Archive for February, 2012

Sifu Lee on Video Gaming

Posted in Day's Lesson, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by Sifu Freddie Lee

The problem with video games is the addiction it can cause. It is not a good addiction. It is an inactive addiction – similar to being addicted to watching television. Before the invention of these high definition video game consoles, people would play more sports – people would be more active. I remember as a child going to the park & always seeing people playing basketball from day to night. Now I rarely see anyone playing basketball. What I see in my neighborhood is the community has banned a lot of basketball hoops in the parks.  Nearly all basketball hoops have been taken down, mainly due to residents complaining about teenagers making a lot of noise & getting into physical altercations.

The energy that people used to have for sports has been directed towards video games. Rather than spending 10 years developing themselves to be competent in sport or art, people are spending 10 years playing video games. I’ve witnessed how addictive it can become especially for the child & I see how unhealthy it can become. One can stop eating, stop sleeping, & stop living fully. One can think about nothing but the video game day & night. If a person is so addicted to playing video games that he cannot find much happiness without playing video games, then there is a problem. If a person is well-balanced in Life & finds happiness in many activities other than video games, then it is okay.

Another problem I see with video games is the over emphasis on violence. Over 90% of video games revolve around violence. Nearly every video game is about beating, killing, and shooting. There is so much killing in these video games that you can very easily end up dreaming about killing. You are virtually playing the role of a killer and when you become addicted, it indicates that you deeply enjoy this virtual world of killing. This can lead to something very unhealthy for the mind and spirit.

These are not games of Tetris, Monopoly, or Chess. These are games of virtual warfare and extreme expressions of violence. Every game becomes very repetitive, a different name, a different title, a different scene, but leading to the same thing- killing.  It does not lead towards any positive growth. The energies you have within are drained and wasted by playing these video games. This energy can be turned towards art and creativity. Playing music for 20 years will turn you into an artist, playing video games for 20 years will not lead you anywhere, there is no growth.

People need to be lead back to Art, Music, Dance, or even Sport. Playing a peaceful expression of sport is much better for the body than video games. Playing basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, etc. is much better for the body than playing video games. At the worst, video games can turn you into a psychopathic killer.  At the best it will just make you lazy and dependent on the virtual world for happiness. It is not completely bad but it also has no real benefit to your existence when it comes to developing yourself in body, mind, & spirit. I do not completely frown upon the playing of video games, as it is the next step above being completely inactive and watching TV. A basketball fanatic may spend 2000 hours a year watching others play basketball. The 2nd step is a video game basketball fanatic who spends 2000 hours a year playing basketball video games. The 3rd step above that is the athlete who spends 2000 hours a year playing real basketball on the courts. We all need to get to the 3rd step; we need to become athletes, artists and full participators in the actual activity of which we enjoy.

Now the real problem may be that people want to kill but they are not allowed to kill, so they end up killing in the video game. They feel more freedom in the virtual world to do as they wish than in the real world. Now this desire to kill may be the real problem that needs to be addressed, some people may be able to play paintball and receive joy in this.  For others this may not be good enough so they may join the army, they may enter the ring, or cage.  They may go hunting. Or they may actually do what they fantasize about and end up being sent to prison after they are caught.

Those who do have the deep desire to kill should keep that energy within the virtual world and not take that into reality. That energy should go backwards, not forwards. One who is addicted to killing in the virtual world, should stop this addiction. One who then becomes addicted to watching others kill in movies, should stop this addiction. One who then becomes addicted to thinking about killing others, should stop this addiction. One who then constantly dreams about killing others, should find peace of mind so that these violent dreams no longer occur. Eventually, one will be liberated from this psychological violence. When you are in the virtual world & you are killing, immerse yourself in the role, discover the futility of it all. Once you discover this, you will be free.

Once you are free, you will no longer be addicted to it.  Once you are no longer addicted, you will find peace of mind.

Freddie Lee

[via FMK Facebook’s Thoughts]


Past Performance – Future Results | Part 1

Posted in Philosophy, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2012 by Combative Corner

I have trained in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat skills for going on 45 years, and just when I’m tempted to think that I’ve learned a thing or two, just when I start to believe that I have arrived, I soon begin to realize that there is just so much to learn and so many skills to master.  I must concede that I have barely scratched the surface of the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
The word ‘iceberg,’ from the Dutch term ‘ijsberg,’ literally means ‘mountain of ice.’  Formed from ice more than 15,000 years ago, glaciers slowly move towards the sea where they break apart and begin drifting into open waters. Thousands of sections break off each year, and, as fans of the movie Titanic recall, they can become a genuine hazard to ships at sea.  One giant mountain of ice, Iceberg B-15, was 183 miles long and 23 miles wide, (larger than Jamaica), and weighed an estimated three billion tons!
However, as big as they are, what you don’t see is what’s beneath the surface.  It’s been estimated that as much as 90% of the iceberg’s mass is under water.  If basic skill acquisition in martial arts is the tip, mastery, like the other 90% of the iceberg that most people never see, is what lies beneath.

The board game Othello has a great tag line:  “A minute to learn…a life time to master.”  I have always liked that concept, and as a combatives instructor I have often thought about the lifelong journey, the long and winding road from beginner to master.  I have often wondered how long it should actually take to first learn the basic skills and then to move on to competency and finally mastery of self protection skills.  Also of great interest to me is how to effectively facilitate the retention of key skills so that they will be available in a critical moment.
Consider the game of chess. “Chess masters spend roughly 50,000 to 100,000 hours studying chess to reach the ‘expert’ level.”  (Simon and Chase, 1973).  “Let’s do a quick calculation,” write Karl Wirth and Dexter Perkins about the process of moving from beginner to expert in chess in their educational article, ‘Learning to Learn.’  “An average of 75,000 hours means spending 8 hours per day, 365 days per year, for more than 25 years to become an accomplished chess player.  That’s how long it takes to develop the necessary skills for recognizing patterns of chess pieces, understanding their implications for future outcomes, and making the best moves.”
Mastering a musical instrument also requires extreme dedication.  When Pablo Casals turned ninety-five, so the story goes, a curious reporter asked him a question:  “Mr. Casals, you are ninety-five and perhaps the greatest cellist who ever lived.  Why do you still have to practice six hours a day?”  Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”
Bruce Lee, arguably THE spokesperson for directness and simplicity in martial arts training, seemed to agree with Casals when he said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once…I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Legendary combatives instructor Hock Hochheim, ever the iconoclast, was curious about the concept that it takes thousands and thousands of repetitions to become skilled, and he asked himself the simple question, “Where do these magic numbers actually come from?”  In his blog Hock posted “How Many Reps Was That?  Again?”*, where he refers to research by Richard Schmidt, Craig Wrisberg, and Timothy Lee.  This research indicated that it may not be 3,000 to 5,000 repetitions after all, but actually only 300 to 500!
Hock understands the concept of statistical analysis however, and he says, “I am well aware that each student will have a different, learning repetition ratio.  One might really ‘get’ something with only 75 reps, another person may take 6,000.  Another, even 10,000.”  Hock also acknowledges that skills are ‘perishable‘ and that they “need to be exercised with some frequency that is – once again, different for each person…
Remember, the ‘masters’ be they in golf, cooking, baseball, piano, or karate…practice forever. The Masters lose count and just practice for practice sake. That’s why they are masters.”
Hock is on solid ground on this one.  Some important skills, like that board game Othello, can be learned relatively quickly.  Have you ever attended a CPR class?  In these classes laypeople are taught basic life support (BLS) techniques involving ‘CAB’s:  Circulation, airway, breathing.  Most laypersons can learn BLS skills after attending a short course offered by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.  Attendees learn the compression-to-breath ratio (30:2) and the techniques associated with these life-saving measures.  Most of these courses run from 3 to 9 hours.  There is even a new, hands-only course “a potentially lifesaving technique involving no mouth to mouth contact” taught by the Red Cross that only takes 30 minutes to learn.
In a previous post I used the analogy of learning to ride a bike to show that some things, once learned, are not easily forgotten.  Balancing on a bike is not inherently a natural activity, but there is something else at work…something very special.  There is a lot of anticipation, determination, and excitement associated with that magic moment when you take off the training wheels and begin free-wheeling down the road.  The strong emotions of that moment of freedom combine with the effort it takes to learn, and it’s almost as if that particular skill becomes etched into the brain!  Perhaps this is one secret to learning and remembering an important skill:
Combine Effort with Emotion…Mix Intent with Intensity
Most skills are indeed perishable.  Without constant, continual and consistent maintenance, abilities can fade away all too quickly.
If you’re an investor you’re probably familiar with the oft-used disclaimer which is usually included in fine print:
Here’s an excerpt from another investing disclaimer that speaks to this idea that skills may be perishable:
According to R. Keith Sawyer, writing for CERI-Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, cognitive research indicates that expertise is based on the following characteristics:
  • A large and complex set of representational structures.
  • A large set of procedures and plans.
  • The ability to improvisationally apply and adapt those plans to each situation’s unique demands.
  • The ability to reflect on one’s own cognitive processes while they are occurring.
Sawyer contends that it’s really about the need to learn “integrated and usable knowledge,” rather than “sets of compartmentalized and decontextualized facts.
Becoming an expert requires building a large repertoire of patterns that can be recognized and acted on,” according to Penuel and Roschelle in ‘Designing Learning.’  “There is no known mechanism for short-cutting direct experience of the situations of practice in order to build up these patterns.”
J.S. Atherton** defines the components and pyramid structure of expertise in ‘Competence, Proficiency and Beyond’:
  • Competence: is the simple ability to perform the requisite range of skills for practice. 
  • Contextualisation: is knowing when to do what. 
  • Contingency: is the greater flexibility to be able to cope when things go wrong. 
  • Creativity: is the capacity to use all the “lower” level skills in new ways to solve new problems. 
In Part II we will take a look at some specific steps on the journey to expertise based on the breakthroughs in cognitive science.
Ron Goin, P.U.M.A.
(Originally posted 2/23/2012)


Ron Goin is a critical thinking, rational, humanist, skeptical & a non-traditional combatives instructor with 45 years of Martial Arts & combatives training.  He runs a blog of his own.  Follow it if you dare.  (click his picture to travel there)

The Body Line | Johnny Kuo

Posted in Martial Arts, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

After the center of the feet, usually the first “easy” idea I teach to new students is paying attention to the body line. When the hand (or more precisely, the point of contact) is inside the body line, it is easier to absorb. Conversely, when the hand crosses outside of the body line, it is easier to project force. The body line is an important transition point which needs to be recognized to maintain unification with an opponent’s force.

It’s a simple concept that is easy to demonstrate. Just move the hand inside or outside the body line and try absorbing to pull or projecting to push against a partner’s force. The importance of recognizing open vs closed becomes evident just from the touch feedback. Absorbing while open or projecting while closed only generates power from the arms and is harder. Projecting while open or absorbing when closed links up more joints in the body and generates more power with less effort.

Why this should be the case might not be immediately obvious. A quick thought experiment can explain the body line transition. Imagine the shoulder as a center of rotation for the arm in the horizontal plane. The point at which the arm is at its front-most position is directly perpendicular to the body (i.e. at the body line). If we borrow some math from the previous post on spheres of offense and defense, we can treat the body line direction as a diameter line of a circle. As the arm crosses inside or outside the body line, the diameter line is crossed. The forward-back motion vector of the arm (i.e. the tangent the arc) switches sign upon crossing the body line.

Alternatively, we can use a clock as our circular motion model. When the minute hand goes from 9 to 12, there is an upward movement component. Exactly at 12, there is no upward or backward movement component. After 12 is passed, the minute hand has a downward movement component. Once the hand crosses the transition point, there is a change from a forward to backward movement.

Of course, the human body does not move strictly according to rigid body mechanics, and movements usually involve several joints. The simple analysis is imperfect, but it serves as a rough approximation for understanding the mechanics.

Johnny Kuo


(Originally post. 2/17/2011)

New Self-Defense Book | Summer 2012

Posted in Miscellaneous, News, Products, Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by chencenter

It has been 3 years since the release of book one, The ‘Essentials’, a book that I mainly wrote to supplement my workshops and give readers a concise and straight-forward path towards a better understanding of personal self-protection.  Now, I am on a tremendous project; one that I’m very excited to announce here today.  I’ve started a separate web page and twitter account to keep people updated… and to give those interested – the quick news, exerpts and (in the future) ‘specials’ that supporters of this project deserve! and on Twitter @GTSbook

As many of you already know, teaching self-defense has been a deep passion for me.  And my work and interaction with this website, The Combative Corner, only fans the flames of that desire to share and to educate others.

Book #1 proved to be a great experience.  One in which I found myself truly enjoying the process of writing.  Once the testimonials came pouring in from friends, colleagues, and professionals in the field (many of which I’ve never met), I became overwhelmed with excitement.  People I’ve read and highly respect like; Tim Cartmell (Effortless Takedowns and Throws), Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming (YMAA) and Lee Morrison (Urban Combatives) were now reading me, and enjoying my work! (testimonials)

But “my work” is not even close to finished yet!  And the beauty of all this, is that (although it’s “my work”) it is, in large sense, a shared, a collaborative process.  What forms a great and insightful book, comes from “riding on the back of giants.”  To the many that have inspired, influenced and shown me “the way.. there’s a bit of you in every page.  (You’ll see!)

Join my on this journey by following my tweets @GTSbook and/or keep my new page bookmarked!


Author of The Golden Thread


Will be available in Paperback, Hardback, and Digital Download (E-book).  Approx. 250-350 pages in length. 

10 Questions with Keith Owen

Posted in 10 Questions, External Arts, Jiujitsu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by Combative Corner

How did you become interested in learning the martial arts?

I grew up in a single parent household and my mom couldn’t make ends meet.  I had wanted to do martial arts since I was 7 but we just couldn’t afford it.  I saw a karate demonstration at my school at that age and knew that I “had” to do martial arts.  I didn’t start taking martial arts lessons until I was 16 when I got a job and started paying for them myself.  I never looked back.  In the early 90’s after I got my black belt in Kung-fu I saw an article on the Gracies and was intrigued.  They were beating up everyone.  Later I saw Royce Gracie tap out Dan Severn with a triangle choke and thought that’s the martial art I need to train in.  I found Professor Pedro Sauer in Salt Lake and I never looked back.

What personally drove you to learning jiujitsu?

A small guy can beat a big guy using technique. Think of what a big guy like me could do using Technique? I thought this was “the way!”
If you had to pick 3 of your favorite techniques, what would they be?
  1. The Fog Choke-Keith Owen “Lights Out”
  2. The Triangle Choke and the 10th Planet “Gansta Lean”
  3. Deep Half Guard
  4. Hip Compression- Keith Owen Favorite Moves Vol 1
  5. The Biermbolo -I’m playing with this-I suck at it
  6. The Twister and the truck-10 Planet
  7. The Eziquel choke-Keith Owen “Lights out” via James Foster
  8. Arm in Guillotine

A little more than three..sorry.

Who are a few of your mentors and what impact have they had on you?

I don’t know about many mentors but I have numerous people who have had a profound effect on me so since you asked I’m going to share.
  1. My Wife Shirlane- 21 years and going strong.  She should have divorced me a long time ago.
  2. Professor Pedro Sauer-The best instructor in the world. He has forgotten more then I know.
  3. Sifu Joesph Cowles- My Wu Wei Instructor and former student of Bruce Lee
  4. Tren Long- One of my purple belts who has produced all of my videos and my toughest student.
  5. Matt Owen (no relation) One of my purple belts.  He and his son Dylan are the rock of my school.
  6. Dean Heileman who got his black belt before he died of Cancer.  Got me motivated in Jiu-Jitsu.
  7. Royce Gracie for showing me “The Way.”
  8. Allen Hopkins-One of the most technical black belts of the Pedro Sauer Association-He helped me out a lot going up the ladder.
  9. Professor Sergio Penha in Las Vegas for being a great example and giving me another perspective of Jiu-Jitsu.
  10. My Mom-The most emotionally tough women I have ever met.

and I’m forgetting my friends, Damon Tong (My business mentor), Rob Smith (one of my instructors) and Rob Namer (my firearms business partner).  I would not be where I am without the help of these people.

How do you feel about martial arts for: the dojo, the street, and for competition? 
You asked about Martial arts and not specifically BJJ so I’m going to give you my opinion of the Martial arts in general.  I think a lot of martial arts are practiced in the dojo and then the instructor brags about how street lethal their martial art is.  They never test anything out to verify.  I often say that most martial arts instructors have four years of martial arts training repeated three or four times over. Competition is a little closer to the street because you are going up against another human being – but the rules of the contest can make a person lose their edge and fight by the rules. For instance,  MMA doesn’t allow groin kicking or eye gouging.  Kicking the guy in the groin and eye gouging are great self defense techniques for the street.  Just look at the guys who get kicked in the groin or eye gouged in MMA they typically need time to recover.  I’m a big fan of martial arts for the street and for competition, you just need to put it in perspective for what you are doing and know that there is a difference.  Just because you have one down doesn’t mean you know the other.

Are you a big fan of competition fighting? Why or why not? (and if so, who do you like to follow)

After having said my previous comments- I love competition bjj and I love MMA.  My favorite BJJ competitors are Marcello, Saulo, Jeff Glover and Roger Gracie.  My favorite MMA fighters are Johny “Bones” Jones, Anderson Silva, Nick and Nate Diaz, Clay Guida and GSP and my son Alex Owen (laughs).

What is your stance and/or concerns about online learning?

Well, since I have a lot of videos and an online download site  (   I think it would be a bit hypocritical to say that it’s a bad thing (laughs).  Seriously,  I think the internet has made bjj more accessible then ever to the masses.  It really helps in getting students everywhere better.  I do think that the best way to train for the average person is too have an awesome bjj instructor to show you the technique, then you go to as many seminars as you possibly can and then you top it off with online or video training.  I think that would be the perfect regimen.  This is a great time to be alive and training in BJJ and Martial arts in general.

How effective (do you believe) jiujitsu is in self-protection?

This comment is going to piss a lot of BJJ guys off but Jiu-Jitsu is not my first martial art for the street.  It’s my back-up martial art – done if I’m taken down, slip or take someone down if I get attacked.  The pavement, parking lot, side of the road, gravel, snow, ice, wet grass or a field of stickers is no place to ground fight.  I want to knock that mutha out or be able to evade and escape if a weapon is presented or their is multiple attackers.I also don’t think in many cases that arm bars are very effective in ending a fight in a life or death ground fighting situation.  You could break a dedicated opponents arm and in many cases he could keep on fighting.  It’s far more effective to use some kind of choke that would make an opponent pass out.  I think on the other hand if you are just a stand up fighter and you get taken down then you are in a world of hurt, so Jiu-Jitsu is important but for me it’s my last resort in a real fight. I’m not going to put up my dukes and then run over and jump into the guard (laughs).I would also like to add that the gi is a very effective tool to practice self defense.  Many attackers are wearing coats and pants and the more opportunity you have to choke a dude out, the better.
What elements of jiujitsu would you teach your wife/daughter or loved one for self-protection?

Collar Choke, Arm Bar and Triangle Choke from the Guard because that is where they will likely be in an attack situation.  i know I said that the arm bar wasn’t very effective but it’s hard for an attacker in a rape situation to get aroused when they have a freshly dislocated or broken arm and anyway, the police can have a free clue as to who the attacker was.
What is one thing that you’d like to emphasize to the beginning jiujitsu student?
I don’t have just one but the first “things” I would emphasize is to have fun, play around and get better.  I want my new students to work on getting rid of their ego so that getting better is the goal and not having to win at any cost.  Many guys don’t like to tap out and they take it personal.  They will often quit because they think they are lousy at Jiu-jitsu and since they are lousy it’s no fun.    We also can’t afford injuries at this level because shoulder and knee surgeries are expensive and people’s spouses aren’t too keen on letting them come back after a sever injury, It would be a shame if a potential world champion quit at the beginning because of ego or injury.    I promise that if they get rid of ego, do their best, keep an open mind, come to class, take care of their partners, get addicted to BJJ and stay loyal that I will take them to Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu Mastery, I promise.
Bonus Question
You’ve got 6 months to train… the money is on the table, who would you personally like to “have a go at.” (it could be anybody, living…dead. just a fantasy questions)
I would  train (friendly) with any bjj black belt for free as long as they have good technique.  I would super fight anyone for money though, What the hell (laughs).
Mr. Owen, we thank you greatly for giving us this interview. 
Readers – if you’d like to learn more about Mr. Keith Owen, please visit his website by clicking the picture at the top of the page.  For his instructional videos, click here.

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