Episode 2 of the history of Kempo and Jiujitsu is out!
Starts in 1850. Extensive discussion of Kano Jigoro, the evolution of Judo and beyond. Plus a lot on the political-cultural situation of Japan at the time. Plenty of martial arts Heresy as always 😉
If you found the first episode too history-heavy this one, while still having a bucket-load of history in it, is more conversational and has some lighter-weight elements, talking about BJJ, Chuck Lidell and other things. We take a slightly controversial listener question at the end.
So, the new podcast is out! Check it out here.
Now on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/heretics-by-woven-energy/id1442072590?mt=2
In the first episode we explore the development of the concept of heresy by two early christian teachers, Valentinus and Irenaeus. We then begin a multi-part series on the origins of Jiu Jitsu and Kempo, addressing some of the myths surrounding the samurai class in the process, as well as talking about some of the other, less famous, inhabitants of feudal Japan.
There’s always that moment after we bow out. After we shake hands. After the sparring where we’ve played at killing each other until one of us taps. After we’ve collapsed exhausted at the merciful interjection of the buzzer. When we’re letting the body catch up with itself. Stream rising and puddles of sweat appearing. Hard stares into the blue vinyl, waiting for the breath to return.
I look around the emptying mats, still glistening with sweat. I see the people getting changed, leaving, ready to get on with their day.
But some remain. Now the work is done the defences can come down. The body relaxes and we can reflect. People get philosophical and start asking the big questions. Questions like, ‘Why do you do this?’
“I see it as a form of self defence,” says Mike. “I don’t want to miss a single class because I might miss that one technique that saves me in a real fight”. He goes on to talk about all the ways that self defence is important to him and how it could save his life. Or maybe the life of his wife and child. How it could be the most important thing he ever learns.
Mike looks at me, wordlessly, expecting me to contribute my own details and honorable reasons for studying the noble art for so long. For so many years. Pushing myself. Accumulating techniques and polishing them until they work under the worst sort of pressure. Finally earning a black belt, yet not stopping there. Still continuing.
I stand up and head to the changing room.
“I just like to fight”.
Just look at those two guys and tell me they aren’t having fun! Nothing says “macho martial artist” quite like standing on one leg and having a guys head wrapped under your armpit in a guillotine choke while he’s pulling your leg into his groin.
But seriously, I think every martial artist should know how to do a guillotine choke, not just grapplers. The power of the guillotine is that it’s a very versatile choke. You can do it standing, on the ground and in all the positions in between. It looks like a deceptively simple technique – you just wrap your arm around their neck and squeeze – but as you’ll discover, there’s a whole load of subtle variations, tricks and positional requirements you need to know about to make your guillotine effective.
Rob Biernacki has produced a series of video clips that form a great free online instructional on Grapplearts about how to perform this simple choke. Trust me, it’ll be a great use of 30 minutes of your life and it’s good enough for them to have charged for it, but they’ve kindly provided it for free.
Great little video clip on good posture and how it relates to martial arts from my friend Matt Hill who runs the Systema Academy in Wiltshire, UK. I like the point he makes about animals in nature, and how they are always in good posture.
I’ve blogged about my friend Byron Jacobs before – he’s a Westerner deeply immersed in Chinese culture and martial arts and living in China at an interesting time.
We’re currently in the era where Chinese martial arts are opening up to the West in a way they’ve been prevented for doing for a long time. MMA and Jiujitsu (BJJ) is finally making an impact and people are starting to realise that modern training methods offer something that traditional methods are lacking. It will be interesting to see how the future plays out for Chinese martial arts, and what happens to traditional arts and skills.
Byron has just recorded an episode of the Real Fake Swords podcast where he addresses these issue and tells you what it’s actually like in China when it comes to martial arts. It’s fascinating (and probably different to the way you think it is) and well worth a listen. (If you are pushed for time start listening at around 15 minutes in.)
I hadn’t heard of Real Fake Swords before, but it looks like a good podcast series. I notice they’ve got episodes with other interesting martial arts personalities.
Here’s the last episode of my 8-week course in mindful Tai Chi movements. This week we bring things full circle back to the first exercise we did in week 1 and take a closer look at the back bow.
There’s a thoughtful piece on addiction, wellness and martial arts over at our good friends Kung Fu Tea that’s worth a read.
Although I never met him, as a fellow practitioner of “old man Jiujitsu” the loss of Anthony Bourdain hit me hard. It felt like we lost a warrior, an inspiration and friend all at the same time.
Rest in Power Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018), Renzo Gracie Blue Belt.
Photo Credit: Helen Cho
Mike Sigman posted a video on how to use the power of the ground in your movements recently and it’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen. I’ve shared it below. It’s a simple concept to understand (but hard to do under pressure) so I think this can be applied to any martial art.
I like videos like this because they take a lot of the mystery out of Asian martial arts. Quite often you’d need to be training in a system for a number of years before you were taught these concepts, mainly due to a traditional culture of secrecy. In contrast, Mike’s approach is to start with these concepts right at the beginning of your training, so you don’t go off on the wrong track. Take a look:
In this exclusive clip of outtakes from my Tai Chi course I show how to use Peng Jin against a kick to the groin and a variety of other attacks including bribery, throwing shade and street dance. Enjoy!