Martial Development

Martial arts for personal development

Board Breaking Tips: How Anyone Can, Why Nobody Should

July 11th, 2010 · 54 Comments

My first experience with board breaking was a total humiliation. I was a ten-year-old Karate student, with six months of practice under my orange belt, when my sensei decided we should all break some wood. He asked each of us to acquire a stack of boards, one square foot by one inch in size, and bring them to our next class.

As a bright but naive child, I had no idea that the practice of tameshiwari, or breaking, was an instrument of martial arts fraud. I only knew that it looked cool, and that it required focus–or so my teacher said. [Read more →]

Qi Magazine: Free To Download Today

September 14th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Qi Magazine covers

For almost twenty years, Qi Magazine featured original articles on kung fu, qigong, and other facets of Chinese culture, many written specifically by and for martial artists. (Qi Magazine is not to be confused with Qi Journal, which seems more targeted to the Goji berry set.)

Qi Magazine ceased production in early 2009, and publisher Michael Tse has since opened the archives. [Read more →]

Enter The Dragon: The Musical

June 17th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Spec Boogie

“Summer Movie Season” is the theme for hip-hop artist Spec Boogie’s ambitious new mixtape project. Every few weeks, he will release a new track, and video, based upon a classic hit movie.

This week’s feature is: Enter The Dragon. [Read more →]

The Art of Nunchaku Has Limitless Applications

March 13th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Bruce Lee in 'Return of the Dragon'

When Bruce Lee said that a martial art should be limitless, this Japanese nunchaku expert really took it to heart! Watch him use his chucks to play baseball, golf, badminton, and finally relax with a nice bottle of champagne. [Read more →]

Tiny Tales of Modern Samurai

February 15th, 2009 · 7 Comments

More offbeat news from the world of martial arts…

Barack Obama, Samurai
Barack Obama, Samurai Statesman?

“Manga Bible” Casts Jesus Christ as Samurai Warrior

Christian thinkers have tried to make the Bible accessible for centuries, scholars said. Stained glass windows related Bible stories when Europe was largely illiterate. New printing technology in the 19th century made it possible to mass-produce Bibles, including illustrated versions…

The goal of the Bibles is not just to win people to Christ, but to particular ways of thinking, said Jason BeDuhn, associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University. Manga Bible author Mr. Akinsiku said the biblical message he wanted to underscore was justice, especially for the poor…
[Continued in The New York Times]

Attention Anchormen: Not Every Swordsman is a Samurai
Recently confronted by a sword-wielding maniac, German police lower their guns, in favor of the trusty battle broom. [Read more →]

Are You Fit Enough to Fight?

August 7th, 2008 · 10 Comments

Which of the following photos depicts an athlete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics?

Brett NewlinSarah HammerChristian Cantwell

[Read more →]

The Annotated Tao of Jeet Kune Do

June 29th, 2008 · 54 Comments

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do

An Unauthorized Bibliography

There’s nothing new within this book; there are no secrets. “It’s nothing special,” Bruce used to say. And so it wasn’t.

With over 750,000 copies sold in nine languages, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do is the bestselling martial arts book in modern history. Although Bruce Lee’s name and photo appear on the cover, dedicated fans know that he did actually write Tao of Jeet Kune Do—at least not in its current form. (The book is a compilation of Bruce’s personal notes, organized and published posthumously by Dan Inosanto, Linda Lee and Gilbert Johnson.)

While credit for fighting methods expressed in Tao of JKD is rightfully given to boxer Edwin Haislet, fencers Hugo and James Castello, and others, we are left to infer that Jeet Kune Do’s philosophical underpinnings are Bruce’s unique contribution.

Quite the contrary, Jeet Kune Do is an orthodox expression of Taoist, Buddhist, and Western metaphysical principles. From the poem on the book’s opening page, to the passionate expressions of its final chapter, ideas in Tao of JKD can be traced directly to earlier written works. Here is a sampling of these sources. [Read more →]

Reflections on Bruce Lee’s Water: Does Skill Actually Matter?

April 8th, 2008 · 25 Comments

Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

Bruce Lee said it*—but did he actually do it? Did he flow like water? Judging by his performances in Enter the Dragon, Chinese Connection and Fists of Fury, I’d say: no, not at all.


Bruce Lee in The Chinese Connection

Maybe Bruce didn’t show his real kung fu skills on the silver screen. [Read more →]

Ordosclan, The Grumpy Savant of rec.martial-arts

March 31st, 2008 · 7 Comments

Long before the invention of the blog, and even before the creation of the World Wide Web, there was Usenet. The world’s first electronic social network was established in 1980, and martial artists have been arguing there ever since.

Back in the late 1990s, I started reading the rec.martial-arts newsgroup as most people do, with posts sorted by discussion topic. I soon discovered that, since 90% of the replies on any given topic were rubbish, it made more sense to sort by author instead. Although I abandoned rec-martial arts years ago, due to its low-signal-to-noise ratio, I can still remember the names of some of my favorite writers. At the top of that list, I place the mysterious Ordosclan, also known as Turiyan Gold.

I don’t know Ordosclan’s real name, or his training history. I don’t know how many of his posts were written under the influence of anti-psychotic medication, as his critics claimed. Perhaps not enough of them.

Black Belt Mama's Admired Martial Artists Month

Ordosclan’s martial arts commentaries were sagacious and entertaining, sometimes cryptic and unfortunately brusque. In honor of Black Belt Mama’s Admired Martial Artists Month, I’d like to highlight a few:

Why punch from the hip?

In boxing, the boxer keeps his hands up on either side of his face for protection. Punches are thrown from this position. One hand goes out, the other stays by the face for protection.
Why does karate require that you throw a punch from the hip? What is gained by this?

The point of pulling the fists back is to open the chest. Doing so during stance changes makes it harder to use the arms for balance. It’s not for punching. Punches done from the hip are just a training exercise. The Japanese simply copied basic Shaolin from the Chinese. Some teachers try and read ridiculous theories into why something is the way it is: “It’s for qi,” “it’s for jing,” “It trains you to monkey elbow a guy that puts you in a bear hug from behind”, etc.

If you start taking things out of MA that are not combat-relevant, you’re left with punches and kicks, knees and headbutts. The simple answer is: it’s not martially oriented. Its just a myth that Shaolin monks are/were “fighting” monks. That’s nonsense. And everyone knows it.

[Read more →]

The Twenty Best Martial Arts Quotes of All Time

March 11th, 2008 · 166 Comments

Mohandas Gandhi
Mohandas Gandhi

Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.
~ Mohandas Gandhi

The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.
~ William Francis Butler

He who is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.
~ Ben Jonson

The weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has not been tested in the fire.
~ Mark Twain

Courage first; power second; technique third.
~ Author unknown [Read more →]