A new beginning for me in Tracy's Kenpo...

Discussion in 'Tracy's Kenpo' started by Flying Crane, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Any responsible master of Xuefu knows that it must never ever be used unless the very fate of the free world is at stake, or you are personally teetering on the brink of being torn to pieces by a horde of hungry tiger sharks with lazers on their heads. Or woman scorned. Under those circumstances, I find the lesser arts just don't measure up. I am personally relieved that this remarkable art is shared by only two people in the entire world. The temptation to abuse the knowledge is truly monumental, and most mere mortals would succomb quickly.

    For personal self defense in handling your average, everyday bumpkin street thug, rapist, mugger, gang of thieves, or angry mob, the lesser arts are quite enough in most cases.

    I haven't even told my wife that i know Xuefu. It is important that we keep this secret safe, and nobody else even gets wind of it!
     
  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Ahh so true so very true.

    I too have not told my wife I am versed in the art of Xuefu... the very mention of such terrible power could send her running.
     
  3. crash2806

    crash2806 White Belt

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    You couldn't ask for a better instructor! Ted Sumner is considered by some to be next in line to Al Tracy.
     
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I had my first session with Mr. Sumner last night. My wife was not able to attend, due to other projects she has been scrambling to complete. I think this was about a week or so too soon for her, but she plans to come along next week.

    Mr. Sumner and I spoke a bit in the beginning, it seemed to just get to know each other a bit. I found him to be quite likeable. I explained to him that I really want to start over, in the beginning, like any new student fresh off the street. He indicated that was his intention in working with me, and that he also re-teaches all the material from the beginning to his students who reach Shodan anyway, to revisit and gain a deeper understanding of it all.

    So we started with the basics. Stances, positioning, theories of power generation, etc. He also taught me the inward block, vertical outward block, and extended outward block. We also did the front snap kick, and back kick. We then worked on what I thought were just some basic combinations, but were in fact SD techs from the Yellow Belt curriculum. I had never been taught the Yellow Belt in the past, so they were new to me and I didn't recognize them. He gave me Japanese Sword, Chinese Sword, Knee of Vengeance, and Fang of the Cobra.

    His attention to, and knowledge of, the minor details in all of this was on a level that I am definitely not used to. And he had good reasons for doing things in very specific ways. Things I had never thought about, and quite frankly, I don't believe my instructors ever taught me. I want to be careful about making that statement, however. I was a teenager at the time, some 20 years ago, and it is quite possible that I just don't remember these details. I definitely don't want to deparage my first instructors, as they gave me what they had, instilled good training ethics in me, and gave me some good tools that enabled me to thrive in martial training ever since. I am still in regular contact with one of them, and I count him among my good friends.

    It was a really interesting experience to be retaught something as basic as the inward block, and realize I have been doing it in a less effective manner all this time.

    This was time very well spent. I am looking forward to class next week, and developing an ongoing relationship with Mr. Sumner as his student.

    When I got home, my wife asked how it went. I just told her that I think Mr. Sumner is really good at what he does, and we could learn a lot from him, and I think we should do so. I tried to explain some of what he showed me, illustrating the differences between the inward block as example. I couldn't do it justice the way Mr. Sumner could, but I think she got the picture. Hopefully she can join me next week and take part as well.

    So that's my update for now.
     
  5. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Thanks for the update, it sounds like it went well and I hope your wife gets to go next time.

    In reference to the inward block, I know the feeling. Although I do not want to say anything against my first Xingyi teacher either but when he taught me paoquan (cannon) it never felt right but when my second Xingyi teacher showed me years later, in greater detail, it fell into place.

    But I always chalked it up to back ground, my first teacher was Wushu and trained for form appearance and my second way Xingyi and trained to fight.

    Keep us posted.
     
  6. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    My kung fu sifu tends to teach thru form, and like most traditional-minded teachers, it is often up to the student to figure it out. He certainly is willing to discuss the details if you inquire, but his approach is somewhat more "hands-off", to let the student discover.

    In addition to improving my kenpo, I hope my time with Mr. Sumner, and the understanding that I think I can gain from him, will improve my kung fu and my capoeira as well. Understanding the details of why certain things work the way they do is something that I think I could apply to the other arts that I train.
     
  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    I feel this is very true and I am sure it will help your other styles.

    I have run into several things that my previous training has helped what I now train or that training something new has brought things together, Sanda has been very good at that actually.
     
  8. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    Michael—I'd be very interested in hearing some of the details about the inward block, just what the technical differences were and what apps you discussed... any chance of getting you to flesh out those intriguing comments above, a little bit anyway? :)
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sure!

    Basically, I had been doing my inward block with a movement that essentially goes in a path across the front of the torso. The block would intercept a punch at a roughly 90% angle. In addition to this, I would rotate thru my hips and waist as I would settle into stance, and use the power generated by this rotation to aid with the block. The final position of my blocking fist would be essentially palm facing my face.

    The way Mr. Sumner was having me do it, included stepping back and settling into a solid horse stance. I immediately noticed the difference in that he was NOT instructing my to use a Neutral Bow, which seems to be the stance favored by the EPAK kenpo people, as I have seen in the discussions here. He touched upon that briefly, and feels that the Horse stance is more stable, tho he acknowledges that it sacrifices a small amount of mobility. It seems that he recognizes these sacrifices - no stance, or other technique, is perfect in every way. Everything is a compromise in some way, and as long as you understand that, and work with that understanding, it is fine.

    At any rate, I would step back and settle quickly into a horse stance and fire off the inward block more like I was swinging a hammer to pound a nail (not exactly, but somewhat). It was slightly more "overhand", swinging out and more foreward to meet the incoming attack, and striking with the blade of the bone in the forearm, on the pinkie side. The final position of my fist had the thumb facing my face. In this way, the block is really being used like a strike, in addition to the blocking benefit. This movement also took advantage of the pivot that happens when you settle into the horse, and solidifies the technique by having it anchored to the torso.

    From this position, he also discussed the differences inherent in how you hold your back hand in a guarding position. He feels that it is better to keep the back hand open, guarding, instead of a closed fist. He believes that the "flinch reflex" is significantly removed when the hand is open, and makes it easier to deal with an attack that slips by the block.

    I hope I have characterised this accurately. I am sure my understanding of this will improve as we work on it.
     
  10. KenpoDave

    KenpoDave 2nd Black Belt

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    Sounds right to me. Glad you had fun, and that it was worth your while.
     
  11. PatMunk

    PatMunk Yellow Belt

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    Michael,
    Welcome back to the Tracy's Kenpo System.... I'm glad to hear that things went well with your first class .... Mr. Sumner is one of the best ....
    Finding an instructor that has a good enough grasp of the system to explain the basics and techniques in great detail is rare these days.

    I can't count the number of times I've been told "I didn't know that about this technique before" when teaching .... It brings a smile to my face knowing Now they understand ....

    Good luck ...
     
  12. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    I've always felt, instinctively, that the inward block is a strike, probably to targets on the attacker's forcibly lowered head. So this technical revision you describe makes perfect sense. The twist with the hand might reflect a purely pragmatic decision based on the target: do you want the striking surface to be the wristbone? Then rotate the forearm so the closed palm is facing your face as you administer the `block'. Do you want the strike to be more with the fleshy inside part of the forearm? Then keep the thumb facing the face.

    Please send us technical updates as you go—this sort of info is one of the main reasons MT is such a terrific site! Thanks very much for the light shed on this basic technique.
     
  13. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    quote=exile

    I've always felt, instinctively, that the inward block is a strike, probably to targets on the attacker's forcibly lowered head. So this technical revision you describe makes perfect sense. The twist with the hand might reflect a purely pragmatic decision based on the target: do you want the striking surface to be the wristbone? Then rotate the forearm so the closed palm is facing your face as you administer the `block'. Do you want the strike to be more with the fleshy inside part of the forearm? Then keep the thumb facing the face.

    Yes, I always understood the concept of a block also being a strike. I guess I sort of figured you could just use the same motion in striking a target, rather than blocking an attack, such as delivering a hammerfist to the side of his head with the motion of an inward block. But by changing the form and path of the block as he instructed me to do, made the "striking" aspect of the block much more clear, and much more effective.

    The block itself, also is a painful strike at the same time. It's not an "either-or" thing, but rather at the same time you effectively block his punch, you are hurting his arm. It's not a matter of thinking that "well, I can use this motion as an inward block, but as an alternative I can use the same motion to hammerfist the side of his head."

    And he feels that always striking with the blade of the bone is better. It hurts the opponent, and if you turn your forearm and block with the fleshy part of the arm you can hurt yourself and your power is reduced. My impression is that it is a choice he would advise against making. Keep it on the blade of the bone.

    It sounds like you may have switched the distinction, based on your last two sentences above. By having the palm facing your face, either you are blocking across your torso and are reducing the effective "striking" benefit of the block, or else you are blocking with the fleshy back of the forearm. By having your thumb facing your face, your are striking more foreward and are blocking with the blade of the forearm. Makes for an effective block, and hurts the badguy. This is not a strike with the wristbone, but rather the blade of the bone in the forearm, an inch or two down from the wristbone.

    Please send us technical updates as you go—this sort of info is one of the main reasons MT is such a terrific site! Thanks very much for the light shed on this basic technique.

    Will do, I expect to be somewhat overwhelmed for a while, but when something especially juicy comes to the surface I will definitely share.
     
  14. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Just a couple of thoughts on blocking....
    We often teach beginners to block at 90 degree angle (palm toward body), because it really drives home the concept of how the arm sweeps through zones. I find that if I teach blocking at 45 degree angles (thumb toward face), the sloppy students don't sweep through zones enough, or the really sloppy ones look like they are punching. Once they earn their orange we will go back and modify those angles, so they have them "fixed" for purple. This also happens to tie in nicely with the Short/Long 2 forms where initiation off of these blocks becomes important.

    We have always done our inward blocks as a "hammering" block, unlike many AK guys who do it from the point of origin of their hip in a straight line.

    Lamont
     
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Could you describe in a bit more detail what you mean, by this? thx.
     
  16. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    OK, I think the problem was that I was picturing the palm-facing-face as a movement across the torso. And I also had in back of my mind that mantra one sometimes hears, about striking a hard target with a soft surface and a soft target with a hard surface. But it's true that unlike the palm-heel, using the fleshy part of the arm isn't going to be like slamming a thick pad of well-protected muscle into a hard but vulnerable target (such as phs to the jaw) . Went back and reread your description of the new kind of inward block you're learning in connection with these latest comments of yours and think I can now picture what you're doing a bit more accurately.

    Thanks very much, Michael—anything about refinement of basic technique is bound to be of great interest, to a lot of people on the board, I'd guess. :asian:
     
  17. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Sure, ok, you are in a horse stance and have (for some reason) your hand chambered at your hip, many AKers hand will travel in a straight line between the hip and the end point of the block, because many believe that doing otherwide violates the Point of Origin concept.

    In a hammering inward block, the same hand would travel in an arc, so that your hand winds up travelling in in a downward motion into the block.

    this is worth of a viewing, Mr. Parker on blocks:
    [yt]TFOQLblqRw0[/yt]

    Most of the demonstration is a basic from a high reference point, so it doesn't match what I said above, but it is good to see.
     
  18. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    Interesting... but I suspect Hee Il Cho or Chuck Norris might differ with Mr. Parker on the effectiveness of KMA blocks (i.e., strikes which are labelled `blocks')... :wink1:
     
  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    OK, I didn't have time at the moment to view the entire video (i'm at work, of course), but I see what you are saying from your description.

    Actually, this wasn't discussed the other night, but my impression is that it could still work from a hip point of origin. Basically the block just fires from wherever the hand happens to be. I don't think there necessarily needs to be a big windup, and the motion may be somewhat less like swinging a hammer. I think the crucial points are that the blocking arm is travelling outward at about a 45 degree angle rather than straight across your own torso, to intercept and impact the incoming attack; and the blade of the forearm is used in making impact, with the thumb facing back toward your face.

    Of course I could be wrong about this, but it seems like it would work...
     
  20. jdinca

    jdinca Master Black Belt

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    When we first teach the inward block, the fist is next to the ear, with the palm facing forward. The arm will rotate as the block comes across, with the palm facing inward at the finish. This is for all the reasons you've mentioned plus the twist creates a small amount of torque and provides a little more power to the block.123
     

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