Thursday, August 16, 2018

How To Find A Good Martial Arts Instructor

When I was a teenager Mortal Combat was at it's peak of popularity.

Especially now, as a martial arts guy, I like the concept, but I never was able to get into it.

I know this might not seem relevant to martial arts, but bare with me, it will be...

I think there were two factors that contributed to my not getting in to it deeply. The first was economics: we didn't have the right game console at my house, and we weren't going to, and whenever I went out to the arcade with my friends, I didn't have a ton of money to spend on playing at the arcade either.

My best friend in high school though had both. Consequently, he was very good. Which was the second contributing factor: Whenever we would play, he would just trash me, and quickly. Like a kung fu master, he knew all the advanced combinations that would defeat me before I even had a chance to get started.

Well, there goes my fifty cents. Guess I'm done for the day....

It was the same story any time we would play at his house. He would beat me Like a red headed step child. This is where it starts to get relevant.

There were two possible scenarios here: one was to continue to beat me quickly and easily, each and every time; in which case I learn nothing.

The second was to use his advanced skill to help me learn. This is what GM Sam Chin does with his family's martial art of Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan (which I now teach here in Tempe, Arizona).

By setting his ego aside, he drops his level to just above the person he's working with. He's just out of reach, just enough that you feel like you can reach him. In this way he guides you along, a little bit at a time. He makes you feel like you can almost beat him, it's so close you can taste it...

I started to notice that expert Thai boxing coaches do the same thing. I was watching a short video of Saenchai doing just this while working with a very young, foreign fighter.

As he was working with the boy, he was feigning defeat, as if this little kids kicks and punches were enough to actually put a worldclass fighter on the ropes, and in so doing, he was sacrificing his ego and investing in the younger fighter, building his skill and confidence as a martial artists.

If my friend had been able to set his ego aside long enough to invest in me, he may have had a challenging opponent eventually; one that could truly test his skills and push him to even greater levels, but instead he opted for the ego gratifying option of the quick and easy win over an unskilled opponent, and we both lost out in the big picture.

When you're looking for a "martial arts class near me", look for the one being taught by the humble instructor, the one who's willing to let you win,at least sometimes. Look for the instructor who understands how to invest in loss. If you're learning from the best, buy they're only interested in always reminding you of that, it's very likely that their skill will never become you're skill.

When it comes to finding the right martial arts instructor, it doesn't matter what they can do, it only matters what they can help you to do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lingkong Jin In Chinese Martial Arts

partner training during our martial arts classes in Tempe, AZ
Partner training during our martial arts classes in Tempe, AZ ©2018 all rights reserved

I found a very interesting post about lingkong jin on Facebook by a native Chinese speaking friend. Lingkong jin is "empty force" and is thought to be the ability to bounce, or throw an opponent away with no visible external movement, and is one of the "highest" skills achievable through internal martial arts (mostly within the Tai Chi community).

The concept it similar to hua jin (mysterious power) from Xingyiquan, or our own I Liq Chuan concept of "mystery hand", the point at which your skill becomes so precise that the effect you manage to achieve on your opponent seems "mysterious".

 Unfortunately, in modern times, there's been a lot of non-sense that's been built up around the ideas of what lingkong jin is, mostly being propagated by Westerners. You can find a bunch of ridiculous demos on YouTube of supposed lingkong jin, which are something between circus tricks and brainwashed compliance by the demo dummy.

I found the post so interesting because it tracks with my understanding: it's about preciseness and the role of the attention and is easily neutralized of the opponent has the attention to keep up.

 -----BEGIN POST----

I have translated the bit of info about Lingkong Jin that Chen Yanlin got first hand from the early Yang family and published in 1945. FYI — Lingkong Jin / (Going thru) Void Strength Lingkong Jin is boundless and marvelous, almost mysterious, hard to believe if not witnessed with one’s own eyes it is something that actually affects the mind.
 Highly skilled people who issue this ‘Jin’ only need to utter a sound “ha”, for the opponent to immediately lift his feet off the ground and retreat. This is probably due to the fact that the mind of the receiver is attracted [influenced] by the issuer, so the receiver cannot resist.
In this respect, if the receiver has already learned skills (Jin) like sticking, adhering etc he can feel and foresee this ‘Jin’ as soon as the issuer starts “ha”, and by [simply] retreating the issuer will get no results. With regard to this ‘Jin’, practitioners should not explore in depth [waste too much time over it] but simply take it as a game.
 It is said that (Yang) Jianhou and son (Yang Shaohou) could attract [influence] a candle flame within the range of about one foot distance, blocking the flame with one hand then extinguishing it. This is one [another] kind of Lingkong Jin. It is said that this kind of kung fu today has already disappeared.

— Written by Chen Yanlin in 1945 as reported by the Yang family
 淩空勁   淩空勁奧妙無窮,近於神秘,非親眼目睹難以置信,實乃一種精神上的作用。藝高者發此勁時,僅須口中一哈,對方即雙足離地而後退,大概是因爲被發者精神已被發者所吸引,無法抵抗。 對此被發者如果已先知沾、粘等勁,在對方一哈之後,即由感覺而後退,發者也不會産生效果。對於此勁,學習者可不必深求,僅做遊戲看待即可。   相傳建侯、少侯父子,能吸引燭火近尺,一手隔之,火光遂熄,這是淩空勁中的一種。據悉此種功夫今天已經失傳。

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Do You Practice Your Martial Art Everyday?

"Do you practice every day?"

The evening sun had finished setting over the western edge of Tempe Town Lake, the last of the Arizona evening's golden rays of sundown fading into the deep blues and purples of twilight.
My newest student asked this question as we finished up her second martial arts class. It's one I get asked a lot.

"That's complicated" I answered.

"After more than 15 years in the martial arts, it's become more of a way of life, so I'm always doing something, but it doesn't always look like this". I was referring to our class structure, that involves a combination of partner training and solo exercises.

Do I practice everyday? Yes... and no.

As I tried to explain to my newest student; there's a lot of things to train: skill, strength and conditioning, mobility (flexibility), even recovery needs to be approached deliberately and with care.

"Most of the time, when I'm training something on my own, I'm training just one thing, and focusing on that thing very deeply (as opposed to training all of the exercises we had just done). Of course, at this point, even when I train just one exercise, it has all the other exercises within it."

And then there's always the training of the mind.

Once you switch from training your martial arts as a workout, or technique, to a tool to train the mind, literally everything you do becomes training.

I know what you're thinking: sounds like BS, but it's true.

If you read my Sifu's book "The Martial Art of Awareness", you'll see, out of 13 chapters, eight deal with attention and the role of the mind.

"Two people are walking. One is full of thoughts, other is fully present, in the moment. What is the difference between the two?"

Does it sound like BS; yes, but it's true. When you're training the mind, even standing in line at the grocery store can be training, if you're there.

Do you feel yourself? Are you aware of the body, the feeling of like or dislike; are you aware of your thoughts and ideas? Do you see the cause and effect relationship of phenomena? Do you see the "come and go" as everything is changing moment to moment?

You can apply this to all your training.

Take mobility work and self myofascial release with a tool like the foam roll, or a Rolflex: the tool makes contact with a trigger point in your leg, or your back and some feeling arises in association with the sensation.

More self myofascial release with the super awesome @irolflex! Using a "tack and floss" technique to get after those adhesions in the hard working calves. Have you tried the #rolflex? What is your favorite tool? Make sure to go to my profile for a link to sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter and find your inner power! 👉 @luoyegongfu 👉 @luoyegongfu 👉 @luoyegongfu Classes held in Tempe, AZ and workshops worldwide. A complete #workout for #mindandbody. Check website for more info (link in bio) or call 3156280777. #mindfulness #innerstrengthgym #mindfulnesscoach #movementculture #martialartofawareness #zeninmotion #chinesemartialarts #internalmartialarts #taichi #gongfu #kungfu #wushutraining #kungfutraining #kungfufighter #martialartsgeek #martialartsnerds #martialartslife #martialartslifestyle #martialartstraining #movementmeditation #inhaleexhale #strongover40 #suppleleopards

A post shared by Ashe Higgs (@ashehiggs) on

Relax and breathe. Sense into the tissue.

Are you resisting the sensation because it's uncomfortable?

Do you feel the change in the tissue, slowly releasing from tense, to relaxed? Do you notice the change?

That's training all the time.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Vacation I Liq Chuan 21 Form

I took a little trip away from Tempe and took the kids to Hawaii.  Similar to a tai chi form, the I Liq Chuan 21 Form is slow, graceful and a form of dynamic meditation as well as a martial art training method.