Let me tell you a dirty little secret about black belts. They have no particular meaning at all. Continue reading Black Belt Envy
Shield and spear
To the ancient Romans, the concept of a non-violent martial art would be nonsensical. Their literal definition of martial was “belonging to Mars”, the god of war. Modern usage of the term martial arts, however, is hardly related to military strategy and tactics.
Today, most popular martial arts are practiced without arms. Considering this shift in focus, from immediate and practical skills to more abstract and long-term benefits, it is reasonable to ask whether violent destructive potential is still necessary at all.
Is a non-violent martial art worthy of study? Continue reading Conflict Resolution: A Casualty of Non-Violent Martial Arts
Effective self-defense requires a chain of complementary skills: awareness, discernment, agility, and so on. This chain, like any other, is only as strong as its weakest link. Many practitioners of martial arts concentrate on strengthening one end of the chain—the tactics of physical attack and defense—and give only cursory attention to other important links.
Emotional mastery is one such underappreciated skill. Continue reading Emotional Mastery and Self-Defense
Mastery is efficiency. A master of their art simultaneously exerts less effort, and achieves greater results than others. Wouldn’t it would be wonderful if attaining mastery was as easy as defining it?
It is that easy, and that difficult. Continue reading Mimicry is Not the Path to Mastery
It is a common sentiment among Aikido practitioners that their martial art is a lot like dancing.
With all due respect, most Aikidoka have got nothing on these guys. These two videos illustrate the body skills resulting from diligent solo practice, skills which cannot be gained by practicing with a partner in the dojo.
Martial arts is one of those rare arenas where people show their true personality, without disguise or pretense. Unfortunately, some of these people are real nut jobs!
Here are three short stories of artifice and cowardice, taken from my experience in the gentle art of Aikido. Continue reading The Three Craziest People I Met in Aikido Class
Attempts to categorize the various styles of martial arts practice typically place them into one of two groups: striking or grappling, soft or hard, internal or external, etc. But this type of classification is overly broad and misleading; all comprehensive martial arts transcend simple dualism.
Here is a different model you can use to describe and analyze your training. This model is based upon four distinct stages of movement practice. Each stage contains unique challenges, and attaining mastery at each stage confers specific benefits. Continue reading The Four Stages of Effective Martial Arts Training
Stability is a critical component of martial application. Without stability, your ability to apply force, or withstand an opponent’s force, is severely compromised.
Stability is a function of strength and balance. And the easiest way to improve your balance is to adjust your posture.
I learned this postural adjustment tip from a Russian martial artist in Portland. I like it because it is simple, effective, and requires very little skill to implement. If you are a student of Chinese or Japanese martial arts, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard this tip before.
Victory in combat does not always belong to the strongest contender. As demonstrated repeatedly throughout history, the weaker fighter can prevail, if they attack efficiently and deny their opponent the opportunity to strike back.
What can you do to increase the efficiency of your attack and defense, and overcome the odds? Continue reading Increase Your Power by Improving Your Balance