Sunday, September 30, 2012

Practising locks safely

I've had it suggested to me that in order to practise locks safely, it might be necessary to vary them slightly.

A specific example given to me was that which I have previously covered in relation to the ikkyo projection, namely that application of pressure on the tricep rather than the elbow. It was argued that while this is not effective in unbalancing and holding an opponent, it might nonetheless be a viable training method because it precludes injury – injury that is all too easily inflicted on the elbow joint.

I hold to the view that there is no merit in this position. In fact, I would go further and argue that it is positively dangerous to apply this or any other lock incorrectly "for safety". Why?

First things first: I don't believe it is ever a good idea to train to "miss". I've previously covered this issue in relation to punching/striking/kicking, but the same applies to locking and holding. If you train to "miss" your lock, this is precisely what you can expect in real life. Under pressure you make errors in greater, not fewer, numbers so you need to train for the most accurate and effective technique possible. Only then can you expect some of that accuracy and effectiveness to survive the "adrenaline dump" and other factors that affect (perhaps overwhelm) your reaction under pressure.

Metaphorically speaking, you just don't have time to "take your gloves off" in a real confrontation. Things happen far too quickly for conscious thought. You don't have the luxury of making the mental and physical adjustment needed to move your grip a centimetre or two this way or that along your opponent's arm. Instead (if you're suitably trained and, let's be frank, lucky) the best you can hope for is to default to what you've done time and time again in class.

Going back to the ikkyo projection example, this means that if you train to push on the tricep instead of the elbow, the most you can realistically hope for under pressure is to push on the tricep.

Is this safer? In training – possibly (subject to a big qualification I am about to make). But in combat it is anything but safe. "Missing" your lock, punch, strike or kick because you're defaulting to what you do in class might well cost you life or limb.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but a good friend of mine used to train in a karate dojo where they used to spar with fully extended punches that were always out of range. This was a "safety measure", they said. It so happened that my friend was attacked by someone. He was so used to punches missing that he failed to take any defensive action against a punch – and it hit him in the eye, causing him a serious injury.

Despite the initial blow, my friend continued to fight – but a second consequence of his training emerged: every time he threw a punch, he found it was out of range. As he later explained to me, the best he managed was a mere "touch". So "missing" in training cost him both in terms of defence and attack. Luckily for my friend, his attacker was pulled away by others. But the swelling around his eye was so bad he didn't see out of it for months.

So you shouldn't miss your punches/strikes and kicks. Why should the situation be any different when it comes to locks and grappling generally?

And here we come to the qualification I mentioned earlier: I have grave reservations as to the "safety" of missing even in training. I discuss my reasoning below at 6:50 (the embedded video is set to start at the correct point):


A video in which I discuss, among other things, the safe practice of locks (see from 6:50 onwards – video set to start at the correct point).

Essentially it comes down to this: if you train to "miss", sooner or later the your partner will make adjustments to accommodate that "miss". These adjustments will cause you to make certain adjustments, and so on. What happens when force or speed is applied in practice – and one of the many adjustments "goes wrong"? Let's just say that it might not be pretty.

I'm reminded of another example involving striking: my instructor Bob Davies always used to say that when teaching beginners you should teach direction first, then distancing. So the first thing you correct in a beginner's punch is the inevitable tendency to alter the direction – ie. a deliberate "swerve" away from his or her partner. Once you have ensured their direction is suitably correct, you should start to correct distancing (in my experience this will usually mean closing the gap so that the beginners are actually in range - rarely the reverse!).

What happens if you don't follow Bob's advice? Well, a failure to correct direction will give your students false feedback:

The defender will wrongly assume that his or her deflection/evasion has been successful on its own merits and get a false sense of security/confidence. The attacker will learn to punch off-course. At the same time, distancing will no longer be corrected: after all if the punch is on the wrong trajectory, whether it is in or out of range never becomes an issue. In other words, the attacker will learn to miss.

So what happens if students who practice this way make a mistake (eg. the defender accidentally steps the wrong way during fast practice – straight into a punch that was intended to miss)? If the distancing is out, there will be no consequence. But if the distancing happens to be correct, the result can be as catastrophic as it is uncontrolled and unexpected.

In fact, this is precisely what happened in my instructor's dojo one day. We were preparing for a demonstration and a fellow in our team kept missing: his punches were sufficiently "deep" but they were always wide of the target. Our senior told the fellow to stop missing – to punch for the centre line and leave it to the defender to deal with the attack. The fellow didn't listen. Sure enough, the defender made a mistake under pressure and BAM – walked right into the fellow's knuckles which caused some nasty swelling to the defender's mouth and chipped his teeth. Our senior was not amused.

So back to locks. What happens when you "miss" them? Well let's consider for example the humble "nikkyo" or "xiao chan". People think of it as a simple pain compliance lock. But the fact that it hurts like hell should give you fair warning about what it can do: with sufficient force, the lock can cause some nasty damage to your opponent's wrist joint. Why? Because the angle is such that the joint cannot withstand force to any extent. That is why so little force is needed to generate pain. If you didn't go for "pain compliance" but simply focussed on exerting great pressure and doing so suddenly and quickly, you'd find out soon enough how damaging the technique could be.

This is precisely why I never practise nikkyo/xiao chan with any substantial speed or pressure. In other words, I never apply this lock with an abrupt "jerk". It is all too easy to go a bit too far and cause injury to my partner. Instead I apply it gradually and with as little pressure as I have to. If I can't apply the lock with minimal pressure, I know that the angle is incorrect. So I adjust and try again. Over time I get more and more aware of the correct angles and pressure and this permits me to incorporate it into more and more resistant drills and eventually into hard sparring.

Now imagine for a minute if a school taught its students to perform the technique with the angle "just off" so that the lock was "safe": invariably the students would try to get some feedback by adding brute force. And indeed, the brute force might well provide some feedback. But what would happen if, accidentally, the lock slipped into its optimum (damaging) position just as that brute force was applied? It might be very ugly.

So locks are no different to punches, strikes and kicks. You can't train to miss. You have to do your level best to train the technique as correctly as possible.

What you can and should do in the name of safety is vary the intensity and tempo. Both of these increase naturally as your own adrenaline surges, so it is okay to train this way. Besides, if you want to train safely, you don't have any other choice.

On this subject, be aware that there is big difference between a punch that you choose not to land with full force and one that could never have landed in any case because it was out of range or off-target. Likewise, there is a big difference between a lock that you choose to apply gradually and softly versus one that you misapply.

If you're doing the latter in training (perhaps with a culture of compliance that disguises the misapplication), then I suggest that you stop this practice immediately. If you're doing this for reasons of "safety" then I suggest that your motivation is totally misconceived. Because what you're doing isn't "safe"; it is in fact dangerous.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The ikkyo ground pin

I have previously written about the ikkyo "projection" and how it compares to the throw or projection one finds in, say, xingyi (as an application of pi quan). In that article I noted various methods of ikkyo that I considered to be "mistakes" – and ways of making the projection more efficient, regardless of your school/style.

However aikido practitioners will be aware that what is called "ikkyo" has 2 facets, namely the projection and a ground pin. It is the latter that I propose to cover briefly in this post.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not averse to students learning the traditional ikkyo ground pin; it teaches some valuable lessons about locking the elbow, including the need to keep pressure at a point just behind the joint, perform a correct twist of the wrist and maintain the correct angle of the arm to the body. As a "first step" it isn't a bad lesson at all.

However it is important to note that this "first lesson" is not a practical fighting technique. It is "high on principle, low on practicality". I have experimented over the years and found that it is nigh-on impossible to hold someone with an ikkyo ground pin if they don't want to be held.

Even if they consent to being placed in the optimal position for you to hold them, they invariably manage to wiggle free or turn around to smack you with an elbow. This is to say nothing of the difficulty in attaining the traditional ikkyo ground position to begin with: adrenaline and obstinate resistance conspire to make it very difficult indeed for someone to effect anything approaching an ikkyo ground pin - ie. with your opponent flat on his/her stomach, their arm stretched out to the side.

Yes, it is possible to hold someone using such a pin – but your technique must be pretty much perfect. And even then, I'm not sure you'll be able to maintain that position for very long - even in the most optimal position.

As a matter of interest, that optimal position is as follows: your opponent's arm must be out at more than 90 degrees, one of your knees must be pushed right into your opponent's armpit and the other must be right up against their forearm. Your opponent's elbow must be held absolutely flat by applying pressure at a point just behind the joint. The wrist can be twisted around and towards your opponent to add a lever factor to the lock.

I was beastly careless about my standard ikkyo form in the video, so please understand that I am aware of these details - I just haven't found that they make enough difference to a resistant opponent! They are important however to understanding broader principles and effect other locks substantially.

So what are the issues with ikkyo?


A video in which I discuss, among other things, the ikkyo ground pin (see from 3:30 onwards – video set to start at the correct point).

Well first, you'll note from my article "Elbow locks: Part 1", maintaining any sort of lock on the elbow with one's palm is problematic. I won't go into the reasons again here; I'll leave it to you to read that article. For the present purposes it suffices for me to note that palm pressure is a very poor way of locking someone's elbow.

The second issue is that it is extremely hard to attain the necessary position (ie. an arm outstretched on the floor) in a resistant environment. People are continually moving their arms, bending and alternately straightening.

In order to trap and control a limb, you generally need some larger body part to be employed in the lock (eg. the legs, both arms pulling the elbow in a juji gatame etc.) in a way that traps the arm, then uses the whole body to torque it straight. Using just your palms against a slippery, writhing arm is very hit and miss.

You might make be able it work – but you'd have to have reflexes and technique second to none.

The third issue flows directly from the previous ones: in order to hold a person solidly on the ground, you generally need to employ your full bodyweight. Yes, it might be argued that you can channel your bodyweight through your arms. But the truth of the matter is that in the traditional ikkyo ground pin your bodyweight is raised and supported at at least four (more accurately 6) points – only one of which is directly controlling a "pinning point" (your partner's elbow) and only one other of which is even touching the body (the wrist twist lever).

By contrast, in my experience, any ground technique requires a degree of body-to-body contact, with your centre of gravity kept low and centred directly over the relevant "pinning point".

The ikkyo ground pin does not meet these requirements.

So what should you do if you want to hold someone with an "ikkyo-like" pin?

For the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume that you've effected the ikkyo projection and taken your opponent to the ground, face first. I'm also going to assume that you want to effect an "ikkyo-like" hold – namely one that teaches more or less the same "lessons" but offers a more practical ground pin.

Essentially, my suggestion is that you take your bodyweight directly into your opponent – not to the side. Instead of kneeling next to your opponent, I suggest you kneel directly on him/her.

For this purpose you should put one knee directly into the back of the shoulder joint, the other in a crouch next to it. This direct body-to-body weight is vital in keeping your opponent securely pinned the floor.

Your opponent's elbow can then be locked straight with support from both your legs (as shown in the adjacent picture) and the standard wrist wist can then be employed to add more lever factor (and pain!) to the hold.

You'll note that having the arm raised more or less above the shoulder means that any pressure exerted by twisting the wrist around and down will spiral into the same point on the ground. In other words, you won't be spreading your weight over "non-pinning" areas.

Not only is this stronger than the standard ikkyo pin, but it is also requires less energy to hold. This means you can hold your opponent for longer – which is precisely what you might wish to do if you're waiting for the police etc.

Last, but not least, my suggested "ikkyo pin" permits an easy transition to a standing posture in case your opponent has accomplices. The need to be mobile is paramount in any street confrontation and I can't see that this objective is achieved by a full kneeling posture - particularly in the case of most Westerners, but regardless of your flexibility and strength in that position.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Single whip: Part 2 - general applications

Introduction: the "real world" vs. "attack of the zombies"

In Part 1 of this article I dealt with only one defence: against the "sucker punch". I am unapologetic about this: learning how to survive that first "surprise" punch should be a priority in martial arts instruction. Instead it isn't. It is usually buried in a mountain of combinations against "zombie attacks". You know the kind: slow movement, arms outstretched, no response to your own counters, etc. – countered by a series of wishful strikes that pay lip-service to predictability and that give "overkill" a new meaning.

In this article I propose to deal with other, more sophisticated, applications of single whip. And there are many more than those I propose to cover in this article. My goal here is simply to illustrate the general relevance of the sequence: how its movements are congruent with efficient biomechanics in response to common attacks; how a sequence that appears (at least, initially) to be impractical and "dance-like" is actually a very effective mnemonic for civilian defence tactics.

An aside to address criticisms

That my previous application should receive scathing criticism from a martial artist of a particular "zombie attack" school, and that I should be told that it wouldn't work in the "real world", is particularly galling to me, given my 30 years of blood, sweat and tears (and yes, I've shed plenty of each, I have the scars to prove it).1 It is even more galling when he insults my teachers by insisting that I find proper instruction. I don't normally bother responding to such attacks directly, but I felt that my post and video were so clearly misconstrued that I had to correct any misimpressions here and now.

The first criticism was that the back of wrist strike shouldn't be levelled at hard targets. I agree. That's why I clearly note in the article the importance of striking soft, vital regions like the carotid sinus on the throat (which I clearly demonstrate) or under the chin (the soft part, naturally). I will say no more about this.

The second criticism was that the defence leaves one open to counters. And this feeds directly back into my article.

The defence I showed doesn't leave you "open to attack" because there is no "pause" at the point I showed; it continues seamlessly into the second half of single whip. Both the first and second halves of the technique are designed to "shut off" counters. That is precisely what this second Part is going to demonstrate.2

Dealing with combinations

One of the biggest criticisms traditional martial arts face is that they appear to be too focused on such singular attacks of the kind to which I referred in Part 1. After all, what happens if your attacker throws a combination? Indeed, this is precisely what happens in a boxing ring or MMA cage. Are traditional martial arts capable of dealing with this scenario?3


A video in which I introduce the concept that taijiquan has defences against a typical "1-2" attack of jab and cross. Note that the technique shuts off further attacks by moving in, suppressing any third or fourth attack that might follow.

It would be wrong to assume that traditional civilian defence arts don't teach defences against combinations. While it might not be their first and dominant objective to cover these, the traditional martial arts are rich with applications against combination attacks. Taijiquan's single whip technique is no exception. I illustrate this in the above video.

It is noteworthy that single whip, as it occurs, in the taiji long form in every style, occurs on the right. This means that it is geared primarily against attacks that lead with the left and follow with the right – an unsurprising feature, since 90% of the population is right side dominant (I take the opportunity to practice left and right sides of all techniques as much as possible, but you get some idea of the main focus of a technique from seeing its manifestation in a form).

What this means is that a leading left jab can be deflected downwards and sideways with the forearm using a circular "C-shaped" movement initiated by your right hand. In the form, this is accompanied by a retraction of the body indicating that you might well be surprised by the opening jab; a movement away from the punch buys you more time both to evade it and deflect it.4

On the other hand, you'll note that the subsequent rising movement with the back of the wrist is accompanied by a movement into your opponent. This is because, having flinched from the initial punch, you are in a position to move in and jam/wedge your opponent's follow-up cross.

Since the cross is a very powerful punch, you want to catch it as close to its point of origin as possible when it has not yet fully accelerated and where it is most easily deflected.

Something to note in this application is that the deflection/parry of the opening jab occurs on the outside of the jab but progresses to pressing the attacking arm down (in Japanese this is called an "osae"). What this does is open up a window for the counter – but it also limits your attacker to that window and no other. This means there is a high degree of predictability of the trajectory of the follow-up cross. And if you move into your opponent you can decrease the size of that window, further narrowing your opponent's options.

Following up from the double deflection

Of course, the two movements I have discussed (ie. the circular forearm "sideways and down" deflection and the "up and sideways" back of the wrist forearm deflection) merely comprise the first part of the single whip sequence. As I discussed in Part 1 these movements (which are succinct and occur in quick succession in a continuous flow) can scarcely be described as two separate movements. Moreover, they might contain one or more counters in and of themselves.

Regardless of the latter, in this article, I propose to focus on what happens after you've executed those two movements. I'm going to assume that you needed to use those movements to secure your defence. Having done so, single whip now puts you in an ideal position for any number of counters – all of which are clearly manifest in the formal technique (ie., as it appears in the long form).

Moving into an arm bar

The first thing to note is that a strong cross is a follow-through punch. This means that, unlike a jab, it is not usually retracted quickly, but rather stops when it hits the target or otherwise exhausts its momentum. If you're going to trap any arm in the course of a punch, it is going to be during a committed, follow-through punch like a cross – not a jab.

So it should come as no surprise that the single whip sequence is simply brimming with applications that involve trapping and moving into locks – primarily of that committed arm. In the adjacent images I illustrate how simply one might move directly into an arm bar from the deflection of the right cross.

Note that this trap and lock won't occur in the outward phase of the cross: you're not trying to "lead momentum". Rather, you're going to avail yourself of the follow-through and catch the arm as it is curving away or being retracted.

Moving from arm bar to throw

The next thing you'll note is that there is a fairly easy counter to the elbow lock in that the attacker might dive for your legs, throwing you. In fact, this is precisely what happened to me while sparring with an internal arts practitioner in Kowloon Park in Hong Kong in 2009.

The leg most susceptible to this counter is the one nearest your opponent. Accordingly, you will note that the single whip sequence moves that leg. In the form, that movement can be quite large (diagonal single whip turns you 270 degrees). This corresponds to the reality that if someone is diving for your legs, you have to be prepared to make a substantial evasion backwards or backwards and sideways. Alternatively, the movement can be very small – perhaps because you thwart the dive by moving into your opponent, driving him/her off-balance so that the dive is made impossible to start with. Both are valid alternatives.

Regardless, understanding this type of counter to the arm bar is, of course, half the battle won avoiding the counter. It allows you to predict your opponent's most likely effective reaction - and to exploit it.

In the previous video, you'll note that I deal with one such counter by moving my leg away and back, simultaneously thwarting the dive by driving my forearm under the opponent's chin. I then use the backward step and his natural flinch reaction to effect an "over the leg" unbalancing throw or trip.

Moving straight into a throw

Of course, nothing requires you to execute an arm bar or something like it. You could, for example, simply move straight into an unbalancing throw or trip.


I discuss moving directly into a throw using single whip

There are any number of ways of effecting this unbalancing . I illustrate some of the ways in the video above.

Essentially you are entering into your opponent, using the "chopping" action of the second part of single whip to cut down and across your opponent, while your "hooked" (bent wrist) arm controls your opponent's punching arm.

This is as good a place as any to note that the bent wrist functions as a very neat "friction hold", avoiding the pitfalls of the "grip reflex" about which I have previously written.

While the above elements relating to arm use are crucial, they are in themselves not sufficient: in order to effect an unbalancing you need to account for all three spatial dimensions. Your arms deal with two of these and your legs must deal with the third. Accordingly you might effect a "trip" (ie. provide an obstacle over which your opponent can fall) or you can do something more subtle, like collapsing your opponent's knee with your own stance (ie. the one in which single whip finishes). I illustrate the latter in the adjacent images.

Tying the controlled arm into a "goose neck"

Going back to locks, one of the more interesting things you can do with the "bent wrist" of the single whip technique is the lock I call the "goose neck".


A video in which I discuss the application of the "goose neck" lock in single whip and, more generally, the use of the bent wrist in that technique

You'll note that for this sequence I've used the identical opening, although clearly I could have simply used a defence against a right cross to start with. Certainly the "1-2" sets me up very well for this technique, but it isn't essential.

To execute the "goose neck" lock, you should go to grab the opponent's punching arm as it has exhausted its forward momentum or it is being retracted. As noted above, this is quite feasible against a committed punch, but not against a jab. The initial contact with the deflection gives you a kinaesthetic "feed" into the melee, in particular letting you predict, with some accuracy, where the punching arm is likely to be in a moment's time. But for this initial contact, you would not have much success in grabbing the opponent's arm at any stage. That initial contact in the parry is vital in terms of setting up your awareness of your opponent in time and space.

Having grabbed your opponent's arm at or near the wrist, you can slide down to the hand. The retraction of his arm will power the bend you want to create in both his elbow and wrist. Your other hand can reach around his head and grab it, twisting it around. This not only orients your opponent optimally for the lock, but it also enables you to pull him/her away from throwing a third punch in the sequence.

Once you have effected the "gooseneck" lock you'll note that your next step is to twist your opponent's head sharply as you step back. This is a very violent movement and should not be employed unless your life is in danger and you can justify such a technique as "necessary and reasonable force".

Other wristlocks

While it isn't a primary application of single whip by any means, it is possible to use the movements of that sequence to effect a variety of wrist locks which I illustrate in the video below. These range from a same-side "xiao chan" (the "small wrap", known in aikido as "nikkyo"), a cross-arm version of the same thing and a wrist out-turn throw (known in aikido as "kote gaeshi").


I discuss the use of single whip to effect other wristlocks

Back to basics: the use of the bent wrist in defence

I'll close this article by discussing very briefly the importance of getting the angle correct in your bent wrist. This is vital because if you maintain the correct angle, you will find that the rising motion of the forearm will create a curve that is optimal for deflecting punches. This works well against punches thrown at almost any angle.

On the other hand, a fully "collapsed" bend in the wrist robs your forearm almost entirely of this function.



I discuss this principle in the video above from 1:36 onwards.

Broadly speaking, you can ascertain the correct wrist shape by making a fist, bending the relevant wrist, then keeping that angle and extending your fingers outward in a kind of five-fingered "pinch".

You'll note that making a fist permits a certain amount of "bend" in the wrist, but no more (I've previously discussed the issue of clenched fists and stiff arms). This limited angle just so happens to be the optimum "crane's wing" angle: an arc that allows punches (even hooks) to be deflected off a circle (note again my paper on analysis using all the mathematical dimensions before you start arguing with me on this point!).5

As a matter of interest, those who are familiar with Hong Yi Xiang's "bridging forms" of Tang Shao Dao will be aware that they contain a percentage of strange arm movements with clenched fists and bent wrists (which my teacher used to call "horseshoe blocks"). They are in fact just the closed-fisted variety of single whip's bent wrist deflection.

Conclusion

The technique known as single whip is a multi-faceted movement that contains a mnemonic for almost countless applications. I've previously discussed applications against a single, committed surprise punch (the "sucker punch") but in this article I thought I'd outline just some of the other uses to which the single whip sequence can be put.


The uses of single whip include defences against combinations. Indeed, my videos have tended to demonstrate all applications on the assumption that you're defending against two punches in succession (the old "1-2") but it goes without saying that they are equally applicable against a single punch.

It is worth noting that the single whip sequence "shuts off" any potential third or subsequent punch by stifling or jamming the second punch and countering almost immediately. In this regard you'll note how my videos illustrate that the counter not only lands a blow but also "cuts the supply line" of any further blows – principally by stopping the shoulders. The same movement that "cuts the supply lines" can also feed into locks and unbalancing techniques and I spend some time in my videos illustrating these. However these are merely less violent options; nothing stops you from simply striking instead.

The reason single whip is such a powerful mnemonic is that it neatly summarises and pre-packages important kinaesthetic lessons, ranging from evasion and entry, through to angles of stepping for these purposes and to correct amount of wrist/elbow/knee bend. I have covered only some of these (one important omission would be the use of the bent wrist to hook an opponent's neck or upper arm etc. in a clinch).

Accordingly, the name "single whip" (taken from, I believe, the shape of a particular riding crop) is largely misleading. The word "single" is manifestly inappropriate for a sequence so rich with potential applications!

Footnotes

1. I've discovered that the particular instructor who criticised my single whip application discussed in Part 1 just happens to be the same person who does the "3 taps and you're a pushover" trick I've discussed previously. So much for his credibility in asserting that my application wouldn't work in the "real world"!

2. If any of you have ever wondered why I occasionally go into anal detail about certain things, here is a good illustration. I had felt that it was self-evident that I was only showing the first part of the single whip movement: that the technique actually continues seamlessly from here. I had thought that it was obvious that I was, in effect, pausing half-way through the single whip application, with more to follow (in this Part). I thought it would be particularly obvious since the video is titled "Part 4", the solo technique as demonstrated doesn't pause at the relevant point and the article says that I will follow with other applications. I was mistaken. And so was this "master". It seems that on the net you aren't permitted to leave anything to the common sense and good grace of your reader.

3. I don't propose to spend a lot of time here dealing with the prevalence of "multiple punches" in civilian defence altercations. For the time being I'll note (again) that my experience in prosecuting assaults is at odds with MMA style fighting bouts in the street. As I've said many times previously, the most common male-male assault seems to be a single punch – perhaps followed soon thereafter by a few more punches and even kicks, but followed nonetheless; people don't tend to open with combinations. Opening MMA style combinations are the exception, not the rule. And given that most civilian defence arts are primarily geared at surviving that first punch (after which most confrontations are determined, the fighters are pulled apart by onlookers, or the situation devolves into an ineffective scuffle), traditional civilian defence arts should make no apology for concentrating on what is their primary concern. This necessarily means that they are not geared at teaching a person to "fight" (eg. in a ring).

4. Many people think that the single whip movements are "wrist-oriented" because the wrist initiates and leads the movement – in fact the majority of the movement is in the wrist. However as I've previously noted, forearm, not hand/palm, deflections are really the mainstay of the traditional defelection (ie. "blocking"). The application of single whip is no exception. The movement of the wrist causes a smaller circle to be employed in the forearm and it is this smaller circle that is generally used to effect a slipping deflection – usually mid-forearm in what I call the "Goldilocks zone".

5. Put it this way, if you want to deflect a circular attack like a hook, nothing stops you from using a circle on a different plane; you're not constrained by the old "circles against straight lines and straight lines against circles" story (which is, largely speaking, a myth). That "story" is only true if you are referring to a single plane. But if a hook is thrown on a horizontal plane, you can deflect it with another circle that intercepts it at a 45 degree plane.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic