Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions vs Bucket List

As the New Year approaches, inevitably people will start making their New Year's Resolutions. I have been so burnt out from work and busy with the day-to-day activities of family life, I have not made any resolutions yet.

I was watching Timecop earlier today, there was a commercial for Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's new movie, Bucket List. According to the movie, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket".

So maybe one resolution I will make is to not have anything to do for my "bucket list" LOL

I will mull on this and post later. Time to go to sleep so I can be a "brave" and "tough" man tomorrow :-)

REVIEW: Krabi Krabong: The Buddhai Sawan Path Deluxe 2 DVD set

"The sword was the principle weapon during the turbulent history of Siam but the art of fighting was taken a step further in skill by warriors who fought with blades in both hands."

- Por Kru Samai Mesamarn

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Product Description

Krabi Krabong: The Buddhai Sawan Path is the first groundbreaking series to accurately document the ancient system of Thai weaponry. The art of Krabi Krabong as it was taught at the original Buddhai Sawan was a highly refined fighting system whose effectiveness was linked to an individual warrior's agility, strength and speed of attack. A thorough knowledge of body mechanics enabled those skilled in its use to engage in combat with a wide variety of weapons, delivering devastating blows with an elegant simplicity of movement.

Krabi Krabong translates into the study of the short and long traditional Thai weapons and mastery of the art was the product of a strict program of weapons training and discipline taught for more than 425 years to the most promising young Thai military men and nobles by the monks and teachers of the original Wat Phuttisawan school in Ayutthaya.

This unique two disc DVD set shot entirely on location in Thailand from 1993 through 1998 focuses on the life and work of the late Por Kru Samai Mesamarn and the unique system he crafted to survive the ancient Thai fighting traditions.

Disc 1 - Thai Warrior Heritage

A powerful and moving look at the life of the late Por Kru Samai Mesamarn (1914-1998) and his attempts to keep the art of Krabi Krabong alive. This detailed documentary uses archived photos and footage shot throughout his life to give a rare glimpse into how the training was developed and done on a daily basis.

Running time: 67 minutes plus Bonus Footage

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Disc 2 - The Primary Weapons

This DVD focuses on the use of the primary weapons: the single sword, double sword and staff with direct instruction from the late Por Kru Samai Mesamarn on how to properly develop these devastating weapons. Though based on only a few tenets - such as power, speed and simplicity - the art utilizes these techniques in combinations and variations of which there are endless permutations. The goal being the immediate response to an attack with quick, decisive strikes to incapacitate with sudden and unexpected force.

Running time: 85 minutes plus Bonus Footage

Reviewed by my friend Hugo:

There are two comprehensive disks in this incredible documentary, so I will review each one separately.



"Disk 1 - Thai Warrior Heritage," pays tribute to renowned weapons instructor Por Kru and a system of combat "born from the ashes of warfare". Background information is given on the environment the arts were developed in. Prominent historical figures like King U Thong and Phraya Pichai are covered, as well places and events, like Wat Pu Thai Sawan, the royal swordsmanship school that inspired the Buddhai Sawan.



One of the most interesting segments shows children learning basic Muay Boran training sets. Muay Boran, the bare-knuckle predecessor to Muay Thai, gives students a solid foundation "that integrates seamlessly into weapons work". The training sets are an efficient way to learn basic punches, kicks, knees and elbows. These techniques are eventually practiced in set sparring, and later in a light, strategic, freestyle manner. The ancient method of hand wrapping with ropes, inherited from the Muay Korat system of bare-knuckle boxing, is also shown.



Children practice Wei Kru, a dance-like set of movements that is part warm-up and part meditation, similar to what is seen before a Muay Thai match. The students' level of technique is impressive to say the least.



There are brief but captivating demonstrations of other forms of Krabi Krabong, like Lana, which is found in Northern Thailand, and the Muslim arts of the south. There are also a few examples of weapon arts from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos.



Three categories of weapons are covered (attack, protective, and projectile), as well as two single sword types, the staff, the shield, and other weapons. The names and numbering system behind the Standard Eight Drill are also introduced. Students practice two man drills and are taught the principles behind each weapon. First they learn how to battle against matched weapons and then move on unmatched weapons.



The disk is packed with ceremonial coverage, demonstration clips, and training footage. There is nothing on the market that covers the history and background of Krabi Krabong as well as "Disk 1 - Thai Warrior Heritage" does. This is essential information for anyone interested in Thai martial arts and traditional weapons in general.



"Disk 2 - The Primary Weapons", is an instructional that covers the basics of Por Kru's teaching methods. The Primary Weapons consist of the Daab Son Mue, or double swords, the Daab, or single sword, and the Krabong, or staff. The Standard Eight targets and the four series of cuts are drilled for each of the weapons. Nothing is added to the original teachings; they are presented in the order Por Kru taught them.



Although Disk 2 has very little narration, Vincent Giordano's experience as a cinematographer shines through. Footwork, body alignment, proper stance structure, and weight distribution are all clearly filmed under the watchful eye of Por Kru. Virtually every relevant angle is shown - no words necessary, although students do call out the names of the Standard Eight targets.



Anyone interested in traditional weaponry can benefit from this video. There is a strong emphasis on the basics. Students practice techniques in a slow, controlled manner, which makes it easy for viewers to grasp of the principals behind Krabi Krabong. Although the movements can be done solo, it is best to work in tandem with a partner.



The order in which the weapons and drills are taught show common threads that flow from one weapon to another. Por Kru was one of the first graduates of Thailand's physical education program; his ability to integrate new ways of teaching the ancient warrior arts was a stroke of genius. Disk 2 gives a taste of what it was like to train under such an accomplished master.



"Krabi Krabong: The Buddhai Sawan Path" contains is a true treasure for both academics and martial artists. Those familiar with Vincent Giordano's work, which documents the traditional arts of Southeast Asia, will appreciate the wealth of information contained in this set. Vincent also has an informative newsletter called The Vanishing Flame, as well as other DVDs that cover various arts.


Ordering Info

http://www.buddhaisawanpath.com/

Sunday, December 30, 2007

FIGHT SCENE: Timecop - Jean Claude Van Damme vs James Lew (Flexible Weapons)

A digression from the Thai arts related entries. I was flipping the channels and watching a little TV with my kids on this wet, dreary Sunday. I came across Jean Claude Van Damme's movie Timecop. It happened to be the scene where James Lew and a few other bad guys were in JCVD's apartment and out to kill him. Sorry all, I cannot find a Youtube of the scene in question.

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James Lew brandished 2 knives at the outset of the fight and JCVD was lucky to get to his kitchen to arm himself with a knife. James Lew went at JCVD and JCVD was able to parry/block with his knife all of Lew's attacks. That's Hollywood for you LOL.

Lew ended with just 1 knife at a certain point. JCVD dropped his kitchen knife and on the sofa he eyed his shirt or a towel. In the blink of an eye, Lew lunges in with his knife and JCVD grabs the shirt and wraps up the knifearm and proceeds to beat up Lew.

Cool scene in that I am interested in Flexible Weapons and/or Improvised Weapons. I guess it has to do with my idea of looking into the myriad functional self-defense aspects with Improvised Weapons being a big part. One of the most obvious uses of a jacket, shirt, towel or even a bandana is its flailing aspects. With the flailing aspects of clothing, check out some Indonesian and/or Malaysian Sarong fighting aspects. In addition to flailing, the sarong may be used for takedowns, locking or choking. Although taking the time to tie the sleeves of a jacket or shirt to make it like a sarong may not be the wisest course of action in a self-defense situation that has gone to Code Red. With the bandana, the Filipino Martial Arts has utilized it for knife disarms. Check out James Keating's videos on it.

After Timecop, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall came on. That's a great movie for discussion some other time :-)

FIGHT SCENE: Bloodsport - Paco/Muay Thai

Continuing with my Thai style posts, remember the Jean Claude Van Damme movie, Bloodsport?





At the time, Bloodsport seemed like a great movie, well the fight scenes. I don't know if it's me or what, after watching that clip, I was not sure why I thought it was good, let alone great LOL.

Here's JCVD as Frank Dux vs Paco:



Good or cheesy? This may be one to chalk up to "not as good as I remembered" LOL.



Saturday, December 29, 2007

TOM YUM GOONG: Tony Jaa and "muaykodchasarn"



As I mentioned before, I watched Tom Yum Goong recently. I watched it with my 3 kids, (9, 6, 4 years old). My kids loved it. Normally my wife wouldn't allow me to watch anything violent in front of the kids or *GASP* with them. She was in our bedroom watching TV which distracted her :)I was so into the action scenes appreciating the beauty of the martial arts choreography as well as some of the stunts that my mind's analytical faculties were shut off. My oldest commented out loud, "Tony Jaa moves like an elephant." I felt a little electric shock shoot up into my brain and felt goose pimples LOL for her insight and what she said was true! That moment immediatedly brought back memories of an email I had with my friend Aran, who lives in the UK. I rued the fact that I would not be able to train as much as I would like because my wife needed help with the kids and didn't like me out of the house working out with my training partners. Aran said something along the lines of: "You can learn alot from children." After my oldest made the comment, Aran's comment popped into my mind.



After the movie was over, I went googling for info. From wikipedia:

Tony Jaa incorporates a new style of Muay Thai into this movie (มวยคชสาร, "muaykodchasarn", roughly translated as "Elephant Boxing"), emphasizing grappling moves. "I wanted to show the art of the elephant combined with muay Thai," Tony told the Associated Press in an interview, adding that the moves imitate how an elephant would defend itself, with the arms acting as the trunk.

I interpreted that wiki entry as muaykodchasarn was created for the movie or that of all the Thai styles, it was one of the new/newer/newest styles around. I'm not sure. Regardless, the bonebreaking was awesome onscreen. I will be starting a
muaykodchasarn project shortly and hope to finish it sooner rather than later :-) When and if it's done, I will post here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

REQUEST: Black Belt magazine's 1971 Krabi Krabong article by Hardy Stockman

Before Black Belt magazine revamped their site, they used to have an extensive archives section. Some of the articles I was interested in I saved for offline reading. One article, which either I have burnt to a disc and misplaced or I never saved it in the first place. I tried the Internet Wayback Machine site and Google's cache to no avail.

Just a shot in the dark, I am making a request...anyone who had saved this webpage and the pictures associated with it, please email me. Or if you have access to a scanner and the original magazine and can scan it in for me, that would be awesome too!

DETAILS:

URL: http://www.blackbeltmag.com/searchdb/bbm/1971/46.html
TITLE: A Two-Bladed Battle of Endurance: Thailand's sword-and-staff fighting art, Krabi Krabong

AUTHOR: Hardy Stockman
MAGAZINE: Black Belt
YEAR: 1971

A big thank you in advance.

*crosses fingers*

Thursday, December 27, 2007

LINKS: (Muay Thai) Khun Kao aka Brooks Miller

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The name "Khun Kao" will be readily recognizable to anyone who has been to my site looking for Muay Thai info. Brooks Miller aka Khun Kao is very passionate about Muay Thai in all its varied aspects such as the ring fights, promotion, and teaching. He has ring experience, is a champion, is an instructor and has a knack of breaking a technique down so it is less complicated. Ages ago, before the martial arts forums on the World Wide Web exploded in popularity, the grandfather of all martial arts discussion was the Usenet newsgroup, rec.martial-arts. Through his articles on rec.martial-arts, I noticed his knowledge and skill in writing detailed articles. I emailed him requesting permission to archive his articles. Many martial artists have benefited from his usenet articles as well as his sage advice in the Kickboxing forum of The Underground.

If you are in the
Maryland, Washington DC, & Virginia, check him out! His site, http://khunkao.com and his myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/khunkao.

QUOTE: Tough

What is 'tough' ?

Is tough being able to take a beating and get back up? Is tough being able to sit through something you don't like only to please your loved one because it's their favorite? Is tough putting on a leather jacket and shades with a cigarette in your mouth? Is tough being able to booze like there's no tomorrow and showing up for work the next day with a bad hangover? Is tough training in a spartan gym? Is tough being able to break a block of ice with your head? Is tough being able to bend a nail with your bare hands?

What is 'tough' ?

Along the lines of a previous entry, QUOTE: Bravery, I present to you a quote from the movie, A BRONX TALE.

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Believe it or not, I've never seen this movie (yet)...I saw the scene in question either on the Academy Awards or some other awards ceremony. I know it stars Chaz Palmenteri and Robert DeNiro. I don't know who is saying what, but here you go:


A: The working man is a sucker.

B: Wrong! Pulling a trigger doesn't take strength. Get up every day and work for a living! Let's see him try that! We'll see who's really tough. The working man is tough.


Again, this entry is dedicated to 2 of the toughest people I know, my parents...Dad and Mom, this one's for you!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FIGHT SCENE: "Oldboy" Hallway Fight

One of my favorite fight scenes. Not only does it feature a mass attack, lead pipes, hammer, it is in a narrow hallway and IMO, the best part is its use of pure boxing. It's a 3:42 clip, right about the 1:41 mark, the protagonist uses pure boxing to defend himself against 20 or so guys. The boxing ends about 2:50 or so.





Enjoy!

FIGHT SCENE: "Tom Yum Goong" - Tony Jaa vs 50 guys

I finally saw the movie Tom Yum Goong aka The Protector recently. Review forthcoming. As I watched the movie, I was already pretty hyped from the action scenes. When I got up to the penultimate fight scene, I was on a pure adrenaline high! There were only a few other times when i watched a fight, movie fight, or martial arts instructional which gave me such a rush of adrenaline, I literally couldn't sleep that night! It's late, I should be sleeping shortly, my brain is shutting down, but what comes to mind besides Tom Yum Goong is the first UFC and when I watched the first Dog Brothers instuctional series! All left me so high, I couldn't sleep!!

This scene is described on the net as Tony Jaa vs 50 guys. I don't know if it really was 50 guys, when I have time I will count them LOL What gave me such a rush was seeing how Tony dispatched most of the bad guys with armbreaks, some with legbreaks, and some various other ways...but predominately they for the most part had their arms broken.





Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007!

Merry Christmas one and all! If you've been good, I'm sure Santa will bring your heart's desire.


Merry Christmas


Image borrowed from http://www.karateparty.com


Monday, December 24, 2007

My daughters got their ears pierced...

...today. Just got back from the local mall where we had the piercing done. I guess I'm naive to the methods of ear-piercing...thought they would numb the ears somehow with an ice cube or something. They took a gizmo and *POP* ears pierced just like that (with loads of pain of course). They pierce ears for free if you buy earrings from them.

Time flies...my daughters are growing up fast and are young women pretty soon. My oldest is 9 years old and my 2nd daughter is 6 years old. I think I may need to get ready for all the gentlemen suitors with a shotgun ... hmmm...Roomsweeper? Ithaca 870? ooohhh...Franchi SPAS 12! LOL

REVIEW (DVD): The Physical Body DVD: Indian Wrestling and Physical Culture by Vincent Giordano

Reviewed by Stickgrappler

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WHAT IT ISN'T: This is not a how-to wrestle dvd, although martial artists of any experience will get something out of it. This is not a Panther video where something is shown in real-time and then that is repeated a few times in slow-motion, in addition to different angles to eat up the time.

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WHAT IT IS: 60 minutes of an insider's look into a world 90% of us (if not more) will not have access to, nor have the inclination or resources to go researching by ourselves. Mr. Giordano, not only visited one akhara, but at least five (I lost count after five), to present a documentary that details the broad spectrum of how the dying art of Indian wrestling, kushti, is to-this-day still practiced.




There are similarities as well as differences in the akhara as well as training methods. What you get is a little of the old methods, a little of the new methods. When the modern MAist hears/reads "old methods", they sometimes immediatedly equate old with antiquated/outdated. This may be true with some things, but with the physical culture as well as the martial arts, this may not be true. Sometimes seeing is believing and after you have watched this DVD, you will believe that that cliche is untrue.
To see everyday grappling students practice in such spartan conditions with makeshift equipment is awe-inspiring. And add in seeing what looks to be a 6 yr-old boy doing what the adults do is definitely a sight to behold.


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The bulk of the DVD is on the training methods as well as the training equipment themselves. This is like the icing on the cake of the DVD. The viewer is exposed to varying training apparatus from the clubs to the rope and pole and the routines that some wrestlers follow.
You owe it to yourself to check out this DVD if you are into grappling or physical culture, as well as MA history. It is professionally produced and it shows in the quality of DVD transfer. I recommend this DVD wholeheartedly and look forward anxiously to Mr. Giordano's future projects. Of personal interest is his upcoming books/DVD's on South-East Asian bareknuckle styles as well as the weaponry styles of the region.
ORDERING INFO:
http://www.thephysicalbody.com
$34.95 (check for shipping/handling charges)
Running time: 60 minutes
Format: DVD-R




Please check out:


QUOTE: Bravery

What is 'bravery' ?

Is bravery being able to step into the Octagon and fight a MMA fighter? Is bravery being able to raid a crack house? Is bravery being able to step into a cage with some lions? Is bravery being able to talk the school bully out of kicking the crap out of you? Is bravery being able to run into a burning building to rescue people? Is bravery being able to give a speech in front of an audience?

What is 'bravery' ?

When I think of 'bravery', I think of the classic movie, The Magnificent Seven. You know the movie, this was the Hollywood remake of the classic Japanese movie by Akira Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai. It starred a few unknowns at the time and this movie put these unknown actors on the map and made them big stars: Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson to name a few. The basic story concerns a small village which needs help in defending it against bandits led by Eli Wallach. The villagers hire seven gunmen, led by Yul Brynner, to protect them.

The one scene from the whole movie that I will always remember is not one of the many exciting action gunfights, nor is the rousing musical score, nor is it one of the many great performances by the ensemble cast...none of that, the one scene that I take away from the movie is a line by Charles Bronson, and yep, you guessed it, it was about 'bravery'.


Charles Bronson in The Magnificent Seven


Village Boy2
: We're ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards.

O'Reilly (Charles Bronson): Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That's why I never even started anything like that... that's why I never will.

Perhaps why this scene resonated with me so much is that it reminds me of my parents. They worked very hard day-in and day-out to support my sister and me. Mom and Dad -- this entry is for you! And the Circle of Life continues, as I go through my daily grind to support my kids. This is bravery! Speaking of which, I need to go to sleep so I can be brave tomorrow LOL

FIGHT SCENE: Auren Poitrimoult's Green Hornet fan film

Auren Poitrimoult fan film, Green Hornet






Here is a link to Black Belt magazine's interview with the director of this fan film:

Aurélien Poitrimoult: Kato and the Green Hornet Get Ready to Sting Again!

Enjoy!

p.s. I wonder if the Hollywood version with Kevin Smith directing will be any good? Hope the action scenes will be just as good as this fan film's.



Sunday, December 23, 2007

ZEN: Empty Your Cup

This was one of Bruce Lee's favorite Zen stories as well as one of mine's:


Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"


You may not agree with whatever I post, but please keep an open mind. It may or may not be right for you at the current time, but as Dr. Gyi always say, "File it away." One day you may have use for that piece of info/technique/etc. A very good friend is fond of reminding me, "The Years knows what the Days don't."

Empty your cup as you check out my blog and my site :-)

My journey of a thousand miles...

Please forgive me for the cheesy attempt at a catchy blog name...I couldn't think of anything great in my opinion...I wanted to stress the long journey ahead of me and am reminded of the old saying,

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."


That saying coupled with the cheesy gimmick of alliteration resulted in:

Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps

I looked up 'sojourn' on Dictionary.com and this was its entry:

sojourn \SOH-juhrn; so-JURN\, intransitive verb:
1. To stay as a temporary resident; to dwell for a time.

So technically 'Sojourn' is not 'Journey' since sojourn is to stay somewhere for a time vs. journey which is travelling :-( Maybe I should view it this way...as I study/research one area, I am staying with that topic until I decide to move on. Hmmm....I guess that is it!

Then I used 'Septillion' instead of 'Thousand'...I could've used 'Sextillion' but I imagine I may have disappointed surfers who search for 'Sex' and get my blog LOL

There you have it! Please accept my sincerest apologies for the cheesy alliterative blog name.

Like anything in Life, the martial arts is a long journey...I know I have to play catch-up given my late start. I am reminded of a Bruce Lee quote:

"If I tell you I'm good, you would probably think I'm boasting. If I tell you I'm no good, you know I'm lying."


Well please take my word for it, I'm but a beginner. I am not lying about it and not just being modest.

That reminds me of a seminar I attended, as I walked into the place, the host said something like, "Stickgrappler's here." One of the seminar attendees (Hello ResuTudo!) heard the host...turned to look at me and said, "You're 'Stickgrappler'?" Apparently he was a member of The Underground forum of which I frequented. At the time, I wasn't sure if it was a comment coming from, "Dayum, you are not what I imagined!" or something else like he expected some expert given the 'fame' of my site. LOL

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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps