Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, 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 ~

Friday, March 31, 2017

Kendo Naginata

Kendo is more than just sword work. It includes a number of other weapons, such as the naginata.

Below is another short video from Empty Mind Films which highlights some of these weapons practices that we don't see too often.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Train Like a Spartan

Jeff Jackson at Run, Bike, Throw had a book review for a book entitled Spartan Fit! The full review may be read here. An excerpt is below. I think there are some valuable ideas here.

But what got me so into this book? Here are three things I believe make Spartan Fit! different from the rest.

Training for adaptability. Spartan Race training is designed for competing in Spartan Races, obviously, but each race is different in the obstacles that the athletes will face. So basic techniques such as running, crawling, and lifting are stressed over specific challenges (such as climbing over a slippery wall).

Adaptability allows you to face any unexpected obstacle – physical, mental, whatever – that you may face in the course of your day. It’s like the jazz musician who doesn’t practice improvisations directly, but all the skills needed to successfully improvise. If I get nothing else out of this book, improving here would make it worth it to me.

Focus on simplicity. This training is meant to be done with things found all around us, or are readily available. VersaClimber in the gym? Run up that hill a few times instead. Kettlebells? Who needs them? Find a rock. Carry logs, drag tires, climb ropes, run and crawl through muck. That’s the essence of Spartan training.

Emphasis on training outside. DeSena points out that the original “gymnasiums” were outdoor athletic areas where the athletes trained together. He contrasts that with the “depressing dungeons,” air-conditioned, carpeted indoor gyms full of fancy equipment, and believes that the surfers on the beach would crush the bodybuilders in an obstacle race. So his workouts are outside, in any weather. And as a year-round, all-weather runner, I understand the benefits, and I agree with him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Traditional Korean Wrestling

We're all pretty familiar with Japanese Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We're a little less familiar with traditional Chinese wrestling, Shuai Jiao. We're much less familiar with Korean traditional wresting, Ssireum.

Below is a video on this most overlooked martial art.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The 48 Laws of Power, #20: Do Not Commit to Anyone

One of my favorite books on strategy is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers.  Where The Art of War, by Sun Tzu is written as an overview of the whole topic of strategy, seeking to provide an overall understanding of the subject; and The 36 Strategies tries to impart the knack of strategic thinking through 36 maxims related to well known Chinese folk stories, Mr. Greene focuses on how we influence and manipulate one another, ie "power".

Mr. Greene draws from both Eastern and Western history and literature as his source material. Sun Tzu and Machiavelli as cited as much as wonderful stories of famous con men. Among my favorites is about a scrap metal dealer thinking he bought the Eiffel Tower.

Each of the 48 Laws carries many examples, along with counter examples where it is appropriate that they be noted, and even reversals.

It is a very thorough study of the subject and the hardback version is beautifully produced.

One of the things I admire about Greene is that he not only studied strategy, he applied what he learned to his own situation and prospered.

Today we have #20: Do Not Commit to Anyone.

Do Not Commit To Anyone but Be Courted By All

If you allow people to feel they possess you to any degree, you lose all power over them. By not committing your affections, they will only try harder to win you over. Stay aloof and you gain the power that comes from their attention and frustrated desire. Play the Virgin Queen: Give them hope but never satisfaction.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Four Points of Ki Aikido

Koichi Tohei was somewhat of a controversial figure in the development of aikido. Watching old videos of him, I just can't help but be in awe of how relaxed he was.

Below is a video produced by the Aikido Journal which illustrates the four key points of Tohei's Ki Aikido.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Chinese Saber Typology

Over at MandarinMansion, there is a very nice article on Chinese sabers. Below is the introduction. The full article may be read here. There are plenty of charts and illustrations that you'll want to see. In fact, the whole website is awesome. Please pay a visit.


Historical references on Chinese saber typology are scarce, and the information they provide scant.

The most comprehensive Chinese military text is the massive Ming dynasty Wu Bei Zhi (武備志) or "Treatise of Military Preparedness" by Mao Yuanyi. It mentions the existence of 8 different types of saber, of which only two remained in use by the time or writing: The changdao (長刀) or "long saber" and the yāodāo (腰刀) or "waist-worn saber" which at the time was mostly used by soldiers in conjunction with a shield. None of the other types are described in detail.1

Qing period texts dealing with military sabers refer to them as yāodāo (腰刀) or pèidāo (佩刀) both synonyms for "waist-worn saber". Pèidāo was an archaic term that the Qianlong emperor re-introduced in court circles in the 18th century. The term yāodāo remained in widespread use on a more operational level. Regulations of this period focus mainly on the outward appearance of the sheathed saber, describing different mounting styles while not giving much is any detail on the blade inside.2

Until more accurate historical information surfaces we are left with period artwork, early photographs, and antique examples to study. Pioneering work in this field is done by Philip Tom, who wrote an excellent introduction to Chinese sabers in "Some Notable Sabers of the Qing Dynasty at The Metropolitan Museum of Art".3

The current article aims to continue in this line, providing for the first time a basic illustrated typology of styles. Most antique Chinese sabers encountered in museum and private collections today tend to date from the 17th to 19th centuries, this article will focus on that period. First we look at the two basic mounting styles, to continue with the main classifications of blade curvatures and blade profiles.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Traditional Korean Martial Arts

Below is a documentary which examines some traditional Korean martial arts, such as Taekkyon, sword, archery, etc. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Yiquan Sword

You don't often think of weapons when it comes to the art of Yiquan. Below is a short video of Cui Ruibin demonstrating the Yiquan usage of the saber.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The History of Karate

Below is a documentary, The History of Karate. There is some time spent on the differences between Okinawan and Japanese Karate. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Hung Gar Documentary and the 2017 Lenten Challenge

Before getting to the main topic of this post, I want to issue the 2017 Lenten Challenge.

Every year, I throw out the Lenten Challenge to my martial arts buddies. It has nothing to do with Christianity or religion (unless you want it to). We are simply using this time as a convenient reminder to rededicate ourselves to our training. It’s kind of hard to miss either Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent, which is also Paczki Day!) or Easter Sunday (Bunnies, candy, colored eggs; that stuff). Several of us have been doing this for years now.

The challenge is this: from Ash Wednesday (today!) until the day before Easter (Apr 15), train every day, without fail, no excuses; even if you have to move mountains. Simple enough said, a little harder to do.

It's not as easy as it sounds; things come up. Some days, you might only be able to get a few minutes of training in; but the point is to do it everyday, no matter what.

It doesn't have to be martial arts training either. Whatever it is that you need to really rededicate yourself to: studying, practicing an instrument, walking, watching what you eat, immersing yourself in something new; anything - do it every day, without fail.

In the past on some forums, people have posted what they’ve done everyday. I think everyone who’s done that has become tired of writing, and the others get tired of reading it. How about you just post if you’ve had some breakthrough, or you’ve had to overcome some unusual circumstance to continue your training? Maybe just check in every once in a while to let everyone know you’re keeping at it, or to encourage everyone else to keep at it.

If you fail, no one will hate you. If you fall off of the wagon, climb back on board. Start anew.

For those of you who already train everyday anyway, by all means continue and be supportive of the rest of us. For the rest of us who intend to train everyday, but sometimes come up short due to life’s propensity for unraveling even the best laid plans, here is an opportunity to put a stake in the ground and show your resolution.

Won't you join me? The challenge starts NOW!
Below is a documentary on the Chinese martial art, Hung Gar.