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
by Yang Shuangxing
Ever wonder what seemingly small, inoffensive things might very well annoy or even genuinely cause your instructor to get fairly steamed? It’s well to have a good idea regarding these ostensibly innocent things for many reasons…
SHOW UP LATE FOR CLASS
Showing up a couple of minutes late isn’t too bad, although you’re clearly not interested in warming up or you’re avoiding it. Fifteen minutes will almost certainly upset your teacher, even if he says nothing.
SHOW UP LATE FOR CLASS AND WALK ONTO THE FLOOR
It’s bad enough that you’re late but in a traditional school, it’s customary to stand or kneel (in seiza) at the outer edge of the training area and wait for the teacher to acknowledge you and indicate that you are to join the class.
COME TO CLASS IN A DIRTY OR WRINKLED UNIFORM
The condition of your training uniform is a clear indication of how you regard your school, your training, your teacher, and yourself. If it looks like it was on the losing end of an Asian land war, your teacher will certainly take note of it.
DON’T PRACTICE AT HOME
Didn’t practice at home? Can’t remember your form? Believe me, your teacher will notice your lack of personal training within the first 10 seconds of class. Failure to put in personal training time shows that your training in very low on your list of priorities (if it’s even on the list at all)…AND it shows that you have little regard for your teacher and the efforts he’s made to teach you.
CORRECT THE TEACHER
NEVER, EVER correct the teacher. Period.
SIT DOWN TO REST OR GET WATER WITHOUT PERMISSION
NEVER do this without the instructors’ permission. And never leave the training floor without his/her explicit permission.
TELL THE INSTRUCTOR THAT YOU THINK YOU’RE READY FOR PROMOTION
Not Ever. NEVER.
There are easily dozens more ways to tick off your instructor and I’m sure my friends here who are instructors can add many more to this basic list. I just jotted down a few things that you, as a student, should avoid doing if you plan to survive very long in your martial arts class.
by Tim Miller
My experience at Shengjing Shan kung fu academy has been one of the best experiences in my life. I have been here for 8 months and I am in the best physical and mental condition I’ve ever been in. I have lost the most weight I’ve ever lost in my life (30 pounds). It is deep in the mountains and has very little to no distractions which makes it a great location if you’re looking to focus on learning kung fu. The student environment is also very friendly. Everyone is very nice to each other and is there to help you when you need it. I’ve met some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met before at this academy. Master Qu is one of the best masters you could hope for. He teaches each student at their own pace based on their ability and condition, yet at the same time he pushes you to become stronger and better than you were yesterday. It is clear he cares about his students, not only on a physical and mental level, but also as a person in general. He has made this place feel like a second home.
Tim went to Shengjing Shan Kungfu Academy for 8 months. During this time he lost weight and got fitter than he’d ever been before. If you would also like to learn kung fu in China, get fit or loose weight there are some great options available for you to get fighting fit and reclaim your life. For further information and advice email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Experience an Amazing Training holiday in Cambodia. This martial arts adventure includes 6 days of professional training in the ancient fighting art of Kun Khmer, as well as K1-style kickboxing. Training will be tailored and adjusted to your fitness, and training level. This training camp includes 10 nights accommodation in a 4-Star Hotel, high quality tours to historic sites of interest, and much more. You’ll visit Angkor Archaeological Park, Kompong Khleang, Tonle Sap, and Phnom Kulen National Park. You’ll experience top training sessions in a friendly atmosphere, and you’ll enjoy the rich music, dance and history of Cambodia while getting fit.
For this Training Camp you will be based in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is a friendly backpacker town. This region was the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the 15th centuries. The ruins, of these successive capitals are collectively known as the Angkor Archaeological Park. The Angkor Archaeological Park is located about four miles north of the city center. The 150-square-mile complex, which includes the famous Angkor Wat Temple, is Siem Reap’s biggest tourist draw and will be one of the memorable sites that you will visit when on you join this tour. Siem Reap is your gateway to Cambodia’s glorious past and a vivid present.
A journey of activity, culture, and wonder
Check out the Destination Guide below providing you details of what you will visit and experience.
Angkor Archaeological Park
Angkor Archaeological Park, is one of the largest religious and historical complexes in the world, both buddhism and hinduism are represented here. The temples vary in style and age from the 9th to 13th century. All these temples were built by the kings of the once great Khmer Empire.
The Angkor Archaeological Park is breathtaking, and is a principal draw for anyone visiting Cambodia. You can visit these temples by local tuk tuk, motorbike or even fly past them in a hot air balloon. For this tour the best local tuk tuk drivers and guides will take you to the main temples were you will be able to take wonderful photographic opportunities.
Here the monuments and the surrounding jungle afford unlimited textural and lighting opportunities for composing the perfect picture.
Kompong Khleang, Tonle Sap
Is one of the largest floating village communities on the Tonlé Sap, Kompong Khleang (កំពង់ឃ្លាំង) it is more of a town than the other villages, and comes complete with several ornate pagodas. Most of the houses here are built on towering stilts to allow for a dramatic change in water level. There is only a small floating community on the lake, but the stilted town is an interesting place to explore. Fewer tourists visit here compared with the floating villages closer to Siem Reap, this is a reason to visit in itself. The village is relative untouched and pertains its authenticity, which makes for a non-touristy experience. Kompong Khleang is one of the most beautiful. Travel here and gawk in awe as there are not just houses but also schools and pagodas floating above the water. The village moves in unison with the current depending on which season the lake is in.
Tonle Sap is directly translated into ‘large river’, yet it is more commonly referred to as the Great Lake. Occupying the floodplain in the lower Mekong basin, Tonle Sap is comprised of a river 120 km in length connected to the Mekong river and a freshwater lake of the same name, which is flooded on a seasonal basis. Tonle Sap, has the highest concentrated biodiversity in many regions, and was chosen as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Located South of Siem Reap, it is also home to a great number of species, roughly 300, including fish, birds and vegetation. Part of the Great Lake is dedicated to the Preak Toal Bird Sanctuary.
Phnom Kulen National Park
Is a playground for locals, Phnom Kulen (literally Mountain of the Lychees). This will be a gorgeous day out for relaxation and sightseeing. The main attraction is the waterfalls at the top of Kulen Mountain, and it’s also a great picnic spot; well set up in Cambodian style with hammocks and shelters to keep you shaded from the sun.
Phnom Kulen National Park is a very sacred site with multiple temples easily accessible. Two sites most noted are the Thousand Lingas at Kbal Spean, within the Kulen National Park site and Preah Ang Thom pagoda with its giant reclining Buddha. The area is a magnet to “kru khmer” (natural medicine doctors), and it attracts people seeking blessings from its holy waters, particularly the potent life-giving waters at Kbal Spean, that are said to help couples conceive.
Kingdom Fight Gym
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.
During the 20th century, Siem Reap ‘Thailand Destroyed’ grew from being a small village into a vibrant city catering to tourists visiting Angkor Wat. In the city you will find a variety of cuisine, accommodation options, shopping, and adventure activities from motorbike tours, to hot air ballon rides.
In Siem Reap there are a number of distinct shopping, drinking and eating areas. In the south of the city there is the central shopping and restaurant area next to Phsar Chas (old market). This area comes to life after sunset. The area is filled with bars, massage spas, and restaurants. The busiest and most popular place in the city after dark for backpackers and party goers is Pub Street.
Pub Street is 100m long stretch of pubs and nightclubs stretching from the Red Piano Restaurant to the Banana Leaf Restaurant. Two of the biggest clubs on the street are the Temple Club and Angkor What? And if you’re hungry you’ll find local food, western favourites and even insect snacks that can be washed down with 50 cent draught beers.
If you’d prefer to rub shoulders with the locals a night out at Khmer Pub Street or a visit to the Siem Reap Container Bars would be great alternative option. Located just off of Charles De Gaulle and the Tara Angkor Hotel you’ll find a plaza made entirely of cargo containers and over 20 container bars. Towards the front of the plaza is a huge stage, where performers sing every weekend. This is a Siem Reap must see attraction.
More than just a circus, Phare performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories; historical, folk and modern. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent. Phare artists are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training center in Battambang.
The association was formed in 1994 by 9 young men coming home from a refugee camp after the Khmer Rouge regime. They were greatly helped during that time by an art teacher using drawing classes as therapy and wanted to share this new skill among the poor, socially deprived and troubled youngsters in Battambang.
They founded an art school and public school followed to offer free education. A music school and theatre school were next and finally, for the kids who wanted more, the circus school.
Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the alternative schools. Phare Ponleu Selpak also has extensive outreach programs, trying to help with the problems highlighted in their own tales. Phare The Cambodian Circus offers these students and graduates somewhere to hone their skills and a place to earn a decent wage. Money that will take them out of poverty and give them self-respect and freedom.
Want to book your place?
Visit this page and learn more about this martial arts travel and training experience.
by Bianca Houtzager
My experience here at Kung Fu Xing Lin Academy has been more amazing and rewarding than I expected, and one that I wish wasn’t ending so soon. Within a week of arriving here, I felt very comfortable, happy, inspired and peaceful, and had already began dreading having to leave.
The environment of the temple complex is amazing and so beautiful. It is very special to live and train in a Buddhist temple and be a part of the daily life here. The monks, nuns and residents of the temple are always so friendly and welcoming. I really enjoyed being apart of the ceremonies and events at the temple, as well as eating with the monks. The location is stunning! I appreciate Sikong Mountain every day, and the view from my front door every morning. The school’s remote location makes for a perfect atmosphere to train gong fu and to focus on internal development. The mountains, the forests, the flowers, the insects and the temple buildings make this place so beautiful, I love it.
The living standard is good and I have felt very comfortable here. The food is really nice, healthy and delicious, (especially when Shifu cooks!) and the accommodation is good, comfortable, with good sized rooms and bathrooms. I love the view from the top floor!
The training is great and feels very authentic. It is hard, but only as hard as you make it. The harder you train, and the more you focus, the more rewarding it is. Shifu is a very skilful teacher, it has been a pleasure to be taught by him. He has such an in-depth knowledge of Chinese martial arts, history and Buddhism and it is very interesting and enjoyable to learn from him. He is good at creating training plans unique to each student by giving them forms that match their strengths and/or challenge their weaknesses. I felt like this particularly with my spear form, its suits me but also challenges me a lot. I had to really think about the movements and techniques and try not get discouraged when I found them difficult. I like how when Shifu gives you a new form he tells you some information about it first, including the name and history, and during the learning process explains movements and applications. But all of this would not be possible without Cindy, who does a great job of translating for Shifu, as well as managing and communicating with students and helping us when we need.
I like how the training week is structured and I like the variety of skills we are taught. The Shaolin gong fu is the main focus, but the wing chun, qi gong, and jumps class are all really interesting, especially wing chun, and they all compliment and help in other aspects of training. If I was here for longer I would include sanda into my training too… maybe next time. All these different styles and practises train different areas, but all benefit each other. I understand more now that the reason I enjoy practising martial arts is because it trains every part of myself, physically, mentally and spiritually, and it applies to all aspects of my life. I have found learning qi gong to be very beneficial and enjoyable. It has helped me understand the importance of having a quiet and focused mind when practising forms and techniques, and to develop more awareness of my body and its energy. It is also just a relaxing thing to do on a Thursday morning, to be peaceful and soft and listen to the birds and the leaves.
Overall this school provides students with such an enriching cultural experience that I imagine would be difficult to find in other places. Shifu and Cindy have created a wonderful school and place for foreign students to experience traditional Chinese martial arts, Chinese culture and Buddhism. I have enjoyed my stay here so much and gained a lot from it, and I cannot wait to come back!!!
Thank you Shifu and Cindy.
Recently I went to Thailand to meet my first BJJ coach Paulo Tavares do a little training, relaxing, and catch up. For this experience I met up with Nano and a few other guys from Big King Muay Thai & BJJ, Beijing and stayed at Dragon Muay Thai, Phuket.
As a training option its in a great location within walking distance to a number of other top rated gyms such as Phuket top team, Tiger Muay Thai which can be very helpful if you are looking not only for Muay Thai but for other training options like BJJ, MMA or Wrestling. This whole are of Chalong is packed with fully equipped gyms, cross fit centres, great eateries for health buffs, as well as places those looking for protein laced ice-creams, or shakes to fuel oversized muscles. All of which are very affordable and of very good quality. The only downside is the distance to a good beach or place to walk, or run. For that a scooter is essential. At only 800 Baht per week and 35 or 40 baht for a bottle of petrol, transportation under your own steam is the best option providing you can ride a scooter.
Other fun things on offer in this part of Chalong within walking distance include access to a reasonably priced sensor deprivation chamber, ice-baths, and massages a plenty starting from 300 Baht.
Accommodation at Dragon Muay Thai was basic, and is similar in nature to the single accommodation on offer at other gyms. What you can expect is a clean double bed, shower, large fridge, satellite tv with plenty of channels and air-con.
The closest quality beach to Chalong for swimming or other water sports is Kata Beach. To get there quickly take the 4028 over the mountain. For a quieter vide Kata Noi is much nicer than Kata beach. My favourite beaches where Nai Harn and Karon beach.
If you’re up for some scuba diving I chose Andy O’Callaghan’s Dive Centre, AoK Diving. Not only does Andy have the best coffee in Phuket he has the knowledge, and skills to not only make you feel comfortable, in good hands. But really makes a positive effort to teach you the craft of diving.
On this trip I signed up for a night dive at Kata beach, my first time diving at night and also to go to Koh Racha Noi. Although I very almost signed up to do the Advanced Diving Course. Maybe next time. Phuket is definitely worth a second trip not only for the top quality training available but also for abundant activities available for relaxation and fun.
For those interested in the historical development of martial arts mythology this article by Udo Moenig is an interesting read. Udo Moenig states:
Taekwondo’s popular, historical narrative presents an excellent example of nationalistic attitudes in South Korean society toward portraying historical accounts in a favorable light, regardless of empirical evidence. This article explores various historical accounts regarding the origins of taekwondo, as presented by early taekwondo pioneers. After Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, taekwondo’s earliest and most central historical source became the hwarang myth, which dominated, due to its promotion by the government as a symbol of South Korea’s military might, martial traditions, and nationalism. Only over time, did a variety of additional events result in an ‘official’ martial arts narrative for taekwondo. By 1971, the accounts became consolidated and unified with taekwondo’s emergence as an internationally known Korean national sport, with all references to foreign influences omitted from the official record. This article demonstrates how the creation of taekwondo’s historical narrative represents a classic case of, ‘the invention of tradition.’UDOM OENIG & K IM MINHO THE INVENTION OF TAEKWONDO TRADITION, 1945–1972: WHEN MYTHOLOGY BECOMES ‘HISTORY’ (ACTA KOR ANA VOL. 19, NO. 2, DECEMBER 2016: 131–164)
Here is a link to the full article on Academia. You can sign up for a free account and get loads of great articles on martial arts and lots of other subjects. https://www.academia.edu/31248928/THE_INVENTION_OF_TAEKWONDO_TRADITION_1945_1972_WHEN_MYTHOLOGY_BECOMES_HISTORY?email_work_card=abstract-read-more
by Phillip Starr
In karate, taekwondo, and various forms of gong-fu, we can easily observe many different types of kicks and you may wonder about where they came from and/or why they were developed. We’ll start at the beginning…
In general, gong-fu styles don’t emphasize a lot of kicking. Many, perhaps most, of them tend to direct their kicks at lower targets, such as the ankles, legs, and groin. This is especially true of southern styles. In the south of China, living conditions were (in the old days) much more crowded than in the north and there was little room for high kicks or jumping and spinning kicks. Fights would erupt in small (and I mean SMALL) alleyways or even on houseboats (which are much smaller than you’re likely to imagine) and maintenance of balance was critical. Moreover, attempting to kick high exposed one to quick counter-attacks, so such techniques were eschewed in the south. In the north, living conditions were less crowded and styles that developed there often included kicks into the body.
Once karate was taken to Japan, things changed. Initially, they practiced kicking in the same way as the Okinawan styles but with the advent of karate as a sport, high kicks became more and more popular…instructors noticed how much audience appeal such techniques garnered and some of them began to have students practice these techniques in sparring. The roundhouse kick, as we know it, was developed during this time (the 1950’s) – by an instructor of the Japan Karate Association – mainly for use in competition. It was very effective.
And the Japanese, being the perfectionists that they are to this day, dug into the mechanical aspects of kicking to see how and why they worked and if improvements could be made. They found that, yes, improvements could be made and they developed very quick and powerful forms of kicking.
It began in the 1950’s; in the West, practitioners of various martial forms were exposed to other forms and practitioners. Ideas and techniques were compared and ideas exchanged. For instance, practitioners of Japanese forms of karate (many of whom were very competition-oriented) were impressed with the Korean methods of kicking and utilized them within their own styles. Systems began to borrow from each other. This process continues to this day with instructors of various styles and arts providing instruction via seminars.
By Phillip Starr
The legendary Tadashi Yamashita (10th dan, Kobayashi Shorin-ryu karate) once said that one of the great “secrets” of karate was in the correct training of stance, but very few people do it anymore. And he is 100% right.
First, we must determine just what is the purpose(s) of a given stance? Think about it for a second, I’ll wait……
First and foremost, a stance is a stable platform from which we can deliver powerful blows (bearing in mind that the platform must be capable of withstanding the force of said blows). Secondly, some stances are stable positions from which we can move quickly and easily in a firm, contolled manner. And that’s it. They do not exist for purposes of aesthetic appeal.
In so far as issuing power is concerned, we must consider the proper (leg) tension that is to be used and there are only two; inside tension and outside tension. Inside tension involves contracting the adductors (muscles of the inner thighs) to “lock” you into place. Styles such as Goju-ryu and Uechi-ryu karate as well as Chinese forms such as Wing Chun (should) utilize this principle a great deal; they are “in-fighting” styles and as such, they must be able to lock themselves into place when delivering close-quarters techniques.
Footwork is what happens in between stances, moving from one to another in various ways. It must be balanced and controlled. But footwork and stances are two separate subjects…
Additionally, stances such as the empty-leg stance (aka., cat stance), the sancai stance found in internal forms of gong-fu, the pigeon-toe stance, and hook stance use inward tension to stabilize the stance.
Outward tension involved tension in the legs in opposite directions. This is used for longer strikes and thrusts. For instance, in the forward stance (aka., zenkutsu-dachi, bow and arrow stance) the front leg presses forward while the rear leg thrusts down and back – opposite directions. This helps stabilize the position and even adds some impetus to the blow.
The only stances that don’t use either inward or outward tension are those that involve standing on one leg only. To create inward or outward tension in a stance, it’s necessary to have BOTH feet planted on the ground.
In any case, you must not simply “sit” in your stance, leaving it devoid of proper tension. I call this a “dead stance” because once you assume such a position, you can neither move as quickly nor strike as powerfully as you could from a properly “loaded” stance. And in a life and death struggle, that can mean the difference between life and death.