Oct 102011
 

 

 Today I bring you some vintage 1989 footage of a…fight(?) aired in South Africa. In this video is self proclaimed Ninja Master Ashida Kim. Kim is the dude wearing a ninja outfit and boxing gloves. Now I have waited on posting this video for a while because I still can’t figure out what the referee is wearing. After much thought, I’m going to go with a jet pack. Surprisingly, the other opponent seems out of place, looking strangely…fighterish. I am getting tired of seeing Bruce Buffer in a tux, Joe Rogan in some Affliction type get up, I think its time that Dana White starts kicking it up to South African standards. I want Herb Dean in a jet pack, Joe Rogan dressed (and acting) like a robot, Bruce Buffer dressed as Hulk Hogan. Yeah! Well I can dream

 

Sep 202011
 

 Every martial art tends to venerate its founder. Those of us who grew up on a diet of martial arts movies and shows attribute almost supernatural powers to the old school masters. For example Chuck Norris can solve a rubix cube in one turn. Its true, I read it on the Internet. Bruce Lee can apparently defeat anybody at anything. His surviving students claim that if he had wanted to, he would have been one of the top three boxers in the world, and that he was really a great grappler, he just never taught it to anyone. No matter how you look at it, we had a time where there were some really great martial artist wondering the world. The question is always asked, how good a fighter were these men really. We hear about how awesome they were, how fast, how deadly, but who did they ever fight? So I’ve compiled a list of famous martial artists and their respective fighting records.

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Sep 192011
 

A really weird argument. One school of BJJ claims grappling in our Jiu jitsu gis is the best way to learn to grapple well. The other school of though says that training in the gi only makes you better at fighting in a gi, if you are going to be grappling without it, or fighting in real life/mma, you need to train without it.

So who is on who’s side. Plenty. Most of the Gracies feel the gi is uber important. Eddie Bravo, and who knows how many MMA Jiu Jitsu guys would argue the other way around. It really doesn’t prove anything to go down a list of fighters and tell you what they feel on the subject, there are nearly endless names on both sides. Let me instead lay out why the average grappler feels on way or another.

The Gi guy likes the gi, because it gives him a real advantage on wrestlers who wonder into class. Sure, double leg me, but with these handles we forced you to wear I can coke you out or at least control you. The No gi guy likes the fact that once he gets all sweaty and slick, holding on to him is really hard. There’s no controlling me. I’ll flail until one of us lands in a submission. People who are less flexible prefer gis, people who are less technical prefer no gi. Yeah, ticked both sides off with that one. I don’t mean everyone! 

Once you reach a higher skill level it starts to come down to this, people who have rank in BJJ like wearing a gi, because it goes with their belt so well, heh, makes them look like the boss. People who have bounced around from school to school might be highly skilled, but would never stay in one place long enough for an instructor to tie a belt around their waist, these people hate the gi because it reminds them that they don’t have the rank to wrap around it. Most of the time when you see a school that says “submission grappling” but doesn’t state a style, that’s him.

Personally? I like some of both. I like to roll in a gi against no gi opponents. I always tell them, “Please, use it against me as much as you can, its good for me.” You have to be willing to work outside your comfort zones, and if you have ever rolled for a few hours in an un air conditioned gym wearing a gi, you will be out of your comfort zone. So I guess I’ll go with the very safe answer of “Just train more.”

Sep 192011
 

Really, I’ll let this rest for a while after this, but I just found that there is an instructional book for Klingon martial arts. I would own this book if it wasn’t so expensive. The reason it costs so much, is that this book was produced without the permission of whoever it is that owns the rights to Star Trek, and most of the copies have been destroyed. This makes this an illegal martial art! If anyone owns one, please send me some scans of the book. Really interested.

Aug 232011
 

Kata Ashi Hishigi from the The Textbook of Ju-Jutsu by Professor S.K. Uyenishi

The funny thing about any traditional martial art is that justification for anything that is not immediately clear is normally cleared up using the word “traditionally”.
Student, “Why do we wear flower pots on our heads?”
Sensei, “Well traditionally all students of the style wear flower pots on their heads.”
And far be it from any of us to question tradition. I’m still wondering why we wear singlets in wrestling. I totally get why we wore them back in the day, but we have grown as a culture since then…
But I digress.
To be totally honest, I love tradition in martial arts, the question is, at what point does something become traditional? Lets be honest, the Gi, the traditional martial arts uniform for most martial arts isn’t all that old. In fact most martial arts are even younger than the gi is. All this long preamble is to address a bone of contention a lot of us cross training martial artists have with the competition rules of Judo.

Regardless of what anyone says, Judo always has been, and hopefully always will specialize in nage-waza, or throwing. However, when Judo first started competing, it was against other styles of ju jitsu who didn’t really like the new kid on the block. Kano (founder of Judo) said this about the constant challenges to the style, “It seemed that the Kodokan had to take on the whole of Japan, and had to have a spirit of being ready for anything.” In 1886 the first high profile tournament, (in which they were challenged by Totsuka-ha Yoshin-ryu jujutsu) several of their matches lasted more than an hour! At the time, any throw and any lock was legal. Things went until they were finished.

Naturally these kind of matches were not what Kano was working towards, nor the rules used within the Judo schools themselves. However it wasn’t until 1887 that Kano banned finger and toe locks in competition, which normally means they had been doing that before the ban. It wasn’t until 1899 that wrists and ankle locks were banned. Things progressed until 1916 when they banned twisting knee locks and submissions by squeezing the ribs (apparently they were having problems with that). They waited almost another ten years and in 1925 gave up and banned any lower body locks or submissions.

Things cooled down for a while, and up until the 1970s matches were still allowed to be 20 minutes long! As glad as most of us were to get smaller rounds, they made up for it by introducing a penalty for “passive judo” which in practice was a penalty for not attacking every 15 seconds, or as I like to call it, “Ready or not here I come!” They also banned the kani basami (flying scissor sweep), and although I love that throw, I really do see the danger in letting people use it. They also added and removed various small points and penalties.

Finally almost to the present, 2010 they removed using anything that involves grabbing, scooping or touching below the belt. (think Greco Roman wrestling) unless its part of combination, which in real life is really difficult to pull off.

So if we are going to say “We are doing this because of tradition.” it makes you wonder which tradition we are following.

Aug 112011
 

Wow, busy week. I’ve ignored the last week’s UFC so completely that I’ve given up at this point and instead give you the top 5 weirdist martial arts weapons.

Martial arts generally make sense. We start simple, punching folks, then progress to kicking people, biting, clawing, etc. Then some wise guy thinks, “Why don’t I just chunk you with a rock.” And someone else picks up a stick, and its all down hill from there. I don’t know how many generations it took for martial artists to come up with some of these, but they leave you with the just one question. Why?

5.The Iron Fan

For the dainty martial artist

So someone says, I need something to defend myself at formal occasions, that will match my dress, and help me deal with the lack of air conditioning. So he took the the lightest object he could find and decided to make it into a weapon to hit people. I give you the iron fan. It was a simple design, basicly iron slats replaced the wooden ones and when you folded the fan, it made a decent club and could be used for blocking.

 

 

4.Hook swords
We have all thought it at one time or another. Our main problem with a sword? Too pointy. You could put someone’s eye out! So the Chinese took the end of the sword and bent it into a crook, took the point and put it on the hilt (so you could stab yourself) and there it was, the hook sword. Honestly, kind of a cool weapon. It was used in pairs so that enemy weapons could be trapped and countered.

 

3.Monk’s Staff
It was right after the staff was invented. Some shaolin monk got drunk and when he woke up he found he had speared a bird cage. His students said “Master were you drinking last night?” He glared at them and insisted he had done that on purpose, and had to figure out how to fight with one on the spot.

 

2.Claw on a rope
One day two kung fu masters were standing around arguing about which of their styles was more powerful. One of them finally said, “Well our style can kill a man ten feet away with a back scratcher!” and to back up his claims this baby was born. It kind of looks like a kung fu meteor hammer with a claw attached. As far as I can tell this is called (and excuse my spelling) a Fei-Zhua? I am not sure that this weapon makes it faster to kill someone, but it looks like it will hurt.

 

1.Urumi
Used by a martial art in southern India, it had a handle like a sword and thin whip like blades that could be coiled and carried with you. I speak only for myself, but I would do more harm to myself then I could ever do to an attacker with one of these crazy whip swords. When I think about the amount of work that it must take to make one of these, and all the training to learn how to not kill one’s self, I gave it the number one space for inciting most strongly the question why?

Jul 242011
 

Yeah I know, this kind of thing has been done to death, but every time I turn a round I have someone repeating one of these jewels of martial wisdom. Oddly enough, these myths (normally spawned from an ’80’s martial arts flick) are normally repeated by high ranking black belts!

6. The Gi (Martial arts training uniform) was based on traditional japanese samurai clothing.
Yeah, I wish. At some point all of us non-Japanese Americans need to realize YOU ARE NOT AND CAN NOT BE A SAMURAI. Sorry, I don’t care if Tom Cruse did it in a move. Kano (founder of judo) decided that tearing each other’s clothing apart wasn’t a good idea, so adoped the jackets worn by japanese firefighters called hanten. These tended to be heavy cotton and could be soaked to help deal with heat. Yeah I know, wearing cotton to deal with fires, well, you use what you have. You’ve got an oven mitt don’t you? Naturally they adapted the hanten to fit their needs better, but as you can tell from the picture (view from the back) it looks like a martial arts uniform to me! Now unless the samurai spent a lot of their time being firefighters, and I’m not saying no one did, it’s really not samurai garb.

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5. You can kill a man by hitting him in the nose and jambing it up into his brain.
Don’t get me wrong, you very well might die if you managed to shove someone’s nose, or any other body part into their brain. However, there is no angle you can hit to make this happen. You would have to cave their skull in before you had a chance to shift their nose towards the brain, and your opponent is likely already dead, or on his way there.
 

4. You can stick your fingers into your opponent’s eye and into his brain.
Sorry to be stuck on ugly things like this, but really, has anyone ever seen a human skull? The sockets that the eyes sit in do not connect to the inside of the skull except for a really tiny hole that the optic nerve runs through to the brain.
 

3. The black belt in martial arts came from ancient times when the blood and dirt of training staining a fighter’s belt until it turned black.
No, Kano (founder of judo again. Thank you sir!) decided if the teacher wore a different color belt then the rest of the class it would be easier to identify him, oh yeah, and this started in 1886, which was six years after the light bulb was invented and the first pay phone was installed (very ancient) . The other colors of rank came from one of his students, Mikonosuke Kawaishi, in 1935. Yes, we had aircraft carriers, submarines and cars were common. Heh
2. Neck breaks are the ultimate killing techniques. If you know a neck break you can easily kill a man.
Well maybe you know one, but as a general rule of thumb, the majority of these methods require a surprise attack from behind Neck breaking techniques are best implemented by a very strong man versus a much weaker adversary who is struggling helplessly, otherwise they are extremely difficult to perform. Neck snaps are typically a “finishing move” used on a fallen opponent who is either unconscious or too exhausted to defend himself, hence, they have no reasonable application to the study of self-defense. In our country, performing a finishing move on a helpless individual is known as “murder,” and carries stiff penalties. And chunking a passed out man with a rock is still easier to do.

1 .The Shaolin Temple is the source of all martial arts.
China had been doing martial arts for some time. It was a cultural thing, but until 1517 A.D., there is no record of martial arts being practiced there, despite there are plenty of people who mentioned the temple in their writings before that point. Now there are plenty of records from the Ming dynasty that tell of Shaolin’s monks doing cool stuff, but Jiu Jitsu and Ken Jitsu among others were already being practiced in Japan at this time. Now all you Kung fu people out there, I am not saying China wasn’t the cultural seat of the area, and most likely most martial arts were flavored by Chinese influence, I am just saying there is no proof that it started everything!