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What is “bad martial arts”?

28 Dec

NOTE: This may come across as a very negative, even insulting blog. But it is not intended to be that way. It is NOT personal. It is Truth, and Truth is always the most important thing.

I have approached this with light hearted amusement in previous blogs, but the “danger” of running a public martial arts school is the people who come in and prior to taking your class tell you about all the training they have had. Some have only been in the basic class without contact. Others have talked their way into my intermediate class with contact. I would never put someone I have never seen practice into free sparring, though some might have deserved it. But my intermediate class has plenty of contact in it.

I have watched people who told me they had ten (10) years of boxing training not be able to throw the most basic combination; jab, cross and left hook. I usually write that off to just pure LIES; watching boxing on TV and having a heavy bag in your basement is NOT “boxing training”.

I had a person who really, really, REALLY wanted to do my intermediate contact class. They said they had trained for eight years. They had trained in something (they said boxing, Muay Thai and “martial arts”) because they could throw some basic punches and some basic kicks. But other than that they were completely lost. They were bounced around by people who had far less training under my program.

Do I feel bad for this person? Of course I do. I am not attacking them. What I am attacking is the increasing evidence that what is being taught as “martial arts” these days IS NOT. I don’t really know what to call it.

Traditional Okinawa Karate may not actually have a “roundhouse kick” depending upon who you talk to, but those schools that do; it is different than the Japanese Karate way of execution. The various Korean “kwan” taught roundhouse / round kicks differently. Seven Star Mantis has a “door shutting kick” which is like a snap round kick. Many northern styles have a swinging kick similar to the Muay Thai style. What they all have in common is that they are martial arts techniques capable of inflicting some damage.

In my estimation (which is more than “opinion”) real, “GOOD” martial arts are NOT about “technique”. There should be certain things EVERYONE who does martial arts should manifest

1. Body awareness
2. Awareness of distance
3. Ability to issue power

I was tempted to make a longer list, but NO. These are the first three things everyone should learn, regardless of their goals in studying, regardless of the method they practice. So why do so few people learn these things in so called “martial arts training”


HOW to train (if you want to have fighting skills)

17 May

Fighting must be rational.
Do not be reckless, giving no thought to defense.
“Do not be a caveman”

There are many methods or schools of thought on defense. In the kickboxing structure we first introduce a method we call the “six gate defense system”. The name derives from traditional Chinese martial arts theory that divides the body up into six gates. First, the body is divided down the middle by the center line into left and right. There are then three gates corresponding to the area above the shoulders (“heaven gate”), between the shoulders and the hips (“man gate”) and the hips down (“earth gate”). The six gate defense system involves parrying (redirecting an attack) and shielding (covering up using the hardest parts of the body, the elbows, the knees and the shins). We believe this is the easiest method for beginners to learn. In addition, it introduces students to the idea of getting hit.

The basics of sparring

– Keep your hands UP
And by this I mean thumbs at eyebrows or at least top of fists at your cheek bones. This isn’t boxing. We have kicks, later we have elbows.

– Keep your chin down
Put it in your chest, and “peek a boo” through your gloves

– Keep your head up
Hips in, hips/shoulders/head in one line, head up. Put your head down you are going to be kneed in the face! Or snapped down! Or choked out!

– Stay up on your toes, light on your feet and MOVE!

– Don’t like getting punched? (no one does!)
1. Keep your distance and kick them (kick the puncher)
2. Tie them up

– Clinch with a PLAN!
In the clinch it is the person who is first with the most that wins

– Don’t like getting kicked? (no one does?)
1. block the kick
2. destroy the kick
3. punch the kicker
4. ride the kick
5. catch the kick
6. avoid the kick

– Knee when they clinch

– Don’t forget your “dirty boxing”

– Throw when they knee

– It is better to be thrown than controlled

– Learn how to fall, how to shrimp, and how to get up

Free sparring in the school is not a competition and there are no winners. There should be NO EGO in free sparring and every student must understand that they are responsible for the safety of their partners. Make free sparring all about improving skills and having fun.

At higher levels, they’ll begin to understand that a good sparring session involves times when both partners are actually cooperative, giving a student the security and opportunity to develop new moves. Light sparring will allow you to work on techniques you have not yet perfected. Constantly sparring with full force will only result in injuries, stagnation and frustration and is counterproductive.

Make sure your training partner knows the plan and the pace of your
sparring workout.

Introduce free sparring gradually. Beginning students should engage in no more than three rounds of free sparring per class until they learn to address their fears and adrenaline response.

The first few weeks, basic boxing drills like the “four shields” will get a student accustomed to being hit. Follow up with some of the “live training” drills we’ve already discussed here.

Get comfortable with the idea of getting hit and hitting someone. The earlier you integrate this acceptance, the more progress you will make.

Remember that there are many different free sparring formats designed to develop different skills. In our program we actually use six different formats;

1. Kickboxing sparring with gloves and shin guards
2. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sparring starting from the knees
3. Pummeling for neck control with knees strikes
4. Pummeling for body control with takedowns
5. San Da sparring (kickboxing with the throws but not ground work)
6. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) (standing and ground)

Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages so doing all of them produces very well rounded students. Finally, realistic expectations of your performance are important. You will make mistakes.

A few guidelines for kickboxing sparring
1. Hands up
2. Chin down
3. Up on your toes
4. Do no lunge with your punches
5. After every strike or kick recover your guard
6. “Nothing for free”
7. Do not lean back to avoid strikes and kicks
8. Keep your back off the wall/ropes
9. Attack with combinations
10. Set up your kicks
11. Punch vs. kicks
12. Kick vs. punches
13. Clinch to strike
14. Clinch to throw
15. Knee vs. throws
16. Throws vs. knees

NY San Da
NY Best Kickboxing

Work WITH ME… it might actually work!

17 Mar


I frequently remind people why I started teaching martial arts; because at the age of six I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I spent almost two years in the hospital. The disease damaged my body, and so did the treatment. Back then, chemotherapy and radiation therapy was caustic. In fact, I am supposed to have nerve damage in my legs. I am not supposed to be able to raise my leg above my waist!


I remember when I was about 13 or 14, and my parents brought pictures of me kicking above my head, flying through the air and breaking boards. The doctors said that was impossible! It wasn’t impossible, it was just that no one had told me otherwise, so I believed I could.


I LOVE what I do. I am really committed to helping people achieve their goals. Until the day my daughter was born, I used to say nothing made me happier than being on the mat teaching a class. Now, after being with my daughter and my wife, being on the mat is still a solid third 🙂


All this being said, I really wonder sometimes why some people don’t “get it”? By this I mean, in order for things to work, for me to teach and you to see results, there are some simple things that people have to do. Believe it or not, we don’t do things just to make your life hard, and if you work WITH US rather than against us, you just MIGHT see some positive results.

PAL 12152007 (3)

Still, I am happy to say that 99% of the people we work with are wonderful and we consider them part of the family. I am a lucky man indeed.

Once the basic defense are learned

14 Mar


Once the basic defenses are learned, it’s an instructor’s responsibility to constantly break down and rearrange the techniques into different combinations. At New York San Da, we usually arrange our drills into either “boxing” drills or “kickboxing” drills. Typical combinations we teach include;

Boxing drills
(a) “four shields” drill (learning to get hit)
(b) parry vs. jab
(c) slip vs. jab
(d) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross
(e) parry vs. jab, slip vs. cross
(f) parry vs. jab, shield vs. hook (double left)
(g) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, shield vs. hook
(h) parry vs. jab, shield vs. hook, parry vs. cross
(i) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, duck vs. hook
(j) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, shield vs. body hook
(k) parry vs. jab, shield vs. left hook, shield body shot x2


(a) parry vs. jab, leg block vs. right low kick
(b) parry vs. cross, knee block vs. left low kick
(c) parry vs. jab, shield vs. right body kick (single or double elbow)
(d) parry vs. cross, shield vs. left body kick (single or double elbow)
(e) “hard style” cross block vs. round kick (body)
(f) “soft style” cross block vs. round kick (kick catch)
(g) low parry vs. foot jab/thrust kick/side kick
(h) uppercut catch vs. foot jab


Parrying, shielding, slipping and ducking will progressively lead to clinching and/or “shooting” (takedowns involving seizing the legs). In particular, the shielding drills lead well into both neck and body clinching and these methods are extremely functional methods of defending against a better striker.

However, I believe equally in the importance of footwork as a form of defense. Be careful not to stress clinching to the exclusion of evasive footwork. Evasive footwork is also an excellent defense against those trying to clinch.

first knee head 2

– Never move backward in a straight line, use lateral movement
– Do not “run away”, stay in range to counter
– Move to your right against an orthodox fighter
– Move to your left against a “south paw”

my parry

Let’s examine the most basic boxing drill; parry vs. jab.

First, make sure the structure is correct. Both students have to be in the correct stance, the correct execution of the jab, the correct execution of the block, etc.

Second, the drill must be done with movement; you don’t fight standing still so don’t drill that way.

Third, even though this is a partner drill there is impact; the punch is thrown to actually connect and is actually blocked.

Fourth, all the basic drills will eventually be practiced with appropriate counters so that the students are used to the resistance (counter attack) of a real opponent.

Fifth, introduce every drill within context. Explain both why the technique is used and when it is used.


It is important to understand that all drills have “two sides”. Doing parry vs. jab isn’t just about defense. Every jab needs to be thrown correctly, i.e. you are practicing your jab as well. Of course, drills are not sparring and there is NO EGO. Never injure your partner doing drills.


Teaching is a constant revision and expansion of methods

5 Feb

“Teaching is a constant revision and expansion of methods based
on a training program which is systematic and progressive”
– Donn Draeger, 1962

fun gam choih

Some of you may already be familiar with the concept of a “rotating curriculum”. Here, I’ll explain not only how it works but also address aspects and features unique to a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) program. These are suggestions based upon my personal experience. Each instructor will have to determine for themselves specifics and make modifications based upon their unique circumstances.

control the indoor area two

The rotating curriculum concept is not necessarily a new idea, but it has gained popularity and is now used by most commercially successful schools. First, let me explain how it works. Then we can discuss why we use it and the benefits. Using a rotating curriculum, the whole class is working the same material.

superman 1b

The most popular model is to set up six “semesters” of two months each. Since the sequence is not what is important here, let’s instead label the semesters with letters.

Semester A is January/February
Semester B is March/April
Semester C is May/June
Semester D is July/August
Semester E is September/October
Semester F is November/December

It’s up to the instructor to determine what material will be covered in each semester. Most instructors will want to mix up different skills in a semester; i.e. certain boxing drills, kickboxing drills, throws, and self defense techniques per semester. In a traditional martial arts program, each semester might include learning one form.


The example above is simplified and intended only to help you grasp the concept. Another suggestion is that you might want to offer separate programs for striking, clinching/wrestling and your ground / Jiu-Jitsu, in which case you will develop separate rotating curriculum.

knee to body a

The key to this concept is that EVERYONE will be learning the same material during that semester, whether they joined that month or three months ago. Most traditional instructors initially have trouble with this concept. They can’t imagine a student who has been studying for 6 months learning the same material as someone who just joined that month. It’s something you’ll have to get used to, but experience will show you that this sort of program works.

For traditional martial arts programs, belts and/or ranking figures into this arrangement as well. In a year period, a student progresses through six semesters and, if you are using a belt system, you can award a belt after successful completion of each semester. You’ll probably immediately observe that if you implement a rotating curriculum, two students with two months’ training (in most martial arts systems, the equivalent of a gold belt) may not know the same material. The student who joined in “Semester A” at the end of two months knows different material than the student who joined in “Semester D”. I am also aware that in some systems, like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, belts are never “given away” and even the first rank of blue belt is considered an achievement.

public class

In response to those concerned that a rotating curriculum “waters down” or “cheapens” rank, I offer a different perspective. Remember that under a rotating curriculum, after a year of training each student will all know the all the same techniques. In my opinion, these are the sorts of benchmarks we should be worried about. After a year, whether you call it “first level” or “blue belt” or “star spangled red belt” a student should have the basics of your program. A rotating curriculum will make sure this happens.


Let’s start examining why this happens, why having a rotating curriculum allows us to organize our classes better and make sure everyone is learning the material correctly. Think about the traditional model of teaching. When a student joins, the first thing he learns are punch #1, kick #1 and block #1. So “Joe” joins your school in January and by February he has learned all those techniques. It’s time to teach him punch #2, kick #2 and block #2. However, in February, “Mike” has joined the class. So in February, according to the traditional model, you have to teach “Joe” the #2’s and “Mike” the #1’s. March rolls in and “John” has joined. Now you have to teach John the #1’s, “Mike” the #2’s and “Joe” the #3’s….

In reality, you’d all better hope you have a lot more than one student joining a month. In reality, you may have 12 people in class, representing four different groups. Do you have three other instructors so you can run a mini-class within a class? Do you have four different time slots to teach the different groups? The answer to both is probably not. Nor would you want to. You’re dividing up your resources and you’re dividing up your energy. You’re also denying your students a diversity of partners to work with. If you use a rotating curriculum, everyone in your school gets to work together. This also means your students can all become friends. This adds to the excitement and enjoyment of their classes.

I hope by now you are starting to understand the idea of a rotating curriculum. I also hope you are starting to see some of the advantages.

I am seeking a few good people

18 Jan

A number of things have kept this on the “back burner” but I am now prepared to announce the formation of the official Lion’s Roar San Da Instructor’s program. I will be offering a program that will not only teach you the system, but also teach you HOW to teach it. The program should begin in March 2016 and will require participants to commit to training a minimum of 40 hours in the initial stage.


    What is the Lion’s Roar San Da Instructor’s Program?

The program is designed not only to teach an individual all the techniques and skills of the Lion’s Roar system; but also the system’s theory and concepts and the why and how the system has been arranged. A candidate will learn how to teach the system from the ground up, including the methods of correcting technique and movement.


    What does the Lion’s Roar San Da Instructor’s Program include?

Broadly speaking, the Lion’s Roar San Da system includes the following divisions of study;
(1) Traditional Lion’s Roar foundation techniques including the “shooting star fists” etc.
(2) Contemporary training divided into “kickboxing”, “clinching” and “ground fighting”.
(3) Conditioning and corrective movement based upon the Gam Gong Myuhn system.


    Is the Lion’s Roar San Da Instructor’s program only for amateur and professional fighters?

NO, the program is actually designed for those who want to learn a complete martial arts system and also for those who may wish to eventually pass it along, even if just on a small scale. The focus of the program is NOT “fighting”, although some “live” training is included.

control the indoor area two

    Is a particular “rank” or previous training required to join this program?

NO, no particular martial arts training or rank is required. In fact, while we will not discriminate, in some cases previous martial arts training may actually hinder learning this method. Those with backgrounds in other things such as physical therapy, yoga, other corrective movement or exercise science would be especially welcome!

    How is the program structured?

The program will initially require a commitment of forty (40) hours of training. Additional levels of instruction and certification will include one hundred (100) hours, one hundred fifty (150) hours and two hundred (200) hours of instruction. Certification is also contingent upon successful completion of examinations.


In addition to being personally trained by Sifu David Ross, members of the program will be supported by my books, my instructional DVD’s and also have access to supporting materials the public will not have access to.

If you think you are interested please send me an email with the subject “Instructor’s Program” to

In a modern world, be a coach, not a “master”

11 Jan


“The coach’s first task is to learn how to present his knowledge to his students in the best possible way”
– G. R. Gleeson, 5th Dan Judo

I never liked the term “master” and if you really dig into the Asian martial arts you find it is rather a pretty bad translation of the many terms associated with teaching the martial arts. I personally have always viewed myself as a coach, though I not always prepared to be one!

proper round kick

Successful coaches don’t fit one profile, but the following are some characteristics they all seem to share:

Knowledge of the material
To be effective, the teacher must have sound knowledge of the material. They don’t necessarily have to have been a great fighter or a champion; often the best coaches do not have such backgrounds. However, a good teacher will continually read, observe and attempt to further his or her knowledge. Continuing education is essential


A good teacher is an effective communicator. Good communication with their students leads to mutual understanding. Teachers who confront problems or obstacles head on avoid lasting misunderstandings and resentments.


Ability to understand and address the needs of the student
The ability to communicate is related to the ability to handle and address the needs of the student. A lack of understanding of a student’s motivations and/or problems is one of the major reasons for a breakdown of the relationship between a student and the school.


Organizational skills
One common characteristic of all good teachers is that they are highly organized. They have put thought and consideration into their curriculum. They have designed a rotating curriculum that provides the student with a strong foundation. They have yearly, monthly, weekly and daily plans for their school, their staff and their students. They are prepared for each class.

Knowledge of training and conditioning methods
Perhaps the most distressing feature of the traditional martial arts community is how out of touch and out-of-date many instructors are! An effective teacher must have up-to-date knowledge of various training and conditioning methods. In competition, having the most up-to-date techniques and strategies certainly will increase your chances of victory. In your classes, being aware of advances in methods will not only help your students achieve the results they want, it will also help you prevent unnecessary injuries.


Knowledge of how the body works (exercise physiology)
Directly related to the previous point, a teacher should have a basic knowledge of exercise physiology in order to understand how the body works. This knowledge will allow teachers to understand the science behind various training methods.


Dedication, enthusiasm, maturity
Good teachers display dedication to the task. They show enthusiasm which motivates their students. Students tend to look up to and imitate their instructors, so it’s important at competitions that teachers act in a mature manner. A good teacher demonstrates good sportsmanship no matter what the outcome. Remember, the purpose isn’t to win a lot of trophies or to produce champions. The process is what is important. Every time you step on the mat, in a ring or in a cage, you will learn something and get better.

“Teaching is a constant revision and expansion of methods based on a training program which is systematic and progressive”
– Donn Draeger, 1962

Why do martial artists engage in “sport competiton”

10 Jan

“Losing creates adversity. Overcoming adversity builds character.”

– Dan Gable


For some students, participation in sporting competition is important. Certain individuals are competitive in nature and have a strong desire to challenge themselves and to overcome obstacles. This conclusion is evident in the wide popularity of martial arts which have fully developed their sporting aspect; Western boxing, wrestling (collegiate, free style and Greco-Roman), Japanese Judo, and Korean Taekwondo. In addition to having broader appeal and acceptance as a recognized sport, the development of these fighting methods as sports has also generated more research into their practice and performance and have led to a better understanding of both how to conduct training and also how to get maximum benefit out of training. A modern sport approach introduces scientific training methods and raises the level of the athletes.

PAL 12152007 (3)

In creating sporting competition for a martial art, the fundamental tension has always been between participant safety and realism. How does one develop a method which is relatively safe but which is not so limiting as to no longer have meaningful connection to martial arts training? Certain techniques by their very nature are hard to control and thus very dangerous to perform in a sporting environment. Among such techniques I would list head butts, elbow strikes, knee strikes to the face, striking a downed opponent, throws which involve joint manipulation and throws which result in the opponent landing on their head or neck. None of these techniques have a place in an amateur sport. It is important to remember that in all major sports, amateur competition constitutes a majority of participation. Certainly, a “professional” level can be created and can be more demanding but it will always be relevant only to a small minority of the population.


In the past, sports involving grappling have been inherently easier to organize because such techniques offer a greater degree of control. Fortunately, recent advances in technology have made available for sporting competition other techniques which in the past were difficult to perform safely. For striking methods, it is now possible to cover all striking areas in safety padding allowing for impact with a reasonable degree of safety to both parties. Of course, all participants in amateur combat sports involving striking should also wear groin protection, fitted mouth guards and headgear.


Combat sports use weight classes so only fighters of similar size compete against each other. Ideally, combat sports should also use a class system so that fighters of similar experience compete against each other. Such a system encourages participation by beginners and allows athletes to gradually gain experience. The accumulation of experience eventually produces elite level athletes and raises the overall level of the sport. Similarly, combat sports must have consistent rules. Standardization of rules produces predictability. Predictability sets standards and helps develop effective coaching programs.


A unique feature of the development of effective combat sport is that if the sport meets the above criteria and enforces it’s ideals, it will develop values and virtues similar to those of the so-called “traditional” martial arts; respect, discipline, courtesy, fair play, cooperation, unity and sportsmanship.


Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve celebrated with students who lost decisions and I’ve also screamed at the top of my lungs at students who just won a match. I demand their personal best, that they give it everything they have and strive to be the athlete they are capable of being.


I insist that my team is always a class act. We always show good sportsmanship no matter what the outcome. I stress with my athletes that the purpose of competition isn’t really about winning a lot of trophies or to produce champions. The process is what is important. Every time you step on the mat, in a ring or in the cage you will learn something and get better. In competition, keep a few things in mind;

• Is winning special if dignity is sacrificed?
• Does losing hurt as much if respect is gained?
• If you did your best, there is nothing more that your coach or you can ask for.
• A fighter often trains harder and learns more as the result of a loss.


As coaches, we can get as emotional as our athletes, but we need to learn how to address an athlete after a match. No one is perfect, and I’ve learned a lot myself by trial and error. There are no stead fast rules except; don’t be too hard on them if they just lost, give them both positive and negative feedback (what they did correctly, what they need to work on), and stress that you’ll go back work on things and get ready for the NEXT match.


I believe that as long as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes conduct themselves like participants of other combat sports, we will be able to gain wide social acceptance and attract men, women and children. We will attract all segments of society.


Lion’s Roar martial arts, the legacy of Chan Tai-San

3 Jan

Learn more about my martial arts method with my new book Lion’s Roar Martial Arts

I describe my method of martial arts as “Lion’s Roar San Da” (獅子吼散打拳法). “Lion’s Roar” was the original name of the method that split into Lama Pai, Hap Ga and Pak Hok Pai. My teacher, the late Chan Tai-San, had teachers in all three of these traditions and did a pretty comprehensive job recovering the tradition in his teachings.

chan tai san applications

The term “San Da” can be reasonably described as “free fighting” but more importantly, to me, it describes an ideology; a desire to be effective, to acquire material regardless of the source to improve that effectiveness, to train alive and to keep practical fighting at the forefront. It isn’t at all a new concept in Chinese martial arts, yet it is also very much a modern, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) approach.


The system I teach today, have been teaching for twenty years now, uses Chan Tai-San’s material as a core, while embracing a modern approach. I’ve certainly incorporated non Chan Tai-San material, that isn’t even the point. I’ve absorbed whatever I felt worked within the framework of the system I had to improve it. And I’ve been remarkably successful for more than twenty years now producing both fighters and simply skilled students.

My approach, my “secret”, to training my students and fighters is, not surprisingly, very much traditional Chinese martial arts. We embrace core concepts and have essential drills which reinforce these concepts. Drilling the same things (the fundamentals, more than just “basics”) over and over and over again is how we build skill. Of course, the difference between what I do and what many so-called traditional schools do currently is HOW I chose my concepts and drills.

People have often wanted to characterize me as “anti tradition” or “anti kung fu.” But the reality is anything but; what I am opposed to is watering down technique, teaching flowery nonsense, ineffective training, deceiving students and the carnival tricks that has taken over the Chinese martial arts community. I’ve taken students with no other martial arts background, trained them in traditional Chinese martial arts techniques and tactics and put them in virtually every venue available to test them, and they’ve won. That’s hardly “anti kung fu” is it?


Nor have I “abandoned” my teacher! I’ve kept his methods alive and PROVEN THEM FOR TWENTY YEARS. I’ve also pointed out, even shown video of it!, that my sifu, when he was alive and well, was present when I was training fighters, saw how I was incorporating other material and not only took no issue with it, he approved of it. Not surprising when you remember that Chan Tai-San was first and foremost a fighter, much more than he was even a teacher.

Finally, I should note that over the years, I have almost never had a set technique curriculum. Al of the ranking I have done has been “informal.” That is because I stress “concepts” over “technique.” I stress intention (YI) over the shallow form (Ying). A shopping list of a few techniques is no substituted for an understanding of concept and application. In fact, it is exactly this limited thinking that has so watered down Chinese martial arts. They see the tree but never the forest.

Learn more about my martial arts method with my new book Lion’s Roar Martial Arts


On the proper training of martial arts skills

2 Jan

Interested in learning more about my method? Check out my newest book Lion’s Roar Martial Arts: The Master Text


Over the years, I would say I fluctuated between being a hard core “traditionalist” and a progressive. It is too complicated a story to sum up in a few sentences, but for the purposes of this blog, I will state that I began the process of creating what is now “Lion’s Roar San Da” around 1994. Among the things that people ask me is not only how I created the training program that I currently use, but how I have had so much success in training people to fight.


People have been taught that each martial arts system is special and unique. The “fundamental training” / jibengong (Mandarin) / gebongung (Cantonese) is special to that system, etc… However, having trained in both Asian and Western / European martial arts, from Chinese and Korean to Russian and French, from traditional to modern “combat sport” I really do not believe that to be true.


We are all humans, our bodies only work certain ways. Combat is combat, only certain things work in real combat. A prime example is wrestling. Every culture on the planet has developed it’s own wrestling tradition and ultimately they develop the same tactics and techniques. There is more in common and similar in real martial arts than differences. Differences are just “marketing.” In a competitive market place, a teacher looking for students wasn’t going to say what they taught was the same as the teacher across the street. They taught a unique system and the secrets could only be learned after years of training (and years of paying dues).


Developing my “system” or training program was actually pretty easy. I sought answers to the problems of combat, i.e. kicking, striking, clinching, wrestling and ground fighting. Obviously, certain traditions had more developed approaches to different areas, but every martial art offered answers to the many problems of combat.


The only problem, and it ultimately turned out to be only a small one, was sifting through the material to find the real stuff and separate out the “fluff” and useless crap. To that end, I developed a rather straightforward and simple approach.


After an initial period in which the basic techniques are introduced in isolation, they will be drilled using the following live training principles. If training follows these guidelines, you will be able to discover which techniques are both practical and functional, and a majority of the student body will see appreciable benefits in a reasonable amount of time.


Guideline #1: “Structure”
The foundation of the program is learning the proper position and the proper execution of the techniques. Most of the problems students have in applying technique are found in the incorrect execution; the wrong position, the wrong distance, the wrong angle, etc.


Guideline #2: “Movement”
Since an adversary will not stand in one place during a real fight, all the drills must incorporate movement to replicate real conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, footwork, real distance, distance control, level control and head movement.


Guideline #3: “Impact”
While many traditional martial arts place a heavy emphasis on doing techniques without impact, the reality is that hitting an adversary is quite different from hitting the air! Our program includes a significant time devoted to working with various pieces of equipment so the student becomes familiar with the feeling of impact and develops power and focus.


Guideline #4: “Resistance”
Each drill must include or simulate the resistance (or counter attack) of a real opponent.


Guideline #5: “Context”
Each drill must include context; why the technique is being used, when the technique is being used, how the technique is being used, etc. This also includes discussion of our basic theories such as “leaks”, “continuousness”, “gates”, “bridges”, etc.

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