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Messages - maija

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Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Cadena
« on: August 14, 2007, 06:13:00 PM »
Thank you Guro Crafty for giving the opportunity to talk about Maestro Sonny's art. The 1st anniversary of his passing will be on Friday the 24th so the Umpad Tribe will be getting together to remember him by playing, flowing and keeping his art alive and strong.
I have passed on the link to this thread to Guro Jay Pugao who put these 2 video clips together. Also to Guro Chris Suboreau, one of the Maestro's earliest students who is in the process of writing an article about Sonny and the Corto Kadena system. Your question is one he addresses, and as he has more knowledge of this than I , I will let him answer, or perhaps I can post the relevent section of his article.

Also a request. Could we change the spelling of the thread to Corto-Kadena ? This is how Sonny spelled it.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training too much?
« on: July 17, 2007, 04:01:31 PM »
One of my training partners does kettlebell "ladders" for explosive strength, alignment and dynamic co-ordination. He loves them. Apparently a 25 minute workout is all it takes.
Also recommended, the book "Infinite Intensity" by Ross  Enamait. He has another one too, but i forget it's name. Think it's only available online... but i could be wrong. Here is a link to his website.......possibly not the place to go if you are trying NOT to overtrain...but you did mention explosive strength......
Check out the vid clips. LOVE the sledgehammer exercise :-D

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training too much?
« on: July 12, 2007, 03:53:51 PM »
 I don't have tv, but a friend forwarded me this...not sure what the quality of the info will be (just from reading the eskrima section), but anyway.....


by Mike Johnson @ 3:53:00 PM on 6/28/2007


Series Premieres on Friday, July 20 at 10pm ET/PT

HUMAN WEAPON follows Jason Chambers, America ’s own fighting Welterweight Champion & Bill Duff, former Pro Football Player & Wrestler, as they train with international hand-to-hand combat masters and learn the history behind the world’s most fascinating forms of combat…Culminating with a heart-pounding fight challenge.

New York , June 2007 – This summer The History Channel® embarks on a remarkable journey across the globe to reveal the history behind one of humankind’s most ancient skills: the art of hand-to-hand combat. Viewers will join hosts Jason Chambers – mixed-martial-artist and professional fighter – and Bill Duff – former professional football player and wrestler – as they embark on a mission: to explore the history and practice of these time-honored combat arts. Together, Jason and Bill fold back the rich historical and cultural layers of Muay Thai, Eskrima, Judo, Karate, Savate and more in the ultimate search of HUMAN WEAPON.

This journey of human experience is one the two hosts will take with their fists and their feet…with their sweat and blood. They will walk in the shoes of people of many cultures who used these fighting techniques – skills that were born out of each society’s need to defend itself. And at the end of each journey, one of these two warriors will face the ultimate test – he’ll try to survive a real fight with a true HUMAN WEAPON.

Their thrill-seeking quest takes hosts Jason and Bill to some extreme and exotic places. Each episode of HUMAN WEAPON charts an expedition through foreign continents, famous cities, exotic villages, back alleys and lush landscapes in their quest for a different type of combat. After learning about the history and culture, and training in it themselves, they will see if they have learned enough to take on one of the professional fighting masters in the discipline – and survive.

The first week of HUMAN WEAPON (July 20) takes the hosts to Bangkok to learn different forms of the ancient art of Muay Thai, also known as the “Science of Eight Limbs.” In this fighting technique the hands, shins, elbows and knees are developed into weapons designed to crush an opponent. As in every episode, the hosts experience the history of the art, how to train in it, and the culture it evolved from. In their journey through the exotic kingdom once known as Siam , Chambers and Duff discover the origins of Muay Thai in an ancient Buddhist temple, battle professional fighters in a hardcore rural gym and immerse themselves in the jungle camp of secretive Muay Thai Master Preang. They’ll become intimately acquainted with all eight limbs. Until one of them must use what they’ve learned in a fight against the Champion Yodecha.

In future episodes of HUMAN WEAPON we find the fighting pair battling an opponent in a jungle cockfighting pit, practicing ancient wrestling moves on a water buffalo and learning the secrets of a death strike in a Japanese temple. We follow Chambers and Duff as they travel the world from Japan to France , to the Philippines and Israel and beyond, absorbing each nation's singular history and traditions, while learning how each individual location gave birth to its distinct form of combat.

Some of the topics covered in HUMAN WEAPON, in addition to Muay Thai ( Thailand ), are: Eskrima ( Philippines ), Judo ( Japan ), Karate ( Japan ), Savate ( France ), Pankration ( Greece ), and Krav Maga ( Israel ).

Jason Chambers. A Total Fighting Challenge Welterweight Champion, Jason Chambers has a record of 16 wins and 4 losses as an MMA fighter. He has been training in various martial arts since the age of six. Jason has fought in “Deep” in Japan and “Rento Maximo” in Mexico and all over the USA . He has trained under Renzo Gracie and currently trains under Eddie Bravo in Jiu-Jitsu. In addition, Jason also holds the rank of “Phase 1 Instructor” in Jeet Kune Do under Joe Goytia. Some of Jason’s current training partners are Karo Parisayn, Bas Rutten, and Randy Coture at Legends Gym in Hollywood , California .

Bill Duff. Pro Football player, bodyguard, wrestler and stunt double, Bill Duff holds a brown belt in Korean street fighting (Toa So Dou) under Master Davis of the Wa Wrang Studios in Riverside , New Jersey . He is a two-time heavyweight state champion wrestler, member of the New Jersey Hall of fame, and undefeated in bar fights. Bill, 6-foot 4 inches tall and 280 pounds, was a professional football player for seven years. He started for the Orlando Rage in the XFL and spent the 2000 and 2002 NFL Europe seasons with the Berlin Thunder, helping them win the 2002 World Bowl Championships. Continuing his career with the Arena Football league, he played for the Indianapolis Firebirds and Columbus Destroyers. Prior to this, he played for the Cleveland Browns in their expansion year 1999-2000. He was also co-captain of the 1997 SEC champion Tennessee Volunteers.

On, HUMAN WEAPON will include a game, the history of all different forms of hand-to-hand combat, exclusive fighting short-form video, and “motion-capture” footage showing the different types of moves. There will also be host photos, bios, and video interviews, a glossary of terms, an episode guide, tune-in information and more. One fight in each episode of HUMAN WEAPON will be shown in detail on

The new series HUMAN WEAPON is produced for The History Channel by Jupiter Entertainment. Executive Producer for The History Channel is Marc Etkind. Executive Producers are Steven Land and Zak Weisfeld.

The History Channel® is a leading cable television network featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series that bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network provides an inviting place where people experience history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to the great lives and events of the past that provide a blueprint for the future. The History Channel has earned four Peabody Awards, three Primetime Emmy® Awards, ten News & Documentary Emmy® Awards and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History® campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. The History Channel reaches more than 93 million Nielsen subscribers. The website is located at


Upcoming episodes of HUMAN WEAPON:

MUAY THAI (July 20)

Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff journey to Bangkok , Thailand , home to one of the world’s most distinctive and devastating fighting arts, Muay Thai. After witnessing beat downs and knockouts at legendary Lumpinee Stadium, they’ll travel across the country perfecting the moves of the fighting style known as the Science of Eight Limbs.

From ancient killing techniques in the jungles on the border of Burma to weapons training among the ruins of a Buddhist temple, they’ll master all aspects of this centuries-old discipline in the hopes that one of them can survive a fight against an international Muay Thai champion. Thailand

ESKRIMA (July 27)

Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to the island nation of the Philippines , where the indigenous fighting style, Eskrima, was formed. From ancient forts in Cebu City to a modern military base in Manila, our hosts will learn the stick and knife techniques that were used to kill famed Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 16th century, battle the Japanese in WWII guerrilla raids and wage an ongoing struggle against the terrorist organization Abu Sayef in the jungles of Mindinao.

Along the way, they’ll attempt to take down a 2,000-pound water buffalo using techniques developed on the rice paddies at the foot of the Manalanga Mountains , and perfect their Eskrima stick-twirling techniques on rickety bamboo rafts beneath the waterfalls in the jungles of Badian. Finally, one of our hosts will enter a gritty cockfight ring for an Eskrima stick fight against a five-time world champion. Philippines

JUDO (August 3)

Our hosts, Jason Chambers and Bill Duff, are in Japan to explore the techniques and history of Japan ’s national art of hand-to-hand combat: Judo – the science of the Samurai. Derived from the bloody battlefields of feudal Japan and jujutsu fighting styles of the samurai, judo has an illustrious past of deadly skills and honor. Along their journey, our hosts travel through the towering metropolis of Tokyo and the Samurai capital of Kyoto . They’ll train with an elite police force and journey to the mountaintop hideaway of legendary master, the descendent of a 400-year-old line of samurai

Under the intense training of the masters, Jason and Bill quickly discover the spectacular throws, merciless pins and strangling chokeholds that are an integral part of this powerful combat art. Jason and Bill’s journey eventually leads them to Tokai University , where one of them will muster the strength and newly acquired judo skills required to take on a world-class judo champion. Japan

KARATE (August 10)

Hosts Chambers and Duff travel to the island of Okinawa , Japan , the birthplace of one of the most deadly hand-to-hand combat arts in the world, Karate. Our hosts will journey across this legendary island, learning all aspects of the fighting art Okinawans created to help battle invading Samurai warriors over 400 years ago.

After practicing the shocking techniques of Iron Body Training in a 600-year-old castle, mastering heart-stopping vital point strikes in an ancient temple and putting themselves through the rigorous training regiments of ancient Karate masters, one of the hosts will step onto the mat to face a black belt, and Okinawan Champion, in a true Karate battle. Japan

SAVATE (August 17)

Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff are in France , to study the combat art of Savate. Literally translated to mean “old boot,” Savate developed through necessity. In the early 1800s, violent street gangs looking for trouble ruled the Parisian underground scene. Their prey was the aristocratic class who, to protect themselves, began taking self-defense classes. Over the years this training evolved into modern Savate – an exacting combat sport, and also the official hand-to-hand assault system of the French RAID police.

On their mission to uncover Savate’s distinct style, Jason and Bill navigate the dockyards of Marseille, roam the grounds of a 14th-century castle, and even breach a secret police training site to practice and perfect the painfully efficient kicks and punches that comprise this elegant yet ruthless art of combat. Finally, one of our hosts will enter the ring to take on a Savate heavyweight champion. France

PANKRATION (August 24)

Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff plunge into the cradle of civilization, Athens , Greece , to explore what some thing is the world’s original mixed martial art. Literally translated as “all powers,” Pankration is the ancient Greek art of hand-to-hand combat. Nearly four thousand years old and made famous by Spartans and ancient Olympians, Pankration has recently been revitalized as a modern sport. One that Jason and Bill will experience firsthand.

From back alley gyms to the oldest standing fortress in all of Greece, our hosts immerse themselves in the origins of wrestling, boxing, grappling and kickboxing and come to understand why Pankration has inspired art and literature and martial arts for centuries. At the end of their journey, one of them will face the ultimate test: a legal Pankration match with a World, European, and six-time national champion Pankration fighter - a true Human Weapon. Greece

KRAV MAGA (August 31)

Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to Israel to study one of the deadliest and most effective hand-to-hand combat systems in the world. Specifically designed for the Israeli Defense Forces in the 1940s, Krav Maga is a dirty, anything-goes fighting style that is used to disarm and destroy assailants carrying multiple weapons.

Our hosts journey to some of the most sacred religious locations in the world as they learn to escape deadly chokes, deflect weapons, and perfect ruthless counterattacks in their quest to become true human weapons. Never before have our hosts learned a martial art that is not only physically demanding, but also a combative necessity in this war-torn country. Their journey ends with a fight against an entire unit of elite-level Krav Maga professionals.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much?
« on: July 11, 2007, 04:13:11 PM »
There's alot of science out there about optimal, sustainable training, like interval training for instance. Rest seems key in all of them, to let the body have time to physically change inside (build muscle, lengthen tendons etc). I like the comments about considering it training too.
Cross training, where you are focussing on different elements also seems good. The other week I rock climbed one day, played Sabre Fencing the next, Bagua on a couple of days, a Japanese sword class and Eskrima the rest. They all seem to play off eachother, some with more aerobic focus, some strength, some balance and co-ordination etc.
If i could add one more, i love the idea of Parkour. It encompasses so many different types of skill and fitness (strength to jump and grab, accurate hand eye co-ordination, running fast and far etc). Unfortunately i think i would have to be 20 years younger :-(
But back to the context of this thread, what i also think is good about Parkour is if you are working on an obstacle to overcome, climbing or jumping, it becomes really obvious if you have reached your limit, because it becomes harder and harder to do. Instant feedback. Only by becoming stronger, quicker, more accurate and more balanced can you improve.
I am also a true believer that having fun is key, and Parkour sure seems like fun!.
Also, the mind is possibly the most important, if not the most difficult (!)thing to train. A quck, alert, relaxed mind that is controlled and fully focussed is perhaps not that easy to attain at first, especially when connected to physical movement, but doing activities that are mentally aswell as physically demanding such as yoga or rock climbing, do train the mind, and are IMHO, great additions to any purely physical workout.

Krait 44 said:
I would bet that as more research comes in, the quote, "higher consciousness through harder contact," might not withstand the test of time; although, I personally believe that non compliant sparring is necessary to understand movement and spatial relations in martal arts. I am not sure you can reach the higher levels of any martial arts without laying your brain on the line. I guess, the question is..... can a martial artist achieve higher consciousness without contact?
........high level sparrring/fighting with bladed weapons. Ideally the only contact is my blade, your body....and exit! 8-)
(this came up on the blade sparring thread).

Otherwise i totally agree that what you practice has to work on someone that does not want it to, or else it means little. However, If you are willing to risk permanent brain injury or some form of early dementia to reach your goals, you better have been paid very highly for the priviledge or have no other options.
We all live in a spectrum. There will always be people with worse skill levels and always people who are better. Even "the best fighter" in the world has off days, so what are we aiming for? If the answer is "higher consciousness" , i personally would like it to continue growing into old age.


Martial Arts Topics / Re: Email I received "dissing" kali...
« on: July 04, 2007, 03:56:49 PM »
Ha! that's a great quote Sun_Helmet,. Too right!!

Also, Maxx,
Teachers that sell the whole "secrets of the ancients" and "effortless death touches" etc etc are still just snake oil merchants, and humans in general love the idea of getting something for no real effort, especially if the ego feels good about itself. It's a no-brainer that a street fighter will kick the ass of a martial arts student with no experience in the real world, however "cool and deadly" the techniques that they have been sold. You are right that it's a shame that people think they have something when they don't, and that this illusion could get them really hurt.
However, If both opponents are not afraid to fight, i suspect the one with better skill (including deception) and technique will prevail, don't you?
Seems like you need some high quality training partners to push your skills even higher.......

Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
« on: June 29, 2007, 08:21:07 PM »
Aaarg C-Scurvy Dog, the chaos gods are indeed my friends!
Thanks to you also for pointing out who was fighting, it was sometimes hard to tell who was who, so it added alot to the experience to have you there 8-)

Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
« on: June 29, 2007, 07:01:41 AM »
This was my first gathering, and thanks to all for making it a great experience. I'm sad i could only find 2 people to fight me with blades, but on the other hand this gave me a great opportunity to watch and learn 8-). I saw some cool stuff and had a blast connecting with all you guys on the forum...nice to meet you too Dog Tom :-D.
Wish there had been more time to chat, the day went by so fast, and congrats to all those promoted!

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Email I received "dissing" kali...
« on: June 28, 2007, 05:20:03 PM »
I am in wholehearted agreement that there is alot of bovine manure out there in the martial arts world, and very few teachers that can really walk the walk. However, i would  not be as quick to throw out ideas that have been passed down through the traditions we train just because you, or your teacher cannot make them work. You know that in the old days, this stuff really mattered and you gotta ask yourself why would a family or group pass down information that might get the next generation killed?  What was it there to train?
One of my teachers has a great story about when he was working in the mental health services and had to perform a takedown on a violent patient. As he is throwing and restraining the guy, he realises that he is doing a technique that HIS teacher had passed down to him as "part of our tradition but i don't know why, as it can't see it ever working".! As i remember it, he noticed that the foot placement, or the angle of entry was a little different from how he had learned it ,but that was all the adjustment that was needed to use the technique in real life. After this, his teacher changed the teaching manual to take his adjustments into consideration.
Sure, information can get watered down or distorted over the generations, but i think many concepts, like your example of trapping, are totally valid. The bigger questions for me would be, "why won't this work for me/my teacher"? , "what's missing"?, "how/when/why would this concept work"?
If a knife technique only works if the knife is held out front and frozen in space for a second, can i create that moment in my opponent and insert the technique by being in the right place at the right time? Perhaps, perhaps not, but it's worth investigating. 
My personal favourite is checking the knife hand. This will get your hand cut off 90% of the time, but you know, 10% of the time it is an absolute necessity, and can work very well IF you do it at the appropriate moment.
As for playing with people from other systems,my teacher Sonny Umpad (who by the way could walk the walk), said that the one that hits you is the one you don't see coming, so yes, cross train as much as possible, but at the same time, IMHO it's also good to spend some time looking at the ideas within the systems that you train seriously to see what might be useful.

Side note to CWS, and others. Thanks for aknowledging that i am indeed a "gal". For simplicity on the forum, without having to go into the whole him/her, he/she thing, i reckon i could be an honorary "guy" if thats ok with you...honestly i've been including myself in the "guys" group for years now...martial arts kinda does that, so i'm not taking offense here :-D

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Email I received "dissing" kali...
« on: June 27, 2007, 04:23:33 PM »
I believe that any martial art with a decent history has useful information embedded within it, however it may look today. All you have to do is to unearth the good stuff and be able to understand how things were really done, and why.
it's all about context. who were you fighting? what was the terrain? what was the etiquette of the time (i.e. samurai class walking around armed at all times)? what materials were available to make weapons from? what could your family afford (i.e steel sword, horse etc)? group (war) or one on one (duel/ambush) combat? etc etc.
I also believe that you must train with a non-compliant, resisting opponent to prevail in combat, and if a system is purely drill based or has no real time, unchoreographed sparring, you are dead in the water fighting someone who does have this experience, regardless of the system.
I also think the length of your weapon gives you an advantage, as does height and weight, assuming even levels of skill. after all didn't Miyamoto Musashi fashion a weapon from an oar as he was being rowed to a duel? i was told that this was not because he was a super badass wanting to show distain for his katana wielding oppponent, but because he knew his opponent fought with a sword that was longer than the average, and he wanted to give himself the advantage by making a staff longer than that sword!!
I have recently taken up studying Toyama Ryu Battodo, similar to Shinkendo, and Western style sabre for the very purpose of understanding how different blades move in space. Double handed long and single handed long swords respectively. Whats the same and what is different? How about tactics? I am lucky to have found teachers who can explain WHY the system is what it is, and that has opened my eyes to a whole new world of study and hopefully an eventual understanding of strategy in general, regardless of weapon, culture or system. After all, Musashi said "The true value of sword fencing cannot be seen within the confines of sword fencing technique".
He also said the following is "The Way for those who want to learn strategy:
                               1. Do not think dishonestly
                               2. The Way is in the training
                               3. Become aquainted with every art
                               4. Know the Ways of all professions
                               5. Distiguish between gain and loss in worldly matters
                               6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything
                               7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen
                               8. Pay attention even to trifles
                               9. Do nothing which is of no use"

I believe Musashi prevailed in about 60 duels, and this is back in the 16th century, so you know he didn't suffer any serious injury. He spent the last years of his long life writing about what he had learned and i think it is well worth considering his words when these petty "who's style is better than who's" come up.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
« on: June 19, 2007, 01:09:01 PM »
I'll bring a pair of my plastic blades also. Sonny designed them so they look quite 'mean'! Silver coloured blade and brown handle. They don't solve the 'respect for blade' issue, but they won't draw blood or break your hand either.
...and for the kick/disarm guys...... i guess i'll just have to aim for the ankle bone or the achilles tendon instead :evil:!

Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
« on: June 19, 2007, 07:06:48 AM »
I thought the idea of the shocknives was to make the knife fights more 'realistic'? Having not experienced them, i don't know if they work, but if they work better than the aluminum blades then i'm all for them. What they look like is secondary isn't it? I'm all for an added incentive to respect the blade for it's edge aswell as it's tip....and honestly just because the polished aluminum is shiny, it's still klunky, and still looks like a blunt instrument to me.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Parkour
« on: June 06, 2007, 05:17:25 PM »
Thanks CWS. I just checked too, and heart is "coeur" high school french is rather rusty!
Of course it would have something to do with running(!)...runner in french is "coureur" . i'm sure "courier" in english has the same root.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring/fighting with bladed weapons
« on: June 02, 2007, 04:57:09 PM »
Nice, very nice! Great points gints.
I agree that the mind and body have to be quicker and more accurate in judging range and angle to be able to evade a blade, as the speed of interaction is more like boxing than sparring with longer weapons, but even though it is fast, because the blade is attached to the hand, it is no faster than a boxer with quick hands, it just has a few more options(!).
I would perhaps disagree however that the knife is necessarily harder to see than a longer bladed weapon....not with straight cuts, but if someone is used to manipulating the base separate from the tip (this does not apply to double handed weapons so much), i think it CAN be much harder to know which side to expect the tip to come at you. The tip of a long, single-handed, edged weapon can disappear from sight and has the horrible ability to "turn corners" when you least expect it.....but back to the topic.
I agree that the clinch seems more likely when one opponent becomes disarmed or has no weapon to start with...with the playing field skewed against you it is necessary to take a greater risk to prevail, and of course i'm sure we are all happy that we don't have to duel for real as part of our everyday lives, so we have to rely more on the body of knowledge that has been passed down to us by people that did have to, and of course check it out in as "realistic" a fashion as we can fabricate.
As far as technique, or lack thereof, that appears at gatherings. From the video footage that i have seen, IMHO more and more technique and finesse appear every year. Not perhaps in every fight, but it seems that i've seen some very nice entries, evasions, takedowns and turnovers, and making these work in this environment must mean that they really work!
Just as an aside, i'd like to say that what drew me to this forum is the fact that there is real discussion about interesting subjects from open minded, thoughtful, multitalented people from very varied backgrounds. The fact that a thread can get "spirited" and still have intelligent replies addressing the questions that came before is a very rare thing.
I think the skill of good conversation is very much like sparring: What i do has to have something to do with what my opponent is doing. It is an interactive process where both parties can experience and learn about themselves and others, in a very direct manner, but only if they are willing to listen.
Perhaps the conversation is better here because the sparring/fighting is better....?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring/fighting with bladed weapons
« on: June 02, 2007, 09:23:28 AM »
Some interesting stuff here...
Sting said....." the human mind is unable to register a blade as a threat".  i know he is talking in the context of a "heightened experience" event such at the gathering, but REALLY??  Surely this is the problem?! Your training has not prepared you adequately and now you are probably dead.
Obviously not seeing the blade AT ALL means you don't register it as a threat, but a live blade in the hand of an aggressor standing in front of you? if you don't act as though this is a threat, well i think you need some help before testing your "skills".

Next thing, If the fight always ends at a clinch with both parties holding blades, now they are probably both "dead"  or both severely "injured". it shows a mindset that has "killing" as it's only focus, or at least a lack of imagination as to what might be possible. it's a place to start, but surely there is more?
I was talking with a training partner who is very knowledgeable about boxing, who after retiring from the military still trains and spars all the time. He pointed out that 100 years ago or so, boxing was not a particulary subtle sport, with both parties hitting at eachother without much technique. over the decades an evolution happened with counter punching, footwork and evasion becoming more and more important.  He thinks that this progression will also happen in MMA, and FMA fights, and i hope he is right.
Everyone is concerned with "realism" in blade sparring/fighting, and IMHO this has to encompass a wide field of responses. Sting is quite derogatory about those "knife dancers" who never enter, and though i understand his point that there is skill in creating an opening and going for it, i also think that as a natural reaction, this is ok at a beginning level. if the aggressor is not committed to taking you out and cannot find an opening, maybe backing off is a fine end to the fight?
This is also why i like san86's idea of training both ends of the equation because they don't necessarily occur in the same interaction. Is it suitable as a format for the gathering? i don't know, and this leads me to a question...
If the gathering is a place to gain "higher consciousness through harder contact" then perhaps blade fighting is not suitable for this as it is probably better described as "higher consciousness through as little contact as possible"!!!?
Maestro Sonny repeated more often than not "just don't get hit". Please note that this can mean anything from not being there in the first place, to both backing away slowly, to inflicting non life threatening injury, to taking your opponent out ASAP. I take his words very seriously.
Understanding which of these responses is appropriate because of who is standing in front of you and the situation that you are in, all play into blade fighting BECAUSE they are lethal weapons, closer to guns perhaps than again, are we training to prevail, or to die?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for Training Partners
« on: May 31, 2007, 06:43:44 AM »
send your e-mail info to, or to me through this site and i'll get the info to you. hope to see you this summer!

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for Training Partners
« on: May 29, 2007, 07:12:38 PM »
Hi krait,
Many of us students of Sonny Umpad are here in the Bay Area, so if you want to flow with blades.....

Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring/fighting with bladed weapons
« on: May 25, 2007, 03:50:39 PM »
I agree with army doc that knife and stick sparring/fighting are different animals, the similarities and differences are something that me and my training partners are working on right now - what skills transfer from one to the other, and what do not? This is why the question of how to blade fight/spar/train "realistically"with an opponent is interesting to me.
I also wholeheartedly agree that the hand and arm are the primary targets to consider, and also to protect. If your opponent loses their weapon, for whatever reason, you just upped your chances considerably. i really like the arm crashing exercise CWS suggested alongside accuracy training to hit the hand.
Tom mentioning that he is 6'5" and 225lbs brings to mind a fellow training partner who is about the same size as Tom AND left handed. At 5'6'' and 150lbs, i would not fight this guy with sticks. But with blades.....? you bet.  The times we've played i did find it hard to get any cuts to his body, or close on him, but conversly i always landed multiple hand/arm shots and he never succeeding in closing on me either. I guess the prospect of getting skewered on the way in was not what either of us wanted.
Sticks on the other hand...he probably would have run right over me sooner or later.  A blade has a deterrent effect that makes it a great leveller.
To me the main difference with blades is that you cannot just close on your opponent without potentially sustaining serious injury, so the tactics have to be different. I think a way of defining skill is by how LITTLE injury you yourself take, not just how many times you cut them. Cutting is not so hard, but NOT getting cut yourself is much harder. I believe this aspect is ignored too much and should be given as much weight as following through, keeping on fighting after taking a hit and all the other things that improve our skills through fighting/sparring.
After all, if your opponent is down, but you have severed tendons and a punctured lung, you've got to wonder whether it could have gone differently.....isn't that what training is for?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons
« on: May 24, 2007, 05:12:54 PM »
i'm not sure whether referee-ing would solve the problem, it's just too subjective and remote from the experience. if one of the goals of sparring is to gain insight about your own skills and gaps, someone else telling you that you are now dead may not necessarily help.
we used to play a game where small squares of paper were safety-pinned to various parts of our t-shirts indicating key targets, heart, kidneys, neck etc. both players had paper targets and the game was to pull off an opponents target without losing any of your own. you had to engage to be able to pick off a target, but of course this put you in immediate danger of losing one of your own. we never tried it with long sleeves, to indicate arm cuts, but i bet this would add an interesting element to the game.
perhaps some form of this idea of 'protect and capture' could be added to the knife sparring as a test of relative skill?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons
« on: May 24, 2007, 06:55:29 AM »
hi cold war scout!
love the idea of the 20 second window. very nice.
one of my training partners has done some research into what are "stopping " cuts/hits. some research through reading and some through empirical study from his years as a bouncer. he has found, as you point out, that the human body is an amazing machine especially when it is "motivated". i have also heard from research done by my toyama ryu teacher that decapitation is the only true guarantee of stopping a katana wielding opponent! so you are right, you can't just stop at the first clash...don't know how many times i've got nailed in that moment after i've landed a strike and don't follow up. ASSUMING victory is indeed dangerous!
the reason why sonny would get us to sit out after taking one hit was generally as a reaction to our losing sight of where our own body was in space. it was done as an incentive for us to pay attention more to NOT taking hits if at all possible...your 3rd rule, not to build in a mentality of giving up.
his idea was that accuracy was the key, and we practiced cutting the angles finer and finer during sparring until the muscle memory was there to give us the best chance possible of taking the LEAST injury.

Martial Arts Topics / sparring/fighting with bladed weapons
« on: May 23, 2007, 05:46:20 PM »
This thread goes back to the "June 2007 Gathering" thread, and a comment by JDN on may 21st regarding the regularity with which blade sparring using training blades, usually turns into a "bloodbath" with both parties cut to ribbons.
i am personally continually irritated by blade sparring which involves the opponents, after a bit of dancing around, running at eachother into a clinch and stabbing eachother to death, with obvious complete disregard for their own safety.
standing in front of someone holding a live blade, knife, machete, katana, pinute, whatever, and i can tell you that my first impulse is not to run at them, taking a few cuts on the way in as i go for the strike/take down.
so my question do you train in a respect for the blade, which holds true even when you are sparring with non-live blades?  chalking the blades has been mentioned which is great, and of course the shock knife.
any other thoughts?
the training method i learned from sonny has a built in escalation that keeps the idea of evasion uppermost whilst upping the ante on the competitive level of the flow. i think this a great way to keep aware of the unforgiving nature of the blade.
of course this can fly out of the window when the adrenalin raises, especially if you feel you are losing! but i have to say that the few occasions that i saw sonny start to lose his temper, it was because we were sparring as a group, getting sloppy and exchanging hits. the live blades would then come out and we would each have to flow with him. sometimes he would make us block with the blade held against the body whilst he struck and caused sparks from the steel to steel contact, the cold shower he called it. otherwise we would take turns with the aluminium or foam blades, and the first hit on the hand, or body we had to sit out.
i know this is a question with many aspects:- training empty hand against weapon, pure self defence, etc,  but i guess i am most interested in both opponents  armed and with some skill. i think this scenario has more subtle risk evaluation questions, and perhaps more tactical ones.
personally, getting away clean seems like a worthy goal. so how do you train it alongside the idea that you probably will not......?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
« on: May 22, 2007, 04:07:42 PM »
This whole question of how to add a realistic sparring component to blade training has always interested me. being faced with a live blade is a WHOLE different ball game from ANY kind of training blade... though the shock knife is a neat idea.
Could we start a new thread on this topic? I would be very interested in comparing ideas about this.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga
« on: May 19, 2007, 07:03:02 PM »
hi guro crafty,
here is a clip of my teacher doing a few bagua applications: . the clip labeled "gao style pre-heaven bagua" shows some of the circle walking body training. the "snake throw" clip is also nice.
i found the transition from bagua to eskrima quite straightforeward as there seem to be many commonalities, so i am not surprised that people have seen bagua in your movement from your fma/ silat background. there is a strong cross body co-ordination in the system, i.e left hand/arm with right foot/leg and vice versa aswell as other things like the toe in and toe out steps/kicks/sweeps.
in my system, the straight line forms which show the applications, also seem to have a strong weapons element even though they are done empty hand, and it was training with sonny that helped me understand them better.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga
« on: May 19, 2007, 09:28:47 AM »
hi robert,
IMHO you cannot learn tai chi, or any of the "internal" arts without a teacher who is hands-on. by that i mean that the teacher should let you touch them so you can physically feel what they are doing. they should also correct your alignments by physically moving you into the correct posture. learning structure is first, then you learn to move that structure through space without losing the alignments. over time this becomes smooth and seamless, slow and connected which is why it is good for you.
almost through necessity this means that the teacher should be able to demonstrate the martial applications of each move in the form. after all this is reason why the postures and the form look like they do.
it is not that you need to learn tai chi to fight, or even have that mindset, it's just that the whole thing is meaningless if you don't understand why you are moving your body in this certain way. many people learn to wave their arms around in the air without any corrections from their teacher....for whatever reason. perhaps it brings a mild feeling of well being, but it is certainly not tai chi as it was intended.
so i guess i'm saying be wary of teachers who do not pay a great deal of attention on structure, especially if they focus very early on on feeling the "energy" or "qi" without any physical basis. also don't learn from someone who does not let you feel what they are doing and just teaches from a distance.
tai chi, hsing-i and bagua are all fabulous, sustainable, eternally engageing forms of movement that connect the mind to the body. you can get better and better at them until you die! AND they are martial arts. need to find a good teacher, otherwise you are just waving your arms around and feeling slightly good about it, without getting the real benefits the training can offer.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga
« on: May 18, 2007, 05:44:37 PM »
i started training tai chi in 1986 in a freezing church hall in england. i got hooked when after standing in a posture with certain alignments for about 5 minutes, i started to sweat and my heart rate went up and i thought...i must investigate this more!
i still practice tai chi, but for the last 12 years my main practice has been bagua zhang, another of the so-called internal arts based on walking around in a circle. looks weird but really great body training for balance, flexibility and gaining total mobility of all the joints. it also stretches the tendons and twists the muscles, pumping more blood around the system whilst keeping the body aligned with gravity...i.e what it was originally designed for!
i am lucky that my teacher, luo de xiu, from taiwan teaches it as a true martial art., not just for health. i asked him once did he find it strange that something that was so healthy for you was also good for training to fight, and he said that to be a good fighter you needed good co-ordination and structure, the ability to issue power at will, hence balance and flexibility, agility -  mental and physical, a calm mind and a clear what different?!!
anyway, as it turned out this training held me in good stead when my eskrima teacher, maestro sonny umpad, taught what he called the "moro warm up". very twisty stuff with high and low stances mostly done on the balls of the feet, no knees, but sometimes with the elbow almost touching the floor! sometimes the whole body balanced on the ball of one foot. it contains many of the same body alignments as i was familiar with and it's a great stretching series.
i start my class with them every week. very cool stuff.
i tell you, when you get over 30 the warrenty runs out, and then over 40 you gotta use it or lose it! so anything that keeps the system working, is good with me.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Parkour
« on: April 19, 2007, 03:22:34 PM »
hi vince,
...know what you mean about running being boring. i never enjoyed it until i moved to the mountains of North Wales. many people who lived there practiced "fell running" which is basically running up and down mountains. not mountains in the sense of the Rockies, but steep up and down grades, usually off trail. the best runners win on the down hill sections where the fearless run full tilt, scree running, jumping rocks and boulders, fording streams and generally trying not to fall over things, all without breaking momentum. i was never anywhere close to people that were good at it, but is was total fun to train. exhilarating, absorbing, and a total body experience. parkour seems like it would feel the same, but even more so.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Parkour
« on: April 15, 2007, 09:02:26 AM »
There's another french movie, with english subtitles, featuring a group of parkour practitioners who have to get the money together to save a young kid's life by getting him a heart transplant. i can't remember the name, but i think it has the guy who did the casino royale stunts in it. very cool stuff and a neat movie set in Paris.
'par cour' means 'by/using the heart ' in french. i think this is where the name comes from (?). as i understand it, many of the practitioners are from poorer, urban areas where there is high unemployment and it started as an underground youth movement. this movie starts with the group meeting before dawn to climb an appartment building to watch the sunrise from the roof, making their escape as the police show up...

Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you have done?
« on: April 08, 2007, 07:29:58 PM »
thanks for your reply.
i guess my mind set to wandering about a more generalized scenario where the aggressor's background is unknown (perhaps LEO, perhaps not). perhaps there is a blade in evidence? or some other non-edged weapon?
if ya got to do something and have a group of random strangers around you who can potentially help. what do you say? how much time do you spend having to explain what you need instead of intervening in the situation?...etc, etc.
it seems that a group could become a hazard, to themselves and you, but also, perhaps, necessary to stopping a larger, motivated attacker.
having some ideas of what to do to trigger the 'help now' response in a group and get them to act together would be a nice skill to have.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you have done?
« on: April 06, 2007, 08:10:35 AM »
if someone with training had been present at this event, and if it is true that group apathy can be counteracted by " calling out an individual" within the rest of the bystanders..... would it have been a good idea to enlist help to subdue the attacker as a group (strength in numbers), or not?
if this man was known to be a LEO and potentially armed, how does one decide whether to act alone or with others?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Snaggletooth Variations:
« on: March 30, 2007, 03:19:55 PM »
The mention of 360 awareness made me think of this link a friend sent to me:
as i understand it, the sikhs developed much of their fighting strategies from the need of a few to fight the many.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: March 07, 2007, 09:07:47 PM »
hi peregrine,
yeah, the more i train, the more footwork seems key....especially when evasion is crucial as is the case with bladed weapons.
Sonny was a hustle dancer, which i believe is mostly done holding the hand of your partner. there was a circuit of clubs in the Bay Area which held competitions, and Sonny and his friends would go from one to the next, to dance.  this sometimes turned interesting if the locals did not appreciate an outsider dancing with their women and winning the competition... but that's another story.
i think he developed his leading and drawing skills through dancing, as well as his ability to sell a feint, along with the obvious skills of being light on his feet and being able to spin to generate power. he would encourage those students that did not like to move very much to go salsa dancing.
also, the living room in which we trained had an eight pointed cross (like a compass), painted on his floor and we used this as a guide for much of our footwork. apparently this appeared after an evening when his ladyfriend, elena, taught him the cha cha....

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: March 04, 2007, 12:00:09 PM »
in trying to link the tangent of this thread to the original question......
it seems to me that the crucial link between TT drills and real time usage in an interaction with an armed opponent, is understanding where? and when? it becomes applicable. it seems that the general consensus is that middle range is somewhere you are going to be at some point unless you have the time and wherewithall to escape completely.
with that in mind, training what you are going to do when you get there seems very important, and TT drills, i believe, at the least help you lengthen your attention span so you can better flow from one thing to the next without freezing up.
looking back on training with sonny, as i said before, we worked out in his living room, and as guro crafty can attest, it is not a particularly large space.  what we spent a great deal of time investigating,  through necessity, was the edge of the "bubble", seeing as only the corners of the room were truly out of range!
this gave me the opportunity to start to understand about entries, timing, evasive fottwork and body angles, and also exits (which turned out to be much harder). this in turn gave me the context for what we call 2nd flow range, i.e weapon can reach the body, live hand can reach the opponents weapon hand, or TTD range.
although sonny had replaced all fixed patterns by the time i started training, we did, for instance, work on random palakaw to better understand how to wall up and other random flows with contact, but they were always done in the context of  how to get from there to where you really wanted to be...grappling range or out of range.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: March 02, 2007, 05:32:51 PM »
hi karsk,
i agree with you, even the "best" fighter in the world has off days. isn't there a famous saying that goes something like -  the best fencer in france fears the worst fencer in france more than the second best fencer? anyway , it seems that in any interaction you are always playing the odds to a greater or lesser extent, and the best that you can do is to tip the balance in your favour as much as possible.
my teacher maestro umpad was a small man who weighed less than i do, and perhaps because of this he developed his subtlety of movement to such a degree that where he was and how fast he was moving was quite difficult to see. taller people who weighed 2, 3 times as much as him from all kinds of fighting backgrounds found him impossible to touch, even though we worked out in his, not very large, living room!
so back to the scenario in question...what i was thinking when i wrote my last reply was that 1) you don't know what skill your opponent has, but for sure they do not know what you have, so you may have the advantage of being underestimated. small changes in your own posture, weight shift ,body angle, movement should tell you if they have any training and you can act from that knowledge. 2) if they are running at you, scary but with no skill there are options because they are already commited with momentum so easier to read, hence you have the initiative in a way because you know how to get out of the way or counter.
of course if they are big, nasty and ferocious with a high level of skill, and suceed in freezing you, you are indeed screwed.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: March 02, 2007, 02:45:48 PM »
hi robert,
yes, this is our group a few years back doing a demo in san francisco. this is the basic format of our training system shown at low intensity with emphasis on body angles.
talking of which......the conversation about long and medium range made me want to comment that the difference between them is only really about time, or "ma" . rafael makes a great point about using objects in your environment to gain the time you need to make an escape - this is the equivalent to evading a cut in the long range perhaps?
buying time can also be done by forcing your opponent to commit first whilst keeping your options open, i.e feinting in all it's many guises. even within weapon range there are angles where you cannot be reached by the opponents weapon without them having to adjust their footing. you just got to know what they are and be half a beat ahead to take advantage of them.
which brings me to karsk's thoughts on initiative, and who has it. obviously if you don't see it coming it's too late, so training awareness is very important. however in his last scenario:
 "You perceive a guy coming at sense them and they only hesitate for a second then proceed.  You are too close to be able to run and still too far to engage.  Neither has the initiative."
if you have training, you have the initiative because they won't know they are going to be set up.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 27, 2007, 05:32:04 PM »
hi again,
reading the last set of replies made me want to throw something else out there.
the biggest question for me in any encounter is "what is my opponent going to do"? "when"? and "where"? if this remains uncertain, luck generally takes the place of skill, and blade sparring turns into 2 people bouncing around on the outside, occasionally darting into range and exchanging cuts before retreating or clinching, often with both still holding weapons... the chances of evading a cut and still doing what you need to do are greatly diminished, so is your ability to travel through the ranges.
the best option IMHO is to learn how to set your opponent up to gain the advantage. if you can force an error, great, but at least narrow the field of options they have.
this to me is perhaps the most important question to answer as it sets up the reason, and placement of all the others that happen later.
i would like to propose that "upping the intensity" during training,  as guro crafty has suggested, should include random entries by an opponent, and not only random "where", but random "when". from  low intensity with light contact and an opponent who also values their own health( and as such will not just run at you), to high intensity where your opponent is full-on with little care for their own well being.... and of course anything in between.
for me the random element is a crucial factor missing in a great deal of training.
looking foreward to your comments!


Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 25, 2007, 08:39:58 AM »
wow, great stuff!
first, i love the concept of "ma", of distance and timing being the same. after all the "right place at the right time"is the place to be.
second,in the context of training to fight, i think this whole understanding of WHY you are going to do what you do next is key.  this  can only come from real sparring experience. however, i totally agree with guro craft's comments that there also has to be a forum of "play" in which to investigate this. the mind does not absorb new ideas or become very creative when it is under stress, so different types of training are necessary.
play implies a relaxed mind, and at a high level i agree that the more you can bring that feeling into the adrenal state, the better. sonny believed that this came from training the eyes (and hence the brain) to truly understand what they were seeing. by that i don't just mean becoming familiar with the fear associated with facing an armed opponent, but more the familiarity of range, timing, probable options, and the angles of attack. truly seeing which plane the weapon is moving on, and understanding how to move around it. your intent becomes very different when you stop being preoccupied with defence, not because you don't care about being hit but because you know where and when is safe,("ma"), and start seeing the openings and the exits instead. my bagua teacher talked about being like a monkey seeing a piece of fruit that it wants. full intent, but sneaky, alert and aware.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 24, 2007, 05:24:09 PM »
hi tom,
it's always difficult to describe dynamic movements, but in essence the body pendulum is a weight shift from front to back, or back to front leg without a step. obviously "dumping" weight during stepping is not a good idea as your opponent may be timing your movement, but learning how to syncopate upper and lower body motion by separating the stepping from the weight shift  can also work in more subtle ways. for instance, say we are both playing on the edge of the "bubble" to use guro crafty's term, and i start with my weight foreward. i mark your range, and every time i step, even if i have retreated and start to engage once more, i'm going to try and slide/shuffle my front foot a couple inches closer to your foot, whilst shifting my upper body towards the back a couple inches. to someone not paying attention it may seem we are where we started, but it's amazing what a small difference can do.  add a change in lead leg without changing your upper body and chamber your blade against your body, and it becomes quite tricky to read the range.
of course i have a picture in my head of what i'm trying to describe as i write this, but have no idea if it makes any sense. hopefully it is not complete gibberish.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 24, 2007, 09:28:38 AM »
thanks guro crafty for your kind words.
sonny's footwork was very sophisticated, and his ability to judge range made it seem like you were sparring a ghost. it seemed as though he was right there but you could never touch him. as soon as you opened up to strike, you were open too and he struck you. if you came in first he struck you, if you waited, he forced you to defend and then struck you....
it seems that the primary question in this discussion is how to move from a position of safety (DBMA snake range) into danger (weapon, tippy-tappy to ground) and back to safety again. this is most important with bladed weapons, so the game becomes one of deception, feinting, drawing, baiting, stealing range etc. this gives you the timing advantage needed to get past the "bubble" , and then finish and exit (often the hardest part).
the pendulum stepping that guro crafty mentioned is the main training method of the VCKE system, and is actually composed of 3 main pendulums: stepping pendulum, body pendulum and weapon pendulum. using these in different combinations with left and right leads gives you the ability to hide your range and which way your weight is distributed i.e where you are going next.
getting your opponent to commit whilst you keep your options open  IMHO gives you an idea of the when? and how? to move through the ranges.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 23, 2007, 02:45:57 PM »
thanks guro crafty for your description.
in our system, visayan corto kadena eskrima (vcke),  we think of medio range or 2nd range, as that where one person can cut the body of the opponent with a weapon, as opposed to 1st range where one can only reach the hand/arm, and 3rd range which is essentially grappling/dumog. i expect this is similar in other systems aswell.
for the last 10 or so years, sonny came to believe that all pre-set drills had the inherent flaw of causing 'freezing points' in the student. instead he taught everything in the context of a random flow. exercises could to be limited to the first 4 or 5 strikes, but after that it was completely without pattern.
i believe that 2nd range is no place to 'hang out', and happens as a brief interlude between entry and exit, or entry and takedown. however, with bladed weapons where evasion is a most necessary skill, exercises in this range provide a forum in which to 1) get comfortable seeing the blade at very close quarters, especially in the peripheral vision. 2) understand when, or even if,  to use the live hand. 3) understand the use of the body angle to evade without losing the range. 4) understand the timing necessary to exit clean after striking the oppponent.
in our system, this kind of flow may start off at an even and steady tempo, in a co-operative manner, but then can escalate, according to the skill of the players: speeding up and breaking the tempo. both players attempt to cut but not get cut in return, without retreating into 1st range........ yeah, you're right, not so easy!! but quite enlightening.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace?
« on: February 21, 2007, 04:11:50 PM »
 this is not a term i have heard before.  is it somewhat like palakaw? fixed stance or moving? pre-set or random? what's it meant to train?

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Are there Knights?
« on: February 19, 2007, 05:22:16 PM »
hi karsk,
i agree with you.
martial arts, and free sparring in particular are a very direct path to seeing yourself as you really are, and for understanding human nature in general. for instance, if you can predict your opponent, you can lead them. if you can lead them,  you can defeat them.
sun tze said "if he is superior in strength, evade him. if your opponent is prone to anger, irritate him. pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant".
obviously life is not all combat, but dealing with the world is an interactive process, and understanding people, in whatever situation, is a very useful skill to have.
 also....seems like buzwardo's insights in the 'training' thread fit in this thread also.
 passing on one's skills, martial or otherwise, to others is a great skill in itself.
 have high expectations and lead by example.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Are there Knights?
« on: February 16, 2007, 05:01:55 PM »
i short way of introduction, i am a guro of the late sonny umpad and have been following this forum since last summer when guro crafty came up to the bay area to interview the maestro. i have a background in western fencing, and the chinese "internal" arts, presently gao style bagua zhang under luo de xiu of taipei, and have been most fascinated by the threads, and the attitude of open inquiry i have found here.
my special interest is in bladed weapons, mostly in a 'duelling' context, though at present i am studying toyama ryu battodo, which also encompasses some battlefield techniques.
i was interested in the idea of " character development" through martial training.
 training bladed weapons with sonny left no room for errror, and no grey area about what skill you did or did not have, it was blindingly obvious. consequently bull@#$% didn't get past the door and only those with an open mind to learning survived.... and got more skill.
i was also reminded of a story told to me by a fellow guro about having a conversation with sonny about using sonny's material at some free sparring sessions at other gyms, and how great they worked. of course sonny was pleased, but the next time he came to workout with the same story, sonny asked him , and i'm paraphrasing here, "so how long are you going to stay there? winning? if you always win you will learn nothing. you need to train with people that are better, so you can have a question that you need to find the answer for."
as he said, "the one that hits you is the one you don't see", so best 'to see' alot in training.
he encouraged us all to investigate the risky options, not just stay in safe, familiar territory ,and perhaps this willingness to "lose" to improve, ultimately builds an open mind and a stronger character?
they say you are what you train, and sonny was truly one of the most deadly yet humble people i have ever met.

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