Archive for July, 2015

Conor McGregor’s #1 Trait

Posted in Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2015 by chencenter

“… I have an answer. I have an answer for everything.”

-Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor 1Speaking as a fan, as a martial artist, as an Irishman (albeit long since removed), I’m excited to see someone burst on the scene with such fervor.  Leading up to the fight between Chad Mendes and Conor McGregor in UFC 189, I educated myself on this man.  I honestly wanted to see what all the hype was about.

What I saw, even in just his interviews, was a man destined for greatness.  Some people can talk smack, as Conor often does, but I’ve never seen someone back it up quite like he does.  Plus, he knows it’s for show.  As arrogant as he may seem, it’s clear that he knows the game, knows how to get attention, and with it, how to get inside your opponent’s head.

Some people have been pretty vocal against this guy – Jose Aldo accusing Conor or taking performance enhancing drugs, and lately, famous comedian Bill Burr.  Bill, who admittedly says that he “knows nothing of the sport,” slams Conor on his tactics of intimidation and smack-talking.

The point that I’d like to make is a lot of fighters these days smack-talk- it’s a soundbite; sometimes it’s personal… most of the time it’s business.  If you’re a fight fan, how many times have you seen these athletes belittle and agitate their soon-to-be opponent, only to hug, give kind words and thank/congratulate them for a well-faught event afterwards?  If you’re a fight fan, we know this is true.  As a human being of the modern age; at this point at least, we should know what grabs people’s attention – drama, controversy and rivalry.

“Knowing the game” and “Talking the talk” may be good enough to bring in the numbers, but you have to be able to back it up… and back it up time-and-time again.  Conor has certainly done just that.

Conor McGregor 2It is undoubtable that Conor has an excellent training regiment, focusing on becoming not necessarily the best fighter, but the most adaptable fighter.  He does what it takes to win.

I am fairly sure that he’ll get beaten (at some point), as all fighters typically do – but as long as he listens to his body, keeps up with his training and continues to exude this extremely deep self-belief, he’ll continue to reign for as long as he wants.

While seated at the Bar & Grill with my fellow CombativeCorner crew member Brandon, I speculated on what the upcoming fight between Chad Mendes and Conor McGregor would be like and why I thought that (even with Chad’s tremendous wrestling skills) Conor would continue his glorious unbeaten streak (in the UFC).  “It’s about self-belief.  There is almost an inhuman amount of self-confidence in this guy. While most people might get hit and wonder this and that, Conor remains a confident, beast-of-a-fighter, that in most circumstances becomes even stronger against more stout opposition.  When you strike such a balance between your level of arousal and motivations for a fight, and you couple it with superb training and a monstrous amount of confidence…how can you lose?”

In his own words…

“Doubt is only removed by action.  If you’re not working then that’s where doubt comes in.”

Now I know that smack-talking isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea… and it certainly isn’t mine either.  Fighters like GSP, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida are amazing sportsman, martial artists and gentlemen of the sport.  But everyone is different. Everyone has their path.  One thing is true; you have to respect the talent of this guy. You have to recognize that it’s because of this brashness, wit and his sharp tongue that he’s been able to turn people’s heads in so short of a time.  Would I like Conor more if he just shut up and towed the line? Nope, because it just wouldn’t be him… and to a certain extent, we all have to agree that personalities make fights.

What are you thoughts on Conor McGregor, and the fight from UFC189? 

Michael Joyce


3 Essential Tai Chi Reads

Posted in Martial Arts, Products, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2015 by chencenter

Just the other day, I had a student come up to me and ask if there is “Anything I can do or read to help me improve” [in Tai Chi].  Immediately, three books shot to mind (out of several dozen that I’ve read over the years).  The first book that I think anyone with an interest in the art of Taijiquan should acquire and read (and definitely if you’re an instructor of Taijiquan) is Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain by Chungliang, Al-Huang. [click on the image for Amazon.Com link]
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Embrace Tiger Chungliang

Published in November of 1973, it is probably safe to say that North American hadn’t had its influx of Taijiquan influence, however it was this author and masterful teacher, Chungliang, Al-Huang that helped me to form my vision of what I wanted (my personal) Taijiquan to become.  There are many parts to Taijiquan and although everyone will see them differently, Master Al beautifully illustrates what they can grow into, and how you can use the power of Taijiquan to create boundless energy and freedom.

Pros: This book is highly under-rated. Because of this, people are selling used copies for only pennies.

Cons: Many people are interested only in the combative potential of martial arts (even Taijiquan) and will thus will get very little joy from this movement/energy/spirit-based book.

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power

Taijiquan Book Yang YangPublished in 2008 by one of my early teachers, Master Yang Yang, this book is  more detailed on the science and study of Taijiquan as a martial art and system of mind-body therapy.  If you are looking for a clear explanation how and why Taijiquan practice can benefit you, look no further! Very thorough and well-written, Master Yang Yang gives you the foundation for not only Taijiquan practice but gives you principles that can benefit all martial artists.

Pros: This book encompasses everything that is great in a martial art book. Very easy-to-read, and explains what is (for some) a difficult, and deep subject to breech.  As an indoor disciple to the late Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, and someone who stands strong to his Master’s teachings, you can feel and can’t help but to get swept up in the feeling that this could have easily been written by the founder of Hunyuan Taijiquan (GM Feng) himself.

Cons: Available only in Hardback, this book comes with a higher price tag of approximately $30-40

Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method, vol. 1: Theory

Chen Style Practical Method BookThis book, written by Hong Junsheng was translated and published by his disciple, and my primary teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua.  Hong Junsheng, as many of us know, was the most senior disciple of Chen Fake; one of the true legends of all Taijiquan.  Hong spent his lifetime dedicated to the cultivation and perfection of his master’s art, faithfully practicing and passing on his master’s teaching.  If any book can be called a “Masterpiece,” this one should!

Pros: The one and only book diving right to the source of Practical Method theory, a useful resource for any martial artist (particularly those that study Taijiquan).  Although the book can be costly ($39.99 at PracticalMethod.Com), you can get a digital copy for only $20.

Cons: In order to obtain a copy of this book, you’ll have to spend $39.99, which makes this the most expensive book on the list (and it’s not even hardback). Although you’ll be reading a well-translated volume, the read can be a bit tedious; more cerebral in parts.  There are parts of the book that are quite poetic and without a bit of clarification here and there (most likely from Master Chen’s articles, videos and workshops) you might misunderstand certain concepts. Needless-to-say, this book is certainly for all serious practitioners of Taijiquan (particularly the Practical Method).

Well there are certainly some other books that I could add to the list, but these are my TOP 3.  Do you agree with my list?






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