Chan Tai-San kung fu in America

10 Aug

In the United States (mainly the New York City area) the late Chan Tai-San taught a lot of people. When he first arrived, he mostly taught in schools belonging to other teachers; 7 Star Praying Mantis, Yee’s Hung Ga and Fu Jow Pai most prominently. He taught their students so they were not really his students in that sense.

Once Chan Tai-San was able to arrange to have his own locations (first the Church that eventually burned down and then the Chan family association building), he was able to teach people who could better be considered his students. Of course, virtually everyone who was training with Chan Tai-San had also previously studied.

After the late Stephen Laurette introduced Steve Ventura and myself to Chan Tai-San, a group that more resembled full time students of Chan Tai-San began to form. Laurette, Ventura and I all trained with Chan Tai-San at the same time. As others came, mostly through advertisement we were doing for Sifu Chan, they also trained with us. So everyone training at the same time created a kind of cohesiveness.

As I have said previously, after an article on Chan Tai-San and Lama Pai appeared in Inside Kungfu Magazine we set up true public classes.

So people still ask me, “did person X study with Chan Tai-San”? There a lot of people who studied with Chan Tai-San in various permutations. But there are also a LOT of people who studied with Chan Tai-San’s students who now want to lead you to believe they are direct students.

“How much did they learn from Chan Tai-San”? In many cases it is impossible to say exactly, but keep in mind that Chan Tai-San did not speak English. If a person doesn’t really speak Chinese, that should raise a few flags.

“Why can’t they explain the applications or demonstrate the same things”? You’d have to ask them that. Of course, people perform things differently, have different interpretations, but there was a LOT of material that Chan Tai-San stressed with his real students.

People have short memories, and everyone likes to tell stories, so it is inevitable that stuff like this happens….

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If you think I’ve helped you, you can help me out

4 Aug

I put a lot of free content on the internet. There is this blog. There is my Youtube channel. There is my public facebook group. I enjoy sharing information with people, I actually sort of see it as a “calling”.

Usually, I don’t ask anything in return. And honestly now I am not expecting anything, BUT IF YOU CAN, please help my gym. Click the link below

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We recently relocated and renovations were more expensive and took longer than we ever planned. So I’d really like to be able to replace my bags, but I came up a little short.

I can even sweaten the offer a bit, donate $50 or more and I’ll send you an autographed copy of any of my books! Email me at info@nysanda.com if you do

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Tim Cartmell on Xingyiquan’s Five Elements

2 Aug

Source: Tim Cartmell on Xingyiquan’s Five Elements

Thoughts on “pure system” vs “cross training”

26 Jul

Among my students there is a widely known concept, based upon my own experiences with the late Chan Tai-San. We would ask Chan Tai-San, “Sifu, is it this or this”? “Is it a throw or a strike”? “Do we do it this way or this way”? And the answer was inevitably the same; YES.

In life, things are seldom black OR white. There are a lot of shades of gray. Yet in the martial arts world, many people cling to absolutes usually to their own detriment. Such is the case of those who, for lack of a better term, look for “pure system” vs those who embrace “cross training”.

The approach of the “pure system” person is that all the material, all the answers, are already there. Certainly, a real system passed on correctly (Chinese martial arts) will have “ti, do, shuai, and na”; a well rounded complete approach. Of course, we could argue (observe) that most traditional systems do not have anything resembling the modern approach to ground fighting. We could note the long history of Chinese martial artists against Muay Thai fighters (and now MMA fighters). But I’ll return to this in a minute.

Today, “cross training” is a very popular approach. Cross training embraces ideas such as Western boxing to improve hand striking. Muay Thai or Savate to improve kicking, wrestling to improve the clinch, etc etc. One thing is certain, the various “source methods” are all very effective at producing fighters. The question remains, the central problem, is “cross training” just meaninglessly random? How should it be approached correctly?

My own approach or “take” on all this? My students and those who have come to train with me all know that anything I teach I can simultaneously “source” to BOTH traditional Chinese martial arts AND other non-Chinese (often “modern”) methods. Yes, there is probably nothing in “modern” methods that can’t be found in traditional Chinese methods. Yet, let us also be brutally honest, there are VERY FEW people in traditional Chinese martial arts today who can demonstrate with practicality many of these methods.

The late Chan Tai-San taught me a tremendous amount. But part of my appreciation of his methods was based upon other training I had done before meeting him, both Chinese and non-Chinese methods. Furthermore, more importantly, I would NOT be who I am if I had settled for the training I did with Chan Tai-San.

For me at least, “cross training” allowed me to appreciate and IMPROVE what I had learned from Chan Tai-San. What we know as “arm drag” exists in a lot of Chinese martial arts, most notably as a push hand (Tui Shou) tactic in Taiji Quan, but learning how Western wrestlers drill it improves your understanding and execution without question! Chan Tai-San certainly taught me side kicks and back kicks, but training in Taekwondo and Savate gave me new ways of approaching and training them! At bare minimum, boxing gloves gave us better ways to train the powerful strikes of Lama Pai.

Keep up with my products, seminars and coaching programs at http://www.SifuDavidRoss.com

Also find me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sifudavidaross/

Some thoughts on failure….

10 Jul

I am a failure; let me highlight the many ways I am a failure.

My health has since childhood been a roller coaster ride and I have failed to maintain a steady weight. I do not have the body of a “martial arts master”, especially if your idea are men like the late Bruce Lee.

My school is never going to make me a millionaire. I almost closed twice in the years I was open. In fact, I tell you, I do things that I know make it not as successful as it could be.

I haven’t always been the best instructor / sifu; like my own teacher I have had moments of anger and times when I was insensitive to certain students.

On the other hand, I’ve been a relatively good son, a relatively good husband and I am trying to be the best father. I brought my daughter into the world, which made my wife, my mother and my father happy.

My school may not make me a millionaire, but thousands of people have been there, learned something, it has helped them achieve at least some of their goals. I have students that have been with me 20 years. Others may not be in class now, but they remain a part of my extended family.

I have kept alive the memory and the teachings of the late Chan Tai-San.

My own teachings have reached not only my students, but others. People have written to tell me I influenced them, some even saying I have changed how and what they practice.

So am I a failure?

I was very fortunate to have both my grandfather and my father as role models; men who defined success in ways very different than many. Different, not better. Certainly, in some ways HARDER. But I am still happy who I am (most of the time). I know I had reasons why I made most of the choices I have in life.

Some thoughts on “defense”, impact and pain

9 Jun

A brief and simplified outline; First, get used to pain

Second, learn basic methods to defend

Third, get used to impact

Fourth, learn the theory….

FREE CONTENT – instructional videos and more

8 Jun

If you enjoy my blog, you may enjoy my free content on youtube. At present over 250 videos including instructional and historical. Subscribe to my youtube channel (click).

I also share free content on my official website, SifuDavidRoss.com

Finally, you will also find on SifuDavidRoss.com a link to register for my “secret group”. As of this morning, there are now more than 320 “members only” instructional videos that are uploaded in my secret group.

My secret group members have unlimited access not only to all the instructional videos there, but also outlines of all the material including the traditional Chinese names of the techniques with the Chinese characters, members only blog posts and access to question and answer sessions. All for just $1.50 per day (cancel anytime, no commitment). Find our more at http://www.sifudavidross.com/

Is language a tool or an obstacle to our understanding?

7 Jun

I am addicted to coffee! Maybe not “addicted” but I certainly drink a lot of it. I add secret ingredients such as 奶. Other times I add 우유. If I am really adventurous I add молоко! But, most of the time I just add leche….


우유
молоко
leche

Many of my friends probably picked up on the joke immediately; 奶, 우유, молоко and leche are all words for MILK… Just different languages. So today I ask, is language a tool or an obstacle to our understanding?

While this blog is usually dedicated to Chinese martial arts, lets for a minute consider the Japanese martial art of Judo. It is not only an Olympic sport, it is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. It was originally taught in Japanese; but today it is taught in French, Spanish, English, Russian, etc…. But, no matter where it is taught, in what language it is taught, is it NOT still Judo?

When I first became interested in yoga in the 1980’s, there was a lot of discussion of the “subtle body” that can not be seen; i.e that don’t physically exist. It is the same as in Chinese martial arts when people talk about Qi (氣), Shen (神), Dan Tain (丹田) and Jin (勁). HERE IS THE QUESTION: Are we really supposed to be “looking” for these things, OR should we understand them within context as a method of explaining something that can now be explained in other “language” such as physiology, anatomy and physics?

In the yoga community, a significant part of the community has moved away from “subtle body” discussions to scientific discussions and explanations. Which is to say, we are NOT discarding training such as Qi-Gong, but we explain it with modern science and understanding.

Many “internal” martial artists discuss “post standing” or Zhan Zhuang (站桩). Many insist it is a way to develop or build “energy” or strength. Others, such as respected “internal” teacher Luo Dexiu, note that strength is already in our body, and comes from the proper use of the body; i.e. “post standing” makes us more aware of our body. OR, there are rational, scientific explanations to these things.

Learning how to spar is learning how to fight

26 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

NOW GO TRAIN
NY Best Kickboxing

Late night thoughts on DEFENSE

26 May

We can not escape biology, psychology or physics. We must be constantly aware of them and work not only around them, but with them. The “fight or flight” response may be one of the most foundational; but at times flight is not possible and it can be detrimental to combat.

Shielding is probably the most instinctive response in defense. This is not surprising; gross motor skills are always easier acquired than fine motor skills. But shielding must be learned intelligently and correctly. There are correct ways to shield.

Shielding quickly allows the student to also become accustomed to contact. Becoming accustomed to pain and contact is essential to learning defense. Again there are correct ways to learn this.

Against linear / direct attacks, the parry is probably the highest percentage defense. That is, it is probably the easiest defense against linear / direct attacks for most people to learn.

Other methods of defense require awareness of angles of attack, and comfort with moving forward in the face of those attacks. That is what makes them more advanced methods.

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