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Sorry, you’re wrong, get over it…..

28 Aug

Another NSFW post, building upon yesterday’s blog and the responses from many. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

We are more than half way through 2017 and we still hear the same old tired non-arguments from so called “traditional martial artists” about how martial arts is about “real fights”. People say you are supposed to be polite and engage in conversations; but when people flatly ignore logic and display cognitive biases you aren’t really left with much else other than to call them out. In other words: Sorry, you’re wrong, get over it….

You want to talk about “real fights”? Fine. Let’s talk about how they frequently happen; an overwhelming barrage assault that overcomes the senses and frequently shuts down the person being attacked. That is precisely what it is designed to do. That is why PRESSURE TESTING is so important if you want your martial arts to be REAL. Learning to function with adrenaline response is the ONLY way to fight effectively. It’s why so called “sport fighters” are always going to be better prepared for a real fight than the guy who never leaves his traditional school. It is why military around the planet train with combat sports, even engage in “war games”, not the “games” part….

Studies by the FBI have consistently shown that when attacked with a knife, it is usually the last few attacks that do the damage and/or kill. IE again the way it works “for real” is that all too frequently a person attacked is overwhelmed and gives up.

Hate to break it to you, but it is not all that different than covering up the first few rounds in a match against an aggressive opponent, surviving their initial assault, letting them gas out / “blow their wad” and THEN “making them pay”.

If you really know anything about “combat sports” you’d know that in these matches things that the average martial artist cites as “deadly” happen all the time, with LITTLE EFFECT. The human body, especially on adrenaline, can take damage that most would assume would KO or kill you. NOT SO. People who talk about “real fighting” and then resort to “the deadly” can not be taken seriously.

So returning once again to yesterday’s blog about the Mayweather vs McGregor match; we can see that the average “martial artist” knows very little about how real fights happen, has no idea what fighting strategy is and clings desperately to their preconceived views. The fact things didn’t happen “their way” must mean it was fake, or worked, or a set up… The justifications and denial is astounding! And, sorry, I am not going to let it slide…


NSFW: Mayweather vs McGregor and what it should tell us about martial arts

28 Aug

WARNING: I am going to offend you. If you decide to continue reading, you’ve been warned.

If you paid to watch the Mayweather vs McGregor fight, I feel for you. Not because it wasn’t an exciting fight. It was entertaining. But that you paid $100 for something whose outcome was 100% certain. And, starting to apologize here for what I am going to say in this blog, yes it was 100% certain the entire time.

If you are one of those people who after the fight either asked or claimed the fight was a “work” then I really feel sorry for you. If you thought that fight was a “work” in any way, the only thing I can say in response is the obvious; you do not understand much about real fights and/or combat sports. Which is sad but forgivable if you are just a “fan”.

HOWEVER, if you are a “martial artist” and you think that fight was a “work”, I am really going to have to ask you; are you really a “martial artist”? How can you be martial artist and really have such a poor understanding of how a real fight works?

Among people who are active in training fighters, coaches who really understand how these things work, the overwhelming theory going into this was that McGregor let his big mouth create an excellent pay day for himself with very little to risk. Losing in boxing, not only not his sport but one he had never even competed in, to one of the best boxers of all time wouldn’t likely effect his “reputation”. The fact that McGregor didn’t contest the stoppage in the least lends credence to this theory. Also, the reality remains, if he really thought he was going to win this match he is really one of the biggest idiot blowhards of the century.

That people who claim to be martial artists after the fight thought it was a “work” demonstrates one of the biggest problems in “martial arts” today. Aside from my often cited “laundry lists” of random techniques, people are not learning STRATEGY. To make something real, to FIGHT, requires strategy. It is virtually absent in today’s martial arts training. I’d even say that a lot of so called “fight gyms” have virtually no strategy.

That one of the best camps in professional boxing history came into this match with a strategy is NOT a “surprise”. What is more significant for this particular discussion is that the strategy used was so simple and straightforward that pretty much any professional boxer would have used it. It’s a strategy used in professional and amateur fights. It’s a strategy used in a lot of combat sports. And it’s a strategy used in war. There were no “surprises” here. So that so called “martial artists” did not recognize it really tells you something…..

Kung Fu and Western Boxing

19 May

Quick quiz! What do Chan Tai-San, Huang Xiao-xia, Xia Bai-Hua, Wong Shun-Leung, Chu Kao-Lou, and a plethora of other Chinese martial artists all have in common? The answer is training in Western boxing. Western boxing, it has been the 800 lb. gorilla that has been sitting in the room for more than 150 years.


Recently I have seen a number of web sites claim that Western boxing was first introduced to China in the port city of Shanghai in the 1920’s. The fact the first Chinese language instruction manual in Western boxing, titled “The Technique of Western Boxing”, was published there during this period and the first public events pitting Chinese participants against Westerners also first appeared in this location might make this a tempting conclusion, but there is ample evidence to the contrary.


Chinese martial artists were exposed to Western boxing almost as soon as Europeans began making regular contact during the Qing Dynasty. We have an anecdotal account that the founder of Choy Lay Fut, Chan Heung, made comments on Western boxing and compared it to Chinese martial arts.


With this in mind, it is probably important to consider that the first Western boxing that Chinese martial artists observed was of the bare knuckle variety. It may not have had kicks or Qin Na (joint locks), but it certainly had striking techniques and throws which would have been familiar to these men. The two traditions were not as separate as today’s student probably now consider them, and Chinese martial arts were most certainly influenced by Western boxing!


For as long as I have practiced Chinese martial arts, I have had friends who found similarities between Western boxing and the internal art of Hsing Yi (Xing Yi). Again, we have anecdotal accounts that Chinese martial arts originally favored punches to the body almost to the total exclusion of strikes to the head. Certainly, Western boxing (and the Lion’s Roar teacher Wong Yan-Lam, but that is another blog) caused reconsideration of head punching as a combat tactic.

Of course, there were always those who resisted innovation, and particularly anything foreign. At one of the government sponsored Lei Tai competitions, Chu Kao-Lou placed second. Chu openly admitted he also trained in Western boxing, to which one of the Taiji masters who had been in the audience complained that Chu’s fighting style was not using Chinese Martial Arts at all! Chu’s brother, Chu Kao-Chen, challenged that Taiji master, who in response didn’t accept that challenge. Truly, nothing changes in the Wu Lin!


While Chan Tai-San’s training in Western boxing had long been known by his students, in 2006 one of my classmates traveled to Taishan county, Guangdong province to dig up more history. He returned with an interesting story on Chan Tai-San’s early introduction to Western boxing. My sifu had entered a competition with no previous Western boxing training and lost the match. His initial response was rather familiar; he blamed the gloves, he blamed the restrictive rules, and he wanted to challenge the person that had beaten him to a no rules fight. Then he reconsidered. He decided to train a little with the gloves and find what worked in that environment. His second match was not successful either, a bad referee did not control a break and my sifu was actually KO’ed when the referee was holding his hands! The fact he came back after THAT, and eventually won several regional events and incorporated boxing into his fighting method was what made Chan Tai-San unique, and a real fighter.


It does not take much research to find out that by the 1920’s, both Western boxing and Japanese Judo had made a huge impact on many Chinese martial artists. However, due to more modern nationalistic and style pride, many will now not openly admit to it! They in turn trained a generation of students who blindly follow the words of their teachers. In doing so, they deny truth and limit the opportunity for growth and advancement.

Lion’s Roar Martial Arts

Authentic Lama Pai, the art of Chan Tai San

Advice on how not to be “that guy”

16 Feb

This is just some friendly advice on how not to be “that guy” when you enter a martial arts school. Hey! It IS a free country, and you CAN do what you want, but I’m telling you things are probably not how you perceive them to be.


— Don’t be a nuisance. Don’t show up an hour early or without an appointment. And if you do, don’t expect an instructor who is teaching class to ignore his class to chat with you or amuse you. Don’t just walk onto a training floor, or pick up something, or start hitting a bag. —


— Don’t lie and don’t exaggerate. Don’t go on about ALL that martial arts training you’ve had, unless it is true. Nothing is more amusing for an instructor than watching the big mouth now struggle through the warm up, have no clue how to execute the basic techniques and/or getting punched in the face by the newbie. You’ll forever be branded a clown (rightfully so) and even if you join, no one will ever take you seriously. —


— Don’t walk into a martial arts school and say you don’t want to take classes, you just want to hit a bag. If you just want to hit a bag, get a bag and hang it in your basement. BUT you’ll end up looking like the guy in the clip below. —

— Don’t walk in wearing every piece of cliche martial arts clothing known to man, especially don’t wear stuff from another martial arts school. Honestly, if you are so in love with the school across town you should stay there. —


— Don’t tell the instructor you are training somewhere else and just want to learn some stuff from him but not be a real member. First of all, if that is what you are really trying to do, YOU ARE A PRICK. Second, if that is what you are really doing, chances are you will be the “green light special”.. and I won’t even explain to you what that means. —


— Don’t talk about how you want to fight, win titles and be a champion. If you really wanted to do that, you’d shut up, sign up and train hard. Flapping your gums about it is just about the surest indication it is all bullsh-t. —

Manhattan NYC Kickboxing Classes

13 Oct

My name is David A Ross and I am head instructor at New York San Da, one New York City’s oldest and best established kickboxing gyms. I opened the gym in Hell’s Kitchen (near the garment district NYC) more than a decade ago for one purpose. I had already been teaching martial arts since 1989 and knew that kickboxing and martial arts were great exercise and a great way to improve your life. I wanted people from all over, not just Manhattan, to enjoy the benefits of this training.

The basic kickboxing classes I offer combine elements of kung fu, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Western boxing, san shou, san da, French savate and karate and are designed for beginners.

I also offer advanced martial arts classes focused on San Da / Thai boxing, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

Training with Equipment – the heavy bag

7 Sep

Training advice with David Ross of NY San Da

The heavy bag is the most basic piece of training equipment. Its primary use is to allow the student to practice their striking and kicking techniques at full power and to become accustomed to the impact. However, when properly utilized, the bag can also be used to teach distance, timing and footwork.

bag work

The following points should be kept in mind when practicing;

 Don’t stand square in front of the heavy bag. Use your fighting stance, keeping one shoulder in front of the other.

 Don’t stand in place in front of the heavy bag. Move in both directions around the bag.

 Since you do not have to worry about injuring a partner, use full speed and power.

 Picture the heavy bag as an actual opponent with arms and legs. Identify actual anatomical targets on the bag.

 The most effective fighters visualize oncoming attacks and defend as well as launching attacks.


The jab and cross combination provides a good example of how the heavy bag can be used to teach distance, focus, power and impact. The jab is used to establish correct distance. The cross must be thrown straight and must focus upon a specific target. The cross should be a powerful blow, capable of knocking your opponent out if it lands cleanly. The student must become accustomed to the impact of a solid hand strike.


The heavy bag is also an excellent tool for the repetition of basic combinations. In the case of the jab, and rear leg round kick combination there is also the issue of timing. The combination must be smooth and uninterrupted. DO NOT withdraw back into your fighting stance after throwing the jab. The hips are already turning and the kick should be thrown smoothly and immediately. Finally, the heavy bag can be used to teach hand positioning during the kick. The rear hand must be positioned between the face and the heavy bag, preventing a counter punch.

foot jab to round kick

David Ross
Head instructor NYSANDA

Put on that white belt…

11 Jun

It’s a cliche, but it’s still quite true. Martial arts contain within them important life lessons, if we are just willing to pay attention to them. In martial arts, as in life, people simply don’t want to leave their comfort zone. It’s completely understandable, but leaving your comfort zone is exactly what people need to do.


I’ve told the story before, a person who was a very high level striker with many fights. I’m tempted to even say they were a “natural.” People wanted to train with him, they felt priviledged to be close to him and to be able to learn stand up from him. In, that world, he was KING. But he wanted to do Mixed Martial Arts and so off to Brazilian Jiu JItsu class he went.


Needless to say, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, he was not the rock star. He was, in fact, a no one. IN striking he could dominate anyone in pretty much any gym. In Jiu Jitsu class he was tapping out right and left. He did what most people in this situation would do, he quit. He never did MMA and he never went back to any form of grappling. The reverse has also been frequently true. A masterful grappler has come home from the gym with a black eye, bruised ribs and sore legs and never returned to stand up training.


Yesterday, during an interview, I mentioned that being promoted to instructor level in a martial art and opening a school can not only be one of the most thrilling things that can happen in your life, it can also be one of the most damaging things. The martial arts community has built up a false image of instructors, as god-like figures who can do no wrong and can never be defeated. An instructor may want, may in fact NEED addditional training, but all too often is afraid to “show weakness.”


If you’ve read this blog, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I”ve sought out additional training well after I was established as an instructor under the late Chan Tai-San and well after I had my own school. I like to joke that I’ve been beaten up by some of the best. I’ve been tapped out more than my fair share of times. I’ve also been out wrestled, kicked around, and punched by people who as fighters were much better than me.

In fact, I have frequently taken my own students with me to seminars. I”ve never told them I was a super man, I’ve never claimed I am undefeated. Also, I don’t fear them seeing what others have to offer. I’ve taught them the best material I have, which I know to be pretty good stuff. Never once have I lost a student when they’ve seen another instructor’s material. In fact, most of the time my students not only felt more motivated after the training, but also said the experience gave them more confidence in what we do at our school.

So my advice to anyone is, put on that white belt….

Fight stories….

9 Jun

Do you know an instructor that tells a lot of stories about the fights they have been in? Fight stories are a classic feature of many martial arts schools, stories of how a challenger comes in and is defeated with great skill. Perhaps you’ve heard stories such as these from your own instructor? I’ve noted that these days it seems like every instructor of martial arts was once a devastating and deadly fighter, a former champion.


Anyone who has followed my blog probably already knows, I do NOT tell such stories. I have some great accomplishments as a coach, but as a fighter I was very average. I was at best a B LEVEL AMATEUR. In fact, quite frequently I cite this as exactly the reason I have put so much effort into my coaching. I always wanted my students to achieve more than I did.


If you’ve read my writings over the years, you probably HAVE heard quite a few fight stories about my teacher, the late Chan Tai-San. Unfortunately, in the telling all too frequently people miss a distinction I have made for years. I heard stories about Chan Tai San fighting not only from himself, but from others. The aspect of this that I have always found remarkable was the fact that when Chan Tai-San told us a fight story, it was always about him being beaten up and losing!

From Chan Tai-San, I heard stories about him being beaten almost to death with a staff. From Chan Tai-San, I heard about being stupid as a youth and taking on a group, getting beaten up pretty badly, and coming crawling back to his own sifu. From Chan Tai-San, I heard about being disrespectful to his own sifu and getting almost KO’ed. From Chan Tai-San, I heard a story about a WOMAN hitting him so hard in his kidneys that he just gave up and sat down.NEVER ONCE DID CHAN TAI-SAN TELL ME A STORY ABOUT HIM WINNING A FIGHT.


Most people find this rather strange. Why would a teacher tell his students nothing but stories about him losing fights? In Chan Tai-San’s case, he was probably pretty confident that those stories weren’t the only ones his students would hear. I head tons of fight stories about Chan Tai-San that were told to me by members of the Wu Lin. Many I was actually able to verify. There 1954 Guangdong Sports Almanac listed Chan Tai-San’s third place finish in the provincial sparring championships. Chan Tai-San’s famous brawl on 42nd street was covered by several local papers. Sifu himself never pointed them out to us, but I found amongst his possessions the certificates from the three all military championships he won.


Perhaps the fact Chan Tai-San had already established his legacy well before we met him allowed him to do what most teachers find unthinkable. All those stories about his defeats taught us that losing was OK. It wasn’t the end. It wasn’t even unusual. And, of course, we already knew that afterwards Chan Tai-San dusted himself off, tried to figure out where and why he had failed, and kept moving. In most regards, I have found the stories of his defeat more inspirational and useful than all his victories.

Losing makes winners

21 May


“Losing creates adversity.
Overcoming adversity builds character.”

The above quote is from Dan Gable, one of the most exceptional people ever in the world of sports. If you don’t know who he is, please do read up a little on him. Among the many things that make him exceptional is that he was both an elite wrestler AND an elite coach.

If you have ever trained fighters, you know that they don’t like to lose. In fact, many times a loss is followed by a lot of drama. Sometimes the athlete even blames his loss on his coach, his team, his facility, whatever. When an athlete does this the answer is simple


Everyone loses, even the “big stars” in the UFC. Do you think the guys in Thailand with 200 plus fights have no losses? Losing is never the issue, it is LEARNING FROM THE LOSS that is the issue.

Sometimes you have no control over a loss. Sometimes it’s a bad referee or bad judges. THIS IS RARE. Many times, the other person was just better on that particular night (this is the MOST COMMON event).

Other times, it was the fact that you didn’t train hard enough, ignored a part of your training, didn’t listen to your corner, “show boated” etc etc

Winners learn from their losses and move forward. They don’t sit in the corner and sob.

Of course, this is why of all the people who want to be fighters, so few become champions

Some random thoughts on combat sport

8 May

For those who don’t know me, I have been actively involved in combat sports promotion for decades. I promoted my first sanshou event in 1995 and was one of the group of Americans who changed the Chinese run sanshou into a more modern San Da. I also promoted the first Shooto style rule event in New York in 1997 and co-wrote the amateur MMA rules that are used now in New Jersey.


To me, combat sport is not only a way to promote a tradition but also a way to develop a student. Despite the term “sport” I firmly believe that combat sport in fact is essential to developing real self defense skill. So one of the first things I ask when I look at any combat sport is – HOW MUCH DOES THIS SPORT APPROACH REALISM AND DEVELOP REAL SKILL.

At the same time, since I realize that the MAJORITY of any combat sports’ participation is AMATEUR, I ask HOW MUCH DOES THE FORMAT PROTECT THE ATHLETE AND KEEP THEM REASONABLE SAFE. Remember, the athlete is why the show is happening. They are the ones putting their necks on the block. Are they being treated safely, fairly, WITH RESPECT?


These are the reasons I’ve never gotten along with the Chinese run organizations and the fighting formats they promote. I”ll be more direct, I often feel the fighting events run by the Chinese organization are run by people who know very little about fighting and don’t care at all about the people involved in the event. I certainly saw this with the sanshou movement, which explains in a large part why it is pretty much dead in the US.

Still alive and well is the “Kuo Shu” or “Lei Tai” events based upon the Taiwanese fighting format. I REALLY don’t like them! Why you may ask? Well, GOOD QUESTION. And here is just ONE REASON but the one reason demonstrates a lot of my points!

Have you ever seen the Kuo Shu head gear? Here’s a picture of it


This piece of so-called “safety equipment” tells me a LOT about who is running this event and what they really know about “fighting”

– Your technique, i.e. your “kung fu” is what is supposed to protect your face, not some plastic cage

– How “safe” is this headgear when we constantly hear about how people’s hands are broken punching it AND how people get their noses broken when the bar crashes into their face!

– Now, consider the REAL reason any amateur should be wearing headgear, the reason USA Boxing added headgear to amateur boxing competitions. That reason is “rabbit punching” and DEATH by secondary impact syndrome.

Feel free to google and read up on this stuff, but a short summary is this. You get hit in the head (often the BACK of the head) and that knocks you unconscious. You then fall and HIT your head on the floor, a SECOND TIME. The SECOND impact kills you, as in KILLS YOU DEAD.

I was doing full contact Taekwondo the summer that three people died because of this and the AAU added headgear to full contact Taekwondo competitions. I know a lot about this.

That’s also why the padding on the back of USA Boxing approved head gear is a certain way. To absorb that secondary impact should you get KO’ed (and the referee doesn’t catch you, a reason why the referee is an important safety tool also)


So much for that piece of so called “safety equipment”

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