Posts Tagged ‘training system of the future

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.

22
Jan
09

Choosing a Knife- IKF June 2007

ikf-june-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“Choosing a Knife”

By Addy Hernandez

June 2007

Carrying a weapon for self-defense is a serious commitment. If you are going to trust your life to a piece of gear, you owe it to yourself to choose that gear carefully. When it comes to choosing a knife for personal defense, there are some specific qualities you should consider.

Strength tops the list of qualities that a good self-defense knife should have – particularly if it is a folding knife. The design, engineering and quality of execution of a folding knife lock all affect a knife’s inherent strength and its ability to withstand the physical stresses of powerful cuts and thrusts. A lock failure could cause a folding knife to not only live up to its name at the wrong time, but it could also cost you a few fingers in the process.

Functionality is another necessary characteristic. The blade style, shape of the point, edge geometry and sharpness all have a direct bearing on how well the knife actually cuts and punctures when employed in a high-speed defensive situation. The best way to understand this quality is through actual test cutting on targets that replicate the body parts you would be cutting with your style of knife tactics. For example, if you focus on disabling cuts that target the connective tissues of the arms and legs, you can make test targets using meat roasts wrapped in plastic (to simulate skin) and covered with clothing. If your knife performs well and creates the depth of cut necessary to hit your preferred targets, you’ve validated the functionality of your knife. You’ll also have a realistic understanding of the true destructive power of your blade.

Another aspect of functionality has to do with the shape and construction of the knife’s handle. A good knife handle must provide you with a secure grip and allow you to manage the shock that is transferred back into your hand during full-power cuts and thrusts. Slippery, poorly shaped handles can compromise your control of the knife and, in extreme cases, could even result in self-inflicted cuts. Imagine thrusting full force at a soft-tissue target and hitting solid bone. If the shape and material of your knife handle won’t allow you to positively manage that type of shock, you need to keep shopping.

Convenient carry must also be a prerequisite of a defensive knife. To ensure that the knife is available when you need it, it should be carried in a comfortable, accessible location on your body at all times. That carry position must work with all the styles of clothing and allow you to carry the knife in a consistent location on your body. Many knife collectors brag about their “rotation” of knives, and often have a different carry knife (or knives) and carry style for every day of the week. Knife players who truly understand self-defense, however, know that the rapid deployment of a knife is a critical component in effective fighting. Always carrying your knife in the same position is one of the keys to rapid deployment, since reflexes are based on consistent, repetitive actions.

Quick, reliable deployment of a knife begins with carry location, but there is more to it than that. That’s why “deploy-ability” – a combination of design characteristics that allow the knife to be rapidly drawn and opened to a ready position – is also an essential quality of a personal defense knife. For folding knives, this usually means a combination of a clothing clip and some type of hole, stud or disk in the blade that allows it to be opened with one hand. For fixed blades, it’s typically a synergy of knife and sheath design that supports comfortable concealed carry and a fast reflexive draw.

The final basic quality of a good personal defense knife is that it is legal to carry in the areas in which you operate. Research of the knife laws in your area – both state and municipal – will help define the types of knives and methods of carry that are legally permissible. In many cases, the terminology of the laws may seem unclear, but if you focus on key elements like blade length restrictions on double-edged blades and other specific characteristics, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what is and isn’t legal.

By choosing a knife that clearly falls within these parameters, you will not only be able to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones, but you will be in a much better position to justify your actions in court. And unfortunately in today’s world, defending your actions just as real a challenge as defending your safety. Do your research, choose your knife wisely and you’ll be well prepared to do both.

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.”