This dissertation examines the transformation of a modernized Japanese school of martial arts, alternatively known as jiu-jitsu or Kodokan judo, into a Brazilian combat sport. It encompasses jiu-jitsu’s introduction in the early 1900s, the creation of a native style in the following decades and its globalization under the hybrid form known as “Brazilian jiu-jitsu.” The adoption of jiu-jitsu in the military is part of a larger project of modernization conceived by the Brazilian elite aiming to provide the emergent middle-classes with innovative fitness trends. Around the World War I, however, a branch of the Gracies, a Scottish cum Rio de Janeiro family with genteel pretensions, joined a troupe of Japanese martial artists and adopted jiu-jitsu as part of their circus act. In the following decades, the Gracies supported by their upper class peers and by a nationalist regime, launched a comprehensive process of jiu-jitsu reinvention that evolves into a hybrid combat sport exported worldwide at the end of the twentieth century. Using sources such as state and private archives, newspapers and magazines this study suggests that the making of Brazilian jiu-jitsu through the agency of the Gracie family reflect historical constructed values stemming from a patriarchal culture, social and racial inequality and nationalism.
Wudang Shan or Wudang Mountain is one of the most famous mountain ranges in China. By the way a shan 山 is what the Chinese call a mountain. By the way if you hadn’t noticed that’s me trying to impress you with my 12 years experience of find excuses why I’ve not managed to learn the language. The reason I mention this is two fold. Firstly, to mock my own language learning skills, but more importantly to give you confidence to travel in China and to Wudang without overly stressing about not having Chinese Language skills. Of course learning the language is advisable and will lead you to a much richer experience but it should not be a barrier to exploration.
In this article I’ll give you the right information to make your way to and around Wudang like a pro.
In this short extract I will provide you with a link to an article I completed for a different website I’m working on. This blog will focus on my own personal martial arts journeys plus random travel tips. The one below focuses on how to train at one of Asia’s best MMA gyms, Evolve MMA in Singapore.
“If you’ve ever wanted to train with top class MMA Coaches in one of Asia’s best MMA gyms you’ll have to do some serious research to budget for accommodation, and food. These are not include currently in evolves training packages. So unless you are staying with friends or family what options are available to make training there possible, in a city dubbed the most expensive city in the world for the fifth year running?
Well lucky for you with, the help of the kind people from Evolve MMA I’ve put together some great budget options. Including some of the best nearby accommodation options to make it as easy on your wallet as possible so you can get more of that top quality training in.
So first up here’s your accommodation options starting with Evolves accommodation partners located within 5 minutes of their Far East Square facility”.
by Phillip Starr
For those may not have heard of him, Alan Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter of Zen. A one-time Episcopal priest, the church still utilizes some of his writings to this day. He was a prolific writer, particularly after studying Eastern ways of thought. authoring some 25 books and many articles. His first book, “The Way of Zen” (1957) remains a classic to this day. I was most fortunate in being able to meet him at a summer seminar in 1973 shortly before his untimely demise in an airplane crash later that year. I learned more from him than I ever suspected at the time and a number of things that he told me that day have stayed in my mind ever since. This article is in regards to one of them.
Few people, even most fans of his, know that Watts was an avid practitioner of aikido. I found out because I was young, didn’t know much about him or his fame (thus, I wasn’t awed by him in the least until a few hours later), and I asked him directly, “Mr. Watts, do you practice martial arts?” He glanced sideways at me and I told him that I was a teacher of Chinese martial arts. It was then that he admitted to studying….and loving, aikido. In fact, he was very interested in all of the martial ways and because it was a rarity to find a practitioner of Chinese martial arts in those days, we talked at some length.
As we discussed martial arts he said, “Any physical activity taken to its extreme, becomes s spiritual path and leads to awakening.” I asked what he meant by, “extreme?” I remember that he smiled as he answered me. “If you strive for perfection in it, it eventually becomes a spiritual experience.”
“Even something like…tennis?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Yes, even tennis…or baseball, or crocheting. Any activity.”
I’ve mulled this over for many years now. The operative phrase in his answer is, “strive to perfect.” If we attend classes on a regular basis, that isn’t enough. If we simply engage in the practice of basic techniques, kata, two-person routines…it isn’t enough. We have to CONSCIOUSLY strive to perfect our skills as this leads towards self-perfection. It is the underlying theory of all martial arts. It is why we continue to practice for decade after decade. We don’t do it for the exercise, although that certainly provides many wonderful side benefits. And we don’t do it for self-defense; heck, we’ve acquired more than adequate self-defense skills after a fairly short time in training. We (should) do it because we are aiming at self-perfection.
Is such a thing even possible? I would have to answer, “No, not in this lifetime.” But that shouldn’t discourage you in the least.
by Phillip Starr
The training hall oath…recited at the beginning of class by many martial arts schools worldwide. The oath is a reflection of the values and spirit of the martial discipline which they practice. When I trained in Kyokushin karate many, many moons ago, we all recited it before every class and to this day, I remember it; “We will train our hearts and minds for a firm, unshaking spirit….”
We were told that we should focus on the meaning of every line and recite the oath with reverence and spirit. Nowadays, fewer and fewer martial arts schools utilize a dojo kun, even if their particular style has one (some styles don’t) and of those who do, the students tend to repeat the lines of the oath robotically; like a parrot.
The oath is there to remind us of what we are striving to accomplish and why we leave sweat and blood on the training hall floor. It’s our fault as instructors that this particular aspect of training has fallen by the wayside and been forgotten. But we can readily find it again and put it to the use for which it was originally intended. Shall we re-trace our steps back a little distance and retrieve it?
by Phillip Starr
In earlier writings, I’ve mentioned the concept of “kyo”, which is the chink in your opponent’s armor; it is an opening, a “window of opportunity” through which you can quickly enter his defense perimeter and bring him down. Well, that’s what you hope to do, anyway.
I can see that you’re a little perplexed. “Whaddya mean, ‘what I hope to do?’” Well, you’re going to barrel through that window and…then what? Stop and consider that once you enter that window, not only are you close enough to strike the opponent…but he is equally close to you! Ah, yes…I saw some eyebrows jump. Hadn’t thought about that, had you? You bet. So, you’d better bring him down because if you fail, it’ll be his turn.
There are five key elements that must be studied and practiced repeatedly if you are serious about developing real martial skill. We’re going to look at each one individually.
SURPRISE OF ENTRY
This would seem pretty obvious but many people miss it. Your movement (not just your technique) must occur suddenly and without warning. The enemy must have no clue that you’re on your way and when it happens, he should be taken by complete surprise. This means that you have to train to eliminate any “telegraphs” (small movements or physical signals) that indicate your intentions. If you fail to do this; if you inadvertently “telegraph” your plans to your foe, the results will be disastrous.
SPEED OF ACTION
In this wise, I’m not talking about how fast you can deliver a punch or kick; I’m talking about how swiftly you can move your entire body and deliver your techniques . You dare not be too slow or pause in the middle of your attack lest you provide the opponent with your own moment of “kyo.” Your movements must be smooth and quick, never wooden, clumsy, or “jerky” as if you were a robot. Everything flows together seamlessly, without a break.
Both of these first two elements, Surprise and Speed, have to do with the concept of timing and rhythm. These concepts are discussed in detail in my book, “MARTIAL MECHANICS.” It presents special training routines that will help you polish your timing and better understand the idea of “rhythm” and how you can apply it to your best advantage. I strongly suggest that you save up your beer money for a couple of days and purchase a copy.
CLOSING WITH THE ENEMY
The objective here is to take the opponent’s ground! You must close with him as quickly as possible while simultaneously firing out powerful blows. You are already inside his defense perimeter and he must do his best to defend himself against the onslaught. He has no chance to mount a counter-offensive; your blows force him to focus on defense. Train to apply the techniques with which you are the most comfortable, including both grappling as well as percussive techniques. You must figuratively “grab him by the belt” and don’t let go!
VIOLENCE OF ACTION
This goes hand in hand with the previous element. Your attack must be overwhelming and extremely violent. This isn’t to say that you must become angry or otherwise lose control of your emotions. On the contrary, you must control your feelings and keep your spirit calm. Bear in mind that your objective is to take his ground (remembering that no battle was ever won by letting the enemy keep his ground…) and run over him. Literally.
Once the enemy has been brought down, you must immediately move out of his striking range. Keep in mind that thugs rarely hunt solo; he’ll likely have friends very close by. You must be prepared to deal with them, so don’t pause, “pose”, and admire your handiwork as if you’re in some grade B kung-fu movie. Maintain eight-directional zanshin and prepare for whatever may come next.
Here endeth the lesson.
Here’s the latest school review for one of the toughest schools we work with and one that is nonsense good for Sanda and combat kung fu. Owen Gibson trained at Master Wang’s Kung fu School in China for 3 years.
I trained under Shifu Wang Xing Long for almost 3 years from 2016-2019. The life here is hard, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. However this school is distinguished from the rest – because it breeds warriors. Here, there is no pretence. The school doesn’t attempt to cater to the foreign ideas of what a kung fu school should be like. It’s cold, it’s basic, and you just have to work hard every day. Shifu gives his everything into his students – especially if he see’s you work hard. He lives and breathes this school, and truly cares about you (even though it may not seem like it when he’s screaming at you while you’ve been lizard walking a kilometre). This school breeds warriors because it’s impossible to be any less if you work hard. I achieved my masters level 4 (black duan) with Shifu’s help. The school is my home, and I strongly advise anybody wishing to learn legitimate kung fu to go here – as you’ll be hard pressed to find other legit places for foreigners (I’m looking at you schools in Shandong).
A consistent thread when you train with Master Wang from all his school reviews is the hard, relentless and strict traditional training. Training is 5 days per week 6-8 hours per day. Winters are bitterly cold but the rewards and results from the training speak for themselves. Get through training here and you will have the confidence to take on any challenge. Master Wang’s school offers Sanda, Shaolin Kung fu, and Taichi quan.
For further information on travel and training in China visit www.studymartialarts.org – for independent reviews, without the BS as well as free assistance and support providing you book through our platform.
More and more people are contacting me to book places at weightloss and fitness camps focusing on martial arts. One of the best in terms of fun, training and location is Kingdom Fight Gym’s camp in Siem Reap close to the famous temples of Angkor Watt.
Kingdom Fight Gym aims to restore the ancient fighting art of Kun Khmer. At Kingdom Fight Gym you can learn this ancient martial art from the Khmer Empire. The Gym offers Kun Khmer (Khmer Boxing) intensive training camps which include two 2 hour long classes per day. In addition to that it also offers group classes for kids and adults, Private training with experienced coaches (active and retired fighters, local and foreigners).
Kingdom Fight Gym, Siem Reap is run by Mark van Dongen and Kwok-Leung Tsang. Their aim was to create a social, cultural sports centre that partners with the local population and existing, sustainable organisations in Cambodia and Netherlands in order to contribute to the lives of Cambodian youth. The Gym provides them with a place to learn mutual respect, how to defend themselves, connect to their culture, gain self-confidence and develop as a well rounded individual.
Here are three of the latest reviews from people who have attended the camp and trained at the gym.
‘Everything was amazing: the atmosphere, facility, equipment. The real gems are the people; coaches, fighters and the gym community. Super friendly and approachable. The coaches have extraordinary amount of experience and I liked the different techniques they introduced. The trips were organized perfectly. Such a treat to see the beauty of Cambodia and how much it can offer to a tourist like myself (… including .50 cent beers)!!!’
Joanna from the United States
‘Excellent organization, great communication, wonderful and helpful staff, well equipped gear, attention to each individual. We have never done something like this, and would definitely do it again. A big thank you.’
Cécile from Switzerland
‘I spent one month here and it was the best investment in myself I’ve ever made, so rewarding in many ways. Daz, Rith and Bora are all amazing coaches that make you train hard but still have a really good time and laugh a lot. I will surely try to come back at some time, thank you guys once again for an amazing time!’
Jon P from England
If you throw your opponent to the ground in almost all of the old, traditional folk wrestling styles then you win. That’s it. Game over. To modern day martial artists that seems very odd, as we’re now all used to seeing MMA and BJJ fights on the ground, sometimes lasting minutes. But in olden times, […]Why so many grappling styles stop when things go to the ground — The Tai Chi Notebook
***Greetings! As I noted in my last post I am taking a (hopefully) short hiatus from multiple-essays-a-week blogging as I adjust to the demanding schedule of a new job. But rather than let things get stale I decided to use this time to go back and systematically review some of my 800+ posts (over 3 […]Through a Lens Darkly (1): Images of China’s Martial Culture — Kung Fu Tea