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Instructor’s Notebook

Nowadays, there is a lot written about martial arts; probably more than at any time in human history. But very little of this is at the instructor level dealing with the problems, goals and strategies of imparting the arts. This series, written by martial instructors, will be a frank and directed discussion of such topics. If you are a beginner and new to the martial arts, you may find some of these subjects a little distressing. Indeed, this may be premature for you. The only thing we guarantee is a sincere handling of informed viewpoints.

Sep
16
2017

Why Relaxation is Not Easy

The problem posed in the title is a constant concern in all CMA (Chinese Martial Arts) training. Of course, one immediate answer recognizes that relaxation and exercise are just plain difficult to coordinate. This is especially true when you add thinking to the mix. But the true approach, like all martial training, is both more […]

Aug
20
2017

Instructor’s Notebook: Revelations

Sometimes, words that once held deeper meanings are now expressed in shallow terms. It’s just “aaawesssomme.” For instance, when people use the word, “revelation” they are probably pumping up some slight thing, like office gossip, or promoting the discovery of the correct word in a crossword puzzle. But the core meaning of revelation has more […]

Jun
28
2017

The Cane, Practical Self Defense

Our Shaolin Cane DVD has engendered more questions and reactions than almost any other DVD we developed. This article focuses on those questions, partially in the hope that this weapon—which some people  actually rely on for self defense—grows in popularity and improves in technique. Let’s first recognize the diversity of the instrument. It’s more than […]

May
31
2016

Instructor’s Notebook #29: Metaphorically Speaking

Teachers have tools, great teachers make tools. But that’s not all. Students also make tools, in their minds. And the persistent teacher will go inside those active minds too, creating new ideas and ways to view things. All, of course, to the student’s benefit. Everyone who teaches the martial arts can fall victim to micro-management […]

Dec
28
2015

Instructors Notebook (INB) #28: About Knees

They may tremble. They may protest. They may also be right and you should listen to them. Obviously I’m talking about your knees, not your parents. Other parts of the body politic should be heard from once in a while but the knees are of special concern to anyone who would like to keep them […]

Nov
20
2015

“If I could just interject one thought here…”

For the umpteenth time I am re-designing the basics practiced at my school. This may come as a surprise to people for a couple for reasons. I know that there are styles which have probably taught the same basics for decades, even centuries. I used to study at a school that taught two distinct and […]

Feb
10
2014

Instructor’s Notebook (INB) #27: Nine Points on Assisting a Martial Class

Congratulations and Felicitations. You’ve become an assistant instructor! Big things coming; but right now all you’ve done is stand in the back of the studio making stunted jerks and twitches. Well, you would like to help. Start with what the instructor has deemed useful behavior. But, in anticipation of the day when you and he […]

Nov
4
2013

Don’t Block that Block

Sometimes people tell me there is no blocking in their martial styles and I feel a little sad for them. No doubt they feel that not blocking is a more evolved level of martial prowess.

Jun
24
2013

Training: The Arrow Punch

This form of punching has many skills all wrapped up into one package.

Feb
21
2013

INB#26: Slapping Your Foot

To the student this is often just a neat effect, not to mention a little test of timing. But to the instructor it has more meaning, and therein may lie a lesson.

Nov
15
2012

That Deadly Double Weighting

But I find the “double weight problem” to be considerably more interesting and definitively more useful than most people make it out to be

Nov
1
2012

Sticky Telepathy

This is one of those things that veteran martial artists know; once in a while we mention it but we don’t talk about it…

Jan
17
2012

The Speed of Thought

The point is not that they should try to hurry up their moves, but that they should abandon speed as something they can “control” or “will” into happening.

Oct
27
2011

Instructor’s Notebook (INB) #25: A Horse Lesson

I was watching a competitive match on Youtube the other day (I do not do this regularly or I would have to spend days screening samples and answering people’s questions). A Muay Thai fellow was pitted  against a Kung Fu practitioner.

Sep
2
2011

INB #24: Modes of Locomotion

The problem isn’t going through the first grade, the problem is being stuck in the first grade forever.

Apr
20
2011

INB #23: Your Biggest Critic

The corrections you are so concerned about are probably the wrong ones…

Mar
7
2010

INB #21 Fooling the Flash

Personally I like speed practice because true speed suggests efficient neurological path ways and that seems beneficial to just about everybody.

Sep
9
2009

INB #20: On Becoming a Teacher

I’ve heard it said that most people get into the Martial Arts not simply to become Martial Arts practitioners but to become Martial Arts “Masters” …

Aug
15
2009

INB #19: What to teach?

A kung fu teacher’s ruminations on the nature of students and content.

Oct
30
2008

INB #18: The Creek

A large rock squats in the middle of the creek. The water circles the rock without hesitation, uninterrupted in its career.