The Ultimate Self-Defense Technique: A Real-Life Story about the Art of Fighting Without Fighting

ViolenceWhat would you do if a big drunk guy walked up to you and wanted to knock your head off?

It happened to one of my website members recently and he called to tell me what happened.

John was standing in a business and talking to someone when a drunk guy walked in and wanted to fight. The drunk was larger than John, and it was clear that he could do some damage.

Like most guys, John's first reaction was to think about fighting techniques. And as the drunk got more agitated, it seemed that violence was about to happen.

Suddenly, John remembered the recent Internal Fighting Arts podcast with my guest, Dan Djurdjevic. In the interview, Dan talked about "flipping the script," and how it got him out of some potentially violent encounters.

When you flip the script, you say something bizarre to the attacker to throw him off-script; to confuse him.

So just as it seemed that a punch was going to be thrown, John said to the drunk, "Did you see the game last night?" 

The drunk looked confused. "What game?" he asked.

"My daughter's baseball game," John replied. "She made her very first out at second base."

The drunk guy didn't know what to do with that information.

"Oh, that's great," he said. "Congratulations."

With that, the encounter moved in an entirely new direction. The drunk guy calmed down. No violence happened. Nobody was hurt, nobody was arrested, nobody went to the hospital, lost his job or got sued.

Bruce Lee once said he practiced "the art of fighting without fighting." Flipping the script is one of the coolest self-defense tactics I've ever heard, and it is something you will want to remember. Imagine a thug's reaction if he wanted to fight and you said something like, "I love homemade pickles. My Aunt Jane used to make great pickles."

When I was growing up, I wasn't the toughest kid, but I beat up a lot of bullies because I was smarter than they were. As an adult, I have not been in a fight because I have been able to avoid them.

As adults, avoiding violence is the ultimate self-defense skill, and we do that when we use our brains, our awareness, and our ability to remain calm. John was able to do that by remembering a lesson he learned on my podcast, and I am very happy to have been a small part of this story.

 


The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast on Wude - Martial Morality and Facebook Ethics for Martial Artists

KungFuDo you remember how the "Kung Fu" TV show included flashbacks, when young Caine would receive morality lessons from the monks, Master Po and Master Kan?

One of my favorites was when young Caine and another boy were robbed by a bandit on their way to town. They were ashamed as they confessed to Master Kan that they had been fooled by the bandit, who had gained their trust before robbing them.

"And what have you learned?" asked Master Kan.

The first boy angrily replied, "Never trust a stranger."

Master Kan looked at young Caine. "And you?"

Young Caine said, "Always expect the unexpected."

Master Kan turned to the other boy and ordered him to leave the temple. He had not shown the proper character to be a monk.

In 1972, I loved the flashbacks as much as I loved the fight scenes. And the more I watched the program, having grown up in a very conservative Southern Christian household and culture, I realized that the morality presented on the "Kung Fu" TV show struck a chord inside me much more than the stories from the Bible did.

I remember thinking, "What a wonderful way to look at the world."

Every martial art has a code of ethics, or "martial morality." In Chinese martial arts, it is called "wude," pronounced "Woo-Duh." In Japanese arts, "bushido" is the code of honor.

All you have to do is look on Facebook or listen to martial artists talking about each other and you realize that the morality of martial arts is left broken and crying on the training hall floor as martial artists of all styles ignore it while they study how to kick someone's butt or worry whether they can fight an MMA guy.

The new Internal Fighting Arts podcast focuses on wude -- what is it and why it is so hard for martial artists to achieve.

My guests are Jonathan Bluestein and Byron Jacobs, two talented, dedicated martial artists who practice Xingyi. Jonathan, the author of "Research of the Martial Arts", lives in Israel and teaches at the Tianjin Martial Arts Academy. Byron lives in Beijing, works at the International Wushu Federation, and studies with Xingyi Master Di Guoyong.

In the internal arts, which are Chinese, wude includes principles such as:

  • Humility
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Courage
  • Trust
  • Persistence
  • Loyalty
  • and more

As you can see if you look at Facebook, there is no shortage of arrogance and lack of respect shown by martial artists who flame and criticize others for reasons that only a good psychologist could understand -- usually insecurity, arrogance, or simply to hurt another person or cause trouble. Most of them see themselves as "concerned for the art."

In this interview, we also talk about the recent "fight" between MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong and taiji "master" Wei Lei, in which Wei Lei was beaten up in about 12 seconds. It has caused an emotional earthquake that has shaken China and the martial arts community. But how does it tie in with wude?

Listen to the podcast to find out.

Listen online or download to your computer by following this link to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast on Wude - Martial Morality on Audello

It will be on iTunes and Apple Podcasts within a few hours.

Apple Podcasts

 

 


Facebook Trolls and Keyboard Martial Arts Warriors: the Insecurity of Online Criticism

Anger FacebookI was chatting with a person on FB yesterday who is critical of me for selling DVDs of my instruction. He believes that I promote myself, and he interprets this as me telling people I'm a master. Bottom line -- he doesn't think I'm good enough to sell instruction on DVD, compared with other higher-level instructors.

Then I received this email from Alan in Orlando, Florida:

"Thanks for your wonderful work and your excellent DVD segments. I feel I'm learning more from them than I did from my previous experience taking in-person classes many years ago."

I also reminded my critic on FB of the young man in Beijing who wrote to me telling me how my DVDs helped him bridge the language barrier between him and his Chinese Xingyi teacher, and my instruction was responsible for the progress he had made in his teacher's class. He understood the principles the teacher was trying to get across because of my DVDs.

AngerAs I explained to my critic on FB, I could teach at the local YMCA and none of the trolls in Facebook Land would care. I could advertise my classes and no critics would tell me I don't have the right. But I have a different set of skills, with my radio and TV background, that help me teach a different way, by producing DVDs, podcasts, and videos for online instruction. I am simply reaching students a different way. If they can learn from what I do (and they do learn), why should anyone else care where and how I teach?


Once you put yourself online, even when I continue to insist I am not and will never be a master, a chunk of the martial artists out there will be threatened. They will attack. They see you as competition. Despite their claims of being the real deal, and nobody else is the real deal, and other people are promoting themselves, in the end their criticism comes from insecurity.

Seriously, shouldn't you be practicing instead of sitting at a keyboard on the East Coast or in France passing judgment on other teachers? Yeah. I think you should. And then, the next time you look in a mirror, ask yourself how your heart-mind got so terribly off-track; how your "spirit" got so dirty. You see, you are not my target. If you are at a higher level than I am, my material is not aimed at you. I help people all over the world get back into the internal arts, or take them up for the first time. Anytime I do that, it develops an audience for the art, and I often refer people to good teachers in their area so they can learn in person.

What could be a better win-win situation than that? Unfortunately, a lot of FB martial arts warriors don't want a win-win situation. They believe if I win, they lose. And they actually think they have some strange right to judge other martial artists. Well, here's a wake-up call. I'm helping people, not only by selling DVDs and teaching through my online school, but also by promoting other teachers through my podcast and blog.


Elk Horn Knives Ken Gullette 4-16-2017-2WTF are YOU doing for anyone other than yourself?  
By the way, my new Bagua Elk Horn Knives DVD will be ready next week. It's pretty damn good. I'm no Liu Jingru, but you will learn more on this DVD than you will from his DVD. I guarantee it or your money back. :)


Tai Chi Videos for Beginners: the Chen 19 Form DVD is an Introduction to the Original Style of Tai Chi

Chen-19-2017-250If you are looking for a great introduction to the art of Tai Chi Chuan for beginners, the Chen 19 form is a short, easy-to-learn series of movements that can be practiced both for health and for martial art.

The Chen 19 was created in the 1990s by Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang. 

The most popular tai chi form in the world is the Yang 24 simplified form that was created in Beijing to provide a standardized form. It took off because it is short and can easily be learned and practiced by Westerners who do not have the time or patience to do a longer form on a daily basis.

It seems logical that the Chen family saw this and decided to create their own form to compete with the short Yang form.

The Chen 19 is perfect. The basic movements can be learned in a weekend and it takes about five minutes to perform, easily fitting into a hectic modern workday.

I have practiced both forms. I taught the Yang 24 when I first began teaching Tai Chi, but after I switched to Chen style in 1998, the only "short" form I do is the Chen 19. I prefer the body mechanics of Chen style, and the "lively" body method.

My first Chen 19 instructional DVD came out in 2008. Last year, I revised it. I take you step-by-step through the entire form. The DVD runs just over 2-and-a-half hours. Besides solo instruction, you will also see me coach a student through the movements. You learn by watching him make mistakes and get corrected on camera. It's the next best thing to being in a live classroom setting. Each movement is taught with detail that you won't find on any other tai chi instructional dvds.

Check out a clip from the DVD here. It is available in standard and Blu-Ray versions. If you or someone you know is curious about trying Tai Chi, this is an inexpensive and convenient way to try it out.

 


Disciple of Chen Qingzhou: the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Chen Taijiquan Instructor Mark Chen

Mark ChenI get to meet a lot of dedicated martial artists when I do interviews for my Internal Fighting Arts podcast.

I've had Mark Chen's book, "Old Frame Chen Family Taijiquan" on my bookshelf for years, but the only thing I knew about him was that he is a disciple of Chen Qingzhou. When he was recommended recently for the podcast, I pulled his book out again and realized he had a refreshingly clear perspective on Taiji -- down-to-earth and free of mystical woo woo.

He agreed to talk with me a few days ago, and gave a very good interview about training with traditional martial arts instructors. It was a very enjoyable interview, especially his stories of training with "old school" teachers.

Mark has also studied with other gongfu masters, including Guo Lianyin, Bill Gee, Chen Youze, and Zhang XueXin.

Follow this link to listen to the interview with Mark Chen on Audello. You can listen online or download the file.

It will be on iTunes within a few hours.

This is the 29th Internal Fighting Arts podcast I have done, and I am enjoying it more than ever. I get a great feeling in promoting these instructors, who have worked so hard and gone through such pains to learn Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, and more. I'm very happy to give them a spotlight and provide information that listeners don't get in the national martial arts magazines. It is also fun to provide "real-world" interviews. I try to peel back the curtain so listeners can get some behind-the-scenes information about the real world of high-quality internal gongfu. 

Enjoy!


An Effective Tactic for Verbal Self-Defense: Flipping the Script

Assault"Hey, what are you looking at?"

Every boy learns to recognize this question. It's one of the first things a bully will say when he chooses you for a target.

It doesn't matter how you answer.

You might say, "I'm not looking at anything."

"What? Are you saying I'm nothing?" the bully will reply.

And then he walks closer. He is ready to fight. 

As adults, these types of encounters are not as common, but they do happen. Often, the bully is replaced by someone with more sinister motives -- someone who wants to do us harm.

Dan Djurdjevic is a martial artist from Perth, Australia who has developed the concept of "flipping the script" on someone who is verbally setting up an assault. 

You can "flip the script" when you reply to a leading question with something that the potential attacker is not expecting.

For example, he might say, "What are you looking at?"

He is expecting you to be afraid and reply, "Nothing." Then he can continue with his script.

But what if you give him something he isn't expecting, for example, "Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention, I just found out my wife has cancer."

He would be completely thrown off his script. He would not know how to react, and the threat might be over quickly.

Or, you could smile and reply, "Hey, how are you? I haven't seen you in a while."

He might stop in his tracks and wonder what the hell is going on. You could say, "Oh, sorry, you look like a good friend of mine that I haven't seen in years. You look just like him."

In the latest Internal Fighting Arts podcast, Dan Djurdjevic gives two or three great examples of how he flipped the script on a stranger who appeared at his door one night with a knife held behind his back, a robber who was looking to take his money at the train station, and he describes a funny story of how a friend disarmed a potential attacker by saying something that made no sense at all.

It's an interview that will give you some great ideas, but it's also great self-defense. If you can avoid a fight, that demonstrates that you have the ultimate self-defense skill.

Here is a link to the Dan Djurdjevic interview on Audello (listen online or download the podcast).

Here is a link to the podcast on iTunes.

Here is a link to the podcast on Stitcher.

Make sure you subscribe to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast and hear interviews with top internal martial artists around the world.

 

 


Join Me on the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast: What is Your Biggest Challenge or Question in Practicing Tai Chi, Hsing-I or Bagua?

Internal Fighting Arts Logo 250Do you have a question about training in the internal arts? If so, you can click the link below and leave your question in a voice message. I may use it on the next Internal Fighting Arts podcast.

If you don't have a question about training, can you describe your biggest challenge as you try to make progress in your training? If so, click on the link and leave a voice message.

If I select your question or comment for the podcast, I will give you a heads-up before it goes online.

You will need to be on your phone or on a computer with a mic.

Ask your question by going to my page on SpeakPipe.

I hope you join me in helping listeners around the world, because if you have a question or a challenge as you practice martial arts, you are not alone, and other people may benefit from our discussion. 

 


A Chen Pan Ling Lineage: the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Dan Djurdjevic

Dan Djurdjevic and Chen Yun Ching
Dan Djurdjevic (standing) with his teacher Chen Yun Ching.

One of the things I admire about the guests on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast is the determination they have, and the pains they go through, to learn and to develop their martial arts skill.

The latest interview -- with Dan Djurdjevic -- is no exception. Dan is considered by his teacher, Chen Yun Ching, to be a master instructor in the style of Chen's father, Chen Pan Ling.

Dan lives and teaches in Perth, Australia. He and his brother have a school in Perth called Traditional Fighting Arts and he has an excellent blog called "The Way of Least Resistance."

This wide-ranging interview touches on subjects including the teaching style of Chen Yun Ching and modern-day self-defense.

As an attorney with experience as a prosecutor, Dan has an interesting angle on self-defense. The section on "flipping the script" is outstanding; a tactic that every martial artist needs to hear.

Click this link to listen to the podcast on Audello, or to download it to your hard drive.

You can also listen to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast and subscribe to it on iTunes.

 

 


Chen Village Taiji, Beijing Taiji, and a Reunion with Jim and Angela Criscimagna

Ken-Jim-Angela-2017
Jim and Angela Criscimagna with Ken at their home last week.

I had a great visit last week with my first (and best) Chen taiji instructors, Jim and Angela Criscimagna, at their home in Escondido, California. Nancy and I went to San Diego to attend the Social Media Marketing World conference, which I used as an excuse to see Jim and Angela and get some input on taiji.

I began studying with them in 1998 when they lived in Rockford, Illinois, and continued until around 2004, when I met and became a student of Mark Wasson. This is the second time I have seen Jim since 2004, and the first time I've seen Angela since then.  

Jim and Angela became disciples of Chen Xiaowang, but Jim was drawn more and more to the Beijing style of Chen taiji, which was taught by Chen Fake and handed down by students such as Feng Zhiqiang (teacher of Zhang Xue Xin), Chen Zhaokui (father of Chen Yu), Chen Zhaoxu (father of Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing), among others.

Jim and Angela have had several martial arts teachers over the years, including Zhang Xue Xin, who they studied with before training with Chen Xiaowang. I met Chen Xiaowang because they sponsored his workshops in Rockford.

Around 2005, Jim and Angela met Chen Yu while in China. The quality of his art and his body method caught their attention, and Jim began exploring the differences between the Beijing way and the Chen Village way.

When I studied with Jim and Angela, we were primarily doing taiji the way Chen Xiaowang was teaching it. Last week at his home, Jim coached me on some of the differences between the Chen Village way and the Beijing way.

I returned home on Sunday. Last night at practice, a student asked me what I had learned. I had to tell him that I really wasn't in the position of showing much because I am still processing the information. It will take some time and some dedicated practice, and some followup questions, before I will be able to translate it into movement. In general terms, it involves slight changes in stances, in the shifting and placement of weight to establish root, in the way the inside leads the outside, and other coaching that involved openings and closings and sinking. It is very difficult to explain.

Ken-Jim-PushHands-2001
Jim and Ken practicing push hands in the early 2000s.

In recent years, the debate has risen about the differences between the Beijing way and the Chen Village way. Did Chen Fake take the highest quality of the art to Beijing when he relocated there from Chen Village, leaving the art in the Chen Village to decline in his absence? Did Chen Xiaowang's generation learn as much as they really needed to learn from Chen Zhaoxu, Chen Zhaopi and Chen Zhaokui? Since most of my training has been in the Chen Village way, this is an important question for me. And I have never been afraid to change my viewpoint when new information comes in; that is true in religion, politics and martial arts. I have changed beliefs, parties and styles based on new information. I have changed my beliefs about psychic phenomena and "alternative" medicine. When new information arises, you have to change and evolve if you are going to be intellectually honest.

From the explanations and coaching I received last week, I believe there are differences between the Chen Village and Beijing styles of Chen taiji that are worth exploring. Is one better than the other? That's an individual decision.

CXW-Jim-Angela-Ken-2000
From left to right: Jim, Angela, Chen Xiaowang and Ken at a 2000 workshop in Rockford, Illinois.

These are complicated and political issues. Let's face it, those of us who did not grow up in the Chen Village or Beijing can learn from both camps. We can't touch any of them in the quality and power of their taiji. My philosophy is simple -- I can learn from anyone. About three years ago, I was at a workshop with Chen Huixian and her husband Michael, and they gave me some input that had a profound change in my movement. Huixian is the niece of Chen Zhenglei, of the Chen Village. So there is quality throughout.  

Some people make this debate out to be a much more negative thing than it should be (more about that on my next podcast, which features an interview with Dan Djurdjevic), but the goal here for all of us should be knowledge. We should learn what we can from everyone who can teach us. From there, we develop our own taiji.

In the meantime, I deeply enjoyed our visit with Jim and Angela. The time went by way too fast, and I was bummed when Nancy and I left their home last Tuesday to drive back to San Diego. Good instructors are hard to find. I always appreciated Jim and Angela because they asked questions and looked under the hood. They were not content to just follow along with their instructors. And what they learned, they passed along to their students. That attitude of sharing and teaching continues, even though Jim has officially retired from teaching, and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn. 


10 Quick Ways to Break or Lock an Elbow with Chin-Na Joint Locks

Elbow Hyperextention
Ken Gullette (with Colin Frye) demonstrates an elbow lock commonly found in movements such as "Single Whip."

Most traditional martial arts styles give names or numbers to joint-locking techniques. In Chinese chin-na (also spelled qinna), we have names such as "Half Moon," or "Push the Boat Down the Stream." I have always loved these descriptive, poetic names, but sometimes they get in the way.

The best way to learn chin-na is not to memorize names and techniques. The best way is to look at principles -- look at the way joints move -- and then do free-flowing sparring exercises and push hands to practice recognizing opportunities for joint locks when they arise in a fight.

IMPORTANT RULE FOR CHIN-NA:

When someone attacks you, you will NEVER be able to say, "I'm going to get that guy in an Outside Wrist Twist." If that is what you are planning, he will probably knock you out while you are looking for your opportunity.

The best plan is no plan. And that is what practice is for.

You practice with this goal in mind: you want to be able to recognize opportunities for joint locks that arise during close contact with a partner. In that way, you learn to flow with what is happening.

There is no plan for any particular joint lock, but when the opportunity appears -- there it is! 

Study this video, practice the techniques carefully with a partner. The next step is then to practice push hands or getting into a clinch with a partner and looking at how you can recognize opportunities that arise on their own during the give-and-take of a push hands or grappling session.

And as always, use caution and be gentle when practicing joint locks with your partners. And for those who are not on the website, the next video shows how to incorporate this into push hands. For more than 800 video lessons in the internal arts, plus downloadable pdf documents, try two weeks free at www.internalfightingarts.com.