Posts Tagged ‘inside kung-fu

22
Jan
09

Finding Balance- IKF February 2008

ikf-feb-20081Inside Kung-Fu

“Finding Balance”

By Addy Hernandez

February 2008

Pg. 24

I have been a business partner and student of Joseph Simonet’s for about 14 years. It has been an amazing delight and a daunting challenge to keep up with his energy and creative mind. Joseph has explosive motor skills, coupled with an innovative mind. I’ll never have his size, speed or strength. However, I am developing physically, spiritually, intellectually and creatively on my own.

As a female martial artist, it is up to me to extract and discern the value of the lessons I am taught. It is my choice and/or decision to understand that Joseph, as well as other influential people in my life, are my guides not my guardians. It is through my eyes, and my eyes alone, through which I view the world.

I choose to be the perpetual student. I maintain an insatiable appetite to grow and become an evolved woman/person. My fields of interest are endless: martial arts, cooking, running, gardening, pottery, reading, collecting wine, business, teaching and herbology.

I have met a lot of high achievers in my life. However, many seem to be out of balance and out of sync with those around them, as though they have sacrificed love, serenity and the simple things in life for money or places of high social rank. To me, the key to a life of harmony is one of balance.

Finding balance and peace in one’s life is all about making the right choices. I am convinced that I can make positive choices, which will almost always produce harmonious results. Certainly, life confronts us with many challenges and sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I am, however, a believer in the old adage, “chance favors the prepared mind.”

One of the ways in which I prepare is a combination-training program I have personally developed called, “Yo Qigong.” This is an abbreviated term, which combines yoga, tai chi and qigong.

I have been developing and teaching Yo Qigong for about 10 years. I do not have any official certification in yoga. However, I have learned from books, DVD’s and by attending yoga classes. Whenever I travel, I always seek out a yoga class. I am always open to new experiences and methods of teaching and learning. From San Francisco to New York, Toronto to Shanghai, I have experienced a wide variety of yoga practices and ideas. Every yoga class I attend sheds new light and perspective, which then enriches my personal yoga growth.

One of my first martial arts lessons as a 17-year-old schoolgirl was in Yang-style long-form tai chi. My teacher, Joseph—yes, that Joseph—started me on my lifetime path of Chinese internal arts. One of Joseph’s first points to me as a beginning tai chi practitioner was that it takes about 20 years of internal training to begin to understand the value and way of the art.

I was intimidated and humbled by Joseph’s words. However, it also galvanized my resolve to learn, practice and live the way of tai chi. I have been practicing Yang style for about 14 years, with a lifetime to go.

Joseph learned the long form from John Candea in Manitou Springs, Colo. Mr. Candea was a doctor of acupuncture and herbology. Joseph always felt privileged to have Mr. Candea for his first instructor. I say “first” because Joseph has ought out many tai chi and qigong instructor over the years.

Perhaps the most notable of internal teachers Joseph learned form was master Gao Fu. It was summer 1994 when Joseph trained with Gao Fu privately in Seattle, Wash. Joseph’s eyes always sparkle brightly as he recalls lessons he learned from her. He refers to her as “living light.” Gao Fu died in 2005. And though I never met her, I swear I feel her spirit move through me as I practice my tai chi.

When teaching my Yo Qigong, I alternate yoga positions and tai chi flow with natural patterns of spontaneity and organic feel. Depending on the energy of the students, each class is like its own entity – unique and full. Some aspect of yoga, tai chi and qigong is represented at every class. All these arts are energy-cultivating activities, with a combination of harmony and vitality emerging form our efforts.

I am only a beginner, one barely scratching the surface of such ancient and holy disciplines. It is with my deepest love, respect and humility I open my heart to the universe. To those over-achievers whose life seems to be out of balance, try yoga, tai chi or qigong classes and discover the harmonious and balanced life awaiting you.

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22
Jan
09

Way of the Blade- IKF August 2007

Inside Kung-Fu

Way of the Blade

ikf-august-20071By Addy Hernandez

August 2007

Pg. 24

My martial arts training began in the early summer of my 17th year. I was a bright-eyed, impressionable, high school senior ready to conquer the world. I wanted to leave my past behind and strive full throttle into the future. Paradoxically, fate had already intervened as my past and future were on a collision course in which my reality would be forever forged.

From the beginning, training with sifu Joseph Simonet was physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. Intuitively, he seemed to know my limitation – real or imagined. Sifu Simonet introduced me to several training methods. We boxed, grappled, weight-trained, ran, hiked and worked endless rounds of focus pad combinations. I learned aspects of wing chun, silat, kenpo, doce pares and Yang-style tai chi. Each art offered a unique and challenging expression of fighting dynamics. My passion for the martial arts was insatiable as several years of training ensued.

One day during a private lesson, sifu Simonet handed me a training blade and asked me to show him my knife fighting skills. I assured him , I didn’t know any knife fighting techniques or methods. “Actually, it’s everything you know,” he replied. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I said. Unbeknown to me, sifu had specifically taught me techniques and methods of movements, which were translatable to knife application. My jurus from silat, my kenpo techniques, the stick drills, everything became knife. My astonishment soon turned into delight, as I realized edged weapons had already been an integral part of my life.

I was born in Mexico in 1976. I was just four years old when my mother died while giving birth to my baby sister. With five very young children, my father packed up and headed north to America in search of work in the orchards of Washington State.

My father is a hard-working man, proud of his craft and Mexican heritage. He grew his own vegetables and butchered livestock to feed his family. Of all the children, I was the one who did not shy from the process of butchering our animals. Very early on, I would learn the skills by watching my father kill, skin, gut and clean animals. For me using an ax, knife and machete became a natural and necessary part of growing up. I would cut off the head of chickens using an ax and then clean and bone them with the sharpest knife my father owned. I have cut up rabbits, pigs, turkeys, deer and even a bear. It was not unusual to see my father and me side by side cutting down alfalfa and corn stocks with a machete. The use of edged tools has always been a part of my Mexican culture.

Growing up, I wanted to be like all the “American kids.” Being young and immature, I was sometimes embarrassed that we slaughtered our animals for food. Now, as a woman and martial artist, I have come to appreciate my heritage with pride and renewed respect.

It was when I was six or seven that I first witnessed an underground Mexican pastime –cockfighting. During harvest every fall my father would hire dozens of workers to pick apples. This was a time of excitement as well as long, hard hours in the orchard. At night the men would gather to drink, play music and gamble on cockfights. The scene of men gathered around a circle of rope yelling and cheering during these cockfights is both surreal and vivid. These vicious rituals would often end with dead or several injured roosters.

Unfortunately, there were some mean who would cheat to win at any cost. In cockfighting, the cheaters would secretly attach thin razors to the cock’s feet, which of course would destroy its opponent by slashing it into a bloody mess. On one particular night, the crowd was loud and frenzied. Apparently, two cheaters had been caught. In punishment, they were forced to arm each rooster with razors and fight. Here I was, a young girl, witnessing a vicious reality of contesting with blades. My recollection of the night ended in chaos, spurting blood and yelling men.

The next day, I asked my father about the cheaters and the fighting, “Papa, I don’t understand. Who was the winner of the fight?” In a somber voice my father replied, “Hija, in a real cockfight with blades – the winner is the second one who dies.”

Through my father and our culture’s necessity to survive, killing and cutting up animals taught me respect in the blade and a strong value for life. Through sifu Simonet and my passion in the martial arts, I understand the lethality of bladework through osmosis and practical self-defense application. The philosophy of these two men has merged and allowed me to forge my own way of the blade.

22
Jan
09

A Week of a Lifetime- IKF March 2008

ikf-march-2008Inside Kung-Fu

“Week of a Lifetime Part 1”

By Joseph Simonet

March 2008

Pg. 24

In the spring of 1986, I saw an ad in Inside Kung-Fu magazine offering a weeklong workshop/seminar on wooden dummy training. The location of the seminar was at a lodge on Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, Canada. The seminar was to be taught by master Wang Kiu, an original core student from grandmaster Yip Man himself. Finally, I thought, a unique opportunity to train hands-on with a real kung-fu master from China. I jumped at the chance.

By 1986, I had been dabbling in non-classical wing chun for about three-to-four years. I built my first wooden dummy (crude as it was) in 1982. At the time, Seattle, Wash., was a melting pot of martial arts practitioners, especially wing chun-based arts.

James DeMile was teaching his Wing Chun Do, as were some of his students. There were several derivations of Bruce Lee’s methods being taught by local legends such as Jesse Glover, Ed Hart and Taky Kimura. I never had the opportunity to train with any of these teachers. However, I trained with some of their students.

The non-classical wing chun being taught in those days was heavy-loaded chi sau, thousands of straight punches and a general attitude of aggression. Some of the classes were taught in closed-door, underground perversity. The word was that these men were tough with a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners kind of approach. This, of course, fell right into my perspective of training at that time.

Nevertheless, I was limited (if not blackballed) in my ability to train with the top guns. In some cases, I was flat-out denied even an opportunity to meet these men. So, I decided to go around them. Whenever people, situations or any particular obstacle confronts me, I become more resolved in my pursuit of my ultimate goal to evolve and succeed. After all, success is the best revenge, and it’s the only one that pays.

So , when the wooden dummy training seminar became available, I was elated to say the least. The weeklong training camp was hosted by Dr. Khoe and his staff from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Khoe was a professor of engineering at U.B.C. The training with master Wang Kiu and Dr. Khoe was a stark contrast in comparison to Seattle’s non-classical approach. These men were highly educated, esteemed professionals in their own right, exemplifying competence and humility.

For five days, Dr. Khoe and his staff patiently assisted us beginners every step of the way. Master Wang Kiu was as highly evolved a teacher as he was a practitioner of wing chun. On one occasion, I was getting upset and impatient with myself, letting my ego get in the way. Wang Kiu came up and assisted me with great agility. He calmed me down and corrected my movement, I thanked him for his help and he said, “Just relax, don’t worry, there are 1,000 doors to the same room.”

The original form taught was the 108 classical mook jong. There are 10 sections, with each of the first nine sections having 10 movements and with section 10 having 18. We were taught two sections per day. Learning this form was a huge challenge for me; most of the movements were quite different from anything I had done before.

Thankfully, the sequences were taught in a linear and logical order. I as able to mimic the entire form by the time I left Friday night. To ensure that I wouldn’t forget it, I stopped along the way home to seattle (a four-hour drive) and practiced the 10 sections in the air. One of the places I stopped to work the form was atop a waterfall in the mountains of British Columbia. I hiked along a river and found this incredible waterfall. Being energized by the week’s rich experience, I hiked up to the top of this waterfall and did the 108 Mook Jong 10 times in the air (without a dummy). In between sets, I did 100 straight punches. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I was done. After that workout, I made a promise to myself: I would never forget this treasured form and I would always practice it.

So, for an entire year I performed the 108 classical set at lease once for 365 days straight. Without a doubt, the event of that week’s training and the ensuing 365 continuous days of training had an indelible impact on my training and my entire year.

Note: In part II, which will appear in the May issue, I will examine the physical differences between wing chun and non-classical wing chun. I will also share some of my training experiences and commitment perspectives.

22
Jan
09

Master of All Trades -IKF March 2007

ikf-march-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“Master of All Trades”

By Joseph Simonet

March 2007

Pg. 24

Last year Inside Kung-Fu magazine asked me to appear on one of its covers with an accompanying interview. My initial reply was, “Absolutely.” However, soon after “hurray” came my question: “Are you sure you want me on the cover? Am I qualified? The editor replied quickly and matter-of-factly: “Look, enough people hate you so you must be doing something right.”

Fast forward to today. My partner, Addy Hernandez, and I are now being asked to share a monthly column. “Absolutely,” was our immediate reply. Sound familiar? Of course, the same questioned followed: “Are we qualified?” This time the editor said, “I believe you are. However, there are critics who question your credentials and think you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s up to you to convince doubters that your martial skill, credentials, insight, innovation and past instructors are worthy of ‘master’ or ‘expert witness’ status. Good luck.”

First, to my critics and doubters I would ask: ‘How many of you have actually met and trained with me?” My guess is probably none. Addy and I have taught seminars for New York to Shanghai, Houston to Minneapolis, and everywhere in between. The feedback we get from every seminar is, “Amazing,” “Thank you,” “That was incredible.” I’m born-again martial artist. Not once has anyone questioned my knowledge and ability face to face.

So, am I a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? To really answer the question I would have to first reply with another question. “Who can observe the observer?”

It has been my experience that “the biggest trap of all is the one you do not know you are in.” More often than not, a critic will project his abilities, values and/or lack thereof onto others without the prospective of truth or objectivity. My suggestion to all my critics would be to come over, talk and train with me, then express your critique. All I know is that after 35 years of training in the martial arts, I truly feel like a beginner.

The definition of a qualification and/or credential has become blurred with the changing tides in the martial arts. Is it a stamp of approval on the a certificate that some other so-called expert gave you? If so, I have several on my wall. Or, are credentials the accumulation of a lifetime of events, people, places, poignant insights and bruises – physically and otherwise – you have experienced along the way?

Looking back on my martial arts journey, in 1972, I was privileged enough to observe and meet master Gogen Yamaguchi at the Heck Edmusen Pavilion at the University of Washington in Seattle. As a young man, Yamaguchi studied several martial arts systems such as judo, kendo, iaido, jodo and kusarigama as well as goju. Though he was known as a goju master, he was never considered a jack-of-all-trades. Why not? What made him different?

My 35-year background in the martial arts has been laden with multiple martial arts systems. For instance, I have been in kenpo karate for 34 years. Wing chun gung-fu, mook jong (wooden dummy) training and the Filipino arts have been a part of my training for 24 years. I have studied Yang-style tai chi for 20 years and pentjak silat for the last 15 years. All the while, I have been enveloped in the physical culture of fitness and weight training. I have been able to bench press 300-plus pounds consecutively for the last 37 years.

I believe credentials and life experiences are imperative to be considered a master. However, I also believe you must have physical prowess, an ability to teach, a high fitness level and the conceptual ability to innovate. All my certificates, instructors and places of travel throughout my martial arts career have simply amounted to my continued education.

Today, I am extracting essential elements from all the arts I have studied and synthesizing them into what I call “The Art and Science of Mook Jong (ASMJ).” The fundamental aspects of The Art and Science of Mook Jong are that it must be teachable, learnable, practical and marketable. Within this foundational formula is the “seamless transitional integration” of al the aforementioned arts and training methods.

The process behind “seamless transitional integration” is for the practitioner to move from empty hand to blade, to club and back again in a natural and spontaneous flow. This process achievable because our skill sets and training methods call upon nearly identical motor skills and attributes. Individual training in The Art and Science of Mook Jong is done by working the wooden dummy forms “Slam Set,” “Blade Set” and “Club Set.” Partner training consists of two-person drills such as, “Argument of Movement” empty hand and “Point Counterpoint” applied with a knife and repeated utilizing a club.

At this point, I do not consider myself a jack-of-all-trades; nor do I consider myself a master. I would define myself a master. I would define myself as a pursuer of truth and a scientist, which inevitably means I am an innovator striving for martial arts excellence. I will proceed along my own path regardless of doubters, critics or those putting their own interests above martial arts.

Joseph Simonet and Addy Hernandez will be sharing insight on training tips, philosophy, innovative ideas and concepts each moth beginning with this issue.

21
Jan
09

INSIDE KUNG-FU WOMAN OF THE YEAR – ADDY HERNANDEZ

Inside Kung-Fu

“Legacy of Their Own”

ikf-feb-2008By Dave Cater

February 2008

Pg. 26-31

THE LATEST CLASS OF IKF HALL OF FAME HONOREES HAS CARVED THEIR OWN MARTIAL ARTS NICHE.

No year in recent martial arts history has robbed us of so many great names. From Lily to Larry, David to Daniel, Madame Yu to Bong Soo, they dropped like fallen warriors so quickly we barely had time to mourn one before the next was taken from us. One moment we were talking to them, and the next minute we were talking about them.

And these weren’t your garden-variety marital artists, either; rather, they were legends in their own time – masters and sifu and sensei that spent lifetimes accomplishing great things and creating a better world through martial arts.

If there’s any consolation, it’s the realization that this year’s group of Inside Kung-Fu Hall of Fame recipients is just as noteworthy for their martial arts accomplishments, “Man of the Year” Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and “Woman of the Year” Addy Hernandez have been industry leaders for years, while “Instructor of the Year” Adriano Emperado remains one of the most-respected teachers of his generation.

In 2007 alone, “Competitor of the Year” Jonathan Wang emerged as a force with which to be reckoned on the open circuit, while the great Randy Couture shocked Gabriel Gonzaga and Gather Time to capture “Grappler of the Year” honors. And finally, long overdue “Writer of the Year” honors go to John Steven Soet, who has chronicled the lives and legacies of these past and present legends.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2007 2005 2003 2001 1999

Jerry Poteet Nick Gracenin Dennis Brown Hawkins Cheung Wesley Snipes

Hui Liu Lily Lau Graciela Casillas Wang Jurong Lucia Rijker

Doc-Fai Wong Richard Lee Glenn C. Hart Tak Wah Eng Pui Chan

Seming Ma Elaina Maxwell Team Evergreen Jeanne Chinn Cung Le

Jennifer Tijong Collin Lee David Tadman Pat Rice Burt Richardson

Jose Paman Terry Wilson Gerald Okamura Ric Meyers Jackie Chan

Matt Hughes Ronaldo “Jacare” Xande Ribeiro Mark Kerr Shannon Lee

de Souza Kazuyoshi Ishii

2006 2004 2002 2000 1998

John S.S. Leong Henry Look Donnie Yen William C.C. Chen Chuck Norris

Ming Qui Wei Qi He Michiko Nishiwaki S.L. Martin Michelle Yeoh

Tiffany Reyes Carter Williams Lu Xiaoling Mimi Chan Huang, Chien-Liang

Samara Simmerman Tiffany Chen Ziyi Zhang Wallid Ismail Maurice Smith

Jimmy Wong Angie Rivera Travis Wong Anita Lopez

Jose Fraguas Jeff Chinn Jou, Tsung Hwa Martha Burr

Dean Lister Scott Coker Robert Dreeben Gene LeBell

Tito Ortiz Century Martial Arts

MAN OF THE YEAR > DR. YANG, JWING-MING<

He has been a martial arts and publishing giant for more than three decades. With Yang’s Martial Arts Academy (YMAA) schools dotting every corner of the world, and senior instructors creating equally large names for themselves, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming could have easily called it quits, proclaimed a “job very well done” and quietly disappeared into the martial arts fabric.

No one would have blamed Dr. Yang for letting someone else handle the kung-fu reins. All the white crane and tai chi master has done since coming to America in 1974 is establish 50 schools in more than 16 countries, written more than 30 books and produced over 40 DVDs. That’s a lifetime of service for even the heartiest of martial arts souls.

But for the man whom Inside Kung-Fu called “one of the 100 people who have made the greatest impact in martial arts in the past 100 years,” going quietly into that good night was never his style. Nope. For the man who earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue University there were still plenty of goals to meet and promises to keep.

One such promise, made to the late, great tai chi master Jou, Tsung-Hwa, involved establishing a full-time martial arts retreat where young students with a desire to learn both the physical and spiritual aspects of Chinese martial arts could study day and night without the pressures of work or family.

For Dr. Yang, 60, his dream has turned into the YMAA Retreat Center, which sits on 240 acres of remote woodlands in Northern California, isolated from the distractions of modern society. The Center’s established infrastructure includes a solar array for sustainable, off-the-grid power; a spring-fed well; and facilities for living and training. Far from his home in Massachusetts, this quiet place in the forest is entirely dedicated to what Dr. Yang describes as his final mission: to transmit his complete knowledge to the next generation of teachers and preserve the Chinese martial and healing arts.

“Today’s martial arts society, all they teach is martial arts. But part of martial arts training is morality—they ignore it completely,” Dr. Yang said in a recent IKF interview. “It’s a kind of self-discipline, and it’s disappearing. So I need to use martial arts as an educational tool. To teach a new generation about what is morality. Morality is not only to yourself, but also to the people. It’s a mutual relationship. These kinds of things are disappearing.

For 35 years, Dr. Yang has taught the benefits of Chinese culture and popularized traditional martial arts throughout the world. He is in a unique position: Carrying the legacy of the generation of the old masters and possessing a keen understanding of a new generation, he has dedicated his life to bridging the East and the West, and researching the ancient arts with a modern scientific perspective.

Soon he will marry the two philosophies and hope for the birth of a new generation of old-generation practitioners. Dr. Yang’s legacy was solid long before he adopted the Retreat project. This just adds fuel to his already-glowing legacy.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR > ADDY HERNANDEZ<

Not since the days of the legendary Graciela Casillas has a female practitioner so captured our hearts and minds. Beautiful and deadly, Hernandez has taken the martial arts world by storm. A combination of fitness and function, Addy is earning the respect of her peers with a no-nonsense attitude built by years of dogged commitment and training.

An Inside Kung-Fu columnist and Unique Publications DVD author, Hernandez began her martial arts training in 1994 under KI Fighting Concepts founder (an IKF columnist) Joseph Simonet. Training in both kenpo karate and Filipino stickfighting, Addy also found time to study Yang-style tai chi and meditation.

The grueling years of early mornings and late nights paid off with multiple black belts in myriad styles. Today, Hernandez holds fourth-degree black belts in KI Fighting Concepts and doce pares; a third-degree black belt in Tracy’s Kenpo karate; and a second-degree black belt in escrido. She also is a certified instructor in Yang-style tai chi.

Hernandez continues to expand her knowledge and abilities by stretching her mental, physical and philosophical boundaries.

She promotes, organizes and teaches at Wind and Rock, one of the fastest-growing, most highly acclaimed martial arts training camps in the country. She has also been an active participant in Simonet’s many public appearances and seminars coast to coast. She also has appeared on two Inside Kung-Fu covers in the past three years.

Most martial artists would be content to rest on these lofty laurels. But Hernandez, who also teaches yoga and runs marathons, insists she’s just beginning.

“I can honestly say I’ve barely scratched the surface in my training,” Addy explained. “The more I learn, the more I want to learn. It’s as if each martial arts door leads to another.”

The secret, she insists, is to remain balanced and maintain a solid focus on the goal at hand.

“Finding balance and peace in one’s life is all about making the right choices,” she notes. “I am convinced that I can make positive choices, which will almost always produce harmonious results. Certainly, life confronts us with many challenges and sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I am, however, a believer in the old adage, ‘chance favors the prepared mind.’”

When the time came, Hernandez was prepared for her latest challenge—a DVD for Unique Publications called, “A Cut Above.” The DVD illuminates what can happen when a blade finds its way into the hands of a skilled practitioner.

While Addy Hernandez is a relative newcomer to the world of martial arts, she is anything but a neophyte. Combing the drive of a beginner with the desire of a hardened veteran, Hernandez will only get better, stronger and more polished in the decades to come.

>ADRIANO EMPERADO< INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR

He spends much of his time in a wheelchair these days, but few sifu stand taller in the martial arts world that the incomparable Adriano Emperado. For nearly 60 years, the name Emperado has meant martial arts supremacy; the style of kajukenbo a living, breathing testament to the greatness of so many before him.

Today, Emperado’s kajukenbo is famous throughout the world for its tough-as-nails fighting foundation. Not surprising, actually, considering his rough-and-tumble Hawaiian background and training under the great warrior himself, William K.S. Chow.

Born in Honolulu’s turbulent Palama section in 1926, Emperado spent his formative years in boxing, escrima and judo before joining Chow and eventually becoming “Thunderbolt’s” first black belt.

Emperado opened his first kajukenbo school in 1950 and charged students just $2 per month. The workouts there were legendary; in fact, it is said that class was not over until there was blood on the floor. “You have to experience pain before you can give it,” Emperado said in a 1994 IKF interview. “You have to know what your technique can do.”

Great techniques performed by a great technician proved a perfect combination. Emperado’s fame led to key assignments in law enforcement: 14 years as a harbor policeman; a year with the Hawaii Attorney General’s office; and bodyguard for the governor. Soon, Emperado’s Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute of Hawaii was the largest chain of karate schools in the islands. Emperado brought his skills, as well as several other Chow disciples to America, when he moved to the Mainland in 1969.

For the past 30-plus years, Emperado’s kajukenbo has become a thriving martial art and one of the most-influential styles in the world. Once a year, 3,000 strong gather to pay tribute to their grandmaster. While he sits, they stand and honor one of the greats of all time.

>JONATHAN WANG< COMEPETITOR OF THE YEAR

Had it not been for politics—and a strong addition to a form—Jonathan Wang might be preparing for his coming-out party. As it is, he will have to remain one of America’s best-kept martial arts secrets. Wang was primed and ready to make the Beijing Olympics his personal kung-fu playground while showing the world that Americans indeed can compete on a world stage. And what better stage than the Olympic Games, in the birthplace of kung-fu, doing what he loves best.

Sadly, as they say the best-laid plans of mice and men, as well as those unsuspecting athletes, often go awry. Beijing’s inability to push its home sport into the mix, combined with the addition of “Dan du” movements, which make tai chi more gymnastic, was more than Wang could overcome. For Wang, who runs the Beijing Tai-Chi & Kung Fu Academy in Santa Monica, Calif., the most he can hope for now is the personal pride that comes from being one of the best in the world.

His international results over the past year tell an amazing story of success at every level. Wang enjoyed arguably the greatest single year of competitive kung-fu in Western Chinese martial arts history. Son of the world-renowned tai chi master Daniel Y. Wang, the 35-year-old Jonathan Wang collected an astounding 75 gold medals participating in some of the world’s most-prestigious events.

Among his crowning achievements were Internal Grand Champion honors at the 2nd International Traditional, Kung Fu & Wushu Tournament; Internal Grand Champion at the USAWKF National Tournament; Internal Grand Champion at the 10th Annual Dallas Taiji Legacy; Internal Grand Champion at the Dan Diego Grand Nationals International Martial Arts Competition; and International Grand Champion at the Hong Kong 10th Annual Reunification Tournament.

Wang, however, won’t let something like an Olympic snub keep him from learning and growing. A licensed acupuncturist and holder of a master’s in Oriental Medicine, Wang plans to continue training in Beijing several times a year. Which only goes to show that Jonathan Wang does not need the glory of Olympic Gold to prove his worth in the world of kung-fu.

>RANDY COUTURE< GRAPPLER OF THE YEAR

He clips the “wings” of the fleetest, strips power from the strongest and makes mere athletes yearn for yesteryear. He’s not only nasty, ruthless and impartial, he may be the most hated man on the planet. He is Father Time.

But not even Father Time can handle UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, because a regular fighter Randy Couture is not. He’s indifferent to reputations and welcomes seemingly insurmountable challenges, which is why he looked Father Time square in the eyes recently and submitted him—once again. Defying age, predictions and the odds, Couture, 44, scored a convincing TKO over Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 in late August and retained his heavyweight title.

“I am not really here for titles,” said Couture. “The hardware is nice and the title is icing on the cake, but it’s more about performance.”

That impressive performance followed his heavyweight title-clinching victory of Tim Sylvia last March.

“Not bad for an old man,” said Couture, immediately after the Sylvia fight. Not bad, indeed.

“He’s [Couture] a unique individual,” said Dana White, UFC president. “You do not see many competing at 44. He’s a freak of nature. He’s an incredible athlete, fighter and human being. I have nothing but respect for Randy Couture.”

The Couture freight train doesn’t show any signs of slowing, prompting some to wonder how long he’ll fight and speculate as to whom can take away the crown.

“Do I think I’ll still be fighting when I’m 50?” said Couture. “No.” White feels otherwise.

“Yes, I honestly do,” he said. “The guy is a freak. He’s an amazing fighter and a monster.”

Although the UFC heavyweight division has beefed up recently, White isn’t sure anyone poses a threat, although he says there could be some “good match-ups” for Couture. When asked whom he sees, Couture uttered the “F” word, as in Fedor Emelianenko.

“I want to fight the best guy in the world,” he said. “And Fedor is the best in the heavyweight division. Bring him on.”

If and when that happens, don’t be surprised if Couture again beats two opponents on the same night—Fedor Emelianenko and …Father Time.

>JOHN STEVEN SOET< WRITER OF THE YEAR

John S. Soet entered the world of martial arts at the age of 16 as a student of the legendary Chuck Norris. Eventually, he earned black belts in shotokan and hapkido, and studied various other arts for more than 20 years. At the same time, he pursued a career in film, journalism and television, earning a bachelor’s in communications from Loyola University and a master’s in professional writing from the University of Southern California.

In the early years of his film career, he was able to work in such exotic locations as Hong Kong and Manila, and directed a series of low-budget films. Among his accomplishments are Fire in the Night (featuring martial arts legend Graciela Casillas), Eliminator Woman (with Karen Sheperd, Jerry Trimble and Michele Qissi), and Southern Fired Shakespeare, which own the gold medal for Best Short subject at the Houston Film festival (the same award previous won by both Steven Spielberg for Amblin and George Lucas for THX1138).

In 1987, he took on a new challenge as editor of Inside Karate magazine, and served in that position for the next 11 years. During his tenure, he was instrumental in launching several new magazines, including Master Series and Inside Martial Arts. He also authored Martial Arts Around the World I and II. In 1998, he was aksed to head up Unique Publications’ video department. Within four years, he expanded the library from less than 300 to nearly 700 videos, making Unique Publications the world’s largest producer of martial arts video.

Today, Soet remains one of the most respected voices in martial arts, a published author many times over and a long-overdue choice as “Writer of the Year.”

21
Jan
09

One form, one kill- IKF August 2007

ikf-august-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“One Form, One Kill!”

By Michael Janich

August 2007

Pg. 32-36

One of the longest standing controversies in the martial arts in the value – or lack thereof – of traditional solo forms. To hardcore traditionalists, forms are the heart of an art and carry with them all the secrets of its combat application. They also supposedly allow the practice of techniques that are so deadly they cannot be practiced with a partner.

To the modern, combatives-oriented martial artist, forms are anachronistic, overly stylized and do not support the kind of contact-based training that is necessary to develop real fighting skill.

No matter which side of the fence you’re on, most martial artists agree that when it comes to relating the movements of a solo form to combative application, a lot gets lost in the translation. In fact, the only way to truly relate the movements of a particular form and their original, prescribed function is to have learned them both simultaneously from the founder of the art in question.

For traditional styles whose founders are not longer with us, we have no choice but to rely on the instruction – and invariably the interpretation – of their students. Unfortunately, like most things, the farther you get from the source, the less accurate the material. When you factor that some instructors have altered the applications of their arts to either purposely hide or, in some cases, arbitrarily change their function and relationship between form and function becomes pretty tenuous.

OF FORM AND FUNCTION

Short of a séance seminar with departed masters, the best means of relating movement to combat application is to establish a parallel structure of form and function from the ground up. This ensures that the meaning and combative significance of every motion is clearly understood every step of the way. Done well, it also promotes a much deeper understanding of the true relationship between movement and fighting function. This approach is the foundation of “Argument of Movement,” a revolutionary approach to self-defense training developed by Joseph Simonet.

Simonet is no stranger to traditional martial arts training. An eight-degree black belt in Tracy’s Kenpo, a black-sash-level practitioner of wing chun and a certified instructor of Yang-style taijiquan, doce pares eskrima, eskrido and Indonesian penjak silat, his 35-plus years of martial arts training have included the practice, mastery and analysis of dozens of forms. Yet despite this extensive experience, in every traditional art he studied there was always a high degree of ambiguity when it came to translating form to combat application.

“All worthwhile training should have a clear purpose,” Simonet explains. “If I am going to spend hours of my training time practicing a movement or series of movements, I want to know exactly what it does and how to apply it in a fight. I also want to know that now, not five or 10 years from now when I’ve ‘mastered’ a form.”

Simonet’s curriculum is built upon an in-depth analysis of all the arts he’s studied with a focus on linking them at a conceptual, functional level. The overall curriculum is known as “KI Fighting Concepts,” but the two primary building blocks of the system are a series of two-person drills and forms called the “Argument of Movement” and the “Art and Science of Mook Jong” – solo form that utilizes the wooden dummy most closely associated with wing chun gung-fu.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Argument of Movement consists of two phases: Defend, Neutralize, Annihilate (DNA) and Seamless Transitional Integration. DNA is the form portion of the training, but unlike traditional solo forms, it was specifically developed as a two-person sequence of movement.

“Developing the form from the ground up as a two-person format maintained a focus on functional structure and practical application,” notes Simonet. “This eliminates the ambiguity and speculation that makes many traditional solo forms almost meaningless as a reference for combat application.”

Structuring DNA as a two-person form also allows it, by design, to have both an “A” and a “B” side. Rather than one partner simply serving as a punching bag for the other, the DNA form teaches and promotes the idea that, in a real fight, your opponent will actively counter your technique. Learning how to accept and overcome that is a key process in learning how to fight. The DNA drill gives you that experience and teaches you how to counter your own techniques. In this way, you not only identify the potential weaknesses of your techniques and perfect them to greatest degree, but you also learn how to immediately re-counter your opponent and flow into a back-up or series of back-up techniques.

Similarly, training both sides of the form helps you experience all the movements from both perspectives and refines your understanding of the energy, structure, strengths and weaknesses of every move. Nothing is left to speculation; it either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it’s because it’s been countered and your job – as taught by the sequence of the form – is to react to the counter, flow past it and win the fight.

STUDY THE DNA

Once the DNA form is learned as a basic sequence, it is practiced with greater intensity and with different energy levels to simulate different types of self-defense scenarios. One practice run might allow the “A” player’s counters to determine the pace and intensity of the flow, in the spirit of traditional one-step sparring. In another run, the “B” side might emphasize his counters and take a much more aggressive role. This forces the “A” player to perfect his initial techniques, immediately recognize their counters, and quickly respond with a back-up technique.

The second phase of the Argument of Movement is a series of partner training drills designed to isolate and develop the individual skills that are the functional core of the DNA techniques. These drills include refined versions of some well-known training methods like Filipino hubud-lubud and wing chun’s chi sau, but they also include a number of drills that Simonet has developed to hone specific combative skills and reflexes. “The drills I have included in my curriculum are designed to allow training partners to focus on specific core skills, reflexes and structures,” he notes. “By isolating them and practicing them in a format that allows both high numbers of repetitions and high intensity, you develop usable combative skill very efficiently.”

Some self-defense practitioners might argue that practicing drills only makes students good at the drills themselves, not at fighting; however, Simonet’s method also has an answer for that.

“Once a student becomes comfortable with several different drills, we take him out of that comfort zone by introducing integration of the drills,” he explains. “He may start out doing one drill, but in the flow of the movement I initiate a transition to another drill. His job is to recognize the change, respond with an immediate defensive reaction, and instantly flow into the new drill pattern.”

ONE DRILL, ONE KILL

As the name indicates, Seamless Transitional Integration is a structured training method that programs a fighter to seamlessly transition from one drill to another. Each of these transitions is prompted by a different stimulus – either visual or physical – than that “expected” based on the sequence of the drill. Dealing with the new stimulus effectively programs incredibly quick reflexes and ultimately helps a fighter react to virtually any attack from practically any situation.

Once a student is adept at both the DNA form and the individual training drills, the next step is to integrate their functions and explore spontaneous applications and combinations. This is done by isolating portions of the DNA drill, cross-referencing them with the drills that fuel their structure and reflexes and experimenting to unlock and discover other combative functions. In the process, students learn to recognize and emphasize structures, reference points and physical relationships, and immediately seize those opportunities to take control of a self-defense situation.

The other key element of Simonet’s approach is wood dummy training – specifically the mook jong “Slam Set” form he developed. “

“Mook jong training is the most effective form of solo training because it enables you to practice all your movements realistically and with full force,” relates Simonet. “Unlike hitting a heavy bag, the structure of the mook jong allows you to strike, grab, block, parry and effectively simulate almost any technique that can be done to a person. The fact that its structure does not exactly match the physiology of a human body also forces the student to bridge the gap between the dummy expression of a technique and its application on a live person, promoting a deeper understanding of the relationship between form and function.”

When performed at speed, Simonet’s Slam Set is a one-minute form that distills all the key structures and movement patterns of his decades of training. Predictably, it also provides a parallel structure that complements the Argument of Movement training methodology and allows a student to recognize, understand and apply all the key anatomical structures and physical principles that fuel effective fighting technique.

Ultimately, a real fight truly is an argument of movement. And like any argument, the more articulate, fluent, and adaptable you are, the better your chances of emerging victorious. Joseph Simonet’s powerful combination of form and application training teaches the language of combat quickly and effectively and provides a logical and definite link between martial form and fighting function.

21
Jan
09

Supported Elbow Frame Inside Kung-Fu June 2006

Inside Kung-Fu

ikf-june-2006

By Joseph Simonet

June 2006

Pg 70-75

THE SUPPORTED ELBOW FRAME IS AMONG THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AND ESSENTIAL WEAPONS IN THE ASMJ ARSENAL

I have trained in the martial arts since 1972. From the very beginning, my interest and/or motivation was to be able to defend myself and become a functional fighter. My journey of 30-plus years has been filled with highs, lows, injuries and triumphs.

Anyone who pursues the truth in the fighting arts ultimately will get his ego crushed and his hat handed to him on a regular basis. The karmic freight train is coming around the bend, and it’s coming for you.

I have experienced countless “reality bites” moments. One such moment occurred November 12, 1993 at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. I found myself ringside at the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Being a veteran martial artist and holder of multiple black belts offered little solace as I stared into the face of reality.

“Oh, (bleep), I have to learn the ground”.

There I was, nearly 40, and immediately desperate to gain knowledge of the ground. My first opportunity was with the local high school wrestling team. I was allowed to train with the varsity heavyweights. It was a humble beginning as my pursuit of knowledge took yet another turn.

Since that fateful day, my training has become more refined and focused. My system of training has been organized into what I call “The Art and Science of Mook Jong” (ASMJ, wooden dummy training).

It is widely accepted there are five ranges of unarmed combat: kicking, punching, trapping, clinch and grappling. “The Art and Science of Mook Jong” focuses on trapping and/or clinching range. The movements I utilize are essential ingredients distilled and extracted from preeminent martial arts systems such as kenpo karate, wing chun, silat, doce pares, tai chi, boxing and an eclectic ground game. I have discarded 90 percent of the techniques and training these arts had to offer. I felt most of the material just did not hold up in real fighting.

“The Art and Science of Mook Jong” is powered by a superior attitude. In the stand-up game, superior attitude defeats superior techniques. However, it is only when you add conditioning to the attitude and technique methodology that real success can be achieved.

The Supported Elbow Frame

The supported elbow frame is one of the most significant and essential weapons in the ASMJ arsenal. All MMA practitioners should train and utilize this weapon because of its versatility, simplicity, and power.

To create a supported elbow frame (Figs. 1-4), start in a left lead, with your body leaning forward. Thrust your left elbow up until it is pointed into your opponent’s centerline. Cover your left ear with the palm of your hand. As this is happening, your right hand creates a frame by attaching to your left inside forearm near the elbow. This is the basic supported elbow frame.

It is imperative to established a lower art base. When executing the supported elbow, sink your base as you move forward to prepare for absorbing a powerful strike, such as a head-high roundhouse kick or a huge over hand punch.

Surviving the Big Punch

Distance is one key to using the supported elbow to survive the big punch. This forces my opponent to bridge the gap and commit to a big bomb. While standing just outside of punch range, I have allowed myself time to react to a big right hand (Figs. 5-6).

As my opponent loads for the punch, I begin to sink my weight and move forward into his centerline. By creating the supported elbow frame, I have protected my head, neck and face, while solidifying my base. When my opponent makes contact, he is not prepared to hit such a solid target, which in turn disrupts his timing and base.

My left elbow also acts as an attack as I drive the point into his oncoming shoulder (Fig. 7). Note my body position and/or base. I have successfully absorbed the big punch, bridged the gap, and disrupted his base, while attacking with an elbow point by entering into trapping range.

Wrap, Trap, Attack

After blocking his right punch, my left hand now circles counterclockwise to trap my opponent’s right arm above the elbow, while simultaneously striking his jaw with my right elbow (Fig. 8). My left hand now attaches to my right biceps, which creates another support, adds striking power and hyperextends his right arm. I follow with a standing armbar on his right arm as I crash down on his collarbone or jaw (Fig. 9).

I then hook my right hand around his neck as I jerk him into a right knew to the race, while still locking his right arm (Fig. 10). I release my opponent’s left arm and proceed into a guillotine (Fig. 11). I finish by sitting and falling back into guard position as I plant his face into the mat (Figs. 12-13).

In developing fighting skills, simplicity and versatility of technique weighs heavy on value. It only makes sense to develop muscle memory and skill sets that work at all ranges.

Supported Elbow When Mounted

This next example begins from the mounted position. The attacker throws a big right punch. The defender on the bottom (Figs. 14-15) prepares for impact with a supported left elbow frame. Once the punch is deflected and jammed (Fig. 16), the defender wraps his opponent’s right arm with his left arm. Notice, this is exactly what was demonstrated in the stand-up version.

After wrapping the right arm, the defender strikes with his right hand and then reverses position. Note, the defender’s elbowlock and right hand position (Figs. 17-18). If his opponent extends his hips to free up pressure on his face, he only adds more tension to his left elbow. The defender now applies more pressure, stretching the elbow joint and punishing the face (Fig. 19). When tension reaches its peak, the defender releases his right hand for a downward elbow cut to the face (Fig. 20).

Prevent the Rear Choke

When you find yourself mounted from the rear and your opponent is moving in for the kill (chokeout), the supported elbow frame may just save you from defeat. In Fig. 21, I am using the elbow frame to block my attacker’s attempts to put me in a choke. Essentially, I am tucking my chin, locking my arms, supporting my heard forward, and buying time.

In Fig. 22, the attacker briefly aborts the choke attempt and decides to strike. I simply reverse my elbow position to my left side and block his strike (Fig. 23). As a follow-up, I grab his left arm (Fig. 24), extend it over my right shoulder and apply pressure with my head and body (Figs. 25-26).

Developing Training Drills

Now that we have demonstrated the technical value of the supported elbow frame, let’s establish functional training drills as well. Begin by facing off in a fighting position wearing focus mitts or gloves (Fig. 27). Have your partner throw big punches to your head as you counter with the supported elbow frame (Fig. 28). This should be done on both sides. Add intensity and realism to the attacks as you get more comfortable with this drill. In other words, try to take his head off with huge powerful attacks. Make it real. To follow up, feel free to add tie-ups with knew attacks. Be creative and intense (Figs. 29-30).

Sticking and Contact Drills

Sensitivity drills are extremely important in “The Art and Science of Mook Jong.” Body contact is a key component in learning to listen to my opponent’s intent. For example, the next photo sequence will demonstrate a training drill guaranteed to develop muscle memory and body awareness. Face off with a partner (Fig. 31) and begin the drill with your partner’s right punch and your left supported elbow frame counter. Now, wrap your partner’s right arm as you strike with your right hand while applying a lock with your left arm (Figs. 32-33). Hook behind his head and applying a follow-up right knew to his midsection. (Fig. 34).

After your knee strike, plant your right foot back and let go of the lock. While this is happening, your partner throws a left punch. Repeat the same counter-sequence on the left side (Figs. 35-38). This pattern should be repeated from side to side. To attain a higher and more intense level of training, include heavier contract that continues for the equivalent of two-minute rounds.

Linking drills is a challenging, essential aspect of sensitivity training. Repetition and body sticking will enhance every fighter’s skill level. After excusing the left knee (Fig. 38), step forward with the same leg and begin the pummeling drill. Make sure to repeat on each side (Figs. 39-41).

By now you should have gained a new insight and greater appreciation for the supported elbow frame. You will find its function to be an essential tool in your fighting skills box. When in doubt, train harder.