More Important Than Any Established Style

I just read an article about Real Based Self Defense or “RBSD”.  The writer of this article stated that RBSD programs ARE based on (traditional) martial arts, meaning, RBSD is based on martial arts techniques.  I pondered that for a few and I came up with more questions.  Now, isn’t traditional martial arts techniques a set of movements to attack your opponent?  Or, does traditional martial arts techniques mean the use of tools (hands, feet, elbows… etc)?  Also the writer stated that “if it’s a system, then it’s a martial art”. 

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I have always respected traditional martial arts but to believe that anything like RBSD derived from it is not necessarily true.  Just because a set of attacking your opponent or using a certain tool came from an ancient movement created by wise old monk doesn’t mean that (traditional martial art name here) created it all.  And how do we all know it derived from one particular martial art?  How do we know if that particular martial art derived from another martial art?  It’s not substantial, is it?  One can say, it has been recorded and “verified” by this person and it must be true or fact.  Well, being first to record anything in history doesn’t mean they were the first one to come up with it.  The planet Earth is a pretty big place.  Do you honestly believe that ONE person on the planet Earth came up with the ultimate system of fighting first? 

Everyone wants to classify things.  For some reason, we want to be first and get the recognition.  No matter what the evidence is, do you stop and wonder, did someone else on the other side of the world come up with this too at the same time?  See where I’m coming from?  Who actually owns this particular technique or movement?  I know people who train in RBSD, that never trained in traditional martial arts, normally say (when questions comes like this come up) “An elbow to the face is an elbow to the face.  Tell me which martial art came up with that first but for now, I’m going to elbow this guy’s face in since he’s trying to kill me”.  Bruce Lee once said, “If we have three arms and three legs, we will have another style of fighting but we have two arms and two legs, let’s use them to the maximum.” 

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So back to the question, “What martial art did RBSD derived from?”  Well, what traditional martial artists AND even non-traditional martial artist fail to see that all movements derived from the human body.  Meaning, the two hands, the two feet that Bruce was talking about, WE all have it.  No matter if you’re Filipino, American, Chinese…we all have two hands and two legs.  Humanly, we are the same.  A jab to the face is the same if a shaolin monk or a boxer throws it.  “But the way it’s thrown in OUR system, makes it efficient”.  Yea, it’s called body mechanics.  Hence the word “body”.  Human "BODY".  It’s not a French body, British body… it’s the HUMAN body.  So what’s the answer?  Well, duh, the human body.  Do you know where traditional martial arts also come from?  Yea, the HUMAN body.  Human beings.  Who came up with the martial arts technique first if RBSD derived from traditional martial arts?  Are you sure (name here) came up with that first and did (name here) learn from?  Questions like these getting a little redundant.  It’s actually annoying.  “[Martial arts] did not arrive by fax from [Martial arts] heaven" (old Da Vinci Code joke).  Human beings are the source of everything that is made and developed.  It is alright to question but what is the right question anyways?  Concerning martial arts, there are no really true answers other than a response of “Well, it has been recorded for thousands and thousands of years…”.  People might read this and call this rubbish but if you start seeing everything as it is (including martial arts or RBSD), without nationality or religion or whatever, then you will see a whole different plane of existence which has always been there.   

"A style should never be considered gospel truth, the laws and principles of which can never be violated. Man, the living, creating individual, is always more important than any established style."

Cheung Tin-chi

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Out of the 3 "Ip Man" movies, I thought the third installment of Bruce Lee's Wing Chun teacher was interesting.  Not because of the lead character "Ip Man" (Donnie Yen), it was because of the protagonist/antagonist, Chueng Tin-chi (Max Zhang).  His display of Wing Chun was raw and utterly merciless.  My kind of character.  Cheung Tin-chi befriends Ip Man but pits himself against him to be the best Wing Chun martial artist.  During the movie, he helps Ip Man with a couple of street fights and even helps out to save his son.  On the low, he participates in underground fights for money but gets to test his Wing Chun at the same time.  The use of his elbows and knees during those fights...vicious and unforgiving.  The challenges between him and local martial arts teachers...wow.  Using tea pots and tables to win his matches were top notch in my book.  The end fight between Cheung Tin-chi and Ip Man, skill vs. skill.  You would think that you were watching a movie about Cheung Tin-chi not Ip Man.  Which brings me to this..

Even though "Ip Man 3" was a success, many felt that the fighting scenes from Ip Man himself, lacked the fierceness and savagery from the last two movies.  For instance, the scene between the 10 Karate Black Belts vs Ip Man in the first film.  No one would have ever thought that Ip Man would be breaking bones, cracking legs, and straight blasting a dude's face at a million miles per hour.  It's something that no one had ever seen and Ip Man's "get this fight over with quick and done" continued throughout the movie.   

Now, as for Cheung Tin-chi in "Ip Man 3", his fierce and savagery in ALL his fight scenes were reminiscent of Ip Man vs. 10 Karate Black Belts.  Cheung Tin-chi did not give a fcuk.  He put his challengers through tables, glass, striking dudes necks and throwing them off the rafters... Jesus!  Max Zhang's performance was something I've already seen but felt that his abilities stole the show...or stole the movie.  The difference between Cheung Tin-chi and Ip Man, Cheung Tin-chi will do anything to win.  Meaning, if he has to use an elbow to strike a man's face, he'll do it...with full force.  While Ip Man sticks within a structure and has to work harder to win.  Basically, instead of using an elbow, he would rather use his hands.  You can see a huge difference within the way both fight in "Ip Man 3". 

Don't get me wrong, I am not writing off Donnie Yen's fighting scenes in all of the "Ip Man" movies.  I just feel that his character's fighting abilities were refined to the point where he doesn't have to be aggressive as Cheung Tin-chi.  I guess any character that has an on-going movie sequel, development is a must.  However, in Ip Man's case, Ip Man didn't really need character development.  His characteristics never changed, it's just the people around him did.  If you're a fan of martial arts movies like "Ip Man", you would want to see more of the brutality but with precision and effectiveness.  Unfortunately, Ip Man did not deliver that in "Ip Man 3".  I just hope one day, a Cheung Tin-chi move would get made.  Oh, wait...

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SYNOPSIS: After defeated by Ip Man, Cheung Tin Chi (Zhang) lives a depressed life and stays low profile. While Tin Chi tries to stay out of trouble, he gets himself into a fight with the foreigner Davidson (Bautista), big boss behind bar district. Tin Chi fights hard with Wing Chun and earns respect.

Source: http://www.maactioncinema.com/archives/5552
 

I can't wait!!

"Tao Of Jeet Kune Do: Expanded Edition"

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After Bruce Lee's death in 1973, his wife, Linda Lee (now Linda Lee Cadwell), decided to compile Bruce's notes of unarmed combat and put together a book.  Linda felt that it was important for her husband's fans and followers to know what it took for him to "find the cause of his ignorance".  Before his death, Bruce Lee wrote 7 novels of notes which helped developed "Jeet Kune Do" (the Way of the Intercepting Fist).  Bruce's idea was to release a book on his "commentaries of the martial way" but scrapped the project.  He concluded that it would limit and hinder those who read the book from expressing their own thoughts of fighting.  Bruce felt that in order for people to understand "fighting as it is", is to film it cinematically.  Thus, this idea caused him to write and direct his next movie, "Game Of Death" (*due to Bruce's death, this film was never finished).  Linda Lee, with the help of editor Gilbert Johnson, and Bruce's student; Dan Inosanto, formulated and edited Bruce's notes which became as we all know as "Tao Of Jeet Kune Do".  Released in 1975, fans and martial artists was reintroduced to Bruce Lee's martial art, "Jeet Kune Do".

Over the years, the "Tao"'s popularity became THE book to have.  The book sold over 750 thousand copies around the world, written in 9 different languages...and counting.  Controversy about the book's authenticity grew over the years as well.  Many believed that Bruce wrote this "biblical" work of art in text form but alas, this fact is more fiction than true.  Reprints of the book had an addition, crediting authors and books where Bruce resourced his notes from.    

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In 2011, Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, decided to update the "Tao" and released "Tao Of Jeet Kune Do: The Expanded Edition."  A revival of a historic 30 plus year book, gained world wide popularity again, capturing the attention of a new generation of martial artist and Bruce Lee fans alike.  So what's different between the 1975 version and the 2011 version?

The Expanded Edition has been reconstructed from beginning to end.  The exterior cover of the book is no longer paper-like and it is now protected by a soft gloss.  The font of the front cover and the entire book has been dramatically changed.  What's missing on the new front cover is the tag 'Best Seller - Over 750,000 copies sold in nine languages', the small Jeet Kune Do logo, and Bruce Lee's signature.  However, an updated Jeet Kune Do symbol is posted on the back of the book.  Inside, almost everything has been reorganized.  In the original "Tao", important passages that didn't seem to belong within a certain subject are now where they are supposed to be.  The illustrations drawn by Bruce himself, have been enlarged for better detail of quality.  New chapters are inserted at the end of the book which contain: The History of Jeet Kune Do, Reflections of Bruce Lee's students and their students about the original "Tao" and translations of all the Chinese writing by Eric Chen.  Overall, if you have been a constant reader of the original "Tao" and/or advocate of Jeet Kune Do or a practitioner, then you will definitely love the Expanded Edition and what it has to offer.  Even though the look has changed, the notes compiled by the man himself, will always stay the same. 

5 Things You Need To Consider Before Taking Martial Arts

So, you finally decided to take martial arts.  You probably seen an "Ip Man" movie or watched a UFC fight...am I right?  Where to start?  Which martial art will fit you?  Here are 5 things you need to consider before you start.

Disclaimer:  Before I begin, let’s be clear about one thing, if you’re looking to take martial arts to learn a few moves so you can impress your friends, then you are wasting your time.  Also, you are also wasting the instructor’s and his/her student’s time.  Martial arts is very serious.  There are those who have been taking martial arts since they were kids and still take it as adults.  For most, it is a way of life.  Don’t be foolish.  

Let’s begin.

1.  Time
Don't think you can learn a martial art within 6 months.  It really doesn't work that way.  Even learning the basics will take time.  You have to sacrifice a good part of your life to learn.  Almost all martial arts schools have 1 hour of training, sometimes 2.  And if you really want to be proficient, you would also have to train at home.  Let's take for example, Bruce Lee (if you do not know who he is and shame on you if you don't then here: Bruce Lee).  Bruce Lee sacrificed a great amount of time to be one of the greatest martial artist of the 20th century.  While people were sleeping in on the weekends, Bruce was up at dawn training.  So, in the other words, you will need to balance your every day life with your every day martial arts life...yes, EVERYDAY martial arts life.  Is that extreme?  To those who have never taken martial arts, yes, but to a martial artist who has been training for years, no.  How do you divide your time?  It all comes down to putting together a schedule.  Does this mean that you have to give up hanging out with friends, spending time with your loved one and family?  No, you don't, you just have to know when to start and when to end.  How about if you have a job?  Yea, you have to balance that too.  It's a challenge and that is not compared to the challenge of what's in stored for you.

2.  Commitment
With time comes commitment.  Your first time will always be rough.  Hell, when I started, I was so out of shape I was gasping for air 5 minutes into the class.  However, I didn't give up.  When I started, I seriously thought "What did I get myself into?" but I was so determined to learn.  I was committed to learn every punch, every kick, every technique if I wanted to be the best martial artist.  Which means, you have to be consistent to going to class.  Meaning, BE CONSISTENT TO GOING TO CLASS.  There's no way to say it.  When I started jeet kune do, my school was 1 hour and 30 minutes away from where I lived.  Yea, you read that right.  Every Saturday morning, I drove up to New York state to train with my teacher.  I trained with him for 2 hours and drove back home for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Commitment was my middle name (not really, but you get the idea).  I did this for over 10 years and I haven't stopped.  My teacher said "Disciple of mind" is the way to move onto the next level.  You need to develop a discipline of mind to be in total commitment.  If you're not willing to be committed to the martial art then you're just lying to yourself.

3.  Money
Let's face it, you are going to have to pay to learn.  You cannot learn for free.  Especially now that UFC is very popular.  Martial arts has always been a business.  Learning how to punch and kick has a price.  Do not fool yourself that you might find a wise old man living down the street that holds the secrets of ultimate martial arts and will take you in for a student and not charge you.  Even the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China charges money for kung fu lessons and  sleep/eat/live at their monastery.  Martial arts schools need to pay the rent, pay for equipment, uniforms, etc.  Be aware that almost all martial arts schools charge a monthly fee.  How much?  It really depends and I can't say which ones, you would have to inquire this yourself.  Other schools offer pay as you go but will charge you $50 and up per hour and/or per visit.  A great deal of people take advantage of the pay as you go but also forget that you cannot do that forever because A. schools may have limits and B. schools may not have limits but the charges per class will go up.  Assistant Instructors or the Instructor of the school will ask you to sign up for a monthly charge and even though it may be uncomfortable to talk about, you might be surprised that the monthly fee might be cheaper than you think....hopefully.  Put it this way, you are investing into your new life.  Make every dollar count.  

4.  Injury
You have a 50 percent chance that you will get injured while taking martial arts.  Twisting your ankle, getting cut from someones finger nail, getting kicked in the head by accident...unfortunately, injury comes with the territory.  Prepare to see blood, yours or/and your training partner's.  Like I said before, Martial Arts is very serious.  You know for a fact that you can contain yourself and not hurt your training partner but that's as far as it goes.  I am sure your training partner thinks the same but the slight of hand or a misstep can get you physically hurt.  I sparred my teacher one time and he gave me a good uppercut.  I suddenly saw stars for a few seconds and my vision was blurry.  I thought my retina detached.  I started to see floaters for the first time.  I went to an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and an optician to make sure my eyes were okay.  All came back normal but now, I see floaters.  Did I continue to train?  Of course, I did.  Still training now.  There will be set backs due to injury when you begin your training.  Are you willing to keep going?   

5. Research
Do NOT just walk into any martial art school and start taking lessons.  It may not be for you.  Just like the average joe, I thought ALL martial arts were the same, it just all of them come from different countries.  I was so wrong.  When I started martial arts, I never did any research and just walked into a random school that I saw passing by driving.  My very first class, I thought, I was going to learn self-defense and due to my surprise, I learned 10% of it.  Can you believe that?  All we did was forms (or katas).  *Note: There is nothing wrong with forms, I am just not a fan of them.  A year and half later, I had a bad injury and had to stop training all together (refer to #4, however, injury can also be life changing).  It was a sign that the martial arts I was taking was not for me.  A blessing in disguise.  Back then, the Internet was in its infancy and partial information on any martial arts school was on the back page of "Black Belt Magazine".  We now live in an age where social media and various sites like Google are at our reach.  Hell, they are in our pocket and we call them "smart phones".  And if you want to go "old school" go to your local book store and find the martial arts section.  Information is everywhere!  Although, if you want my opinion (and I know you do since you are reading this) here it is:  The whole purpose of learning martial arts is to defend yourself.  Believe it or not, there are a good handful of “instructors” that believe they teach realistic self-defense but it is not practical.  Martial Arts is a tool for you to use if any violent situation arises.  It was actually designed to protect yourself from physical harm.  Research thoroughly and choose wisely.

ALWAYS remember, you are investing in your TIME and COMMITMENT.  Consider these important things before deciding to walk into that martial arts school door because once you do, it will change your life forever.

Good luck!