Hi All

I have been in Texas and will be going back tomorrow. I am writing some more stuff for the blog and will post some soon. My internet connection is bad where I am staying in Texas, but will try to work something out.
For my students – if you have been to our website you have noticed that there are 45 training videos now and I am working on some more. Ty, Jack and I plan to get together and do some more training sessions. I will do some weapons stuff if time allows. There is a lot of interest there.
Take Care and I’ll be in touch…
P.S. Do not know how long I’ll be working down in Texas – I want to stay at home and train. Oh well life goes on and I get to train Jack for a while.

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My Wu Chi Students –

Be sure to check out my other Wu Chi Chuan site. There are 35 training videos posted so far and tons more in the works. Lots of good stuff! JD

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Power – Product of Mind and Body

The nature of power to the Martial Artist is a product of understanding. Many think the answer is a strong body, tactical training and flowing skills. Real power comes from a translation of all three. The mind must inform the body and the two must infuse the spirit. The warrior must allow the information to grow. Nowhere is it more important to “feel” a skill, than to think you know a skill. When you touch or have been touched by real power – it is an understanding that stays with you forever.
If you have any questions please comment….

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Happy New Year

We have another year ahead of us. This year will bring more skills and new paths to use them .
Take Care

For my students check out Jack’s comment to this post.

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Sticks, Stones and Other Tools

A good warrior looks at everything from the perspective of “how can I use this” if needed in a combat situation. My teacher taught me how to use circles and arcs to use just about anything as a weapon in combat. Sticks, stones and even water can be a weapon, but through the ages one weapon has always been by the warrior’s side and that is a knife.
I have had a lot of requests for combat knife or survival knife information, so here it is.
Everything we do in martial arts training is for a reason, because in combat, a warrior will fight the same way he trained. Despite what your instructor might have said, you don’t turn into some super killing machine when you get into a “for real” combat situation. Martial artists react in combat just how they trained and how they practiced.
That goes double for weapons training. Just ask any Special Ops or SWAT guy. They will tell you, “The weapon is only a tool. The warrior’s reaction and training is the weapon.”
With that understanding as the starting point, here’s what is important about a knife:
First and foremost are the legal ramifications of carrying a combat knife. Be very sure of the laws in your state. If you don’t know what they are, get on the internet (just type in “State Knife Laws” and you’ll get several good sites) and research the law. You always want to keep yourself out of trouble (at least with the law).
Every knife has a purpose, so choose your knife with that in mind. A combat knife is good for the military in combat areas, emergency rescue knives are for first responders such as firefighters in tough civil situations.
For everyday carry, you may just need a “gentleman’s pocket knife.” But I recommend you get a knife that can be used for multiple applications and is especially good in a survival situation. You need a knife that is practical and can be used for defense and survival if the world falls apart. (If you watch the news that may be sooner rather than later.) A survival knife (with good steel) is designed to stay sharp and can be used for any work needed in the field. . Remember the best knife in a bad situation is the one you are carrying. In a dire situation, a $10,000.00 knife is of no value to you sitting in a draw at home.
A few fixed-blade designs I like for survival:
– Mora – all models, a lot of value for the money. I particularly like the Mora 2000 . It has been field tested and passes with flying colors. The stainless steel blade is long enough to be used for combat if necessary. All Mora knives are under $50.00 and most under $20.00. Good tool for the money.
– Bark River Knife and Tool Company – great knives
– Cold Steel – their Seal Pup Elite model
– Becker
– TOPS – good knives and the Tom Brown designs
My preference for combat fixed blades:
– Spartan Knives – serious blades
– Almar Knives
– Mission Knives
– Bark River Knife and Tool Company – model Bravo 1 or STS 5
– Kabar Knives – hey, what can I say, I was a Jarhead.
For folders, I like:
– Mission Knives
– Emerson Knives –Super Commander model
– Cold Steel
– Gerber
– Buck
Plus, there are many great custom knife makers out there.
In the end, what makes a truly good combination is a quality, comfortable tool and an educated (well trained/safe) mind behind it.
I want to make a few points clear:
• In any situation, a knife is only a tool being used by an educated brain.
• Always use the tool designed for the work you are asking it to do.
• The more you know, the less you have to rely on tools, regardless of their design.
• Buy good quality tools with good steel. Don’t have to be expensive, just good.
• Make sure the tool fits you well. It should be comfortable in your hand.
• Stay away from fad designs and movie garbage. A tool must do its job. Looks do not count.
• Sometimes the biggest is not the best.
• Work with the tool a lot; make it second nature to use.
• Know what makes the tool safe for use in all situations.
• A sharp knife is a safe knife – keep it sharp!
There are tons of websites to argue every aspect of the knife and its use. Do your own research and find what fits you best.
By the way, I don’t believe in knife fighting, at least not in a non-military environment. You don’t hear about people actually knife fighting anymore. At least not in any sort of an “1800’s style knife dueling” sense. That’s because it’s a lose/lose situation. Even if you “win,” you’re going to get cut (maybe very badly) and you may go to prison. There are no winners in a knife fight.
Even in the hardest prisons they don’t “knife fight.” They do “prison stabbings or slashing.” They quietly walk up on you and stab/slash the shit out of you. There is no fighting to it. Watch the stabbings in any prison documentary. They are not face-to-face, knife-in-hand, mano e mano fights. That’s the movies.

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The Danger of Non-Violence in a Violent World

Martial arts training and being a humble warrior is all about survival. Everything you learn is geared to help you survive. You learn and apply physical conditioning, good health, awareness and situational training.

But there’s another kind of conditioning going on in our country—and that’s the conditioning to be non-violent. People aren’t supposed to defend themselves or stand up for themselves. If you get in a shouting match, you may get accused of making “terroristic threats”. God forbid you should punch somebody in the face.

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Instructors versus Teachers

The other day I had a conversation with an old friend who has trained in martial arts in the Far East and lived the life. He is in his 70’s and loves the arts.
He talked about the difference between an instructor in martial arts and a teacher. In the beginning martial arts was “a way of life” and not a way to pay for a life. Schools were humble small affairs run by monks who offered only good honest training and the fulfillment of basic needs. If fact, the monks didn’t want or need much more than the basics of life. Martial arts were taught for the sake of the arts and to achieve personal perfection (a way to transform in God’s eyes).
They were teachers who worked hard every day and sought to give their students the principles of that perfection. They knew how to teach each student in an individual way, a way that made the most of what that student had within. Each class and each action was from the heart; it was a reflection of the martial arts spirit of that teacher. It was his training and story from within being painted in each of his students. The best of teachers painted masterpieces in their students and changed their lives forever in a good and honorable way.
Instructors are another matter. Many of them are just in the “business” of martial arts. They fill their gym with lines of students and teach them all the same way. They worry more about counting dollars than developing well-trained martial artists. Their students lack depth because they aren’t taught the principles of martial arts. Instead they learn runs of kata and strings of punches and kicks. Have tests for belts and levels that cost the student money but don’t give them much value.
Where have the principles gone? Why aren’t students taught why an action works? Students aren’t taught the principles of power, how they work or how they are applied. They aren’t shown how to use body dynamics to adjust the principles to the size of their own circles. It is not just the students who lose. Martial arts as a whole loses because we don’t get the good work these instructors could give if they took the time to be teachers.
I had an art teacher once who told me, “It is hard to paint a masterpiece when you are only there to paint a fence.”
So I say to all the instructors out there: Treat your arts like the gift that it is and paint your own masterpieces. The world and your students will honor you for your work.

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The Art is in the Timing

Yes, I am alive and well. Sorry for the break in blog posts – I had to complete a project that was a time-eating monster. I will try to get back to regular posting again. It always comes down to time, doesn’t it?
Time is our most valuable asset, and everyday something wants to rob you of it. To martial artists timing or cadence is one of the most important things you need to understand. The use of cadence showcases the skill of the martial artist and his understanding of the principles of martial arts power.
Have you ever watched true martial artist masters in combat? They are so graceful and they move with almost no energy. They appear to control time, and in a way, they do. They have learned over long years of practice that moving as fast as you can is not always the best way. These martial arts masters understand that real power and skill come from letting the circles of energy do the work for you. Then all you have to do is apply a small amount of force to multiply that action or reaction. The basic tenet is: The size of the circles dictates the speed of the movement.
When a punch gets thrown at you, is the best approach to block it and then hit back as fast as you can? Not always. You nay hit your target and maybe even hurt your opponent. But is it your best punch and is it placed in a position where it does the most damage? Where is the advantage of the opponent’s weight and movement circles in the configuration of the punch arc? Where are your circles when you hit the target?
Power comes from applying force to multiply your power and not by just hitting faster.
Look at a simple punch/block situation: Your opponent throws a back hand punch at your face. If you push the punch past you and let his body continue to move along his punch arc, then you can hit him with a direct short hard punch. This is the best form of a “force on force” counterattack.
Take it one step further: Allow a hesitation in your punch. This lets the opponent’s body dynamics almost complete his punch arc. Just before he starts to pull back, use your back hand to hit him with a short side-and-up punch arc to his head. What happens here is his body cannot move fast enough or give enough to deflect any of the energy of the punch. So the opponent takes all the force directly to his body frame. This greatly increases the power of your punch while using the same amount of force. And all you did was relax and time the return punch. This multiplied the energy and focused it down to a smaller area of impact.
Other tips: Never set up a single cadence in a fight. And never use the same speed or movement three times in a row. If you do, that sets a cadence for you, and your opponent will take advantage of it (if he’s any good!).
Play with your cadence, and you’ll find that it opens up many advantages. Change the size of your circles and watch your arcs control what you give to your opponent. Try using a cadence change to cause a break in the action (sometimes called a “break state”) that will distract your opponent and upset his cadence. Remember, every fighter or group of fighters has their own cadence. Find it and use it to your advantage.

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A 4-Foot Portion of Bamboo and a Serious Lesson

I have been asked many times to define what a martial arts principle is. The simplest way for me to define a principle is tell you how my Teacher taught me.
My Teacher got a 4-foot length of bamboo that was 1-1/2 inches in diameter. He set it down in front of me and asked me to study it. After a while he said, “What do you think this 4-foot portion of bamboo is?”
“It is a jo stick,” I said, but I suspected it was another one of my Teacher’s famous trick questions.
“No,” he said with a little smile, “it is only a lowly 4-foot portion of bamboo.” I was right, it was a trick question, and I knew the lesson wasn’t over.
My Teacher asked me to write out everything I could make with this 4-foot portion bamboo or use it for. I took some time and wrote down all the uses I could put to this bamboo and all the things I could make with it. Here are a few of the items on my list:
• Cane
• Staff or bo
• Jo stick
• Wooden sword
• Fishing pole for kids
• Closet rod
• Make a flute
My Teacher then asked me to write down why the bamboo could be used in that way for each item. Here’s what I wrote for the first few items:
• Cane – It is strong enough to support a person’s weight and about the right length to be used as a walking cane.
• Staff or bo – Although the bamboo is a little short, it’s long enough to use both ends in typical bo techniques.
• Jo stick – I can use it like a staff or a wooden sword because of its length, size and strength.
Finally, he asked me to write down what movements would give each use value. I won’t bore you with all the movements I described, but trust me, it was quite a long list.
So how does all this relate to the definition of principles? Principles govern the use of the 4-foot bamboo. Those principles are determined not only by the size, strength and length of the bamboo, but by your size, strength, individual body dynamics, and perspective on the world.
The 4-foot portion of bamboo can be many things depending what functions you see in it. What you see depends on your training and perspective. A martial artist will see a jo stick or bo; a musician will see a flute.
But in every case, in the hands of a human being, the bamboo can only be moved in a few definitive ways. It is limited by the movement principles and physics of the human body. (My book Maximum Combat covers principles in far more detail than I’m able to do here. Click on the “JD’s Book” tab.)
If you understand the principles of movement and power within the human body, you can judge the interaction of the bamboo and the body. Then you can use it—if you’re a martial artist—to apply greater force and power.
My teacher pushed me to understand the mechanics of body dynamics and the principles of power, because they are fundamental to every action you take. I have to know the underlying power principles to deduce what techniques will work with the bamboo in my hands. For example, using the bamboo as a jo stick or wooden sword, the basic principle is deriving power from centripetal and centrifugal forces from a center pivot point at the hips. Then you apply the principles of motion—speed, power, movement—to a specific target.
That’s just one set of principles. There are hundreds more.
During training, my Teacher was fond of saying, “Just because you can swing a 4-foot portion of bamboo does not mean you understand how to make it an effective weapon.” He usually added, “Now do it again.”

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Why teach the principles?

I was taught to think of martial arts as a way to bring growth to the “Triad of Power” in each warrior. I cover this concept in depth in my book Maximum Combat. If you haven’t read it, here’s a quick overview. A person is made up of three parts: Mental, spiritual and physical. Martial artists try to grow each element and find a balance within. But in truth you don’t want a complete balance; one element should always be a little better. That unbalanced feel (ever so slight) makes you want to learn more to catch up the other two elements up with the first. This spurs on more growth. The growth moves in cycles and is dictated by your own body rhymes, environment and training style. Everything that makes us warriors is based on how we learn and use the “Triad of Power.”

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