Posturing and Blind Spots

Posturing and Blind Spots

After an extended absence the class returned in fine form and the enthusiasm was as inspiring as ever. A few areas in the warm-up, led by Phil, exposed some all-round rustiness, but once we moved into our MMA lesson muscle memory kicked and it was easy to introduce new areas. Today’s class focused entirely on the sporting side of training. The CCMA approach dictates that we define purpose from the get-go. Sport and self defence can overlap, but their objectives […]

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Review of “A Killing Art” by Alex Gillis

Cover of "A Killing Art: The Untold Histo...

Cover via Amazon There have been copious books written about martial arts over the past century. Unfortunately, almost from the beginning, they have largely consisted of peculiar mixtures of mythology, facts and partisan writing. This has continued to the present day. It’s not that there haven’t been good writers or even many useful and enjoyable martial arts books, but very little objective journalism. Therefore books like Geoff Thompson’s “Watch My Back” and Robert W. Smith’s “Martial Musings” made for a […]

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Holiday Reading

If I don’t write again for this website before 2010 I would like to take the opportunity of wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Below is some recommended reading material for you to enjoy over the holiday period. I am guessing that it will probably be too late to get hold of them before Christmas, but maybe something to spend your Christmas money and book vouchers on. Daniel Gardner’s “The Science of Fear” is exactly […]

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Last Official Class of 2010

Christmas lesson! Okay, so an opportunity to end the year with fun activities that are still relevant to training. A full class engaged in the following: Build-up tig – This is a traditional escape and evasion game. I often start children’s self defence with this to help get across the first message – to avoid and escape. We then varied it with combat base moving, butterfly guard moving, snaking and bear crawling to work through other relevant postures (fighting from […]

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Martial Arts Scepticism: The Pornography of Reality-Based Self-Defence

John Rambo in 1982, after returning to civilia...

Image via Wikipedia Ockham’s razor is a centuries old principle that argues for simplicity, reductionism and minimalism. Many scientists and a good number of mainstream historians use it to shave off theories that overcomplicate matters. Supporters of Ockham’s razor put forward the idea that when all things are equal the solution that requires the least number of assumptions is usually the correct one. It would appear that this philosophy would be acceptable to the vast majority of those who are […]

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Review of “Becoming the Natural: My Life in and out of the Cage”

Cover of "Becoming the Natural: My Life I...

Cover via Amazon Chapter One of Randy Couture's autobiography sets the mood in the classic action mould. Just as "I am Jackie Chan" it starts with a moment that defines the public view of him. It's Couture's third match against a fighter that the world of mixed martial arts has slated as his arch nemesis, Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. Back in 2006 this was the decider match with each man having claimed a fight a piece. Couture was also facing […]

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Martial Arts Scepticism: How Factual is Martial Arts Television?

Human Weapon

Image via Wikipedia I guess it is little coincidence that the dramatic rise in interest in martial arts and its subsequent commercialization coincided with the amount of chop socky being dished out on our TV sets. The 1960s saw programmes like The Avengers and The Green Hornet set a formula for martial arts expert sidekicks. The 1970s transferred this expertise to the lead character in the hugely successful TV series, Kung Fu. Of course, the 1970s are now popularly remembered […]

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Martial Arts Scepticism: Philosophy and Ancient Wisdom

The calligraphic inscription that hangs over t...

Image via Wikipedia “Prior to the end of the Qing Dynasty, Chinese martial arts had one goal, pure and simple: winning confrontations through intimidation, the use of weapons, or the use of one’s fists…Chinese martial arts were considered to be a physical skill, a manual skill; they were not linked to any esoteric philosophy, nor were they viewed as a from of character development, religious practice, or spiritual development”. – “Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey”, Brian Kennedy […]

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Martial Arts Scepticism: Martial Appeals

Logical Fallacies 2

Image by Mark Klotz via Flickr “There's a mighty big difference between good, sound reasons and reasons that sound good.” – William E. Vaughan   The world of martial arts is full of arguments based on irrelevant appeals. From advertising campaigns that argue their style of martial art is the best because it is practiced by a certain country’s elite military to teaching techniques a certain way because this is the way they have been taught for centuries. They are […]

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Martial Arts Scepticism: A Manifesto

Greuter Socrates

Image via Wikipedia "The fool wonders, the wise man asks." – Benjamin Disraeli Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and other religious and philosophical ideas have been melded with the practice of martial arts in modern times. However, I would like to suggest that we apply another so-called philosophy. It has some very ancient and respectable roots in the philosophers of ancient Greece and its process is the very definition of objective philosophy. What I am describing is something I believe underlies […]

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The Hierarchy of Training

Years ago I read an online martial arts discussion regarding limited training times. A martial arts student had written in with a problem. He only had an hour a day to train and wanted to make the best use of his time. The responses came in thick and fast. However, to my astonishment all of the programmes suggested consisted of mainly doing long callisthenic exercises and stretching before a small amount of time was dedicated to doing actual martial arts […]

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Help the Martial Aged – Reality Training for the Elderly

icon of elderly people

Image via Wikipedia Like children and the disabled, violence directed against the elderly often grabs news headlines because of the shock it will cause in those who read or hear about it. The callousness of these crimes hits right at the heart of society’s core. Those of us who are not elderly yet are often angered by such news, as we can relate the victim to an older member of our family. Those of us who are elderly often see […]

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Reality Training for Children: 21st Century Martial Arts


Picture the scene: you are an eager adult martial arts student with a firm interest in realistic combat methods for today’s civilian and, having found a club that seems to tick all your criteria boxes, you are suddenly paired with a child training partner. You are a no-nonsense type of person and a veteran of many different martial arts classes. The belts, rituals and exotic movements no longer impress you. In fact, you would rather steer away from clubs that […]

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Reality training for children (part 3): How?

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How do we teach children to be efficient students of realistic self-protection and martial arts? It’s a tough question and if training children is to be seen as an allegory for teaching fundamentals then it is not surprising that this very element is where the martial arts education industry is at its weakest. I see teaching children as a path to retraining ourselves about base principles and commonsense. In short, the premise I set for myself when I first founded […]

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Reality training for children (part 2) : What?


Previously I discussed the social barriers that often stand in the way of teaching children realistic self-protection. In this article we look at what I believe we should be teaching children in the context of realistic self-protection, but first let us look at how these barriers, if we let them, severely impede our honest intentions. It should be noted that these barriers are often reinforced by sound arguments and therefore should be seriously considered before anyone approaches realistic self-protection training […]

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Reality training for children (part I) : Why?

A scenario, where a child uses whatever is necessary to escape the clutches of a would-be “abductor”

“Why?”: the dreaded single syllable word that a child can use repeatedly to raise an adult’s temperature and stretch his comfortable and established philosophies of logic, reason and beliefs to breaking point. I have seen many an adult reduced to a blubbering mess or a ranting dictator, as he tries to explain and justify his answers, while a six year old sits calmly with only the smallest traces of a mischievous grin on his face asking again and again “Why?”  […]

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