Wednesday, July 09, 2008


This is an article about hinges (well...hinge joints, actually).

Last night we did application of Sinawali number 6 and ended up in kadena de mano (Filipino empty hands) redirecting some punches.
One important point that came out was to control the attacker's torso (and free arm) by using the elbow of the lead jab. Sounds simple, right?

I found that until Guro Fred specifically mentioned the elbow, I had been focused on my parry at the wrist/lower forearm. For the inside solution you become exposed to the attacker's free hand (usually the left cross if the atttacker is right-handed) when you close distance. The most convenient beginner way to avoid this trap is to use the attacker's right elbow to turn his/her body and take the outside line if the cross starts to come.

If you try this using the attacker's wrist - you are going to eat the left cross. You need the right elbow to control their body and take that power away.

Just a quick reminder that wrist controls elbow controls shoulder controls attacker.
The elbow is in a tactically excellent spot because it is accessible and closer to the shoulder than the wrist (thus more control over attacker) .

The same concept applies to the body's other main hinge joint: the knee. Pushkicks are often used at the knee for jamming kicks, and this is much more effective than trying to pushkick the foot/ankle.

I know these principles already from aikido, but a little reminder now and then is good too.

Elbows and Knees, knees and elbows

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Message

For the 4th of July weekend, Ni Tien had a promotional event at the US Navy base in Sembawang (Far North Singapore). I attended as the "token American" and also to help promote the school. Summer is a slow time when lots of people go on holidays but if we can get some new students, we can get the first floor of our current building, which is bigger and better than our current third floor space (which is also nice).

I spent a lot of time talking about the school, and martial arts in general, with passers-by and basically anyone I could grab. The key "pitches" I made were:

1) Health
Martial Arts is good for health. More interesting than running on the "hamster wheel" at the gym.
In Ni Tien we learn hilot (traditional healing) as well as diet and nutrition info as part of the training. Our drills are designed to teach us to use our bodies in an intuitive way.

2) Defense
Kali is very, very practical. The movements are intuitive and easy to learn, and the core elements/concepts are the same regardless of being done with hands, knife, or stick.
This makes them easy to remember and apply in any situation. The movements look familiar to each other.

3) Culture
Kali Majapahit is named for the Majapahit empire which had prominence across southeast Asia for several hundred years. Many common cultural influences manifest in Kali including silat, eskira/arnis, muay thai, kung fu, and kuntao to name a few. It is vastly different from anything Japanese or North Asian.
People who make a training commitment to Kali Majapahit get a unique insight into the culture not just of the Philippines, but of all of Southeast Asia.

4) Children
This training is safe and effective for children, helping them develop body awareness, sharper mental focus, confidence, and self-discipline. It is a great way for them to understand their bodies better and to build a platform for good health that can last them all their lives.

OK, all well and good. Nothing one would not expect to read in any slick marketing brochure.
But what has my training done for me? What is the motivational message I would give from my own experience?


My training, from the time I was 14, has helped me take control of myself, and thereby, take control of my life. I learned I could accomplish the things I set out to do - whether this was in the US, in Japan, or even now in Singapore. My Kali training reaffirms this for me with every lesson. I become mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually stronger. I become more and more of who I am, and I know I can become who I want to be. The martial arts is a platform for personal development. This was the objective for this blog when I started it. 3 years and 70 posts later - same as it ever was.

What more can I say.
You NEED this. You know you do. Turn off the TV, get off your ass, and get into your training.
Kali Majapahit is a great vehicle for this. If you are not here, find a good teacher where you are, and start taking control of your own life. You will thank me for it. I promise.