Posts Tagged ‘weapons self defense

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

Sinawali: The Mechanics of Martial Motion

filipino-martial-arts1Filipino Martial Arts

Sinawali: The Mechanics of Martial Motion

By Michael Janich

July 2003

Pg. 54-61

Sinawali is a template for learning proper movement. It’s like the paint-by-numbers approach to artwork.

Sinawali, or double-stick training, is a practice familiar to many Filipino martial arts. In its most common form, two eskrimadors, each armed with two sticks, face each other and simultaneously perform an identical series of prescribed strikes, hitting their sticks together in various rote patterns and rhythms. Meaning, “to weave,” sinawali gets its name from the intricate, intertwining patterns of the sticks as they are wielded in these drills.

Although sinawali is practiced in many Filipino martial arts forms, most of this practice usually consists of simple mechanical repetition. At a basic level, this type of training is an extremely efficient way of developing form and programming motor skills. However, to the advanced practitioner, these amazing drills offer a much higher level of skill development and a true understanding of physical movement.

Joseph Simonet has spent years analyzing and refining sinawali drills to extract their deeper meanings. The founder of KI Fighting Concepts, a concept-based martial training institute in Wenatchee, Wash., Simonet has instructor-level ranking in kenpo karate, Indonesian pentjak silat, wing chun gung-fu, Yang style taijiquan, doce pares eskrima and eskrido. With more than 30 years of martial arts training to draw from, Simonet still considers sinawali drills a critical step in his eclectic KI Fighting Concepts curriculum.

“Like any form,” Simonet explains, “sinawali drills are designed to be a dictionary of motion – a means of learning and refining specific movements through structured repetition. As a learning process, they are excellent. But like any form, we need to remember that the material learned is what’s important, not the process.”

Mechanical, But Effective

Even at the basic level of mechanical repetition, sinawali training offers a number of significant benefits. First, because the student must move weapons in addition to his limbs, the paths of the movements are more visible and therefore more easily learned and corrected. The weight of the sticks also provides a form of resistance that helps the practitioner develop strength in the appropriate muscle groups while at the same time programming motor memory.

Since most people have a dominant side, training with matched weapons allows the weak side to “copy” the movements of the strong side, balancing the body and promoting the rapid development of weak-side skills and strength.

By working with longer weapons and striking stick to stick, beginning eskrimadors can train safely and develop their reflexes progressively by maintaining a long-range distance relationship with their partner. Once the basic patterns have been learned and the students are hitting consistently, they can increase both the speed and power of their hits, ultimately achieving full-power, full-speed hits in rapid succession with their partner. In the process, the also learn the importance of weapon grip and impact-shock management – critical but often-overlooked aspects of real-world weapon use.

Express Yourself

Although basic sinawali training offers a number of significant benefits to the novice, the real value of these drills lies in the root movements – and the practitioner’s ability to understand and creatively express these movements.

“The key to mastering any martial art form is the ability to appreciate and apply the physiological potential o fits movements,” Simonet explains. “This does not mean accepting and mimicking the one or two applications your instructor taught you. It means experimenting and looking deeper into the dynamics of the motion to extract its full potential.”

Simonet’s approach to sinawali training is a direct reflection of his Filipino martial arts lineage, which starts with his primary instructor, doce pares eighth-degree black belt Christopher Petrilli, and extends to Petrilli’s instructor, legendary doce pares grandmaster Cacoy Cañete. Both Petrilli and Cañete take a unique approach to sinawali, emphasizing the extreme close-range applications of this normally long-range style of training. The result is a higher evolution of the basic body mechanics of sinawaali that emphasizes unconventional strikes, particularly ones that take advantage of the punyo, or butt end of the stick.

For example, most Filipino martial arts practitioners of are familiar with Heaven Six, a basic six-count sinawali pattern that consists of a right angle 1, left angle 1, right angle 2, left angle 2, right angle 2, and left angle 1. In its standard form, all strikes are executed with a full stroke, hitting with the long end of the stick.

Close-Range Tactics

A more advanced version of this drill emphasizes close-range tactics and the use of the punyo as well as the main body of the stick. In this drill, the first and fourth strikes are executed almost like a hook punch – following the same downward diagonal angle, but with the stick tip down and across the body and striking with the face of the punyo just beyond the knuckles of the hand. The third and sixth strikes are also designed for close-quarter use and are delivered with the bottom end of the punyo. This is represented in partner training by striking wrist to wrist.

With one subtle addition, an even more advanced eight-count pattern can be created. After the first and fourth strikes of the above pattern, a close-range abaniko (fanning) strike is added, rotating immediately out of the punyo punch and striking with the long end of the stick.

The above variations of Heaven Six add two unorthodox but highly effective strikes to the practitioner’s arsenal: a downward smashing strike with the long end of the stick held horizontally and the obvious punyo-style punch. In application, these unusual strikes are devastating, hitting with amazing force from unexpected angles. These strikes also promote the concept of striking rapidly with alternate ends of the stick. This is a trademark of Simonet’s unique brand of stickfighting.

“To appreciate the full physiological potential of a motion, you need to look at the entire movement not just the strike,” Simonet notes. “In the case of sinawali patterns, the positioning of the hand as it chambers and prepares for a strike is often a structurally powerful and very useful movement. Rather than wasting it, we take advantage of it and make it into another hit.”

Long and Short of It

To further refine the ability to hit alternately with both the punyo and long end of the stick, Simonet uses yet another unique drill. In this drill, the practitioners begin with the sticks in their right hands crossed diagonally in front of them, chambered near their left shoulders. On the first count, they strike with an angle 2 backhand with the long end of the stick. Rebounding from this strike, they punch forward and upward with the punyo of the stick for count two. Chambering near their left shoulders again, on count three they strike wrist to wrist, simulating and angle 2 punyo strike. Chambering across the body yet again, they strike with a full angle 2 stroke for count four. The follow through of this strike leaves them chambered near their right shoulders for an angle 1 strike with the long end of the stick (count 5). On count six, they rebound and punch upward and to the right with the punyo of the stick, chambering near their right shoulders again. Count seven is an angle 1 strike with the bottom of the punyo, simulated by striking wrist to wrist. Chambering once again at the right shoulder, both partners strike with a full angle 1 stroke (count eight) that follows through to chamber at the left shoulder, where they are ready to start the drill again.

This drill may be performed with a single stick, as described here, or by alternating hands with two sticks. With practice, the eskrimador learns to rapidly alternate between punyo punches, strikes with the long end of the stick, and strikes or hooking actions with the bottom of the punyo.

In a close-range encounter, a simple backhand angle 2 strike to the head with the stick can now be instantly followed with a punyo punch to the throat, a backhand punyo strike to the side of the neck, and another full-stroke angle 2 strike to the head in just fractions of a second. Any blocks that an opponent may be able to insert to foil this flow are immediately “removed” by hooking the blocking hand with the punyo and pulling it our of the way. When fighting with single sticks, the non-weapon, or “live” hand continues the same patterns of movement as when armed with the stick, but now its function is that of tapping and clearing the opponent’s limbs. When combined with hooks with the punyo, the result is an extremely sophisticated and brutally effective system of close-quarter trapping, all based directly on sinawali movement patterns.

These are only a few examples of the advanced sinawali patterns that form the core of Simonet’s KI Fighting Concepts stickfighting curriculum. His entire program of instruction includes more than 100 sinawali patterns and variations, each of which this author designed to ingrain a specific set of body mechanics and motor memory. In addition to the drills themselves, Simonet’s teaching and practice of sinawali also requires that students be able to instantly flow from one drill to another. The motions required for these transitions offer yet another spectrum of movements and promote spontaneity and quick reflexes that go far beyond the rote memorization and mechanical execution of basic sinawali.

“Like any prescribed form,” Simonet says, “sinawali is a template for learning proper movement. It’s like the paint-by-numbers approach to artwork. By following someone else’s color pattern and brush strokes, you learn the mechanics of painting. Once you’re comfortable with them, you paint your own picture. Just as two people given the same paints and brushes will paint two different pictures, two martial artists will find different meanings in the movements of sinawali. Like any other true art form, in the martial arts, personal expression is the ultimate goal.”

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.

21
Jan
09

Total Domination part 2

Inside Kung-Fu

ikf-july-2005

Interview by Michael Janich

July 2005

Pg 62-66, 108, 111

The attitude behind Jospeh Simonet’s KI Fighting Concepts system is simple: One move and you’re done.

In last month’s Inside Kung-Fu, Joseph Simonet explained the 30-year background behind his impressive martial arts resume and the genesis of his eclectic KI Fighting Concepts curriculum. In part 2 of his interview, this outspoken martial artist explains his personal fighting philosophy, the role of wooden dummy training in the quest for personal martial excellence, and his plans for the future.

INSIDE KUNG-FU: What are the key components of the KI Fighting Concepts philosophy and curriculum?

JOSEPH SIMONET: Every aspect of my personal study of the arts was a quest to fill in the gaps in both my own knowledge and skills and the curriculum that I offer to my students. After devoting myself to a variety of different arts, I stepped back and began to cherry pick the elements that were most valuable. Again, the goal was to synthesize the various elements at the foundational level, not to arbitrarily lump things together.

In its current form, the key elements of the system include proper structure and alignment, as derived from my interpretation of wing cun and silat; sensitivity and spontaneity, adapted from the Filipino arts, taijiquan, and wing chun; and an attitude of “wherever you’re standing, you’re stand in my spot,” which is a reflection of both my personality and some elements of Indonesian silat.

IKF: Wherever you’re standing, you’re standing in my spot. What does that mean?

JS: It means having the attitude and commitment to totally dominate your opponent. Most martial arts separate fighting into four ranges: kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling. We believe in only one range: trampling range. That’s the range between my initial impact with your body and your impact with the ground. At that point, I’m standing in your spot.

IKF: Certainly somebody of your size and strength could pull that off. But is that a sound foundation of an entire system?

JS: The system works because it is based on proper anatomical structure and a committed attitude. My partner and assistant instructor, Addy Hernandez, weighs half as much as I do and is about one-third as strong, but she can easily knock most men my size on their butts. If the system works for her, it will work for anyone.

IKF: What is Addy’s martial arts background?

JS: In addition to being the first person to earn a black belt in the KI Fighting Concepts curriculum, she has also earned black belts in kenpo, doce pares eskrima, and eskrido, and has instructor’s certification in taijiquan and yoga. She has also kickboxed competitively in the ring.

IKF: If KI Fighting Concepts is a superior system, why did she train in the traditional arts as well?

JS: To teach the full KI Fighting Concepts curriculum effectively—especially to people already trained in other styles—it was important for her to experience some of the traditional arts in their pure forms. That gives her the frame of reference to relate to the other arts, to understand the lineage of our core concepts, and, most importantly, to have a full appreciation of what we do and why. As my assistant and protégé, she needed the additional background. For anyone else just interested in developing fighting skills, the KI Fighting Concepts curriculum is all you need.

IKF: How would you describe your typical student?

JS: Most of our students, both at our school in Wenatchee, Wash., in our affiliate schools in New York, and in our distance learning programs, are experienced martial artists over 30 years old who are frustrated with the traditional arts and really want to learn how to fight. They’ve been around the block, are tired of the hype and want something real.

IKF: Why do they come to you?

JS: In most cases, they got a taste of my approach through my book or one of my videos and like what they saw. They were looking for both a system that made sense and a mentor with the courage to lead, so they came to me.

IKF: You’re a pretty tough and opinionated instructor. Why do they stay?

JS: It’s interesting that usually whatever brings a student to us is never what keeps him here. Our students always grow in ways they never anticipated. Many of them came looking for a physical challenge and never expected the mental and emotional growth they experienced. Others came to me to give them confidence and they ended up finding it themselves through the physical aspects of what we do. It’s just further proof that the martial arts is a personal journey, not a production line to create people who all move and fight the same way.

IKF: Wooden dummy training is usually associated with the practice of specific Chinese systems like wing chun or choy lay fut. Why is this traditional training method such an important part of your eclectic art?

JS: The wooden dummy allows me to practice proper form and structure with full power and resistance. Unlike a heavy bag, it also provides the anatomical tools to practice full-power blocks, traps and other techniques with great realism. Best of all, it’s the only training partner I’ve ever had that never whines and is never tired, sick, bored or injured.

IKF: The core of your wooden dummy training is a form you developed called the “Slam Set.” Why would an eclectic martial art need a form? Are you just replacing someone else’s tradition with your own?

JS: The Slam Set represents all the essential elements I’ve learned in 33 years of training condensed into a 60-second form. If you’ve been around the arts for a while, when you first see it, you’ll see what look like elements of kenpo, eskrima, silat, muay Thai, whing chun and other arts. But when you analyze the form and start extracting applications from it, you realize that what looked like kenpo was not only kenpo, it was also an element of eskrima, and expression of taijiquan, and a fundamental concept of silat. Ultimately, it becomes a window to understanding the common ground of all martial arts.

I developed the Slam Set as a vehicle to train all the core principles of the arts I’ve studied and to provide a set of essential fighting skills in one form. I did it on the wooden dummy so that all the movements would have to be done with contact and intensity and would not degenerate into a meaningless dance. In the process of developing the set, I subconsciously included a number of elements that I knew needed to be there, but at first even I wasn’t completely sure why. As I practiced and analyzed the form and its possible applications, I realized that it truly includes all the movements and skills essential to a real righting system. Even now, years later, I will see a technique or application from another art that I really like and I re-evaluate my curriculum to make sure I haven’t missed anything. In most cases, I end up discovering those movements somewhere in the Slam Set.

IKF: It still seems like practicing a rote form is inconsistent with the spontaneity and “formlessness” you claimed to achieve with KI Fighting Concepts. Aren’t they opposites?

JS: Forms, like oral traditions, are a convenient and effective way of passing on a large body of knowledge, because they allow you to remember things in a sequence. You just need to understand that it’s the knowledge that’s important, not the sequence.

Any movement or series of movements in the Slam Set can be practiced individually as a drill, in any combination, and in any order. With proper visualization and intensity, they can also represent thousands of different applications. For example, what looks like a wing chun bong sao/lop sau/backfist combination to you might be a figure-four armlock to me. The movements are the same, but the intent—and therefore the application—are very different.

By mastering the physical movements of the Slam Set and then creatively expressing them in as many different ways as possible, you don’t do techniques; you make techniques.

IKF: What is the Art and Science of Mook Jong (ASMJ)?

JS: Once I realized that the Slam Set is, in fact, a distillation of all the essential elements of KI Fighting Concepts, it made sense to use it as a primary tool to teach the system to others. In the ASMJ program, students begin by learning the Slam Set form and the most obvious, literal translations of the movements as applications. Once they are competent of the movements. That’s the science.

Then, based on their understanding of the applications, they start analyzing the form and discovering their own combative expressions of the movements. They start seeing applications in the transitional movements of the form—between the “techniques”—and tap into the full potential of their skills. That’s the art.

IKF: How does someone get involved in your curriculum?

JS: We recently established a worldwide federation to provide an infrastructure to share our art. We also host an annual training camp at our facility in Chelan, Wash., which features more than 40 wooden dummies, and teach seminars all over the country. The resources are already there. You just need an open mind and the guts to train hard.

IKF: What are your goals for KI Fighting Concepts and for you as a martial artist and instructor?

JS: I want to build a professional organization of like-minded people who are interested in continuing the development of the effective fighting arts. I want to find worthy instructors who are interested in sharing this information with motivated students. Most of all, I want to leave more than I take.

It’s not about me taking credit for what I’ve done; it’s about enabling others to continue to build upon it without having to do it all over. They shouldn’t have to repeat history. I know that there are plenty of people who have changed their approach to the arts after seeing what I do without ever giving me credit. That’s fine. As long as the evolution continues, I’ve done my part.

IKF: That sounds amazingly humble compared to some of the other things you’ve said in this interview.

JS: Humility is about balancing what you can do with what you say you can do. It’s not about selling yourself short to try to impress someone. When you get right down to it, most of today’s martial arts legends has-beens surrounded by wannabes. I’m here now and I’ve got a lot to offer. People who really want to learn appreciate that and are lining up to train with me. That’s it.

IKF: Nevertheless, I’m sure you know that you’ll probably ruffle a few feathers when this interview is printed. Any final words for your critics?

JS: Sure. I don’t accept challenges; but I do respond to attacks.

Michael Janich is a freelance writer, author and instructor in Longmont, Colorado. He also is a founder of the Martial Blade Concepts system of edged-weapon defense and director of product development for the Masters of Defense knife company. He can be reached at http://www.martialbladecomcepts.com