A Little About Combat Strategy

When we watch martial arts in movies or TV shows or YouTube clips, we tend to see a lot of kicking and punching. That is kind of the hallmark of the visual representation of martial arts.

In a real self defense situation, while punching and kicking do have their place, and can serve you, it is best and safest to neutralize any type of striking exchange with a clinch. A clinch is basically a hug! 

When you have clinched the opponent, you have dramatically decreased their striking arsenal. They cannot effectively punch or kick at you when you are hugged on to them tightly. You have essentially taken their fight away from them. It is an incredible technical concept!

Now, once you have them in the clinch, their behaviors are quite predictable. And with each predictable behavior comes an effective response. Let's go through some, shall we?

1. If they decide to try to punch you while you are clinched onto them, they will have to lean back a little bit. In that lean, you drop your shoulder into their chest and pull their hips in, and that is called a "Body Fold Takedown".

2. If they decide to try to push on you, they have to stabilize their stance, so that means their stance is wider. In that case, hook their leg, dip your shoulder into them, and turn, and that is called the "Leg Hook Takedown".

3. If they decide to bring their hips away in an attempt to escape out of the clinch, walk your hands up to the back of their shoulders, bring both of your feet up next to theirs, then squat, shoot back, and wrap your legs around them, and then one at a time, wrap one arm around the back of their neck, and another on one of their arms. This is called "Pulling Guard".

4. If they decide to try to wrap your head/neck out of desperation, you pop your head up like a turtle, turn around, get to their back, then bring one foot up next to theirs, and straighten the other leg out, while blocking their other foot and pull them down. This is called the "Rear Takedown".

5. If they break out of the clinch somehow, and it is hard to get back into the clinch, drop down, grab and pull behind their knees, put your foot in between theirs, and drive your shoulder into their midsection. This is called the "Double Leg Takedown".

These are all extremely effective strategies. They are not the flashiest moves, but they work very reliably well. These are all concepts that come from Gracie Jiu Jitsu. We teach and practice these concepts at Austin Kung-Fu Academy. In addition to the great training you get in traditional Kung-Fu, we want everyone to have a very reliable self defense strategy that doesn't involve too much of the kicking and punching, but rather work more towards neutralizing, controlling, and exhausting aggressive energy, rather than over-power it.

How Can I Help My Child To Focus?

It is not uncommon to hear parents ask us how to help their child improve his or her focus. There's no one magic sliver bullet for this, as there are many factors to consider.

But what we can tell you is that giving them structure tends to help. Having a specific schedule of activities (they don't necessarily need to be too complicated), but just a schedule and adhering to it tends to help. 

We recommend taking some time and doing structured activities with them, such as building something, practicing Kung-Fu moves together with a designated amount of repetitions, or reading to each other.

It takes more effort and time, but you are instilling a sense of orientation towards a goal. And when that becomes the culture of your household, it does tend to rub off on the child.

A couple of cautionary notes. It could very well be that your child has a neurological condition that inhibits his or her ability to focus. If you have suspicions, by all means, get your child evaluated. Not to say a structured environment won't help, it probably will, but there may be deeper issues that need to be dealt with.

Another cautionary note is to keep as cool and as positive as possible when creating a highly structured world. If you keep yelling at them, and/or berating them for losing focus and not adhering to the structured task at hand, then resentment will form. Instead, tell them how much you love seeing them do xyz. 

Sometimes you might get some resistance and attitude. Again, try your best to keep your cool and be positive, and talk to them about how to express their frustration without being too negative. Maybe it is something you can work a compromise with. Or, maybe it is a non-negotiable, that you acknowledge their feelings, but it is extremely important to you that they do xyz. Use bribery rewards sparingly. 

An over reliance on rewards has them focusing just long enough to get the prize, but then it's all over after that. They might just do the bare minimum, just to get the reward. So, like I said, use rewards sparingly. 

In another post, I'll talk about strategic games you can play with your child to help them prepare for more structured activities like going to our Kids Kung-Fu class! =)

What Tai Chi Can Teach You

I'm guessing when I say Tai Chi, you probably picture elderly people moving slowly in a park in China/town. 

And, you're not wrong! That is probably the dominant image people have of Tai Chi. Going a little further, you might classify it in the category of yoga, pilates, meditation, holistic health healing.

You're not wrong about that either! Tai Chi very much has a meditation component to it. It is referred to as a 'moving meditation'. And I do not disparage that one bit! I think meditation is awesome, and a very necessary tool for life. The stress reduction component of it is one of its best benefits.

But....I'm not talking about that. 

For those of you who are already into the world of martial arts or even, Chinese martial arts, I can hear you breathing! I know you think I'm going to talk about Tai Chi as a martial art, and how it functions in combat.

Well.......you're not entirely wrong. But you're not entirely right, either. 

So, yes, if you did not know, Tai Chi was originally intended and used as a form of self defense. All of the slow, fluid movements you see have martial applications (generally done sped up).

But I'm not even referring to its combat principles, strategies, or techniques. Personally, I don't really prefer them. 

Well, except for one idea, and that is the principle of Peng energy. Peng energy means to ward off/uproot the assailant off of their balance. But....don't even worry about that.

It is more about the body structure you need to create that Peng energy is what I am most interested, find the most useful, and find the most scalable. 

The connected structure in Tai Chi movements are brilliant. You pay very close attention to the alignment of specific body parts in a given motion, to maximize your body's potential to generate force. The more you work on that alignment through training your awareness, the more robust your body structure becomes. You start feeling your body mechanics, especially when in contact with, say, a heavy door, or a grocery cart, as a connected whole! Everything from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, there is a connection and an alignment that you practice and develop, so that your limbs don't isolate. All pieces are working together.

Pilates has a focus on developing your core. This is part of it. But in Tai Chi, there is so much more to add to the equation of putting pieces together for one really effectively connected motion! 

The more you train this, the more efficient your overall motions become. From a combative perspective, you can certainly use this connectedness to improve your relaxed power in strikes & kicks, and your ability to maneuver efficiently when transitioning positions in grappling.

So, Tai Chi is one of the best ways to get your body connected to itself! 
Contact us and try a class today!