When can you deviate from the path?

I was in Hong Kong once, following some silly kung fu dream, and I went to an art gallery. There was an amazing painting of a horse by a Chinese artist. The painting made such an impression on me that I completely forgot the name of it and who painted it, but never mind. However, I do remember that there was a note from the author under the painting, and I was so impressed with that, I copied the whole thing out in my notebook. Then I lost the notebook, but never mind.

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Basically, what he was saying was the same thing that Bruce Lee used to say. To break the rules, first you have to master them. (Although, exploring some of his quotations, it might not be as simple as that… and I am reminded of just how much of a genius he was. I may have to write some more posts about the guy.)

But the general idea is, you need to get the basics before you can start improvising. You can’t just start training BJJ and invent a new move, or a new guard. Unless you are very very special.

So when is it considered “OK” to start innovating, or inventing? It’s a very tricky question. Obviously, as creative creatures, we do start inventing from day 1. We make things our own, which is why nobody’s armbar feels exactly the same as anybody else’s.

Eddie Bravo was a blue belt I think when he started Twistering everybody’s spines off.

I remember when I was doing kung fu, I felt that I had a lot of knowledge, and I decided that I would develop my own system based off this one move that I really liked. I had a logo for it and everything. Looking back on it now, that was really dumb. Putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

I haven’t really invented anything in jiu jitsu, and I don’t plan on specifically sitting down and trying to think of something to invent. If I happen to stumble across something when rolling that I haven’t seen used before, and it works for me, I’m going to try and develop it.

Out here in Japan, I do need to improvise a lot. Sometimes I don’t understand 100% of the intracacies of a technique as they are explained in Japanese. And maybe it’s a language thing again, but I have difficulty recalling techniques in great detail. So I have to come up with ways to do things myself, and if they don’t work, I need to change them a little. But I have to be careful… are they not working because the technique just doesn’t fit me, or because I am not doing it properly? I have to be careful not to discard techniques to early in favour of innovation.

There are certain basic rules in BJJ that are there for your protection, and to discard them too early is dangerous. For example, don’t put your back on the mat. Don’t rest until you’ve passed guard. Position before submission. Etc.

I think as you progress through the belts, you can innovate more. I’m only a blue belt, so my innovations are very small adjustments to tried and tested techniques, to fit them to my body type. As people get more and more familiar with the game, and get a better understanding, then they can start breaking the more fundamental rules and putting things back together the way they see fit.

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How to turn a ratty old pair of kung fu pants into fight shorts!

I might have a top-secret project coming up for Fighters Only magazine, and for it, I need my Shooto gear. I splashed out a while ago and bought some gloves, some grappling shorts, and a groin guard. So I went into my closet to dust off my nut-box, and couldn’t find my shorts anywhere. Fucking shit burgers. I think I left them in England. So, seeing as I’m skint, I decided to chop up an old pair of ratty kung fu pants and turn them into totarly awesum grapplinge shorts!1!?

I wanted to use my old gi-pants, from the first gi I ever got. But I tried them on and I looked like MC Hammer, those mother fuckers were big! Jeez I must have been fat before. So anyway, luckily I found some old kung fu trousers and used them.

Here’s a step-by-step guide, so you can do the same. Warning: I spent about four fucking hours hunched over a sewing machine and it was totally not worth it, but check it out anyway, assholes!

Step 1: Get ratty old kung fu pants out.

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Step 2: Get totally freakin’ sweet reversal patch ready. Fold the edges over and iron flat.

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Step 3: Fold the shorts to the length you want. I originally was just going to cut them off, but I thought the material was too thin, so decided to split them, and fold the bottom half up inside the top half, kind of like when a man undergoes a sex change and they cut his cock open lengthways and push it up and… oh god this is disgusting. Kind of like they did to Babs in League of Gentlemen, anyway. Check the size and pin it in place!

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Step 4: Cut the pants all the way up to the knee (or the point where you want them to end on your leg). Fold over the seams and sew them to stop them splitting. At this point they look like some kind of ultra-funky, Bruce Lee inspired flares. Or they just look like trousers that have been cut open, either way.

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Step 5: Stitch a whole bunch of stuff. This part is not fun.

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Step 6: This is the base of the pants, now folded up inside and sewed (badly) near the waistband.

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Step 7: Break and eat some seriously tasty oven grilled chicken. That’s what I did, anyway.

Step 8: Prepare the sheer beauty that is a crisp new Reversal patch. Drooooool. On a serious note, in an arty, crafty, totally unconscious level, there is something I love about the texture, solid construction, and clean colours of Reversal patches. Sewing them on yourself is surprisingly satisfying.

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Step 9: Sew that motherfucker on and basically you are done!

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Step 10: Get some fucking leg muscles, Jesus you skinny fuck.

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Making my own shorts was an interesting and painful experience I will probably never, ever repeat, and although the shorts will probably fall apart as soon as anyone touches them, they will forever hold a special place in my chest cavity.

Jiu jitsu in daily life.

I’m not a big believer in “Martial arts makes you a better person”, a theory that many martial artists subscribe to.

Funnily enough, most of the people that espouse this idea are arsehole kung fu nerds who turn out to be two-faced wankers without the faintest idea of what respect and loyalty actually is.

Case in point: “You must respect this guy because he is old and Chinese and he owns the school.”

Me: “Can I train with him?”

Kung fu guy: “Don’t be ridiculous! He doesn’t waste time with beginners.”

I mean, WTF?

At my jiu jitsu dojo, nobody even mentions the word respect, but when the owner of the school rolls with everyone in the room and ties them into knots despite being much lighter than most of them, respect is deserved, and comes easily. I’m reminded of the awesome (but badly punctuated) tattoo Enson Inoue has…

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“Real power, strength, and heart can’t be given…it must be taken.”
Anyway, I’m rambling. Point is, the kind of respect you give someone after they have kicked your ass (in a nice way) is different to the fake respect you give some old kung fu guy just because he fits your image of a kung fu master.
I’m still rambling. The point is… I believe that your priority in learning martial arts should be to learn how to fight. The other aspects, (health benefits, relaxation, enjoyment, social) are secondary. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely the perks of training. But to lose sight of the “martial” part of martial arts is dangerous. Some people want to do martial arts for spiritual nourishment, for relaxation, for health etc… to them I say, go do yoga! Take up golf! Knitting! Anything! But the martial arts are for fighting.
Ah, it has been so long since I’ve spoken on the subject, I’ve forgotten how to do it.
Just go to Bullshido and figure it out yourselves.
So anyway, the actual reason for this post.
BJJ is making me a better person, in many ways, but one way in particular that I’ve been noticing lately.
If you want to get good at BJJ, at some point, you need to start paying attention to detail. You need to do things thoroughly. You need to know the difference between kind of doing a move (and wondering why it doesn’t always work), and doing it completely and thoroughly without leaving any part out or forgetting any part or doing it sloppily.
There are so many different ways to look at even the simplest of moves. The triangle, from basic to detail:
  • Put his head and arm between your legs and squeeze.
  • Put his left arm across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck, your right leg against his left shoulder, hook your foot under your right knee and squeeze.
  • Put his left arm across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck making sure you are covering his carotid artery, your right leg against his left shoulder making sure that it is pressing on the artery on the left side of his neck, hook your foot under your right knee as deep as you can, pointing the toes up and squeeze your thighs together.
  • Put his left arm deep across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck making sure you are covering his carotid artery, turn your body so that you are looking in his earhole, your right leg against his left shoulder making sure that it is pressing on the artery on the left side of his neck, hook your foot under your right knee as deep as you can, pointing the toes up, and squeeze your thighs together but keep your calves in tight, pull down on his head, set up the sweep if you need to…
The list goes on and on.
And the thing is, if you are a sloppy bastard in your daily life, you’ll be a sloppy bastard in jiu jitsu. Right now there is a giant neon arrow pointing at my head as I type this. But lately, I have been making a conscious effort not to be so sloppy. Because it is easier to try to be efficient and do things properly 100% of the time than to turn it on only for jiu jitsu. It’s better (for me anyway) to train myself to just try to be a better person all the time. And it’s my desire to improve in jiu jitsu that is driving me to do this.
The things that I am doing are not major, but they are definitely improving things in my life. When I do a job, I don’t leave it half finished like I used to. I spot a piece of fluff or rubbish on the floor and I don’t leave it for my missus to pick up like I used to. When I wash the dishes I don’t pile them on top of dry dishes and hope that no-one will notice. I don’t leave a single flap of toilet paper on the roll just to get out of changing the roll like I used to. I don’t staple banana skins to the side of the rubbish bag like Homer Simpson to get out of changing the bag, like I used to.
Et cetera et cetera.
Um, the end.

Real Strength!!

When I used to do wing chun, one thing I heard all the time was the sheer naughtiness of BRUTE STRENGTH.

THOU SHALT NOT BRUTE STRENGTH! Don’t bloot stlength! As the Japanese would say.

At the time, I thought it was pretty good advice, and I still do. It’s one of the lessons I am definitely glad I learned from wing chun.

Brute strength was considered taboo, which was great news for a skinny nerd like me. It meant I could use all my fancy kung fu-ery on musclebound Eastern Europeans, and the forbidden honour code of honourable kung fu students honour meant that he couldn’t resort to just ripping my arms off and beating me with them, which is what he would have done had I tried that stuff “In teh streeeyt”.

What would inevitably happen is that an instructor would first attemp the technique with “brute strength”, and then with super-mysteron kung fu power. Naturally, the brute strength method would fail miserably, and the mind-meld death force version would triumph. We all ooohed and aaahed at it.

Actually, it’s not far off the mark. It’s simply teaching proper technique over lazy, ineffective use of muscular strength. But the thing that I realised the other day, is that the people demonstrating brute force, didn’t actually have brute force. I mean real brute force, the kind that they show in movies where bad guys rip up trees and then beat people about the legs with them, or headbutt rocks until they explode, or elbow buildings until they fall over. It’s kind of like when they say “now this is how a boxer throws a punch” PAUSE! Wait a minute! No, that’s nothing like how a boxer throws a punch, but none of us know the difference or even care so please CONTINUE!

Long story short, I encountered that kind of BOLO brute force the other day, and let me tell you, it’s nothing to scoff at. I did some standup sparring with a judo blackbelt. The guy is a bit shorter than me, with arms roughly the size of an elephants leg, and thighs the size of, um, fourteen baseball bats sellotaped together. His head disappears directly into his chest, his feet are splayed almost flat from so many years of mat work, his hands are like knobbly little hunks of flesh-coloured iron that open and close with a gonad-terrifying snapping motion.

I put my hands on him and we started off slowly. Just taking a grip on his gi was like grabbing hold of some kind of large, pulsating tree trunk. I could feel the raw, hard power. Within about two seconds, my face could feel the raw, hard power of the mat as I headbutted it pretty hard thanks to some fancy trip thing by him. I had no idea what happened but I ate the mat about ten times in a row. I felt like a six year old trying to outwrestle his Dad. This guy’s strength was just unbelievable. It completely overwhelmed me.

“Wow”, I thought. “Now that is some wicked brute strength!” My instructor wasn’t very happy about it as it is pretty much forbidden to get thrown about by judo people in your own jiu jitsu dojo. He recommended me to just sit down on the floor during sparring instead of actually trying to trade throws with him, or just quit and train judo. Butthead.

Anyway, real, hardcore, external brute strength is, um, really strong.

Busy busy… but still time to think about BJJ

New posts and responses to questions will come soon.

Too much stuff going on at the moment to be able to focus on it just yet, so keep tight.

In the meantime, some random martial farts:

BJJ
note – I had to edit this because I basically said basically about 50 million times. lol.
I’m working on my hook guard… basically butterfly guard but the other person is either standing or kneeling or giving me some room to move. I grip their gi pants leg, around the shin area. Currently experimenting playing with balance. Pushing one way, waiting for the resistance, then switching and going for the sweep. Difficulties are letting go of the grip in order to clear their arm (thus giving them a chance to recover balance with their leg) and also what the hell to do when I get to X-guard. Must ask my sensei about that.

I’m also trying to literally use my head more… for guard passing, I try to use my head to control their body. I might be making a mistake there, but it seems to be working so far. Control the legs, apply pressure with my head and shoulders while I free my legs and walk them around for the pass.

Oh, and I got choked out for the first time. Hardcore.

I was rolling with Big Judo Guy®. Last time we rolled, he basically rubbed his chest into my ear for five minutes as I lay on my back completely unable to do anything about it (or breathe.) I didn’t want that to happen again this time.

This time, he squashed me for three and a half minutes, then started choking me out pretty good. I felt myself feeling a bit strange, but stupidly decided to struggle and writhe around in an attempt to escape. Next thing I know, there’s a strange feeling of release. I didn’t crap my pants or anything, but the next thing I remember I’m sitting up and there’s stars in my vision. He said to me “Shimekata.” Completeley without expression. (“Choked.”) I nodded, yes, then we shook hands and rolled again. Because that’s the way I ROLL. YEAH.

Wing Chun
My interest in dogma-fighting has been rekindled. Somebody whom I (with good reason and intentions!) focused on from my previous wing chun school, and basically bullied him into facing the truth about the wing chun he was training, has recently taken his first BJJ class, and is loving the release, the freedom, the satisfaction, the liberation – freeing his mind and body from the shackles of such a dogmatic and convoluted strain of an already difficult style.

I remember well my first week of BJJ. I was literally grinning like a maniac. It was so satisfying not to have any limits on the way to move my body. I could move it in the most natural and energy-filled way, and be told “good! good!” rather than “oh dear. You need to relax more. You suck very, very bad right now. It will take approximately 20 years before you are even close to being able to move your arm in a straight line correctly. Yeah, sorry about that. But this is the best style in the world, so, you know. It’s worth it.”

And how the instructor would demonstrate a movement that looked so difficult at first, like the triangle, or armbar from guard. And my mind was so indoctrinated with the wing chun training process, I thought it would take me literally years to be able to pull this kind of thing off correctly. But I remember my great surprise and joy when within weeks, I could begin to actually do them, and in just a few months, start tapping people out with them.

And this, my ultimate martial fart for the week.

“On the streets, there are no RULEZ! Not like in the ring, a sport, where there are RULEZ! OK! MAn I HATE THE RULZ SO MUCh they limit my wing chun quite a lot for reals.”
– Reason number 4,567 why wing chun is better than anything else in the world ever.

I was thinking about this the other day. And you know, it hit me. On the street there are no rules.

Really? What about the law? Where in the law does it say it’s okay to gouge somebody’s eye out if they threaten to duff you up? Where in the law does it say kneeing somebody in the groin, or tearing their balls of with a twist of the wrist (the movement is in the first form… if you didn’t know that, you don’t have teh real wing chun) is acceptable behaviour?

News flash! It doesn’t! Those things are illegal!

Now where can you repeatedly punch someone in the face, elbow them in the nose, or knee them in the ribs? Where in the world is it legal to pound the everloving shit out of someone for fifteen minutes? Where in the world can you take a huge dump on someone’s face and not get in trouble for it?

Everything except that last one, you can do “in the ring.”

So there! MYTH BUSTED! On the street, there are rules.

More ninja nonsense.

From the steaming pile of faeces that is Ashida Kim’s forum.

Here’s the question:

i need help in how to beat someone in a fight whos bout 6’4 250 pounds and is faster and stronger then me he usually takes me to the ground or has a standup fight style i can usually dodge and parry his attacks but i never have time to get a good solid hit in hes that fast any suggestions

Apparently, this person is not only still around 11 years old but he is also getting into fights with giants that are much bigger and stronger than him and who usually kick his ass. Naturally, first port of call is the online ninja forum for some advice.

Lord Morgue steps in ready to flex his theoretical muscles for all the internet to see. Unforunately he just rehashes some old Bruce Lee quotes that vaguely make sense.

Luckily, vasile33333 steps in and restores balance to the universe by proving that all ninjas are stupid.

Try to make him close his eyes for a moment or distract his attention.
For example throw a small piece of paper towards his eyes. The point is not to hit him with the paper, but to confuse him for a moment (because he will expect you to punch, block, dodge and kick, NOT to throw something at him).
If you don’t have an object to throw, don’t worry, simulate a throw. For example reach with your hand towards one of your pockets and make it appear that you pick something and powerfully throw it towards him. Act angry.
When his eyes are closed or his attention is distracted (even for a fraction of a second), immediatelly follow up with a proper technique. My recommendation is a kick to his knee-caps or a even a foot stomp. Take advantage of the enemy’s difficulty or incapacity to walk. This should assure your victory.
REMEMBER: No technique or battle plan can fully assure your vicory. Maybe the technique will work, maybe not, it depends on the person.
Mental preparation is essential. One thing is sure: if you REALLY want to win, you’ll win. Don’t ever let defeat enter your mind. REFUSE TO LOSE. THIS IS THE ONLY STRATEGY THAT WORKS EVERY TIME.

Respectfully,
Vasile

What the hell kind of fantasy world does this guy living in? Throwing balls of paper at an attacker? Obviously, his real-world experience comes from watching reruns of early James Bond movies at Christmas, when Bond does something dastardly tricky to the bad guy like throw sand at him, then, while the bad guy stands on the spot clawing at his eyes or wailing “WHAT THE? I AM SO CONFUSED FOR A MOMENT BECAUSE I THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE BLOCKING OR KICKING BUT I NEVER FOR A MINUTE SUSPECTED THAT YOU WOULD THROW A SMALL OBJECT TOWARDS MY FACE OH MY GOD” giving Bond just enough time to do a judo chop followed by a lunging right hook and ultimately some kind of shoving move.

Apparently, simulating a throw works just as well. I don’t know about you, but next time a large, scary person tries to beat the shit out of me, the first thing I am going to do is pretend to get a ball of paper from my pocket (the fool doesn’t even realise–THERE IS NO PAPER IN MY POCKET! I AM MERELY SIMULATING A THROW!) and then pretend to throw it at his face! And I will be sure to act angry. That will really throw him.

I will then follow up with a proper technique. As I am a ninja, I won’t bother with such barbaric and straight forwards attacks as punching or even running away. I will kick the knee (which will instantly break, of course) or maybe stomp on his foot. I don’t know about you but I have seen many a fight over when one guy stamps on the other guy’s foot, that’s for sure. Especially if the other guy is still recovering from the shock of having an imaginary piece of paper thrown at him!!

I love the way he signs it “respectfully” just so anyone reading knows, this guy has class. He is a real martial artist.

Next!

Could these guys be the saviours of wing chun?

Wing Chun Fight Club

“This site is dedicated to Wing Chun Fighters. “Application is the only way to verify the truth” (Buddah, c 550 B. C.)”

Good on ya, boys!