us!

And then I had an even scarier thought...

Check out this slightly scary/disturbing video (not for young kids) but thought provoking film then see what I realised after I'd watched it!

And so to the rub.... I mean nobody would do that would they!? Let some bloke into their house cos he *looks* like he's going to check the meter...Except I did! Only the other day...

This guy turns up at the door with clipboard, badge and the like and says to me, "I'd like to talk to you about the gas supply" and I, without waiting because I was busy working at the time when he interrupted me, said, "Oh, you want to read the meter? Come in, here it is". Before I knew it he was sat down at the dining table trying to sell me something. I kicked him out as soon as I realised and was a bit miffed at his sales technique but you can't blame them too much I suppose. But I was surprised that I'd been 'had' that easily because my mind was clouded with the project I was doing when I was interrupted!

It's good to have a gap or a pause between moments in our day. Sensei DD made a very good point during kihon the other day: try and ready ourselves between techniques. Very often during an intense and rapid counting one texchnique can very often blend into another. Instead of being techniques: "ichi", "ni", "san", ... they become one long technique, "ichinisan...". It's good to ready oneself between the different techniques, making them separate.

Doing this makes you less likely to be open to nasty surprises...

European Canne de Combat Championships: Cambridge, September 2010

Was checking out Cambridge Academy of Martial Arts' website and noticed an announcement to the effect that they will be hosting the European Canne Championships in Cambridge in September! This is a very cool occurrence. I had the good fortune to train in La Canne with CAMA some time ago and it was great fun, very fast and furious. Of course the French are the masters at this and it will be exciting to see them in action.

Here's a taster:

Funky ass martial art video of the week: Kali

Check out the funky moves n music...

I studied Eskrima for a while and, interestingly, they give you sticks straight away and you progress to empty hand techniques which, I was told, are loosely based on the stick versions (if you can handle the sticks, you can do the empty hand techniques, goes their reasoning).

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Classic Duel between two warriors

I read this amazing account of a duel between two warriors. See what you think then read my notes at the end.

He was someone trying to kill me, that's all.

He addresses me and aims at me and he is ready to kill me. This is frightening but I have no time to be frightened. Later on you may perspire about it but at that moment in the heat of the battle you're too focused.

If he turns quickly I'll be dead-cut down but I'm closing up quickly on him and suddenly we're right back where we started.

All of this is just instinct now. Things are happening too fast to think everything out.

I've had enough of this so I roll the dice. I turn inside of him and prepare to strike. My opponent senses this and tries to evade.

I have him. He knows that I have him.

I strike at him and he falls away. Have I killed him? I do not particularly want to fight this man again.


I have paraphrased this to try and hide the time of this duel and the weapons used but what struck me was the grim focus on an act of killing the opponent. This sort of sharpened 'fear' must make your awareness keen and your actions take on a life of their own as your will is clear but your body acts automatically. This is down to an intimate knowledge of your arsenal and abilities in moving, turning, brandishing weapons, using your hands and feet. When the chips are down it seems it's best not to 'think' too much. By this I don't mean seek openings and create opportunities, but if your mind is clouded by thoughts of which technique to use here or there then your body and mind can't act as one unit, seamlessly. Often my Shorinji Kempo teacher says when I ask if the technique was correct, "He's on the floor and you're standing-it worked". I can see what he means.

But within this tale are lessons for us all: work out and train the basics and fundamentals diligently and consistently so that when they are needed you're body feels how to move. Be clear and decisive and don't think that fear is something you shouldn't be feeling: this great warrior did. Your mind should be clear. Maybe it will be clear in any case! Body and mind acting together for a sole purpose.

The duel above is a modern one and sees how a man and his weapon can come together as one unit in the extreme battle between two warriors intent on killing each other. The victor above was a P-51D pilot over Europe in the Second World War, shooting down and killing a German in a Bf109.