An Interview with the Founder of Shinjido Budo

Shinjido inventor Danny Da Costa says:

Shinjido literally means Danny’s Way, a label given by one of my students to the variety of techniques that I have developed for martial art. I attempt to find the easiest solution to a problem either in attack or defence. My work is based on sound principles and the techniques serve to demonstrate the principles. I have applied this approach to judo starting from the premise that our sport is fighting within specific rules and limitations…

Why Are White Belt Fighters So Dangerous?

Many experienced martial artists believe that, of all the different categories of training partners, absolute beginners are the most dangerous. To outsiders, this sounds like a paradox. Shouldn’t those with the least martial arts training be the least dangerous?

It is not truly a paradox, only a misconception. And not all white belts are dangerous, obviously. But those that are, if only on the mat, are so for the following reasons.

Their goal is always to win. They don’t yet understand the difference between trying to win, and trying to cultivate the skills that one uses to win. Real fights are chaotic affairs, and chaos is not a proper breeding ground for skill development; thus, training in respectable martial arts consists of a series of games, first introducing support structures (e.g. rules and conventions), then dismantling them one step at a time.

The need for, or value in this approach is not obvious–and it is not always explained at the outset. So some white belts never appreciate the context of their practice. Others consider themselves above the “organized despair” of the “traditional mess,” and when a rule stands between them and a sparring victory, they break it without hesitation. The conventions and rules of training, they reason, are “unrealistic in a real fight.” Continue reading Why Are White Belt Fighters So Dangerous?

Karate Dance War Explosion!

Sensei Pacer is not only a former member of The Power Team, a crew of Christian Evangelist strongmen. He is also a personal trainer, and the founder of Hip Hop Martial Arts.

Master Sensei Pacer likes to say that “nobody in the world moves like Sensei Pacer.”

Suzi Wong, Fytedancer

Sorry, Sensei Pacer, but I know someone who moves like Sensei Pacer! Continue reading Karate Dance War Explosion!

Death to the Bloodless Victory!

The good folks at Aikido Journal recently picked up one of my self-defense anecdotes, considering it an interesting example of real-world Aikido technique.

Well, some of them did, anyway. One reader posted this amusing retort:

“I hereby motion for more examples of self-defense where at least one punch was thrown at the author.”

Continue reading Death to the Bloodless Victory!

Another Boring Example of Nonviolent Self-Defense

Yes, I was practicing martial arts in public, but I wasn’t looking for trouble. I wasn’t looking for attention, just wanted to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon at the park.

I was only twenty minutes into an outdoor routine (that is, an indoor routine stripped of any provocative elements) when I heard a group of teenage boys approaching behind me. I continued to mind my own business, but they were not content with theirs.

Did they taunt me with the standard Bruce Lee kung fu yelps? Well, of course they did; and I ignored it, just as I have ignored it three dozen times before. But unlike three dozen times before, this group did not have a few laughs and keep walking.

They dared each other to throw a rock at me, and that I could not ignore. Continue reading Another Boring Example of Nonviolent Self-Defense

The Secret of The Talking Sword

When learning the art of the sword, we are often told that we should wield it as an extension of our own body. The sword’s edge and tip should exhibit all the speed, power and grace of the hand that holds it, for instance. That is a fine objective—but what if the hand has no speed, power or grace to start with? Continue reading The Secret of The Talking Sword

Xingyi And The Myth of The Defensive Martial Art

Around a decade ago, I attended a seminar with a famous Shanxi Xingyiquan master. Aggressive and direct, Xingyi is one of the few boxing arts known to have been used in preparation for organized warfare. Its emphasis on straightforward practicality was combined with enough subtlety to earn a reputation as one of the original Chinese “internal” martial arts.

After the seminar was over, I bought a T-shirt to commemorate the occasion. According to the text on the back of my new shirt, I was now an unofficial member of “The International Association of Defensive Martial Arts”.

Nevermind that we had spent the last 6 hours eviscerating each other with spears, sabers and bayonets, metaphorically speaking. Nevermind that, according to the principles of Xingyi and all other respectable combat arts, the use of purely defensive techniques is forbidden. Despite all this, in public, we were expected to present ourselves as practitioners of self-defense. Not offense. Continue reading Xingyi And The Myth of The Defensive Martial Art

Analyzing The James T. Kirk Fighting Method

Captain James T. Kirk vs. Gorn

In the year 2266, captain and crew of the USS Enterprise embarked upon a thrilling mission, to make out with sexy female aliens. After encountering significant resistance from angry male aliens, Captain James T. Kirk developed a unique hand-to-hand fighting method.

With trademark moves such as the flying flop-kick, Judo chop and double-fisted hammer attack, Kirk triumphed over his scaly, bug-like adversaries. But will his method work for you? Read our analysis to find out. Continue reading Analyzing The James T. Kirk Fighting Method

When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

For how long should we continue to practice our kata? Many senseis would simply answer: forever. Personally, I do not have forever to spare. Neither do you, I’d guess.

What do you have? A long list of responsibilities and interests, including but certainly not limited to karate (or other martial arts). You have a desire to maximize the benefits of your practice, while minimizing the costs. And you want to know when, if ever, you should quit your kata.

Simply put, you can justifiably quit when the costs of practice exceed the benefits. Here are a few of the potential, proposed and actual benefits of kata training.

Benefits of Kata Practice

Kata as a Memory Aid
The most frequently cited justification of kata is as a mnemonic device. The kata serves as a living dictionary of fighting techniques and sequences. Continue reading When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

Martial Art is a Perspective, Not an Activity

Rewriting History, Wiki Style

Martial arts are systems of codified practices and traditions of training for combat. While they maybe studied for various reasons, martial arts share a single objective: to defeat a person physically or to defend oneself from physical threat.
~ Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s simplistic definition begs the question: martial arts are martial arts. The statement itself is neither true nor untrue—it is a game rule—but it does reflect an ignorance of, or perhaps a malevolence towards historical facts. Taken at face value, it encourages a dismissive, one-dimensional analysis of the arts’ tremendous potential.

To avoid limiting our achievement in the martial arts, we should begin with an honest and dispassionate accounting of the past. What was the real original purpose of various “martial arts”?

The first clues may be found in our forefathers’ own speech and writings. Continue reading Martial Art is a Perspective, Not an Activity