The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

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, December 11, 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Yiquan of CS Tang

CS Tang is a Hong Kong based internal martial arts polymath. He has mastered and teaches Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang and Yiquan (and probably a few more things as well).

He has a course on Yiquan on YouTube. Below is the lesson on the Dragon Stance.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Cook Ding's Kitchen: One Million Hits

Sometime over night, Cook Ding's Kitchen had it's one millionth hit.

Thank you all for your support over these many years.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Most Popular Reads from Must Triumph

I very much enjoy reading Sam Yang's Must Triumph blog. Below is a list of the most popular articles from 2016.

On the Martial Artist: I asked over 20 martial artists, ranging from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, to Hollywood, and everything in between, about the martial arts. What I learned is that, some get good at martial arts, and some get good at getting good.

  • Why I Never Quit Martial Arts: Having trained from age six, my biggest challenge was never stopping.
  • The Pink Gi in the Room: A comprehensive long-form discussion from the perspective of women about gender diversity and equality in the microcosm of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and how that reflects on the rest of the world.
  • On Walking the Path With Enson Inoue: A long-form, philosophical discussion about the modern need for spiritual growth, featuring Enson Inoue.
  • On Exercise and Building Character: Physical exertion was and still is the first form of character building.
  • On the Enjoyment Paradox: Why doing what you like isn't enough.
  • How Jiu-Jitsu Healed My Body Image: "For decades I scrutinized my body, hated my body, but was attached to it against my will. Then I started jiu-jitsu..."
  • What Getting Punched in the Face Taught Me: Getting punched in the face is a metaphor for conflict. Though possible reactions are infinite, there are only a handful that are useful.
  • Beyond Hacking: Why Trying Harder Matters: Practice, be technical in your craft and endeavors, and learn the proper tactics and strategies. Then prepare to fight like hell.
  • On Discipline, Intelligence, and Stoicism: It's Tough to Be Smart, but Smart to Be Tough: Intelligence gets enough credit, what's lacking in credit is discipline — the ability to resist distraction.
  • On the Loser's Mindset: A Humorous Approach to Success: When you fight doubt, fight it with faith, not certainty. Certainty gets your ass kicked.
  • On the Meaning of a Belt: The belt doesn't make the person. The person makes the belt. You make the belt.
  • Misery: The More You Use, The More You Have: Dwelling on the negative aspects, hoping that it will somehow purge and create positive thoughts doesn't work.
  • On Water: Bruce Lee, David Foster Wallace, and D.T. Suzuki: A curated dialogue between Bruce Lee, David Foster Wallace, and D.T. Suzuki on Zen, martial arts, and wu-wei.
  • On the Ten Bulls: Lose Yourself to Find Yourself: "Ten Bulls" is a classic series of poems that illustrates the Buddhist's progress towards the purification of the Self into enlightenment, and the subsequent return to society to share in this wisdom.
  • Sunday, December 03, 2017

    2017 Advent Challenge

    Today begins the season of Advent in the Catholic Church. It is a time of waiting and preparation for Christmas. Advent begins four Sundays prior to Chistmas and ends on Christmas Day. Advent lasts for a little over four weeks.

    As a warm up for the Lenten Challenge, I would like to issue the Advent Challenge.

    Beginning today and through Christmas, in spite of the business and general insanity of the season, find a way to train every day. Do what you have to; move heaven and earth, but train every day. Even if it's just a little. No excuses.

    These challenges are a form of Shuugyou Renshuu, or "Austere Training." There is a very good article about Shuugyou Renshuu right here.

    Won't you join me?

    Saturday, December 02, 2017

    Wudang Tai Chi Videos

    In a nutshell, the Tai Chi Chuan of Cheng Tin Hung was very similar to the Wu family style, but with an entirely different neigong. CTH was a fighter and produced fighters. His most famous western student was Dan Docherty (Practical Tai Chi Chuan), who won heavy weight full contact championships in Hong Kong as a young man.

    I can't embed the videos, but if you follow this link, so will find videos of CTH himself performing the square, round and weapons forms of his Wudang Tai Chi Chuan.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2017

    Taijiquan and Boxing

    I have felt for a long time that Judo was a natural complement to Taijiquan. The softness from the form and the sensitivity from push hands would play so well into setting up a throw. I know my own aikido improved once I began practicing taijiquan.

    Another art that I think is a natural complement to taijiquan is western boxing. The boxer's first choice of defense is evasion. Absorbing a blow is the last line of defense.

    A boxer must also be absolutely relaxed in order to punch effectively. A perfect punch is going to have full body power.

    Gurjot Singh is a long time teacher of both Taijiquan and western boxing. He is training both competitive boxers and MMA fighters. Below is an article about his gym and what he teaches. The full post may be read here.

    Everything on the breath. Everything… This is the way of the Internal MMA Boxer. An Internal MMA Boxer is an adept who emphasizes the science of respiration control to enhance mental, emotional and physical performance in the ring and cage. These training resources are considered a vital step in the process of combative readiness. Being a retired Army Ranger I know from experience that Western MMA standards of performance are used by the U.S. Military with astounding results of martial performance. An emphasis on breath control taught in a scientific manner to control modal behavior is taught to troops. In the Temple Underground Gym that concept is even more profoundly explored and applied in combative and combat sport training.
    At Temple Underground Internal Boxing Gym breath science is being tested inside the ring and cage with varying degrees of intensity and success. The method is called Western Long Boxing. When applied solely for Cage Fighting it is called Internal MMA Boxing and we have fighters who are using this method. The importance of practicing MMA in an internal manner is that the adept will be able to continue the MMA Boxing training well into their seasoned years and grow stronger and more healthy for the effort.

    The result of direct internal boxing or martial energetic training of the Western Long Boxing method was a Valor Fights promotion event “Fight of the Night” (Chris Buttry) and Cruiser Heavyweight championship victory (Lance Abbott). True power is what Rickson Gracie BJJ Yoga has and teaches because the opponent senses danger in what cannot be seen but only felt… and by that time it is too late to secure the victory. Training and learning is continuous even beyond the state of competence. I am still learning how to do this through my new mentor Master Vic Hoti (Wing Chun, Escrima and BJJ instructor) who has trained many MMA fighters using similar methods. However, in the West Gracie is the most prominent MMA fighter to emphasize breath as an essential to stillness and motion in a way we can practically use. More importantly is to make the effort to learn and build upon his great work. You see Mixed Martial Arts is more than mere competition. When done correctly it is a warrior way of life.

    For the warrior compassion is the highest form of martial discipline. Discipline is how a warrior expresses love of self and respect for others. Humility is not just a word for a warrior. It is the result of experiences that he or she has overcome with regard to sustaining mental, physical and emotional attacks. It is the realization that there is always someone better and so one must continuously engage and persevere. The victory in the struggle is to reveal the enemy within which is fear of change. This is the warrior way of life. As a warrior way of life the best of us are endeavoring to use this beloved discipline to make ourselves better people. Better fathers and mothers. Better leaders and friends. Better servants of nobility and providers for our families. Only a fool fights for personal glory as the ultimate goal because the wisdom is clear on the subject: All glory is fleeting…

    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    Book Review: The Martial Arts Instructor: A Practical Guide to a Noble Way

    Jonathan Bluestein is a frequent contributor to Cook Ding's Kitchen. He recently published a new book entitled "The Martial Arts Instructor: A Practical Guide to a Noble Way."

    I am no martial arts instructor and have to aspirations in that direction. However, if that was something that I was seriously thinking of doing, or if I already was an instructor and wanted to see someone else's point of view to see if there is something I might be overlooking or could do better, this would certainly be the book I would be looking at.

    There are three themes running concurrently through this book: the nuts and bolts of running a successful martial arts school, building the school into a community and taking teaching as a sort of "higher" Way to study and practice.

    The nuts and bolts of running a school. Recruiting students, scheduling classes, setting tuition policies, testing, ranks, teaching children, teaching people of the opposite sex, managing a class and  developing a curriculum. It's all in there. There's a ton of stuff to consider and Jonathon discusses all of it. A would be teacher, having read this book, would have a much better idea of the sorts of things; the breadth of things that he's going to be getting into.

    One item that I wish that he would have discussed, and maybe in another edition are the pros and cons of being a part of a large organization.

    For a school to be successful, which means that it continues to exist and torn out skillful students, it must become a community. If you leave it as a retail operation where a customer is merely exchanging money for a service, your school won't be around long.

    On the contrary, a school that is successful can be marked by the number of senior students who are present. A successful school tends to become top heavy in black bels over time. The senior students tend to stick around.

    There is a lot that goes into building a community where you are still clearly in charge, but the students all feel that they have a stake in the school as well. Some lines have to be drawn and it can be a tricky business. Jonathan helps make many of the issues less tricky.

    Finally, there is teaching as a "higher" Way. What I mean by this is that the students are coming to see you. You have to be at your best and an example. You have to work harder and be a better you than any of your students.

    There are no excuses. You can't have an off day. To take on teaching is to take on a challenge that when viewed rightly, will elevate your practice as a human being.

    Even though I am not contemplating becoming a teacher, I have found this book to be most useful in my own practice; to help to open my mind.

    I enjoyed it. I think that you would too.