Simple. Effective. Aggressive. Methods. Of. Kombate

Tuesday, May 2, 2017





Old School Wing Chun

In the world of Wing Chun you often times have a methodology based more on lineage than you do effectiveness. There is in fighting as to who has what, and who taught who, and are you staying true. With that mindset being prevalent throughout the world of WC no wonder the fighting aspect has gone to hell, gaining ridicule from non practitioners and laymen alike.
I have been fortunate in my WC training to always have instructors who kept it real, and simple, harping more on what works than who taught who. In truth WC as I know it and teach it is very direct, very simple and very brutal, as intended!
So while others are trying to figure out the coolest looking way to do the work, I prefer keeping it real simple harping on the following to make the red junk float.
1. Footwork
2. Body Mechanics
3. Striking Power
4. Continuous Flow
Footwork
WC footwork is not hard, it is a triangle based methodology that is very simple to learn. However, without daily honing it can go south quickly as it must be placed in a pressure test environment to make sure you get it.
Body Mechanics
Turn the horse. It is crucial to be able to use horse turning shifts within your arsenal. By knowing this you can stay in the wheel house without constantly disengaging to reengage. One must be able to couple the footwork to the mechanics thus being able to control centerline. I am not worried about his centerline, rather, mine. If I can control my center through proper mechanics and footwork his will become a moot point.
Striking Power
Most outside of WC do not believe that the straight vertical punch packs much power, and in some cases they are right, but that is due to a lack of training the afore mentioned Footwork and mechanics. Those two entities aid in the building of power. There is both short bridge and long bridge hitting in WC, mechanics are similar but focus on intent is the crucial factor. Also, there is more to striking in WC than vertical punch alone. There is chopping, slapping, palms, Hooks, over hand shots, upper cuts, knees, stomps, kicks etc. Sadly most only see the obvious. Which tells me they have forgot their tool box which includes the 3 forms.
Continuous Flow
Continuous Flow is the ability to link and unlink the body in flow utilizing the 1-3 written above. It takes time to develop this. If done correctly and resolutely you will build not only speed and power, but also start your perfection of self timing. Being able to flow is crucial as violence is never stagnant, and if it isn't you shouldn't be either.
In my opinion those 4 elements should be the focus of Old School Wing Chun. It is a brutal striking system that when broke down and learned contains elements of stand up clinch, and ground. If you never look over the edge of your box you'll never see it, or train it.
Wing Chun also has under used practical weaponry as well, the Long Pole and the Baat Jamm Dao Knives. If you stay true to Lineage then you will forgo these tools and think they are training implements only. Think.....a long pole not only builds body strength it also gives you a fantastic walking stick methodology that is easy to do. All you have to do is train the long pole then place your walking stick in your hand and tweak your game. The same with the double knives. The form is crucial, it coincides with simple empty hands. It also can be worked with a single knife, big or small. But one must take the work and evolve it to fit concealable weapons.
In closing, is lineage important Yes....but it is not as important as street functionality of the science of in fighting. And Wing Chun is that....THE SCIENCE OF In-FIGHTING
Keep it simple...Keep it old school.....

Friday, March 3, 2017

Wido Wido Training


Having experience in street altercations where a blade was used lends credence to how I teach to deal with an incoming edged weapon. I notice highly skilled knife instructors, and practitioners constantly work with their people on precise lines, precise angles, and slow feeds. While there is merit in this, especially for offensive usage one must also see the down fall in it as well. In truth I have seen absolutely zero precision in knife attacks that I have experienced in the street. I have experienced what I call the big three:
1. The looping hand
2. The belly thrust ( sewing)
3 Wide R & L
And yes all three are as deadly as cancer in the hands of a criminal, not to mention the every day person who may, for whatever reason employ a blade into violence. The vast majority of people who carry knives have absolutely no semblance of training, and that is what makes them so dangerous with the blade.

In structural knife arts there is always a flow goes, you learn to run the blade via system standards. Once this is ingrained then you see a progression of user choice but still within the parameters of said system. This, while sufficient is also lends a placebo effect. You train your people on how to run the blade using the system outline, and then you turn around and teach them to defend/counter said outline using the same outline, but there is a problem in that methodology, few if any knife attackers will play by that outline. So in truth you ingrained outline into a student repeatedly and that is what will come out in combat, but what happens when it does not go that way? Carnage, that's what.

A good way to fix that situation is for teacher to step back, and out of outline and introduce what happens the majority of times in street altercations. Train yourself to throw those big three archaic movements at your people, the more they see them the more they'll recognize them if they ever face them. They are not to be underestimated as they are tried and true movements found world wide in the seedy subcultures of our globe.

You will also find that these bigger street applications are not as easy as one might thing to see, or deal with, especially if one is constantly trained and has refined outlined system responses. What was now short and to the point, i.e. tapping becomes harder to find due to the size of the incoming attack. Where as, if the student is introduced to these larger movements he will now have time through training to not only recognize, but also to tweak his responses to said attacks.

In the Philippine knife culture there is a saying: The trained man is easier to deal with because he will work a specific way, the crazy (wido wido) man has no way. And that my friends is truth. So as a teacher I implore all teachers to stow ego and be the bad guy, research knife attacks via YouTube and employ these methods against your students so they find their way to deal with them. All systemized methods must be pliable enough to work outside of comfort zones. Forget the fancy precision flow drill work, it is not truth!

Take the beating, teach your people how to deal with wido wido attacks in a simple logical manner that benefits their chances of winning said altercation. You do no justice in playing flow me, look at me aren't I great !! No justice at all

O.F.W.G.
"It's not about you, it's about truth"

Thursday, December 15, 2016




Learning - Training and Fighting
Three Modes For Great Results


The training of an individual in what I like to call, The Dark Arts, is a big responsibility. You as teacher are placing yourself out on a limb that’s always cracked. In other words it’s your responsibility to pass on truth, and disseminate knowledge that sparks a physical ability that resonates in others. Across the board that should be the aim, as a teacher, you training them to keep themselves safe. The question is, can you, and do you know how? The crack is vast.

Learning Mode
Learning mode is a crawl, and designed to be so, but with that crawl must come a sense of urgency in both student, and teacher. If your goal is to get good people, solid quickly then always push a pace, knowing that in today’s world people need skills quickly. Waiting two years to be functional is not optimal.
Footwork and body mechanics is the key to learning mode. Getting people to move in an alert fashion with basic angles is very simple to do. It also starts the needed fighting cardio required. When the students begin to feel this motion as base you will be able to plug in the extensions. This is where the base combat skills start to develop. Having the ability to get your people moving is crucial.
Another important step in the learning mode is to get your people to ask questions. It is very important that they understand what your madness is all about. By asking questions they start to see the whys, it is you job to then show them how. If you keep everything simple and coupled with the footwork and mechanics you can get students on line quickly. The more they buy into the work the quicker they will increase in ability. It’s all confidence and will.

Training Mode
Training mode when ready will reveal itself. You as a teacher will see when the pressure can be increased. Your people are moving well, responding well to stimulus offered and can go through the work without falling out. In the training mode the pace is now super charged. The punches are harder, the consequences greater, the movement more relevant than ever. In training mode the old adage replies, I’ll give as good as I get.
Once training mode is understood start to introduce the nuances you feel are pertinent to making your methods go. Implore in your people that they must train hard and smart on their own, finding nuances that are solely their own. In this way the method becomes the man and will be easier for the student to use it when necessary. Being natural and comfortable is the key of training mode. It is the lead up to the actuality of violent conflict. Without training hard and failing on the training floor you set yourself up for a rude awakening, the training floor is where the mistakes should be made.
In the training mode I personally introduce the first weapon, the knife. It is an easier way to teach the blade than simply dropping back to the learning mode. At training level they have the footwork, they are understanding the nuances and the mechanics. When you plug the knife into their hand and teach them that the knife is the hand, it all comes out. Once this is understood and they feel comfortable, now back it down to learning and polish the skill set, when they return to training they can run nicely and nastily. There’s no law saying you can’t start anything at training mode if the understanding is there.

Fighting Mode
Fighting Mode, otherwise known as Pressure Testing is a crucial element to the trifecta continuum. It is a stage where the student now has to test the theory for himself. This is not a 100% live fire situation, it is a 70% push by you, the teacher. In the Fight Mode you just push the pace to the point of failure. You must create the chaos any way possible. I personally build multiple scenario situations for the student to fight through, the first being building a physical fatigue before the battle starts, usually done by heavy leg work, pushups, punch drills and more. Once the fatigue is set in the student can no longer muscle his or her way through the situation. They will have to resort to the theory and the work they put in. This is where you will see just how much heart they have.
In the Fight Mode the students must go through a process of self revelation where their questions of self will manifest deeply, make it hard on them.
There is no way to tell you how to do Fight Mode as everyone is different, every teacher having different goals for their people. My only advise is to be creative and tuck away your feelings. I’ve had people quit, and I’ve had people excel. The key is finding out why. Once this is addressed then fixing the problems are simpler.

After Action
After every class I teach, whether it is a private, group or workshop I conduct a Q & A session with all who attended, asking for feedback on what they liked or what could have been better, what could I have done better. I implore all teachers to do so, it is a true way to get solid feedback on how to make everyone better, so store your ego.
In the end folks it is the teachers job to make you rock solid in the dark arts, but you as student must put yourself out there and truly be teachable. It’s a lifestyle not a fad.
The world is a vampire, don’t suck!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Balance of Structure


In the martial/combatives you will often hear instructors direct their students to fall in, or crash in. It is a basic term that means to seize the advantage over an opponent by going into his zone and shutting down his skill sets via your own coupled with the pressure of the crash. But what happens when you can't? 

In a violent altercation the bad guy has a say as well, in my life's experiences I have never faced one who doesn't or who won't try to push his way on you.

When one trains to crash or fall in allot of times you see a loss of balance of structure. The individuals train diligently in similar pressure ranges time and time again assuring themselves of the outcome of the crash. In doing so they take for granted the balance of structure.

WHAT IS BALANCE OF STRUCTURE?
The balance of structure is the ability to control your body in various ways no matter if you crash in, step out, angle off, change levels. It is a crucial element that transcends tools. The BoS is something that if ignored limits one in any follow up that may be needed due to a lack of mobility or an over commitment.

We have all seen the over commitment of attacks. They throw the initiator completely off balance and open up counters that you could drive a truck through. The reason being is that the initiators BoS is totally off or more than likely he has never trained in a manner that harps on body structure balance. To understand BoS one must train it slowly, in fact BoS is one of the very first lessons any martial/combatives programs should introduce to students, without it everything else will always be one and dones, and based off of the mutual pressure scenario where you are now trading technique for technique. The goal in violence is to use your skill sets to shut down your opposition, not to trade techniques in the same box.

HOW TO TRAIN BoS
Every traditional martial art of merit will have their ways of training balance of structure based in the work they present. An art like GoJu Ryu will be focusing strongly on the rooting methods while keeping the weight of the torso aligned strongly over the hips allowing for succinct movement in and out of an opponents zones, whether that be utilizing the circle stepping or the linear shifting. Their hands and subsequent shields offer both the offense needed as well as the defense when crashing through. Wing Chun utilizes a similar concept but utilizes more of the horse turning and overwhelming attacks on the move, never loosing the 60/40 pressure only shifting it on the way in or out incumbent upon pressure received. Every traditional system of merit will address the situation differently. What all of these systems have in common is the ability to control the BoS when crashing the line and subsequently having an ability due to their BoS to follow up when that crash is taken away.

In today's world we see the influx of COMBATIVES, some based off the Fairbairn model, some strewn together from a myriad of systems that one dabbles in. What I see in allot of these methods is a lack of the obvious that one needs, the Balance of Structure. I see allot of technique exchanging, allot of similar pressure work, and allot of over kill that in my opinion is wasted energy and motion. When one does not have control of his body you find that the work becomes cumbersome, sloppy, there is little attention paid to the basics of stepping, turning, body alignment, power generation, evasive head movement, rapid hitting, darting etc. ..Without these abilities and the understanding of self the student now has two enemies, the one confronting him, and himself. If the training undertaken only harps on what you can do, and does not address how to do it with balance of structure what you will then have is a drill monkey who gets stuck when the pressure he is used to now disappears (picture the chair bring pulled out from under you). Everything you trained was similar pressure, everything was based on technique, but where was the basic skill of BoS? Where is your ability to track, where is your follow ups? No where, you threw your balance off when you crashed in, thus YOU changed the pressure now forcing you to fight up a huge hill that you never understood because your BoS is shoddy at best!

Remember bad guys have a say, bad guys are skilled.

Balance of Structure - start them early, hit it often, and harp on it every day. It is crucial to everything else.

Saturday, July 2, 2016




The Missing O of Boyd’s OODA LOOP
by: Mike Blackgrave
Observe, Orient, Decide, Act is the decision cycle of Colonel John Boyd. It has been in effect in both the combat operation process and now applied in the civilian sector to understand operational and the learning process in applied violence. The approach is designed to deal with a human aggressor with agility rather than a raw power approach.
Colonel Boyd’s findings show that human beings use this OODA as a primary way of critical decision making that reoccurs time after time. The cycle is used in business, litigation and of course, violence!
But what happened to the third O ?
If Boyd’s first O - Observe contains things like outside information, unfolding circumstances, interactions, then one must assume that the first O of the loop is taking place in a cognitive state thus allowing for observation that will then feed the continual ODA (Orient-Decide-Act) loop. The question now is, what happens when the missing
O (OH SHIT) rears it’s ugly head ?
The Oh Shit factor as a civilian who finds himself in violence is a subject that must be addressed when discussing the OODA. As a civilian you will be on your own, there will be no military assistance in any form, and police help will not be there right away, if at all before the interaction is complete. Knowing this we must answer some honest questions as a civilian.
Are you armed? The answer should be yes, but even if you are we as civilians do not walk around with the handgun out and in low ready, or the knife. We must be able to deal with the OH Shit factor with empty hands, this will now allow us to either finish there or fight to a secondary weapon that fits the need.
Are you fit? The answer should be yes. Fitness is a multi tentacled beast, better physical prowess leads to be better mental focus and mental focus is a key factor in being able to come out of the Oh Shit factor and into Boyd’s original concept of OODA. Without it you will be fighting up a hill and behind the timing.
Are you willing? The answer should be yes, Emphatically! When you are caught in a violent situation unaware two things are going to pop into your head, and they are not fight or flight, that comes later. They will be oh shit, and oh shit! The vast majority of people have zero clue what to do when surprised, let alone surprised by violence. A simple test is to lie in wait of your spouse and scare the heck out of them, what is the response? It usually is some sort of startle reflex with a deep inhale, which locks the diaphragm followed by the infamous words, “You scared the shit out of me” and a giggle, followed by a middle finger salute. That same response often times will be seen when it is a violent situation. There will be the initial startle, followed by the confusion, and the onslaught of fear.
With these questions answered one must now devise methods on how not to be eaten alive by the Oh Shit factor. We understand that violence is happening to us, but once that initial occurrence takes place how do we break free where we can now use the rest of the OODA loop? The answer is very simple, training. You must be a student of both combative motion, intellectual intent, and body awareness. These three things should be a part of the three questions you ask yourself, and hopefully answered honestly. None are hard to accomplish, but all three are demanding, as they take time, dedication and a lifestyle change for one to be highly effective in chaos. If one does not possess the ability in all three then how can you expect to put Boyd’s work into play if you are already behind the timing? There is no way that you can observe if you are being pummeled in an ambush. That is where the skill sets must immediately kick in.
COMBATIVE MOTION
I use the term combative motion as to not draw attention to THE way but rather, guide people to A way, their way. Motion is motion, the human body as it is designed is only capable of doing a certain amount of things, a certain amount of ways. The difference between trained and untrained is that the trained individual has honed those motions into workable solutions by repetition and dedication. This has nothing to do with system choice but rather, physiological fact. A punch is a punch, a kick a kick, but honing both with training makes his better than the untrained man.
INTELLECTUAL INTENT
In a nut shut, can you think on the fly? It is a crucial part to any self preservation program having the ability to think on the fly and bring out the response needed. If one cannot do this what happens is a reaction, and a reaction is weak by nature where a response is solid. What’s the difference you might say? Think of a reaction as that being startled effect where the diaphragm locks and the gush of quick fear spreads, as opposed to a response where once startled you respond with a crashing right hand into the jaw. That’s why I let all those in my A/O know, never to sneak up on me or try and scare me, I do not want to be the cause for a busted lip.
Having this ability will immediately put you in a better situation than simply reacting which may throw you farther down the curve.
BODY AWARENESS
Body awareness is a question of feel more than anything else, where are you in relation to a physical onslaught, and how do I better my positioning with response. To understand this is important. If it is a rear attack and you feel the grab, the blow, the stab, now what must you do to regain a superior position that will provide the options needed to use Boyd’s OODA?
All three of the aforementioned are critical and must be honed in each individual, for each individual. There will never be two alike as we are all different in size, speed, shape, intellect, culture etc. To be highly competent in violence you should strive to be unique, what you do should be yours and not some cooky cutter approach that does not fit you. It isn’t about belts, it is about abilities, and in violence having both physical and cerebral abilities is crucial to your survival.
FAST LOOP / SLOW LOOP
Which are you running and why? A slow loop is one that allows you to run Boyd’s work verbatim, you have the time as your abilities of awareness detected something wrong. This is the optimal loop we all want, it gives us time to observe the threat, orient to the threat, whether or not that means we ready weaponry or beat a hasty retreat. By being optimal the loop now dictates our decision as well, we have properly oriented, now let us decide what’s next, we are ahead of the timing, we have oriented to the situation, and now we decide. The decision will flow nicely into the act, part four of Boyd’s dance. With the slow loop everything flows as we are ahead, we have the time. Things will change mightily when the loop goes fast.
In the fast loop is where the Oh Shit factor rears it’s head. You are jumped which totally disengages the observe portion, there’s no time for it, but there is time for orientation (see the above three). The decision process has already been tripped, not by you but by the adversary thus you are behind in timing. This takes us to an act position, again are you skilled, fit and mentally ready, if you are not then you are in trouble, if you are then you respond accordingly. And even if you are skilled your chances are not set in stone that you will be victorious in a fast loop cycle, but what the ability gives you is a better shot at winning the situation, and in violence it is all about winning.
Colonel Boyd’s OODA loop has withstood the test of time, by adding the third O you now have a new way of working it, FAST LOOP under duress and the standard SLOW LOOP where the original theory shines. Work both, get better and invest in yourself.
You have but life to live, keep living it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016




Knife Skills

What are knife skills in the context of violence? How do you build such skill sets, and when do you use them? Both of these questions are highly pertinent.
The how may seem the easier of the afore mentioned questions, but in truth the how is in fact difficult at best. There are many methodologies taught that deal with the usage of the knife in violence, some come from the South East Asian archipelagos, namely the Philippine’s, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia. Other methods taught come from the other side of the globe, Italy and Spain. In truth there is very little difference in any of the work, sadly those who roll down the path of origin for their truth will tout there methods as superior to anyone else’s. If you do not believe me, just ask a practitioner of any and they will confirm it, vehemently!
The human body is only capable of doing a set amount of things, a set amount of ways, the leg only moves certain ways, as does the arm, the neck and so forth. By knowing this one should understand that the usage of a tool will fall within these parameters, a knife is such a tool. Unless you are a contortionist with an ample love of torture you to will fall into these parameter’s as well. And that’s not a bad thing, it is a place to start.
A thrust is a thrust no matter the system of study, there is nothing different in a center line belly thrust from a guy who does Kali ( a Filipino blend ) or a guy who does world war two combatives, with the exception of preference of delivery. Is your goal to go in and up, or straight in, do you want to turn the blade on the horizontal plane, or stay vertical, do you want to drive in with the shoulder or angle off the line? These differences are in the delivery system, the results will be the same, deadly! The key to any method is in the work you dedicate yourself too. Are you playing paddy cakes or are you truly learning to build the skills needed to see yourself through the fray by using the knife? Those questions must be answered by only you.
So why the styles?
Everyone believes the system of their choosing is superior, usually with no truth backing it, as truth of the knife is only proven in live blood. They base their work on the theory that it is supposed to be effective due to the words engrained in their heads by their teachers who may or may not have a lick of truth as well. This way of theory bending catches fire and the next thing you know you have super knifer’s. They know all because they’ve been told all, and their all seems to work great in knife sparring, or in two man set drills, both I can assure you are not truth. They are but stepping stones to competency. 
The knifing industry as I like to call it is filled with this mindset, and the pool of believers is staggering. If a little brown man 4000 miles away says it works let me then spend oodles of cash to learn it, and more time than necessary to hone it, and maybe, just maybe I can get into it one day. That to is a trait I have noticed over the years doing this, those who want it to happen so bad, they wish for it, dream for it, they need to test their supposed skills, until such a time that it finds them. Then they’ll know and disappointment will come at the edge of a knife. These types of methodologies in my mind are prevalent and to me, more cult like than anything else. It is also a huge money maker for whoever it is who runs the pony show. 
There are however rock solid methods out there that people can learn that will in fact up their chances in violence if it finds you. They are systems built on simplicity, motion, and awareness with a less is more attitude. They understand that the chances of two people squaring off in the coveted duel is more fallacy and theater than anything. But they do understand that in a pinch your knife may be out into play and that by having the base skills of slashing with simple thrusts, coupled with footwork, mechanics and an ability to deal with incoming steel practically, that YES, you can come out of this okay. And in a knife situation okay is pretty damn good.
The key to this is the understanding of self and that the knife is a tool to be utilized. In every martial system a knife can be plugged in. In Ving Chun once you understand, and can utilize the empty hand it is not hard to plug in a small blade, everything will work the same and by training you will now find the proper nuances of where the hands may have to be adjusted to accommodate the weapon. This isn’t hard, it is just work. The same could be said with any system, from Goju-Ryu, to Muay Thai and everything in between. It is just motion, extremely similar motion, and by plugging in the knife, and taking your time developing you will have a system that fits you, your choice, your intent, not something completely different and compartmentalized. It is that simple, yet will require dedication and work.
Simplicity is king!
Have you ever been cut? And I do not necessarily mean in violence. Have you ever laid yourself open cleaning fish, peeling potatoes or doing any mundane task. If you have you will attest to the fact that it immediately garners your attention, even a good paper cut will get you doing the ouch.So imagine drawing your sharp steel across another mans flesh, with intent and power, and speed. The same thing is going to happen, it’s physiology, the body will react on the stimuli of pain, unless the brain is somehow chemically altered by dope, but even then the body will react independent of the brain due to mechanical failure of it’s own. This is the information of knowing the knife. 
As a knife technician you must know where to cut and why, and when. What is the physical ramification if you sever the tendons in the bicep, the hand, the leg? This type of information is crucial, and as important to ingrain as the physical use of the knife. It is your ABC’s to victoy. Having the ability to use the blade and the ability to use it where you see fit due to what is offered is king! 
By being extremely simple in the approach, and mastering subtleties of five simple slashes in multiple planes as well as corresponding thrusts you will be able to deliver what you want, when you need it. The natural countering ability of simplicity will always reign supreme, while the enemy becomes a dervish of fanciful fluff you shall remain calm and resolute knowing that opportunity is a mistake away, and simplicity along with a resolute mind, and body of action rarely makes that mistake. Speed hides slop.

The when to use the knife issue can not be taught, only discussed, it will be different for each individual and how they deem violence. I as an instructor can teach you how to use the knife, but not when to use the knife, as I will not be there when that decision is being made. However, the discussion of situations and the building of scenario work will aid the student in developing the responses needed at a given time. The pressure testing on the training floor is crucial. One must build stress and tired bodies to get the student to understand when, it will be his ass on the line so do him no favors. Always discuss awareness, avoidance and escape, these three things are crucial to over all development. But the number one thing you must pound home to each and every student, if it goes hot, go hot! Do not bargain with maybe, do not pray for a miracle, do not half step your way into a pine box. I can assure you that the other guy won’t be thinking of that, and if he is better for you! WIN the goddamn thing!
A knife is a tool to be used if it goes south, have the simple proper skills, develop them from your experiences and drive on. I hope you never need them, but if you do you will have them. Now as to hardening the heart, that’s on you! 
Get after it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016



Corresponding video clip
https://www.facebook.com/blackgrave/posts/10207118408012336?notif_t=like

SEAMOK~Ving CHUN

Body Structure
The Linking and Un-Linking Ability

Body structure is a topic within martial arts that is rarely discussed. It is one of the most over looked aspects, and under appreciated truths that every martial artist should embrace. If you look at any system of martial endeavor you will see people doing various stances, shifts and turns, their upper bodies trying desperately to move in unison with their lower body, or vice versa. The problem as I see it, and having lived it is a huge non-understanding of body structure, with no ability to link and unlink the body in smooth movement. Without this understanding it will become increasingly difficult to develop power, practical speed, and an ability to control timing. If your body structure isn’t right  you will remain equal or in some cases behind the timing dependent upon whether or not you were first, or second.

The first key to learning body structure is the understanding of centerline theory. Centerline theory transcends methodology, yet it is rarely spoken about in practical context or application. If you draw a vertical line from the top of your head straight down to the floor cutting the body in half, that is your centerline. To have the ability to maintain centerline dominance over an opponent is crucial. If you give up that dominance you will enter into the stalemate we spoke of above. That is not the goal!

The key to understanding and using centerline theory will come from developing footwork and mechanics that places you in an advantageous position with your center being dominant over his, or over any movement he may throw at you. This is where the linking and unlinking of the body structure takes place.

Linking
Think of a chain, each piece linked to another that moves in unison when propelled. The human body is that chain. From the ground up we are linked, whether we know it or not. From the foot that is the root which flows up into the knee, which proceeds upwards into the hips, which flows farther up the torso into the shoulders, down to the wrists and out the hands. When we carry on about our day we don’t think about it, it is somewhat natural. This same linking must be developed and tweaked with relaxation of mechanics and utilized to it’s maximum when things are the worst, when in violence. Violence is not natural to most people, so the correlation from a natural relaxed state often times becomes tense when placed into a vessel of non-understanding.

UN-Linking
The un-linking of the body will come when we are ready to hit, to strike, to unleash our abilities upon another. The structure of the linked body with footwork, and mechanics honoring centerline has put us in the optimal position to now unleash our strike. The drive from the ground will ignite the hips, the hips will drive the energy up through the back which then fires the shoulder’s in a relaxed manner to allow the arms and hand to do what they must in a short compact loose spitting energy. When you develop this ability you will find that you need no windup, no grandiose John Wayne motion to deliver power. This short stroke motion  will also increase your speed exponentially as the quickest way between two points is the straight line. The understanding of centerline theory will now pay dividends as you have nothing to throw over or under due to poor body placement, but rather, a clear shot off of your center to the target offered by your badly positioned adversary.

The question now comes back to how, how does one build this ability? The answer is work, hard, dedicated work with an ability to answer yourself honestly. One of the ways I built this ability is from a simple drill that my Wing Chun Sifu taught me. On a door I taped a line straight down cutting the door in half, thus representing an opponents center. I then stood back six to eight feet in a neutral stance, legs horizontal with one another, hands relaxed at my side. I slowly stepped into a neutral bow stance, one leg in front of the other, toes pointing forward with legs separated at a comfortable angle that fits you. What will naturally happen is that if you step left you will feel your left shoulder closing slightly, when this happens look at where your center in conjunction with the door center, it will be off at a slight angle. If you step right you will notice the right shoulder closes slightly and your center will fall slightly left. Either one of these positions is not conducive to controlling centerline, in fact the centerline of the door is now in control of both your timing, and balance if it were to be a skilled opponent. You are allowing your balance to be disrupted by your own movement as you are already in a slight lean, and to deliver a strike, a parry, or a block is now a two fold movement as you have to regain center to be effective. To fix this error simply re-adjust your hips back to center dependent on what side you find the slight lean, as you do this and your center  realigns with the line on the door slowly sink your hips downward and bend the knees slightly. This sunken position will now relink your body to the center and will give you the forward spring when needed to strike, or move.

Once you have this drill down you can start moving on your entry angles, left and right 45 degrees, 90 degrees, rear 45 degrees, with your hands at your side for learning purposes.  In each of these movements feel your way along, if your feet feel too far apart adjust them, if you feel you are leaning too far forward or back, adjust until it feels right. You will notice when you step on the angles your body will naturally pull off of the door center, it’s okay, it is supposed too. It is now your job to readjust and unlink the necessary part of your body chain to the centerline of the door center. You will find that it comes quickly if you do the work. The key to all of this is relaxation, if you are tense you produce tightness, and tightness is a detriment to flow, and a detriment to good health if you can not rid yourself of it when violence finds you.

The last part of this simple drill will now have you adding both parry and striking. When under attack a strike will be coming in as we as good people are for the most part responsive, unless we get the jump due to stimuli given, and then we are first and often. For learning purposes we will assume we are second, thus placed in a counter offense mode. The drill will now take form as angle off, using any of the afore mentioned angles (the star pattern) and parry to hit. When under attack our goal is to intercept whatever comes in and deal with it. Often times we will have to move to do so, as it takes a very high degree of skill to deal with it in place and deliver your own hit simultaneously, so movement is key. Step out left 45 degrees with the left foot and use your right hand to produce a simple side block, palm out. At this juncture check yourself, are you leaning, are your legs to close together, are you using your knees and sinking? Answer yourself honestly and realign. You will now notice that your centerline is at the 45 degree angle you are traveling, that’s okay, it’s supposed to be there, this is the entry, the parry, the safety valve to now deliver the hit. Pause for a brief second and look to find the line on your door, comfortably unlink your hips and bring your centerline onto that door line, the non-parrying hand will now be primed to hit, fueled by the turning of the hip, remember to keep that elbow down when hitting, to raise it will call an off alignment and relieve the strike of power. Follow that strike with the other hand in the same mode, elbow down unlinking the energy from the ground up thus spitting fire from your hands. Do this drill methodically using all the angles, slow is smooth and smooth is fast, take your time and develop deep.

As you progress you can now use the same drill throwing in your low leg kicking game. I use no high kicks, I prefer low line centerline dominant straight kicks and stomps, and low side kicks targeting knees. The same guidelines will adhere, slow and smooth, link when moving, unlink when striking. The relaxed state must be addressed each time, and honesty to body structure answered. Fix yourself in flow, remember it isn’t a race, it is building solid structure that will pay huge dividends when violence finds you.

As you progress you will notice that the work now transcends into every day life. I constantly am on center no matter what I do, if I am running guns, this same centerline theory naturally comes out, if I am opening a car door, it just takes place. By doing this work it will ingrain in your hard drive making it yours. Another benefit is it is a healthy way to move, you will forgo any bad pulls of the back due to being out structural alignment when doing any mundane task.

Until teachers start learning and teaching centerline theory, potential of students will always be dulled. Look at the great boxers through out history, Ali, Marciano, Leonard, Mayweather, they all had many attributes that paved their way, some had power, others blazing speed, but one thing they all had was the ability to control the centerline allowing their chosen delivery system to hit home not only fast but first, with ripping results.

You should be the same.