Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Monday, November 18, 2019

The Dao De Jing, #73: If You Are Courageous in Daring, You Will Die

The Dao De Jing is not only one of the world's great classics, it is one of the foundations of Philosophical Daoism. A free online version of the Dao De Jing may be found here. Today we have #73: If You Are Courageous in Daring, You Will Die.


If you are courageous in daring you will die.
If you are courageous in not-daring you will live.
Among these two, one is beneficial and the other is harmful.

Who understands the reason why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes?
Even the sage has difficulty in knowing this.

The Way of Heaven is to win easily without struggle.
To respond well without words,
To naturally come without special invitation,
To plan well without anxiety.

Heaven's net is vast.
It is loose.

Yet nothing slips through.




Friday, November 15, 2019

Educational Beatdown

At Active Response Training was an article about the phenomenon of the "Educational Beatdown;"  teaching a lesson through the application of violence.

Below is an excerpt. The much longer original post, together with the video referenced may be read here.

Food for thought.

Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung often talk about social dynamics and what they call an “Educational Beatdown.”  The best description of this phenomenon is found in Rory Miller’s article More About Violence Dynamics.  Rory says:

“Most of the people reading this will be comfortable products of comfortable homes with significant education and socialization. This is the norm in North America, where I happen to be writing. The norm is so powerful and pervasive that it can be very easy to believe that the values of middle-class Americans are universal. They are not. There are societies and sub-societies where violence is merely an easy way to solve problems; where a beating is considered as easy  and more effective than talking.

There are places in the United States where if you do something rude and improper you will get disapproving looks and people will whisper about you. They might snub you in the coffee room or not invite you to go bowling. And there are places in the U. S. where doing something that society considers rude will get you beaten without a second thought.”

The “Educational Beatdown” is the first thing I thought about when my friend Tim posted this video to his Facebook page.  It is footage of a reporter interviewing some folks in New Orleans about drugs, gangs, and violence.  During the interview, a man arrived and started making disparaging comments.  It seems he didn’t appreciate how the publicity generated by the interview might negatively affect his neighborhood.

His comments were out of line.  In that community, those comments were cause for an “educational beatdown.”  Such a beatdown commenced while the cameras were rolling.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Distilling Sun Tzu to Self Defense

Below is an excerpt from a post at Okinawan Fighting Art, which adapts the "Five Essentials" of Sun Tzu's Art of War to personal self defense. The full post may be read here.

Sun Tzu, The Five Essentials for Victory:

  1. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight;
  2. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces; 
  3. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks;
  4. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared;
  5. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

You already understand and you probably already know that in a modern society there is inevitable changes to mandate how one provides security and safety for themselves, their families and the social structure or group to which his or her families belong. It is my expert provision in this article to expand on these essentials for victory as set down centuries ago how great Generals would successfully carry out the mandate of Heaven and his sovereign to gain victory agains all enemies both domestic and foreign. 


In our world of martial prowess where self-protection is provided we can readily detect a need to follow these ancient teachings while making allowances to our modern times. Therefore the above will be revamped to reflect those changes and mandates as set down by law, the legal system and those who enforce for the sake of societies protection, security and safety. 


There are “Five Essentials for Self-Protection.” 


Commentary: I don’t use the term victory because that tends to lead to certain dissonances due to our modern societies pension toward competitive sports where the dangers of grave harm and death are governed by rules that are sanctioned, mandated and set by society through its laws and legal systems. Even the use of self-defense if not fully explained can lead to mistakes in perceptions because it is used, generally, to explain actual defenses and it is also used, generally, to explain a legal definition since the legal system uses the term as a legal one. 

  1. He will achieve success who knows when to protect and defend and when not to protect and defend;
  2. He will achieve success who knows how to handle aggressions and force both psychological and physical;
  3. He will achieve success who knows how to protect and defend within the limits set by social legal laws and systems;
  4. He will achieve success who, prepared him/herself, waits to take the attacker unprepared; 
  5. He will achieve success who has martial capacity and is not interfered with by societies systems. 

Now, commentary on the five essential principles of self-protection.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Vintage Video of Kam Yuen

Kam Yuen was the second martial arts coordinator for the ground breaking TV series, Kung Fu. He was a master of Tai Mantis, a style in the northern Shaolin tradition. He is also a doctor of chiropractic and continues to practice.

The video below is from the1970's. Enjoy.








Monday, October 28, 2019

The Weapons of Wing Chun

Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at Kung Fu Tea, regarding the weapons practice of Wing Chun. The full article may be read here.

From time to time I am asked why Wing Chun teaches only two weapons. For those unfamiliar with the system these are the long single-tailed fighting pole, favored by a number of southern Chinese styles, and the butterfly swords. Most of Guangdong’s more popular styles have extensive arsenals.

The straight sword (jian) and broadsword (dao) are commonly seen throughout the region as are the trident, iron ruler, spear, fighting chain and rattan shield.

Such a question may well be impossible to answer. One suspects that many of the explanations that are given are basically post-hoc justifications. It could be that the focus on only two weapons reflects the style’s dedication to “parsimony” and its “concept” rather than “technique-based” approach to fighting. Or this could all simply be a matter of coincidence. If you examine the historical record it is not difficult to locate accounts of Republic period Wing Chun enthusiasts who took an interest in a more diverse set of weapons.

Still, there is something undeniably unique about the pole and double swords. While arts like Hung Gar, White Crane and Choy Li Fut teach a greater number of forms, these two are often the first weapons actually introduced to students.

There is also a longstanding tradition (which one can see in the written literature on the Chinese martial arts as far back as the Ming) justifying the long pole’s special place in military training. It was favored by instructors as it could both physically strengthen students and introduce them to techniques that would aid their study of other weapons.

Meir Shahar has argued that it was this idea, rather than any Buddhist prohibition on bladed weapons, that explained the Shaolin Temple’s specialization in cudgel fighting throughout the Ming era. Thus there may be concrete historical reasons why these particular instruments came to be favored as the foundation of 19th century southern weapons training.

We have already seen that the pole and the hudiedao (butterfly swords) came to constitute the core of Guangdong’s 19th century training for gentry led militias and other paramilitary groups. These forces cannot be dismissed as peripheral to the area’s history. They carried out a great deal of the actual fighting that occurred during the Opium Wars and the Red Turban Revolt.

The provincial government was also extensively involved in financing and procuring the arms that these groups used. While some authors have dismissed the hudiedao as an eccentric toy for martial artists, in fact these weapons were critical to southern China’s military identity throughout the 19th century.

This might be one way of understanding modern Wing Chun’s parsimony in the realm of weaponry.

The forms it taught would allow a martial artist from the Pearl River Delta region to pick up and competently use the two weapons that they were most likely to be given in the case of a community crisis. Other weapons, such as spears or daos, were (rightly or wrongly) considered close substitutes.

Yet when we look at the martial arts as they developed during the final years of the Qing and Republic periods, we are primarily discussing civilian fighting traditions which were taught in a non-military context. Do we have any witnesses to the use of these specific weapons in a civil setting?

How common were they compared to other traditional weapons which were available in Chinese communities during the middle of the 19th century?