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 ~

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Classical Martial Arts in the Street

Over at Kogen Budo is a guest post by a retired police officer. This police officer, Bill Fettes, trained in and applied classical martial arts in actual altercations throughout his career. 

An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.

My name is Bill Fettes. I am a sixty-seven years plus retired police officer from South Australia. I joined the police at the ripe old age of 47, and retired at 67 and a bit at the end of 2017. Most of those twenty years were spent on the cutting edge, and the rest in Intelligence and Undercover jobs. I worked the entertainment districts in our capital city, Adelaide until after my 65th birthday, when the police union decided I was too old to insure.
I commenced my study of Asian combatives in 1968 with aikido & Shindo Muso-ryu jodo (Japanese medium length staff) in 1980, simplified and Yang-style taijiquan (Taichi) in 1981, Chen-style taijiquan, xingyiquan, baguazhang and Shaolinquan in 1985. The last of my current training regimes was Toda-ha Buko-ryu naginatajutsu, which I commenced in 1989.
Unlike the perception that many uninformed may hold, I have found that classical martial arts technique, particularly those from the so-called ‘internal’ martial arts, have been invaluable in my career as a police officer. I generally used aikido, taijiquan and the occasional animal technique from xingyi. There were a number of reasons for that:
  • Contrary to the fantasies of the public, where ‘proper’ violence, enacted for the right reasons, is always as efficient and un-troubling as that in an old Western movie, violence is always ugly. The techniques of the internal martial arts are powerful, but often do not look like much. In particular, these arts frequently use palm strikes which do not appear as brutal as a blow with a clenched fist. Public perception is truly relevant to officer safety, and these techniques do not appear to be as grossly violent as a ‘ground and pound,’ for example, even though they are equally effective.
  • They are far less easy for an assailant to see, yet they can inflict great pain and thereby induce compliance by eliminating the opponent’s will to fight.
  • They can also be used to unbalance and/or throw those who are too far gone on drugs to feel pain.
  • A final benefit I have found in the ‘internal’ arts is their first rule of thumb – avoid the attack. It is much easier to dissect some idiot if he misses with his first shot, and then plays into your hands with his attempts at recovery. Or slip some hulk altogether and take him down from behind—much easier to cuff him too.
In terms of this account, however, the internal arts are so inter-related that it is difficult, at times, to name exactly what technique I used. I can’t say for sure that my palm strike is louxi aubu (Yang style), xieying aubu (Chen style), piquan (xingyiquan) or shomen-ate (from Tomiki aikido). This is not a bad thing: if I don’t know what it is, it’s unlikely anyone else does.
My other main rule was to never deliberately go to the ground; too many of my mates finished up in hospital beds with concussions to make it anything but an ‘oops’ technique for me.
Let’s explore some of the odd and mundane situations that have been thrust upon me. (NOTE: click images for larger view).
Sumiotoshi AKA Haidizhen
Early winter’s morning about 0200 or 0300. My partner and I see a car that we had chased the night before—and lost. The guy driving the previous night was a well-known breaker, and he was driving whilst disqualified. The courts would likely let him off again, but that really wasn’t our concern. We followed him through the back streets with the dome lights flashing but, although he wasn’t speeding, he wasn’t stopping either. Finally he decided to ditch the car and drove it into a driveway—where it commenced to roll away—and he made a bolt for a grass park between two rows of houses. My partner, who was in the passenger seat, took off after the passenger whilst we were still in motion, and I took off after the driver. He was in worse shape than I was—which took some seriously bad lifestyle choices as I was into my fifties by then—so I started to reel him in.
As I said, it was early winter and the grass was slippery. As I got closer, my feet went from under me and I finished unceremoniously on my rear end. Seeing this, the miscreant turned around and ran straight back at me. As I started to get one foot under me, he let go with a straight right at my head. Fortunately I had enough purchase with my supporting foot to move my body out of the way, and as his fist sailed past my face, I grabbed his right wrist in both hands and let him fly past without attempting to halt his progress. As he realised he had missed, he started trying to recover his momentum by pulling up and back with his arm, and as he did so, I pushed both my hands in the direction he was now trying to go. In essence, I let him ‘control’ me as he pulled up and back; and then I suddenly whipped his arm down to his rear and back towards me in a circular motion. The result was it his feet suddenly left the ground and flailed through the air, landing him flat on his back. Whilst the stuffing was still knocked out of him, I rolled him over and cuffed him. Game over.
I used the same technique on another occasion. In a side street off the main entertainment drag we spotted a big bloke, who was holding his sister against a post with one hand and punching her with the other, when my partner and I rocked up. Our appearance didn’t faze him at all, and he continued on his merry way. I intercepted one punch and, as he tried to drag his fist clear of my grip, I simply moved with his violent pull to the rear, swept his leg, pushed down on his wrist and elbow and planted him on the concrete.
This technique could be summed up as either sumiotoshi from Tomiki aikido or haidizhen from taijiquan (all styles). It involves the avoidance of an attack, grasping the wrist and/or elbow and when the opponent pulls back to try to get away, taking him down to the corner behind and slightly to the side of his direction of pull. He is usually putting so much effort into pulling away that he goes down pretty quickly. The leg sweep was my own addition from baguazhang.

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