Ethics, Practicality, Spontaneity and Creativity.

Westside Academy of Kung Fu Blog Posts

What’s a Frame?

June 16, 2016

Early on in the requirements, we teach a block called the frame.  What is a frame?  What is it for?  Confusingly, there are a few different things in martial arts called frames.  In this particular case, we are talking about the block that protects your head against strikes.

To do the frame, simply grab the back of your neck with one hand and then press your forearm tightly against your head so that your elbow points forward.  It should feel snug and should also obscure your peripheral vision.  Now tuck your chin to your chest.  This tightness will provide a structure that covers your temple, chin and jaw.

The frame is designed to absorb damage when you are close in with your partner.   It costs you mobility but gains you a helmet of sorts.  Like a helmet, it only absorbs some of the impact and you will still feel a bit of a rattle from bigger shots.

We teach this block early because it is simple and effective.  Watch the above video for an illustration of the technique and some drills to get started with using the frame.

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Safe Boxing?

June 6, 2016

Someone coming at you with boxing gloves can be intimidating.  So, if you’re feeling terrified at the idea of getting hit with a glove, slap boxing might be a beautiful way for you to work yourself into the world of boxing.

It’s simple.  You box with open hands.  Instead of punching each other, you slap each other.  In general, it is a little easier for beginners to maintain a slower pace and hit lighter with slap boxing than if they have the gloves on.  The awesome news for people who aren’t complete novices is that slap boxing isn’t just for beginners.  People with skill can simply raise the speed and contact level to keep things interesting… or they can keep it slow and see all the things that they might miss out on noticing at faster speeds.

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Get In or Stay Out

May 19, 2016
You're not left handed either?

Stick drills are tough.  They’ve got a stick and you don’t.  It’s a huge range advantage and they are almost certainly going to try and maintain that advantage for as long as they can.  The solution then, is to either close that distance or get far away – because playing their game – hover ing within stick striking distance – means getting smacked with a stick over and over.

How do you close that distance?  Nothing is certain but one great strategy is to rush in after they throw a committed strike.  They swing big.  You dodge and then barrel in.  Give them a tight hug, making sure to control the shoulders, head and hips.  Turn the knee kicks on automatic and stay in tight less they take back the distance again and use the range of the stick to their advantage.

Another tough part of stick drills is it is pretty messy to go full speed with actual sticks… but at least we can whack each other hard with the practice sticks and have some fun – AKA stick sparring (the above video).

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Wait, They Can HIT Me?

May 9, 2016

As a system, we try to continually emphasize practicality.  Things need to work in order to stick around in our style.  If they don’t work, we should discard them and change them out for something better.

BJJ works.  The techniques are solid for defending yourself if you have been taken to the ground.  The techniques are also solid for using to pin an opponent to the ground and keep them under control.  As an BJJ practitioner will tell you, when it comes to self defense and practicality, you need to drill your BJJ against strikes.  If you don’t, you will be in for a sad surprise when you try to use your grappling in a self defense situation.

So tonight we worked a simple mount escape against no resistance.  Then we added some slow punches in.  It is remarkable how much more difficult the reversal is to do when someone is hitting you (even slowly) BUT it still works – and it will work even better if we practice it more… back to work.


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Being a Good Partner

April 22, 2016

Rule #1 of being a good partner: meet them where they are at.  If you have a higher skill than your partner, work to find a pace that gives them challenge.

One of the best signs that you are doing this correctly is when their face displays a mix of excitement, fun and nervousness.  If you see that look on their face, you’re doing it right!  One of the best signs that you’re doing it wrong is when their face is wracked with panic.  Few people learn well in a state of panic.

For today’s drill, we worked back and forth with a partner trying to expose and then shore up defensive weaknesses in our striking game.  The drill is fairly simple: throw strikes at your partner until you find something that lands.  When you find a strike that lands, throw it again but slightly slower.  Keep throwing it until your partner figures out a way to defend against it.  It is best to start with single attacks and if your partner does well against that, to start putting in combinations.  If they are rocking the defense against combos, try adding some fakes and see if you can find any holes in their game.

Remember, by improving your partner’s defense, by meeting them where they are at skill wise, you will improve their sparring game.  By improving their sparring game, you will help create a better partner who will, in turn, help to bump your game up as well.

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