Posts Tagged ‘ki fighting concepts

22
Jan
09

KI Online Training- IKF January 2009

IKF Magazine

January 2009

Vol. 37

KI Online Training

By Joseph Simonet

In the fall of 1995, Addy Hernandez was attending college near Spokane, Wash. The three hours of travel time from our hometown to Spokane created a bit of a challenge for us to get together and train. We would usually alternate travel on weekends; she would come home one weekend and I would travel to Spokane the next weekend. Though not an ideal situation for quality training time, we managed to make it work. On one of my trips to Spokane, Addy and I wandered into a used bookstore. The owner of the store asked us if we would like to see the “Internet” in action. Remember this was 1995 and at that point in time, I had never seen anything on the World Wide Web. So we proceeded to the store owner’s office and were amazed at all of his fancy computer stuff. At that moment, I felt like I was stepping into the future. He asked me what I was interested in searching, and I replied martial arts.

In a matter of seconds he was showing me photos and text from a Web site somewhere in Europe. Initially, I was blown away. The marvel of visiting all these different martial art sites soon dimmed as I became more disappointed in the quality, or should I say “lack of quality,” of the actual karate, kung-fu and so on. The technical genius of the Internet was overshadowed by the unimpressive and sloppy presentations of the so-called “masters” I observed. I remember saying at the time, “You can bounce it off the moon and circle it around the sun and back, but it’s still watered-down karate to me.”

The Internet has grown in availability, quality and enormous technical advances. Since my first chance encounter with the Web, I have waded through eight different “webmasters.” (It’s interesting to me how as a martial artist we spend a lifetime training to master our craft, and tech geeks take a weekend Web design workshop and call themselves “webmasters”). Our Web site, KIFightingConcepts.com, still isn’t finished nor shall it ever be. We are constantly evolving despite the long run of “masters.”

Developing, maintaining and improving one’s Web site is an enormous task. One of my main objectives for ours is to offer online martial arts training. The challenge has been waiting for technology to catch up with the public’s demands. The public is looking for affordability, availability and high-speed quality. I believe we’ve finally arrived.

Addy and I are now offering online training through our site. The subjects are many and varied. We are teaching kenpo karate, wing chun, Filipino arts (stick and blade), Pentjak silat, tai chi, boxing, weapons, wooden dummy, lock flow, sensitivity drills and grappling. Our intent is to make available the most comprehensive collection of preeminent martial arts training on the Web. We both realize that to complete this task will ultimately take years. However, we already have several hundred downloads available right now. I estimate we’ll have several thousand training choices before we are done. The idea is to show the world our vision of what training martial arts is all about.

Sometimes people ask me if I’m worried that other martial artists will take our “secrets” and call them their own. First, there are no secrets. I once read that to make an apple pie from scratch, you would first have to reinvent the universe.

Addy and I have unique and highly functional training methods that are fun, challenging, practical and thus valuable. We are opening up our art and training methods to the world. We have already made several DVDs with Unique Publications and Paladin Press. Offering downloads is not intended to replace or dismiss our Unique or Paladin DVDs. On the contrary; we believe all our projects, books, articles, DVDs, seminars, camps and now online training are part of an integral tapestry of our life’s work.

Our DVDs are comprehensive presentations of specific arts and training methods. Someone interested in defensive knife training in particular would be advised to purchase the “A Cut Above” DVD from Unique Publications. If someone was interested in Sinawali (double-stick drills) I would suggest getting our “Secrets of Sinawali” from Paladin Press. What is useful about our online training is that once you sign up, you can have both knife and stick training available to you as well as hundreds of other training tips and drills. It just depends on your interest and, of course, your depth of knowledge.

We encourage beginners to high-level black belts to reference our material somewhat as an e-University. Everyone has something to gain. We will also address questions by choosing the most interesting or relevant ones, and creating downloads to represent our answers. We will demonstrate the why’s of our answers in this format. We believe we can show and share the depth of our skills and knowledge. So every week, ask us the tough questions. We’ll pick the best ones and address it right on our site. Addy and I are excited about this aspect of our online training. Come visit us at www.kifightingconcepts.com.

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22
Jan
09

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Grappling

grappling“Weapons of Mass Destruction”

By Joseph Simonet

January 2006

Pg 88-90, 127

If you are an MMA Fighter who wants a weapon that is versatile, simple and powerful, consider the Supported Elbow Frame.

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).

5 Ranges

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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (10). I release my opponent’s left arm and proceed into a guillotine (11-13). I finish by sitting and falling back into guard position as I plant his face into the mat.

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 (14-15) prepares for impact with a supported left elbow frame. Once the punch is deflected and jammed (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 (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 (19). When tension reaches its peak, the defender releases his right hand for a downward elbow cut to the face (20).

Prevent the Rear Choke

When you find yourself mounted from the rear and your opponent is moving in for the kill (choke), the supported elbow frame may just save you from defeat. I can use 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.

Next, 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. As a follow-up, I grab his left arm, extend it over my right shoulder and apply pressure with my head and body.

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. Have your partner throw big punches to your head as you counter with the supported elbow frame. 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.

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 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. Hook behind his head and applying a follow-up right knew to his midsection.

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. 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, step forward with the same leg and begin the pummeling drill. Make sure to repeat on each side.

Skills Box

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.

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.

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

Sustained Effort- IKF May 2007

Inside Kung-Fu

“Sustained Effort”

ikf-may-2007By Joseph Simonet

May 2007

Pg 24

Recently, after a vigorous training session at my martial arts gym, a young student of mine (early 20s) asked to talk to me in private. “Well of course,” I replied, “what’s on your mind”?

How do you do it”? He asked.

“Do what?”

“How do you stay so positive, so upbeat and energetic? Here you are twice my age, and you’re fitter, stronger and seemingly happier than me. Oftentimes, I feel like I’m at the end of my rope and you’re always talking about how it’s just the beginning. I feel like I need direction, motivation, hope, something I can hold on to. What’s your secret?”

“Well” I replied, “The simple answer is ‘sustained effort’ and ‘when in doubt, train.’ Through life’s ups and downs, in these uncertain times, training my mind and body has been an enormous foundation that I can stand upon with certainty.”

“No offense sifu, but aren’t you a little old to still be training do hard? I mean seriously, you’re older than my dad and he doesn’t even work out, not like you anyway.”

“No offense taken,” I answered.

I proceeded to explain to the young man that self-doubt has destroyed many people’s lives. Many unfulfilled dreams have been a result of self-doubt and a lack of motivation and discipline. “Keep training,” I said, “no matter how challenging or difficult life seems sometimes.”

Later that evening, I thought about my student and what we had talked about. I was about 20 years old when some old guy (about my age now) explained to me how “it’s such a shame we have to waste our youth on the young.” How ironic. I am now the “old guy” and here I am, caught in a full circle chain of events.

Looking back at my life, I realize I have had to endure several heartaches and trials to get to this point. I feel in love, got married, then divorced. I raised my children into fine adults. I buried my grandparents, buried my father and buried my brother. I became addicted. I got sober. I made money. I lost money. I had moments of triumph and also got my teeth knocked out. I achieved black belt status only to get thrown out of systems by teachers I revered. I have been sued and slandered. I have read books and have authored books. I have traveled the world and back again, and so on.

I have lived over a half-century, only to realize I am just starting to figure things out. Yes, it is only the beginning, and through it all, I have never stopped training my martial arts. Whenever life’s challenges got me down, or dealt me a blow, when joy turned into sadness and doubt, my training kept me on task. I have survived several course corrections, but never have I abandoned ship.

I have been very fortunate to have had many great martial arts teachers and students in my life. Several times in my career I have studied multiple systems at the same time. For instance, in 1976 I was studying goju and hung gar as I was teaching kenpo karate. Sound confusing? I suppose it was, but I was 22 years old and had an insatiable desire to learn. It was the learning, training and discipline that fueled my motivation that kept my life on track. In 1992, I was training pentjak silat, Yang-style tai chi, boxing, and working out with a high school wrestling team all while furthering my development of the “Slam set – The Art and Science of Mook Jong.” Once again, the common thread was sustained effort.

Cross-training with weightlifting has also been a powerful and essential ingredient not only to my martial prowess, but also to my positive state of mind. I started lifting seriously when I was 15. By the age of 16, I could bench press 310 pounds. I was obsessed with lifting. Looking back at my obsession, I now realize that no matter what negativity was coming at me – alcoholic parents, peer pressure, social upheaval (i.e., Vietnam, civil unrest) – weightlifting gave me a sense of control and empowerment. As my poundage increased, so did my confidence and self-worth.

My advice to anyone reading this column is to start training, stay training and encourage others to do the same. Oftentimes, in martial arts as well as life itself, we get bogged down by injury, politics, dissenting opinions and self-doubt. Train diligently; sharpen your skills and open your mind. As a Chinese master once told me, “There are a thousand doors to the same room.” I suggest that hard work, discipline, rigorous martial arts practice, supplemented with cross-training with a lifelong commitment to sustained effort is the key to unlocking your door.

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.