Tag Archives: black belt

Evolving Your Martial Arts with Zen!

Creating A Better Martial Art!

I recently had a person ask me,
‘what do I know about Zen?’
I said,
‘I know everything.’
Pretty arrogant, eh?
Well,
this is going to be a lengthy newsletter,
but I will explain it in a way
that will wake up the zen in you.
I will even,
at the end,
explain EXACTLY what zen is,
and why it makes your martial arts superior.

I started Martial Arts in 1967.
I had no idea what they were.
I looked for books,
but couldn’t find a thing.
But I did find books on this thing called Zen.
I had no idea what zen was,
but the few references to it
said it would improve one’s martial arts.
It was supposed to be the difference
between martial ART
and everything else,
including the simple ‘fighting’
that most people assumed martial arts was.

Then I came across a book called
‘Zen and the Art of Archery.’
By Eugene Herrigel.

Eugene went to Japan to study zen
and they refused to teach him.
Nope.
Won’t teach you.
Go away.
He persisted,
and he asked why they wouldn’t teach him.
They said because he had no cultural context.
He had no frame to put it in.
It wouldn’t hang on him.
He simply wouldn’t be able to understand it.

Well, these durn foreigners can be persistent,
and he persisted,
and he asked,
‘How can I study it?’
And he was told,
study something else with zen.
That might give you enough context
to understand it.
Eugene took up the art of archery.
And he didn’t understand it.
He tried,
but he was told to hold postures,
to forget about the target.

Forget about the target?
how do I hit it then?
His western, logical mind
simply couldn’t grasp the concept.
The master,
whose name I forget,
but it is in the book
should you wish to find it,
invited Eugene to his house.

It was evening
and they had dinner
or tea,
or something,
then the old man took Eugene
to the backyard.
He had a hundred pace archery range.
At the midway point,
fifty paces,
was a stool with a candle on it.

The old man had Eugene light the candle
then stand behind him.
Eugene could see the single candle,
but not the target at the end of the range.
The old man turned off the lights
Eugene heard the twang of a bowstring,
and the arrow passed through the flame
and extinguished it.
The old man told him to turn on the lights.
The old man had not only extinguished the candle,
he had made a perfect bull’s eye.

And that was the old man’s demonstration of zen.

You can read the book yourself,
see if it sounds like bushwah,
but after nearly 60 years in the arts
I have seen enough things that were like this,
that I believe.

So…what is zen?

I’ve come across lots of definitions
but the simplest and best definition I have found
was simply the word, ‘knowledge.’
One can get into all sorts of Japanese linguistics
and explore origins and etymology and such,
but at essence,
this is what it boils down to for me.

The old man who shot out a candle
and made a bull’s eye
was demonstrating a higher knowledge.
A knowledge that most men,
without the discipline,
and the correct way of thinking,
simply cannot understand.
The correct way of thinking,
such as…
do your form,
forget about the target,
and…
be now.

I had the discipline to understand zen
because I did the martial arts.
I had the context to understand
this unique and elevated
form of knowledge.
But I needed something else.
That something else came
in the form of a hundred years old manuscript,
from a college lecture
on the subject of yoga.
Talk about going far afield!

That manuscript said this:
Man is an essence,
an idea,
surrounded by ‘sheaths.’
He surrounds himself with the sheath of family.
He surrounds himself with the sheath of his work.
He surrounds himself with hobbies,
systems of law and religion,
education and rules and morals and mores and…
everything in the world does one thing…
substantiates the man.
We identify ourselves,
we give reason and purpose to our existence
by our clinging to these sheathes.

In zen they sometimes talk about
returning to the source,
or…
being childlike in your wonder
and appreciation for life.
People think they must be ‘childlike’
to understand zen.
They don’t understand that to understand zen
they must understand themselves as an idea.
That they are an essence
wrapped in self generated ‘sheaths,’
and that to understand themselves,

to get to the idea of zen

they must rid themselves of sheaths.
They must peel the layers like an onion
and uncover that original idea
that they are.

Oh, the lies we must penetrate.

When one does the martial arts
they are trying to be
‘in the now.’
They are not trying to react,
but to act,
and even if that action is merely
the relative motionless
of just being in the now.

I didn’t just practice the martial arts
for nearly 60 years,
I investigated them.
I read everything I could,
even things like yoga and zen
and obscure religious manuscripts.
When doing the forms
I tried to divest myself
of what other people thought the forms were,
and tried to stick to only physics,
no matter where that led me.

The result was a lessening of the static in my mind.
I no longer have that ‘chatter’
in my head,
telling me what to do,
to care what people think,
to act a certain way.
None of that.

I explored the context of this martial zen
by learning and practicing
every martial art I could.

Attaining the purity of explosion,
silence before and after
the moment of the punch
in Karate.

Focusing attention until it was unwavering
on the single finger of Pa Kua,
or the delicate geometry of Tai Chi.

Exploring patterns of Kenpo and Arnis
and various other arts,
until there were no patterns,
only me
moving in space
without regard for planet earth.

When I wrote
The Last Martial Arts Book,
the one on ‘Nine Square Diagram boxing,’
I had all of this in mind.
It is able to be done with the purity of explosion,
the silence and contemplation
of tai chi and pa kua.
I do the forms (and the fighting) with my eyes closed,
so that I am only connected to reality
by the sensation of gravity,
and the geometry of the self in space,
that there is no distraction of the world
to interfere with the idea of me
exploring a world without context,
a world of only me,
unbound by convention,
thought or idea.

This is the way I try to do all martial arts,
cultivating silence within,
observing the world without judgment,
able to do things at 76,
that I couldn’t do at 19.

This is a sad times we are living in.
Children are being programmed and not taught.
No more cursive or standard clocks.
No more ability to critically think.
Just follow directions
and trust that ‘authority’ will take care of you.

It is ignorant times,
and such things as zen cannot be understood,
and are unknown as a path to a superior man,
because people don’t understand simple words,
and even if they do,
they are being bound in sheaths,
and robbed of context,
the context of nothingness
that is the true reality
for the idea of what a man is.

Okay,
there it is,
philosophy and rant,
message and path,
all wrapped up in one, neat blog.

I suggest you look at unwrapping yourself from what binds you.
Undo the matrix being constructed around you
Defeat the teachings of ignorance
which have been used to imprison you.

If you want to follow the path to a higher martial art,
and to a higher, more evolved and superior you,
I suggest that you educate yourself.
Pick up a copy of
Zen and the Art of Archery.
Start exploring these concepts.
And for the discipline,
to achieve the context of which I speak…

The Last Martial Arts Book:

Nine Square Diagram Boxing

There are a couple of editions,
so make sure you get the edition with
FIVE HOURS OF VIDEO LINKS!
You may have to search,
but there is your path.

Enjoy the summer
and learn a new martial art!

Al

And thanks to everybody who picked up my book,

Advanced Tai Chi Chuan for Real Self Defense!

Don’t forget to give me five stars.
Those ratings help my sales.

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Putting Chi Power into your Karate!

The Truth of Chi in the Martial Arts!

Chi,
that mysterious, invisible energy
that nobody can define,
is difficult to teach
and ‘real’ scientists scoff at.

The first thing you need to do
to cultivate chi power
is learn basic physics.

I was lucky.
My father was the prototype engineer at Ampex.
Ampex, in the 1950s was making
cutting edge reel to reel tape recorders.
In the 60s he was the prototype engineer
for Memorex tape.
They were making the first cassettes.
Our end tables were loaded with
Popular Mechanics, Popular Science,
and other like magazines.
I hated school
with their elitest BS instructions
for simple things like math,
but I was reading things about
how to make an airplane,
the latest advances in robotics,
how tires are made,
and that sort of thing.

One day I didn’t understand steam.
My father took a pair of tin snips
built a base, a spindle, and a propeller.
He arranged the propellor over
the spout of a coffee pot
and turned on the stove.
A minute later I understood steam.
I went to school and while every other kid
was asking what steam was,
and how did it work,
I knew.

One of the first graphics I came across,
in this matter of Chi,
was a drawing of a man with a fire in his belly
and energy waves emanating.
I understood chi.

Making your own body into a coffee pot,
however,
wasn’t realistic.
So…how?

I looked up all the words
connected to energy.
Do you know what energy is?
Go on,
think about it.
Make your best guess.
It is…(drumroll)
‘the capacity for work.’
There are about 50 other definitions,
and you have to understand them all,
and that means you’re going to have to
look up a lot of words
and actually understand them,
but…
the capacity for work.
If that isn’t invisible I don’t know what is.

Then,
during Karate,
I would be shown a block.
Instead of thinking of the focus and power,
I would be thinking of the angle struts
that support a bridge.
The cantilevers.
I would think about this as in where
were the muscles needed to support the block.
But I was also reading everything about chi,
and zen and oriental mystical practices,
and trying to understand them in terms of physics,
and I would visualize invisible cantilevers
holding my blocks up,
supporting the arm and…
resisting incoming energy.

As the years passed I stopped
resisting the incoming fist/energy.
Instead of hitting somebody’s arm with a block,
I let them run into my perfectly cantilevered body.

Then,
after a while,
I stopped punching people.
Instead,
realizing that there is space between atoms,
I put my fist inside their body.
Their own flesh could not withstand this concept.
Note that I said concept,
and not power.
I was now punching with an idea,
instead of muscle and bone
and all that inefficient stuff.

People who laugh at forms as silly dances
might punch hard,
but they don’t punch with minimum energy
to get the same, and better, results.

Want to know why chi manifests in older people?
Because they pass their peak,
their bodies are no longer filled with muscles and strength,
they have to use tricks, instead,
and there lies the chi,
because the tricks they learn are nothing but chi physics.

Chi physics,
different from Newtonian physics.
Newtonian physics the apple falls and there is gravity.
Chi physics you can undo impact
and even things like gravity,
by understanding a concept.

The old guys have spent a lifetime
slowly accumulating a slight knowledge
of Newtonian physics with their bodies.
When they get old they used the simple physics,
but backed it up with things like minimum energy
invisible cantilevers,
occupying a body with a fist instead pf punching.
They have figured out which parts of the body
respond to light touches.
They know a touch can unbalance the body,
because it unbalances the mind first.
and so on.

You see,
the ‘real’ scientists scoff at chi
because the physics measures the universe,
and they can’t measure what they can’t see.
They can’t measure a concept.
But when you master simple physics sufficiently
and start dealing in concepts,
you find a whole new realm of physics,
physics that the ‘real’ scientists don’t have a clue about.
They’ve never done a form until it is a concept.

And that is why forms are so important.
They teach physics.
The physics of the body
that lead to the physics of concepts.

The only problem is that most forms are done incorrectly.
They have been arranged by whim and preference,
and not by simple physics.
When is the last time your instructor said,
‘A little more (or less) oomph in the cantilever
will make that block work without effort.’

And that is where matrixing comes in.
In the Master Instructor Course
I explain all sorts of things about the body,
how to construct it efficiently,
and all this will eventually make chi manifest.

In Matrix Karate,
and to a lesser degree in my other arts,
the forms and techniques are corrected according to physics.

You turn the foot a certain way,
to increase traction,
to use the muscles on the legs properly,
to take advantage of the ‘spring’ that is the arch of the foot.

That is the essence of physics.
Now take that through the ability to hold a position
(grounding)
or cantilevering your blocks
by visualizing the energy structure of the body.
and doing your forms,
practicing these things,
and you end up with chi power.

The chi power will manifest quickly
if you understand all the physics words,
mass, energy, flow, etc.
It will manifest quickly if your forms
are scientifically correct.

But,
most people will not do these things,
so I wrote books like

How to Fix Karate

Personally,
I think the Master Instructor Course
and Matrix Karate,
are much more important,

But

How to Fix Karate

is wonderful entry point.
It analyzes the forms and techniques
and starts the student on how to think the right way
when it comes to learning karate,
or other martial arts.

Furthermore,
it comes in two volumes,
and it has links for

FIVE HOURS OF VIDEO

Now,
summer is here
so think about cleaning up your martial art,
get rid of the whims and preferences
that others have corrupted the arts with
and make your art perfect this summer!

Al

And thanks to everybody who picked up my book,

Advanced Tai Chi Chuan for Real Self Defense!

Don’t forget to give me five stars.
Those ratings help my sales.

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Figuring Out Martial Arts Footwork!

Analyzing Martial Arts Footwork!

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter at Monster Martial Arts!

Recently had a question
about how I came up with my footwork,
specifically the Nine Square pattern.
It’s all geometry.

The foot only goes a couple of ways.
Right foot forward or back
Left foot forward or back.
Yet the possibilities are endless.
I started with a square,
‘cornerwork’ I called it.
I came up with 16 possibilities of motion
all based on the right/left forward or back.
I spent months exploring those 16 possibilities
through the various stances.
And explored the various arm movements
that could effectively be done.
A lot of work just there.

I put four corners together and came up with one pattern.
All other patterns were repeats and combinations
of the 16 cornerwork foot patterns.
That’s right, just one,
and it was cool.
It consisted of a cloverleaf,
and spinning and stepping over my front foot.
just those two steps to it, and that was all.

I put the four squares into nine squares.
It was a tic tac toe in a box.
It had eight points (not the corners)
which aligned with Pa Kya circle walking.
And there it was.

Why go further?
Why dance all around the room,
thinking I had created intricate patterns,
when the purpose was to explore the effective potentials
of either the right foot or the left foot
moving either forward or back.
And to drill the basics intensely.

So when you play with the nine square pattern,
especially in the books
Try working them on a simple square,
or on a foursquare.
You understand them better,
and you’ll see what I went through,
and you’ll be better.

The Last Martial Arts Book
(get the version with five hours of video links!)

and

Advanced Tai Chi Chuan for Real Self Defense!

Came up with a little bit of advice,
here go…

If you train to fight, you’ll get in fights.
If you train to beat up people, you’ll beat up people.
If you train to teach people, then the world will listen.

Have a great work out!

Al

And thanks to everybody who picked up my book,

Advanced Tai Chi Chuan for Real Self Defense!

Don’t forget to give me five stars.
Those ratings help my sales.

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

The Power of the Karate Horse Stance?

Why the Horse Stance?

Good morning!
Summer is coming,
so start thinking about what art
you’re going to learn this summer!

Let’s talk about the horse stance.
It is considered by many
to be THE stance of classical martial arts.
Why?

First, because the body is an energy system.
If you’ve gotten any of my courses
you’ll remember that
weight equals work equals energy.

When you sink your weight,
your tan tien has to create more energy
that energy can be used in strikes, blocks, etc.

BUT…
how much energy do you need?
Or…how deep do you go in your stance?

I used to practice holding a horse stance
with a stick laid across my thighs.
This made my thigh bones horizontal to the ground,
was difficult,
and gave me lots of strength
and even a bit of flexibility.
But it was impractical for fighting.

If you go lower,
if your butt is below your knees,
you’re not in a horse,
you’re in a squat.

If you go higher you’re not getting the power.

BUT…
you don’t need to practice those low, low stances forever.
Practice for a while,
till you have the power,
then raise your stances and use that power in your mobility.

AND…
I never practiced those super low stances in forms.
I practiced them in a meditation we practiced
which we called ‘Kima Chasie.’
I apologize if I have the spelling wrong,
or even the translation,
which we were told meant,
‘horse meditation.’

We would assume a stance with the bottom of our butts
on a level with the top of our knees.
A very slight slope.
We would hold one hand in an open hand high block,
and the other hand stretched to the side
with the fingers turned in a ‘beak’ to the rear.

This gets painful real quick,
but if you realize one simple idea…
‘it may hurt but it won’t kill you,’
and just sit through the pain,
the pain will eventually stop,
and you will have super leg power,
and incredible mental power.

So how deep should the horse stance be?
Depends on what you’re doing.
Are you seeking mobility?
Power?
Something else?
Are you doing it in meditation?
Part of a form?
For some other reason?

It’s up to you.
But what is guaranteed
is that the horse stance is a profound secret of poweer,
if you can get past the pain
and tap into your inner self.

Prepare for the summer!
Plan your work outs now!
Set up your dojo!
Every form is a prayer,
every technique reveals your heart.

Have a great work out!

Al

(thanks to Kumar)

And thanks to everybody who picked up my book,

Advanced Tai Chi Chuan for Real Self Defense!

Don’t forget to give me five stars.
Those ratings help my sales.

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Injuries Grow in Brazilian Jujitsu!

Martial Arts Injuries in Jujitsu!

(sign up for newsletter!)

Recently read an article that claimed
Brazilian Jujitsu was causing lots of injuries.
I find this fascinating.

When I started Kenpo Karate back in 67,
within two years I had broken my toes twice,
my hand once
and needed to repair a cracked tooth,
and I attributed these injuries to two things.

First,
poor instruction.
Can’t argue with that.

Second,
protective gear.

Our instructor came out to the freestyle class one day.
He had a couple of large boxes filled with protective gear.
“Okay, guys,
now we can fight without getting injured.”
Oh, Lord, the injuries piled up.
Everybody thought they could hit harder,
everybody thought they had to hit harder.
They stopped learning control
and started punching harder.

When I went to a classical school
(Kang Duk Won)
I learned what power was.
By learning what real control was.
This school was ten times harder than the Kenpo school,
I ended up with so many bruises I couldn’t press the clutch pedal.
But I never received an injury.
Good instruction and no protective gear.

We learned to be protective of our partners,
and to be precise in our control.
We learned the consequences of poor control
through the ministrations of our ‘gentle’ seniors.
in other words,
if you showed poor control
a higher belt would step in and show you consequences.
But they did it with good control.
It was actually a very humane lesson.

Brazilian Jujitsu has lots of injuries.
There is no arguing that.
I have seen good schools with lots of injuries.
Especially to the hands and wrists.
Poor instruction?
Maybe.
But I would tend to think it is young turks
getting over excited by the action.

But here’s the thing…
if you do jujitsu correctly
if you find the angles
and use gentle force,
it works.
That’s what the name means.
Jujitsu means ‘gentle trick.’

But I see people,
especially in the cage,
where victory is more important than your opponent’s body,
who use full force
and crank to the max,
and who,
in rare matches,
can’t even be pulled off their opponent.

It is interesting,
we live in degraded times,
where honor is not as valuable as a punch in the face.
Thus, there aren’t many voices asking for
more rules to protect the fighter.

To be truthful,
I am not fond of rules.
Rules are needed in contests
where the participants might be out of control.
they don’t have self control,
and there is a need for ‘other’ control.
such as referees,
fines and punishments like being banned.

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
But,
in the meantime,
I’ll stick with the classic arts
who preach honor and virtue,
over ‘winning at all costs.’

Okay,
obligatory ad.
If you want to know the right way to do Karate,
check out

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Comes in Two Volumes)

These are the real techniques behind the forms,
techniques that can be used on the street,
and even in the ring.
The books have over FIVE HOURS of video links!

That’s five hours of video training
for the price of two books.
That is THE BEST deal anywhere!
And it will make your karate technically correct
and give you all the real techniques!

There it is,
check it out,
and enjoy the rest of this winter.
It’s almost spring,
and that is training time in my book!

Have a great work out!
Al

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Evolving in Tai Chi Chuan!

Accelerating Your Speed of Learning in Tai Chi!

I was always trying to figure out
how to make Tai Chi Chuan happen a little quicker.
Just as i didn’t want to take years for a black belt in other systems,
I didn’t want to take years to get the real benefits of Tai chi.

When I put together the Nine Square Diagram Boxing
I was addressing this directly.
I figured isolating the working moves,
increasing repetition,
and focusing on the meditative aspects
would get me there.

The important things to remember
are to shift the weight back and forth,
loading the legs with energy,
pushing that energy into the tan tien,
which is the energy generator for the body.

Also, to keep the belly taut, but not tight.
This focuses on the tan tien and not the muscles.
Very important to realize that
if you focus on the muscles
you isolate body parts
instead of putting them together as one unit.

And, to keep the arms filled with unbendable energy.
Aikido definitions are best to understand the ‘unbendable arm.’
But very little flexing,
keep the arms at their most optimum bend
and work on subtle pulses
that work off the push of energy in the legs.

Doing the Nine Square in this way,
or doing Tai Chi in this manner
will up your speed of learning,
and the accumulation of energy in your body.

Simply shift back and forth
and feel the ‘slosh’ of energy in your body.
It may take a while,
but it is faster than traditional Tai Chi by ten.

But what REALLY helped me
is doing the Nine Square with my eyes closed.
I did this with Tai Chi and it helped,
but with the repetition and focus of Nine Square
it magnified everything tremendously

I was feeling like I was holding a ball of energy.
I was feeling the energy building so fast
that I was compelled to move into the hard style
and snap everything with power.

that’s why I talk about doing the Nine Square two ways.
One soft and one hard.

When doing the Nine square soft (or Tai Chi)
don’t work against yourself.
Let the power build by being patient.
Know that you’re working for more than simple self defense.
Know that you are building yourself spiritually,
building and using energies
that normal people are not aware exists.

Ground the legs,
taut the belly
unbendable arms
close the eyes and let the power build

Do the hard style separately.

Here’s the link to the book,
make sure you…
GET THE EDITION WITH 5 HOURS OF VIDEO LINKS!

The Last Martial Arts Book: Nine Square Diagram Boxing

It’s a new year,
so have a great work out,
and do all the martial arts you can!
It’s good for your soul.

Al

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

The Evolution of the Shaolin Martial Arts!

The History of the Shaolin Martial Arts

Most people say the Martial Arts
came from the Shaolin Temple.
Undoubtededly,
the Shaolin Temple is a big influencer.
But,
my own theory is slightly different.

Originally
I wrote a short column about ‘Og and Bog.’
Og steals Bog’s apples by conking him on the head,
Bog imagines a defense for getting conked on the head,
and we have a technique
and the birth of the martial arts.
Which is to say
from the very first time
one man raised his fist to another,
martial arts have been developing.

Verbal history,
not a reliable thing,
says that Bodhidharma came to Shaolin from the east,
trained the monks in meditation,
and when they proved too weak to meditate properly,
he gave them the martial arts.

But when you look at the exercises credited to Bodhidharma
they look like calisthenics.
So how do simple calisthenics
become martial arts?

Let’s create a possible scenario
to present my theory.
Warlords reigned,
they conscripted peasants,
and taught them how to fight.
How to use the spear,
how to do basic ‘boxing’ (kung fu).

The peasants who survived the battles
might retire to home,
and go to a temple to pray,
maybe even feel a bit of remorse
about the deaths they caused
and join a temple.

At the temple they want to stay in shape
so they use the basic calisthenics they used in the military.
They even use some of the fighting routines.
But the essence of the temple isn’t in fighting,
and if one is in daily meditation
and begins a regimen in fitness,
it is conceivable that the exercises they did
begin to take on the form of meditation.

No, not every monk is a warrior,
but if even one soldier takes refuge at the temple
translates his military exercises
into meditation…
that might have great influence.

So we have a sort of a criss cross here
between meditation and physical combat.
It’s a maybe,
but a logical sort of a maybe.

Now let’s talk about what happens if a person
practices a routine for years,
and especially in conjunction with meditation.
He becomes aware through meditation,
and as he focuses his meditation on his calisthenics,
he achieves a different type of awareness in his calisthenics.
He starts to feel this thing called chi,
a ‘breath energy’ circulating through the body.
He finds this thing called chi is difficult to explain,
but if a person is dedicated to motion,
and to the calm and breathing techniques of meditation…
he can achieve a certain degree of awareness of,
and control over this somewhat invisible energy called chi.

And all this backs up various religious theories.

The interesting thing is that Shaolin happened,
and it is so far back
that all we’ve got is theories.
But we have another art that isn’t thousands of years old.
It is influenced by Shaolin, but…

Tung Haichuan
back in the 1800s
apparently knew some kung fu.
He went into the mountains,
met some monks,
and they taught him how to meditate by walking the circle.
Tung Haichuan supposedly combined
the circle walking and the kung fu
to make Pa Kua Chang.
People immediately invested PKC
with all sorts of religious theories.
The eight trigrams,
all that sort of thing.
A good example of a ‘calisthenic’ being adapted to kung fu,
and kung fu becoming more meditative,
just as what probably happened
thousands of years ago at the Shaolin Temple.

And!
If you look at Karate,
it was a martial art designed by and for palace guards.
Heavy duty self defense
and hard core fighting.
In just a bit over a hundred years it has become
heavily infused with zen concepts.
A martial art expanding awareness
through dedicated and repetitious motion,
until it becomes,
in its purest form,
a source of enlightenment
and spiritual development.

AND…
A good question here is
could MMA become spiritual?
I would guess probably not,
and this simply because the techniques are
more dedicated to destruction than control.
The practitioners might even laugh if
a student wanted to find the zen
behind an arm bar.

Hey,
it may have taken MANY generations
for Shaolin to become more than
a physical calisthenic for ex-warriors,
and to become a method of awareness and control
and not simply an excuse for destruction.

So that’s my theory,
if you feel it is full of holes,
or you feel some other possibility is probable,
leave comments.

I do want to say that when I developed the

The Last Martial Arts Book: Nine Square Diagram Boxing

I was trying to create movements
that would have meditative aspects
as in Tai Chi Chuan and Pa Kua Chang.
I wanted to create a degree of spiritual awareness,
and yet have the art be totally workable on the street.
I want the meditation, the control, the spirituality,
but not at the cost of losing the destructive potential of the art.

Check it out on Amazon,
and if you decide to get it,
make sure you…
GET THE EDITION WITH THE 5 HOURS OF VIDEO LINKS!

Give yourself a present,
and don’t forget to give me five stars!

Have a great work out,
and have a great and profitable New Year!

Al

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Karate as a Filter for Life!

Everything in Life Seen Through Karate!

I think it was Gichin Funakoshi
who said that
‘all life is karate.’
So what does that really mean?

It means that you put a filter over your eyes
and view everything through karate.

As a professional writer I came to learn that
you can compare language to forms.

The motion of the body is a verb
that ends with a punctuation punch.

Basics are letters.
Techniques are words.
Forms are sentences.
I believe Kenpo has also stated this.

Music is particularly well suited to the karate analogy.
Timing is an exquisite sense of how to fool the listener/opponent.
The shape of your hand as you play notes and chords…

Dance…the comparison is obvious.
They are both body motion.

If you ride a bike,
the bike is the form,
the ride is the freestyle.

Running a business
is strict adherence to form,
implementing techniques
with the occasional freestyle
as individuals have their own bright ideas
that aren’t so bright
or somehow go against the master form.

Driving a car,
sailing a drone,
marching, running, climbing trees,
dealing with people so that all win,

Everything in life can be reduced to form,
to technical deviations,
to freestyle applications.

Now,
the cruel trick is this:
all Karate is done wrong.
All karate is based on blocks, kicks and strikes.
Which are good foundations,
but the real secret of karate
is in the ‘slap/grab technique.
That is a technique which precedes all motion.
Yet nobody teaches it.
A few arts come close,
but nobody has ever actually broken down body motion
and understood the subtle implications
in the motions leading up to blocks.

Try it.
Try making slap/grabs in every technique.
You’ll find that the techniques suddenly work.
and they actually work in freestyle.
It wasn’t that the founders hid things,
though they did
in a secret meeting back about 1900.
It was that they didn’t understand this subtle implication
of the motion of the body
before and leading into virtually every technique
in karate,
and virtually all other martial arts.

Go ahead,
try it.
Find the slap/grab.
Find the slap,
or the grab,
or the slap/grab.
Once you see it,
you’ll be amazed.

And for those who wish to see how
I extrapolated this little motion,
check out the

How to Fix Karate Books

(two volumes, you have to order them separately)
on Amazon.
They’ve got about five hours of video links,
and they show how I use the slap and the grab
and the slap/grab,
all the way through.

Okay,
that said, it’s time to say…

Have a great work out,
and HanaKwanMass to all!

Al

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Martial Arts Spear Hand Revealed!

The Secret of the Karate Spear Hand Technique!

Did you know…
the spear hand is not a spear hand.

When I was at the Kang Duk Won
there were all sorts of people studying.
Glass blowers,
grave diggers,
college students,
and lots of outlaw motorcyclists.
1 per centers.
Mostly Hells Angels.

One day I went to class
and there were about twenty Harleys parked outside.
The Hells Angels were doing a documentary on themselves,
and one segment had to do with martial arts.
So Ted,
a big second black who had joined the HA,
places three boards on a couple of cinder blocks.
He psyches up,
thrusts a right spear hand down,
and the boards don’t break.

Well, they broke,
but not all the way.
Ted lifts up the first board.
Clean break.
He lifts up the second board.
Clean break.
He lifts up the third board…
it’s got a knothole in it.
It was broken, but the knothole
had stopped it from separating.

So Ted replaces the third board,
puts the first two boards on the stack,
and breaks it with a spear hand with his left hand.
Bang.
Clean break,
Cut,
Print,
call it a wrap.

I don’t recall whether he broke his hand,
but he might have.
Or at least a couple of fingers.

Now people used to be able to break boards
pretty easily with their fingers.
Not any more.

I don’t see buckets of sand for conditioning in the dojos,
I don’t see people doing fingertip push ups.
So,
for the time being,
except for a few hardy souls
who believe in ancient training methods,
breaking with fingers is a lost art.

The original finger tip break was probably
for breaking through armor on samurai.
I’m just guessing,
but it sounds logical.

Or,
perhaps it was for inserting the fingers
into the neck,
through the armpit joint of the armor,
or whatever.
Not having seen old Japanese armor
I don’t really know.

BUT…
I do know that while I used to train in the old methods,
and I was able to do a few tricks,
like break a one inch board with fingertips,
I am no longer going to spear anybody.
Just too old.

Which led me to an interesting discovery.

What if the spear hand was not a thrust
to break a body?
What if it was intended to be a grab?

If you look at every spear thrust
in the Pinan (Heian) forms,
and change it to a grab,
It not only makes sense,
and protects the hands…
it leads to some interesting locks and throws.

I detail a few of these in the
How to Fix Karate books.
But you can figure a lot of these out yourself.

Instead of striking,
move the hand deeper and grab.
Look for a way to manipulate the opponent.

What if the move on the way up the center,
in Pinan three,
was not a spear hand to the sternum,
as usually taught?
What if it goes past the neck
and you simply stand up and grab his neck in a headlock?

Think about it.
Try it and see if it works.
See if you need to alter the movement
to make it work.

And,
by the way,
if you want to see the things I came up with,
check out the

How to Fix Karate Books

(two volumes, you have to order them separately)
on Amazon.
They’ve got about five hours of video links.

Okay,
last thing.
It’s almost time for…
(drum roll)

HanaKwanMass!

That’s right!
A combination of Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas!
HanaKwanMass!
That way you can offend everybody at once!

Have a great work out,
and HanaKwanMass to all!

Al

Don’t forget to check out the interview
https://anchor.fm/dale-gillilan/episodes/S1E10—Al-Case-e12e3np

‘The Last Martial Arts Book’ has 12 ratings for 5 stars.
(There is a video version of this book with no stars yet)
My two yoga books have 9 ratings between them for 5 stars.
‘The Book of Five Arts’ has 8 ratings for 5 stars.
‘The Science of Government’ has 7 ratings for 5 stars.
‘Chiang Nan’ has 6 ratings for 5 stars.
My novel, ‘Monkeyland,’ has 5 ratings for 5 stars

That’s a lot of good ratings
so hopefully you’ll find the book that works for you.

How to Fix Karate:
A Karate Training and Workout Book
(Two Volumes)

Small Steps to a Big Black Belt

Newsletter 935

Problems with Promoting People to Black Belt

Just to warn you,
there is a lot of meandering this newsletter,
so get your head ready
to turn left or right
on a whim or a blink.

I was talking with another instructor,
and he told me how he got black belt.
He spent five years at the belt below black belt.
He was in his mid thirties,
and he finally went up to the head instructor and said,
‘Promote me,
I’m not getting better,
I’m just getting older.’

Just getting older.
How grim.
Which brings us to the point of it all.

In the beginning,
a person was promoted when he finished
the requirements necessary to promotion.

Chuck Norris did it in a year and a half.
Mike Stone did it in 7 months.
Joe Lewis earned THREE black belts in a year.

Sure,
they are superstars,
but why can’t we finish our requirements and get promoted?

It was Kenpo that established the standard,
they introduced the famous ‘car contracts,’
which were contracts designed by an Arthur Murray dance instructor.
Kenpo spread out the material
so the contract would last four years,
keep the student paying tuition for four years.
Survival, man.
And within a couple of years
all systems of martial arts lasted four years.

Then we have people like my friend,
who are kept at a belt level,
brown or purple,
or whatever,
for five years plus,
until they finally confront their instructor
and demand to be promoted.

Or,
let me digress a moment,
I knew a fellow,
it was kenpo,
who set up a program for his students
to reach black belt in…17 years.

That’s right.
His students were signing up for
SEVENTEEN YEARS!
Zowie.
What’s funny is that,
at the time,
he had 12 years experience.
That’s right,
he had never completed his own system.
But he was demanding students do…what he hadn’t.
Can somebody spell ‘crazy’ for me?

Anyway,
back to the issue at hand,
when should a person be promoted?
When he shows competence at the level he is at.
If he is required to do a form,
a certain set of techniques,
he must show that he understands
the form and the techniques…
and can do them.

So how long does it take to become competent?
If your system is properly arranged,
3 – 6 months per belt.
If your system is matrixed
1 – 3 months per belt.

And some individuals can go faster.

The test is simple.
If you are doing a form…
do you understand what the moves mean?
Can you take a move and apply it?
Without thinking?
To anybody?

You don’t need Bruce Lee’s speed.
You don’t need to pluck arrows out of the air.
You just need to know what something means,
and show that you can do it.

It’s like a plumber.
He knows what length to cut the pipe,
how to connect the pipe.
And that’s it.
for one level.
No mysterious standards,
just simple level
after simple level.

I remember somebody telling me
to sail a boat they needed to take a course,
read a 500 page book,
take a test,
and hope they remembered enough to pass.

But I was told that there is a rudder,
and a sail.
Two moving parts…plus the wind.
500 pages and a test to learn how to point the rudder
away from your destination,
and fill the sail with wind.
Hmmm.

My ultimate instruction for karate is…
don’t get hit…hit the other person.
Sure,
it is sadly lacking,
but once the person fills his sails
you can tell him about currents.
And once the person is looking at a fist in his face,
you can tell him about blocking.
Really.

Now,
with all these sad understatements,
let’s talk about what you are really looking for.

You are looking for control.
Not whether a person can remember a pattern,
or a series of techniques,
but whether he can control his body.

Is he falling over…
I like to call this falling off the floor…
because his stance isn’t being used to sink his weight?

Is his butt wiggling because
he is putting power in his butt instead of his fist?

Is he out of breath because
he isn’t breathing properly?

Do his blocks collapse under impact?

These are the simple questions I ask,
and I ask them of ALL belts.
No hidden standards.

Sure,
a white belt is sloppy,
and a black belt is snappy,
and in-between there are gradient steps,
never too big for the student,
never so small.
Just a staircase of simple steps
leading to more and more body control.

I once observed that white belts and black belts,
in a class,
were doing the same things.
The black belt just looked better at it,
didn’t get out of breath,
and so on.

Nothing mysterious,
no hidden tricks.
Just…a slow climb to competence.

Now,
let me make some points.
These are the points I usually lose readers at,
they read this stuff,
disagree so loudly,
that they immediately cancel the newsletter.

There was a rumor,
once upon a time,
that a student had to fight,
AND DEFEAT
100 other black belts
to earn his black belt.

This was a rumor taken from Kyoshinkai,
where they have a 100 man kumite.
Nobody ever defeats all the 100 men,
in fact,
by the time they are in the last 50,
they are pretty badly bruised and beaten.
By the time they reach the last 10,
they are usually getting beaten pretty regularly.
But the question is…do they finish?
Or do they quit?
It is a matter of spirit.
Do they have it or not?

Interesting reality behind this rumor.

I have seen schools
where they do demand a brown belt
to defeat black belts before they are promoted.
But there is a severe wrongness to what they are doing.

To beat somebody doesn’t show any degree of competence,
it just means you can beat up people.
And beating up people is not the point of the martial arts,
learning how to be a competent human being is.

And,
when somebody is enrolled in a type of school,
where they are expected to ‘roll’ for four or five years
on a single belt level,
before getting a black belt,
that does not show competence.
It shows endurance,
and a variation on 100 man freestyle,
and…
proving that you can beat somebody up
to qualify for black belt.

But I just told you,
if you are learning how to beat people up
you are not learning martial arts.
Sure,
you can beat people up with the martial arts,
but the martial arts are really about…competence.
Achieving a skill level.
Not proving that you can ‘take it.’
Or endure.
Or beat people up.

And,
the people i lose?
They are the ones stuck in a belt level for half a dozen years,
they are stuck,
can’t take any perceived criticism,
need to beat those people up,
and quit the newsletter.

The people who need this advice the most
are the ones the most put off by it.

Ah,
well.

My advice is this:
select a system with standards,
even steps between the belts,
without dominating personalities
demanding you to beat people up.
Find a system where you can see
the small differences between belts.
Where you can see people taking small steps
to make the big leap to black belt.

And,
if you can’t find one,
better learn some matrixing.
Learn how to understand the martial arts,
it will be ten times easier to learn an art then.
Even an art that demands endurance instead of competence.

Here’s the first course on matrixing…

1a Matrix Karate

Have a great work out!

Al

Here’s a link for an article about when I first started doing this book on Kenjutsu.
I intended to finish it quickly, but it’s actually been five years!

New Book About the Samurai Sword is Coming

here is the page on the new book on Matrixing Kenjutsu

Matrixing Kenjutsu