I love this article by Bill Fettes, a retired Australian police officer, I came across recently on Ellis Amdur’s blog. It discusses real world uses for the techniques found in the Internet Arts he has trained- Aikido, Tai Chi and XingYi. I like the mix of no nonsense description and practical demonstration.
What’s great is that Bill gives clear recollections of the techniques he actually used “on the streets”, then provides demo pictures of how it played out with a partner. Take a look!
My overwhelming observation is that what he’s showing looks exactly like the kind of techniques my Tai Chi teacher does all the time in push hands/sparring. In fact, I recall being on the end of them several times!
A lot of the time I see people training Chinese Martial Arts with too much emphasis on getting a single hit in, as if that would be the end of everything. It won’t. “One strike one kill” is a nice idea in theory, but I don’t think you’re meant to take that idea litterally.
One thing my Tai Chi teacher emphasises is that he wants the fight to end with the other guy controlled at his feet, pinned to the ground in some way so he can be incapacitated or restrained. If you want to run away then why not give yourself a head start by breaking something first, or calming them down? Or if you want to hold them in place until help arrives you need to have trained that skill.
You can’t just keep hitting people – it prolongs the conflict and turns what started as a self defence situation into an assault by you on the attacker, even if you were the original victim. Just imagine how it’s going to look on CCTV, which is everywhere in the UK.
Tai Chi people! I would suggest you incorporate these techniques into your push hand if you are not doing so already – it’s not hard to see where you could fit them in.
XingYi people! – Note, there’s also a nice reference to one of my favourite XingYi animals, the bear eagle, in the article. And also check out the quote below about the observation of wild animals – this is your homework 🙂
Everyone! One more thing to consider about this article – he’s not really talking about weapon assaults or multiple opponents. How do you think that would change outcomes and what he’s doing? Discuss.
Quite often in martial arts like XingYi we are encouraged to observe actual wild animals and the way they fight. I really like the part of the blog post where he describes a similar instruction from a teacher, and real world example of usage:
When living in Japan, I attended several meetings of martial minded fellas, organized by Phil Relnick. Phil was kind of a godfather to most of us non-Japanese martial artists, having lived and trained in the country since 1955. At once such meeting, a U.S. student living in Singapore, who was studying the Shaolin animal forms, was invited to speak. He told us that his teacher had him go to Singapore zoo each day and study his animal: the boar. He then had to report back with anything he had learnt. I thought that was a pretty cool idea until Master Wang Zhong Dao designated me a ‘tiger,’ and gave me the same instructions. Then it became hard work. I was not sure why he designated me a tiger, maybe my big paws or shoulders, or maybe because I was always pacing or prowling, never being able to keep still. Most masters don’t explain their reasoning to plebs, anyway, so I spent a lot of time observing my namesake behind bars. One thing I did notice about the tiger was that when attacking, it generally uses its weapons on the throat; I used this a couple of times on the street with quite unusual results.
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Thanks Ellis – I read the whole thing in an Aussie accent. It’s great 🙂
Graham – Thanks for the boost. Bill is a piece of work, to say the least. He started training in Toda-ha Buko-ryu after I left Japan, so we’ve not yet met face-to-face. Simply corresponded, laughing our faces off at what the other comes up with. Hoping to get to Australia in a couple of years, so we can finally compare notes in real time.
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