White Crane Kung Fu

Scratch Wing Chun and you will find some White Crane underneath.

This documentary speculates that White Crane was also the root that grew Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate by way of Fujian master Ryu Ryu Ko.

Check out the various ways they train the wrist and the grip in these schools. This is a good practice for strikers.

I love these docs when they show some old guy in his 60s doing a workout that leaves the young visitor in the dust.

You will see many techniques in White Crane that are echoed in Wing Chun.

They say the styles of the “Five Elders” (including White Crane) were the roots of Tai Chi and Wing Chun.

I hope these styles find young practitioners to take them up and preserve the knowledge.

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Principles of Personal Defense

“Combat is an unusual experience for most of us, but then emergencies of any kind always are. However, combat does occur, and any fully educated person knows this and prepares for it.  Despite what we may hear, combat is not the characteristic of any particular occupation or situation.  It may come to a policeman, but it may just as probably come to a barber, a broker or a biologist. Accepting this is the first step in physical security.  No one can solve any problem of which he is not aware.”
Jeff Cooper, “The Combat Mindset” in American Handgunner Annual, 1986

“If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.”
Jeff Cooper

My politics are neither conservative or liberal.

I don’t really agree with any party or philosophy 100% and I reserve the right to be inconsistent.  As Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

But I must admit to often finding myself agreeing with some pretty conservative (even extremely conservative) thinkers on issues of personal protection.

While I am of two minds over how we treat criminals in the U.S. and about what sort of laws might better manage crime and reduce recidivism (relapse into crime) more inexpensively and without warehousing a big chunk of the population , I am crystal clear in my feelings on personal confrontation with crime or violence.

I’ve had my own small-scale run ins with violence.  Lots of ass kickings as a kid (I was kind of a wise ass). I grew up in a blue collar family and fights were part of life.  I brushed up against criminal violence a little as a young man, at the most bottom rungs of it, but I saw what was going to happen with those guys.

I’m also a student of history and I’ve studied both war and crime specifically.

Jeff CooperWhere wars break out, civilization breaks down and people are forced to rely on their own local capabilities to survive and avoid becoming casualties or victims.  The worst in people comes to the surface and ordinary people are freed to express their most anti-social instincts.

Some people don’t need a war to let loose.  The True Crime books are full of stories of people encountering the wrong person or persons at the wrong time and suffering horribly.   We’re not just talking about the crazy (and rare) fringes here — its all on a continuum.


This knowledge has made me a little bit of a survivalist.  Enough to spend a lot of time learning to fight.  Of course there are other reasons, but that’s a big one.  I have a very strong aversion to being a victim.

I don’t think you can rely on the police.  There are not enough of them.  And now and then, they are part of the problem.  You can only be 100% sure of yourself and (hopefully) your friends and loved ones.

If you look at the history of crime, social unrest, and war, there are many incidents in which good people ran into the “bad” people and suffered very badly as a result.  Names like Charlie Starkweather and the Manson Family and Ted Bundy and Edmund Kemper immediately come to mind.  And events like the rise of the Fascists in Europe in the 1930s or the riots in the U.S. in L.A.

These events are rare but they happen.  Shit will occasionally hit the fan and you might find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t really take these concerns very far.  I don’t have a bunker or an assault rifle.  But my goal is always to be somewhat prepared.  I don’t carry a gun or own a rifle but I know how to use them.  I don’t (usually) carry a knife but I have some and I keep them sharp and am modestly competent in their use as a weapon.

This brings us to Jeff Cooper and his little “book,” Principles of Personal Defense.  Its a very small book, only about 20 pages.

But it packs a punch.  He says a lot of extremely important things in that small space that most people need to hear.

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Way of the Balisong

“Knife crime and gun crime is poverty-driven, and poverty leads to insecurity.”
Emmanuel Jal

“I have a gift for enraging people, but if I ever bore you it will be with a knife.”
Louise Brooks

One of my Kung Fu brothers brought this to my attention quite a while back, but I find myself going back to take another look.

It brings out a lot of different thoughts and emotions.  A sadness at the passing of a culture, mostly.  The tools of the warrior made illegal.

Like many boys and men, I have always been fascinated  with knives and swords.  What is it?  The danger.   Like a motorcycle, you can easily slip up and get hurt.  It takes skill to handle and maintain a good knife.  There is a deadly simplicity.  An elegance even.

When you learn the history of fighting and weaponry, and discover the capacities of different weapons, you gain even more respect and almost an awe for the blade.

Blades ruled the world of fighting until very recently, and even now they rule at a certain scale and distance.  You CAN bring a knife to a gunfight if you are really good and close up, unless the opponent is unusually (I would say world-class) good at deploying a firing weapon (barrel has cleared the holster, the safety’s off if an automatic, etc) and even then a fast knife man will put a few holes in you and probably finish the job.

I am not entirely happy with entrusting the government with all weapons or with these laws making it a crime to carry certain types of blades.  I feel like these are knee-jerk laws in response to one-off incidents that are aimed at the poor, who, as that quote says, are the ones who are the most insecure and so carry weapons.

The “poor” are the ones who use a knife as a tool in their everyday lives.  When I was growing up (mostly in New Hampshire), many local men had a folding knife clipped to their belt, usually a Buck.  Several of my friends in High School carried them when out of school.

And I have to say, there weren’t very many knife fights or murders in New Hampshire (the one year I checked, there had been one murder that whole year).

I suspect most knife deaths are not due to some regular carrier using their folder but are crimes of passion in a kitchen!


I do think it behooves every martial artist to have basic knife skills (and basic baton or stick skills).  In a pinch, when you need a weapon, you can improvise any small thing that can be held like a knife (like a cell phone) into a decent weapon and of course, many everyday objects have stick/clublike properties.

I’ve taken a modest amount of Esrima and Kadena de Mano and my home defense refuge is not a .45 but a well-tended Ka-bar.

When the Zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll thank me!

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