Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

San Shou Review Part Two

There are some advantages to being a graphics geek.

That is how I make a good part of my income, doing all manner of computer graphics including video and 3D composing. So I have the software to take a video clip and slow it WAY down (considerably slower than you can with most video viewers).

So, That is exactly what I did with Scott Sonnon's fight clip in order to bring out some things that happened too fast to see clearly. I wanted to use these to make a couple of points about mastery in the martial arts. I have talked at length on the subject in my "Slicing Time" entries but this is a good opportunity to show you what I am talking about rather than just using words.

If you have read those entries you will remember that I have talked about good fighters fighting heuristically and masterful fighters transcending the heuristics of a style and operating from flow.

One of the things I have found useful for developing and entering into flow is a model Scott developed called "Flow State Performance Spiral". This model, at least in my mind, bears some similarity to some of the older "internal boxing" texts of China (like the Tai Chi Classics) and some of the old Yogic texts of India (such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) but there are important differences as well.

Probably, the most important difference is, though these texts are attempting to describe the same set of experiences, when they are translated into another language and taken out of the cultural milieu that creates a natural understanding of the metaphors used, all manner of confusion and misunderstanding can become attached. This is why we get the sometimes weird "metaphysical" explanations of "Chi" and "Prana" that in fact have no basis in reality.

While the original writers probably had a first person experience of what they were talking about that conformed to the basic laws of physics, all the baggage that has been attached because of misunderstanding has obscured the real knowledge to the point of fantasy.

Scott's work on "Flow State Performance Spiral" produces exactly the same observable phenomena as are described in the texts mentioned, but without the cultural and pseudo-metaphysical baggage that has become attached to the older traditions.

So Scott's explanation of how to enter "flow" does not contain anything like "the light of creation must be drawn from the center of the lotus and rooted firmly in the kwa".

In other words, us poor English speakers can actually understand, and more importantly model and duplicate what he is talking about and demonstrating.

So I would like you, my dear readers to view these clips I have prepared for your edification with the idea that what you are seeing is "internal martial art" in action.

Let me direct your attention to the first clip

Download by right clicking Clip 1

There are two things I would like to draw your attention to here. What the clip shows is Scott's opponent delivering two low line round house kicks to Scott's thigh.

Now we have all seen the standard way to deal with this kind of kick. The heuristic is to raise the leg and take the strike on the shin so that the force is partially dissipated by the hinge of the knee. What we see here is a bit different. It follows the axiom from the Tai Chi Classics "The yielding overcomes the forceful and the soft overcomes the hard".

Scott raises his leg as if to take the kick on his shin, but as the kick comes in he times his own movement to absorb the energy of the kick by yielding along the line of force. You will notice that Scott maintains his balance throughout this maneuver. This is because he is using the energy of his opponent's kick to help "root" him, transferring it through his pelvic girdle and out the opposite leg.

The second kick is even more interesting. Pay careful attention to the timing on this one. Scott has to feel the commitment of the kick at a level deeper than conscious thought in order to time his move correctly. You will notice that as his opponent's kick comes in Scott rolls his leg over it using the point of contact as a pivot. Then from behind, he then adds a little energy and direction to his opponent's blow, completely breaking his structure and turning him so that his back is to Scott. This is just about the worst possible place to be when dealing with a grappler. It looks like Scott swarms him only to remember at the last moment that chokes are not allowed, and then switches to a throw.

This second leg maneuver is a great example of what the Tai Chi Classics call "Using four ounces to move one thousand pounds".

So let's look at the second clip

Download by right clicking
Clip 2

What I would like you to look at here first is Scott's kick. You will notice that it is delivered while his opponent is braced. You can see the energy of it deforming the guy's structure because he has nowhere to shed the force of the kick.

Scott's opponent then tries to return a kick, but he has not completely regained his equilibrium. Pay careful attention to Scott's right hand here. You will see him check the kick, then "throw the guy's foot to the mat.

If you have ever had this done to your foot you know that it completely mucks up your balance. The guy has to be getting signals from his body that things are not as they should be. His heuristic in this case seems to be to attempt to overwhelm Scott with a barrage of punches, I suspect to drive him back so that the guy can get his structure back.

Take a good look at his back as he does this. His butt is sticking out and his back is arched. He has no platform from which to generate any real power, so he is hitting with arm muscle only (or mostly) Scott sheds the force of the punches using shock absorption through his neck, moves in and takes the guy down. Hard.

If you look you will see that Scott controls the throw in such a way that his opponent hits the mat then Scott hits him full force in the chest, sandwiching him. I suspect that he was not able to breathe for a moment there, which may be what put his frustration level over the top.

You will also notice in this clip that Scott has almost no "micro-movements". These are the small adjustments that most of us make as we move and think. If this were a poker game they would be called "tells".

What we have here is an example of the "zone", the place within yourself where flow happens, and the vortex, the place where flow becomes bound.

Patanjali describes this in the first four lines of the Yoga Sutras;

1. These are the teachings of unifying the Essential Self.

2. Unity of the Essential Self is brought about by the stilling of the twisting and turning of habitual cognitive thought.

3. When habitual cognitive thought is still, the Essential Self is in its true function as presuppositionless observer of that which is experienced.

4. Otherwise the Essential Self is fixated and identified with the turning and twisting of habitual cognitive thought.
In this clip Scott is demonstrating line three and his opponent is demonstrating line four.

So let's take a look at the last clip.

Download by right clicking
Clip 3

This is the last moment of the fight, the knockout.

As I mentioned in my last entry, Scott uses a kind of "whipping" action (for lack of a better description) in his punching. Each joint moves in a tight line to "cast" the fist to the target. This recruits more joints and produced a great deal of force over even a short distance.

As the Tai Chi boxing Chronicle states;

Peng Jing is the power of resilience and flexibility. It is born in the thighs and called Chi Kung. Chi Kung is concealed throughout the whole body. Then the body becomes the wheel's rubber band and you can gain the achievement of defense. But this is not the striking aspect. When you have reaction force, you then have the ability to strike by returning the strike to its originator. This is the energy of defensive attack. It is used to evade and also to adhere.

When moving, receiving, collecting and striking Peng Jing is always used. It is not easy to complete consecutive movements and string them together without flexibility. Peng Jing is Tai Chi boxing's essential energy. The body becomes like a spring; when pressed it recoils immediately.

So there you have it, a look into a modern expression of "internal martial art" without any of the "mystical" trappings that have become associated with it.

What I hope you come away from this with is that this sort of fighting is highly effective and allows one to adapt to changing conditions more quickly than one might think possible, and that one can learn to respond to an attack with a sensitivity and flow that can be mistaken for something paranormal by those who do not know what they are looking at.

If you find this of interest you can learn more at RMAX and the RMAX Forum.

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1 comment:

Joe Berenguer said...
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