1 Oct

Unless you are in a cave, and without internet access, you must know there is a lot going on around us. It is perhaps (hopefully?) a time for the beginning of significant change. But in the meantime, I can understand how people can be on edge and how the flat internet can make people hard to read. All that said, I still strongly objected when recently I was called a rapist. More precisely, someone made the claim that “most men” are rapists.

As I have already said; I have female friends, I’ve trained and continue to train many women, and I am the father of a daughter. As I said in response to the above comment; men are sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and friends of women. To dismiss them all as rapists serves no one.

That being said, I am also reminded (vaguely?) of something that Malcolm X said as he made his momentous change in positions. He had previously disregarded all white men, but modified his position. He would accept them in a sense, they could help his movement, but they were not PART of it. Something to this effect (?). And this is precisely how I feel about all this.

I would like to think I can make a positive contribution to this all: from ongoing classes, to self defense seminars, to helping to produce a positive community in which much more can happen. But be gentle with me as I proceed. And I ask not only for your help, but your insight and your contributions.



My Qin Na / Kah, Na seminar now available online

27 Sep

Missed my recent Qin Na / Kahn Na seminar on concepts vs practical application? No worries! You can learn all the awesome Qin Na I covered in my seminar online at

I have over 40 years of training, most of which under the direction of the late master Chan Tai San. This is REAL Qin Na (AKA Chin Na or Kahm Na); joint locking, escapes, chokes, neck locks, etc. The BEST close in fighting you will ever learn!

#kungfu #chinesemartialarts #chinna #qinna #chantaisan #lamapai #lionsroar #sifudavidross #nysanda

Powerful women, the start of a new movement

23 Sep

I have the honor and the privilege of being surrounded by many strong women. Full disclosure, I certainly came from a world where initially women were rare and seldom welcome, the traditional martial arts world. I am not sure, no, I am positive; I had trouble relating to them initially. However, over time I found myself training more and more women.

It is a cliche, but having my daughter changed my entire life. In regards to my martial arts, it gave me suddenly a razor sharp, brilliantly clear vision of the role my martial arts and I play in the lives of the many women who came and continue to come through my door.

“Healthy” is not a number. It is not a number on a scale. It is not a dress size. The more science teaches us about our bodies, the more we must realize that we will most certainly not all look the same way. We are surrounded by unrealistic expectations and depictions to the point it can literally be overwhelming. But lifestyle choices are only one part of the equation, so are genetics. It certainly doesn’t help that so called “professionals” seem unable to advance their perspectives, of which I speak of things like “BMI”. It is often cited, Evander Holyfield was considered the best conditioned professional athlete of all time, using the most up to date methods of his time. According to BMI charts, he borders on morbidly obese!!!

We should all strive to be healthy, to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat correctly and those efforts should be reflected in things like check ups and blood tests. Healthy should also be about happiness. We should enjoy our lives, enjoy those around us. We should be happy with ourselves. We should feel confident. We should have confidence in ourselves and our ability to achieve our goals.

Finally, and as the father of a daughter this greatly concerns me, we should all be SAFE. I write this in the age of #MeToo. Certainly part of being SAFE is confidence and self esteem, but another part of it is the ability to physically defend yourself as well! So, for all these reasons, I see martial arts training as a wonderful way to achieve these goals and to produce generations of powerful women.


Reorganizing the MANY faces of the “Truth Project”

17 Sep

First there was this blog… And, of course, there is my Youtube channel.

The “secret group” on Facebook still exists. But we’ve faced challenges as we produced more content than their servers could handle (who knew?). This led me to setting up numerous offerings at, including the “Chan Tai San Archives” with rare footage you can not find any place else.

Of course, my most recent project has been a weekly Podcast, the Lion’s Roar, focusing on the discussion aspect of what I now call the “Truth Project”; The Lion’s Roar PODCAST (CLICK)

My personal branding website, has existed for quite a while, but now it will be the official “hub”; i.e. there are links to ALL of my activities there now and I will be more and more directing people there. As a reminder, if you never opted in, doing so gets you a 100% FREE San Da instructional by two of my black belts!

#kungfu #chinesemartialarts #chantaisan #lamapai #martialarts #shaolin #wutang #taichi #siulam #wingchun #masters #dimmak #history #pushhands #chisau #brucelee

Forms practice in the martial arts

12 Sep

The podcast on “forms” is available right now at

Forms? Under various names in different traditions, form practice remains one of those topics that will generate not only a varied but also very heated discussion among martial artists. What role do forms play in martial arts training? Is it an outdated idea, whose purpose has passed us by?

kung fu

I’ve certainly learned my fair share of forms; in systems such as Taekwondo, Karate, Hung Ga, and Lama Pai. I even picked up forms in places I only briefly studied or from friends; Dragon style, Praying Mantis… One of the greatest ironies of my life is, when I first heard about Chan Tai-San, I initially thought I’d just pick up a few “cool” forms from him and that would be it. Oh how wrong I was on that count.

Kung Fu-3

In retrospect, my martial arts career had just as much training WITHOUT forms; the western boxing I did at the PAL, the few months of Judo I did as a child, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, all that mixed martial arts (MMA) cross training…..

So, what can we say about forms training? Is it “practical”? In what sense? Or is it, like an outhouse, a function of a more primitive society, whose use we’ve long outgrown?


We can start with the most obvious; forms practice is NOT “fight training.” You can know a pile of forms, practice them daily, be excellent at them, and have NO ABILITY TO FIGHT AT ALL…..

While many people hold what they assume are “traditional” forms (many practice sets that have been SIGNIFICANTLY MODIFIED in very recent years and/or are actually very recent inventions and yet hold them to be “ancient secrets”) very close to their hearts; there IS a very strong argument that forms exist because martial arts were often practice by illiterate or semi-literate people and they were the best way to “catalog” the contents of a particular tradition. In this context, we ask if they are still relevant in an age when most of us can read and write and we have advanced storage systems. Most of us even carry a video camera with us wherever we go!


Of course, there is also something to be said for the fact that forms require us to perform the basics of our system hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. It is a sneaky but effective way to make us do those repetitions that many of us would normally avoid. I learned over 50 hand sets under Chan Tai-San, and in them I must have done the basics “fist seeds” hundreds of thousands of times!

If we view forms in this regard, there is something to be said for them. That is, if we also accept and assume they will be accompanied by just as much hands-on, practical, two person drilling. I’d suggest the challenge for the modern martial artist if finding the time to do this; today in traditional schools we more frequently see a lot of time devoted to solo technique practice and forms practice with very little time devoted to “alive” partner practice.


I’ve long suspected that forms practice has served another purpose. When I think back to those hours I spent with Chan Tai-San, him performing a technique, and my copying his movement, to remember the sequence and then replicate it over and over again. I was involved in movement study. I was learning to move, HOW to move, HOW to acquire new skills. I know that later in life, studying other things, many instructors found it fascinating how I could just watch something and then pick it up. This applied to ALL of Chan Tai-San’s senior students. I remember when YC Wong did a seminar in New York City, teaching a Pek Gwa set. Chan Tai-San’s seniors all picked up the set the first time YC Wong walked them through it. YC Wong commented that usually it took him 2 to 3 hours to teach this set, and we had all learned it in about 15 minutes….

The counter argument, the flip side, is that many people can NOT learn this way. Years of Chan Tai-San’s students trying to run their own schools demonstrated that many people aren’t only unable to learn this way, the ONLY way they can learn is by a slow, almost painful, “dumbing down” of the material.

And, of course, this still does not account/negate the fact that for fighting, you STILL need those hours of hands-on, practical two person drilling and sparring.


Random Thoughts PODCAST is LIVE

10 Sep

First podcast now available at

The new PODCAST to accompany the blog

9 Sep

A new kind of martial arts podcast by author, educator, combat sports coach, and martial arts master Sifu David A. Ross, David has trained over 40 years and spent three decades helping the public have a better understanding of real martial arts and helping thousands of individuals achieve their goals and live their dreams. The beauty of his vision is that it is NOT just for those who want to compete or be a champion; he has proven time and time again that REAL MARTIAL ARTS are for everyone and everyone benefits.

Great Myths about “Self Defense”

6 Sep

This Sunday, September 9th, I am holding another self defense seminar. If you are interested you can learn more and register at I guess that is why these “great myths” about “self defense” come to mind.

#1: People will tell you that in “self defense” you want to use your open hand, i.e. your palm. They will tell you about how delicate the hand is and how you can break it etc etc. Yet, since we were first human beings we’ve been balling up our hands into FISTS. And when “sh-t gets real” we seem to still ball up our hands into FISTS.

#2: People will tell you that “real fights” are over quickly. Yet in the age of the cell phone and “worldstarhiphop” 🙂 we seem to see over and over again protracted fights in which often fatigue plays a large part.

#3: People will tell you that you don’t want to “grapple” in a “real fight”. Frequently the possibility of weapons is inserted into this discussion; yet the three most praised and proven knife defense methods of our era ALL are based upon GRAPPLING.

And weapons aside, we still see plenty of grappling. We can also find more than a few videos in which people with clear training in either wrestling or Judo used their skills in “real fights”

#4: And related to argument #3 and one of my favorites, is the idea there is no “ground fighting” in a “real fight”. To paraphrase a great author, “you might not be interested in a ground fight, but a ground fight might be interested in you”. So what would you do if you find yourself on the ground and you have no skills to escape?

#5: The greatest lie is that taking a “martial arts class” will get you ready for “self defense”. Most martial arts classes today have NOTHING to do with self defense!

So, again, if you are interested in self defense, free free to register for this Sunday, September 9th, self defense seminar. Learn more and register at

Lie, sit, stand, walk and run: “internal” in steps…

9 Aug

Generalizations and/or stereo types are ugly things, but often they have some truth to them! Western minds tend to want things categorized. The Chinese mind often seems syncretic. So, in theory, Buddhism and Daoism should be two separate, distinct traditions. Yet, in China, things are never so easily defined.

In Indian traditions, such as Yoga (but certainly NOT limited to “yoga”), you see “stillness” in essentially three stages; lying on the ground, sitting and standing. In Indian Yoga, it has been said that of the two most difficult Asana (positions) to master on is the corpse (lying on the floor).

“Savasana” or the corpse posture

The corpse position, to lie on the floor, appears so simple. It is an excellent example of how hard “stillness” is, how true stillness is probably impossible and probably not even what we really want. If you have done “Savasana” (usually at the end of a Yoga class) then you probably realized that you didn’t really stay perfectly still. Your body “settles,” readjusting which is probably an ideal thing for it to do. As long as you stay “in the moment” and focus on that settling, you should feel your entire body. You should learn awareness of the entire body.

In this asana, the object is to imitate a corpse. Once life has departed, the body remains still and no movements are possible. By remaining motionless for some time and keeping the mind still while you are fully conscious, you learn to relax. This conscious relaxation invigorates and refreshes both body and mind. But – it is much harder to keep the mind than the body still. Therefore, this apparently easy posture is one of the most difficult to master.
– The Illustrated Light on Yoga, B. K. S. Iyengar

It is often said that the Chinese dislike being on the ground. This is to suggest the plethora of standing practices and the relative scarcity of practices sitting and lying upon the ground. If we follow the initial suggestion that Chinese nature is to avoid being on the ground, we might wonder if those practices came from the “outside”, particularly from Buddhism that originated in India. Certainly, several versions of “18 Lo Han” exercises include lying, sitting and standing. Yet things often understood and labelled “Daoist” also have these exercises. The Chinese mind is syncretic, and the culture defies easy categorization.

By comparison the lying practices, there is certainly no shortage of moving practices. You might even argue that some “martial arts” such as Taiji Quan are no longer even martial arts anymore, but just moving internal practices? At this point, for this article, we mostly want to focus on two things; balance and perhaps sequence?

There certainly must be a balance; you must practice lying, sitting, standing (“stillness”) and moving. It does NOT appear any particular grouping or order is really necessary. Rather, in Daoist fashion, you must “feel” your way to the correct practice for yourself and that practice inevitably MUST change as you change.

Finally, there must be balances between “soft” and “hard”, or, in another consideration, their must be “flexibility” in these practices.

“Internal” in a modern context? (AKA “no Qi, just me”)

8 Aug

Do you know how airplanes fly? I certainly didn’t, until my friend who is literally an aerospace engineer visited me in Washington DC and in the Smithsonian explained to me how they work. It didn’t just amaze me, it gathered a large crowd who stopped and stood for his entire explanation!

Imagine that you were able to take an airplane back to Medieval Europe. Would most people understand the physics of it even if you explained it to them? Or, would they think it is some sort of “magic”?

Most of the things we think of in Chinese martial arts as “internal”, obviously people developed these movements (they did NOT descend from Heaven on stone tablets!). They “felt” things while doing them. They experience changes, actually “improvements”, as a result. But did they understand the anatomy and the physiology involved? The answer should obviously be NO! As a result, they explained them in a language they created to try and explain them; Qi, Shen, Dan Tian, or Chakra, Prana, etc etc….

Even access to modern science has not changed the way most people approach this stuff; people still think you develop “chi” (“qi”) from standing practice and that the “power” in strikes, etc comes from that “chi” or “qi”. The reality of course is that standing practice teaches you body awareness. Body awareness is essential to properly using your body. The proper use of the body generates power. As Luo Dexiu stated to us at a seminar, the power isn’t developed by standing, the power is already there! You “find” the power by standing practice, not develop it.

Today, many of us (myself included!) may not have the scientific, anatomical or medical knowledge and training to identify the processes at work in our practices. In that sense, we are similar to our ancestors who could describe movement and say they felt “something”. However, as modern human beings we should be different in that we can understand there really is no “chi”, no “prana”, no “chakra”, no “dan tian”, no “magic”. We should certainly be more intelligent and advanced than the ignorant, superstitious “boxer bandits” who thought martial arts could be a form of magic that could make you invulnerable to bullets!

Of course, for some people denouncing “chi” is heresy. To some it makes us “haters”. Some think it means we completely discard the practice. NO. Not at all. The practice indeed persisted because it produced benefits, improvements, etc. I’d suggest we would be better served to look at it from a modern, scientific perspective. But at the very least, we shouldn’t be passing on superstition as fact.

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