Randomly came across this article.

The diagram describes a different example but it makes a peng and lu kind of “energy” clearer, I think. The ball is tied to a string and spinning around a post. The string is exerting a centripetal inward force due to the circular motion. The ball is exerting reactive centrifugal force. The net force on the string is zero but the string is in tension. This seems similar to incoming force that is borrowed and rolled (back) with circular motion, creating the reactive centrifugal “peng” force on its own (so your arm for example “has no force”, meaning the net force appears to be zero, though some small force goes into creating the circular motion).

reactive centrifugal force


After playing around for about a year, I still have a lot of work to relax more, but I can get to my current state of relaxation pretty much instantly. I can also have imagery of, for example, holding balloons between my arms, or images like that, ok. It takes less concentration to do, and the images are starting to not be as necessary. I’d call this “level 0” of zhan zhuang. It is pretty difficult but seems to be only a prerequisite to do anything really useful. Just a preliminary training.

Unfortunately, I have not been practicing what yiquan calls “almost movement”, which I see as “level 1”. I’m going to see if I can work on it this year. In the meantime I tried to do a little heavy reading on subthreshold excitation. I can’t quite follow the theory from the scientists but basically research seems to say:

1. initial strength gains seem more related to neural mechanisms than muscle mechanisms
2. imagery helps with this and can produce gains from the mind alone.

Still, I don’t think the scientists are studying these mechanisms in the context of a sudden movement. I think what the yiquan training is after is a faster mind/body connection to time a sudden movement right while otherwise staying maximally relaxed. Maximum mind and body composure. Minimal mind and body effort. Stillness in motion. Economy of motion. What have you. Last time I spent a lot of time on my “level 0” standing, anecdotally, my reflexes and coordination did seem to improve, very counter-intuitively. The problem is, the mind/body exercise is very difficult from a concentration / focus point of view. It’s much easier for me to mindlessly go for a run or something but that doesn’t give me this kind of effect. But if my level 1 progresses as my level 0 has, the need for concentration should drop. I hope I can make some faster progress with it. Really slacked off with level 0 previously.

I’m reading through Josh Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance. Josh was the inspiration for the great book
Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess and movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, national chess champ 8 times as a kid, then a national and world push hands champ. Anyway, he mentions he had street smarts from playing chess since age 6 in Washington Square Park against hustlers, plus classical training from a scholastic chess coach. In the park, he learned to be creative and take chances. In his training he learned more formally. Combining the two gave him a potent advantage early on.

In his book, The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, Josh Waitzkin talks about entity theorists vs. learning theorists. Entity theorists think “I am smart at x” as if that were an absolute property. Learning theorists think “I am smart at x because I worked hard to learn x”. Most of my school days, I was an entity theorist, only to find out much later that being a learning theorist is key. It seems obvious in hindsight but it also seems obvious that countless people make this mistake.

People like to compare martial arts to chess. I am trying to learn some chess so I looked up basic tutorials which said a simple analysis for learning the game is to break up the game into three phases:

1. opening moves
2. midgame
3. endgame

This breakdown is simple yet makes it easier to understand a particular art’s approach and assumptions about openers and desired endgames. Different sport formats and rules all encourage different kinds of openers, midgames, and endgames. For example, sumo basically has two endgames: pushing your opponent out of the circle or forcing some part of his body other than his feet soles to touch the ground. This idea is also a simple way to compare and contrast judo and bjj. Bjj’s openers are similar to judo. The midgame – the heart of bjj – really starts where judo ideally has already ended by ippon throw or pin. Submissions are the preferred endgame which also exist in judo to a lesser extent. I’d sum up the difference as mainly due to the difference in nature of their midgames.

Mixing phases and ranges up in mma with fewer rules, things get more interesting. The mma theory of “phases” from bjj, roughly corresponds to JKD’s ranges of combat theory. However, it assumes a grappler’s game plan to start in a “free form” (striking) phase and end in a grappling phase – of course, that assumption no longer holds true as often now as fighters go in and out of ranges many times in a match. “Phases” doesn’t really equal “ranges”. It seems more helpful to view them separately. Ranges are mainly concerned with fairly discrete, relative positions in space. Phases are more of a plan and actual events unfolding over time which may or may not involve different ranges.

The meaning of phases as borrowed from chess has more to do with what is usually called the “game plan”. The classic striker vs. grappler match-up is interesting because each fighter has a distinctly different plan and each associated phase of the overall game plan is entirely different. They say chess is chiefly decided in the midgame and the analogy holds true in mma. It is getting difficult to predict the course of matches because midgame possibilities are growing very complex as athletes get incredibly well rounded. When two grapplers strike the whole time it can be surprising. In an extreme example, the upset of CroCop by Gonzaga was unexpected because we all thought his midgame was to go to groundwork and his endgame was submission.

This simple idea also sums up nicely why self defense is so much more complicated than sport or even real combat, which also has phases. With most combat sports, the rules dictate the type of endgame that is encouraged (except that mma has more possibilities). In combat, the endgame may be defined by a mission objective. The openers, midgame, and endgame may be completely unknown and impossible to anticipate in self defense. It could start and end with some fairly harmless shoving. It could be life or death from a sudden attack. There could be legal ramifications. Nothing is really known so this scenario seems like the most dangerous one. There are too many unknowns. There is a good article on JKD Unlimited about training for “the street” basically requiring mma + incorporating other stuff (rather than assuming one can add it spontaneously). That seems like too much for me (and most people) to pursue as already I am largely ignoring a lot of aspects of mma as a sport, and ma is just one interest out of many. The preferred endgame seems to be get away safely. If that is true, there are probably very different things to learn or emphasize from technical material from any particular art. Anyway, if I come across yet another fascinating art I know nothing about now, I’ll still try to understand the preferred range first but then try to understand what it prefers and assumes about each of these three phases of combat.

Saw this nice clip linked from

Good example of how to draw out the jab or an attack that seems ridiculously overcommitted when performed as a drill. I think this entry technique in JKD terms is an example of “attack by drawing” and then I guess the follow-up is a “hand immobilization attack”. As I don’t feel I have any striking skills or outlet for testing these ideas under some resistance, I’ll just have to try adapting this technique in judo gripfighting for now.

After starting to learn some striking and other stuff from a friend and recently watching some Olympic fencing highlights, I have a lot of questions I’m confused about.

First of all the fencing footwork seems really odd. Never mind the strict linearity. That is explained by the transition to the sporting format and seems fine for what it is.
– lunging – the back leg is way back. This basic footwork is what I find most odd. If they do this to lower their center of gravity for some reason, it might make sense. If they do it for balance, maybe, but that seems odd. If they do it for reach, it seems really odd. Xingyi’s beng quan gives better reach while maintaining balance.
– the fleche – seems to have the pros and cons of any “flying” technique
– in between there is various shuffling that seems more consistent with most other martial arts’ footwork – here is where Xingyi’s beng quan footwork seems oddly missing. If fleche is too risky and lunge has drawbacks, why not find something in between?

Since some of the JKD footwork and theory seems to come from fencing, I tried to find good video of JKD’s straight lead to look at the footwork. Couldn’t really find any but as far as I can tell, the back leg comes up as in boxing footwork. In trying out this footwork, beng quan’s footwork gives far superior reach than lunging footwork as one might expect from a spear art. Perhaps something is missing because of the (d)evolution from combat to touching point competition.

Update: I had this on the wrong post about Dog Brothers: Hmm, well it turns out my wife tried fencing in college and my brother used to fence so he has an old foil sitting around… maybe I can try out the fencing footwork sooner than I thought…

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