May Theme - Good Intentions
15 May 2007
"It is difficult to say who do you the most harm: enemies with the worst intentions or friends with the best." Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
Contact Coach Pfeiffer or any Slayer Staff member concerning our Membership Mapping Project.
Table of Contents
Four Purple Belt Self Defense Techniques by Steve Amoia
The Punching Bag, Probably The Worst Tool To Learn To Fight by Matthew Schafer
We Want Our WDK Membership Card! by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Thesis Technique: Yellow #6 by Randall Hall
All Martial Arts Instructors and Students training to become Future Instructors
Teaching: The lesson that usually lasts the longest is Example!
Practice What You Preach
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer and Sensei Rich Miller
Besides the numerous techniques, self defense techniques and forms that we practice and demonstrate to our students, a well rounded health program is also important to incorporate into our curriculum.
Why? We need to maintain our personal health and present a positive image of the arts to our students.
What can regular practice do for me? Attain the highest level of mind, body and spirit that your students deserve as an example because they put their trust in their instructors to guide them on their endless journey along the path of enlightenment.
How? Martial Arts training should be likened to Lifestyle Development in that any positive changes you wish to make occur gradually as to be sustainable long term. Eat healthy, look at calories from fat content, avoid vices and work diligently. Consulting a nutritionist is an excellent means of acquiring the information needed to maximize our potential as Martial Artists. The exercises that we practice and teach can be enhanced immensely by incorporating a Tai Chi routine into our curriculum.
As we get older we realize the need to expand our knowledge beyond the confines of self defense via Tai Chi to ensure healthful later years and project this to our students.
What things need to be avoided? Inconsistency in any long term venture usually leads to failure. Stay away from foods and activities that are unhealthy. Don’t let repetition become a burden. Instead concentrate on the never ending benefits of getting better ever day by practice and commitment.
A little food for thought…
"The true path to enlightenment is traveled by those who seek it and follow its endless distance!" Sensei Rich Miller, Sr.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer,
My son Jesse and I are working out together and practicing our Dragon Kenpo Karate, and having a great time!
I ordered 2 patches and a DVD last weekend and look forward to getting our patches onto our uniforms when they arrive. I thought I might mention that your site says it takes (card name deleted), but twice it has rejected my payment when using a no-limit (card name deleted), and I have had to use a VISA card instead. It doesn't matter to me that I had to use a different card; I just thought you might like to know.
I have set up a martial arts supply web site that has a large selection of products. I would like to see others benefit from your on-line training program and would like your permission to try to set up a link to your site from mine. If I can't get the link to work, at least I can get your site where maybe someone can see it. I'm sure you have a good supplier already, but if you are interested I set up a 15% discount coupon for you and anyone you wish to share it with. Please know that I in no way am trying to take advantage of being your student by making the offer. I only want to try to help by offering discounted supplies. I know how expensive training equipment can be. The site is http://aekarate.cmasdirect.com and for the discount just enter the code at checkout (WDKENPO).
Thanks again for providing your training in the on-line format. It feels great to be training again, and to be able to train whenever time becomes available has been an excellent benefit! I can get up from my college homework (Yeah, Im a 43 yr old student) and knock out an hour workout with my son then go straight back to my schoolwork. I don't have to worry about driving across town to an instructor that may or may not be closing his/her school the next day. I hope to eventually become a certified instructor through you and start sharing the art with others. It has been my dream to share the teachings and benefits of the martial arts with those who are interested.
(The Only True Failure Is The Failure To Try)
Glad to hear you and your son are enjoying the program. If you have any questions or comments let me know. Also contact me when your ready for advancement. Thanks for the link and the discount for our members.
Your help promoting our program is greatly appreciated.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks to you and all of your students
for taking time out of their weekend to help promote the Mini Course
line-up. All of your students were excellent, and entertaining. After
you had left - we had people come up to ask if you were going to be
doing any more demonstrations. The artsposure staff was also very
excited about your demonstrations. If we do this again, we have
learned a few things, such as : request not to be next to instruments and
music! Your newsletter looks great! I want you to know that we
appreciate what you do for UW-P and our community! Looking forward to
another great season of mini courses. Let us know if we can ever assist
you in any way. I will be sending your posters out around campus as
well. Thanks again and have a great week!
Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. We all had a great time and look forward to our next event as well as our next teaching assignment at UWP this fall.
Talk to you soon.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ingnorance, and the good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." Albert Camus
The "First Step"
Last month I taught that becoming a Black Belt was the first step into maturity; that the Sho-dan ceremony is about putting aside the childish behaviors of the past and becoming a person of character. We have to then ask ourselves "what is character?" In preparing this article I looked up the word character in the dictionary and thought that the word's entomology was especially appropriate.
The word character is derived from the Greek word kharax which basically means "chisel." This word does not describe a mere object, it describes a process. Each day is filled with choices and opportunities that will help define whether or not you become a person of character. Being a person of character isn't something that you'll suddenly become; it's an active, ongoing process. The hand that holds the chisel, the key to your character development, is you. Your 'first step' into maturity is by taking on responsibility.
Journalist Sydney Harris once said "We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice -- that is, until we stop saying "It got lost," and say "I lost it."
Being a Black Belt requires that you eagerly take responsibility for all of your actions and even take responsibility for the mistakes of others, especially since you are in a leadership position. It doesn't matter if you were abused as a child, raised by a drunken father or an emotionally controlling mother; you are the source of your destiny. You aren't a victim of fate; you are the commander of your destiny.
This month's topic is on good intentions. Are you responsible for your actions if your intentions where good but the results were negative? Many of us cling to the idea that our intentions release us from responsibility. We are like the child that tracks midway through the house and when questioned about it we respond "I didn't mean to!" You stating your intentions are just another way to make an excuse for the outcome and we all know that no one really believes nor will accept an excuse. It's just a way to avoid responsibility.
Another one that I hear all the time, especially when it comes to self promotions and cross ranking is "Everyone does it!" As our mothers used to ask, "If everyone went and jumped off a cliff, would you?" Just because everyone else does something doesn't make it right. We live in a dog eat dog world where the common attitude is 'do unto others before it's done to us.' If you look at life with the view that if everyone else is doing it then it's alright, you step on a highly slippery slope that will eventually drag you down to a place where you don't want to be and where there will be few hands willing to lift you back up.
How about "I wasn't myself!"? I think that we've all heard or perhaps even used that one from time to time. I've had plenty of students come into class and half-heartedly go through the motions and when I pull them aside and ask what is going on, they answer "I'm just not feeling like myself tonight." Well, if you're not yourself why not become Bruce Lee instead? It's just an excuse. You are responsible for everything that happens to yourself. It doesn't matter how you feel or what kind of stress you are under, you still have to take responsibility for your actions. There is no excuse.
As an Instructor your responsibility expands. You have to take responsibility for every mistake that your students make. Your job is to prepare them to face whatever situation that they might face. If they aren't prepared, then you must take responsibility for their mistakes or problems and do your best to fix them. This responsibility is something that I take very seriously. I spend a lot of time studying crime statistics, new training methods and new technology so that I can ensure that my students are getting the best quality instruction as possible. I do it, not only because I care tremendously about what may happen to my students, but because I know that I have a responsibility to them and myself to not fill them with false confidence in tools that might not work. If someone came to me and asked me for my help and I either denied their request or didn't provide them with adequate instruction and they get seriously harmed in an altercation, it's my fault!
Take responsibility for who you are and what you do. As you face adversity and conflict, choose to use the chisel to chip away the raw material and shape yourself into a person of character.
Four Purple Belt Self-Defense Techniques
by Steve Amoia
Here are four World Dragon Kenpo Purple Belt techniques: 1, 2, 4, and 6. Remember, as WDK North Carolina State Director Ed Dellacroce has advised us, “It is better to practice one technique 1000 times, instead of 1000 techniques one time.” Please begin each technique in the Dragon Kenpo ready position.
Defense against a right lead punch: WDK Purple Technique 1
- We will use the right arm to perform an outside block and trap of the attacker’s right wrist.
- Step forward with your right foot.
- With your left hand in an open position, with the back of your hand facing you, reach up to grab the attacker’s forehead to pull his body backwards to be properly positioned for the next strike.
- Drive your left knee into the right kidney (or back of the head) area of the attacker.
- Return to the fighting stance. Remember to breathe whenever you kick or strike.
Defense against a right lead punch: WDK Purple Belt Technique 2
- This technique incorporates boxing concepts as the counter to the initial right lead punch. All counter punches and kicks are targeted to the attacker’s right rib cage and kidney areas.
- “Bob and Weave" first to the right and down keeping the back somewhat straight. Then to the left and up to avoid the incoming punch from the attacker. Trap the attacker’s right wrist with your right hand.
- Move quickly to trap the attacker’s right wrist with your right hand.
- Execute a forceful left hook punch to the attacker’s right rib cage area.
- Pivot back on your left foot, and then execute a right side kick to the attacker’s right kidney area.
- Return to the fighting stance. Remember to breathe whenever you kick or strike.
Defense against an onrushing attack: WDK Purple Belt Technique 4
- The purpose of this defense is to quickly counter the attacker’s forward charge and momentum before he can secure and/or strike your neck, shoulder, and facial regions.
- As the attacker approaches at a moderate pace, step forward with your right foot.
- With your hands slightly crossed, raise them quickly upward and outward to execute a crossing block inside the attacker’s arms. Your destination is to secure the back of the attacker’s head. This quick movement prevents the attacker from grabbing your shoulders, attempts to choke you, or strikes to your face.
- Grab behind the attacker’s head with both hands.
- Firmly pull the head down into an upward left knee strike.
- Return to the fighting stance. Remember to breathe whenever you kick or strike.
Defense against an arm bar: WDK Purple Belt Technique 6
- The purpose of this defense is to counter with a rapid response when the attacker secures one of your arms against your back. In this example, your right arm will be cranked up firmly against your back by the attacker’s left hand.
- Take a small step out with your left foot toward the attacker, and turn your head back to look at him. You will then perform a rapid three-strike left elbow attack sequence.
- Execute a left elbow strike to the attacker’s head.
- Execute a left elbow strike to the attacker’s torso.
- Execute a left elbow strike to the attacker’s facial region. As Coach Ron suggests, “High, low, high.”
- Pivot out on your right foot away from the attacker.
- Return to the fighting stance. Remember to breathe whenever you kick or strike.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer, a 5th Degree Black Belt in Dragon Kenpo Karate, reviewed this article.
The Punching Bag, Probably The Worst Tool
To Learn To Fight
Unfortunately the punching bag causes far more problems that it offers benefits. Now I’m sure that some people will disagree and that’s fine, I’m not your mother after all. What my aim is here is to describe the drawbacks of the punching bag.
The first draw back is that fact the people hurt themselves on punching bags all the time. For some reason people think that punching something is straightforward and they start swinging away with no real thought. Unfortunately what they don’t realize is that every time you hit something the force you generated not only goes into your target, it also comes back into your body. This means that if your bones are not in proper alignment when you make impact your body will suffer the consequences. I cannot even begin to recall how many hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, back, and neck problems I have heard people complaining of after working out on a punching bag. After all that force has to go somewhere and if you don’t know how to properly align your body, then don’t be surprised when you end up with wrist, shoulder, back, and neck problems. If you like to kick the bag then the problems will be in your ankles, knees, hips, lower back, and neck.
It takes expert instruction to teach you how to punch and kick correctly. It takes time for your body to learn how to tighten up on impact so you don’t hurt yourself. It should also be mentioned that there is a big difference between punching and kicking the air and punching and kicking a heavy object. I have seen many black belts who can throw amazing techniques in the air but when they use them to actually hit something they fall backwards or hurt themselves.
If someone is going to teach you how to punch or kick a bag, or other object, don’t automatically believe what they tell you. I have had students that come to me with all kinds of hip, back, neck, wrist, and shoulder injuries, not to mention arthritis, because they worked with some martial arts or boxing expert and they didn’t know what they were talking about. Don’t be impressed because of what rank someone has, what their record it, how they look, who they have trained, or how long they have trained. I know some very successful and accomplished boxers who are going to have horrible arthritis and neck pain when they get older because they are working out improperly. I also know some very large bodybuilders who are very impressive but they will suffer the same fate in 10 or 15 years because they don’t lift with proper form.
You see your body is capable of incredible things, but when ever you put stress on your body it MUST be in proper alignment or you will end up injuring yourself. In the same way that your back should always be straight when you lift something, your elbow should never be sticking out when you punch because that torques you shoulder and will lead to injury and arthritis over time.
So when you hit something you should close your eyes and focus on how it feels. Focus on feeling where the force goes because if you feel it in any particular spot then that’s where you’re injuring yourself. When you hit with correct alignment you shouldn’t feel anything in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees, ankles, or feet.
The next problem with punching bags is that they don’t teach you to penetrate with your blows. I’ve talked in other articles about the difference between striking a punching bag, boards, and the human body. The main difference is that the board and bag will resist and the body will not. The human body is quite soft and it will both yield to your blows as well as move after it is hit to dissipate the force. The heavy bag teaches you to snap your blows at the end of the strike but the human body is actually designed to overcome that. Since punching the human body is more like punching a water balloon then punching a heavy bag, you have to learn to drive your blows further and penetrate through more than you are able to on heavy bags.
When people hit a punching bag they think that they are training to hit another person but that actually not true. When you hit a bag you are hitting a large cylindrical object with no type of form. The problem here is that your brain doesn’t form a link between hitting the bag and hitting another person, and you’re only training to hit general areas. Any martial artist should know the value of aiming for, and hitting, the weak spots of the body. In fact that is one of the things that separate martial artists from other “fighters”. The latter just starts swinging away at general areas of the body and relies largely on the luck of hitting something important to achieve victory. Watch any sporting event and you can see this in spades. A martial artist, on the other hand, aims for the weak spots, for example the throat, because they know that by attacking the vulnerable areas they will cause an injury quicker and with more reliability than if they rely on dumb luck.
All a punching bag does is train you to swing your arms like a barbarian. If you’re not aiming for specific targets with each strike then you’re training yourself to hit general areas and thereby relying on luck. I use a heavy bag but it is shaped like a person and I suggest that anyone who is concerned with seeing results in their training use one also.
The big difference that occurs when you use a human shaped punching bag, or a “dummy”, is that your brain recognizes the shape and makes a connection with hitting a human. You can also do what many people do and use a permanent marker and put dots on the desired targets. That way, every time to throw a punch or a kick you’re aiming at something specific and training yourself to hit a person rather than a structureless cylinder.
Every single person that I know or have ever heard of who has switched from using a punching bag to a “dummy” has said they noticed an almost immediate improvement in their focus and sparring ability. The reason is that their brain has now made a connection between the two and they are now training to hit people. It you’re training to punch a bag then you’re only training to punch a bag.
The final reason I will give is that when you hit a punching bag you are not training to move dynamically. To explain this I will reference the old bare-knuckle boxers of the 1800’s. The old bare-knuckle boxers knew four major things that we today have forgotten. 1.) Align your fist properly. If you read books that describe bare-knuckle fights you notice that they all punch while holding their fists vertically. This is because it is the strongest position for your wrist to be in and if you’re actually punching heads you don’t want to break your wrists. 2.) Pick your targets. When going bare hands to skull you don’t want to just start swinging away at anything. The reason that bare-knuckle fights stopped being popular is because they were boring. Fights today are full of action but bare-knuckle fights could go several minutes without anyone throwing a punch. They never threw a punch unless they had a clear shot of a “knockout spot”. 3.) Never punch someone in the mouth. Although it is tempting, they quickly learned that if you punch someone in the mouth you can break their teeth and those razor sharp teeth can cut your hand and even severe nerves. 4.) There’s an old saying, “If you can get your opponent going backwards then you’ve got him”. This is because they knew that you can move forewords much faster then your opponent can move backwards. If you got them moving backwards, either from them backing away defensively or because they are moving from the force or your punch, all you had to do was follow them as they moved back and you’d force their weight onto the back of their heels and they wouldn’t be able to move or they’d fall down. When that happened it was quite easy to simple overwhelm them for a quick knockout.
This strategy of following someone backwards was they key strategy of both skilled bare-knuckle boxers and smart street fighters. In fact if someone was watching a bare-knuckle fight and saw someone start to move backwards they knew it was all over. So what moving dynamically means is, knowing how to strike and walk forewords at the same time. If you strike and walk forewords at the same time you will push your opponent’s weight back onto their heels and they’ll be virtually helpless.
Hitting a heavy bag doesn’t teach you how to do that. I have taught many people to move dynamically and many of them have taken a hiatus from training and learned boxing or Muay Thai Boxing. When they finally come back to me they all have to learn how to move dynamically all over again because they spent so much time working on the heavy bag they that no longer knew how to move.
Here is a very simple way to learn to move dynamically. Have a partner hold a large pad tightly against their bodies then step in with a punch and try to knock them back a step or two. Then, with their partner still knocked back, step in again and hit them. Repeat this until you have knocked them all the way across the room then take the pad and let your partner hit you back the other way. This is a great exercise for leaning how to strike and walk at the same time.
So as you can see a punching bag really isn’t a very good tool for learning how to fight. What it is a good tool for is learning how to hit a punching bag.
We Want Our WDK ID Card!
We've finalized a design layout for our ID cards. Thanks to a bit of motivation supplied by Certified Instructor Tim Flynn and a winning design by North Carolina State Director Ed Dellacroce. Use this link https://www.dragonkenpo.us:48947/myoffice/storeonline/default.aspx?orgId=8947&item=209910
Thesis Technique: Yellow #6
There has been a lot of discussion on techniques in this newsletter. In fact, Doug Turner already covered this technique in a wonderful article a while back. In spite of all that I had trouble rectifying the difficulty of the technique at the level it is at. I looked at my past training and I came to realize something; Yellow 6 is a thesis technique.
What is a thesis technique? A thesis technique is a technique that captures the essence of the art. Some styles wait to teach you their thesis techniques until Black Belt or later. Other styles will teach you the technique at the beginning, and you will work on it at every level for your entire training. This is what I believe Ed Hutchison was doing with this technique.
A breakdown of the technique goes like this.
1. Start from a ready stance.
2. As the punch comes in, step in with the left. Simultaneously execute a left inside/right outside double bock.
3. Trap the wrist with the right hand.
4. Execute a right front kick to the ribs. Do not set the foot down.
5. Strike the opponents knee with a right side kick. Set down your right foot in front of you.
6. Execute a left palm strike, or forearm strike to the elbow.
7. Step back into a fighting stance.
There are several things that make this technique difficult.
First, the block and trap is a very hard skill to master against full speed punches. Fortunately, the rest of the technique works well even if you miss the trap. Simply strike the nose with the final strike, instead of the elbow, if you miss the trap. Students should work on the double block and trap separately. Begin slowly and increase the speed. Then begin having the person punching retract the hand after the punch and continue to increase the speed.
Second, distance. How far you step in is going to depend on how close the opponent is to you. For opponents that are shorter than you, you may find that you have to step backwards slightly with the right. You should always make some sort of step, as the ready stance is a difficult stance to kick from, much less a double kick. Distance and stepping are very important skills to develop and a number of movement drills can be performed to work on maintaining proper distance.
Third, the double kick. This requires a great deal of balance to execute so that both kicks are effective. If you need to start by setting your foot down in between kicks, that is fine. Focus on making two effective kicks before you worry about balance. Do NOT use your opponent for balance, as they may suddenly collapse after the first kick, causing you to tumble with them. A number of stance and kicking training will help you develop strong kicks and strong balance.
So why do all of these difficult things at Yellow Belt? I don’t believe students are supposed to master this technique at Yellow Belt. This is a technique you master over time; students should work on it at every belt level. Mastery comes with much time and much practice. Even after years of practice, you will find there are still things about your execution of this technique that you can improve.
Diversify Your Approach: Tai Chi Training in WI
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
My personal experience with Tai Chi has been extremely revealing. Tai Chi is the yin to my Dragon Kenpo yang. Meaning there was some doubt whether I would be able to continue with the type of training which I was accustomed. Since I had hurt one knee, and then the other, within a few months of each other. Now there is no doubt, and I feel better than ever! Beside the addition of Dr. Lam's Tai Chi program, I've added the suppliments Glucosamine and Chondroitin (email if you want the brand name, which are available anywhere).
This June, I will be returning to Terra Haute, IN to add to my Tai Chi knowledge, and plan on bringing this and more to our WDK session in September. Visit www.dragonkenpo.net/taichi.html for the registration page. A number of our members and local students have already made commitments to attend. Some will arrive a day early to participate in WDK Student exams.
Don't pass up this opportunity to balance your workout and prepare yourself to help people who otherwise would never know what it means to become a "Martial Artist".
Closing Comments by Coach Pfeiffer
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