Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Inktober 2018 - Day #2: Fundamentals: Grips

Welcome to Inktober 2018 Day 2!

Inktober is an event where artists draw 1 picture for each day in the month of October. This year's focus/theme will be on the staff/spear with my notes. Please forgive my crappy picture of the page.



  1. Palm Up/Down grip - Fight initially at long ranges and can rapidly shift hands to center of staff for close-quarters. Powerful long and short strikes using 'push-pull' action of the hands.
  2. Palms Down grip - For close-quarters and levering. Effective for blocking and pushing.
  3. Baseball bat grip - Facilitates rapid, circular, flourishing attacks, where the staff makes a series of vertical spins to block and strike. Best for 5-6 feet staves. If hands closer together, can deliver powerful strikes like holding a baseball bat.
  4. Single-end grip - Used at long range. Facilitates long- and medium- range fights. Can deliver fast long-range thrusts.
  5. Reverse grip - Good for ascending strikes or levering between legs for takedowns/trips.


  1. Some grips may be better for attacks, blocks or both.
  2. Practice various grips in various situations.


  1. McLemore, Dwight C. "The Fighting Staff". Paladin Press, 2009.
  2. Demura, Fumio. "Bo:  Karate Weapon of Self-Defense". Ohara Publications, 1976.
  3. Varady, Joe. "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting". YMAA Publication Center, 2016.

My drawings for Inktober 2018 (this will be updated daily to add links to each subsequent picture in the series):

Inktober 2017's focus was predominately knifefighting and if you want to check it out, please visit my Projects page.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Inktober 2018 - Day #1: Fundamentals: Staff Lengths

Welcome to Inktober 2018 Day 1!

Inktober is an event where artists draw 1 picture for each day in the month of October. There is an official prompt list for the picture of each day. Last year, I put my own spin to Inktober by focusing each drawing on the martial arts. After the first few pictures, I decided to focus on 1 theme for the whole month. Last year's focus was knifefighting and if you want to check it out, please visit my Projects page.

This year's focus/theme will be on the staff/spear. I am ambitious with this project, will do my best to post 1 picture a day. I also will be jotting down notes to each drawing as after all, I'm trying to learn staff/spear. Additionally, I need to hone my 'gesture drawing' skills as it will be beneficial for notes taking after a martial arts class/seminar. Drawing and notes will be on an 8.5" x 11" paper and I will collect them into a folder.



  1. "...you shall stand upright, holding the staff upright close by your body, with your left hand, reaching with your right hand your staff as high as you can, and then allow to that length a space to set both your hands, when you come to fight, wherein you may conveniently strike, thrust, and ward, & that is the just length to be made according to your stature."
    ~George Silver's Paradoxes of Defense (1599)
  2. George Silver is saying length of staff is determined by one's height.
  3. Waist height and shoulder height - best to use sword techniques
  4. Some Chinese styles consider eyebrow height as ideal
  5. Chinese and Germans used 8'-12' staves.


  1. Shoulder height or shorter, use the staff as a sword.
  2. Eyebrow height (~5') up to 12', use staff techniques.


  1. McLemore, Dwight C. "The Fighting Staff". Paladin Press, 2009.
  2. Lindholm, David. "Fighting with the Quarterstaff". Chivalry Bookshelf, 2006.

My drawings for Inktober 2018 (this will be updated daily to add links to each subsequent picture in the series):

Saturday, August 11, 2018

In Memory of: Bob Orlando (Oct 26, 1944 - Aug 11, 2016)

Bob Orlando passed away 2 yrs ago on this date. Bob Orlando lost his long fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Bob Anselmo Orlando
Lakewood, Colorado
Oct 26, 1944 - Aug 11, 2016

As tribute, I'm archiving his "Author of the Month" entry from the now defunct Paladin Press.

Author of the Month

BOB ORLANDO -- September 1996

Bob Orlando was introduced to the martial arts while on active duty in the U.S. Marines (1961-1964). However, it was not until after he left the service that the flicker of interest kindled overseas became his consuming fire and he began serious study in Chinese kenpo-karate. Shortly thereafter he switched to kung fu, studying under Al Dacascos (who was then teaching in Denver, Colorado) for three years until a back operation made it impossible to continue in that high-kicking style. It was back to Chinese kenpo, where Bob received his first-degree blackbelt from Dr. John P. Cochran. Although Bob has subsequently earned additional rank, he prefers to say that he is a student of the arts and leave it at that. "Rank," he says, "is excess baggage. It becomes a hindrance to learning because everyone expects that you already know everything."
Ever a student of the arts, Bob's quest for knowledge has taken him into aikido, iaido, arnis de mano, and escrima. However, what has impacted him the most are the years spent studying Chinese kuntao and Indonesian pentjak silat under Dutch-Indonesian master Willem de Thouars. After nearly 12 years of training with de Thouars, Bob received his teaching certificate from him in 1994. He now owns and operates his own martial arts school in Denver.
In addition to authoring Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals: The Brutal Arts of the Archipelago, Bob, a graduate of a Jesuit university, has also written numerous articles for both national and local publications and has just completed his second book, Martial Arts America: A Western Approach to Eastern Arts, which he expects to have published sometime next year.

No longer a tournament competitor, Bob still supports tournament and sport karate. As a founding member and past director of the Colorado Karate Association (CKA) -- a nonprofit organization that works to provide competitors with a positive tournament environment -- Bob believes that the arts' sporting element still provides training benefits for the serious practitioner. He currently serves as one of the CKA's top referees. 

Although he is not a "professional" martial artist, Bob, a computer professional for more than 30 years, still considers himself a "full-time" martial artist, because he studies and trains constantly. His school is a small one, and that's just the way he wants it. "Our school is our laboratory. There, we test everything from the practicality of forms training and techniques to the latest craze in self-defense. We have a formal curriculum -- from white to black belt -- but it is not set in stone. For us, the concrete is never quite dry."
Of his own abilities, Bob says, "I have many skills. After nearly three decades in the arts, I ought to. But my skills came not because of any natural talent, but because I worked very hard to get to where I am today. My fortés are my analytical mind and my ability to share what I know with others. I take the complicated and make it simple. I am a teacher."
An experienced seminar presenter, Bob is available for seminars and may be reached by email at borlando@amoco.com.

Index of Paladin Press site archived pages:

Stickgrappler's Note: I am guessing the Paladin site will be shut down at the end of the 2017 year and I'm archiving select Paladin Press pages to my blog to preserve an essential part of martial arts from 1970-2017. Archiving some of the Paladin "Author of the Month".

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Not Martial Trained, But Fighting Fit by Badger Johnson

Not Martial Trained, But Fighting Fit.

Let’s say you wanted to be good at fighting but did not want to study a martial art. What would you do?

As I mentioned earlier, I did a few things as a kid that made me a good fighter and I didn’t realize it.

I marched in a HS band, football games and parades. Those parades were from 3-5 miles long as I recall. The Macy’s parade is 5.5 miles. We marched in a relatively flat location in Tidewater, Va. I played a trombone which is not easy to play loudly and not light to carry for that long. We also dressed in wool uniforms with parade dress shoes and plumed hat. We were also required to ‘high step it’ when marching especially since the trombones were in the front. This gave me good cardio and increased my lung power (intercostals and diaphragm).

Around the age of 15 I built a log cabin about 10’ by 12’ about six big logs high, and dug out the floor to have an underground part. I used a hand axe, not a long axe. It took a couple months of daily chopping, dragging, digging and notching. I didn’t realize how much forearm strength it would give me, it was something I did for fun. Very good for shoulders and forearms and grip.

I delivered papers on a regular bike, I think one-speed with a huge basket on the front. It took about forty minutes to deliver them, but I had to pedal about 1/2 mile to pick them up and then 1/2 mile back. That gave me leg strength and added to my ‘wind’.

I lived near a wooded area so we were always climbing trees. I was the best at the rope climb in gym class.

So, I would say to build a fighting base, work on the following:

  1. Overdevelop the forearms, calves, shoulders and neck (to absorb strikes?). Forearms and hands give you extra grip-fighting capability. Calves give you the ability to be explosive. Shoulders allow strength in striking and also endurance to hold your hands up in guard. Practice some kind of jumping, even if sandlot basketball.
  2. Work on method to develop your cardio in the five ranges, and include burst, which is explosive ability for a few vital seconds. You can get this sprinting up hills, dragging a weighted sled and pedaling a bike uphill. (You also improve your lung power when playing a brass instrument).
  3. Play games. Frisbee, basketball pickup games, any running games, tag, or volleyball or soccer in school. This gives you ability to change direction and start and stop.
  4. Learn some kind of dancing. Again, that gives you cardio without really noticing it. It gives you rhythm and timing. You also get rhythm by playing a musical instrument. You get exposed to grace notes and subdividing the beat. This is good for broken rhythm.
  5. Use handheld tools. We played stick fighting and chopped trees and dug underground forts and shoveled snow and cut grass.

What about grappling? Well we grappled and wrestled as kids but without a lot of guidance. I did a semester of wrestling in grade school and junior high so I had an idea of what to do. I’d say this is an area where you most need some formal training. It’s reasonable, say around the age of 15-18 to get some BJJ training and to work on takedowns and grip fighting.

So without all of the formal martial arts stuff, bowing and kata and trying to kick high, you’d be a pretty formidable fighter when needed, though you might not win any formal championships, but again, how many people really need that. I was just living the life of a kid and young adult in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

It’s about building layers. Some attribute development through other base training, some focused work with a goal is needed. You might also need to have a role in mind, a temporary person or idea you put out there as a beacon or idol. But later you become your own hero.

© Badger Johnson, August 2018

Stickgrappler's note:  Badger Johnsons follow-up essay on the 7 essential abilities needed to be fighting fit.

Hope this helps!

Please check out Badger Johnson's other essays:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I fought at my first Dog Brothers Gathering!

Photo Credit:  http://www.montrealmartialarts.com

This is my AAR (After Action Report) of my first ever Dog Brothers Gathering.

Many people who train the martial arts don't train stickfighting with minimal protection. For those that do train stickfighting, many don't fight at a Dog Brothers Gathering. And I'm guessing there are few people in their 50's with ~2 years of training going to a Gathering and might I add that the Gathering was in a different country to boot! I did all that ... WOW!


July  21, 2018, Saturday
Gelinas Academy of Mixed Martial Arts
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 warm up knife fight (90 seconds)

And 5 fights (2 minutes each)  ...  I wanted one more fight but I took too long a break after eating a granola bar and a protein bar in addition to drinking 2 bottles of water. It was the 7th Canadian Dog Brothers Gathering so 7 fights would've been nice. Only 6 total fights though for a total time of 11.5 minutes between 11:00-3:30. My body is still achy all over after 2 days from only 11.5 mins of stickfighting!

1. Knife fight vs Wandering Dog/Shawn Zirger

I thought he got 3 clean kills but after the fight he said he only got one, the other 2 were not deadly. He said I sliced his forearm with a clean hit. We have been online friends for a long time and glad we finally met! The day after the Gathering he taught a block of material that blew my mind. If you have a chance, go train with Wandering Dog!

Wandering Dog:

"Was great to meet and get the day started with you."

2. Single stick with Foxhound/Matt Berry

We agreed to no knee shots and no grappling on the ground. He was recovering from an injury. He tried 2 spinning back kicks which missed ... on his 2nd kick I was able to hit his leg .... not hard but hard enough that IIRC he acknowledged it. He hit me quite a few times. He hits hard. Got me on my left elbow. He switched from his Dominant/right to his Complementary/left and I almost switched also. I fought with my Complementary Hand (Left). My Brother, "Dog" Chris, yelled at me, "It's your first Gathering. You are not left-handed. Switch to your right!" As it was my first Gathering, he felt I shouldn't have handicapped myself further especially against a Full Dog Brother who is a well-rounded martial artist and scary fighter.

But I am proud I stuck to my Complementary Hand ... I was very close to switching to my Dominant Hand though! But I resisted the urge. Towards the end of the fight I was driving him into the cage and got him pinned and was going to try for a "cameltoe" takedown but the bell rang.


"Huge thanks and love to my opponents ...
@stickgrappler (huge respects to this man!!)"

"@stickgrappler you were great! Fighting Full Dog Brothers right off the bat?? I knew I had to play tricks on you right away, I am humbled to be a part of your first Gathering. I will be down to NYC to train with you fine folks before the Open. As far as I am concerned, though, you're a proven StickFighter!!"

3. Double sticks vs Candidate Chili Pepper Dog/Badger Jones

I may have hit his hands a few times. I blocked with my head way too many times though LOL. He hit me with 1 rib shot and 2x on my forearms. He said I telegraphed. We didn't get a chance to chat about our fight. We have been online friends for a long time and glad we finally met. I have been training the Cavewoman series and it didn't manifest in this fight despite me using it in our training group sparring. Much to work on.

C-Chili Pepper Dog:

"- Jack Lee, double stick, despite your self-deprecation, you showed good technique and power and took on a lot of heavy hitters for your first Gathering. (also, nice to finally meet you after some 20-odd vears of online discussion)"

4. Double sticks vs Sage Dog/Roger Whissel

62 yrs old, hip replacement last year and also Ascended to Full Dog Brother last year. We agreed to no grappling and no knee shots. HE HITS HARD EVEN THOUGH HE'S 62!!! Got hit in my head with his Caveman (diagonal slash down) from his Dominant/right hand. The first ever head shot where my head felt the hit! All other head shots I ever got I can hear I got hit but the mask took the hit and my head didn't feel those ... he hit me in my left elbow where I had bursitis a few years ago. Swollen now. Hit me on the ribs with nasty looking stick hickey that hurt a little but is nothing. At one point, he dropped one stick and I let him pick it up. We have been online friends for a long time and glad we finally met.

Sage Dog:

"You were awesome my friend. Thanks for the fight."

5. Single stick vs Kevin Fillman

His 2nd Gathering ...  nephew of Sage Dog. Forgot to say no knee shots to him prior to the fight ... he went 2x for my knee and I avoided except for the first where he hit me on my thigh. Stick hickey from thigh disappeared already. Lost my stick ... don't recall if he hit my hand, hit my stick hard or I just dropped. IIRC he said he hit my stick hard and I dropped it then. I clinched and pinned him vs cage as he repeatedly hit my head ... I tried to control his stick arm to no avail. After the fight he said he never fought a lefty before and that after his right dominant hand Caveman strike it was easy for a lefty to hit his forearm which I did (I was able to use "follow the force"). I told him that my Dominant hand is my right and I fought with my Complementary hand and he was surprised!

After this fight on Saturday, Wandering Dog offered some words of advice which sounded cryptic at first. After Sunday's seminar in which he taught a block of material from his current martial arts research that he was reluctant to share initially, his advice from the previous day was crystal clear!

Kevin Fillman:

"Thank you for the kind moves and also the fight. You made me have to adapt to your style. Thank you for the lesson"

6. Single stick vs Candidate Painted Dog/Liam Burke

It was late in the day, fewer and fewer Fighters were lining up. He was sitting down in the spectators section and was tired. On an earlier Facebook post of a mutual friend, he encouraged me to show up and that he would be honored to fight me. I asked him if he still had a fight left in him and despite being tired, he wanted to go with a technical fight with machete. Told him I'm a stick guy and I offered to fight a technical single stick fight. He said with sticks he didn't think it can be technical. He thought about it for a little and said ok ... we were the penultimate fight. Forgot to say no knee shots before we started and he kept going after my knee! I didn't think to hit his head as he went for my knee :( After the fight he said I was the only one he fought today to adapt mid-fight. I think his first drift shot grazed my thigh... then he went for more drift shots and I cross-stepped or 'elastico' back on those shots  and avoided his knee shots. I really don't remember now how I was able to avoid his drift shots. All his previous fights of the day he landed his drift shots at the knee. At first I didn't know he was a Candidate Dog Brother and during dinner I looked up the Fighters List and found out... if I knew I may not have requested the fight ... LOL at me!

C-Painted Dog:

"Glad I didn't hit you in the knee. Drift shots to the leg have been a huge part of my game these days.

You're being modest and you did damn well. It was an honour to fight you and I hope to continue sharing growth with you."

Due to my Family/financial situation with Princess Stickgrappler #1 in 2nd year of college, Princess SG #2 a junior in high school and SG Jr a high school freshman, I may not get to go to another Gathering to test myself until SG Jr is out of college in 7 yrs. I would be 60 then and may not fight at a Gathering at that age despite this Gathering having seen Tuhon Phil Gelinas aka Sled Dog, 65, a 63 yr old gentleman recovering from his stroke and fighting at his first Gathering and 62 yr old Sage Dog fighting.

Nothing broken ... swollen elbow only. Nothing lost. Everything gained!




Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Art of Fighting Without Fighting by Badger Johnson

One of the most important concepts that Bruce Lee and others (Sun Tzu) talked about is ‘Fighting without Fighting’.

Why is this important? It involves a methodology of dealing with conflict that gives a successful outcome, with a minimum of subsequent issues. It is a way to empower individuals to handle daily life. It gives an alternative to simply butting heads, using logical and sensible tactics. It is both a way of acting and a thought process and something one can practice and affords personal growth. Below are some ideas. As always research carefully the ‘how’ of enacting these methods in your own situation. Not all of them may be applicable to everyone.

Twenty-Five Examples of Methods of Fighting Without Fighting.

1. Do Not Be The Enemy - Define, or redefine your enemy. Often it is yourself. Sometimes we ‘need’ our enemies to keep us vigilant. The body needs stressors to keep its defenses strong.

2. The Brain - Use your brain, your best weapon, find a way to put the enemy on bad footing, or in a situation where they self-defeat.

3. The Art of Interception - Bruce Lee talks about the art of interception. We must intercept the opponent’s intent, their opportunity and their methods, not only up close but at a distance. Intercept motive, means and opportunity.

4. Make Careful Choices - Choose your battles carefully.

5. Seek To Make A Friend - Make the enemy your friend or at least see their side and thus deescalate things.

6. Be The Gray Man - Use stealthy methods, be transparent, leave no trace. Striking causes wounds which can be used as complicit evidence. Be the ‘gray man’.

7. Multiple Fronts - Encounter the opponent on multiple fronts. You can use overwhelming methods to defeat that which you might not defeat on a single front.

8. Define Your Enemy - By defining your opponent I mean not just carefully researching them, it, him, but look beyond an individual. Your opponent might be fatigue, or lack of self-knowledge or lack of preparation. It could be internal or external. It could be an idea, a prejudice which is keeping you confined.

9. Laying Traps - One way to intercept the opponent is by laying traps. If you know an action will make the opponent go right or left, lay a trap where they will go. Understanding the opponent is paramount because you can not predict what they will do to lay a trap if you have not understood their motivation.

10. The Subtle Beats The Overt - Seek subtle means over overt means, because those use less energy.

11. Limit Your Damage - Before you engage the enemy, try to make sure that though you might take damage you can survive and not be destroyed should you lose any particular engagement.

12. Seek The Successful - Look for real world examples of how success is achieved, analyze that success for principles you can incorporate.

13. Do Not Fear Failure - The best teacher is failure, so don’t be too afraid of failing in any one encounter. You learn and can come back and win later.

14. Be Elsewhere - The best way to win a battle is often not to be there. While your opponent is engaging and expending energy you are somewhere else.

15. Anticipate Early - Anticipating danger and trouble is part of interception, it doesn’t necessarily mean you never seek to engage, just engage on your terms.

16. Blow It Off - In any conflict if possible, always seek to ‘blow it off’. Let time pass. There’s less chance for unnecessary or unpleasant repercussions or backlash.

17. Poker Face - Avoid showing your intent, or plans. It may cause the enemy to fear your level of threat. Poker face.

18. Do Not Gloat - Once you have succeeded in solving without conflict avoid the tendency to gloat over your success. Allow the enemy to save face.

19. Do No Harm - Adopt a ‘first do no harm’ approach to conflict and resolution.

20. Do Not Be Drawn In - Try never to be drawn needlessly into an ego-driven conflict.

21. Do Not Cling - Learn and practice ways not to cling to a goal or an object. Do not cling to the need to be right or wrong.

22. Add Your New Findings - If you need victory at times, consider adding a new method of resolution to your list that you get from experience. You have added a new tool toward self-mastery. That kind of victory will last.

23. The Six Diseases - Study and work at solving the six diseases of excessive self-consciousness.
“The six diseases are:
  • The desire for victory;
  • The desire to resort to technical cunning;
  • The desire to display all that he has learned;
  • The desire to overawe the enemy;
  • The desire to play a passive role;
  • The desire to get rid of whatever disease he is likely to be infected with.”
24. Practice What You Learn - As part of the process one should seek ways to practice and perfect the art of fighting without fighting.

25. Avoid Ego Battles - Seek the 10,000 foot view on issues. This will help one to not be caught up in ego-battles with strangers.

© Badger Johnson 2018

Please check out Badger Johnson's other essays:

Friday, June 22, 2018

Vengeance (1970) - Mala fight - GIFs and video

Friends, it's Friday and you know what that means? It's "Flexible Friday"! I can hear you asking what is "Flexible Fridays"? LOL

On some Fridays this year, I will post a video and an animated GIF set from Movies/TV featuring a flexible weapon in use. Today's Flexible Friday features a fight from the Shaw Brothers classic film, Vengeance (1970), where a BG (bad guy) uses a mala (a string of beads) on David Chiang.


The scene spliced into 3 animated GIFs.


Some of the isolated actions from the scene:

(Begin Billy Mays voice) "But wait, there's more!"  :)  (/voice)
3 bonus GIFs


Please check my Projects page for more videos/GIFs on Flexible Weapons in Movies/TV.

How Bruce Lee may have improved skill using biofeedback by Badger Johnson

The method of improving a skill…

In martial arts, a skill would be a way to be more effective.

1) Identify the skill needed correctly. That means applying a criteria set to assure one is not working towards a relatively unhelpful skill.

2) Find a way to measure the skill, establish a baseline, then find a way to measure the skill improvements. Ideally, this method of measuring should be similar to the human paradigm and be able to break down improvements into fine increments. For example you may want to measure the ability to increase speed. First you break down speed into components. You have MPH speed, initial speed, reaction speed, movement speed. If you can separate these, then build even a small increase into each then when you add them back into technique speed, they may be able to synergize and give a bigger improvement. All improvement would probably need to incorporate bio-feedback. It’s known that some functions and abilities do respond to biofeedback if you can find the method. You can even improve certain functions of the body thought to be involuntary (BP, pulse rate, maybe even synapse firing). You would need a way to show the effect - for example an oscilloscope or a meter of some kind, like a reflex timer.

If you were just trying to ‘move faster’ with no idea of your actual speed or you increase or get an improvement you might succeed better doing some kind of training, yet never know it. Being able to monitor even small improvements is essential, since the increase of something as fine-tuned as speed could be in very subtle stages.

If you were trying to improve power, say power in hitting you could have a power meter such as a punching pad which would give impact in specific digital terms. You could the experiment and find the various methods. You could start just measuring your favorite moves to establish a base-line. Then you’d break moves down into thirds (a favorite method of Bruce Lee’s [BL]) and then work to build power in each, trying to do two basic things. First you’d want to remove all barriers to power such as tensing opposing muscles, then you’d want to be bio-mechanically perfect - no wasted movements or out of synch movements.

You’d look at the various attributes such as speed, power, fluidity, chaining moves, assisting moves, foot movements, and methods of getting ground-path involved. Drop step, body inclination, hip rotation, hip pivot, and so forth would be studied. You’d want to reduce the recoil of your power transfer so you weren’t getting a return jolt and assure all the force was going into the opponent.

3) You would look at the combination of availability and delivery system on the body’s vital or crucial systems. One method would be to view the body as a machine. The body functions on levers and hydraulics and bellows (breathing) and circulation. You’re want to have a consideration of a way to interrupt or disrupt one or more of those mechanical systems. This was popularized back in the 80s by Ron Van Clief, surprisingly. By using this method you can isolate and discriminate your approach. You’re not just saying ‘oh, hit the solar plexus’, you’re saying hit it how, (delivery system) and why (disrupts the circulation, nervous system and breathing). Indeed there might be other ways to view the weaknesses and functions of the human body but this is one of them.

Another is to ‘control the head’. This is a good approach because it’s very simple. You can often find a way to control, grab, encircle, trap or otherwise restrict the head. Then you have control over the sensory systems, the balance, the hearing, and even the breathing, You may be able to do a simple head trap and then follow up fairly easy. This is the method I did back in the 80s when I was to fight (spar) two opponents. I calmly stepped forward and put my hand behind the larger opponent’s head in almost a calm motion and bent him forward at the waist. From there it was easy to get a lapel choke position but just to hold him there. I used his body as a support to throw a kick and hit the other opponent. This was so totally unexpected the first opponent, when I let him go, ran over and grabbed his clothes and knapsack and ran out of the studio. He did not see the soft head trap as a danger and so was lulled into moving with me and not resisting at first, but by then it was too late.

5. Another method is to use apparatus to improve various functions. You can unleash on an apparatus much more readily than on an opponent even if they are wearing protective gear. You can spring load the apparatus to not ‘disrupt’ unless sufficient force was applied and have a variable setting. This is just biofeedback in a different form. It’s why BL had James Lee build the various pieces of equipment, each with a specific skill set to improve in its design.

6. Certainly there are skill sets which are more of base building than specific. You can build broad systems, mitochondrial density, nerve pathways, hypertrophy, vascular supply and cortisol clearance. There may be other skill sets you can work with that are not well known. It’s known that things like learning to juggle which has been shown to build the cortical or cerebellar regions of the brain (1). I would think doing things like variable sinawali would also build those systems, as well as hand juggling (Balisong manipulation and knife flipping) could improve the ability to ‘break down time increments’.

7. A good example of being able to break down time is to study music. We have ‘grace notes’, syncopation, rhythm and beat and those can be translated it things like ‘insertions’ when doing energy drills. Sinawali takes a three part rhythm and makes it more accessible. People normally work in a 1-2 manner not in ‘triplets’, as in 1-2-3, which are inherently faster. Here you develop ‘fast eyes’, as Guro Dan Inosanto calls it.

8. Working on the previously discussed non-intention speed and non-telegraphic speed is important. You can film yourself and watch the videos to find imperfections and to enable you to smooth out movements. They have things like force plates which and be used with biometric filming to help a golfer develop a better swing. Those could be adapted to be used in martial arts.

To bring this into perspective - when BL was working on his ability to hit 4-5 taped together pine boards which were free hanging, using a stepping side kick he didn’t just keep trying to do it as a whole skill. I believe he would have broken it down into steps and sequences, maybe figured out the force of his kick and the force needed to break them and worked on methods and positions to bring those up to the required speed and power. He’d have used machines and graduated methods.

(1) https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17957-learning-to-juggle-grows-brain-networks-for-good/

Please check out Badger Johnson's other essays:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Some of the Major Misconceptions or Fallacies of JKD by Badger Johnson

This essay is not designed to denigrate Jeet Kune Do (JKD), its standup skills, or various aspects which are quite valuable to learn, including short power, fast close footwork, trapping skills, and over-development of various muscle and core systems. It is an outline to provide practitioners a set of guidelines to help individuals to understand the system and even work on methods to deal with holes in the pure standup game.

A layered skill set involving good standing grappling, ground grappling, wrestling as base arts can definitely use JKD type principles added in support of those abilities. In addition to the normal methods, knowing various tie-ups, traps, wrist locks and short power moves are good ways to get from top control into a submission.

1. Almost all of the moves we have seen (movies, instructional) are stage fighting. Examples of this in the movie Enter the Dragon:

  • The fight with O’Hara, which is staged with both fighters starting hands back to back. Even though O’Hara knows he is outclassed he still goes back and puts his hand back against Lee’s.
  • The fight with multiple opponents who come one after another, very similar to the classic sword-fighter movies.
  • Bruce Lee has said to his students that he would not fight in a real combat situation as you see in the movies.
  • Many of the fights rely on camera angles and in truth Bruce Lee is not in position to hit multiple times with his triple kicks.
  • All of the other fights are done in an exciting style, not long and drawn out, but they are still cinematic in nature.

2. You can’t do JKD without Bruce Lee level attributes. In order to do interception you have to have high skill in non-intention attacks, and non-telegraphic movements. You must have an unbendable arm to do trapping and keep the opponent at that range. People who try to do JKD invariably set up in demo-mode, and are having the “attacker” feed them movements which allow trap-hits and pak-sao energy. In similarly skilled matches you will not see any JKD/Wing Chun (WC) type movements.

3. Trapping distance is an artificial construct. The actual techniques which are employed at this artificial range are moves such as wrestling single-collar tie-ups, boxing hooks to the head and body, or standing grappling rapidly occurs. It may be compelling to think simultaneous block-and-strike and trapping methods would work the distance quickly collapses or is subsumed by wrestling or throwing moves. Can a trap of a more general nature work, such as a grab and strike? Yes, but the notion of a flurry of WC trapping and tie-up is rare and trying to pick strikes out of the air (guarding gates) usually ends up with the attacker/defender reaching for a parry and they get hit with a flurry of hooks or uppercuts.

4. On the ground (ground fighting) striking is almost nullified. The typical kind of strikes you rely on in WC or JKD, straight punches, even short power, rely on a power chain that comes from ground path or the drop step or other type of power chain. Typically, if you can fight back, you are limited, sometimes to frantic elbow strikes from the bottom. From top control it’s still not simple to hit if the opponent can deflect or cover. Anyone who only has standup skill will find it greatly reduced in ground fighting. What you see in current UFC fighting in ground and pound is employed by people with wrestling skill backing that up allowing them to maintain top control.

You are not going to get anyone to start a fight as you see Lee and O’Hara use with hands touching.

5. Interception works primarily in one venue, the standing start confrontation. Someone with special skills in close combat, i.e. contact reflexes and short power, can do a lot of damage in a very short time frame in a special venue, that of standing start sudden confrontation. This is what Bruce Lee would have excelled at, since he could sense the opponent’s line of attack and use interception and short power and eye jabs and eye attack feints to quickly end the fight. You are not going to get anyone to start a fight as you see Lee and O’Hara use with hands touching. While it’s true Bruce Lee would often get the upper hand in demonstrations by rushing forward so he could get some contact and empty contact reflexes, this is hard to acquire in a real, unstructured fight.

6. Nobody has shown JKD in a dynamic match neither sparring fighting, nor demonstration. Without compliant stuntmen it can’t be sustained.

7. JKD ground work or throwing range was still in the ‘collection of tricks’ stage. Even years later when you see various of Bruce Lee’s students doing ground fighting it was a quick set of moves with a cooperating opponent, starting with an agreed upon start point such as a wrist grab or bear hug. They did not even show rolling or flowing using guard and mount in some of Dan Inosanto’s JKD grappling DVD instructional, even though by that time rolling was a known methodology. It was because he had not yet developed grappling flow, nor did he understand how to do BJJ or JKD with a BJJ flavor.

8. Bruce Lee did not have mobile kicking. Mobile kicking incorporates bridging the gap in one move. Mobile kicking invokes a sequence in which, from a fighting stance, the body is unweighted and the energy of chambering the lead leg pulls the body forward and the rear leg slides forward along the gap to be bridged and the kick is thrown with a high chamber immediately. It is not a 1-2-3 movement you see in step kicks. It’s sometimes seen with a hop but the back leg does not move first. This is seen primarily in early TKD kicking even as far back as the late 70s and early 80s. Against a mobile kicker, a static or step kicker has almost no chance of getting in a kick. You can see this in some of the backyard videos that Bruce Lee did with James Coburn.

9. Bruce Lee did not have any takedown skills, such as a penetration step, lowering the level and shooting, neither did he have a takedown defense. Though some people can use a knee or elbow or side-step against a takedown it is non-standard, requires takedown training to perfect, and thus without actual skill in wrestling it is usually very easy for grapplers and wrestlers to get a takedown against pure strikers. Since Bruce Lee did not have to regularly contend with wrestlers or grapplers, he realized he had to be very careful to stay out of range. However, wrestlers are very adept at getting under a jab or getting the opponent to step into their penetration step. It’s a definite weakness and a hole its the typical game of someone who trains in standup only.

10. None of Bruce Lee’s students have solved these problems, including Dan Inosanto, of the lack of aliveness, removing the scripted nature of ‘demo sparring’, nor did they seem to realize the need for hyper-development of attributes and strengths. Among the few in JKD who did strive to solve these problems were most notably, Matt Thornton/SBG and Erik Paulson and their students.

11. Though people have extracted some of the principles of JKD they are stuck in the ‘what’ and don’t have a conception about the ‘how’ to enable developing them.

12. In the late stage of JKD Bruce Lee was actively hiding his methods even from the inner circle. (See below the list of 25 most common things that Bruce Lee was hiding to prevent another from following in his path, since he was reluctant to give those who were bigger and stronger abilities similar to his.) He was OK with giving some of the surface moves or some of the derivational moves he uncovered, but he would be very careful about showing how he did various moves and the build up needed to do some of his stunts. If you don’t know how some of the stunt are developed over a long time with lots of methods of training and conditioning seeing the final stunt does not give you the means to duplicate it.

13. They did not routinely practice leg kicks at or near the level of MMA and MT. JKD kicks are done at the level of stop kicks and are at a good skill level but without consistent practice against a variety of strong opponents they will not be developed beyond a certain level. Certainly stop kicks and simultaneous block and kick methods are good against rudimentary kicking certain aspects found in MT and MMA do not get trained.

The ability to handle multiple opponents is actually just stage fighting.

14. The ability to handle multiple opponents is actually just stage fighting; it’s not reality based. Against even three people who work in concert and who have some experience it is very unlikely that any fighting method can work. It makes for exciting movie-making but is not realistic.

15. Bruce Lee had good infighting abilities but he had not developed certain aspects seen in modern boxing, such as side-stepping, staying in the pocket, the bob and weave, and the modern MMA peek-a-boo blocking cover reflexes. He was still espousing a distance parry and interception method which doesn’t work against capable opponents, even though he recognized that these Western boxing skill did exist. Being able to demonstrate them is not the same as using them against a skilled boxer.

16. His ground fighting skill methods were still in the mode of JJJ (Classical Japanese Jiu-Jitsu) or a collection of tricks. Though he may have been close to uncovering the idea of ‘aliveness’ many of his proponents didn’t figure it out for many, many years. Subsequent JKD students did realize that grappling was important, but they had not realized the method to do so, which is using BJJ, guard and mount and rolling as a delivery system to ‘aliveness’ which is movement, timing, resistance, lack of scripting,

17. Bruce Lee did not yet understand ‘aliveness’ or timing, movement, resisting opponent and he had not understood the delivery system needed to develop skills through rolling.

18. His biggest draw back was that he did not have a wide variety of opponents near his level to allow the best progression and almost all of his students and partners were well beneath his ability - no fault of his, to be sure.

19. One of his biggest problems, pointed out by Joe Lewis is his ‘untested chin’. Many gym fighters discover to their dismay when they actually fight that their abilities in the ring are not comparable, either due to lack of durability, glass jaw, or adrenaline dump or nerves.

20. Finally he had a very limited experience with actual sport-fighting, due, in part to a lack of venues for such things, so we don’t really have a good sense of his weaknesses and limitations. The key point is not these specifics but the great advances and methods he was using are still in use today.

Advanced methods of JKD still in use:

1. Bruce Lee had ‘next level’ capabilities in his lead hand finger jab, including shocking speed, penetration, timing and precision. In theory that weapon, coupled with 1” fa-jing like power, speed of initiation and ability to get in before being blocked it could handle any opponent regardless of size (but within reach) or weight. Could a boxer with lightweight speed and reflexes have blocked or evaded the eye jab? It’s unlikely.

2. Bruce Lee had next level ability to kick from a distance, using both sudden explosive ability and an ability to break free hanging boards. However, his kicking was not at the level of modern MT.

3. Few, if any successors really understand the non-intention (NI), non-telegraphic (NT) nature of Bruce Lee’s ability, excepting Pat Strong, and fewer still show comparable development.

4. Few, if any successors understand how Bruce Lee was able to intuit his opponent’s attack before it was begun. This is derived from his NI and NT ability, projected outward.

Bruce Lee’s ability to call up rage mode in a split second

5. Few, if any successors understand Bruce Lee’s ability to call up rage mode in a split second, how it was developed and implemented. A few people are aware of it (Bleecker, Lewis, DeMile).

6. Few, if any successors have understood nor developed his core, forearm, unbendable bridge arm, neck and back development. He was driven to make ‘weak aspects’ found in everyone over-developed, including the bridge arm, the finger jab, the fast close (which could have been improved).

7. There is generally an agreement from at least two sources, Jesse Glover and James DeMile primarily, that Bruce Lee was actively hiding his methods of development. We have some hints of ways he did things, and we know from some advanced students like Patrick Strong that there are some known developmental paths that he took. One of them was to break all techniques into three parts or phases. We also know he used isometrics and weight training, and he used various training devices that James Lee built, as well as traditional WC methods, like the Wooden Dummy. We know he emphasized training the waist, core, upper back, wrists and neck for specific reasons. He trained the waist and wrist to help him extend power away from the body, as he called it or short power. See below a partial list of some of the methods that Bruce Lee was actively hiding. These are ideas that I have put together over many years of studying writings, training, and trying to read between the lines and find various clues to flesh out these methods.


Among the things that Bruce Lee was hiding, I share the following. I have no way to  confirm these and I’d ask readers to evaluate my commentary and use these ideas to point the way to their own research.

Here is a list of many of the main things that I believe we have evidence that Bruce Lee was keeping more-or-less secret:

1) How he developed his 'non-intention' methods, both how he knew that non-intention was different from 'non-telegraphic’, and what was needed to exhibit non-intention based preparations.

2) The training methodology for doing the fast close from 3 and 5 feet has not been disclosed. Jesse Glover details how he talked to him about breaking any technique down into three parts. He also subdivided the types of speed into several categories. Initiation speed, mile per hour speed, timing speed and speed in combinations. Today we know there are methods to develop the ability a sprinter has for coming out of the blocks, for instantly reacting to a stimulus. These include certain types of over-speed training, being pulled forward with elastic bands and so forth.

Some people have mentioned that the source for JKD were 26 arts that Bruce Lee studied or favored.

3) Some people have mentioned that the source for JKD were 26 arts that Bruce Lee studied or favored. This is somewhat speculative since Bruce Lee did not create this list but some students have claimed he told them. In other words the reason he chose to detail these 26 arts has been explained in a way that is really incomplete. There was a specific reason, but he didn't articulate it. I think it’s safe to say, that in addition to having some familiarity with these known styles, he wanted an art to represent each of the ranges of combat. Close fighting, medium range, kicking range, fencing range, ground-fighting range and so on.

4) Some things were hidden in plain sight. They were hidden behind aphorisms. It takes some deep thought and digging around to really understand what they actually meant. He talked about the cutting away non-essential things (like a sculptor removing clay), however, if you didn’t have deep understanding of things there was nothing left to be removed. We know Guro Dan has talked about various phrases, such as ‘Absorb What is Useful’, but we don’t actually know the origin of these phrases. They key is to examine these commonly repeated concepts and be sure to know the why of them, and the how of them. How is something accomplished is more important in deep understanding than knowing what the phrase or proverb was.

5) The method of development and the reason for developing his bridge arm is not widely discussed. We now know he relied heavily on isometrics, and Jesse Glover related that Bruce Lee talked about how he used to press his arm against the underside of his desk in school because he was bored. One day his hand slipped off of the desk and he was surprised at the way energy was suddenly released. This concept formed the basis for some of his fast attack movements.

6) The methodology behind being able to 'read' an opponent's intention is not well explained. At this point only one of his students talks about it (Pat Strong). Part of this was being able to go into a mode similar to that kind of perception where things seem to slow down. Various sports experts talk about how they perceive the game ball to move slowly, to be much larger than normal and to feel they had a lot of time to react, far beyond the mere micro-seconds that went by in real time. Ted Williams talked about being able to see the seams in a fast ball. Jimmy Connors said that he perceived the tennis ball in a fast serve to actually be larger than reality. It’s not quite clear what the brain mechanism is that accounts for this. Some people seem to have a knack for calling it up spontaneously. There may have been a procedure that Bruce Lee used to develop ‘fast perception’ and perhaps how to get into the state where time seemed to expand. Since it’s not an uncommon phenomenon, it is worth exploring.

Bruce Lee's highly developed forearms

7) We know Bruce Lee had a reason for his developing his forearms to such a high degree, but there are few discussions on why. Though people might quibble with this, bear in mind only one or two JKD practitioners worked on things like this. If people wanted to do JKD and omit this that shows they don't understand what the importance was. Obviously, it takes genetics, and a lot of time and energy to develop these kinds of attributes, many of which are beyond those of the normal trainer. Part of the ability of hitting hard is having a very tight fist - there is no give in the hand. In addition the closing of the hand and the classic ‘wrist tilt’ which occurs in a vertical punch is magnified if there is hyper-development of those muscles.

Bruce Lee developing core and abdominals

8) We know there are obvious reason why someone wants to develop their core and abdominals. It’s fairly obvious that if the opponent does not have this kind of development then they may be unable to use some of the methods of accumulating power and issuing energy. He went to such extremes because of his idea of making weak things strong, things that were weak even in strong individuals.  Only a few people who claim to be JKD or JDK concepts students or instructors did that, and almost none of this other inner circle did. Without an ability to tie the upper and lower parts of the body together you can’t stabilize various high speed movements and you can’t transmit power from the ground and the legs to the arms and hands. We know that types of fa-jing (Chinese internal power) require a type of store and release involving the pelvic floor muscles and the internal core muscles.

9) Though we now know about the existence of various training tools and equipment, there’s some doubt that his second and third group of students were not exposed to the use of training equipment, particularly some of the things that James Lee build for him. I wonder if his students even knew he was using that equipment. Yes, there are pictures of him using various things but he did not, to my knowledge, go over those in depth when he was teaching in the early 70s.

10) He hid his 'x-rated' moves. He discussed those with Dan and Jesse and we have some inkling that he would not fight in a real life-or-death situation like we see in the movies or any of his media or comments. By ‘X-rated’ a term he shared with Jesse Glover, he meant deadly force, not just hitting but one-strike kills or one movement kills such as neck wrenches hitting the area near the heart, or using eye attacks. An equivalent method would be a single-strike incapacitating move.

11) Bruce Lee had an extensive number of supplements and vitamins and other substances, including prescription items that he used. We do not really know completely what he used and what his dosage level was. Even if we largely discount much of what Tom Bleecker says in his book “Unsettled Matters”, nobody really knows what he was doing as far as diet and supplementation. In order to try and duplicate such things it would be helpful to know what Bruce Lee used to develop such a high degree of muscularity and low subcutaneous fat. There are regimes we know of now, but it’s possible that this was not natural. When one looks at photographs of Bruce Lee in his mid-twenties he had a normal athletic build, but it is not on par with the extreme muscularity and low subcutaneous fat.

We do know he had friends and associates who could acquire performance-enhancing substances, and there are stories of unusual dietary practices he engaged in. There are no clear diary records which have been released which describe his supplement and medication dosages. We do know he had prescriptions for cortico steroids.

12) He hid his true level of sparring ability. We hear he never sparred except for brief demonstrations when training Joe, Chuck or Mike Stone. Some have suggested it could be because he didn’t want anyone to know how good he was, or perhaps what weaknesses he had. If one examines the large number of sparring and fighting principles he left behind, including those specific ones that Joe Lewis details in his books, it’s clear that he was espousing methods that far advanced beyond what most people were using in those days. We have to remember the majority of karate instructors, when asked, would say things like ‘do more kata’ or work harder. He was one of the first people to systematize the use of weights and specific resistance machines.

13) He carefully shielded all of his pro-level students from sharing what he was telling them. Both Joe Lewis, Mike Stone and Chuck Norris and other pro-level students he worked with said that he always kept their training separate.

14) He hid the double pak-sao. He specifically told Dan never to disclose that. One has to realize that what he meant by this move is probably not the same as the typical WC version. Perhaps hit was an over-trained method.

It's said that Bruce Lee could penetrate an old style coke can holding the can in his hand with a finger stab.

15) The degree of his ability as to his finger jab was not often talked about except in years after he had passed away. There are 'stories' that he could penetrate an old style coke can holding the can in his hand with a finger stab.

16) He hid the nature of his EDC (everyday carry). Some stories are out there that he carried nunchaku and some that he was occasionally armed with a firearm.

Bruce Lee hid the power of his back fist.

17) He hid the power of his back fist. There are stories in the last year of his life he was able to dent the face mask of their sparring masks with a back fist and that this mask was of above average gauge steel mesh, almost a grid not a mesh.

18) He hid his ability to ‘take a punch’, and by that I mean a punch to the face/head. There’s some speculation that he may have had a good chin and some that he may have had a glass jaw and didn’t dare spar lest that be exposed. There are other indications in direct opposition to this, in that he trained his neck and jaw muscles which are known to help resist being knocked out.

19) He hid some of his conclusions about the efficacy of JKD and we see some of this in his letters to other Yip Man students particularly Hawkins Cheung (HC) which he discussed it privately which have now been published. He talked to HC about how he felt that JDK was ultimately a failure, though he didn’t explain what that meant except to say he could not make ‘interception’ work in all cases.

20) He hid some of his extensive training notes, though later some of that came out when Linda Lee and Gilbert L. Johnson compiled and published them in The Tao of JKD. It’s possible he didn’t share much of this with any of his students. We tend to think of these things as ‘not hidden’ because Linda and Gilbert published the notes, but the truth is, I don’t think Bruce Lee had any intention of letting much if not most of this out to his students, much less the public. Much of what was put together in The Tao of JKD were obvious cribs of various boxing manuals, fencing manuals and quotes taken from Jiddu Krishnamurti, a noted philosopher.

This acrobatic stunt was performed by Yuen Wah and not Bruce Lee.

21) The fact that the stunt men in his movies were the ones doing the more acrobatic things and not him was not forthcoming until much later. In fact, to this day it’s not common knowledge that all the aerial acrobatics in Enter the Dragon were performed by a stunt man (and he had his own team of stuntmen), and not him that stunt was actually done by Yuen Wah. Bruce Lee did not have any unusual tumbling or aerial aerobatic skills.

22) He hid his physical flaws, inducing his leg length discrepancy and his vision problems, though now we know about those.

23) He hid how he developed his ‘kill word’ or his ‘instant ramp up to killing intent’ (James DeMile explains it involves self-hypnosis and using a ‘pre-programmed kill word’ that you say silently).

The Chinese audience called Bruce Lee ‘the man with three legs’.

24) He showed the public a side which was a bit different than his real abilities. We all thought he was a super kicker, and the Chinese audience called him a name something like ‘the man with three legs’ for his triple turning kick. But we all found out later his real power was in his hands.

25) He presented a stage image of a ‘fighter’ using essentially sparring techniques which were really equivalent to ‘stage fighting’ like you see in the old Douglas Fairbanks sword and swashbuckling movies. The reality is that he told Dan ‘a real fight now will be over in about 3 seconds, I don’t play around’.

© Badger Johnson 2018

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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps