Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Christian Faith

I grew up in a Catholic home and was raised Catholic all of my life. As I entered university, the reality is that I wasn’t living a Christian life. I believed in Jesus and who He said He was, and I believed that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God, but my actions just didn’t match my beliefs. I wasn’t a “bad guy” by the world’s standards; I was sort of what one would expect from a young university student.

My life was focused on Kenpo, higher levels of education, physical fitness, and partying with the guys. Somewhere Jesus fell into the group, but mostly only in my thoughts. Several years later, I reunited with a past girlfriend named Chantel, and she is now the love of my life, and wife of almost 6 years.

In 2002, around the time of the birth of our first daughter, we decided to get real about Jesus. So, after driving by a local Pentecostal church called Glad Tidings Assembly (GTA) in London, Ontario, and reading their really cool signs, we decided to check it out. The first sermon was about a Perfect Savior for a Perfect Storm, the Perfect Savior of course being Jesus. Now lets not forget – I am man, and like many men, we are strong and shouldn’t show our emotions (don’t worry, I really don’t believe that). But after listening to the sermon, and having had a few tears roll down, I knew a lifelong journey with God was about to begin.

While I always felt the Holy Spirit calling me to more, or should I say, to obey His commands, this church wasn’t going to let me off the hook. No, they don’t condemn anyone and say, “you’re bad”, since in reality we are all “bad”. We have all got a “past”, and God’s standard is perfection. But for the first time in my Christian walk, I felt cared for, not just lectured to. I soon came to realize the importance of Christian fellowship, of being held accountable for actions, and for using God’s gifts that He has provided us for His glory. Fortunately, God never consults my past to determine my future.

So what in the world does this have to do with Kenpo? Well, as I stated earlier, Kenpo has always been who I am. I live this stuff, and have so for the past 22 years. But now, as I try my best to live a Christ-centered life, my focus is on using my skills to help others in their growth, not just as a martial artist but also as a person. Let me put it another way. If you’ve got good presentation skills, it’s easy to stand up and teach a class of 20+ students at one time and teach about honesty, humility, courtesy, integrity, and self-control. But as an instructor and role model, do you live it? If you answer “yes”, by whose standards are you judging this? I am choosing God’s standards, and even though I fall down, I don’t stay down. I get back up and fight the good fight of faith.

I know a lot of people read my blogs. One only needs to check out the tracker to be aware of this. I also know that being a Christian isn’t easy from a world standpoint. But one thing I can assure you is that being a Christian has changed my life. I believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). I don’t hide from success because I am afraid that I will fail. I don’t fear ANYONE EXCEPT GOD. I choose to rejoice by choice. Most importantly, I now have ultimate peace, because my mind is constantly on the Prince of Peace.

God Bless everyone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Deal With A Good Counter-Fighter

I once heard, and used to believe, that an aggressive style of sparring, where you are consistently on the offense and going forward is the most effective way to spar and that these types of fighters are the most dangerous. But as I have learned to adjust to many different types of fighters over the years, I no longer think that way, at least for me. In my experience, the most dangerous type of stand-up fighters is the one who is an effective counter-striker. This type of fighter typically has excellent timing and waits for his opponent to make an offensive mistake (often via telegraphing) before counter-striking.

Counter fighters don’t waste a lot of energy chasing their opponents around the ring, but to think that they don’t at least occasionally go on an offensive blitz, perhaps leading to a knockout is untrue. If fighting full contact, a good counter striker that hits his opponent with a hard counterstrike will often go “all-out” to finish the fight if he senses that his opponent is in trouble.

So how should one deal with a good counter-fighter? First, we have to remember to change things up. If we are consistently throwing the same combination together that typically works for us against lesser skilled opponents, the counter fighter is going to read that and be all over us. Note, however, that that doesn’t mean we need to try movements that we don’t typically use. Muhammad Ali basically only used his left jab and right cross when he fought but his opponents rarely knew when he was going to throw them. Second, I recommend the use of feints. A feint is a false lead used to deceive an opponent into thinking a particular attack is coming, when in reality, you are planning something different. The goal of a fake is to get your opponent to commit himself (which is a good thing when fighting a counter fighter) so that his timing is off. If you can make his counterstrike ineffective, you should be able to land some big blows as you go on the offense.

Good luck, and again, let me know how it works!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is the “What-If” Stage of Kenpo Techniques Detrimental to Beginner Students?

I have been to a lot of seminars and Kenpo classes where it looks like the Kenpo beginner student looks as lost as a goat in a hailstorm. They are desperately trying to learn the mechanics of the technique being taught but within a few minutes, the instructor is asking; “now what if this happens instead?” This goes on and on so that by the end of the class, the student has learned a least 5+ what-if factors where the technique could go wrong in its application. After so many “what-if’s” the student becomes less confident in the ideal phase technique as it is supposed to be taught. They leave the class thinking they have learned some cool stuff, but that ultimately, they don’t know if they could ever make the ideal phase technique work because there are so many other factors involved.

Hence, I think it is extremely important that Kenpo students first learn the ideal phase techniques against ideal attacks, and that they work these over and over so that the techniques become spontaneous. If taught in this manner, should something go wrong when executing an ideal phase technique, there will be many other ideal phase techniques that one could graft into. Isn’t this what we also do in sparring? We often put a combination together in the hopes of making good contact with our opponent, but somehow, somewhere, something goes wrong? And when it does, do we fall to the floor and curl up in the fetal position? No, of course not. We “graft” into other sparring techniques that have worked for us in the past and get right back into the game mentally and physically.

Through consistent practice, the Kenpo practitioner learns that there are so many ideal phase techniques that he/she can call upon in a moment’s notice should the situation warrant it. Additionally, one learns that the “what-if stage” that is so often taught to beginner and intermediate students, is already built into the system as one learns the extensions of the ideal phase base techniques. The difference is, however, that students that learn the what-if stage as part of the extensions have already put in several years of mastering the ideal phase techniques, can perform them well, and have COFIDENCE in them.

Friday, March 9, 2007

How to spar against someone who always runs away!

This type of fighter can be really frustrating at times to spar against. You want to hit them, maybe even show them your punching and kicking power, but it seems that every time you put a nice combination together the opponent retreats really fast to avoid getting hit. It kind of reminds me of one of boxing’s classic fights: the rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in November of 1980. During this fight, Duran wanted to go “toe-to-toe” with Leonard, confident that if he did so, he could take Leonard out. Then something that will be long remembered happened. In round 8, after having received considerable taunting by Leonard, and a lot of footwork to avoid a slugfest, Duran quit by walking back to his corner because he was apparently so frustrated.

Let’s get back to sparring strategy. You want to hit your opponent but he keeps moving away. Instead of wasting so much of your energy by hitting nothing but the air because your opponent keeps retreating, you need to do something to trick your opponent so that he doesn’t run away. I recommend slowly inching your way in to the opponent until you are close to “within range control” (the second of four zones in Kenpo sparring). Recall that “within range control” is where we are close enough to at least be able to touch the opponent. If we can inch our way in without the opponent quickly running away, which can be done with consistent practice, we can then deceptively explode with our offense and hit the opponent before he is able to take off retreating. Try it out, and let me know how it works.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Gripping Talon

Blue Belt Technique

This technique works for someone grabbing our right wrist with his/her left hand (hence, a direct wrist grab). Again, the hand that we worry most about would be the opponent’s free hand, which in this case, would be the right hand. As such, what we want to do in this technique is counteract that free right hand so that we don’t get hit with a punch.

While many Kenpoists teach and practice this technique for a static grab (that is, someone just grabs our wrist and stands there), in reality, this is not realistic. The catalyst in this technique is a wrist grab followed by a pull forward.

Our immediate response is to rotate our wrist outward, while moving our left hand under the opponent’s grabbing hand. At the same time, our left hand grabs the opponent’s right wrist and pulls down (height cancellation by putting weight on the opponent’s feet) as we simultaneously step in with our right foot into a right neutral bow and execute a right hammerfist strike to the opponent’s groin. By stepping forward with our right foot, we are taking an angle of least resistance, assuming a non-static attack. Also, make sure as you strike with the hammerfist to the groin that the opponent’s left arm is against our chest (could be an elbow break), thereby further canceling the opponent’s width and ensuring that the attacker cannot collapse his left elbow directly into our chest if that gap is available.

A good graft at this point would be to go directly into Crossing Talon, albeit on the opposite side as taught in the Orange Belt technique curriculum. Should we choose to continue on with Gripping Talon, the next part of the move calls for a right inward elbow to the opponent’s left ribs, followed by a right outward elbow to the right ribs. This elbow pattern is the same as that executed in Triggered Salute (Orange Belt technique), except that we are now working the outside of the opponent’s body. Should the opponent drop considerably from the initial groin shot, we can skip the elbow strikes (instead of trying to force them into the targets) and just continue on with the technique at that point. In any case, after the elbow strikes, we then do a left rear crossover towards 1:30 as we simultaneously execute a right back knuckle strike to the opponent’s left ribs. We the step our right foot to 1:30 as we land into a right reverse bow, which acts as a buckle to the opponent’s left leg. In-sync with the right planting foot, we add a right looping wrist strike to the opponent’s right side of the neck. This sets up the opponent’s head for the right knee strike. After the knee, we add in a right heel-palm to break the opponent’s left elbow at the same time that we plant into a right front cross-over, and then continue on into our standard cover out.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jamie Seabrook Seminars – March 23, 2007 and April 14, 2007

I will be conducting two martial arts seminars on March 23 in London, Ontario at the Berkshire Club.

The first seminar is a short one, and will be for kids only. It will run from 6:00-6:40pm and I will be teaching sparring strategies against various types of opponents. While sparring gear is not mandatory for the event, please have your child bring gear if he/she has it. The cost of the seminar is $10.

The second seminar is for adult intermediate/advanced level ranks and will run from 6:45-8:30pm. All martial art styles are welcome. I will be teaching one of Kung Fu’s most revered forms, Fu Hok Surng Ying, commonly known as the Tiger and Crane form. The cost of the seminar is $20.

On April 14, I will be conducting three seminars in Cambridge, Ontario at Karate for Christ Canada.

The first seminar will run from 9:00-10:15am, and I will be teaching children the American Kenpo Karate set, Striking Set 1.

The second seminar is for teens and adults and goes from 10:30-11:30am. I will be teaching street self-defense techniques in this seminar, with a focus on self-defense concepts, principles, and theory.

The last seminar is for instructors and runs from 11:45-1:00pm. During this seminar, I will teach dynamic blocking by way of Blocking Sets 1 & 2. No knowledge of these sets is necessary prior to the seminar. If time permits, I will demonstrate how control manipulations and releases can be found within these sets.

If you are interested in the London and/or Cambridge seminars, please correspond with me by email at: