January 2014

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FEAT Hwarangdo Sword Art.inddby Dr. Mark Cheng, Senior RKC
Photos by Robert Reiff

Hwa rang do grandmaster Taejoon Lee demonstrates Korean martial arts weapons in Black Belt magazine.The two competitors kneel at opposite sides of the ring, a bamboo sword at each person’s side. They slowly don their armor. As they stand, two additional plates — called hache hogu in Korean — reveal themselves, hanging down from their belts and covering their thighs.

The referee brings them to the center, after which they bow, draw their swords and begin the bout.

So far, it looks like a standard kendo or kumdo match, but as they clash, the flavor of the fight changes — with lightning-fast spins, low-level maneuvers and attacks aimed at more than just the head and shoulders.

While numerous forms of weapons sparring are practiced around the world, none is better-known than kendo. It’s the frontman of competitive sword fighting and boasts more practitioners than any other art. However, in the eyes of many, it’s badly in need of an update, especially with respect to the variety of techniques permitted. Enter hwa rang do master Taejoon Lee.

Lee, vice president of the World Hwa Rang Do Association and son of the art’s founder, Dr. Joo Bang Lee — as well as co-author of the landmark book Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit — had his work cut out for him. The eighth-degree black sash knew that his art categorized its plethora of weapons according to how they’re used in battle — slicing, striking, thrusting, throwing and so on. He also knew that much of that versatility was prohibited by kendo’s rule structure.

Lee tasked himself with modernizing his art’s method of conducting sword fights to make it more appealing to modern practitioners. He wanted a solution that would permit the greatest possible expression of technique with both bladed and impact weapons, thus preserving the Korean art’s uniqueness. And he knew that the solution would have to maintain the safety factor for which kendo is renowned.

To give a glimpse into the thought processes that went into the endeavor, he recalls an allegory from his homeland.

A Tale of Three Nations

“Three martial arts masters — one from China, one from Japan and one from Korea — came up to a massive stone wall,” Lee says. “The Chinese master walked up to it, touched it, gave it a little push and then, realizing the wall was solid, went to look for a way around. The Japanese master walked up to the wall and stared at it, then took a stance and proceeded to punch it repeatedly. His fists were reduced to bloody stumps, but he eventually broke through. The Korean master looked at the wall, threw his favorite jump-spinning back kick and bounced off. He shrugged his shoulders, then went to search for a way around.”

While it may sound like a cultural joke, the sociological implications of the story are spot on. The martial arts of each nation have been influenced not only by the personalities of their masters but also by the geography of the land.

Japan is a collection of islands. When attackers invaded, the locals had precious little room to retreat before ending up in the sea. Thus, it’s not surprising that their combat mindset evolved to favor powerful and direct killing techniques. Systems such as kyokushin karate and kendo exemplify this idea with their hard-charging, one-punch-one-kill mentality.

China, on the other hand, is a vast land mass. If an invader came from one direction, retreat was almost always an option. Military strategies took into account the availability of maneuvering room and thus emphasized avoidance. That gave the Chinese the chance to develop martial arts that focused on yielding before delivering a finishing blow.

Situated between China and Japan, both geographically and ideologically, Korea is a peninsular nation. Historically, that afforded them the ability to retreat toward the mainland if attacked from the ocean yet forced them to develop hard-core fight-or-die skills if backed up to the seaboard. Thus, their combative tendencies exhibit both linear and circular approaches.
FEAT Hwarangdo Sword Art.indd

Back to the Present

While striving to accomplish his task, Lee appreciated that kumdo gave his students a chance to develop their linear sword skills in a sparring format, but he thought the standard rules prevented too many of the circular, spinning techniques that have always proved invaluable in combat.

“Hoi-jeon is a central concept in power development for hwa rang do,” he explains. “To develop greater power output, you have to accelerate your weapon through a greater distance or place it under a greater torque. So when we spin — whether for a kick, a strike or a cut — we’re trying to capitalize on that rotational force to impart the maximum damage to the target. It’s not that you can’t do that in kendo or kumdo; it’s just that nobody really does it. So as soon as we implemented our new leg armor, which is now patent pending, spinning strikes or cuts to the thigh or belly suddenly had a lot more relevance.”

To demonstrate his point, Lee puts on his armor, picks up his bamboo sword and squares off with a student. They exchange blows and blocks for a few seconds, feeling each other out. As the opponent charges in with what ought to be a decisive head strike, Lee blocks, spins and drops to one padded knee. The sound of his sword striking his adversary’s leg armor resonates throughout the school. If the training equipment were replaced with live blades and the armor removed, a leg would have gone sailing through the air.

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Tim_Larkin_150px-OPT by Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Robert Reiff – June 5, 2013
Target Focus Training’s Tim Larkin on How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Carrying a Knife

“[Target Focus Training deals primarily with] asocial violence,” says Tim Larkin, the Black Belt Hall of Fame Self-Defense Instructor of the Year. “[Asocial violence] refers to those rare instances in which you need to respond with violence; if you don’t, you’re essentially participating in your own murder.” And thus begins another lesson in how to defend yourself from an attacker from the recently controversial Tim Larkin, founder of the fighting system known as Target Focus Training.

In this exclusive video, this expert in the instruction of self-defense moves delves into how to defend yourself against an attacker wielding a knife using close-range fighting techniques to your tactical advantage.
TARGET FOCUS TRAINING VIDEO
Tim Larkin Shows You How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Carrying a Knife

How Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training Addresses the Use-of-Force Continuum

“We’ve got tons and tons of video of [military and law-enforcement] officers doing exactly what they’re trained to do,” Tim Larkin says. “Exactly what they’re trained to do is go for their tool base — and rightfully so. Oftentimes, they’ll be working their way up the force continuum. They’ll try to get distance. They’re going to get to their pepper spray first. [If] that doesn’t work, they’ll try to get to their baton.

“If they can’t [get the baton], though, they’ll pull out the firearm — and all done at [very close range], [so] there’s all sorts of other things that could control the situation as fast as the tool.”

Tim Larkin on How Target Focus Training Aims to Turn the Human Body Into a Weapon

“We teach people to do the work of a firearm, meaning we want to learn how to do [ the work of a bullet] with our human body,” Tim Larkin says. “We want to destroy tissue, we want to break things on the human body that we can break. [We want to replicate the forces] of humans colliding with each other or humans colliding with the planet. I don’t need a tool in order to do that — especially this close.

“Sometimes the worst thing I can do with [an attacker] is go to get distance. He may have a knife I don’t even know about yet. All of a sudden, I realize this is ‘on,’ and [when I go] to get distance, [it] gives him plenty of room [to stab me].”

Tim Larkin, standing toe-to-toe with his attacker, moves away about a foot. This opens up room for his training partner to simulate a stab with his training knife. Such a situation is exactly what might happen as a civilian or even a military or law-enforcement officer tries to create space to draw a weapon that is higher up the use-of-force continuum ladder. Instead of using one’s arm to push oneself away from the attacker (or push the attacker away from him), Tim Larkin recommends pushing a strike with one’s forearm into the attacker’s throat. This not only creates space but also injures the attacker at one of his vital points, setting up an extra split second for appropriate deployment of your own knife or even a firearm.

ow to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker at Close Range Using Target Focus Training Tactics

“Everything I want is [at close range],” Tim Larkin says. “I’ve got top of the foot. I can bust his ear if I wanted to. I can break his ankle. It’s all right there as long as I know what I’m doing. If I think [a gun I’m carrying] is the weapon, I’m screwed. The only weapon you have is your brain. Everything else is a tool. I don’t need this to be effective. If I pull this weapon and I drop it, I [can still attack with my hands].

“Guys who survive violence are guys who think [along these lines]. And that’s all we’re trying to show people: This is how you train in a low-stress way so it’s there for you when you need it. And then you up the stress levels. When we [train], we’ll do every sort of distraction there is. But I won’t do that until you’ve got your basic strikes keyed in and you know where to put [them]. It’s useless for me to stress you out if you don’t know what to do. It’ll just cause chaos and fear.”

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17-Feat-Hapkido.inddby Robert W. Young
Photo by Peter Lueders – January 22, 2014 (5 days ago)

Hapkido techniques master Han Woong Kim demonstrates counters against roundhouse kicks in Black Belt magazine.The roundhouse kick is one of the pillars of the martial arts. New students generally learn to execute it within their first month of lessons.

“Everyone who knows martial arts and even many who have never trained can do it because it’s so natural and instinctive,” says Han Woong Kim, a sixth-degree black belt in Jang Mu Won hapkido, the version of the Korean art that was founded by his father, Black Belt Hall of Famer Chong S. Kim. “Because it’s so common, it’s a very important kick to know how to defend against, whether you’re training for tournaments or self-defense.”

The hallmark of the roundhouse kick is versatility. Don’t believe it? Name another kick that can function at long range (by striking with the instep or the ball of the foot), at medium range (by striking with the lower shin) and at close range (by striking with the upper shin).

That’s great for offense, but it makes defense difficult.

Get the real story behind a martial arts cult classic!
Billy Jack Flashback: How Tom Laughlin and Hapkido Techniques Master
Bong Soo Han Made a Martial Arts Cult Classic
In this exclusive hapkido-techniques video shot at Gokor Chivichyan’s Hayastan Mixed Martial Arts Academy in suburban Los Angeles, Han Woong Kim discusses and demonstrates a counterattack solution using hapkido techniques against long-range roundhouse kicks.

HAPKIDO TECHNIQUES VIDEO
Han Woong Kim Uses Hapkido Techniques to Counter
Long-Range Roundhouse Kicks

Analyzing Hapkido Techniques vs. Roundhouse Kicks

Your opponent launches his kick. Chances are it will target your upper body or head. You move or lean backward to avoid the impact, then watch the foot sail past you. “Just let his energy go right by,” hapkido-techniques master Kim says. “You can help it along by using your lead hand to push his leg a little. The strategy is to take his energy and use it to off-balance him.”

Having missed his target, the attacker will eventually put his foot back on the ground, probably after it’s swung past your body. That means his back will be turned slightly toward you. “Now you move forward to close the gap and sweep his right leg with your right leg,” Kim says. “At the same time, use your right arm to push against his right shoulder to ‘help’ him down.”

Of course the fall might incapacitate the assailant, but you shouldn’t count on that. Therefore, Kim recommends following the attacker down so you can control him using hapkido techniques.

The natural follow-up is to maneuver his arm, which you’ve probably been holding since the sweep, into an armbar using your knee as the fulcrum.

“If he just lies there, you can break the arm,” Kim says. “If he raises his upper body to escape when you apply pres- sure on his elbow, that’s when you can ‘help’ him up by lifting his shoulder and then turn him around and put him on the ground facedown. Drop your right knee on his shoulder while using your arms to lift the trapped arm to control him or break it.”

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Julius_Melegrito_knife_strikes_video_150x150by Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Rick Hustead – July 24, 2013
Julius Melegrito Shows You 10 Basic Knife Strikes From the Philippine Martial Arts

In this exclusive video, Julius Melegrito takes you through 10 basic knife strikes from the Philippine martial arts. This kata-like sequence of knife techniques starts slow and builds momentum, culminating in Julius Melegrito executing all 10 moves with lightning-fast speed and catlike precision.

The knife strikes are based partially on the clock system, referencing the 12 clock-hand positions for precise angular execution of the various knife thrusts, slices and turns. When assembled, the 10-step sequence is an impressive display of edged-weapon training in action. These knife strikes can be applied in linear sequence, individually or interchangeably where feasible, depending on the scenario you may find yourself.

Julius Melegrito’s Philippine Fighting Arts 3-DVD Set presents the “why” and the “how” of Philippine arts such as arnis, kali and escrima. Along with the 10 basic knife strikes shown in the knife-technique video below, Julius Melegrito provides in-depth explanation and practical instruction on proper holds, locks, chokes, striking patterns, applied footwork, weapons techniques and various forms of empty-hand training. He also addresses the anatomy and construction of the stick itself.

Each DVD in the Philippine Fighting Arts 3-DVD Set also features high-energy real-world scenarios that connect Philippine fighting techniques with situations one might face, such as chokes from behind, ATM assaults, car-window attacks and more!

KNIFE-TECHNIQUE VIDEO | Julius Melegrito Shows You the 10 Basic Knife Strikes You Need to Know!

This Philippine martial arts video clip is taken from Julius Melegrito’s three-DVD set, Philippine Fighting Arts, available now in our online store! (These DVDs are sold as a three-DVD set or individually.)

Topics include:

single-stick tactics and applications
double-stick tactics and applications
knife tactics and applications
proper holds
stick construction
striking patterns
applied footwork
blocks
counterstrikes
disarms
locks
chokes
coordination drills
partner drills
sticks against empty hands
real-world scenarios

Black Belt martial arts DVD instructor Julius Melegrito is the founder of the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance and the Philippine Combatives System.

This energetic communicator travels across the United States and internationally to Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Japan and the Philippines teaching his dynamic array of self-defense programs to general populations as well as military and law-enforcement personnel.

Julius Melegrito has been recognized for his years of study and service by a variety of publications, organizations and halls of fame. He currently operates a chain of Martial Arts International schools in Bellevue and Omaha, Nebraska.

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Kelly_McCann_threat_150pxby Kelly McCann
Photo by Peter Lueders – June 3, 2013
Kelly McCann: How Fast Do You Process Threats and Responses?

How fast is your processor?

No, this isn’t the place to find information about personal computing — but it is the right place to talk about personal confrontations.

I’m asking how fast you recognize potential threats and process threat information.

A lot of people evaluate their “street readiness” based on their hard-skills prowess and allocate far less training time to developing the “soft skills” that are so useful immediately before an attack.

The most obvious soft skill, of course, is situational awareness. It’s a cumulative alertness to threats, environment, movement and anomalies. Those anomalies are called pre-incident indicators, the visually unlikely circumstances that collectively indicate an attack could be imminent. Being adept at quickly determining threat potential — without looking like you’re about to implode — is invaluable on the street. It’s one of the few things I (grudgingly) use the new-age term “empowering” to describe. Gawd.

All right, no epiphany there, but what about in the seconds preceding an attack? Having used your situational awareness to identify a developing threat, what the hell are you supposed to do? What’s the most efficient use of your time when you can’t avoid a physical confrontation and find yourself tensing up and saying, “Uh oh, here it comes”?

How good are you at multitasking? Let’s go by the numbers to make this easier (and it’s not easy).

Kelly McCann’s Threat-Processing Tips — #1: Avoid Paralysis

Don’t be a deer in the headlights. A biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources suggests, “They (the deer) don’t know what to do, so they do nothing.” Truly, if you’ve ever seen this happen to someone, it’s amazing — the word “dumbstruck” comes to mind.

To avoid this, think about (and embrace) the fact that you could be attacked. It’s not too hard — people are attacked every day, so why not you? Second, visualize yourself successfully dealing with an attack. Not obsessively, mind you, but you should internalize, visualize or just own that you will defend yourself and think about what that means in some detail.

If you don’t, look for a salt lick instead of venturing out on your own.

Kelly McCann’s Threat-Processing Tips — #2: Profile the Potential Attacker

Yeah, I said it. Profile the threat (potential attacker) for weapons. And quickly.

How? Find his hands … anything in them? Is either hidden from view? Notice any unsightly bulges? A weighted windbreaker pocket? An outline under his T-shirt? Any of these might add up to a much bigger issue for you.

Knowing or suspecting that an attacker might introduce a weapon into a physical altercation is critical to your success — whether it drives you to get the hell out of there, act pre-emptively or pull out all the stops if it does go to blows.

Kelly McCann’s Threat-Processing Tips — #3: Position, Position, Position

Where are you in relation to the attacker? Take immediate action to put yourself in the most tactically advantageous position relative to escape avenues, improvised weapons, and physical obstructions you can put between yourself and him.

If you’re this deep into feeling threatened, you obviously don’t need more information, so don’t wait for it. You don’t necessarily have to attack at this moment, but you certainly need to move into the next mindset:

Kelly McCann’s Threat-Processing Tips — #4: Become the Predator

Assume the predatorial mindset and run through the if-he-does-this-I’ll-do-that scenarios in your head. You’re much more likely to take effective action when you’ve visualized it before an attack — even if it’s only milliseconds. Shut out the distraction of hope and don’t think you can wish yourself out of the situation. It’s literally up to you at this moment.

Kelly McCann’s Threat-Processing Tips — #5: Pre-Emption

If you know it’s coming (applying the “reasonable man” standard), waiting any longer just means the attack will fully manifest and your opportunity to disrupt it will be lost.

This is tricky. You’ve got to feel that you’ve seen enough to warrant the pre-emptive use of force in self-defense and that you’re in fear for your life. The time to startle your attacker and derail his momentum is now. Don’t half-step. Your initial attack will define the threat he feels and trigger his own fight-or-flight response. Make sure he feels the need to flee.

None of this is formulaic. None of it is absolute. You’re always at risk of making the wrong call.

To minimize the chance of that happening, spend as much time thinking about the circumstances in which you may have to use force as you do thinking about the use of force itself. Incorporate it into your training by devising drills with ambiguous triggers. Become an expert at discerning reliable pre-incident indicators.

Perhaps most important, remember that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

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KAPAP_150px-01-OPT1by Avi Nardia (with Albert Timen)
Photo by Rick Hustead – April 1, 2013
Israeli Martial Arts: Avi Nardia on Using Human Pressure Points in Kapap Techniques

In the Israeli martial arts, kapap defines “impact” as a force or shock that strikes a target. While this may seem like a simple statement for a powerful force, it remains an apt definition because it is all-inclusive. Rather than define impact as a kick or punch, Israeli martial arts practitioners using kapap techniques define impact as any force that can be applied by anything. This not only includes kicks and strikes but also defensive impacts, like blocks, or offensive impacts made by weapons, such as guns, sticks and knives.

Because the definition is so broad, practitioners of kapap techniques in the Israeli martial arts are able to borrow moves from a variety of systems to create their own well-rounded impact defense. In the case of the first Jewish settlers of Palestine, they chose to use sticks as impact weapons because they had very few self-defense options, whereas the modern combatant using kapap techniques has many combat systems and martial arts from which to choose.

ISRAELI MARTIAL ARTS: KAPAP TECHNIQUES VIDEO
Avi Nardia Demonstrates the Use of Human Pressure Points to Take Down an Opponent

The Full Scope of Impact in Israeli Martial Arts

It’s also important to remember that impact in kapap techniques covers much more than just hitting your opponent. Instead, it requires knowledge, understanding and common sense. As a person aware of your relative position in life, do you know what impacts your body has been conditioned to withstand? Or do you know how strong of an impact you’re capable of launching?

In the end, impact in kapap techniques is never about brute strength. Use your best weapon — your brain — to make the right choice during a close-quarters conflict to escape and live to fight another day.

Using Human Pressure Points in Kapap Techniques

When some people think about the concept of impact, they imagine a punch sending someone through a wall. However, an impact can be something as simple as a pressure-point attack, which is a powerful force applied to human pressure points — small points on the body.

Pressure-point techniques are also useful surprise moves because human pressure points are located in areas of the body that most people consider to be part of their “personal space.” This means that your opponent might not expect his personal space to be penetrated with a pressure-point technique, even during a real conflict.

While human pressure points might seem easy to learn, their effectiveness depends on the ability, skill, mental awareness and physical fitness of both the defender and attacker. For example, an opponent high on drugs might not know that he is being hit in a sensitive spot. If that happens, then it’s best to consider your relative position and use a restraining technique instead of trying to exploit his human pressure points.

The Mask: Using Human Pressure Points to Take Down an Opponent With Just One Finger

Though it may seem improbable, you can take down an opponent just with one finger. The masking technique uses one of the human pressure points found under the nose to immobilize an attacker.

In the above video, I apply pressure with my forefinger to a point just above the demonstration opponent’s lip. This prevents the man from walking forward — but if he does, further pressure will force his head backward.

The “mask” technique helps me control the situation. With my opponent off-balance and uncertain because of the exertion against one of his human pressure points, my hand masks the opponent’s face. I can further control the situation by pressing into the man’s eyes before taking him to the ground.

When using kapap techniques such as this, avoid masking an adversary between the lips because he might bite you. From the mask, I can use other kapap techniques such as a rear chokehold, bringing his right arm under the opponent’s chin and placing his right hand alongside his own head. I then apply pressure by squeezing.

Learning Israeli Martial Arts Is a Lifelong Pursuit

There is always more to learn, and the information in the video on this page — and in the book and DVD series titled Kapap Combat Concepts: Martial Arts of the Israeli Special Forces — is just a starting point. One source will never give you a complete understanding of combat. Whether you’re a student or an instructor, it’s always important to find qualified teachers, educational outlets and other resources to add to your base of knowledge.

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Kuk-Sool-Techniqueby Jane Hallander – Today

Master Suh In-hyuk demonstrates a kuk sool technique.You’re walking down the street when someone rushes up from behind and grabs your wrists. Which self-defense technique do you use? In a moment of panic, you realize that you cannot see your assailant well enough to figure out how to fend him off. If you were Jackie Chan, you might leap into the air, spin 180 degrees, execute a high-flying ax kick and escape over a parked car. But you’re not Jackie Chan. You’re just a normal human being constrained by normal human physiology.

You may be a normal human being, but you are also one who can learn from a martial arts master who possesses near-superhuman skills. Before you have to defend yourself for real, you’d be well-advised to partake in the wisdom of that master.
Self-Defense Technique Breakdown

In 1959 a Korean martial artist named Suh In-hyuk founded kuk sool, a self-defense system that is overflowing with methods for defending yourself when you’re grabbed from behind. The specific set of movements is called dee eue bohk soo. Although that is the Korean expression for “rear clothing-grab techniques,” numerous empty-hand- grab escapes are included.

Joe Burnett, a kuk sool instructor based in Walcott, New York, is a master of these techniques. “There are two critical parts to dee eue bohk soo,” he says. “The first is the escape, and the second is the defensive counterattack. Each one is as important as the other, and both utilize important basic fighting principles.”

Be forewarned that dee eue bohk soo are advanced techniques that require refined joint-locking and pressure point concepts, Joe Burnett says. To take control of a violent situation, you will need to have at your disposal sufficient speed and knowledge of the proper angles at which joint locks are performed and escapes are effected. You will also need to have developed your ability to function from a low, balanced stance.

Perhaps the most challenging part of successfully performing dee eue bohk soo stems from the fact that these martial arts techniques were designed to save your skin from the disadvantageous position of having your hands grasped from behind. Consequently, you will need to possess good dexterity with both limbs, Joe Burnett says, and you must be familiar with methods for controlling an aggressor whom you might not be able to see using circular motion and leverage. As stated above, this subset of kuk sool techniques is advanced, but once it is mastered, it will boost your self-defense techniques immeasurably.

Executing the Self-Defense Technique

A typical scenario involving dee eue bohk soo could unfold as follows:

An assailant approaches from behind and grabs your wrists. You raise your hands as high and as far forward as possible. That action twists his hands outward, placing pressure on his thumbs and loosening his grip. At this point, you can easily slip loose and attend to the business of defending yourself using conventional kicks and punches.

Now for the details.

According to the gospel of kuk sool, the first thing you should do when your wrists are grabbed from behind is step backward with one leg so your foot is behind the assailant’s foot.

This movement accomplishes several things:

First, it places you much closer to the attacker and lessens his leverage. The assailant will expect you to pull forward in an effort to fight against the grab, and that sort of reaction would give him increased leverage and control. When you step backward, however, you reduce that leverage and take away much of his power.

Second, stepping back as you move your hands forward positions them in front of your body. That means you will probably be able to see exactly how your attacker is holding you. Of course, if you so choose, you will also be able to see your own hands as they perform the rest of the dee eue bohk soo.

Third, repositioning your arms in front of your body means you must exert momentary pressure against his muscles. That can give you a quick measure of his power.

Fourth, stepping behind the attacker’s leg sets him up for a trip, throw or some other takedown. Moving into his space immediately shifts control of the situation from him to you.
Strike Back

Kuk sool teaches that the next phase of this martial arts technique is to open your hands and spread your fingers as wide as possible. This action is intended to augment the circulation of ki (internal energy) in your hands, fingers and wrists by expanding your tendons and ligaments.

The energy boost strengthens your wrists and helps you extricate them from the grab. Although spreading your fingers does increase the muscle tension in your forearms, it is beneficial because it’s different from the tension that occurs when you contract your muscles to make a fist.

With all those components in place, you will be able to break free from the grab by leveraging your limbs against the weakest portion of the assailant’s grip — usually toward his thumb, Joe Burnett says. When you exert pressure against his opposable digit and force it to bend in an unnatural direction, his entire hand will lose its gripping strength.

After escaping from the grab, you must move quickly to take control of and possibly incapacitate the assailant. One of the most effective ways to do that is with a quick combination that starts with a wrist lock and transitions to a leg sweep and a throw. It is guaranteed to dump him on the ground in a position from which he can no longer threaten you. Once he is down, you should continue to apply pressure to his wrist until help arrives.
Self-Defense Technique Variations

Joe Burnett also teaches a slightly different self-defense technique against a double wrist grab from behind. After stepping backward with one leg, you thrust your hands forward and close together to loosen your attacker’s grasp. You then surprise him by turning toward him. The rotational movement weakens his grip, thus allowing you to use one hand to counter-grab the wrist of the hand that’s restraining your opposite arm.

You then bend the wrist backward while using your other hand to attack a pressure point on the wrist. From there, you can easily take him down and control him.

Another unusual way to escape from a double wrist grab, Joe Burnett says, involves stepping backward with one leg but not raising your arms or thrusting them forward. Instead, you circle your right hand in front of your body until it reaches a position where you can break free and grab your assailant’s right wrist. Then you simply fold his right arm back toward his chest, while simultaneously bending his body backward over your knee. He will be rendered powerless and unable to move. A quick elbow to the chest will drive him to the ground, where you can finish him with a foot stomp or kick.
Self-Defense Tips

Whenever you are forced to defend yourself against a wrist grab from behind, Joe Burnett says, you must make your escape and counterattack as quick and accurate as possible. The most pressing reason for this directive is the potential for danger posed by a third person, working in conjunction with the person holding your wrists, who might be planning to attack you from the front while you are restrained. The only way out is to use a fast escape and an immediate counter. Throwing your assailant forward over your shoulder or hip is a preferred response because it disposes of the thug grabbing you from behind by tossing him into anyone who might be closing in from the front.

In the politically correct atmosphere of 21st-century America, it is easy to forget that the martial arts were devised primarily for combat. While it’s true that they improve your health, whip you into shape and educate you about Asian history and culture, the bottom line is still self-defense. That’s why masters like Suh In-hyuk and Joe Burnett emphasize practical, efficient martial arts techniques such as dee eue bohk soo, and it’s why kuk sool students around the world keep coming back for more.

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Tony_Jaa_teacher_Sak_Chai_02_476wby Antonio Graceffo – Today

Tony Jaa martial arts teacher Sak Chai with Black Belt magazine’s Antonio Graceffo.
Editor’s Note: In Searching for Tony Jaa: The Hottest Martial Arts Movie Star Since Jackie Chan and Jet Li (Part 2), international correspondent Antonio Graceffo sought — and found — an audience with Tony Jaa’s first martial arts teacher, Sak Chai. In Part 3, the author of Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist Through Asia continues that conversation and delves into a discussion regarding Tony Jaa’s muay Thai.

The neighborhood where Sak Chai lives is poor, and he worries that local kids might become drug users. “I invite them to my house and train them for free,” he says. “We train long staff, sword, gymnastics, contortion and muay Thai boran mixed with krabi krabong. I also teach them self-defense. I want them to learn so they’ll be good people, not so they can fight professionally. However, if they chose to fight, I support that, too. I don’t train them specifically to be actors, but the top four students went to Bangkok to live with Tony Jaa and be in the movies.

“Tony didn’t make it on physical strength. He made it because he’s respectful and helps his teachers and their students and his family. He meditates a lot in the forest with monks from the temple. The monks taught him special meditation for universal strength and the power of earth, water, air and fire. It was this spiritual power that allowed him to make Ong-Bak.”

Every time Tony Jaa visits, he donates money to the kids. “The gymnastics mats were paid for by him,” Sak Chai says.
I ask him for more information about how Tony Jaa’s brand of muay Thai differs from what we see in the ring. “Muay Thai and muay Thai boran both practice striking, breaking, throwing and wrestling, but muay Thai boran has more wrestling,” he says. “One more difference is that muay Thai boran includes the spirit. The focus is on hitting one time and killing. It’s like the samurai warriors in Japan. They would swing one time and cut you in half.”

Sak Chai begins explaining the difference between film fighting in martial arts movies and real fighting: “Movies are just effects, but in the ring, if you’re not ready, someone can really hurt you. And both of these are different from fighting on the street. Someone can be an excellent fighter in the ring but lose on the street.

“Throughout Thailand, teachers become famous because their students win fights. Then they develop their own styles. In the old days, when two people fought, you could see by the style where each came from. Today, however, when you watch fights, it’s not as evident because the modern style is becoming more universal.

“When I was learning, we put sand in the bag and hit it and kicked it with our shins. When we got tough enough, we added cement. After that, we kicked banana trees. In the final phase, we stood in water up to our necks and kicked a banana tree, under water, until it broke. After we finished the last step, we could open a club. It took about 20 years. No one trains like that anymore.”

Moments later, he says, “Come back tomorrow, and I’ll teach you the basics.”

I ask how much he wants me to pay.

“Teaching is a form of conservation,” he says. “It’s good that a foreigner wants to learn our art. So the payment is up to you.”

Muay Thai Boran’s Striking Techniques

“Tony Jaa is so good because he has good fundamentals — a good mind and good spirit,” says adjan Sak Chai, one of Jaa’s most influential martial arts teachers. “You must also have a strong body, balance and focus. Use the gym to make your body strong. Meditate to strengthen your mind and spirit.”

On the training field, Sak Chai mounts a tightrope and walks along it to demonstrate his point. “Balance,” he grunts before jumping down and launching into a routine that entails twirling a staff around his body and tossing it into the air. He repeats the sequence with a flag tied to a pole, which spins like a propeller.
My martial arts lesson begins with kicks. Modern muay Thai effectively has two kicks. There are others, but for the most part, you see the roundhouse and the push kick, Sak says, then launches into a demonstration of muay Thai boran’s arsenal.

He starts with a series of stomping kicks executed with the ball of the foot. “The best way to build power on this kick is to practice on banana trees,” he says. “To be strong, you must use all parts of your body and mind. No one can do this today because they don’t learn anymore, but the boran style was the best.”

He uses the stomp kick to strike what he believes are the most sensitive parts of the body: the region just above the knee, the inside of the thigh, the area where the leg meets the pelvis, the solar plexus, the throat and the chin.

Although the shin roundhouse is the preferred kick in sport muay Thai, those vulnerable areas must be attacked with the straight kicks of muay Thai boran, he says. To demonstrate, he strikes just above his opponent’s knee, and then with the same foot, he kicks the side of his head. He follows up with a heel to the solar plexus.

“Some people look at this and think it’s Chinese kung fu, but it’s muay Thai boran,” he says.

Muay Thai Boran’s Knee Strikes

In the next sequence, the opponent punches, and Sak Chai kicks the arm out of the way and follows up with a side kick to the floating ribs. “This is muay Thai boran, but no one teaches it anymore,” he reiterates.

“When you throw a knee strike, your knee must always go higher than the target,” he adds. His assistants wrangle a heavy bag from somewhere and hang it from a tree. My second lesson will be on knees.

Sak Chai then sends his knee into the outside of my hip bone. The strike is painful, and it knocks me down. It’s most effective, he says, if you wait until your opponent is about to kick, then step in and strike the top of the hip bone of the kicking leg. It creates a psychological advantage because you’re conditioning him to think that kicking equals pain. You can actually make him afraid to strike you.

We go through a number of exercises in which we raise our knees as high and as quickly as possible. Because muay Thai boran uses knee strikes at all angles, we practice coming up on the side, in the front, in the center, across the body, to the outside and to the inside.
“When you strike, you must come in with your full bodyweight and focus the power on the knee,” he says.

Tony Jaa’s Martial Arts Teacher on Modern Muay Thai vs. Boxing

Modern muay Thai uses punches similar to boxing’s, but muay Thai boran also uses overhand lefts and rights, as well as big uppercuts and huge hooks. Sak demonstrates, winding up and swinging his whole body into the blows. My boxing hooks and uppercuts pale in comparison. We practice on the bag for a while, but the changeover is difficult for me. Sak Chai tells me that in addition to getting more power by winding up and swinging wide, I can avoid getting hit with knees and elbows if I attack from farther out. I still don’t know if it’s true, but I vow to try it in a fight soon.

Because this is muay Thai boran, Sak has some tricky moves to teach. He catches my punch between his hands and pulls me into a knee strike. I kick at his head, and he wraps his leg around my leg, takes me down and submits me.

“Some styles of muay Thai are very low,” he says. “Others fight with their hands open, like in other martial arts. Some can grapple well. Some don’t grapple at all. When they catch your leg, they hit you with an elbow instead of wrestling.”

In muay Thai grappling, the opponents lock up, grabbing each other around the back of the neck before raining knee strikes on each other. They’re short, fast knees, which don’t do a terrible amount of damage, but they earn points. Muay Thai boran isn’t about points. It’s about winning a fight, about taking out your opponent. To do that, you have to first get some distance. Sak Chai and I lock up, and he shows me how he leverages off his forearms to push away from me, then by stepping back with one leg he gains distance. After that, he comes in with a full-swing knee strike while using his arms and body to pull me into the shot.

One of the dangerous aspects of knee strikes in the clinch is that you can’t see what your opponent is doing. You have to feel it. If his shoulder suddenly drops or his weight shifts to one side, you must be aware that he’s about to throw a big knee. This is a good time to twist, turn, jump, pull or push to force him to redistribute his weight to avoid falling down. Once he shifts his weight back to the center, the danger of the knee strike has passed. But to avoid it, first you have to feel it.

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