Monthly Archives: April 2016

Energy Shields and Mysticism in Martial Arts

Have you ever seen these guys? They are on YouTube.  They are the guys that can create “energy shields”.  These energy shields can be like force fields which block strikes or projectiles.  They can also be used offensively to do damage to an opponent.  There are two that are pretty famous above the rest.  The first is of an energy shield master kneeling in front of Alexandr Litvinenko who is a real life martial artist in the traditional sense.  He used kicks and punches, not energy to do damage.  So the energy shield master challenges Alexandr Litvinenko to simulate a punch to the face in order to show him that the punch will not reach its target.  The energy shield master sees the punch coming and reacts by slapping Alexandr Litvinenko in the face in a defensive way.  That was all Alexandr needed.  The next punch was not simulated, he took off on mister energy with a real punch.  What do you think happened?  Well, as you may have guessed, the video ends with the shield master laying face down after his shield failed to deflect any punches at all.
Here’s the link if you want to see the video

The second famous video is quite the contrary, it is of the famous (con artist) sensei who is knocked out by what appears to be one of his potential black belts.  The sensei is out of shape and the whole thing looks really bad.  The acting alone is cause for concern.  The girl summons energy and throws a ball of energy similar to Ryu in Street Fighter.  Of course the energy is invisible but the sensei takes the blow and falls back in devastation.  He is acting like he is out of it and that he was just hit with a wrecking ball.  It is pretty funny to watch.  I can no longer see the video link anywhere but I will attempt to find it before I print this blog.  The whole thing is pretty comical.  I found it, this guy is famous in the martial arts community for being a fake.  His name is Grandmaster Tom Cameron.  Google him for a good laugh.
The link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1CL8KrWZ-g

Now I know that these videos sound funny, and if you take them at face value they really are.  There is a huge problem here though.  The problem is that these phonies have actual students that believe in them.  I’m not sure how or why people begin to buy into this, but they do.  How can you honestly believe that a person can create a field of energy so strong around themselves that a punch won’t be able to penetrate it? How can you believe that a person will be able to summon a ball of energy from within themselves that will knock an opponent out? It isn’t possible and as reasonable human beings, we know this.  But when someone straps on a black belt and calls them self a teacher, people believe in the legitimacy of it all and follow with blind faith.  This creates not just a single person with delusion, but several.  If we then have several people that believe it, then they pass it along to several more people, it can be a real problem.  That is how cults start.  I’m not going to go as far as to classify them as a dangerous cult, but this could easily turn into a problem.

The videos I prefer are the videos where a real and well-known black belt (I have only seen the videos for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so far) goes to a school where someone who is NOT a black belt is pretending to be and expose them.  Ruben Alvarez is a legitimate black belt who has made a few videos like this.  I’ll post a link to one after this paragraph.  There are a couple videos like this.  These fake black belts are dumb enough to post their fake credentials online, maybe not knowing that lineage in Jiu-Jitsu is very easy to trace.  The community is small and the number of those able to hand down black belts are a select group.  Ruben, for obvious reasons, is not fearful of telling these fake black belts exactly how fake they are and also telling them that they need to remove that black belt immediately and let them know to never present themselves as a black belt again.  In my opinion, it is very important that guys like these are exposed.  I have met some black belts in certain arts that probably can’t fight as well as some would believe, but even these guys have put the time and discipline into receiving the belt.  It is the ultimate slap in the face to present yourself as the pinnacle of your art without actually earning it.
Here is that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-MHpIqr06E

Leave the Man Alone

I know that the world of Martial Arts consists of way more than just the UFC. Martial Arts training, styles, spirituality, and any other aspect of Martial Arts have always been readily discussed by me in the past. The reason I’m bringing all of this up is that I plan on writing about someone in the UFC for the second week in a row.

The news is huge.

Conor McGregor, who is (arguably) of sound mind and body has decided to retire. Everyone thought it was a joke at first but it turns out he is quite serious. I know he is hated by more people than actually like him. I can say that I am a fan. Why? I’m a fan of his striking skills. He is on another level when it comes to his open-minded pure martial arts approach to striking. He evolved with the sport and became one of the most prolific fighters of all time in just a short period of time.

I don’t know about his cup, but his mouth sure runneth over and that is why he is hated.

When someone is not liked, he is still really popular with the money people. There are two reasons you watch a fight, one is to watch a fighter you like win, the other would be the converse… to watch a fighter you don’t like, lose. Conor made people a lot of money and was smarter than a lot of his predecessors by demanding more money for himself. It is, after all, his body receiving the damage.

With Conor retiring, and not being well liked, a lot of people probably don’t know his story, so I’ll tell it. Conor wasn’t always a loud-mouth irish scrapper. Conor was actually a humble fighter that believed in the purity of Martial Arts and set out to put Martial Arts back into Mixed Martial Arts. Karate, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do were all something Conor dabbled in. I can tell you first hand, that even when you are not in the “big leagues” of mixed martial arts, you get a lot of attention from people who like to watch you fight. There are fans at the underground level that are dedicated. Conor was the best around on the Irish circuit and he felt like he wasn’t going to go anywhere big with it. He was being skipped by the big promotions because he was from Ireland and they believed the level of competition wasn’t up to par with the best in the world. Conor was actually in camp for his last fight and was going to get a normal job after the fight. The UFC had received so many fan requests and emails from people who wanted them to put Conor in the “big show”. They finally gave in and made the call. Conor maintained his social and private life which wasn’t easy to do. He stayed faithful to his girlfriend and his family and made his name the right way.

Conor is an honorable guy. In my opinion, he could have easily turned down the fight with Nate Diaz knowing he was at a huge disadvantage size-wise, preparation-wise, and grappling-wise. He took the fight anyway. People can say whatever they want but until you are in those shoes you don’t know how you would react. Most men in his position avoid fights like that. Conor is a true warrior.

The fact that he has millions of haters just proves his worth as a fighter..

Retiring young? What is wrong with that by the way? Too many fighters fight way past their prime. It is a sad sight to see someone like Roy Jones Jr. or Andre Arlovski fighting when they are just a shadow of what they used to be. I say go out on top, save your brain and your body by getting out of the game while you are still in one piece. I say leave Conor alone, if he chooses to retire, what business is it of mine, yours, or Dana White’s? Well it is big business to Dana White, but he doesn’t care about anything except the profit margin.

The Ronda Rousey Effect?

So the Ronda Rousey effect is a real thing and it is gathering momentum. As a martial arts instructor, I have notices an influx of females training, especially young girls. They have always had sports heroes to look up to, but not that have the stature of Ronda Rousey.  I recently read an article about the Ronda Rousey effect and it definitely hit home with me because I have seen this happening first hand. I love the fact that women have a strong role model to look up to. The article picks out women who train and the benefits that it gives them. Listed as one of the most common benefits is confidence. With wrestling becoming more and more popular in the past 4 years, I have seen significant changes in women’s wrestling in young children, high-schoolers, and women on the international level.

Aside from the confidence it brings, the article cites women as feeling more protected due to the fact that they are learning self-defense as a positive by-product of their training.
Watching empowered professional athletes on TV has always been a motivation for people to train. Now that some of the most popular athletes happen to be female, it has given women a great boost for actually trying it. Being able to handle yourself in a dangerous situation has historically been a losing situation for women.

Now, with the confidence and skill set that is learned in martial arts training, women don’t have as big a fear of these types of confrontations.

Being able to defend yourself to the point where you may use physical techniques to subdue or get the upper hand on an assailant is a big deal. It can help in situations like domestic violence as well as stranger encounters.

Another big reason mentioned in the article was the fact that martial arts promotes a fitness lifestyle. Being active is one thing, but participating in wrestling, muay thai, boxing, jiujitsu, and judo are very demanding physically. You are forced to become fit or you won’t last long. It doesn’t have to be as crazy as sparring or rolling every day, but if you want to excel at these sports, sparring is a big part. Women who train can spar knowing that this is an essential part of reaching their goals. Wrestling and jiujitsu are both sports that help people overcome differences in strength through technique. Especially in jiujitsu, the bigger stronger participant is not the one who will come out on top if the smaller opponent is better skilled in the techniques. It doesn’t take a strong person to apply chokes or joint locks, it just takes superior position most of the time.

In conclusion, I want to say that I am really happy that the world of martial arts has opened up to more people. It usually takes a pioneer or unsuspecting superstar to bring a change. For a very long time, the president of the UFC himself expressed some pretty misogynistic beliefs when it came to women in MMA. He said several times that women would never fight in the UFC because it was boring and the pool of talent was not deep enough. When Ronda Rousey’s skill and likeability combined with her marketability, that opinion changed quickly. Dana White quickly recanted what he said and has had some huge paydays since. Ronda has even headlined UFC events. Not bad! Martial arts have always been practiced by women, it is about time they receive the recognition they deserve.

Martial Arts is Simple

I recently read an article about the secret to Martial Arts being its simplicity. I realize that Martial Arts Training, and Martial Arts Styles vary greatly from art to art and we wouldn’t categorize martial arts a “simple” in execution. There is a famous saying that Martial Artists have found to be true. It is a quote by what most people would consider the “godfather” of Martial Arts in the United States, Bruce Lee “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.” He accurately portrays martial arts as a way of life consisting of discipline, mental focus, and physical agility. The article states an opinion of the definition of Martial Arts is: “I believe martial arts is what you make it.

Most see martial arts as a full contact sport and others see it as an art form.

I believe martial arts is the mastery of using very little to accomplish a lot.” Now that is deep. We are getting into the realm of profound thought about a simple idea. I liken it to Daniel Laruso (Ralph Machio) having an enlightened moment when he is guided to answer his own question. He is training based on the assumption that he “has to fight” to gain respect from the guys bullying him.  Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) leads him to answer his own question by finally making him realize that he is training so that he DOESN’T have to fight. It is simple training to accomplish a complicated goal.

Within the same realm there is an outside group of people who don’t practice martial arts that have the belief that martial arts is violent and counterproductive to the pursuit of peace. But martial arts is not about using power or force, but using will and bravery to avoid or diffuse violent situations. Self defense is the result, but some see that as the perpetration of violence in response to violence. Violence begets violence, an eye for an eye or however you choose to define it. But this train of thought is a victim mentality in my opinion. We can not control whether someone will attempt violence on us, but we should prepare ourselves for those situations. Any other reaction would be naïve in my opinion.

When do you know you have achieved simplicity in Martial Arts? When is something that used to be complicated, broken down into simple terms for us? It is said that when you begin to dream in a second language, you have mastered the language. That may be true for martial arts. We don’t know that we have mastered something until we can detail it in a dream. We know each little nuance of our movement and our technique enough to dream about it, meaning that we truly understand it. As an instructor, I teach a technique over and over, but some kids just nod their heads and pretend to understand it. Very few will understand any technique at first glance or attempt, but most will say they get it.

When you get a new job, it is a scary thing. It almost feels like you’re faking it. You are pretending to be an expert in something but how can you possibly be an expert at a job that you just started? Even if your education or experience has prepared you for your new profession in your new office, that office is unique. The challenges of you co-workers, clients, management, ownership, etc. are unique to that place of business. It is the same with Martial Arts. How can you understand the ins and outs of something when you are learning it for the first time. Now when you hold that job for a while, you have learned something new every day. Every situation, every assignment, every interaction teaches you something. You then become an expert at your job. It takes time to do so. It is the same with martial arts. It takes time, training, and experiencing different scenarios to become an expert.

So in conclusion, we may never have the answer for some of life’s questions, but we can learn and learn to teach. When something becomes simple to us, we can then and only then, say that we have mastered it.

Martial Arts Saved Your Life…

I have a story from Paterson, New Jersey that I wanted to talk about. It isn’t about it being so far away, it is about the profound effect that Martial Arts can have on several peoples’ lives. Now theses effects can be as miniscule as helping them learn a skill, or as involved as changing the entire landscape of their lives. As I always do, I will start with the story. An MMA fighter saw a house burning in New Jersey. He didn’t think twice when he found out there were people inside. He put his training to different use when he busted into the burning house. He helped rescue the people trapped inside. In the article I read, he said”You cannot last more than 40 seconds. That black smoke will kill you 1, 2, 3, like nothing.” His name is Moutasem Aburomi, and he bravely rescued the residents. Aburomi knows well how long you can last in smoke like this. The house he ran into Wednesday to save at least half a dozen people was burning and filled with a suffocating smoke.

He risked his own safety, but tried to take precautions. Aburomi covered his nose and mouth with his shirt and charged in. “He just run in there, like everybody, screaming ‘get out, get out’ he took people out, ran back in,” said Gilbert Matos, an eyewitness.

Like a movie, Aburomi used his martial arts background to kick down a door on the first floor to get in and help a mother and her two young children escape.

Then, he went back in and headed upstairs where the smoke was thicker and the air was thinner and had to break down another door. But he wasn’t done. There was still a man in the attic. Again, he kicked down the door on the third floor and found a man sound asleep in bed. “Knocked down, I found two beds, one to the left, one to the right with a man with his underwear, and yelled at him, ‘fire, fire, fire!’ Knocked out! He doesn’t know what was going on,” Aburomi said. Aburomi helped that man to safety too and finally got out himself.

What do the people who were watching think? “He’s a hero! There’s not many like that anymore,” said Adrian Rivera, a neighbor. What does Aburomi think? “It is the best feeling that I saved, and I was there to help out, help those people out. I can’t explain the way I feel to be honest. I never felt that way,” Aburomi said. Aburomi says that he now wants to dedicate his life to serving others, saying this was a life changing event for him. Maybe he will get into police work or firefighting. It doesn’t matter which he goes for, it seem like this kid is determined enough to do anything he wants.

Is the background and training in Martial Arts the only factor in making him a hero? Well, obviously not, but I think that under the circumstances we can say that it most likely had a large influence on it.

In martial arts we learn empathy, compassion, courage, fast thinking, reaction, timing, and yes, how to kick hard.

It is certain that he used all of these skills and attributes when he made the conscious decision to put others lives before his own. If he wouldn’t have been there, none of the people inside may have made it out alive. Aburomi himself may have died in the attempt to save them. I say that not a lot of people did, or would have run in to help, but he did. Character and courage were displayed by this young man and those are certainly learned from being a Martial Artist…