Tag Archives: karate

The Secret of the One Year Black Belt Re-issued!

Outlaw Karate Gets a Face Lift!

‘Outlaw Karate: The Secret of the One Year Black Belt,’ was one of the first books on Matrixing. Actually, it was written before matrixing became ‘officialize.’

This is the first book to put forth the concept that people could actually earn a real Black Belt in Karate in a year of less.

This new edition includes a glossy cover. The original material,  five star rated on Amazon, is intact.

The glory of this book is that it goes belt by belt, describing all the experiences, detailing what the student should be going through, and showing all the forms and applications. Thus, the reader has a much better chance of getting through the material without error; it is actually possible to get to a Black Belt within one year.

The book is based on the author’s synthesis of two martial arts, ‘Kang Duk Won’ and ‘Kwon Bup.’ All duplicate material has been discarded, along with fluff material such as poser techniques, unworkable techniques, and so on.

The result is an extremely hard core, street workable system.

The book includes detailed instructions on such items as:

  • how to create power
  • six ways to translate a block into totally different techniques
  • promotional requirements for every belt
  • what a student goes through on each belt level and why
  • the actual written tests for each belt
  • and TONS more.

The book is 166 pages with 212 images. In includes the complete system, with all the forms, applications, and methods of freestyle.

To find out more about Outlaw Karate: The Secret of the One Year Black Belt, click on this cover…

you can get a black belt in less than a year

Click on the cover to go to Amazon and find out more…

This book is a complete system. It includes all the forms and form applications, along with methods of freestyle.

Gordon Liu and the Mad Monkey Punch!

Newsletter 860

Gordon Liu, Cal Worthington, and the Most Powerful Punch in ALL the Martial Arts

Let’s talk about perfection in your work outs.

I’m pretty lucky.

I grew up through the so called 

golden age of martial arts.

Though,

truth,

I think the golden age is just over the hill,

we’re on the cusp of great things,

things that the ancient masters would eat their hearts out for.

So,

in this golden age of martial arts

were some wild ass chop sockies.

Chop sockies are the name we’ve given kung movies

of the seventies and eighties.

Special effects consisted of trampoline kicks,

and the most terrible acting imaginable.

But for a country that had no martial arts

this was the holy grail.

Gordon Liu was the ringleader 

of this massive influx of kung fu.

‘Thirty-six Chambers of Death,’

you know?

And,

one night I was watching late TV.

During the eighties

late night was supported by Cal Worthington.

Stick with me now,
I’m going to take a little trip…

Cal Worthington sold cars on late night TV.

He would put a tiger on the hood of a car

and call it his dog ‘spot.’

One day I needed to buy a car,

so I headed over to Cal Worthington’s place,

kids and wife in tow.

Now Cal had a song that played on TV.

The song went…

‘Go see Cal, Go see Cal, Go see Cal!’

And I didn’t know that my two boys couldn’t understand the song,

and had replaced Cal’s lyrics with their own.

So we hoped out of the car

a bunch of sales men were leaning against a nearby car,

and one of my boys went up to them

and asked if this was really where Cal Worthington  lived.

The salesman smiled and said yes.

My boys immediately launched into their own version of the Cal song.

‘Pussy Cal, Pussy Cal, Pussy Cal!

Needless to say,

the salesman were lying on the ground and holding their guts.

They couldn’t stop laughing.

I tried to get one to stop laughing.

I said, ‘We need a car.’

Between laughs he said, ‘I don’t care!’

And the laughter started up again.

Okay,

that was a long way to go,

but here’s the thing,

amongst those bad, old movies that Cal supported

was a little gem called, ‘Mad Monkey Kung Fu.’

At three in the morning,

one summer night,

I was watching that thing,

and the hero gets his ass kicked,

and he is training in this weird stuff called Monkey Kung Fu,

and suddenly I see the training gimmick.

He hits with his outstretched fingers,

then, without retracting his hand,

he goes forward with his knuckles,

then, without retracting his hand,

he goes forward with his fist.

I looked at that.

I started going around the house,

hitting walls, doors, anything that was a surface.

Fingers, knuckles, fist…

Fingers, knuckles, fist…

Fingers, knuckles, fist…

And,

I knew it was a movie gimmick.

I knew it was bogus,

but I couldn’t stop practicing it.

Fingers, knuckles, fist…

And,

over the course of months

I tweaked that sucker into different forms,

explored different timings,

and things started to happen.

When I began kenpo,

back in 1967,

I used to hang a piece of cardboard,

and strike it with a backfist.

Eventually,

I was able to make hole on the cardboard,
but I stopped because there was no place to go.
I make a hole and…so what?

What was the next step?

Then,
years later,
I found the Mad Monkey Punch,

and this obsession gripped me again,

‘and over the months I began to put holes in things.
cardboard,
pieces of drywall,
whatever.

Now,

everything is connected in this universe.

somebody touches your little toe,

and even the hairs on your head feel it.

When I started practicing the Mad Monkey Punch

I was already at the point
where I could make holes in cardboard with a backlist,

and I could do push ups on two straight fingers.

And, I had done  a ton of Tai Chi,

Tai where I shifted the body back and forth,

causing weight to go back and forth,

causing a feeling of energy going back and forth,

like water in a  bathtub,

as it were,

and I suddenly began putting that into a fist.

Here is the equation:
Kenpo snapping backfist.

Push ups on two perfectly straight fingers.

The Mad Monkey Punch.

Tai Chi sloshing around inside my karate body.

equals

a fist that can penetrate the body.

There are three depths when striking,

strike the skin,

hitting as hard as you can,

but leaving no pain.

strike the muscle,

causing bruise.

strike the bone

causing the bones to shiver and break.

I sometimes am teaching people,

and when I want to make a point,

I strike for the bone.

The students INSTANTLY crumple up.

They jump back and rub their shoulder,

and wonder how the heck an old man can hit so hard.

I don’t hit so that the body is flung back,

in fact,

I hit and the body doesn’t go anywhere,

it is just revulsed from the introduction of total body invalidation,
invalidation that the student can feel
from the little toe
to the hairs on his head..

Sometimes you can see me do this kind of punch on videos,

but not often.

I’ll have to shoot a video on it,
showcase it for you.

it really is easy,

but it took a long time to develop,

especially since I didn’t know what I was doing.

And I really didn’t know what I was doing,

but it was like I was caught in a current,

and bouncing off significant rocks,

until an idea or two formed in my head.

Connections.

Everything in the universe is totally connected,

but it takes awareness to see it.

The martial arts grow that awareness,

but you have to have patience,

and a wee bit of faith.

Anyway,

I hope I have inspired a few of you

to explore some of these things,

snapping backfists
totally straight two finger push ups,

mad monkey punches

tai chi until you are sloshing bathtub of energy.

Or maybe something I’ve said

has connected with something you already know,

or caused a spark to happen,

or something.

You know,

if you wish to know what I know,

to tap into my 50 years of martial arts obsessing,

it’s all in the videos and books.

Try this one…

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/hard-punch/

That’s a book written on punching.

A whole book,

listing ALL the exact methods I used,

how I figured out the sequence of energies,

to make a perfect punch,

and the exact drills I did.

Actually,

there’s three books bundled here,

read about the other two at the bottom of this page.

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/hard-punch/

Thanks for being martial artists,

and have a great work out!

Al

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/hard-punch/

http://www.amazon.com/Binary-Matrixing-Martial-Arts-Case/dp/1515149501/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437625109&sr=8-1&keywords=binary+matrixing

go to and subscribe to this newsletter:

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Remember,

Google doesn’t like newsletters,

so this is the best way to ensure you get them.

You can find all my books here!

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/

http://www.amazon.com/Matrixing-Tong-Bei-Internal-Gung/dp/1507869290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423678613&sr=8-1&keywords=tong+bei

Excellent but Brutal African Fighting System!

Newsletter 856

Armor in the Martial Arts

Happy afternoon!
and happy work out!

Did you know!
Karate burns 705 calories?
That puts it above circuit training, jogging, running, bicycling,
and a whole bunch of other stuff!

Why do old martial artists get fat?
Because they stand around and teach
and don’t actually train.

Interesting fact, eh?

Let’s talk about armor.

I was just reading an article on Dambe.
Dambe is a martial art developed in Africa by butchers.
Butchers?
Zowie.
I kept reading.
The art uses the lead hand,
which is wrapped in tightly knotted cord.
And,
the fighter’s favorite leg is wrapped in thick chain.

No grab arts,
just a club hand,
swung like a club,
and a foot that if you kick it
your skin flays,
and if it kicks you,
you’ve seen the butcher.

I’ve always liked tales of armor.
On the esoteric side there is the ‘Golden Bell.’
This is a Chinese concept,
you work the body
until it is like iron,
until you are impervious to even bullets.
Unfortunately,
it didn’t work out too well
during the boxer rebellion.

Then there is good old knight’s armor.
That might resist a bullet,
might not.
But it worked against a heavy sword,
if you were lucky
and light on your feet.
Hard to be light on your feet
while wearing 50 pounds of steel.

If you want to resist a bullet,
I just saw a news story on a cop
that lived because he was wearing body armor.
Yikes.
Now you can practice shooting your students…
and make a nasty profit selling kevlar.

Okay,
let’s get to the nitty gritty.

When I was training
we learned how to take a punch.
We did this by practicing forms
so we learned to breath right.

Then we practiced techniques
using that right breathing
and punched each other.

This lead to the ability
during freestyle
to take a punch.

It took a while to learn.
But there were guys in my school
who could take full kicks to the groin.

I never tried that,
Mrs. Case’s son wasn’t up to that.

But,
it can be done.

Unfortunately,
I rarely see anybody practicing stuff like that.
Mostly they want to fight.

I always know when a school doesn’t work on how to take a punch,
during freestyle,
somebody will hit somebody in the belly,
and the person who has been hit falls down,
can’t breath.

Two ways to handle this,
though,
again,
I never see anybody doing this.

Have them lie on their back,
grab their belt
and lift hard.

The theory is that the muscles have been paralyzed by the strike,
and this makes them work again.

The other way is just to grab them under the arms around the body,
and lift.
Again,
this stretches paralyzed muscles.

It’s a pity,
the secret of how to take a punch is in forms,
but so many people don’t want to learn,
they just want to fight.

Knowing a few freestyle tricks
does not encompass the knowledge
that is the martial arts.

Hey!
Thanks to those who have purchased the book
The Science of Matrixing in the martial arts.
It’s on Amazon.

And,
for those who want to learn how to take a punch the right way,
Check out the Temple Karate

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

It’s got the original martial arts forms
we used to learn this incredibly valuable ability.

Have an awesome work out!
Al

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

http://www.amazon.com/Binary-Matrixing-Martial-Arts-Case/dp/1515149501/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437625109&sr=8-1&keywords=binary+matrixing

go to and subscribe to this newsletter:
https://alcase.wordpress.com

Remember,
Google doesn’t like newsletters,
so this is the best way to ensure you get them.

You can find all my books here!
http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/

http://www.amazon.com/Matrixing-Tong-Bei-Internal-Gung/dp/1507869290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423678613&sr=8-1&keywords=tong+bei

Zen Promised Fights of Karate

Newsletter 805
To Promise a Fight

Beat Google!
Sign up for the newsletter at
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Gorgeous day.
Absolutely gorgeous.
And that means it is an absolutely gorgeous day for a work out.
So get going!

Was teaching this morning.
We were doing Promised Fights,
and my partner was grimacing,
and finally backed off.
“Ow,” he said.
And we got into a long discussion.
Heck,
he was hurting,
I had to let him recover,
give him some data,
and then hurt him some more.
Right?

First,
I started out with the old
‘Do it a form a thousand times and you know it.
Do it ten thousand times and you’ve mastered it.’
My student did exactly the right thing,
he said,
‘So if I do it 20 times a day,
then in fifty days…’
“Yep,” I said.
“You could know it.
You could be expert in 2 months.
But you have to do it right.
You have to understand the alignment,
how the feet work and why,
and you have to know the Promised Fights…
otherwise you could do it forever and not know it.”

Second,
we went into proper body alignment,
which is covered on the Master Instructor Course,
and how the feet must align properly,
and how the particular form we were doing had to be done
to make this all work.
I ended up saying,
“align your body,
make it a single unit,
then he won’t hit your body parts,
he will hit a single, integrated unit,
and it won’t hurt you.
Energy flows through a body that is a single unit,
it doesn’t flow through body parts used in individual fashion.
This is especially important in a Promised Fight.”

And,
came the look I had been waiting for.
I had been using the term Promised Fight,
and I knew he would eventually ask about it.

“What is a Promised Fight?”

A Promised Fight,
or a Promise Fight,
is a piece of the form applied.
A form Application.
It is a self defense movement.
It is bunkai.
It is the working part of the form.
But,
it is more.
In fact,
if a person doesn’t understand what I am about to tell you,
he/she is not doing karate.
They are just fighting themselves.

I asked my instructor what a Promised Fight was,
and he said,
‘The Promise of a Fight.’
And,
while the study of PFs gave great abilities,
and the answer he gave me was correct,
it was terribly incomplete.

To understand what a Promised Fight is
I need you to look up the word ‘Postulate.’

Look it up for yourself,
get all the nuances,
where it came from,
and all that,
but for this newsletter,
the short and inadequate version is this:

suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of (something) as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief

Assume existence,
put forth the truth,
as a basis for belief.

If you understand the hint here,
you should be diving for a big old Oxford Dictionary,
wanting to know why a simple karate move
becomes the basis for truth in this universe.

So let me break it down a bit,
from the viewpoint of 50 years of training.

A postulate is a thought,
which if worked on,
becomes true.

Worked on,
as continually done in a work out.

As in a piece of the form,
practiced again and again and again.

Now,
let me back up a bit,
a form is a circuit,
a pattern of moves that you practice and practice
until you just do it without thinking about it.
You strengthen the body,
you remember the applications,
you get light and quick,
and all those sorts of things.

When you do a piece of the form,
over and over and over,
you condense the circuit,
and you get rid of thought,
and suddenly there is nothing but the move.
Somebody punches,
and you don’t exist,
you just track the incoming,
and the Promise Fight,
the postulate of moves,
pops out of you.
And it works.
You punch him,
and he falls down.
And he doesn’t understand what hit him.
But here is the truth of it all…
a thought hit him.
A Postulate of thought hit him.
A Promise Fight,
clean and simple,
without distractive thoughts,
hit him.
And there is nothing purer in this universe.

Now,
I am always so busy trying to get people to understand,
offering all sorts of methods,
that i sometimes forget to go into this factor.
BUT,
in Matrix Karate there is the Matrix of blocks.
These are like mini-Promise Fights.
Very important to get these,
to understand them,
it is important to learn the small PFs
before you get to the big ones.
The big ones are on Temple Karate.
There isn’t talk of a matrix there,
because it is assumed you have done the groundwork of Matrixing first.
And the form applications are VERY pure Promised Fights.
They REALLY result in a zen frame of mind,
and the ability to hit somebody with a thought.

If you get Temple Karate
and you haven’t done Matrix Karate,
then you are taking the long route.
It will take you years,
and as distractions mount,
you can be knocked off the path
and never get there.

So you should do Matrix Karate,
work on the Matrix of Blocks,
make inroads and discover what a PF is.
And,
you can always take the pieces of the form,
they are pretty obvious,
and work on them to make real Promised Fights.

Then you do Temple Karate,
get into the classical forms,
and really go to town on the Promised Fights.

Matrix Karate is pretty simple,
it presents the movements that are pure karate,
no distractions from other arts.
It aligns you,
and sets you up for the broader moves of Temple Karate.
It is a real Closed Combat System.
You can do it by itself,
or you can do it,
then move into the classical,
and see what kinds of things
the old guys who came before us were into.
Temple Karate is a larger assortment of tricks,
it broadens the education,
and digs you to new depths.

Anyway,
that is the story on Promised Fights.
Dig ‘em…they are the real zen of Martial Arts.

Here’s the link for Temple,
if you have already done Matrix Karate.
You can just go to MonsterMartialArts and find Matrix Karate,
it is one of the first arts presented on the home page.

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

Now,
have a great work out,
and schedule yourself for twenty times a day,
and send me your wins in two months.

Have a great work out!

Al

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

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http://www.amazon.com/Matrixing-Tong-Bei-Internal-Gung/dp/1507869290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423678613&sr=8-1&keywords=tong+bei

Winning Martial Arts!

Newsletter 803
Make Your Day with a Martial Arts Win!

Great Afternoon!

I was teaching this morning,
and it is almost impossible to describe
how wonderful one feels
after sharing the martial arts.

Sharp,
quick,
strong,
happy.

Hey,
I thought I’d share a win.
I get wins all the time,
and if I’m a little busy,
so what…
I can still share a win,
right?

Before I do,
however,
google is figuring out
how to send newsletters into Spam folders.
So put me in your contacts,
or just go to
https://alcase.wordpress.com
and sign up.
The newsletters always end up there.

Now,
here comes a win from Jason W.

I’ve trained on two continents officially hold 1 black belt, and unofficially am that level in 2 others. I am currently working through the purple belt level in your Kang Duk Won course. I have to say that the workout is as tough as anything I did in Hapkido, but I am slowly getting there. The KDW material is filling in all the holes I had in my training. It’s really amazing how much stuff the instructors leave out or don’t even know. About a year ago I was at the place where you started in developing matrixing. I was looking for ways to bridge all my training into a logical system apart from the individual styles. I am lucky I found your site. I saved myself about 40 years of headaches! Just keep up the good work.

Thanks, Jason.
I appreciate kind words,
I love your win.

Jason is doing the course at
KangDukWon.com.

I wrote it in attempt
to keep alive all the material
I learned at the original Kang Duk Won.

So,
have a win,
and share the arts,
and if you have a win,
send it in.

If you want to beat the blues,
read the wins.

Okley donkley,

you guys have a GREAT work out,
and I’ll talk to you later.

Al

KangDukWon.com

And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter at
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http://www.amazon.com/Matrixing-Tong-Bei-Internal-Gung/dp/1507869290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423678613&sr=8-1&keywords=tong+bei

Five Steps to a Perfect Martial Arts Kiai!

Making your Kiai a real ‘Spirit Shout!’

All too often people describe it as a “spirit yell”, but this only scratches the surface, and it is a horrible translation. If we look at the word in kanji, you will see that it is made up 2 characters.  The first is Ki ( ? ), this is the character for energy, whether you call it chi, qi, or prana.  The second is Ai ( ? ) meaning harmony. Some of you may notice something here, those are the same 2 character as Aikido ( ??? ) but in a different order.  Thus “fighting yell” doesn’t enter into a proper translation.

So, a kiai, isn’t a fighting scream, but rather any sound that brings your energy into harmony with the situation.  Nobody ever talks about it anymore but this could be a sob, a laugh, a sigh, or scream to bring all your force to bear in a fight.

Kang-Duk-Won-side-ad
Since nobody ever has to explain how to laugh or cry, let us turn our attention to the application of “bringing the force to bear in a fight” or spirit yell.

If you visit enough other places you will no doubt see people, saying the word “kiai” or “kiup” (the Korean pronunciation) with no more enthusiasm than a yawn.  This is useless, utterly useless.

Kenpo says there are 5 reasons to do a Kiai

1. make sure you are breathing when you are executing a technique
2. distract your opponent
3. attract attention
4. tighten your muscles, thus protecting your body.
5. bring power to your technique.

Numbers 2, 3, and 5 will not work AT ALL if you are wimpy and quiet.

When you watch the old martial arts movies, you don’t see people giving a kiai, like a child who is in trouble being asked to confess.  It is loud, bold and proud.

More than once  people tell me “it is embarrassing to scream”, to which my response is “SO WHAT!  If I have to defend myself, I will give a kiai, and if the bad guy laughs at me, I don’t care.  Regardless how they respond, whether it is shock, laughter, or they turn to run, that is going to give me my opening”.

Did Bruce Lee care about what people thought? No!  He said (paraphrasing here) “every technique should have a life of its own, part of that is giving it a unique sound.”  This is why he was making sounds, that even other martial artists thought, were weird.

A good kiai comes from the Dan Tien (Tanden), if it helps, think of it as coming from the diaphragm. In theater, they call this “projecting” so the people in the nosebleed seats can hear you.  To go along with what Bruce said, it can be any sound, but “kiai” is not an Onomatopoeia, so please don’t use that as your sound.  Even the 1970s corny movie “hi-ya” is less annoying than “kiai”.

My Sensei says “if a Kiai is done correctly, you don’t go horse”.  This is true, but if you aren’t doing a proper kiai now, it will likely take a bit of practice to figure out how to be all “heavy metal concert” on it, without hurting your voice.

Here is a REALLY good article about what it means to bow in the martial arts.

Karate Kata…How Good Are They?

Martial Arts Kata, Good or Bad?

in the Martial Arts Kata are often translated as martial arts forms, so I use the terms interchangeably.

Bruce Lee said in “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” the following about forms:

“Too much horsing around with unrealistic stances and classic forms and rituals is just too artificial and mechanical, and doesn’t really prepare the student for actual combat.”

martial arts karate kataIs this true? Or is it meaningful, do forms actually teach you combat? Certainly looking at Pinan/Heian 1, or Kenpo Long 1, you have to wonder, is this meaningful? Are they honestly expecting me to drop the opposite hand when I block and punch?  And why are they having me drop my hands when in sparring they tell me to keep my hands up?

Even with something so entrenched as Sanchin, or the Sil Lum Tao those that lack correct teaching have to wonder, “how is this teaching me to fight?”.

In stark contrast are kata such as sanseirui, where it is very apparent that the kata is truly a combat scenario that captured and formalized into a form. This is evidenced by the lack of symmetry in the form, you don’t have “do the exact same thing on the other side” or “first do it on the right, then on the left”.

But do any of them provide you with anything useful? Or do they lock you into a routine.

Bruce was an incredible man, certainly what he said must have some value.  Besides, if not for forms, how do we transmit the style, untarnished, to the next generation?

The problem with Bruce, is that he was amazing. He was so amazing that somewhere along the line he seems to have forgotten that you have to explain to a new student how to make a fist, not to punch with the flat part of your fist, to line up the bones, to add CBM.  We can see that he knew this, for he said (paraphrasing here) “before I learned to punch, a punch was just a punch, while I was learning, a punch was much more than a punch.  Now, a punch is just a punch”.  However, he repeatedly wanted to throw away all the tools that are used to learn basics.

To quote my sensei, “you have to have a set of basics before you start learning to break free of the forms”.

I feel that all forms are intended to serve a purpose, but what is that purpose?

Let us start with the so simple that they are obnoxious forms, like the early Kenpo forms and the Pinans.  They are not meant to be combat forms, they are meant to be a way to train symmetry, and to familiarize you with the “alphabet of movement” that your system trains.  Think of the movements in these forms as “this is my footwork, these are my blocks, these are my strikes,  there are many like them, but these are mine”.  Symmetry is important, you need to be able to block, thrust, flick, parry and strike on both sides, these forms teach you exactly that, and they force you to practice equally on both sides.  Bruce may have been so good that he only needed five techniques and only those on his lead side, but that doesn’t account for most people, nor does it address what you are supposed to do if you get injured during combat.

So basic, boring forms have a purpose, even if it is only training.  However, when we go back to the question of dropping the hand, you do have to stop and wonder why practice something that we would never want to do in combat.   This is where I personally feel that some of these forms are less valuable than they could be.

Sanchin appears to be one of these boring beginner forms; however, it is an exceptional kata, Please see the earlier article I wrote on Sanchin (add a link to the other blog post).  My sensei was fond of saying that he could tell your belt level by watching your performance of Sanchin.

The Sil lum tao, is also a form that appears to be on the boring scale, however, it is a very internal form. It is meant to isolate the hand movements used in Wing Chun so they can be practiced separately from any foot movement, and to build Chi power.  These 2 aspects mean that it can be practiced and improved on for the rest of your life, just like Sanchin.

None of the seemingly boring kata teach you to fight, not even sanchin.  They may teach you many critical elements of fighting, blocks and strikes that you can combine, a clear calm mind, the ability to take a hit and continue. These things and more can be learned from kata.

Learning to fight from a kata though?  That is tough, there are people that have been reputed to have done so, I have a very hard time believing that.

In my mind the only way to improve reflexes, and learn to handle unexpected things is to get into sparring (at all contact levels) with as many different people as possible.  Try to get with people of different levels, different arts, and no arts.

In my personal opinion, I feel kata are very important, both for handing down the style, uncompromised. They are critical for training your body to use all the different tools in the styles toolbox.

I do not feel that they are a prison, rather an encyclopedia of motion and much more.  In my mind all kata should give you as many tools as Sanchin, Sil lum tao and Sanseirui.   However, if the form teaches you to do dangerous things, like drop your hands, you might want to re-evaluate the validity of that particular form.

If you want to align and make logical your Martial Arts Kata, check out the Master Instructor Course at MonsterMartialArts.com.