10 Questions with Patrick Bratton

Posted in 10 Questions, Fencing, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2019 by Combative Corner

Patrick Bratton is the owner of Sala Della Spada in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and specializes in Italian military sabre and dueling sword, circa 1600-1900. CombativeCorner founder and fencing instructor Michael Joyce recently had the honor of bringing Patrick down to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a workshop in dueling sabre. Directly afterwards, he agreed to answer both our students and readers questions in our popular interview series, “10 Question.”

Without further ado….

What brought you to an interest in fencing, and what brought you toward the Italian methodology in particular?

From a very young age, I was interested in swords and knights. As a young kid, I made armor out of trashcans and plastic flower pots and “fenced” with my dad. In the early 1990s, I got more serious training in a Korean karate style that had some weapons, and also Olympic fencing, the SCA shortly, and some other things. It was the early days of historical fencing and “proto-HEMA” then (when sources and interpretations were just coming out) like Terry Brown’s English Martial Arts. As the 1990s grew to a close, I went to grad school and had other priorities, so I stopped doing any fencing. However, I watched the renaissance in historical fencing from a distance in the 2000s. In 2013, as I was getting older, I was searching for something to keep me active and I thought, why not go back to historical fencing? So I approached Colin Chock, who ran an Olympic fencing club that also did some historical fencing. Colin got me back into fencing.

My main interest was to learn some sort of historical sabre, so I looked for manuals and interpretations. At first, I was dissatisfied with many of the simple military sabre manuals I read through. They were mostly military drill manuals that listed a few guards, and then cutting and parry exercises, and little else. Then I found Chris Holzman’s translation of the Del Frate/Radaelli sabre manual, The Art of the Dueling Sabre. It was a revelation: here was a complete fencing system, applied to sabre, not only a set of basic drills, which is often the case with sabre books. I reached out to Chris and asked about visiting him and training with him and he was very encouraging. Working with Chris over the years converted me over to Italian fencing, he’s been a fantastic mentor. So it was only another step to start with the Sonoma State University Fencing Masters Program and to start working with Maestro John Sullins, Maestro Frank Lurz, and others. Beyond traveling to train with Chris, in Pennsylvania I train with Andrew Bullock (who was a student of Lajos Csiszar, who was a student of Italo Santelli) and I study various historical style with Mark Donnelly (one of the founding fathers of the British historical fencing movement).


As the owner of a fencing sala/salle, what has been your biggest obstacle so far?

I created my school, Sala della Spada, very recently. Last year I concentrated on giving individual lessons, doing guest workshops, and teaching sabre at Men at Arms Martial Arts (a local HEMA club with some great people). I started regular classes only this year. So far, I’ve found two major obstacles. First is the familar one of finding space that you can rent/use while keeping fees reasonable. Thanks to Shifu Liam Cochran of Carlisle Kung Fu center, I’ve been able to start classes at his facility. Second, is how to attract a critical mass of fencers who want to learn for the long-term. This is difficult because historical and classical fencing occupies a niche market that falls between the cracks. Our methods and style will seem too old fashioned for those looking for Olympic fencing, but will also seem too structured and tradition-bound (and frankly too much like Olympic fencing) for many in the “HEMA community.” So we fall between those wanting hyper-competitive Olympic fencing with foil, sabre or epee, and hyper-competitive HEMA fencing that is longsword-focused. It is a challenge to find space between the two.


What is it about teaching that gives you the most joy?

I love teaching, period. Several things give me joy. The main thing is continuing and hopefully expanding the living tradition of Italian fencing that I’ve learned. In his foreword to Chris Holzman’s book, Maestro Sullins wrote,

Every generation we are called to rediscover the challenge and grandeur of fencing. We are the inheritors of a long living tradition and this book is worthy offering to the great men and women who have preserved the noble art and science of fencing — may it inspire you to add to its legacy.

That statement means a great deal to me. More than anything, I feel I carry a duty to continue this tradition, learn as much as I can, and pass it on to others. I also just love to see people learn and develop while having a great time.


What is your favorite technique or “go-to” a competitive bout and can you describe your process?

I love working the basics and being able to set up a particular phrase. Fencing is a combination of intensely training instinct and muscle memory, and also actively thinking about tactically defeating your opponent. Maestro Francesco Loda once explained to me in a lesson, “Fencing is the art of establishing a conversation with an opponent and then lying to them.” Through probing actions and first intention attacks you get a sense of the opponent and you try to socialize them to how you fence. Once you establish that communication and trust, you deceive them and hit. While I don’t often do this successfully, it is a goal I continue to work towards.


Many people these days take pride in doing things based on one particular person, period or style (i.e. Radaellian vs. Parise, Judo vs. Jujitsu, etc). How do you feel personally about blending or keeping things “pure”? Do you wrestle with finding the “true path?”


That’s a good question. In one sense the answer is easy, the Northern Italian system of Radaelli is pretty clear. It’s one of the most documented fencing styles with many detailed books written by a number of Masters. Moreover, there is a living tradition of the style I’ve learned from students of the Santelli lineage (Chris and Andrew). So it’s easy to be “pure” in a sense. However, this tradition didn’t just spring like Athena from Zeus’s head. It has a long developmental path that you can see in Italian sources going back to 15th century. So I enjoy looking at older material to see the similarities and differences between what they taught in the 1500s or 1680s to that of the 19th or 20th centuries. I’ve been doing some training in Bolognese material and also the Roman-Neapolitan rapier of Marcelli. Even beyond the Italian tradition, there was cross-over development with French fencing in Northern Italy, and Spanish fencing in Southern Italy. So some study of these traditions is useful even if its not my main focus, I do read and interact with the French smallsword and foil community, and also I’ve been doing some work with the Iberian montante to get insights into how the spadone (the Italian great sword) was used.

In your opinion, what are your top 3 fencing films and why?


Fencing films. That is a tough one. It’s popular in the historical fencing community to make fun of fencing in films because it’s “not realistic.” I try to take a middle road approach and enjoy good fencing in films for what it is. The Duelistsis perhaps the best film for dueling, debates about honor, the fight chorography of William Hobbs, and general atmosphere. While it’s not a great film, the middle sequence in the film Sunshine about the Hungarian fencer working his way up to compete in the Olympics is quite good (though I’m biased because this is part of my own Italo-Hungarian fencing lineage). Lastly, the final duel in Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone is my favorite scene. It’s nice clean, sabre fencing, without the Hollywood hijinks of hanging from chandeliers. Also, Basil Rathbone could actually fence.

As someone who loves the art of the sword (sabre especially), what do you think about Olympic or modern fencing and the techniques of modern sabre in particular)?

This is a tough question. I have a great deal of respect for modern Olympic fencing, even though I don’t like where right of way has gone in the past 20 years. HEMA has a long way to go in and much to learn from Olympic fencing in terms of (1) level of instructor preparation and pedagogy; (2) level of intensity of training; and (3) the large talent pool you can fence and compete with. However, I find that the excessive focus on athletic and tactical training detracts from an inclusive method of teaching fencing. It focuses almost exclusively on getting young athletes ready for competition. I’d rather focus on teaching solid fundamentals to people of all ages and ability levels. Anyone can enjoy fencing and anyone can become a competent fencer. I want to help people do this.


It is hard to juggle work, personal life, social life and making time to fit in time to train for yourself. How do you go about making time and what does your personal training entail?

Balance is hard. I got back into fencing in my mid-30s because as I got older, it was harder and harder to motivate myself to exercise. The challenge of fencing and getting better at it is a powerful motivator for me to exercise, so that helps me find that balance. My own training week is normally a balance of (1) classes or lessons where I am a student 2-4 hours a week; (2) classes or lessons where I am the instructor 3-5/hours a week; (3) kung-fu cross training 2-3 hours a week; (4) general conditioning/strength training (I’m a fan of TRX bands and Indian clubs) 2-3 hours/week; and (5) solo fencing practice 2-3 hours/week.


In your opinion how long and what qualities are needed to become a “master” of a particular weapon in fencing?

I have a traditional fencing/martial arts concept of “master” that originates in the 19th century military masters schools. I do not think of masters as “mystical legendary swordsmen” from fantasy novels or martial arts films. A Master is a person who is fully versed in a particular system of fencing, with good experience in both fencing and teaching fencing, trained in how to teach successfully, and who ideally passed a certification board of other masters in the same tradition. A master needs to be a competent fencer, but not necessary a top tournament competitor. In fact, many top competitive fencers do not make good teachers.


Apart from training, teaching and running as school, what does Patrick Bratton like to do in his spare time?



Fencing is a big part of life so that occupies much of my spare time. As with most people interested in historical or classical fencing, I love studying history, particularly the early modern to modern period from 1500-1960 or so. I also have an interest in the history of men’s style, particularly from the 1930s. I enjoy old films from that same period, and I love to travel.

 

Bonus Question:


If you could meet and train with any fencer or martial artist in history (past or present), who would you choose and why?

There are many masters I would love to study with. The top two would be either Radaelli for sabre or Marcelli for rapier. However, working with either of the Santellis or Barbasetti would have been great. I dabble a bit with Bolognese so I would also have enjoyed working with Marozzo, in particular to fill in all those puzzling gaps we have in that tradition.

FIN.

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For more information on Patrick Bratton and Sala Della Spada, be sure you visit their website Sala Della Spada, or find them onFacebook.

10 Questions with Huang Chun-Yi

Posted in 10 Questions, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2018 by Combative Corner

How did you come across fencing and in particular, fall in love with historical weapons?

I liked to read literature and watch movies since I was in my childhood. After I came across a YouTube video on longsword fencing, I started to search for historical manuals and checked if what I found really existed. I found that sabre also interests me a lot. Around 2014-2015, I found my teacher through my friend in Czech Republic. Then my teacher come to Taiwan to teach.


What do people of Taiwan think about European swordsmanship and has it caught on in popularity? Why or why not?

European swordsmanship is very new in Taiwan, and is developing quite slowly. The main reasons are the native culture and the culture distance. The society in Taiwan is dominated by Japanese  and Chinese martial arts because of the history background. The image on European swordsmanship largely comes from movie or fantasy. It is difficult to change in a short time.


What’s one thing that you feel all beginners should know?

Friendship. Sharing the knowledge and interests in a friendly way can shorten the road of learning. Making friends can help the growth of the community and broaden your thoughts. Test and work on the needs not only in fencing but also life together. Maybe you can find your lifetime partner or even mentor.


Is there anything else that you do in your life that helps you to be a better fencer, teacher, or both?

Both.  I was working as a teacher, which helps me understand more on the method of education, and psychology of learning. I am also a medical laboratory technologist; I know body mechanisms and some sport science through my university education. The most important thing is gaining lots of info and experience from other fencers and teachers.


What do your parents think of what you do and have you gotten any of them to fence?

They understand what fencing is and can differentiate the difference between modern fencing and historical fencing. They are supportive, and my father is the first one to show me fencing, but they don’t have time to fence themselves.


Your descriptions says you teach from the teachings of Luigi Barbasetti. Is there a big difference between this or other styles of fencing? What would that be in your words?

If you compare the Barbasetti style with other sabre style, the biggest difference is the moulinet which is from the elbow. And the style also emphasizes on a more direct cut.


Do you compete? Or is sparring enough? Why or why not?

No, I don’t compete for now, but I do teach how to deal with competition. I also do sparring with friends inside and outside of the club. The reason why I don’t compete and prefer sparring is that the mindset is different. Of course it depends on the rules of the competition. From my experience, the competitor’s main goal is to win the medal, so they will go whatever way is the best and easier to get the most points. You can learn how to fence in high pressure and face different opponents, and it is a way to test yourself. But for sparring, we can set the goal and work on what we need. Both are good to progress yourself, just a different way to train.


It is really hard (in the U.SA.) to make a living as a teacher, especially to teach the martial arts as a main source of income. Do you teach professionally only, or do you have other jobs?

I have another job as a teacher, and doing some business. In Taiwan, it is hard to teach martial art as a job. The society generally aims at the competition over the “real life” fencing.  It is seen as  entrainment, or a sport, not a serious thing.

The market is very small and we can’t ignore the people who do the sport fencing and other martial arts. People don’t tend to change when they get used to one thing.

 

Besides your love for swordsmanship, what else does Huang Chun-Yi like to do in her spare time?

I like music, culture and historical study. I also like to travel and visit historical sites with my partner. Hiking is also one of my favorite things – especially with my family, and friends.


Where does Huang Chun-Yi think she’ll be in 10 years? Are there any big goals in mind? If so, what might that be?

That is a good question, but it is hard to say what and where I will be after 10 years. Maybe I won’t be doing fencing and get married – Or even move to another country! I am sure that I will travel to more countries and keep learning things though.

Bonus Question:

If you could learn from any martial art teacher of the past or present (NOT Barbasetti), who would it be and why?

Giuseppe Radaelli. He is the one who largely introduced the elbow moulinet, the use of the thumb grip on the sabre, and using of light sabre (compared to other sabres in the same period). He taught in the military and cavalry and was a good teacher. I would like to discuss his book, the differences from mounted sabre to his light sabre with him.

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10 Questions with Nasser Butt

Posted in 10 Questions, Internal Arts, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2018 by Combative Corner

What got you interested in the martial arts?

This is going to sound like a cliché but I got involved in Martial Arts after getting a good beating from a group of kids in my neighborhood!

The 70’s had ended and we were at the beginning of the 80’s. – racial incidents were very high. We were the only ‘mix’ family (Asian/Irish) of any colour living in my street at the time and I remember going to the park which was at the bottom of our road. As I entered the park to go play, I was attacked by a mob of white kids. I would’ve been around 12 or 13 years old at the time. Most of the kids were older teens and they made a mess of me and told me that the park wasn’t for my kind! I literally crawled back home as I couldn’t walk.

An Irish musician friend of my father’s took me under his wing after the incident and started to teach me Wing Chun above his music shop. That was my first foray into the martial arts world, until then I had no compulsion to have wanted to study them!

A few months later I returned to the park and took out one of the biggest kids who had attacked me, as per my instructions – no one ever chased me out of the park again!

What is the most important thing (you can think of) that you’ve learned from the study of martial arts?

Martial arts for myself, at least, have always been a study of the self – all the components lead inwards and are eventually expressed outwards! The real foe to conquer is the self – this requires a lifetime’s study and hard work, it’s not easy but then it was never meant to be!

However, I will point out one other thing – all martial arts are only as good as the practitioner!

There is no ‘super’ martial art which makes you invincible – no magical technique! When I see people comparing martial arts I often smile at the folly of such folk. All martial arts kick, punch, strike, throw etc., and are therefore made up of essentially the same components. Equally, all martial artists have two arms, two legs, a torso and head etc., so again, we have the same tools with which to work with (of course strength, size and speed etc. will vary, but I am speaking in general terms).

So, when I see a MMA practitioner take on a Taiji practitioner and win – I don’t see that as MMA being better then Taiji as most people will state. YouTube is full of such tripe as are the various martial arts forums!

No, that simply means that in that specific instant – the MMA practitioner understands and knows his art better then the Taiji practitioner, or any other arts you wish to ‘compare’!

So, any martial art is only as good as the understanding of the practitioner and his time and effort of study – period!

How did you come to teach martial arts and what made you drift towards your particular discipline?

I had stuck with Wing Chun since my childhood. It had worked for me and got me out of many scrapes. I stopped formally training with a school when I left for university. Although I continued to train alone, I couldn’t find a school that I wished to join. They were all commercial and I was used to training with only 3 other guys in the room!

I eventually found another Wing Chun instructor a few years after leaving university, he introduced me to Erle’s work whilst I was training Wing Chun with him… it began with the small San-sau. It made sense and the more I began reading and looking into Erle’s work and the internal arts, the more sense they made. It was an act, ultimately, by Erle, himself, as a person and teacher which made me finally switch towards the internal arts! (See Question 6).

I never had any plans of teaching martial arts full-time!

My background is in the sciences… it is what I had studied at college and university, and went onto work as a research scientist in Israel. However, I first started teaching one night a week after I began training with Erle Montaigue – whom I regard as my main teacher, though I have had others!

Erle always told us that if you teach, then teach for selfish reasons! At first when I heard this, I found it shocking and asked Erle to elaborate. He did.

He simply stated that the only real reason to teach is because you wish to learn and reinforce your learning, and teaching is the best way to do that. Students will ask you questions that you, yourself, may not even have thought about yet and teaching others will make you creative and think outside the box. It will make you innovate because no two persons understand and learn in the same way!

So, I began teaching for purely ‘selfish’ reasons. It was never about earning a living for me – I had other means for that!

I began teaching full-time in 2006 upon Erle’s request. At the end of 2005 Erle was in Leicestershire giving a workshop and we sat talking during the lunch break, as most of the folk had wandered off to eat. At the time I was working for one of the major international banks in Leicester. Erle simply turned around and said to me, “It’s time!”

I looked at him quizzically and he said, “I think you should teach full-time.”

I was in a state of shock!

I won’t go into too much of the detail here as much of the conversation we had that day is private but, Erle asked this of me on the Saturday and that night I went home and spoke to my wife. We had just had our third child and I was the only one working. My wife asked me if I thought I could do it? I replied that Erle believes I can! My wife simply said, if you believe that then you have my support. On the Sunday, when I returned to train with Erle, I simply looked at him and smiled and he gave me a big hug. I have a photograph which was taken a few seconds after that moment – Erle leaning over my shoulder and both of us grinning like the Cheshire cat!

I quit work at the start of 2006 and later received my Third Degree from Erle. I had also, already, been given the right to grade by Erle himself and he started referring some of his oversees students to me!

As a teacher, what is one piece of advice that you hope really sinks in with your students?

Do not be afraid of making mistakes! If you fear making mistakes then you’ll never be free to explore and if you do not explore then how will you ever discover, and if you do not discover then how will you ever learn and advance, and grow?

Mistakes are also tools of learning and can often teach us far greater lessons then those we get right! Once we stop being afraid of making mistakes and looking foolish, we are ready to learn freely. However, this is far easier said then done. The most difficult component is recognizing mistakes in one’s own practice and having the honesty and integrity to deal with them!

What advice do you have for teachers?

Like the student, do not be afraid to admit that you do not have all the answers! Do not BS your student if you don’t know – that is the sign of a bad teacher and practitioner and you will eventually be found out!

No one has all the answers and if you are asked a question that you do not know the answer too, then tell your student that you do not have the answer BUT you will go and find out! Then go and search for the answer – that way you will both learn and your student shall respect you even more!

You’ve been a long-time student and friend of the late Erle Montaigue. How did you first meet him?

I first met Erle in 1999, in Folkestone, England! I had already been studying his system for around a couple of years earlier with a local instructor.

I had emailed the WTBA sometime in 1997, enquiring about Erle’s videos which he had made for Paladin in the USA. Financially, times were difficult and I had figured that Sterling was far stronger against the US dollar and would therefore make my money go further. As much as I wanted to take more weekly lessons, it just wasn’t financially viable, so I had decided to buy some videos, which I hoped would help with my training.

I wasn’t really expecting much of a reply, at best I thought that some secretary would contact me and was therefore, surprised when Erle contacted me himself!

He asked about my training and who I was training with and why I wanted information on his US videos?

I explained my reasons and he simply replied, “Send me your address.”

I did as I was asked. A few days later, I had a knock on my apartment door. It was the postman with a package in his hand for me from Australia. When he told me that it was from Australia, I immediately replied that a mistake had been made since I didn’t know anyone in Australia and nor had I ordered anything from there!

The postie simply said, it’s your name and address on the package and handed it over. I took the package and it had a stamp from a place I couldn’t even pronounce! Anyhow, I opened it up and inside were a bunch of Erle’s videos with a small note:

“I hope these help. Kind regards E”

I panicked thinking that Erle had misunderstood, thinking I wanted to buy these videos (which I could not afford. I immediately emailed him saying he had misunderstood and that I could not pay him for the videos! The reply that came back floored me – in a good way!

I apologize here for the language… but this was Erle – he had simply replied:

“Who the f*ck has asked you for money? I am rich enough and if these videos help you grow then I’ll be richer still!”

I sat staring at my screen, for several minutes, dumbfounded! What kind of Master was this? Not only did he reply to his correspondence in person but carried no airs about him and wanted to help me learn at his own expense! What kind of man would do such a thing for a complete stranger thousands of miles away on another continent?

That was my first encounter with Erle Montaigue. An encounter that would change my life forever. I decided there and then that I would, one day, meet this man – if only just to say thank you in person. Whilst waiting for that time, I consumed every article he had written on his website!

In 1999, after several years absence, Erle finally decided to tour the UK again. I saved up my pennies and registered for the workshop.
I remember the day… the hall was full of people. Erle was surrounded by his instructors and students from around Europe and elsewhere. I waited and when the crowd thinned out a bit, I went up and tapped him on his shoulder as he was standing with his back to me. He turned around, looked at me and cocked his head slightly, smiled and said:

“You must be Nasser! Good to meet you mate…”

I stood there, mouth agape – How did he know?

“I was thinking about you on the flight across, wondering if you would make it?” He continued as if in response to the surprised look on my face.
This was one of Erle’s magic moments. Don’t ask me how he did it but I’d see him do it to others in the years to come!

I thanked him for the kindness he had shown me and he just gave me a big hug and an even bigger smile. The rest is history, as they say – maybe for another time. Suffice to say, I never looked back… Erle was the teacher and guide I had been looking for!

Are there any good stories you’d like to tell of you and Erle?

Oh, there are many stories I could tell but question 6 is my favourite… it’s the one that brought us together. The other time is far too emotional to go into detail – it was the time when I told him that I saw him as a ‘father’ – it ended with both of us in tears!

Erle was a practical joker. One summer camp as we all met up on the field, early in the morning, he began teaching a qigong and as he started he looked at me and winked. I immediately stopped… he had folk doing crazy things and stood back with a smirk on his face! There was no such qigong – he was just in one of his playful moods! However, it turned into an important lesson – far too often folk believe something just because a ‘master’ had said so. This was one of Erle’s ways of telling folk not to believe everything and to always question!

On another occasion, Erle demonstrated a kick to the groin on myself in Germany one year. Of course for those who do not know it – it is a trick! I pretended to do some Iron shirt qigong and then Erle kicked me several times in the ‘groin’. I stood there smiling – not even a flinch! A couple of years later we were in America and one of the local instructors gave me the wide berth. I couldn’t understand his behaviour. I asked my host if I had offended him in some manner and he simply replied: “He’s in awe of you – he’s seen you take kicks from Erle in the groin online!” I burst out laughing and explained it was a trick but we never told the person concerned – I was a ‘man of steel’!!!

What are your favorite things to train (ie. barehand forms, tui shou, applications, weapons, etc) and why?

I no longer make distinction between the various training methods!

For myself, the most important components of Taijiquan are ‘The Thirteen Dynamics’ commonly referred to as The Thirteen Postures. This, however, is a misnomer and I no longer use the term ‘posture’ as this, I believe, leads many people down the wrong path in their training!

The Thirteen Dynamics are the foundations of Taijiquan. The Masters of old have continually warned us to pay attention to them in songs and other texts:

“A mere thirteen dynamics is not a lot.
But however many there might be, if their standard is not maintained
and if the position of your waist and head top is misplaced, you will end up sighing with woe.”

Taiji is an art based upon movement. However, it is not simply moving for the sake of moving but, rather, ‘Moving With Awareness’ according to no less an authority than Yang Ban-hou – the only other Yang to inherit the title ‘Invincible’ after Yang Lu-ch’an himself!

These Dynamics are innate within us but difficult to recognize and achieve. Collectively, they teach us how to ‘move with awareness’ based upon the four terms: Perception, Realization, Activation and Action. Where moving = the activation of movement plus the act of moving, and awareness = the perception that something is plus the realization of what it is – moving with awareness.

Without understanding these terms we cannot move with awareness. In other words, we must be able to recognize the ‘source of movement’ and the ‘basis of awareness’ within ourselves before we can identify energies in others.

According to Yang Ban-hou:

“If there is activation and perception, there will be action and realization. If there is no activation or perception, there will be no action or realization. When activation is at its height, action is initiated. When perception is fully lucid, there is realization. Action and realization are the easy part. Activation and perception are tricky.

First, strive to move with awareness for yourself, grasping it within your own body, then naturally you will be able to spot it in the opponent. If on the other hand you try to find it in opponents first, you will probably never find it in yourself. You have to be able to understand this concept in order to be able to identify energies.”

Most people who do not train or study the Thirteen Dynamics with diligence will ultimately fail or have a poor understanding of their Taiji! It is usually these practitioners who will try to change the Taiji Form due to their own lack of ability and understanding! To put it simply – they are the ‘alphabet’ of Taijiquan, without which we cannot produce words, sentences or develop the skills with which to ‘read’ the art!

The concept of ‘No Mind’ boxing arises from a thorough understanding of these principles. For example, if we do not understand why P’eng is considered a Yin defence and Lu is considered a Yin attack, then we have no way of understanding how to connect to our opponent’s energy, on a subconscious level, thereby producing a ‘No Mind’ response.

So, regardless of what I’m training – Form, Empty Hands, Weapons, Tui Shou or any other martial drill – I’m always looking to identify the Dynamics, for that is all what these various methods are, a variation or combination of The Thirteen Dynamics.

In this way all training methods simply become one!

What’s one of the biggest martial arts myth(s) that you wish more people knew the truth of?

Whilst there are many obvious ones that will come to most peoples mind like, for example, no touch knockouts, I’m going to be a little controversial here and say the myth of lineages!

Whenever, I come across a discussion I see folk instantly bring lineage into the conversation and the authenticity of their line and as if this somehow places their knowledge and skill above others. Authenticity of the skill and knowledge of the master does not necessarily translate to knowledge skill, full-transmission and understanding to their students or off-spring!

A teacher should be looked upon with merit according to their own skill and understanding of the subject matter – Yes, of course their pedigree will and should matter – but one should not take their pedigree/lineage alone as a confirmation of their knowledge and skill or that they have received full-transmissions. The Yangs of old taught tens of thousands in their lifetimes, yet we only have a handful of their students who rose to the challenge to continue their art and in most cases these students were not necessarily their natural off-spring! Majority of their students fell by the wayside, or trained slackly, or left too soon to set themselves up as ‘masters’ – this is something which is confirmed in the historical documents which have survived.

Sadly, we also have ample examples in history where lineages have been bought or sold and do not necessarily represent skill or knowledge. Equally, after the cultural revolution, once the ‘bamboo curtain’ went up, many martial artists set themselves up in Taiwan, Hong Kong and in the West claiming ‘masterships’ or lineages of renowned families in China, when this simply wasn’t true. Some had only trained with them for a few months or even weeks and later claimed they had been disciples for a number of years!

Self-appointed masterships continue to this day and lineages can be bought with martial arts having become a multi-billion pound industry and business.

So, beware the myth of a lineage!

Besides teaching and practicing the martial arts, what does Nasser like to do in his spare time?

I love reading and watching movies, as well as writing! I love music and am a huge Pink Floyd fan!

I’m a comic book geek and have been since I was a kid. I’ve been editing my own martial arts magazine for almost two years now and it has been highly successful, picking up several awards to date. I’m a history geek too, and love to travel when I can, and the research scientist has never left me… I use the skills I learned and developed in that field to further my own training and understanding in other subject matters as well as life itself.

Bonus Question:
If you were a superhero and had one ability, what would it be and why?

Like the Batman – Deductive Reasoning!

I have always believed in logical reasoning and this has served me well throughout my life in solving problems, including Taiji. As the great Sherlock Holmes once stated: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth!”

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10 Questions with Walter Triplette

Posted in 10 Questions, Fencing, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2018 by Combative Corner

What initially got you into fencing?

Recently I found old black and white pictures of me in a zero outfit – pics taken when I was 8 years old. Likely that was the start, but in high school the dean of the school had fenced at the University of Virginia, and I was good friends with him, so we did some fencing. The hardcore stuff followed at UNC-Chapel Hill when I was on the freshman soccer team with Anson Dorrance, and messed up ligaments in my ankle, and couldn’t play soccer for at least a year. I decided to go out for the fencing team, and that began the hard training necessary to fence on a Divison 1 college team.

What is the SCA and how were you involved in it?

The Society for Creative Anachronisms is a 501-c group dedicated to historic research, done mainly by having encampments and demos while, living as one would, roughly between the years of 1000 to 1600. This, as you might imagine, involves sword fighting. I fought rapier duels and heavy armored sword and shield competitions, involving combat in a one vs. one situation, or a 800 vs. 800 situation. Both are fun and present challenges.

When did you start TCA and how did that come about?

I worked my way through college as a bicycle mechanic, and by the time I was a senior at Carolina, I owned two bike stores in two cities. After a number of years, I realized that having a national and international customer base was preferable to a local base, so I put my college education to work and opened an online mail order business in fencing equipment. At first we bought equipment from Europe and imported and distributed it, but soon we began to manufacture it ourselves in the states.

I’ve heard stories of some of your “battles”. When you suited up in armor, how tough did you go and what type of injuries did you sustain?

SCA heavy fighting is a vigorous form of combat. We use inch-and-a-quarter thick rattan swords, which approximate the weight and speed of a steel sword, but don’t cut.  We also have fiberglass spears, wooden and aluminum shields, and various other weapons that pack a punch but theoretically won’t do serious damage. I have never been really hurt, but I have broken a meniscus in my knee, broken at least one rib, broken my hand, had a few bloody nose episodes, sprained a few things, and maybe have been concussed a few times. Likely I gave as good as I got, so altogether it made for some very pleasant afternoons for those of us that enjoy friendly violence.

How did you get into teaching and what compelled you into that arena?

I became a coach because of a deal I made when I was 19. After my first year of fencing at Carolina, I was only a 58% winner, so I was pretty disappointed. A coach named Mario Deleon (assistant coach at UNC, later head coach at Duke) said he would teach me to win, and teach me for free, but I had to agree to certain things. I had to do exactly what he said, immediately, and do it as long as he said to. I couldn’t ask questions during the lesson, only afterward. Also, since he was teaching me for free, I had to agree to pass on the knowledge he gave me, and do it for free. To the brain of a 19 year old, that sounded great. He died about 10 years later, but a promise is a promise, so I taught pupils for free unless I was being paid by a school. I got my first coaching job a Duke University, and never looked back. With the help of Mario and Ron Miller (head coach at UNC-CH), who provided me with many hours of instruction on how to coach, I have had the privilege of coaching many students for many years.

What do you love most about the sport and why?

There are a lot of things to like about fencing: the intellectual challenge, the physical challenge, the understanding of history by using weapons from an ancient form of combat, and the life lessons that are unavoidable in any quest to be really good at anything. The lessons of fencing apply to several aspects of life and business, but maybe the best part is to learn that logic is the supreme weapon in combat.

Out of all that you teach, what do you hope your students absorb most?

I hope my students learn to think clearly while under stress. It is easy to think logically and concisely when in one’s study, smoking a pipe and taking notes from a book, lounging in a nice comfy chair. It is not so easy when tired, out of breath, sweaty, thirsty, fighting someone with a steel sword while people around you are shouting and stomping. The ability to focus in a situation full of distractions is a useful skill, and one that must be developed. It rarely occurs naturally.

What do you love least about fencing and why?

I have found that individual sports such as fencing and bicycle racing tend to attract a higher percentage of selfish, abrasive people than team sports such as soccer or rugby. I have no scientific data to back that up, I am just giving my ignorant anecdotal observation. The other thing I really don’t like about fencing is having a hair inside my mask, and having it tickle my nose, even after I take the mask off and try to clean the thing out, and the hair is right back at it, and I can’t see it, so I wipe the mask again, but the hair is like taxes and just won’t go away.

What other hobbies does Walter enjoy?

I used to race formula cars on road racing tracks like Road Atlanta, Sebring, Daytona, etc. and found that it was very similar to fencing. It is all about technique and keeping focus while wild things are going on. I also play World of Warships online, because it is free and requires constant planning and readjustment of the plans.

What does the next few years hold for Walter Triplette?

I was going to retire, but it was boring and then I figured out a new process for making fencing blades so I have started a forge instead. As for long term plans – after consideration of several alternatives, I decided that eventually it would be appropriate to die, as getting very very old and still living doesn’t seem appealing, although I do hate to be a conformist.

Bonus Question:

What is your favorite on-screen sword fight and why?

The original black and white (1950) version of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Jose Ferrer. It has fine technique, as well as magnificent acting by Ferrer.

We at the CombativeCorner thank Walter Triplette for granting us this interview. If you have any additional questions for him, you can comment below and we will see that he gets it, or we will squirrel it away for another interview. If you are in need of great fencing equipment, you’ll find the links below. His long-time seamstress, Starla, is now running the shop. 

www.triplette.com

www.zenwarriorarmory.com 

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10 Questions with Yaron Seidman DAOM

Posted in 10 Questions, Internal Arts, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2018 by Combative Corner

What brought you into the study of Taijiquan?

I first started with Chinese medicine and other healing arts in 1989, and when I moved to New Zealand in 1991-1992 I met my first Taiji teacher, Han Xianji. He was a Peking Opera actor who defected to China when his troupe was on a world tour. He taught me the standard government forms 24,48 and weapons that became very popular in China. I can’t really evaluate the gongfu level except that the forms were practiced beautifully, with much grace. Han helped me arrange my first China study trip in 1992, which included a further learning of the government forms with Rong Suxian, another very graceful practitioner. This is how I started learning Taijiquan.


How did you get to study with GM Feng?

I started taking frequent trips to China, more or less twice each year, to learn Chinese medicine and Taiji. I was on a mission to find great teachers wherever I could. In 1993 or 94 I met in Yang Shuo a Chen stylist, Deng Yihong, who studied with Wang Xi’an in Chen village in the 1970s. According to his story, at a time when learning in the Chen village was cheap or almost free, gathering around a fire pit in winter with the teacher (since no one had heating or hot water). When I met Deng he said learning in the Chen village was way to expensive, especially with the more famous teacher [i.e. The Four Tigers]. Deng told me that there is one good teacher left, and maybe if we both tried as a team we could get to him in Beijing, that teacher was Feng Zhiqiang. Deng told me that he went to Beijing several times to look for Feng and only met him once in the park, but Feng was too busy to talk to him. Me and Deng sent several letter to Feng in Beijing, but they remained unanswered. (Later I learned that the address was outdated). Meanwhile I was learning the Chen style Taiji from Chen village and six syllables Qigong with Deng.

In 1998 I was going to a Taiji competition in Dallas, Texas (Taiji Legacy as it was called) and I saw online, in the primitive internet of that time, that Feng had a disciple in Canada named Chen Zhonghua. I contacted Chen and as it happened, he planned to go to Taiji Legacy as well. We then planned to meet. Chen told me that in few months Feng was going to give a 2-week workshop in Holland and so I set sail to Holland. However, in those years I was on an extremly low budget, so when I contacted the organizer, Chen Liansheng, and explained the money issue, he agreed to give me half price tuition if I would only learn the Hunyuan Taiji 24 form and not the 48 that was also taught. Turned out at that event that it took me only few days to memorize the 24 and now I was squinting across the hall to Wang Fengming who was helping Feng teach the 48 form. Chen Liansheng noticed it, got really mad and wanted to return my money and expel me from that event. Lucky for me, when I landed in Holland I brought a recommendation letter from Chen Zhonghua, I was able to speak Chinese and kinda struck a chord with Feng. Feng then took me under his wing, told Chen Liansheng to keep me at that event, and from that day on I spent lunches with Feng in his room. Feng would give me some Chinese food and I would try to convince him to eat my cheese sandwich, which he thought was gross. Starting from that time every trip to China would be to Beijing to study with Feng (until 2006), as well as other places he travelled to teach like; Finland, San Francisco and Seattle.


Thinking about your time with Feng, what about him was the most surprising and/or what excited you the most about what he had to teach?

I think that there were many excellent things, not just one. First, the level of teaching was very high, the kind that gives you butterflies in the stomach. But more than that his demeanor was very special, charming, graceful, always made everybody happy around him. When I learned with him (he was in his late 70s) I heard many stories about being hot-headed and very combative when he was young, but like many other masters as they reach old age they become very health conscious.  I was exposed to Feng when this “older” aspect was very dominant, we often practiced Neigong and Qigong in addition to the Taiji forms and weapons. He often would say “people who practice Taiji today often fight with themselves and hurt themselves” referring to all the fajin and explosive movements that young practitioners love to do, feeling themselves very strong by shaking the body and making big noises. When Feng would do fajin it would be very crisp, to the point, without superfluous noises or wiggling. For myself, coming from the medicine side, these things made perfect sense. I wanted to practice the martial art, but not necessarily did I want to get sick or die young, which for anyone learning history of the martial art, is very apparent. Many famous masters died quite young despite being fierce fighters. If you would ask me of one thing that inspired me more than others, this would be a workshop in Finland. I was translating for Feng in that 2-week event, his daughter Xiuqian had to leave and go back to China suddenly and I was entrusted with taking care of Feng, so-to-speak. One time when we took a break for lunch, Feng was a bit tired and we left the teaching hall to go back to the room, but then he realized that one of the disciples was still back in the teaching hall, so he wanted to wait for him. Feng’s wife told him “forget about it. You are tired. Go and rest” and Feng replied “no, he is my student I will wait her for him”. This was kind of surprising from such a famous teacher, to have a heart dedicated to his students and not a selfish one. I think that his kind heart made him really special.


People often talk/squabble about the effectiveness, usefulness and/or purpose of taijiquan. What is it all about to you?

For me, the meaning and purpose of Taijiquan changed with the years (or decades). At first, I was very excited just to be able to practice graceful movements and forms that are like a slow dance. Then it was about practicing a part of Chinese culture. After that, it became a martial art and fighting technique: grappling, catching, push hands, etc. Later, it became about health and inner cultivation. Nowadays, Taiji is about inner cultivation because people naturally want to fight, argue and disagree and we don’t need even more of this in the world. My life is now dedicated to creating harmony and helping people and in Taijiquan there are many good things that can help harmony and people. Taiji for health has been propagated by the Communist government in China for the past 4-5 decades, but I think that Taijiquan has much more to offer than the current propaganda.


How did you meet up with Chen Zhonghua and what made you decide to become his disciple?

As mentioned before, we met in Taiji Legacy in 1998. I was looking for Feng and Chen Zhonghua was willing to help. In that event I had my first experience with Chen Zhonghua and I would say with real Taijiquan. Chen Zhonghua was invited to the event as a teacher and judge, but had no students at the event. I was the only person he knew and we had just met. In the evening there was a demonstration where the invited teachers were asked to demonstrate their craft. Chen asked me if I would demonstrate with him and I agreed. On stage, behind the scenes, there were a few teachers with their students – each were instructing their students how to “play attack” the teacher, which hand to use, and how to roll off. They all were synchronizing a “show”. When I asked Chen Zhonghua, he said “do whatever”, which in years to come I heard many times. Chen didn’t want to put on an act, he just wanted to do it. When I went with him on stage and punched and attacked him I was flying in a very abnormal way. When we came off stage and I mixed with the crowd I heard many people say “how fake Chen Zhonghua was” – where actually he was the only one not faking it. I then realized that most people who practice Taiji, actually have never seen what real Taiji gongfu looks like. When I came back from Holland, Feng sent a letter to Chen Zhonghua and asked him to take me under his wing in the Hunyuan family. At first, the idea was that when I get to a minimum level I will be recommended to become a disciple of Feng, and for the first couple of years this was the intention. But then things changed for me, my shifu had a very special skill in his own right coming from Hong Junsheng (i.e. Practical Method) and we became close, plus in the Hunyuan school there were all kinds of politics and since I was a grandson disciple I was not competing with the other disciples.  So every time I went to study with Feng I would constantly be by his side, disciples will remain in the park and I was the only one going home with Feng. Partly by design, partly by destiny, this was best for me.


You really impressed me early on, when I saw a video of you speaking Mandarin on (Beijing) television (via Youtube).  When did you begin studying the language and how crucial was learning it in order to come to your understanding of taijiquan?

The first time I went to China I stayed with the family of Han Xianji, my first Taiji teacher. I could not speak Chinese and they, not a word English. These three months were a nightmare. They would try to feed me snails, send me to sleep at their friend’s house who I couldn’t speak to, and so on. When I moved from China to Germany in 1993 I started to learn Chinese at Freiburg University, but the pace was too slow, so I kept on learning the language myself until I became proficient. Speaking and reading Chinese is much more important if you learn Chinese medicine because there are many texts to explore. Taijiquan has its classics but these are very few and the ones that exist are mostly secretive. It really comes down to the teacher teaching you the art. In that respect, finding a good teacher is more important than knowing Chinese. However, in my case, speaking Chinese was very fortunate because it made my relationship with Feng close. Without speaking Chinese there would be no relationship and I would have probably gotten dispelled from the Holland seminar and never have seen Feng again – nor become a disciple of Chen Zhonghua. So even though speaking Chinese in general is not important for learning Taiji, in my case it was.

 

Do you feel that your taijiquan and qigong enhances your TCM practice? Why or why not?

Actually, my Taijiquan and Qigong practice created and transformed my medicine practice. The traditional Chinese medicine that I learned in the early years transformed today what I call Hunyuan Medicine. The inspiration, some of the content and the name come from Hunyuan Taijiquan and Qigong and Master Feng. Hunyuan medicine also had other influences coming from the fire spirit and Huai Xuan schools of Sichuan, but Hunyuan Taiji and Qigong is a big part. It is hard to describe every single thing that has changed in my medicine practice because almost everything changed, but I would sum up that at least 45% of everything I think and know is from Hunyuan Taiji and Qigong, 45% from Huai Xuan and fire spirit, and only 10% is the remaining TCM I learned in TCM school. Today I run a Hunyuan Academy that has three tracks: body, heart and medicine. The body track is all Hunyuan Taiji and Qigong related, the heart track is all Huai Xuan related and the medicine track is a combination of Fire Spirit, Huai Xuan and Hunyuan Gong.


If you had to pick one piece of advice that you’ve learned from any of your taijiquan teachers, brothers and sisters, or other mentors, what would it be? and why did you choice that one?

Don’t be selfish, because selfishness hinders progress. In the early years I remember everyone talking about discipleships, ceremonies, Taiji clothes and all sorts of superficial realities, all directed at one’s self. I think that a great way to succeed is to have a sincere intention. All kinds of Taiji clothes and ceremonies don’t move you closer to the target. There is no better prize than for one to succeed themselves in what they set out to do. This means that a person should practice diligently, follow the teacher’s instruction and become the best that they can.


What form, what weapon, and what posture are your favorite? What is your reason for picking those?

This question is problematic for the following reason –

Every posture and every form aims at practicing Gong. So when I practice a Taiji posture, let’s say Buddha Warrior Pounds the Mortar, the Qigong skill, the Taiji Ruler skill, the Neighing skill, the silk reeling skill, the Zhan Zhuang skill – all must be practiced in this one movement. It is like one big frame to practice all the many different skills in. But this is the same for White Crane Spreads Wings and all the other movements and weapons. So if you like one movement and not the other it means you don’t practice Gong. If you practice correctly it is impossible to like one posture over the other, at least for me.


If you were to give advice to any beginning taijiquan practitioner, what advice would you give?

Never get involved with all kinds of politics and agendas. Stay the course and practice to improve yourself. Know that there is not this thing called ‘authentic’ and ‘fake’. The diligent student reaches far.

Bonus:
If you could go back in time and study (for a month) with any Master of the past (living or dead and of any discipline) who would it be and why?

Also, hard to answer, because stories always tend to inflate reality. Truly great masters might be unknown and famous masters maybe are not that great. If I had to choose I would say Sun Lutang. I heard a story that when he was about to die, he got undressed, sat on a stool and waited to the end. Not sure if it is just a fake story, but if there was that gongfu I would liked to have seen that.

 

Clinic http://hunyuancenter.com
Education http://hunyuanAcademy.com
Ebooks http://gumroad.com/yaronseidman

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We at the CombativeCorner would like to thank Yaron Seidman DAOM, for his time and consideration and welcome him to the CombativeCorner family – as well as a member of our admirable list of 10-Question Interviews. For more information on Yaron, please click the links provided above. To stay current with the CombativeCorner, please like our Facebook Group page, or follow us on Twitter and/or Instagram @CombativeCorner

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Another Amazing Year for Interviews

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2018 by Combative Corner

This year has gotten off to a great start.  Due to our previous success, the ease of social media, and a little bit of luck… we’ve been granted several great interviews for 2018.  One might think by looking at our long list of interviewees, who else could we possibly add?  Try this on for size – former Olympic fencing champion Andrea Baldini!  We’ll also have Polish Saber extraordinaire, Krzysztof Sieniawski and Kung fu expert Nasser Butt.  We also have a couple more that will spring up… but we’ll just leave those a surprise for now!

If you haven’t already, make sure to follow us on Instagram.

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The Tai Chi Debate : MMA vs. Tai Chi

Posted in Discussion Question, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Self-Defense, Taijiquan, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by Combative Corner

Lately Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) has come under fire and is now (as if it hasn’t always been) labelled as “The Flowery Art” – one without much practicality or effectiveness in the ring or the streets.  As an avid listener to Joe Rogan’s Podcast, The JRE, I am often in agreement to many of the discussions.  In this recent episode (#962) with retired Navy Seal officer Jocko Willink, there was much that I was in disagreement with (see video clip below). There are several factors Joe (and many others) must understand…

First… the video that everyone is talking about! [warning: violent content]

The 3 Tenets

  • Any “fight” does not a “street fight” make
  • Whether a fighter wins or loses has more to do with his/her training over any “style” or “discipline”
  • The training of any effective fighter must be directed towards common street attacks and (hard-to-predict) changes in such things as: social and environmental cues, level of aggressiveness/intensity, and opportunities of “unfair play” (i.e. eye gouging, groin strikes, etc).

It should be obvious that martial arts (including Taijiquan) came from a more violent time and its movements were designed to protect, subdue or kill.  Over the years (some may argue) as we evolved into a more civilized society, we (in the Taijiquan world) re-directed our focus to health and wellness.

Who is going to argue, especially if you live in a non-violent area, that martial arts training is best (or more beneficial) if you train it for health? Therefore it comes down to the need (for survival) and/or personal preference.  Can you do both?  Absolutely.

We’ve all seen Tai Chi for health.

But what is Tai Chi for “the streets?”

Does it exist? And if so, what does it look like?

First off, while some people DO “Choose to believe that there are secrets/magic” (as Joe Rogan mentions), there are many experienced Tai Chi practitioners that understand that fighting works on the same plane of existence as everything else.  “Rooting” is not magic, nor is “directing ones Chi”…but I digress.

I don’t want to fall into the trap of saying “It all can be boiled down to 5 simple steps”… however, for the benefit of time simplicity and brevity, I want to make these points known – especially to those that don’t understand the (internal) martial arts.

Intent

  • You must have intent.  You must have intent to do damage.  This is the main thing that the traditional martial artists of Taijiquan will likely object to, because the singular practice of a combative form may (depending on the person) develop a propensity towards violence.  This quickly brings to mind a not-so-old saying that is grounded in truth- “What we think about, we bring about.”  The often peaceful intent of a Taijiquan brings a sense of inner calm, a harmonizing of mind and body and enhances the likelihood to resist the urge to make altercations physical.  This important point of “intention” training, and devising a “go or no-go” plan to initiate leaves a lot to think about on a personal level.

Hitting (Explosively)

  • You must have the ability to hit explosively…what we in the internal arts call “Fajin.” In order to do this, internal arts excel, because it is rooted in “sung,” the ability of the body to release energy from a soft, relaxed state.  This was what I believe Bruce Lee was talking about when he described the “Gongfu punch.” It’s less mechanical, like many strikes you see in Karate and Tae kwon do… it’s more elastic – applying a snapping, yet penetrating power.  Anyone with a high skill in fajin (and obviously finding an open line of attack) will easily dominate in a one-on-one encounter.  One key note on training is that structure is essential and one shouldn’t practice moving explosively without understanding and finding the proper structure from which to release the strike.  This is one of the main reasons that Taijiquan is performed and often seen as a “slow, ineffectual, flowery” art form.  Remember, learn structure and technique before you concentrate on “fighting.”

Multiple Attackers

  • Today’s street fight is seldom mano-a-mano.  If you are not sucker-punched or thrown off balance suddenly without you first knowing, I’d be surprised.  Going back to intent…part of our trying should be directed in fighting and maneuvering tactically in a multiple attacker situation.  Forms or katas should include practical movements and practitioners need to practice individual drills that replicate this type of environment and chaos.

Calm through Chaos

  • It’s a great label, but most of us will never “calm” in a street fight.  However, all arts (if we are to call them “martial” arts) should be pressure tested.  These pressure tests can and should be done quite safely at first with a steadily growing intensity.  If one only does forms and katas, there will never exist a true understanding of fight dynamics and your level of skill in dealing with them.  As our experience, confidence and skill level grows…the more likely we will be able to deal with adversity.  As in the “controversial” video (posted above), China should not be upset with the conclusion.  Clearly the taijiquan “master” was unfamiliar with dealing with chaos.  Personally, I’d choose Ren Guang Yi to represent the combatively-capable taijiquan fighter.

True Grit

  • Lastly, if one intends to survive a street fight (all luck aside), one needs grit.  “Grit” is the emotional and physical fortitude that presses on when confronted by an obstacle.  Grit is courage and resolve and without it.. you are frail and destined to lose.  Can some train grit?  In my opinion, yes.  I believe grit can be built with a combination of training using: violence-prevention drills, gradual pressure-testing of these drills, physical techniques, and sparring.  The experience that we accumulate will produce confidence (not blind faith), and confidence in ourselves will be transferable to ourselves on and off the streets.

Joe Rogan talking about MMA vs. Tai Chi

Ultimately, in regard to the martial arts we choose to study, we have to make up our own mind.  I’m more apt to say “Train wisely” over “Choose wisely.”  After this article, I hope you are.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

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