The Blade Set- July 2006

ikf-july-2006Inside Kung-Fu

“The Dynamic Blade Set”

Interview by Dave Cater

July 2006

Pg. 90-94


INSIDE KUNG-FU: Please explain the blade set’s connection to your highly successful KI Fighting Concepts Slam Set?

JOSEPH SIMONET: First, let me explain what the Slam Set entails. The Slam Set is about 60 seconds of a high-impact, high-intensity form done on the mook jong (wooden dummy). So far, the Slam Set has taken about 25 years of research and development. Fine-tuning and recalibration of the Slam Set is a lifelong evolution.

The Slam Set is my database. Every single movement I train can be found in the Slam Set. Bruce Lee’s book, “Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense,” states that “a good gung-fu man is a simplifier.” I’ve simplified nearly 35 years of training and study into a 60-second database. From the Slam Set I’ve derived five major new models of training methods. These are the Skill Sets, Two-Man Set, Club Set, Club and Blade Set, and the Blade Set. The Blade Set was created using the empty-hand Slam Set form.

IKF: Are you saying that the blade set is just doing the Slam Set with a knife in your hand?

JS: At first that was my intent. However, one day I was watching my partner Addy Hernandez working the Blade Set in the air and I had an epiphany. Watching Addy I realized a metamorphosis had taken place. The blade set had become its own entity.

IKF: From what arts were the Slam Set and Blade Set taken?

JS: I built the Slam Set predominantly form Tracy’s kenpo, wing chun, pentjak silat, doce pares and tai chi. The blade set came out of the Slam Set. As previously stated, all my movements at this point are from the Slam Set database.

IKF: I didn’t realize that kenpo was a knife-based art. Where’s the connection?

JS: Al Tracy was teaching me a blade/knife interpretation of kenpo as far back as 1975. Kenpo is an art rich with lethal and crippling blade applications. However, it’s not always known or taught.

IKF: How did you decide which movements to leave in and which ones to discard?

JS: Over the years I’ve developed a formula for defining value of the material I keep, and to ascertain its function and practicality. The acronym I use for this process is CAPA or Conceptual Analysis and Practical Application. When building a martial arts modality, one must adhere to the strict law of physics, anatomy, philosophy and intent. In my pursuit of developing an art of the 21st century, I am not bound by tradition, dogma, religion, culture or any other futilities. It is my intention to rid martial arts of moronic vacuities.

IKF: Using your own acronym, it sounds as though you’re expressing your conceptual analysis. So tell us your practical application of the choosing and discarding of various martial arts material.

JS: After studying in m aforementioned arts for years, I began seeing them as inanimate physical structures. These structures being analogous to let’s say the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge and so on. I broke down these arts to their simplest forms and components. Filtering through these disassembled arts I gathered what I discerned as universal truths and/or essential characteristics. Someone once stated we should, “Absorb what is useful…” I would suggest we “Extract what is essential.”

After unifying these common and essential parts, I went back to the disassembled arts and connected secondary parts as well. These universal and secondary components became the elements of the Slam Set—Art and Science of Mook Jong.

IKF: After training for 35 years, you must have left thousands of parts in these piles. Are they of no value? What did you do with them?

JS: To continue the metaphor, I dug a mass grave and bulldozed all the unnecessary material and covered it up. The last I heard was that a herd of sheep were grazing over the grave as they chewed the last decay off the traditional martial arts carcass.

IKF: Why was it important to incorporate a blade set into your system?

JS: In my view, martial arts in general is in need of a paradigm shift. I’ve been burdened with the obsession of designing a truly new and necessary hybrid martial system. In pursuance of a weapons art, I once again address CAPA.

My conceptual analysis leads me right to the kitchen drawer. If one were not restricted by frivolous doctrine or mandate, knife/blade training is the most natural and accessible of all weapons. Every house, condo, apartment, mobile home, palace, tepee or cave worldwide has knives in them. It seemed reasonable to create a weapons system based on a weapon everyone has access to.

To elaborate on the paradigm shift, let’s look back at the tournaments of the 1970s and the 1980s. Regardless of what “martial art” everyone trained, their sparring pretty much looked the same. So I’m thinking, why train in such and such an art but fight completely different than the art itself? I’ve always felt that every movement one trains must be functional fighting. If not, the practitioner is overloading the nervous system with superfluous motion, all of which equates to being a waste of time, money and opportunity. Martial arts should be based on practical, functional and simple movement. Even today’s students are learning worthless kata, technique and history, all in the pursuance of worthless rank.

The translation of the Slam Set (empty hand) into the blade set is an expression and application of a “Seamless Transitional Integration”—from empty hand to blade to empty hand, regardless of order. Thus, form and function are indeed synonymous.

IKF: Most of your Blade Set moves are practiced on the mook jong. Why is that?

JS: Actually, all the Blade Set movements are practiced on the wooden dummy. As I stated earlier, the Slam Set is the template for the Blade Set. So wooden dummy training is an essential expression of the Blade Set. Also, the Blade Set is practiced with an opponent/training partner as well as in the air.

IKF: How does the mook jong work translate to real-life combat?

JS: The wooden dummy is one of the most versatile training apparatuses in martial arts. It allows the practitioner the ability to generate full-force attacks, trapping options, precise limb destruction and rapid-fire flow with adhesion and spring-loaded attacks. These are essential training attributes necessary for the development of a true combat fighter.

IKF: If someone were left-handed, would that hinder his Blade Set development?

JS: Absolutely not. Within the Blade Set, both the right and left hands are utilized. I designed the Blade Set to be effective with a standard right-hand grip of a standard left-hand grip. Also, one could use an ice pick grip with either hand. If someone wanted to, the Blade Set could be performed with two blades at once with any grip on either hand.

IKF: The Blade Set appears perfect for women to learn. Why is that?

JS: Actually, the Blade Set is perfect for anyone to learn if he is serious about truly surviving a brutal attack. However, that being said, the blade is the ultimate equalizer when it comes to self-defense (other than a gun). Women can level the playing field against stronger and/or larger opponents with functional blade application. Knives are easy to carry, conceal, affordable, legal and lethal.

IKF: What knifefighters/practitioners out there today are you impressed with and why?

JS: There are three blade experts in the United States that I would consider world-class. I’ve personally spent time with each of them. So, my opinion is based on first-hand experience. They are Kelly Worden, Jim Keating and Mike Janich.

IKF: What particular skills and/or accomplishments do you perceive inherent in these knife experts?

JS: Let’s start with Kelly Worden. Kelly is the most skilled and toughest student Remy Presas ever had. He’ll bring it, and bring it hard. Jim Keating is a knifefighter’s knife expert whose skills are exemplary in every sense of the word. Mike Janich is the smartest knife expert I’ve ever met. Mike has successfully translated his massive intellect into surgeon-like precision with his blade.

IKF: Give me three examples of unique and/or essential elements of your Slam Set-Blade Set series that differentiate it from other arts?

JS: 1. My entire database is a 60-second form. I can focus on honing a relatively small amount of information as opposed to cluttering my nervous system with unnecessary junk. 2. Space. The Slam/Blade Set can be done in a very confined space (4×4 feet). Being effective in so little a space is perfect for airplanes, security, crowds, between parked cars, etc. 3. A Slam/Blade Set practitioner can deliver a lethal dose of knees, elbows, blades and attitude in fractions of a second in a “Seamless Transitional Integration.”

IKF: How do you plan on propagating your art?

JS: Several ways, actually. First, Addy and I own a gym in Wenatchee, Wash., and have about 175 students. Secondly, we have teamed up with Unique Publications and we’ll be releasing our Blade Set book later this year. Thirdly, Paladin Press will be releasing DVDs on our Slam Set curriculum later this year as well.

And finally, we will be teaching the “Blade set” at out 7th Annual Wind and Rock Training Camp in Lake Chelan, Wash., July 7-9. Come and join us. Check out our Web site at www.kifightingconcepts.com for more details.


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