Tag Archives: karate

Zen Promised Fights of Karate

Newsletter 805
To Promise a Fight

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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.
he was hurting,
I had to let him recover,
give him some data,
and then hurt him some more.

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.”

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.”

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.
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.’
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.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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.


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!



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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.


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,

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

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

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

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.



And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter at


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.

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.

How to Defend Against Dogs with Martial Arts

Martial Arts Defense Against Killer Dogs

Is this going to be a GREAT week or what?
I mean,
the stars are in alignment,
the tea leaves are propitious,
if that isn’t enough…
you get to work out!

best karate kung fu chi training manual

Click on the cover!

Of all them prophetic devices…
only the work out is the sure thing,
so I think I’ll work out twice!

Oinkly doggie.
Let’s leap right into the good stuff,
let’s talking about taking out attack trained,
killer vicious curs called…
guard dogs.

I was ten years old,
was cutting across a neighbors estate on my bicycle
and a big, old weimaraner
who I had known and played with,
attacked me.
Dragged me off the bicycle
and I managed to steer the falling bike
towards the property line,
and I fell into the street.
Off the property.
The guard dog,
who I had known and played with,
petted and wrestled with,
growled and snapped at me,
but was stopped by the property line.

Guards dogs gone wild.
you know?

So I was afraid of dogs after that.
when I was eleven,
my older brother gave me his paper route.
on one of the streets,
you guessed it,
a dog.
Not a guard dog,
but he would run into the street
and chase me.
I would peddle and cry.
And I asked my brother what he did about the dog.
“I kick it.”
It’s got to reach you,
so when it jumps,
I kick it.

I envisioned kicking,
even practiced it a bit,
the next day,
I was delivering papers,
you guessed it,
the dog comes chasing after me!

I stomped that sucker right in the face.
He yipped and ran.
a half hour later,
I rode past that house again.
I was feeling a bit proud,
maybe even a bit blood thirsty,
hoping that dog would attack me again
so I could nail his face with my
Sunday go to meeting shoes.
(They were the only hard soles I had)

There were teeth on the ground!
I had actually knocked his teeth out!

over the years,
I think about the A$$whole
who owned that dog.
Cause it’s the owner that should be kicked,
not the dog.
I’ll bet the owner thought it was funny,
his lights were on,
he let the dog out,
laughed when the paper boy ran.

he was feeding that dog mush with a spoon now!

That sets us up.
Let’s talk about Monkeyland.

We have dogs up here.
I LOVE dogs.
I hike all over with them.
I throw sticks.
I even swim with them!

Nothing is better than a big, old mutt
with a wet, sloppy tongue.

So we’ve got three dogs.
One is a hundred pound lab.
Big frigging tongue on that boy!
The other two are Mallenois.
Mother and pup.
Mallenois are like under sized german shepherds.
they are highly prized as guard dogs.
My partner brought them up,
introduced the mother,
who was highly trained,
as a killer.

that’s not really what we’re about at Monkeyland,
but he’s my partner’s,
so now we have a highly trained attack dog.

Here’s the bad news.
The mother is loving,
one of the most loving dogs I have ever seen.
It is…
over loving.
You can’t go outside without the dog leaping on you,
hugging you,
trying to curl around your feet,
prostating itself and
…just wanting love.

The trainer,
you see,
has done a number on her.
Probably a good trainer.
My opinion,
is that the dog will protect instinctively.
Doesn’t need to be trained to harm a human being.
In fact,
I think the training,
to harm another human being,
is a crime.
And what it has done to that poor dog…
That poor dog is just out of its mind.

It’s always the owner,
in this case the trainer,
you know?

before I rant on a$$wholes who train dogs,
let’s talk about taking out a dog
that has been trained to harm human beings.

I went out on the front porch to do a work out.
Beautiful out there.
A mile of green valley and blue skies.
High, puffy clouds wafting across the sky.
A hint of breeze to cool off the work out
and let it go even longer.

you know?

the dog wants love.
Is desperate for love.
And it crawls under my feet,
tries to jump on me.
So I practice my footwork,
anticipating directions,
and the dog is falling into space,
can’t keep up,
even falling down.

This is fun!
somewhere in there,
the attack responses are triggered.
The dog leaps at me.

Remember that dog I played with?
And who dragged me off my bike?
here it as,
all over again.

Not quite vicious,
but the line between love and hate,
usually large,
has been slipped over.
The dog leaps at me,
snapping at my wrists.
I realize that this is one of the devices
that the trainer must have used.
slap around,
get it to go lightly vicious.
A game,
you know?

But the A$$whole trainer
obviously didn’t know martial arts.

I was doing Tai Chi at the time,
the first move,
ward off.
The dog leaped,
I shuffled back slightly,
bowed my belly in,
and held my arms out,
the dog was in my space,
and I lowered my arm so that the forearm was at the neck,
turned my hips,
and threw the dog.

you have never seen such a quick and efficient throw.
That dog just flipped on its side.

It leaped at me.
I did golden rooster,
a simple knee,
and the dog bounced off the point of the knee and fell back.

I smiled,
cocked my head,
and held my hand out and motioned to the dog like Bruce Lee.
Come on.

The dog went for the feet.
I was wearing soft shoes,
so I merely stepped in front of my left foot with my right,
when the dog was fooled,
slapped it in the head with a left sole behind the right leg.
Came right out of nowhere,
rocked that momma like there was no tomorrow.

I was being incredibly soft.
I LOVE dogs.
Even attack trained vicious guard dogs.
It’s the owner,
you know?

But I moved across that porch,
and threw that dog this way and that.
Didn’t use any force.
Just slipped and turned,
gave the dog the target,
then withdrew it.

after a while,
the dog wasn’t sure what to do.
In the game it had been trained in,
it won,
got a cookie for savaging a wrist or ankle.
Got loving for biting the padded mid section.
there was no midsection.
And the ankles bit back and were gone.
And the wrists,
oh Lord,
going for the wrists
was a fool’s errand.
That always resulted in a disappearing target,
and a dog body flipped on it’s side,
and a series of Karate punches to the belly.
Soft punches.
I avoided any of the Tai Chi strikes.
I didn’t want to kill the dog.

that’s how you handle an attack trained
killer guard dog.

Karate will work fine,
or any other art,
but remember that it is play here,
and that you are,
in essence,
undoing what the dog has been trained to do.
it is always the owner.

The guard dog,
any dog,
is just one of God’s critters,
and we are charged with taking care of them.
Not using them against our fellow man,
beyond their natural protectiveness.

it makes me think,
there are a few people I’d like to ‘de-train’
a few politicians.
Maybe that’s a story for another time,

Have a great and glorious work out!
And don’t forget to pet your dog,
and play with him every day.
especially if he’s been attack trained.


Here’s the link for Matrix Tai Chi Chuan.
That’s the stuff I use,
and I recommend it HIGHLY!


Is it Possible to have Perfect Martial Arts?

Chess and the First Move in the Martial Arts

I recently wrote on article on ‘Beyond Western Muscles and the Martial Arts,’ and in that article I mentioned an idea I had come across many years ago: that in a perfect chess game white will win for the simple reason that it moved first.

This has obvious implications in the martial arts. Two combatants edging towards each other, the perfect gunfight, searching for that threshold of distance wherein they can strike first and without getting struck.

Some people didn’t agree with this. I thought it a simple matter of extrapolating Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the resulting corollaries in subatomic physics, but, alas, I guess I was not…the first to move.

Then I had an interesting email wherein the fellow said that if two tai chi masters fight, the one who moves first will always lose.

Lord! Now I didn’t know what to think!

Except (aha!), if one understands that the perfect state of consciousness (awareness) is to consider oneself the center of the universe, and that everything revolves around oneself, and that there is no proof that anything (or entity) exists, except as is created by the being at the center of the universe.

This theory holds up to the concept that at the center of all motion is motionlessness. This theory finally achieves the concept of perfection in the martial arts, and in the whole universe!

In this realm thought ceases to be motion, and becomes the ultimate no motion.

Which brings us to the grand conclusion.

If one doesn’t move first, then one will win. This fulfills the highest goals of the the martial arts, defines the highest attributes of an individual, and results in the cessation of all wars for an everlasting reign of peace on earth.

After, of course, one puts a big juicy, raw steak on his eyeball.

If you want perfection in your fighting abilities you have to matrix your martial arts. Go to Monster Martial Arts and find out what Matrixing is.

If you like martial arts humor you should check out the Case Histories column at Monster Martial Arts.

The One Thing That Makes Me Mad About Martial Artists

‘Just one thing makes you mad about Martial Artists, Al?’ you ask.

Yeah, really, just one thing.

Do you remember back when you were first starting, and you would encounter the attitude that ‘my school is best/my art is best.’

martial arts anger

I’m so mad I could hit…the air!

Now, after having done a few martial arts you have the overall picture, and you know that not one art is best.

And, if you are pretty savvy, you understand that people need to think their art is best, at least in the beginning. It is a mark of loyalty, of fanaticism that is necessary to truly immerse yourself in your studies.

You need that degree of commitment if you are really going to learn anything.

Martial Arts are tough, and it takes a person with zeal to make it through them.

Now, having said that, what is the one thing that makes me mad about Martial Artists?

Well, interestingly enough, it is an extrapolation of that stupidity of which we are all necessarily guilty.

It is an attitude that, since we have done martial arts we know everything.

It is a stopping point that happens after somebody has learned something significant, and then doesn’t know how to proceed, and thus doesn’t want to proceed, and falls back on, here it is, ‘I know that/we have that in our system.’

Yep, it is the refusal to move, the inability to learn more, and simply because we think we know it all.

But if you knew it all you could make an orange appear in your hand. Out of nothing.

Or vaporize a rock, into nothing, without the pesky atomic explosion that might accomplish such folderol.

Now, I encounter that attitude more than most, and this because I have gone past it. There is a residue, you see, which accumulates. And this residue of which I speak insulates those who wish to know, but don’t know how, who have succumbed to the one thing that pisses me off about martial artists.

So, you don’t know everything, and I say, ‘Look, here is this matrixing thing, and it can show you what you don’t know! Doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you don’t know, it works for everybody, and it finds out what you don’t know, even if it is different from what everybody else doesn’t know!’

Most people are polite, think I am just drumming up a little internet business with an internet gimmick, and they simply slide over my claims of a science…and the fact that I have over 600 pages of testimonials, and almost no detractors.

Well, I have a few detractors, but the odd thing–every one of those detractors has never taken one of my courses!

But to return to the sane ones, most martial artists smile, relax in their hard won competence, and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I understand what he’s saying, so I must have that in my art. No need to look.’

But if asked if they have ever seen a matrix graph? Whether they have ever come across something called a matrix of blocks? Whether they have seen the martial arts listed as a geometrical arrangement? They can’t say that they have.

Or, sad, if they have, the graph or arrangement is wrong. It is just a compilation of kenpo (or other) techniques that, given enough techniques, will invariably slide one to the other.

Not a logic, but a happenstance when one has information overload.

Not a slim, streamlined way of understanding all arts, of accessing all arts, but a jumble of everything piled in a bucket so you can’t see the bottom.

Well, there you go, that’s the one thing that makes me mad about Martial Artists. The fact that they have reached the top, and don’t understand it is a beginning for a whole new thing. A relaxation into self-satisfaction, and the end of the climb.

An inability to learn because they think they know it all.

Head over to Monster Martial Arts to find out more about how to start your learning curve upwards again!