December Theme: Honor

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"Everything begins in the mind. Create the intention and then apply the effort to receive the result."

"It is very easy to break a pencil in half. Breaking ten pencils in half is an altogether different matter."

--- Coach Ron Pfeiffer, 7th Degree Black Belt, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin USA

"Don't fear the person who has studied a thousand techniques one time. Fear the person who has studied one technique a thousand times."

--- Ed DellaCroce, 3rd Degree Black Belt and the North Carolina State Director for World Dragon Kenpo.

December Theme: Honor.

The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta

“I lost two dear friends of mine. I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now.”

Featured Video

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 2009 Slayer News: Tai Chi in Paradise or Your Hometown


About Dragon Kenpo Karate

15 December 2009
Tai Chi in Paradise or Your Hometown

"I’ve been studying and practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan for more than 30 years. I’m famous for teaching methods that make it easy for 'regular' people to learn and excel at the beautiful and mysterious art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. I’ve brought together the best of the best (colleagues, friends, teachers and technology) as a remedy for the boring, the bogus and the confusing in T’ai Chi."

--- David-Dorian Ross of

In This Issue

What Do You Choose by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Featured Article: T'ai Chi in Paradise Product Review by Steve Amoia
To Fight Behind Enemy Lines by David Walker
Adopt a Family by Sharon Angelici
Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer

What Do You Choose
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer

It's just a question. One that I have asked many times as an instructor. Generally, it is the student who makes the decision to enter into training. Sometimes, it is a parent who makes the decision for them.

However, the choice could be due to an event in the student's everyday life occurrences such as going to the movies and seeing something they thought was cool. Unfortunately, the decision could have been made by a result of something more serious such as witnessing or being the victim of an assault.

As the student progresses in the training program, I have found that they either ask me or themselves whether they have made the right choice. For example, "Is this what I'm looking for? Is it right for me?"
This is the part where the instructor must be very honest. No program is perfect for everyone. The instructor asking the student what they want from the training will help them determine if what's being taught is a good match for them.
Although this is usually done when the student first enters the school, for some who are unsure it bears repeating: "What are you trying to accomplish here?"

Recently, I told some students, "I don't know if you are going to even be here next month." Then I turned to their Mom, "Ms. Smith, I hate to see anyone waste their money on lessons for someone who isn't serious. Maybe this isn't right for them."

Some of those students stayed, and others did not. But at least this parent knew that I would not just glad-hand her to keep her child's tuition.

Making your stand on how you choose to teach and run your program will be reflected in those who continue to train. When I look out on the training floor, I'm proud to see people who have what it takes to make a real decision! They know that each choice they make illuminates the path that they follow.

T'ai Chi in Paradise Product Review
by Steve Amoia

Image courtesy of Full Circle.

David-Dorian Ross is an extremely experienced Tai Chi Chuan artist, author, competitor, and instructor. He has studied in China, and was selected as a member of the United States Wushu teams in 1991 and 1993. He has earned 8 US national gold medals, 2 World Bronze medals, along with a World Silver medal.

He is the author of three books on Tai Chi, along with numerous DVDs. Mr. Ross authored and hosted a 13-part PBS series called T'ai Chi in Paradise. He has a school in Orange County, California called Full Circle T'ai Chi Academy, and a distance learning version at He also produces a regular video blog called The T'ai Chi Minute which can be found at his website:

Initial Impressions

This is an extremely well-produced and conceived DVD. The Hawaii locale and music, ocean waves in the background, along with close-up views of dolphins, monkeys, and peacocks, creates a tranquil ambiance for the distance learning student.

Teaching Style

Mr. Ross earned a B.S. in Human Movement Studies. That discipline of study, along with his extensive background in Tai Chi, lends significant credibility to this program. He is a very relaxed teacher with a constant smile. He seems to have a genuine enjoyment for "playing Tai Chi," and this attitude can also be seen in the diverse group of students who assist him.

Yang Style 24 Short Form

This is a solo routine that Mr. Ross describes as "Kung Fu in slow motion." The movements are very slow, and there are deeper bending motions than one finds in the Sun Style practiced by Dr. Paul Lam. You should be able to complete the entire set between 4 and 6 minutes. All of the movements are demonstrated quite comprehensively, and are shown both from the front, along with the back, to provide a more realistic learning experience.

Basic Positions

  • Bow Step: 70%/30% front/back foot weight distribution
  • T Step: "Qua" or hip joint position
  • Empty Step
  • Crouch/Drop Step
  • Holding Ball Step

Five Basic Principles

One area that was very informative was the explanation of the five basic principles of this style:

  1. Doing the movements slowly. This focuses your concentration on precision of movement, along with igniting the neuromuscular pathways.

  2. Relax the body. He called this "differential relaxation."

  3. Natural motion of an internal martial art: Simple and easy movements.

  4. Sinking Down: Lowers the center of gravity, builds up thigh strength, and forces you to remain at the same height during the movements.

  5. Flow Continuously. As we have learned in the study of Dragon Kenpo, martial arts techniques should be flowing. Chi should not start and stop abruptly. The key is to balance Yin (he called this the Gathering motions) and Yang (final postures.) As he stated, "This program improves circulation of Chi each time that you practice."
While you may not be able to travel to Hawaii, you can take a distance learning voyage via this DVD.

My Rating:

This was a sponsored product review.

To Fight Behind Enemy Lines
by David Walker, World Dragon Kenpo Black Belt

Dave Walker wrote the following in response to my request that he put into words his thoughts on the martial arts. I make this request of all students who are or will be testing for higher rank. By the time you read this, Dave would have taken his exam for Red Belt (Full Instructor). Over the past months of training, I have watched his understanding of Dragon Kenpo grow. Dave has also been learning the important differences between teaching law enforcement officers (one of his many duties) and teaching civilians. It has been a pleasure having Dave in our program as he sets an excellent example for our members no matter if they are local or part of our distance learning.

--- Coach Ron Pfeiffer, December 2009

Earning a black belt in self defense is an achievement to be proud of. It has taken a great amount of dedication, perseverance and sacrifice to achieve. Unfortunately, being a black belt does not shield you from being attacked nor does it mean that you can overcome any opponent. Spending several hours developing skills in self defense will definitely help in an actual confrontation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to apply these skills perfectly and effectively.

Proper Mindset

Does holding the rank of black belt mean that you are unbeatable? Definitely not, but it will greatly put the odds in your favor. To survive a street fight, self defense skills are not enough. A person must develop a predator-like instinct. During the initial confrontation, you are the prey. The role must be reversed: Prey becomes predator or victim becomes attacker. This is at the point were primal instincts take over and the survival switch is on. Our actions or mind set should be to eliminate the attacker by willing the body to overcome opposing forces and to drive through our opponent. The words “back up” or “cower” are not a part of our vocabulary at this point. The words “drive through” and “eliminate” are. The proper mindset is everything in a street fight. There are some people that can deploy this mindset automatically when being confronted. Others have difficulty breaking through the panic or freeze mode to apply aggression.

Many people put too much faith in the color of a belt as a sign of a great fighter. A great fighter is a person that can combine defensive tactics with proper mindset. Ninety-nine percent of the time when we practice our self defense techniques, it is done in a controlled atmosphere. Whether it is at a dojo or in our living room. Many times when we train, it is against our imaginary attacker who is always forgiving regarding bad technique. It is during these times that we should not only be working to perfect our defensive tactics, but to also work on proper mindset.

Visualization is the Key

When we perform a strike we have to visualize going through our opponent not just going through a movement as fast as we can only proving to ourselves that “wow, I am really fast.” Being fast is one thing; having power behind that speed is pure devastation. What good is it to strike an attacker six times with little to no effect? Usually this will only enhance the determination and aggressiveness of the attacker. Our goal should be to end the fight as quick and effective as possible. Key words are strength, power and speed (SPS). This will take care of the physical aspects of a fight. The psychological aspects are internal drive and determination also known as primal instincts and survival.

Too many people get caught up in the technical aspects of performing self defense techniques. Remember, a street fight usually only lasts a few seconds. Even less when a gun or knife is used. The word “simplicity” can not be emphasized enough regarding effectiveness in a street fight. A street fight has no rules unlike the UFC and other pay per view mixed martial arts fights. Confusing a street fight with what is seen on cable TV is a big mistake. There are no officials to stop an actual street fight. There are no rules. You are on your own, and the prize to the victor is survival. So the next time you attend a self defense class or practice techniques on your own, concentrate on training with intensity. Work the mind as well as the body. Remember that you are doing this for a reason not just to get promoted to another belt level, but to prepare for the real test.

The test that I am talking about happens to be the biggest test of your life, and that is to survive.

Training the Mind and Body in Unison

Martial Arts/Self Defense training develops the mind and body as one. Training in itself promotes cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. Flexibility has always been an issue with me. Weight training has a tendency to reduce flexibility. This is caused by lack of flexion during heavy resistance training. Most weight resistance exercises deal with extension and contraction of the muscle fibers during a restricted and somewhat stationary body positioning. In order to successfully break down muscle fiber, specific parts of the body must be placed in a concentrated position. An example of this would be working the long head of the triceps muscle. The triceps refers to the long, medial and lateral heads that compose the musculature of the back of the arm. In order to successfully work the long head which is the largest of the triceps the shoulder area (acromion process) anterior, medial and posterior heads must be stabilized. This region that makes up the shoulder area is also the insertion point of the longhead. By restricting this area and extending and retracting the origin point (olecranon process) a greater amount of resistance will be applied to that specific muscle.

After a workout the muscles and tendons (muscle to bone attachment) through prolonged extension and contraction tend to tighten, overtime this can cause limited range of motion. Martial Arts and self defense training helps me regain my flexibility and promotes progressive muscle recovery. Self defense training also increases VO2. VO2 refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. This is not only important for training purposes, such as self defense or weight training, but especially in a physical encounter. During a fight, we begin to hyperventilate inducing tunnel vision and primitive motor skills. By increasing VO2, we can stay in the fight longer and employ defensive techniques with greater skill.

My goals in the martial arts is to help others obtain their goals. The more that I can learn, the more I can teach others. Helping others by teaching them self defense techniques to protect themselves and their family is an honorable endeavor in and of itself. Seeing someone achieve their goals is truly a great feeling. Especially when you were a key player in making this happen. The way I look at training is that no matter how much I teach a person, if they only remember a few things that are taught and those few things end up saving their life, then what training they did retain was well worth it.

About the Author

David A. Walker is the Acting Area Commander and DT Instructor for the Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Service, for the Eastern Region of Wisconsin.

Adopt a Family

by Sharon Angelici, Christmas Family Coordinator

Editor's Note

This is an annual initiative at WDK that was promoted on the blog and via email since last month. Coach Pfeiffer and Mrs. Angelici would like to thank everyone for their kind support.

The season is upon us again. Your WDK family invites you to be a part of the spirit of generosity that defines Christmas. This year WDK and Midwest Tai Chi are adopting a family of four. It is our goal to provide them with a bountiful celebration. This is an annual event with your school through Love Inc.

We extend an invitation to you as a virtual student to participate with us. Please contact Coach Ron Pfeiffer with your contribution. We will be accepting all donations until December 5th, 2009.

Please consider this family as you shop for the holidays. One small gift is worth a million smiles. This year's family is a single Mom with a 9 year old boy, a 8 year old girl, and a 15 month old girl.

Closing Comments
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer

Important Notice To All Members

All Student/Instructor members are reminded that advancement and promotion are not automatic. Contact me or your local instructor if you have questions or need to request advancement information.

Please remember to keep your information updated so that the World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self-Defense can serve you in the best possible manner! The articles within this blog are the views of the writer. They are not necessarily the views of WDK. Thank you for your participation.