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The Fight
January 18, 2021
Fights are not static. Things move. People move. Bear-hugs and headlocks and all that stuff happen sometimes in a fight, but they are transitional actions. You do not get bear-hugged just to be held (except by bouncers). A Threat wraps his big arms around you from behind either to pick you up and shake you (disorienting and intended as an intimidating show of strength) or to drive you into a wall. Maybe to throw you over a balcony. If you practice technique-based defense, will they work if the Threat refuses to stand there? If he is using that headlock to slam you from wall to wall?
The Lowest Level of Force
December 7, 2020
The Records area at Rusafa Prison Complex in Baghdad is enclosed by a chain-link fence and was almost always crowded. It’s a stressful place, with inmates being processed in and out, Iraqi military, police, corrections, advocates, politicos, and sometimes families of the convicts are present and a small handful of American advisors.
The First Rule of Self-Defense
April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
Your Tai Chi Pelvis
February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
Anatomy of a Warrior Spirit
December 23, 2018
Martial artists are, by definition, warriors. True warriors have warrior spirit. In martial arts, as in life, there are some people who are successful, and some people who are not. The most successful people are imbued with a warrior spirit, known in the Chinese tradition as Yi. Warrior spirit has nothing to do with fighting or aggression, even though skilled fighters often have a well-developed warrior spirit. On the contrary, warrior spirit is about having the wherewithal to resolve conflict or avoid it altogether, and most of all to muster the internal fortitude requisite to the process of mastering yourself.
The Value of Differentiated Movement - November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Tai Chi and Economics - July 2, 2018
Ordinarily the word "economics" conjures up thoughts of money, governments, budgets and expenditures – pretty boring stuff if you're not an economist. However, the word "economy" simply refers to the effects, as measured by the relative advantages or disadvantages, of any causal behavior within any system. The most important and immediate economy in your life has to do not with what's in your wallet, but in how you choose to organize and live in your own body.
Perspectives on Tai Chi, Somatics, & Life - April 16, 2018
Live In the Moment, Not For the Moment. One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, and especially internal arts such as tai chi, is the underlying theme of being present to oneself –of being in the moment.
A Melding of Philosophies—One for One, & One for All - January 3, 2018
This article will share thoughts on both spectrums – approaches for personalized individual direction, and for social strategies, i.e. codes of conduct if you will. Hopefully, you may find something here worthy of your review and consideration.
Fun with Words, Tai Chi Style—"TRUST" - July 3, 2017
"Trust" is a fascinating concept. Its presence, its absence, or its antithesis have shaped human history on its grandest scales as well as at every increment of human interaction.
Balance and Tai Chi - May 1, 2017
Balance, by which I mean physical balance when upright, is a concern often expressed by potential students prior to taking up their studies at Tai Chi. They want to know: can Tai Chi help them improve their balance? While I'm generally hopeful and upbeat about how Tai Chi can serve students in this regard, there are multiple factors and considerations that come into play where balance is concerned. I feel it is prudent to have a basic understanding of these different factors in order to fashion a reasonable and realistic approach to helping students improve their balance through Tai Chi.
Simple Drills Worth Knowing - January 30, 2017
The following are important things, some little, some major, that lend themselves well to simple drills or exercises. Backing up is almost never the answer. Unless you are excellent at reading and remembering tactical terrain, you might not know what or who is behind you.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2 - October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1 - October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
DRILL: The One-Step - September 26, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite.
Not Parlor Tricks - September 12, 2016
The following aren't actually tricks. They are exercises that you demonstrate once to show a deeper truth. Most will not work on people a second time. Some will learn to game it.
DRILL: The One-Step - August 29, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite. I thought, "That's brilliant—unscripted but safe, just looking at this whole thing as a meat geometry problem…"
Training for Sudden Violence - August 15, 2016
I teach about violence. As I left “the life” I discovered that my niche wasn’t so much teaching cops as I had expected, or even teaching civilian self-defense. The material seemed to resonate most with experienced martial artists who were coming to discover how little they really knew about violence.
Self-Defense: A Unique Teaching Challenge - June 27, 2016
There are six very important distinctions that make self-defense different from almost every other subject we teach. Rarity. Emergencies are extremely rare, complex, and varied. Rarity means there is very limited experience available on how to deal with such an event.
Hooks in Violent and Non Violent Encounters - January 12, 2016
Dealing with people who routinely used violence to get what they want, they often sought a "hook." A hook is an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their actions later.
Boundary Setting—Society's Rules - August 3, 2015
One of the advantages of living in society with a set of rules and mores is that the boundaries are supposed to be set for you. In a homogenous society everyone has similar ideas of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. The rules say who you can and can't touch and how, what you can and can't say and to whom.
Don’t Take It Personally - June 15, 2015
What does that even mean? In Conflict Communications the meaning is very specific. It takes history to hate a person. There must be a history of wrongs or perceived wrongs in order to get a deep and personal emotional bond, positive or negative.
The Why and Wherefore of Conflict Communication - June 9, 2015
How often have you found yourself in an argument with your wife, husband, or significant other and thought, "Here we go again"? Have you ever found the answer to a real problem and had it ignored while the person you are trying to help wastes time and energy picking at you, trying to create a personal problem from a good thing?
The Practical Problem of Teaching Self-Defense - January 19, 2015
Self-defense is unlike anything else humans train for. Unlike engineering or architecture, you can't have any idea of the problem you need to solve. An engineer knows if he will be building a bridge or a tunnel. A self-defense student will never know if they might someday face a rape attempt, a kidnapping, a drive-by shooting, or a simple assault.
Common Sources of Knowledge About Violence - March 31, 2014
We are, all of us, both teachers and students. As teachers, we give our students information. As students, we learn from our teachers. The teachers give us knowledge. This knowledge came from somewhere, from one of four sources.