Monday, December 10, 2018

Notes on the Jeet Tek

A staple of the JKD arsenal is the “stop kick,” jeet tek in Lee’s Cantonese. Although any kick that interrupts the initiation of an opponent’s attack is in the category of a stop kick, there are two variations referred to as jeet tek (JKD historians: feel free to chime in or correct me). Both are generally presented as “stiff leg” kicks, that is, there is no chambering, just picking the leg up and getting a stopping force on the opponent’s knee or shin (however you advance the kick). In one variation, the bottom of your foot is at a 45 degree angle to the surface you are contacting. The advantage of this variation is that there is no change of angle of the upper body to be seen by the opponent, it’s quite stealthy. Also, your upper body, having not turned, is quick to the follow up with hands. The second variation in its final position is that of a low side kick but still generally executed “stiff legged.” The advantage of this is that you can pump more force into it and your upper body is leaned back for better defense. In both cases, it is important to get a good contact with the arch of the foot rather than the ball. They are both very workable.
The one thing I would say is that your stance INCLUDES a chamber that is a shame to waste. That is, if using a slide and step to advance the kick, however bent your leg is in your stance, coordinate the straightening of the leg with the impact of your kick to get added force. Otherwise, it’s arguably like having your jab completely extended before contact rather than “hitting through” the target.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Disrespectful Me

 As a bit of preview for my in-progress getting-close-to-done knife course (and future weapons volumes), I thought I’d share a bit of my guiding perspective. 

First, what is my primary loyalty to? A particular system and the social dynamics that keeps things bounded? No. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hugely grateful for the knowledge shared by my teachers. 

But the loyalty to a system and its logic is one of the most unfortunate, if understandable, impediments to progress. Even though it seems like ancient history to look back at the time when Bruce Lee wrote “Liberate Yourself From Classical Karate,” it is still as relevant today as it was then. People love belonging to a group and having that identity (and salability). Very human. 

Then there are other problems, such as the natural simplification of curriculum so that the average person can feel like they are making progress through memorization and various skill sets even if that curriculum does not adequately address intrinsic complexity, i.e. how messy fighting can be.

Another problem is open instruction versus secrecy. That is, the most efficient and useful material is often held back in the name of a traditional curriculum. Also in the unacknowledged name of making money: if your primary goal is keeping people around for as long as possible rather than making them as functional as quickly as possible, then by all means have an extensive elaborate curriculum and obscure what is most important.

Hypothetical: If a close relative were going to have to be in a serious knife confrontation in a month or two, how would you train them? Would you train them to do middle range counter-for-counter flow drills, or how to move and stay at long range as the primary strategy?

To be specific, I think a lot of weapons curriculums are ass-backwards. That is, they start with middle or close range (of course without asking how you ended up that close without doing anything sooner), and then somewhere down the line dealing with long range (although there are systems that I’ve seen that don’t seem to deal with long range at all, which makes them eye-rollingly bad). 

The truth is, that under uncooperative conditions, long range skills hold up under pressure much better than middle range skills. Yes, anything can work and anything can fail, do we really need to say that? So it makes more sense to me to really focus on long range as primary, and middle/close range as something you had to do because you screwed up ten ways from Sunday.

And as for long range, a lot of training I’ve seen still deals with long range (i.e. the range where they cannot land a strike or cut to the head/body but you can strike or cut their incoming  attack) in a pro-forma set patterned way so that the defender does not really have to judge distance or manipulate the footwork to maintain proper range. Beyond that there are still timing variations that are rarely addressed.

The goal is to cultivate an intuitive skill that has a chance to hold up in real time under pressure.