Monday, August 17, 2015


Some months ago, we were training a KJKB technique at a seminar. I think it's the one against baton for brown. If this was jujutsu, it'd be a rather classical technique, locking the attacking arm and performing Nage waza. It is not. Done our way, the trick is finding the moment the attacker has the most forward momentum but the least adherence and then strike his head backwards. He flips.

I find it extremely difficult, done that way. And you need to practice it with a certain intent, or there's not enough forward momentum to work with. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that way. At the seminar, a regional instructor suggested me to, basically, perform Ippon seoi. No, I told him. I already know how to do that. I'm here for learning (then, obviously, I tried Ippon seoi... and failed).

But it got me thinking... And it's mixing up with Rory's ideas against joint locks and with old school paradigms. Very old school.

Old schools say there's a 'front' of you attacker and a 'back' (omote and ura). Front is the short distance between your attacker's arms, back is the long one along his shoulderblades. That includes things we would call sides and such, yes.

Rory sort of advocates that it's more effective to get to his back and attack from there, but also that it goes against the grain, that our monkey wants to go up front.

Then, there are martial arts that are pretty good defending against frontal attack. Boxing and fencing, for instance, or Wing Chun; or Ittô ryû, in classical Japanese fencing. They control the centre, good luck using it. However, their very effectiveness come from having a very narrow 'front' that no one in his right mind wants to face. It's much more intuitive to try something else against them, say along the sides, than it is against, for example, a Tae Kwon Do competitor; or even a Muay Thai practitioner.

Competition Tae Kwon Do has much wider front. Even Muay Thai's is wider than Western boxing's. This also means that it takes a longer trip to get 'in their back'; it's a tradeoff (not that I'd like to go "straight up the middle" against a Muay guy).

Too long for background, I'm afraid. My point is that, besides the obvious differences, their classical principles, the difference in that earlier technique between the jujutsu approach and the KJKB one is in the front/back exploitation of vulnerabilities. The attack usually seen in demos, the lunge with a bat of the angry hooligan, has a rather large front, mostly open. It's rather 'easy' to get in there and act. The technique from KJKB opens the barrier between front and back, slides there into the back and uses it for the takedown.

Both are looking for a hole. The standard judo move exploits a circle in Omote it widens as it proceeds. The technique in Kajukenbo "erases" one of the limits between Omote and Ura and, doing so, leaks the bigger "Ura" hole into Omote. The wide hoolingan arch does the same itself. Advanced Wing Chun travels slightly into Ura while tightening the opponent's hole. Kajukenbo does something equivalent, although not exactly the same. Aikido travels wider into Ura for most Irimi (technique is a weird mix, from where I stand; while Tori is clearly rooted in Ura, the force travels straight from Omote). A slap into Uke's nape is as Ura as you can get.

But all of these are looking for holes. Wing Chun and Ittô ryû know perfectly well that you need a hole, and are masters creating it right into Uke's guard. The rest of us look for easier ways. The more artistic variants of Aikido illustrate the holes from where to create joint locks. Still, all of those are holes.With practice, you can create holes in tighter situations, and use smaller ones. But you need a hole.

Now, get this idea ad watch most martial artists discard it.

Take care.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The martial tax

Wing Chun 12" circle, cane. 25$, plus shipping.

Embroidery 12" circle, wood. 7€, shipping included.

I have seen similar discrepancies in other sports, but they're usually Spain-specific. You need, for example, quite a budget to sail in Spain. It's a luxury sport, "and so it should be, damnit!" Or kendo, where a local shop asked routinely for about twice what it asked practitioners. Not even long-term practitioners. And twice the price of a bogu or a sword is quite a price indeed.

It's silly, and it conditions us. It sets us apart and it kills our critical mindset.

And our traditions. It's as if karate needed special oars for its eku techniques. Or specific stones for its chi-ishi. Or special footwear, or...

It makes used, basically, to be scammed, to turn our training into a social construct instead of turning to the easiest, most effective method. And most effective is not that with the best result, but that with the best investment-result ratio.

If we fail seeing that in such basic, easy things, how are we supposed to realize that warmup is punishing our bones, that one contracting our spine and that other group is turning into a cult? Because there's not so much difference between 'this rattan circle is more authentic and using that is not Wing Chun' and 'our master's own tools are special and the rest are not properly done'.

From tools to mindset. Shouldn't it be the other way?

Take care.