Posts Tagged ‘solo training on a mook jong

22
Jan
09

Following a Vision- IKF February 2009

Inside Kung-Fu Magazineikf-feb-2009

February 2009

Vol. 37

Following a vision

By Addy Hernandez

Late last summer, my instructor Joseph Simonet and I had just finished an amazing tai chi session together. I was sitting in the center of our Bagua (the name of one of our training platforms at Wind and Rock) as Joseph went and gathered some organic apricots from one of our trees. He brought them to me without a word as we sat and enjoyed the sweet fruits of our labor. It was one of those moments!

This feeling of wholeness and well-being overtook me. As a cool breeze and warm sun intoxicated my senses, I felt and intuitive vibration of being here in the now. Breaching the silence, I simply said, “Thank you.” Without hesitation Joseph replied, “Don’t thank me, thank Lillian, Lillian Susumi.”

I learned from Joseph that Lillian was one of his earliest tai chi instructors back in the 1980’s. She specialized in tai chi chueh and was the one who introduced Joseph to Gao-fu, his most prolific tai chi teacher. Joseph told me the story of Lillian calling him from several states away, asking permission to come and visit him on her vision quest of enlightenment. Apparently, she was seeking a favorable location to live her art. She felt a need and a calling to reach out to Joseph. A few days later she arrived and visited with Joseph for several days.

During her visit, she had identified several vortexes on Joseph’s property. After a few days rest, she left, never to return.

As Joseph told me this story, once again, I was enveloped in this sense of bliss. “So,” I asked, “Are you telling me that I’m sitting in the center of a vortex?”

Joseph replied, “It’s not that simple; let me explain.”

Joseph proceeded to tell me that he felt his art, “The Art and Science of Mook Jong,” was really very simple. It was really more like the “Art of Intuition.” He summed it up by saying it was all about, “the skill of thinking intuitively” and manifesting it physically through the notion of synchronicity.

Intrigued, I replied, “What is synchronicity?”

Joseph answered, “Synchronicity is a theory from Carl Jung relating to meaningful coincidences. Jung was a student of the I-Ching.” Joseph later confided in me that during Lillian’s visit she had also opened a gate for him. He learned to let go of knowing and began accessing the not knowing – an intuitive synchronicity. Joseph proceeded to tell me that when he built the “Bagua” training platform, he simply let go and filled in the blanks. He had a vision of what the platform was meant to be and followed that vision literally.

However, after designing, building and training on the Bagua, the intuitive, metaphysical, spiritual and historical significance has only now begun to reveal itself. This is where the story gets interesting. Unbeknownst to him, in building his “training platform” Joseph tapped into a 100 million-year-old life form-one of the oldest and most valuable written texts on the planet, all the while creating a giant natural magnet out of earth crystals.

Starting with the “vortex” location that Lillian had sensed, Joseph outlined an octagon shaped with basalt rock columns. Basalt rocks have a strong magnetic property, are hexagonal in shape (six-sided), and are a group of rock formations referred to as metamorphic rock or changes in form. This coincides with the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching (The Book of Changes) and Bagua’s palm changes. At the center of our platform is a brown Moroccan marble yin/yang symbol, which is also a part of the metamorphic rock classification. Captured in the brown marble is a fossil from the cretaceous period (150 million years ago). It’s a nautilus fossil whose species has survived several severe extinction events. Joseph also built an 8-foot waterfall which crashes into rocks and emits negative ions. Negative ions help purify the air, similar to the surrounding trees which create negative ions during photosynthesis. Imbedded in the concrete octagon are the 8 trigrams and the 64 hexagrams of I-Ching. Granite is known for its high level of oxygen composition.

Adding up all these “coincidences,” I realized that when Joseph said Lillian had opened up a gate for him, he truly tapped into a universal matrix of intuitive synchronicity. No wonder I feel an amazing energy when I train on the “Bagua.”

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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.

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.

16
Jan
09

Inside Kung-Fu May 2004

ikf-may-2004Inside Kung-Fu

“The Future of Dummy Training”

By Joseph Simonet

May 2004

Pg 30-35, 66-67

Put 13 dummies together and what do you get? The training system of the future.

The mook jong, or wooden dummy, is among the unique and effective training devices developed for the martial artist. Unlike simple punching bags and makiwara that only allow the practice of offensive striking techniques, the mook jong provides a platform for training both offensive and defensive movements. With a bit of imagination, it also helps the practitioner chain numerous techniques together, accurately simulating the dynamics of a real fight—an even that rarely resembles a one-sided offensive combination on a heavy bag.

Although the mook jong is probably the most advanced method of solo training possible in the martial arts, learning its proper use is best accomplished through hands-on instruction with a qualified teacher. To do this effectively, both the instructor and the student should be able to perform the movements on the dummy simultaneously. In this way, the student can accurately mimic the instructor’s technique in real time.

With two or possibly three dummies mounted side by side, an instructor can effectively teach up to two students at a time. Beyond that, however, the traditional wall-mounted dummy configuration makes real-time mirroring of an instructor’s movements—the most efficient learning method—impractical and ineffective.

In the KI Fighting Concepts curriculum, we focus heavily on mook jong training because we are confident that it is the most advanced and productive method of solo practice. Although the roots of our dummy draining lie in wing chun gung-fu (one of our core systems), through extensive experimentation and development we have adapted the techniques of our other core systems—kenpo, eskrima, pentjak silat, and taijiquan—to the dummy as well. The resulting training method is called “The Art and Science of Mook Jong.” Like the KI Fighting Concepts curriculum, this method is an eclectic, combat-orientated synthesis that blends and cross-references movement at the conceptual level, while maintaining respect for the core classical styles. The “science” of our wooden dummy training identifies the common elements and physical structures of the arts and refines them through repetitive contact training. Based on this foundation, students learn to connect and integrate movement in a non-linear progression. This personalized and, ultimately, spontaneous expression of their martial skill becomes the “art” of the method.

Despite the many advantages offered by our mook jong curriculum, for the reasons noted earlier, we sill couldn’t teach it effectively to large numbers of students. Therefore, we applied the same spirit of innovative traditionalism that characterizes our dummy curriculum to the design of the dummy-learning environment itself. The result is The Octagon.

What It Is

The Octagon is a 25-foot-wide octagonal platform that is home to an array of 13 wooden dummies. The base of the Octagon is a four-inch-thick concrete pad reinforced with #9 bar screen. This pad, which required eight yards of concrete, was poured over a two-inch bed of 5/8-inch gravel to keep moisture from leeching out of the concrete and ensure that the base would be impervious to the extreme weather changes at its location in Lake Chelan, Wash. After the concrete was poured, it was carefully surfaced to create a 1-1/2-inch drainage slope from the center to the outside edges of the platform. It was then coated with a pecan-colored powder and stamped with a late stamp for texture and aesthetic appeal. All edges of the platform were reinforced with 22-1/2-degree steel braces to guarantee the proper angles at the corners of the Octagon and further strengthen the platform.

Most traditional mook jongs use a wooden framework to provide the combination of support and shock absorption necessary for a good “live” dummy. To provide this same feel, yet allow for simpler construction and an unobstructed view, we developed a different mounting method. After determining the proper locations of the 12 other dummies, we used a roto hammer to drill a pattern of holes into the concrete to accept threaded inserts. We then used lag screws to attach three steel right-angle brackets to the base of each dummy. A thick rubber pad was placed over each set of mounting holes in the concrete, each dummy was carefully aligned, and then 5/8-inch steel bolts were screwed through the brackets and pads into the threaded inserts in the concrete. By carefully adjusting the tension of the bolts against the compression of the rubber pads, we tuned each dummy to have just the right about of “give” to move and react like a traditional frame-mounted mook jong.

Pivotal Change

The center dummy of the array was mounted differently. Instead of a static mount, we attached it to a pivoting steel sleeve that was inset into the concrete platform. This arrangement allows the center dummy to pivot 360 degrees, yet be locked down in any position. In this way, I can quickly and easily reposition the dummy to provide different views to the students working the outer dummies.

The first real test of the effectiveness of the Octagon came during my Wind and Rock training camp last July. I took 24 of the 60-plus participants in the camp and paired them on the 12 outer dummies. I then proceeded to teach a variety of dummy movements, drills, and combinations just as I do during private lessons. After one partner of each pair had an opportunity to both follow along with me and practice the movements individually, we repeated the process for the other partner. Throughout the process, I adjusted the position of the center dummy to provide a variety of viewing angles for all the students.

The results were phenomenal. I not only could effectively teach dummy technique to a large number of students in a single session, the group learning dynamic provided by the Octagon reinforced the training material and reduced the performance anxiety that students typically feel when working the dummy alone. Rather than feeling like they were in the spotlight, they felt the support and camaraderie of a group training session. The net result was that they learned faster and had better retention of the information than students who performed one-on-one. This method also validated wooden dummy training for many of the participants and motivated them to incorporate it into the practice of their core styles.

Height Advantage

The Octagon also offers a number of other significant advantages. To accommodate students of different heights, the outer dummies of the Octagon were made different sizes. Initially, students are positioned at a dummy that is comparable to their own height and reach to make learning the movements easier. However, once they become proficient at using the dummy, we move them to a different dummy that is larger or smaller. This forces them to adapt their motions to an “opponent” who is taller or shorter than they are. Rather than forcing a technique to work the same way, they learn to modify their movements on the fly to achieve the desired result. For example, an elbow strike to the head of a shorter dummy might only reach the torso of a taller one. A downward check and strike might, therefore, be replaced by an upward check and strike to compensate for the difference in height.

Initially, students are given time to sort out the necessary changes in their technique. Once they have learned to adapt to both taller and shorter dummies, they proceed to a form of “round robin” training unique to the Octagon. Like a game of musical chairs, the students must quickly move from one dummy to the next to perform either a drill, a portion of a form, or an entire form. By varying the movement pattern through the dummies, they have to spontaneously adapt to the different heights as they move. For a real challenge, I have them begin a form, like our “slam set,” on one dummy. On my command, they stop where they are in the form, move to another dummy, and resume the form. This process is repeated until the form is complete. This type of marathon training is one of the most challenging forms of dummy practice and is the final stage of testing in our mook jong curriculum.

Unlike the traditional wooden wall mount, the mounting system used for the dummies in the Octagon allows a 360-degree range of movement around each dummy. Students can practice a broader range of footwork and angling and can even move behind the dummies to practice chokes and rear takedowns.

Multiple Uses

The array of dummies in the Octagon is also an excellent resource for multiple-attacker training. Advanced students who are already comfortable dealing with a single opponent are first introduced to the basic concepts of fighting multiple attackers. Once they understand the concepts of “stacking” attackers, the use of human shields and obstacles, and the use of hit-and-run tactics, they learn to apply them with power in the Octagon. By varying the student’s starting position and orientation, we can simulate countless realistic attack scenarios.

Another unique advantage of the Octagon platform is that its outdoor location leaves it completely exposed to the elements. This allows students to train in all the weather conditions possible in central Washington, from intense heat to bitter cold. When the snow falls, we do not shovel the Octagon platform clean. Instead, we use the snow and ice that accumulates on the platform as a training tool to teach students how to move, maintain balance, and generate power in realistic environmental conditions. Since many real street attacks occur at night, we do much of our practice on the Octagon during the hours of darkness. This teaches us to rely on touch rather than sight and to apply our sensitivity skills to realistic fighting situations.

Since a number of my private students are law enforcement officers and security professionals, I have also adapted the Octagon to their training needs. But using soft-air pistols that replicate their duty firearms, they can practice integrating empty-hand defensive tactics with close-quarters shooting skills. For example, an officer may engage one or two dummies with empty-hand strikes to buy enough time and distance to draw his weapon. He can then fire at the dummies, which simulate attackers at different rangers and angles more realistically than a traditional shooting range. By attaching wooden panels to the dummies or removing the arms from the dummies themselves, the officers can also incorporate the use of barricades and cover.

For most dedicated martial artists, dummy training represents a significant step in their training evolution that allows them to creatively explore both their offensive and defensive technique through dynamic solo training. Similarly, the Octagon represents a quantum leap in dummy training methodology, enabling a single instructor to not only teach a large group of students, but to lead them in real time through progressive dummy drills and forms. It also opens the door to the creative use the multiple dummies and the realistic environmental training that is impossible with traditional mook jong configurations. Most importantly, it is another manifestation of the KI Fighting Concepts motto, “Where innovation transcends tradition.”