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Special offer on my newest book “Chinese martial arts: a historical outline”

23 Feb


Exclusively for this readers of this blog, save with discount code WDZN7W4H

Order online here

More random thoughts on a Tuesday morning

6 Sep

The martial art I teach begins instruction with a technique known as the “penetrating strike” (穿搥). The correct execution of this technique requires learning to turn both the hips and shoulders, engaging in a practice referred to as the “wheeling body” (車輪身). Ironically, while today most would classify my method as “external,” this practice is similar to the Taiji Quan concept “the waist turns like a wheel” (腰如輪轉). Learning to turn correctly and developing thoracic flexibility allows us to develop “waist power” (腰力). We refer to our strikes as “shooting star fists (流星拳). In Xing Yi Quan there is the saying “punch like a shooting star” (拳出如流星).

If I have a student who has studied Indian yoga, they will inevitably observe that the execution of the “penetrating strike” and the exercises to prepare the body (練功) are similar to many Yogic asana such as the “virabhadrasana.” Based upon their experience, this is how the student relates to my martial art. It does not mean that my martial art has origins in India, in Yoga, or a relationship to Hinduism. If I decide (and I have) to also study Yoga, it gives me a different perspective on my martial art, it teaches me new methods and approaches to teaching flexibility. In the end, I have absorbed Yogic techniques which allow me to better teach my martial arts students how to execute the strike. In addition, if practicing my martial art also strengthens my students’ bodies and makes them healthier, I am still teaching them my martial art and not Yoga.

At this point, I will further complicate my story by letting you know that the martial art I teach is called “Mi Zong Lama Pai“ (密宗喇嘛派), or “Tantric Lama Sect.” My method is not called this because the individuals in my lineage were particularly religious, they were not. One worked as an armed escort and engaged in a number of public challenge matches, several were military officers and a number were members of secret societies and/or involved in organized crime. The method is named Mi Zong Lama Pai simply because the ethnic Chinese who learned it in southern China in the mid nineteenth century learned it from a Buddhist monk affiliated with the Tantric Buddhist Sect (密宗佛教). That Buddhist monk also engaged in challenge matches and may have used a hooked sword to kill a few people. As I have already discussed here, Buddhist monks in Imperial China frequently did not conform to our contemporary understanding and expectations. We’ll return to that monk a little later.

There was a last chance, you missed it

2 Aug

I feel sort of bad about raising the price, but I did warn you…..


I am the adopted in door disciple of the late Chan Tai-San and the Chan Tai-San Lion’s Roar Martial Arts Association is the only place you can learn what I learned from him AND train in the methods I used to produce champion fighters in amateur and professional fighting including Sanshou, San Da, Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing and MMA. We offer the entire system, including all the theory and how to teach it


I also have brought in my classmate, and together we are teaching the extremely rare “Gam Gong Lihn Gung” or “Tibetan Vajra Yoga”.


HOWEVER, as we are aware many are not in the New York Tri-State area and are not able to train in person, we have made the instructional video being filmed during the classes available via a secret group on Facebook.

A very brief sample of the type of instruction being offered.


Unlimited access to all the material being placed in the secret group
– Unlimited instructional video
– Outlines of all the material
– All the traditional Chinese names of the techniques, including the actual characters
– Members only blog posts and limited access to question and answer sessions

Only $39 per month (cancel anytime, no commitment)

If you are not in the New York Tri-State area and still want to learn the material being offered in the new association’s Lama Pai Lion’s Roar program, now is your limited time opportunity! Only $39 per month with no commitment gives you UNLIMITED ACCESS to the material

WARNING: Rates WILL go up again…..

UPDATE: Petition to save this blog….

15 Jul

If you have not yet signed, you can do so at

We have over 100 signatures in just a few days, plus tons of wonderful comments. And, of course, I continue to blog even as the ax looms.

1. My next project is tentatively titled “Chinese martial arts, a historical outline”. I have raw cuts of five chapters so far, but also have been blessed with some new studies and getting some hard to find/out of print books to flesh out material. As this is intended as an outline, I definitely want to bibliographical essay to be deep for interested readers to further their knowledge.

2. The Chan Tai San Lion’s Roar Lama Pai secret group on facebook. LAST CHANCE – The price of membership will increase to $39 on August 1st.

If you are not in the New York Tri-State area and still want to learn the material being offered in the new association program, now is your limited time opportunity! Only $29 per month with no commitment gives you UNLIMITED ACCESS to the material. But that price will go up August 1st!


7 Jul

If you are a fan of my blog “RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE MARTIAL ARTS” you might want to know that I am being threatened and even wordpress is rattling their sabers about taking the whole th…



7 Jul

If you are a fan of my blog “RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE MARTIAL ARTS” you might want to know that I am being threatened and even wordpress is rattling their sabers about taking the whole thing down. Because the internet allows people to make baseless claims from behind a keyboard, I must prove that my work is “scholarship” and “research” and serves the purpose of commenting and/or teaching. If you like my blog and think it is worthy of these designation, PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION

Thanks and have a great day!

Transformations….martial arts gets you in shape (if you do it right)

8 Apr

These days, a lot of martial arts programs talk about transformation. That is, in this day and age, less people are interested in “fighting” and a lot more are interested in health and fitness. There is certainly a long history of martial arts training improving health. I stand here myself as living testimony; taking up martial arts after being diagnosed with Leukemia at age six. But in this blog what I am going to ask is, can you really deliver? Or is it all just talk?

EJ before and after

Between 1994 and 2009 I focussed most of my efforts on practical application, i.e. I trained a lot of fighters who won a lot of events and titles. That isn’t to say that along the way I didn’t help a lot of “regular people” achieve their fitness goals. But I think that most people who met me during this period would have associated me more with “fighting”. For a lot of reasons, I have gradually shifted the focus of my efforts since 2010.


I know that a lot of people see the results that we publicize and flat out do not believe them. But they are 100% accurate and true. And usually the people involved confirm it. Check us out at our FACEBOOK fan page for example.

fan page pic 1

Now, here is one of the things I find interesting. While maybe the focus seems so different, the training is really NOT that different. I still focus a lot on strong basics and my students still throw very mean kicks and punches.


Which, as always, returns me to my mantra which is “train with TRUTH”. I still teach very strong basics, inherited from my traditional Chinese martial arts background. I mix it freely with an open mind that lets me absorb and integrate advances in our understanding of how our body works and how we can best train our body.

Jackie before after

So my “old complaint” remains just as relevant as it ever has, when you try to “water down” a martial art you NEVER achieve success. You cheapen the product, fail to get results and damage your own integrity.

Visit “NY Best Kickboxing” , New York City’s best kickboxing, online at

The martial art of wrestling

6 Aug

I distinctly remember opening an issue of “Black Belt Magazine” one day and finding in the letters section a diatribe about how wrestling was NOT a martial art? I suppose I should have known that when people feel threatened, they often act irrationally. This was during the period when wrestlers started entering and dominating Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matches. It was bad enough that a skinny Brazilian kid was pulling people to the ground and making them look like fools, now those “brutes” who clearly had “no technique” were beating martial artists who had so many titles (but no real fights) attached to their names (yes, end sarcasm mode NOW…)


Forget for a minute the obvious; wrestling is a highly developed set of skills that uses a keen knowledge of both anatomy and leverage. It is often a skill developed over decades. A high level wrestler develops the attributes many associate with “internal martial arts”. Forget all that for a minute. First and foremost, remember that wrestling is both a universal activity found in every culture on the planet and is in fact man’s oldest martial art.


In China, references to wrestling predate any reference to what we would call today “striking systems”. We know that wrestling wasn’t just considered a sporting activity, it was prized by Chinese, Mongolian and Manchurian armies. The Mongolians even had differentiating terms for sport (Boke) and combat (cilnem) forms of wrestling. Even in modern Chinese martial arts, “wrestling” (Shuai) is considered one of the four ESSENTIAL skills.


Those who think “wrestling” is not a martial art may have to read up a little more on the subject. In different variations across cultures and time periods wrestling included many tactics that make many contemporary observers quite uncomfortable. In ancient Greece, wrestling (not just Pankration, thought many classicists have tried to obscure the picture) included not only painful joint attacks on all the limbs, but chokes. Wrestling styles in India, the Middle East and Africa included striking with fists, sometimes fists covered in surfaces to make the strikes more deadly.


For those who think wrestling has no place in “real combat” I suggest you investigate medieval and renaissance combat manuals, where grappling tactics are important supplements to bladed combat. Some might be shocked to find even forms of GROUND GRAPPLING in such manuals.


Have you ever watched a professional boxing match? Would it shock you to learn that clinching is ILLEGAL. Yet there is not a single match in which there is not a lot of clinching. That should have been the modern world’s first hint to the fact that the clinch can not be avoided in combat. Sadly, for many, it took Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to drive home the point. And yet, today some are still not paying attention?


More on the revival of practical Chinese martial arts…

5 Aug

I don’t know if people loved it or hated it, but “A Revival of Traditional Chinese Fighting Arts” got over 1000 views in 24 hours. It continues to motivate and inspire me as I am writing more blogs and here are a few more related thoughts;


1. Whether you are practicing martial arts to develop fighting skills, to be healthy, to learn a new culture or just because it is fun, TRAIN WITH TRUTH. Chinese martial arts were originally COMBAT ARTS. Maybe that isn’t what you are interested in, but don’t for a minute think those who are still doing these traditions as combat arts are “wrong” or “bad”. Don’t attach things that were never attached to these arts and try to paint them as truth. Revisionism sucks.


2. In my personal opinion, things like “Northern” vs “Southern”, or “External” vs. “Internal” at best have limited practical use. At worst, we could argue (successfully) that they were nothing more than marketing schemes in a competitive market place and/or also motivated by POLITICS. Today, these things confuse students, in many respects mislead them. They create divisions at a time when Chinese martial artists should be unified.


3. In some respects, we need a return to the “old days”; by this I mean hard training and comprehensive training in all aspects. At the same time, we shouldn’t be afraid of the “new”; advances in knowledge of anatomy and sports performance, advances in sports, advances in training equipment. Our grandmasters hit sand bags because that is what they had, if they had had a credit card and Ringside’s number on their cell phones, they would have gotten better equipment!

foot jab to round kick

4. We have to police our community. We have too many people who aren’t just unqualified, they are outright frauds. And in our community, we often know these people are frauds and under some convoluted logic we fail to call them out. You want to clean up Chinese martial arts, remove all the nonsense!


5. Somewhere along the way, the idea that fighting, sparring and competition is somehow antithetical to Chinese martial arts got introduced. In a word, this is RUBBISH. We need only look at “Lei Tai” challenges and the national competitions from the Nationalist period to dispel the idea that our ancestors wouldn’t engage in competition!


Perspectives on the Role of Practical Fighting in Chinese Martial Arts, Part 3

26 Feb

Re posting this one


“You Keep Using That Word,
I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”

This is part of my continuing series of articles discussing the practical training and application of Chinese martial arts. While their intent is not to insult, they are indeed intended to make the reader reexamine what they practice and how they practice it.

In conversations involving martial artists all you have to do is bring up boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), wrestling or mixed martial arts and the inevitable response will always be “those are sports.” In most cases, when a martial artist uses the term “sport” it is in a pejorative connotation. Some explanations are just silly. Others have more thought out responses; that they have a referee, rules regarding what can and can not be done, “safe” venues, no weapons, etc. My initial response to all of these is usually the…

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