Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What is the Most Effective Combatives System...

What is the most effective Combatives System... During my brief stay on Paris Island, the US Marines were transitioning from LINE (Linear Infighting Nuero-Overide Engagement) to something else... They didn't know exactly what else, so newbies in 1999 were taught old school USMC Combatives. The Viet Nam era stuff built on the back of World War II Combatives...

The difference was the Navy and the USMC (which is a department of the Navy, by the way), took the framework but not all the techniques. The Viet Nam era combatives was based on Karate, Judo & Boxing... Marine Recruits were trained in simple escapes from bear hugs, wrist grabs, throats grabs & joint-locks. They learned a hand full of joint-locks, throws, takedowns, punching, kick, in-fighting (knees and elbows) & strikes to a few simple vital area. Killing techniques were ultra simple and proven to work, the basic strategy was one sided... Close the gap with basic boxing (punches), (kicks were taught but, also taught not to be relied on and you only learned 4 front, back & side were standing kicks & a stomp kick used to kill a downed enemy), use a vital point strike to stun or injure the attacker, throw them to the ground or take them down & finish the enemy with a Stomp Kick to the Temple, Throat, Xyphoid Process, Ribs or if you want to injure them, knees and ankles.

I also learned Generation 1, Modern Army Combatives which is now publicly available as Gracie Combatives. I was awarded in the Army for Teaching my own Combatives System to my fellow soldiers. This was because I felt the ground grappling only system was one sided and not truly effective... A fun story about this highlights the issue. I was stationed in Korea and in Korea, Tae Kwon Do is the National Sport, there are more Dojangs on every other street corner then their are convenience stores. The Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) teaches three sports to their citizens and those same sports are common in the Military. Yudo (Judo just how the Koreans pronounce it), Tae Kwon Do and some sumo-like Korean art (basically sumo, I don't know if it was adopted after the Japanese invasion of Korea over centuries or after WW2 or if the Japanese stole it from the Koreans). Anyway, if you understand this, you understand Koreas are very well rounded in martial arts culturally... So I was witness to a Korean Soldier knocking out an American Soldier in a bar, in South Korea. How did this come about, a tall lanking loud mouth who thought he was unbeatable because he studied Brazillian Jui-jitsu (or so he claimed, I suspect it was just MAC). Challenged a KATUSA (Korean Soldiers attatched to the US Military) to fight, while they were drinking & the KATUSA knocked him out cold... with three kicks; the first to the stomach to stop a takedown attempt, then one to the knee to bring the US soldier down to ground and the last one to the head.

See MAC generation two started adding Muay Thai and other aspects to make the system more rounded out. Generation one focused on ground grappling. So when I got to working on my own combatives system for my Platoon, I was already looking at certain elements of Muay Thai & Karate to add to it. Something I was later teaching my Compnay as well. But, I took some inspiration from the older USMC combatives system I was taught as well. So you have to understand there are three different combatives systems we are talking about here.

Modern Army Combatives which was all groundfighting, Viet Nam era Combatives mixing Boxing, Karate & Judo and World War 2 Combatives based on Kung-fu, Boxing & Judo. So which is better? None of them is better because they were designed for different eras and show an evolution of thinking...

In World War 2, the idea of hand-to-hand combat was pretty much useless. Soldiers were using rifles like the M1 Garand which was 30-06, a high powered and long range effective weapon. Some special units like the paratroopers of World War 2, were issued M1 Carbine which were .30 caliber (7.62x33mm) round. There was little to stop these heavy and high powered rounds from penetrating the body. So vital point strikes as seen in World War II combatives was preferred as it meant that Soldiers in combat could learn simple, effective and straight forward means of disabling an opponent in a fast and dirty fashion... However, technology is the issue here.

In Viet Nam, US Soldiers were beginning to wear "Flak Vests" a form of body armor which stopped shrapnel from bombs and grenades but didn't really stop bullets. They were alleged to be able to stop a pistol round, however the issue of technology appears again. Wearing these vests limited the effectiveness of strikes and the WWII occupation of Japan spread the arts of Judo and Karate through the military. So the old World War II system was adapted and adopted methods from these systems. Striking still had a focus but, grappling took a greater focus because some of the Viet Cong were wearing US Military Flak vests, which wasn't effective against gun fire was limiting to unarmed combat and even armed combat with knives, e-tools & sticks. Native martial arts of Viet Nam required soldiers to have greater skill at unarmed combat and so striking and grappling took about even measure in the Combatives System.

Modern Army Combatives, again technology plays a role. We place a greater focus on grappling or more specifically ground grappling with the Generation I MAC. This is good on so many levels and bod on others...
1. Ground fighting was something the older systems lacked...
2. All these MMA jocks online are fucking idiots. The UFC has dick to do with combat or realistic conditions. So lets apply ground fighting to some simulated realistic conditions. Put 2 people in a room with friends on either side and armed with paint ball guns. They get to use whatever combat system they like and their friends cam shoot at them or each other... That's why ground fighting is good, the Army (and Marines for that matter) teach you drop prone and return fire. Why prone? Because standing targets are easier to shoot.
So now the Generation 2 of Modern Army Combatives has ignored the vital point strikes & is focused more on the basic punching and kicking, infighting and ground grappling of a blend of Gracie Jui-jitsu (MAC Gen 1) and Muay Thai with some elements of Karate. Ultimately, this is the which is better debate of Karate or Judo, & before that it was Boxing or Wrestling... Basically, it is the question of what is better striking or grappling?
Here is my answer...
The world changes, technology changes are lives & with it social needs and functions. The Japanese Samurai wore armor & the Chinese styles often wear less ridged armor having a great amount of metal then the Japanese. Many Chinese styles were not used for the military and some wear used by conscripts and village militia who had to furnish their own weapons & armor. All of these are constructs of the thinking, society, resources and technology available to those in that part of the world. There is not better or best, anything only what is best under those conditions... Honestly, knowing how to hit a vital area is just as important as knowing how to grappling on the ground. A palm heel strike to the chin will knock you out just as easily standing as it will from the mount, as does a rear naked choke from stand-up or the rear mount and, pulling guard lets me use you as a human shield just as, provides a prone position's cover against gun fire & keeps someone from taking the mount.

There is no better or best arts, just better people and the best way for them to train to develop themselves.

Monday, May 29, 2017

On What it means to be a Master...

Budo the philosophical practice of martial arts is not about fighting but, about mastery. Mastery comes in two forms and these forms are associated with intelligence types...

There are two types of intelligence Practical Intelligence... a mind that remembers facts and the application of information. The second Intelligence is what we call, Analytical Intelligence this is the ability to Remember information and the ability to apply it in abstract ways. What we call Creative Intelligence.

Depending one's motivations and type of intelligence rank being a Master and Mastery have different meanings. To someone with practical intelligence being a master is a level of ability or knowledge and, mastery is a dogmatic context of tradition and codified technical routines.

To someone with Creative Intelligence, mastery is a journey and it doesn't end. Rank is an abstract title related only to art and organization. Because to the Creative Intelligence, they are trying to remember someone else's definition, dogma or codified system. The analytical mind is dissecting things, try to view the same thing from different angles and prospectives.

Analysis is how the mind learns... Some minds simply learn "Fire is hot and hot hurts." other minds learn "Fire is hot and hot hurts." Then those minds ask "Why is fire hot and why do we experience pain?"

Omoto Ryu Budo was taught to me as a system for the Analytical mind. It was not enough to understand, to do something but why and adopt it to different levels of stimulus. It was not enough to think but to experience and then analyze and understand. This leads to invention of new techniques, combinations and training methods. It is a living, evolving and personal art form...

This is why there is no Soke in the Omoto Ryu tradition. Even though it claims roots in Koga/Koka City Japan, it is a modernized form Bujutsu & not a complete codified system of dogmatic structure. This why men like Ken Shamrock, Chuck Norris and Heilo Gracie (RIP) don't run around calling themselves "Master" in the sense of a dogmatic rank structure.

There are men in the world who... Because of their age alone, I would hate to hit full force because I would fear injuring. Same men regardless of their age I wouldn't take lightly in a fight because of their wealth of knowledge, level of experience and regardless of age know their not to be taken lightly... They are masters in their own right.

What is mastery? Mastery is the ability remember knowledge/information and to apply it. To the Practical Mind, it is being able to fight (hence why I mentioned the three names I did) and rarely does it go further then this... But, that is Practical Mind.

These same men also represent another element to martial arts that of application of the arts to life... The Abstract of the Analytical Mind, this is perhaps what Kioshi Omoto meant when he told me "Mastering martial arts is easy, mastering life is not so easy." Even Rickson Gracie has said "I think there’s a philosophy behind martial arts, which should go along with training and go hand in hand with a fighter’s routine. Nowadays, the first principle is that there is no philosophy. It’s about cross training. You’ve got to cross train to be able to fight, kick, and hit. Every rule draws you to an extreme sport without a code..."

To further draw off of Rickson Gracies comment here, that code is what gives martial arts their purpose outside of just fighting. That is the meaning of Budo, and mastery of Budo is mastery of life through the Warrior's Code.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Situational Awareness 2: Some Good Information...

This blog has a two videos attached. They are something I was looking at the Author of the Videos in a Mr. John Lovell, a US Army (?) Special Operations Veteran & Tactical, Firearms & Self-Defense Instructor. So here is two videos where he explains basically what I said in the first Situational Awareness Blog...

He mentions Threat Indicators a lot in the Video...

In Video 2: He is talking about the Spotting Threat Indicators... This was something else I discussed in the Reprint of Drunken Wolverine Ninja Kung-fu.

Now I don't agree with him about the Stereotyping thing... Because that actually brings attention away from a real threat. Real experienced criminals try not to look like criminals and don't try to look like criminals. Those guys are young wannabe thugs.

MASK Tactical has another Video Talking about Spy Level Situational Awareness & I do like that he uses the pivot step to observe behind him while walking through a trail yard. He also breaks down the Military/Tactical definition of Situational Awareness quite well... He does a nice breakdown of assessing situational awareness. About 12 minutes into the MASK Tactical Video below he talks about body language.

Both of these guys have videos about Situational Awareness using it in the correct the Tactical Context as opposed to the Imaginary Tacti-cool mindset. I don't know them nor their teachings, I just endorse their videos demonstrating good examples and related subject matter of good Situational Awareness...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Situational Awareness: How your Self-Defense Instructor has been lying to you

I have a Slogan, a Motto if you will for Dealing with the subject of Situational Awareness. "Awareness is looking around & Educated Awareness is knowing what to look for." 

This overlaps with another motto I use for teaching Self-Defense, "Avoid the Threat before ot becomes a Danger."

Both of these mottoes could be considered principles. Among the martial arts I teach self-defense classes and, have modules on Counter-Terrorism and Understanding Criminal Violence. And these are key areas because I talk about criminal tactics and counter-tactics to defend yourself. Those mottoes,  principles if you will are entirely dependant on Situational Awareness. 

The problem I have with Situational Awareness is that using a military term out of context isn't tactical, its tacti-cool. Situational Awareness in the military context is "is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it's knowing what is going on around you."

In otherwords... Situational Awareness is educated awareness. If you aren't properly educated how can you identify, process and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to you, in regards to your mission; which is to make it home unharmed and safe?

You see... As a Self-Defense Instructor you have to do more then then use some tacti-cool term out of its Tactical Context. You have use the right term for the Right Context. That means placing training within context and that means developing training that provides for Situational Awareness. 

How to Train Awareness: 
In the Army the term Attention to Detailis often used to encourage training soldiers to focus on the mission details, the details of their actions and, the details of things going on around them. Things like dress, hygiene and making one's bed is just the start...

Spot Check and Sit-Rep, is another drill. Soldiers as drilled through physical exercises like front-back-goes and various other exercises. Then Soldiers are told to low crawl a certain distance and are given only 10 seconds to look at a mock scene of plastic soldiers and vehicles arranged in a scene. As time progresses this time is cut down to 5 seconds, 3 seconds and finally only a 1 second to view the scene. The scene is never the same and scene and the soldier develops an instinct for being able to look at a scene for only a second and recount details quickly.

In Ninjitsu there is a number of Games used to develop this same Sense. Ashida Kim has mentioned a game of stones of various colors concealed from the student and, exposed only for a few seconds. The student must then tell the Instructor the number, colors and shapes of the stones they saw.

Omoto Ryu used a method of zen meditation and flashing a series of pictures. Then asking the student who only saw the imahes for a second to recount the details of the image. As time progresses, the images become more complex and the detailed to remember.

This is only the first step developing situational awareness. The building of individual awareness and the ability to pay close attention to details.

In addition, to training such a blindfolded  individual move through a obstacle field with strings and bells without "tripping" and alarm. Or walk into a room and examine the room for a brief period 3 to 5 seconds and walk out, then recount details about the room. This develops a sense for knowing what is happening in one's physical space.

Developing Situational Awareness:
Situational Awareness is not simply being aware of details and the space around you (environmental awareness), Situational Awareness is being able to understand the potential threats around and decern between a realistic, plausible threat and a non-threat.

For US Army, this meant simulating combat conditions or war games. A detail oriented scenario where actors portray combat and non-combat roles. Soldiers learn to recognize certain ques and actions which display a potential threat.

I don't care what kind of martial arts you practice or what self-defense system. If you aren't dealing with simulated self-defense situations you aren't training to decern social ques for a threat. And if you are not taught how to spot a physical threat, something outside the normal process of societal activity you aren't aware of your situation...

Let me give you three scenarios to highlight the concepts here.

Scenario 1: 
You are existing a movie theater and see a couple (2) of young men and older teenagers gathered around your car. They are at their cars which are parked beside your car and listening to music. They all seem to be dressed in matching colors Red, Yellow and Black with the same logo on their jackets.

How you deal with them will play a role in how they respond to you. However, that's not in question here...
1. How would you spot a concealed weapon?
2. How would you identify them as gang members, members of a team of some kind or as a some other group association? 
3. How would you approach your car?

Scenario 2:
You are leaving a store parking lot and see a homeless person with a Sign that reads "Will work for food." He isn't actively harassing anyone or displaying any violent or odd behaviors...
1. Is he a threat?
2. Why or why not?

Scenario 3:
You enter a public restroom and there is another person in a bathroom stall. What is the likelihood of you being assaulted or robbed in this location?

Scenario 1: (1) Uncharacteristic clothing for the weather (which I never disclosed), this leaving someone keeps checking for the weapon (pockets or waistband most common), heavy budges or, budges displaying a particular shape. (2) By the logo, tatoos, hand signs or manners of speaking. They could be a race team, football players or members of some other sports team. (3) Calmly and Confidently without accusations or threats to escalate a simple misunderstanding into a confrontation. 
Scenario 2: (1) No... (2) Parking lot enterances and exists,  as well as stop lights and intersections are common areas where one car jackers "hunt" however, this individual isn't acting in a threatening manner or approaching you. So any forced attention to this person would only be paranoia and distract you from other more realistic threats.
Scenario 3: High... Depending on your area where this public restroom is located. Restroom stalls, store parking lots and elevators are common areas for physical assaults and robberies, as well as kidnapping and sexual assaults because the victims are usually isolated in a area with little room to retreat and isolated from support.

This highlights the expanded material in the Updated Drunken Wolverine Ninja Kung-fu: A realistic guide to Street Fighting by Shadow Warrior Publishing. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Game of Faces...

I am a Game of Thrones fan, and a few nights ago I was watching Season 6 over again. And, there was this scene where ine of the Characters, Arya Stark, was being trained by the Faceless Men. The Faceless Men are all Uber Elite Assassins, who use magic masks made from other people's faces. They also have a game, a game that teaches them to lie called the Game of Faces.

The Japanese have a similar concept, the concept of Face. Of projecting an outward and Public image of acting Morally or Honorably. This concept is called Mentsu or, Face. The term Saving Face comes from American interaction with Chinese and Japanese cultures in the 1800s. There is losing face, mentsu wo ushinau, which describes both acting dishonorably or, dishonoring another with your actions. And there is Kao O' Tataru which means to Give Face and this is more than acting honorably but, to also show Respect for your Superiors by not correcting them publicly, not embarrassing them or speaking about their failings.

In Omoto Ryu we also have a concept of Face or simply Faces. The Art of Faces or Mentsu no Jutsu is part of the skill of Mind Reading though this isn't some supernatural power but, a conscious act of knowing how an individual functions in Society. There are three faces that we all have.

The Face of Who we Pretend to be, Public image and such... Who we want to be is the second Face, these are two different faces, though sometimes they are the same. Sometimes moments in our life force use to be Someone we don't want to be & show the world a Face that is cold and heartless, underneath a Mask of Honor & Righteousness... However, these faces are not truth... The truth is our last face, The Face of who we are... These are not uniquely, Ninja Concepts... They exist in Japanese culture as the concept of Honne & Tatemae.

Honne is translated to meaning "True Sound" it refers to a person's true thoughts & feelings. What Carl Jung refereed to both the Shadow Self which is instinctive, made of what we consider negative traits; our greed, lust, fear & secret desires, & the Shadow is Wholly Unconscious. Thus our conscious mind often rejects the Shadow.

Tatemae, references the Public Image and is translated to mean "to Built in Front." This is the Public Image one builds and maintains. It often seeks out the flaws in others, projecting them if they cannot find them on to the target to conceal and hide the same flaws within themselves. It is by nature a public image & not entirely true... The opposite of Shadow is the Light Side & again we see the Daoist influence with the concepts Yin & Yang or In & Yo, opposing forces that make up the whole of the Tao or -Do, in Asian culture...

Only the Omoto Family had taken this concept deeper... They have assigned three stages to the simple Japanese concept of Honne & Tatemae. You have the Honne Mentsu, the true self with all its negative traits and positive traits. All its flaws and weaknesses & its strengths and merits. Only the Honne Mentsu, is were we try to assign our negative traits and in doing  so we often spend our lives, living a lie, hiding our Honne Mentsu by telling other what we are but, showing no signs of it aside from our words.

Tatemae Mentsu is our Public Face, our Built in Front Face, so that we often hide from ourselves for fear of facing that Innerself and our own lies about our righteousness or ego enforced self-importance. The public face is a Mask, Halloween is all year round where we hide from Ourselves and expect others to believe the mask. But under this Tatemae Mentsu, is another Face an inner Mask we wear for our friends & family. Kagami Mentsu, the Mirror Face, which we need to reflect what the outside world demands of us as people... It reflects a motivation for the Tatemae Mentsu.

Allow me to explain this concept with a illustrative example;
1. A Businessman in Japan, a mid-level manager is told by superior to do one thing. He knows it cannot and will not work. However, his Tatemae Mentsu, requires him not to lose face by confronting his Superior about the flawed idea & to give face to his Senior by supporting an idea he does not agree with publicly. However, he also shows Kagami Mentsu, as someone who looks out for what is best for the company by speaking with the Senior Manager in private, about his concerns... His Honne Mentsu is selfish and wants to prove himself to be promoted and get higher. He wears two masks for his greed, one of a loyal employee and another as a someone who is looking out for the over all good of the company. Both these masks project loyalty but, neither are true. The true face is one of Greed & Envy seeking a Higher Position & Higher Pay & wears these two masks to hide the truth. The Tatemae Mentsu is what is required of him before other employees & the Kagami Mentsu is what he shows his boss privately, pretending to reveal a greater truth about his motives... In truth, he is greedy and he wants to more in terms of respect, in terms of position and in terms of pay.

2. An American Business Man wants to be seen as a creditable source of knowledge for Martial Arts. So he is always calling out frauds in the martial arts, always flaunting his language skills & always writing blogs to slander others. His Tatemae Mentsu is to appear to a knowledgeable and authoritative source of knowledge... His Kagami Mentsu is to claim to want to expose the truth & promote legitimate sources of tradition in the martial arts... But what is his Honne Mentsu? How would we find his Honne Mentsu?

Well first we must examine the extent of this truth find?
If the Business Man doesn't use anything but his own "approved sources" & makes excuses about information which conflicts with his claims... His research isn't about the truth, it is about something else.

If he cares about what supports his claims for his own art and is not able to address evidence that his own art is fraudulent & that his master has made Fraudulent claims?
This shows a desire to force or imprint his beliefs on others & not to examine the truth...

If he claims his Art's claims are legitimate and cannot be questioned? 
Anyone who claims Trademark on the truth, had better have 200% proof. I say 200% because, what many claim is 100% just isn't. Anything can be questioned and one's claims can just as easily be questioned as they could be lies. Tell me I am to believe your Master because you believe your master, isn't proof... Its like saying I should believe your religion because you believe but, I believe my religion and don't need to believe what you believe to associate or treat you well. There is nothing which should not be questioned and, nothing which cannot be questioned. If you can't be questioned then your position cannot be as solid as you want to claim.

If he has a history of personal attacks against, individuals who disagree with his claims or his master's claims?
Once you abandon your argument for personal attacks, you lose the argument. You fail to show the complete merit of your argument. Your argument doesn't hold water &, you are obviously acting to protect your own self-interest.

If he has to be Challenged so that he can set outlandish rules of engagement & refuses to step into a cage like a man...
One thing I have seen dealing just this type of person online... They refuse ANY TYPE of confrontation that doesn't allow them to make up the rules. They use personal attacks to try to prompt someone to challenge them &, then invent outlandish rules or conditions that don't allow them to claim some sort of advantage...

Well here is everything you need to understand the Individuals 3-faces...
Tatemae Mentsu: To Appear to be Knowledgable and Creditable Source of info from a Legitimate Source.
If you dig deeper you will see his Kagami Mentsu: To spread legitimate sources of information and legitimate Martial Arts.
But his Honne Mentsu: Is greed, and desire to be respected and wanted. This person becoming Verbally Abusive and Attacking Others Personally doesn't show a Creditable Source of Information or Knowledgeable Author or Researcher. These actions reveal the Honne Mentsu, the hidden & true face... Those negative traits that this individual is trying to hide, their desire to be seen as a great source of knowledge, there desire for more money (greed) and perhaps even their own laziness and anger that comes from not getting what they want. The Fear of never getting the fame and recognition they demand (demand because they desire it). All this leak through in their every action and regardless of what motives they claim & they what they say...

This is merely an example of the age old saying "Trust nothing you hear and only half of what you see..." or "Seeing is believing." 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Distancing & the Art of Danger Avoidance by Chris Friedman


Ninjutsu takes on many forms these days, with many claims and counter claims as to what the style is. Serval things all these modern ninja groups can agree on are, they wear black gis in the dojo, practice weapons, focus on self-defense and survival, and practice or learn stealth maneuvers.  
I remember when I was a young teen and practiced Tang Soo Do at a local karate school, and reading about the mysterious art of the Ninja by the only authors available at the time on the subject, Steven Hayse and Ashida Kim. I imagined earning a black belt in this deadly art, dressing from head to toe in the commercially available ninja costume, slipping out the window in the evening for a night time mission.
Thirty something years later after earning a Shodan in one of the well-known Ninjutsu organizations, as well as earning several black belt levels in other systems, that using stealth techniques in real life as a non-military personal, is a lot less dramatic. Do I use methods gained from such study often, yes, do they involve dressing up in a special outfit with a grappling hook and smoke bombs unfortunately no.

To examine the reason for training in stealth technique we have to justify the necessity for taking the time and effort in the first place. Unless you are a secret opts agent working for the military, or someone working in some kind of criminal organization there aren’t a whole lot of practical purposes for such skills. For me personally they are a useful tool for danger prevention. They also lend a helping hand for avoiding awkward situations.
For the past decade I have lived in China a communist country that doesn’t always take the straight forward way of handling business. Often the term cutting through the red tape comes to mind, or perhaps mind games. For a [wai guo ren 外国人] “foreigner” a term used for none Chinese, this situations can be quite a nuisance. For example in the previous city I lived in called Shenzhen, each building complex was surrounded by a gate or fence and a security guard was stationed at the gate’s entrance. This meant upon entering and leaving my residence I would have to deal with the daily chore of being the “none Chinese”. One would think in 2015 being a different nationality would be no big deal, but actually I would daily get prolonged stares by the same people as if they never saw me [or a foreigner] before in their life. To make life simpler, I found an alternative route. This involved going behind the building climbing a fence or two and leaving through a small exist in another gated community. This simple method didn’t involve a single acrobatic flip, smoke bombs or being covered in head to toe in a black masked uniform, though it can be considered just as much of a Ninja technique as the previously mentioned. This method of entering and existing the building meant I could go an entire day unseen by the guards.
When using ninja techniques to avoid danger, two things come to mind, awareness and distance. To begin with one has to be aware of subtle changes, some may say to the point of almost having a sixth sense. For the modern day Ninja student there are ways to train this ability. One method involves standing in a darkened room with a training partner about 15 feet away. The partner will be armed with a practice padded stick or club of sorts. His/her goal is to sneak


up on you without making a sound and touch you on the top of the head with the practice club. Your goal is to sense him/her and raise your hand as he/she is close and ready to strike. The attacking partner must think violent thoughts, as if he or she wants to actually bash your skull in with a blunt object. It is these feelings that you will pick up on through this training exercise.  This is one isolated exercise but even without having ever trained in such a drill a long time martial artist regardless of the style will gain such sensing skills.
The other day I had such an experience. To begin this story I must give a brief introduction to my current situation. For the past decade I have been living and training in Chinese martial arts in China. For the past year and a half I have been living in Songshan Shaolin [birth place of The Shaolin Temple]. Yesterday upon arriving at my Shifu’s school before reaching the outside training yard, which is down a slight hill, I paused and told my wife wait, I want to see if a certain person was outside training with my Shifu’s group. My wife assured me that he had left to work in other city the previous week. This is what we were told, and he had been absent from the school for at least a week. By all accounts he should have been gone for good. Something however told me this wasn’t the case. We were still at a distance and I planned to train in the other yard to avoid a certain someone if that induvial was present. Sure enough my instincts were right. The induvial was present that day.
In this way heightened senses and awareness of distance can be the best defense. If someone is bothering you or has the potential of causing you physical, mental or spiritual harm you can often simple avoid or gain distance form such a threat. As in a physical threat it is always better to be prepared and not taken by surprise. This is not always possible but by training your senses and trusting them often they can prepare you for what is yet to come.

About the Author
Chris Friedman has done the martial arts since
His early teens. He has spent the past decade training in China.
He currently resides in Shaongshan Shaolin as a disciple and assistant instructors to visiting foreign guest. He is also a writer for Kung Fu/Tai Chi Magazine and
For more info on Chris please go to