Warrior Athlete Philosopher

World-Class Martial Arts with Joseph Simonet and Addy Hernandez.

Month: December 2015

Mine the Moment

sifu snow
Youth is not wasted on the young. Time, like anything, can only be wasted by the wasteful. The years we have left to live is of little import when it is squandered through misaligned living. Those who would wish for more time should, instead of wringing their hands in anxiety or clenched frustration, devote this effort toward achieving presence in the moment. When we dwell in the past, fixate on the future, or otherwise give attention and energy toward things that are not nurturing, the living part of life is stripped from us. Although some greet advancing years with a sense of betrayed indignation, I believe what one gets out of life is not measured in quantity of time, but rather in quality. When I was living on Vashon island during my 30’s, I woke up one morning and ventured out to the rocky beach just yards from our home. The dawn’s stillness was broken only by the call of birds and the gentle lapping of the tide. Out in the shallows, a heron spears a rockfish, and as it raised its prize into the air, an eagle swoops down and snatches the fish with the agility of an acrobat. I was in awe of all that was around me. The smells of the beach and the cool foggy air, the movement of the predators in my midst, the sounds of their cries and the world around. There was so much to this moment that I was almost overwhelmed. If one is paying enough attention and truly cherishes the value of a moment, a lifetime of fulfillment can be taken in every day. It was then that I realized, if I had just one calendar year on this island, living this lifestyle, with the beauty and passion that greeted me every day, I could be satisfied with just one year of life. To need more belies an insatiability that is only pursuant to numb oblivion. How many of us wish for more years and yet the years we have are spent in numb complacent comfort? My saying this does certainly not imply that I have never succumbed to the lure of inattentiveness, but those points where I am truly alive and engaged remind me of how much can be mined from each moment. I challenge myself, and challenge you dear reader, to consider this perspective as a cornerstone to intentional living. What I and all of us need is not more longevity, but more intentionality. If you don’t find yourself passionately and emotionally immersed in each day, you are not truly paying attention. Whatever brings you to tears of sadness, cries of joy, explosive movement, intellectual epiphanies, fits of rage, frustrated angst, humble awe and electrified domination is what makes you alive–not time. Capture the moment, mine it for all it offers, embark upon each day with curious expectation, and no longer bemoan your finite existence.

Anti-Grappling with Supported Wing-Chun

In my opinion, a Supported Bong Sau, of which I personally have trained 1000’s of times, is a primary tool in my arsenal. It lives in the wooden dummy form I developed and call the Slam Set. I literally slam my forearms against the oak arms of the Mook Jong (wooden dummy). At this point in my Dummy development, my forearms are impervious to pain. This is important as one is capable of causing destruction with a concussive attitude possibly breaking bones, perhaps a jaw, skull, collar bone or indeed soft tissue. The Supported Bong Sau is also an anti- grappling deterrent. The SBS could indeed stop a punch, break a collar bone or potentially stop a shooting grappler in their tracks.
Alright, from here we are going to go into our bong lop backhand. In the original DVD, we went bong, lop sau, backhand, and hit. That’s OK, what we are going to do now is a lot better. From now on, instead of bonging here, coming up, this line, this is more for Chi Sau, in my opinion. For punching, we are doing more of this, this hooks around the Chi Sau, it gives you more sensitivity. Let me show you with Josh, right from here, when he comes up and turns it over, he’s against my hand, or if we reverse it, when I come up for a bong, I can feel more and have more control here. So that hooks him in, if I’m here, he can slide around and have a little more mobility with his left hand, so I’m locking it in. So in my opinion, a lot of the bong saus, for punching, people are doing it like this. But if I do that, he gives me a right punch and he smashes my fingers, I’m screwed. So from this position, I’m jamming into it and I am supporting the bong here, this is my center, this is my structure. We also do it with a blade, we do it with a knife, if you notice in The Club Set and The Blade Set, check out those DVDs. But from here, I’m driving forward, I like the stance, it’s a little more appropriate for function than I am showing with the dummy, but I am going to explain all that. Now, traditionally, we can bong, lop, back hand. As Josh gives me a right punch here, I bong, lop, back hand, and I can do all kinds of stuff from here, I look really creative and good. But there’s just a few problems with that. One is that if he punches me and I am here, and I go in to bong, look at my feet. I have a weak point where Josh’s toe is, and another one right behind me. So it is nice to be able to get off center and curl my hand, and do the Wing Chung stuff, however, once I do that and go to bong, and right in this position he attacks and knocks me right off of my center. Only that wouldn’t be a push to my chest it would be a hit to the throat, a gauge to the eyes, or a hit to the chin, so I’m screwed. Plus, he has completely disrupted my base. So when he punches and I am here, I am extremely vulnerable at that point. Also, the other thing is bong, lop, back hand, it looks really good in the gymnasium, he punches, bong, lop, back hand, I’m really good. One little problem. He retracts his hand after the punch and it’s no longer there, so it’s bullshit. So unless you are extremely talented at a world-class level, which not many people are, I now have to close the gap. So instead of me getting off line, doing this little curl thing, back here with a woo hand, this woo hand is not attached, he punches me right hand, then left, you can do that and it looks really good as long as it is slow and I know it is coming. But the fact of the matter is, he punches, from here, I don’t know what he is going to do, he could be doing an uppercut from there and I’m just screwed. I don’t like that vulnerability, and a lot of times, martial arts systems will fight each other relative to the principles and rules of that system, thus you can do exercises like this and somebody can counter, and it is all very synchronized, but if somebody is going to rip your fucking face off, I don’t buy it. So, what we are going to do then is jam in from here, I’m coming forward with this whole structure, we do it grabbing the left arm as well, but for now, this hand is up and in my center. So I am not going to bong him and find him, I’m going to where I know that punch is going to be. It’s going to be at the end of that strike just for a microsecond, but it’s going to come back to home. As he punches me, I am jamming into him here, and now I’ve got control. Now we can shear, now we can do some of our stuff that we have done in our prior work. Supported bong, boom, I am coming right into him, it’s like I am attacking. And then of course you can do whatever you want from there and you don’t have to be stuck with a bong, lop, back hand.
Supported bong, right from here, against your dummy, as we showed, in my opinion, it is much more effective for a punching attack. Now, this is a counter-grappling move, this is big on everybody’s mind right now and is probably never going to go away. This is an exceptional anti-grappling technique, and I wish I could show it to you full-speed, but I don’t want to severely injure my partner. If you at home don’t believe me, learn how I do it and go ahead and try it on one another and have fun performing it on Jackass Part V. A lot of times we step to the side, and we’ve said that is inappropriate with the weak points. We are stepping forward, but to me, the stepping forward means the power is coming with my lead foot, the angulation of my feet, my hips, my leg is bent and driving with this structure, with the concussive attitude that we have talked about throughout this DVD. It’s the feet coming in and driving, and hitting and timing, hitting on impact, with my feet and my body, listen to the sound of my shoes as that is coming in. Same thing, boom, I can sit coming back if they are shooting. As we have already said, if he gives me a right straight punch, I can drive straight in. What we didn’t say is, if he gives me a wide hook, I can just come inside the center of that. That is another application of this. But for right now, it is the counter-grappling. So from here, if Aaron were to come straight at me with his head right down the center, I’m not going to change, because if you have to change and adjust in a critical situation, you are going to need to be really lucky I think. So what I am doing is one size fits all, I am driving right into my center, regardless if their head is coming in to center, left or right of my body. If Aaron comes at me straight, boom, I am jamming right into his head, and believe me that is going to rock him. And from there, there are so many things we can do, it’s ridiculous where we can go. But I’m telling you, as you are jamming that right into their head, and because of the dummy work, we can do that all day long against oak arms, it’s going to hurt your head more than it hurts me. It jams the neck, it compresses the vertebrae, so be careful. If Aaron comes at me with his head to his left, notice how that fits right in, the neck, the collar bone, even if his head is up and to the left, I am jamming right into that critical area and look at where I am off of that line, look where I can go with that line. I can do whatever I want, I can pull him down, and so on. So when he comes at me, I am jamming right into there, that’s what I am going to do. If his head is straight-on, that is what I am doing, and if he is turned, it fits right into that. Now if his head comes in to his right, I’m not really changing, I am jamming right into that, now he is eating the forearm and his temple as well in that line. Around this way, here, you can see what I am doing on that line. Also, one key piece about driving back, again, off my center, with this powerful base. Remember, they are shooting in, expecting to gobble me up and take me back, or they are expecting me to sprawl and just kind of land on their back and move around, that is part of the physical vernacular of wrestling and so on, but we’re not doing that. And I’m not foolish enough to believe they are not going to charge me high, because it would work there right into their throat, I don’t care. And I’m not saying this is going to stop them or that this is some kind of panacea, but I’m telling you that this is extremely effective and it creates a window of opportunity, a garage door of opportunity, for you to fuck them up after this because you’re going to rattle them. Now, not many people can take that hit to the collar bone or neck as we showed before. We are here, from the top of the body down to about the knees, and that is where my prowess ends because at that point, they are going for an ankle pick and are going to be a lot lower, so in that case I would sprawl, my feet would go back, and I would jam this into them.
Our supported bong against a grappler, hit them high, medium, or drop low. I go right to center, this is the strength of my base, I am moving forward in my attitude off of that. The grappler is coming in, they are usually tough, you need everything you’ve got to be able to diffuse their attack. A regular sprawl using the mat, I’m coming down here. Notice my hands, even this, when I sprawl, I’m going to come in with my elbows into their back. You can even do a supported elbow into their back. What I’m going to do is show it here with the supported bong. Slowly, I’m here, they are coming into me fighting, bang, that is what I am doing coming into them. I smash, with all my weight on their neck. Remember, they are moving in, I smash right into them and then come up with my elbow and proceed from there.

Argue with a Blade and WIN

I created, designed and physically manifested the Argument of Movement (A of M) on Film with the publishing company Paladin Press in 2007. Utilizing my 35 plus years of martial arts training at the time, my intention was to build a two person set that would teach a practitioner to flow and feel their way in and out of fighting ranges, joint locks, attacks and counters in a fluid non-stop progression. Within the A of M one can develop multiple variations albeit take your opponent to the ground, kick him, choke him out, straight blast him etc. etc.

The next level of A of M is Point Counter Point (PCP). Point Counter Point offers a plethora of options with a Blade. Multiple grip changes, severing tendons, heightened awareness, cutting throats, slashing arteries, joint locks with blades etc. This is an intense, brutal, and potentially a Lethal Scenario when confronted with a combatant intent on killing you. I believe, one must incorporate a Relentless Resolve with Surgical Precision with intention to kill or be killed. Whether they are armed or not, they have decided you must die. Use all means at your disposal to extinguish his Life Force.

For more information on the Argument of Movement Series Check out this link:http://kifightingconcepts.com/online-store_307-p.html

Moving Mountains and Valleys with Velvet Revolver

scott tree
When I think about my work with the rock group Velvet Revolver and in particular my relationship with Scott Weiland, there is one memory that always makes me smile. I got a call from Dana Dufine, Scott’s business manager from Immortal Records. She told me about this new super-group formed by Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum from Guns n’ Roses, Dave Kushner and Stone Temple Pilots front man Scott Weiland. The band had struck a deal with Clive Davis and were under contract for the first Velvet Revolver album, for which the musicians had been paid in advance. This was all really good news except that, at the time, the discord between the band members had brought their work to a grinding halt. The clock was ticking to produce the album because they already had secured a time slot in a prominent LA recording studio. No one would show up to the recording session, and Dana was urgently asking for my help in resolving this impasse. “Joseph, please fly to LA and get these guys working together again,” she asked. Sure enough, I was on a plane the next day. Duff picked me up at the airport and off we went to Studio City to meet the band. Everyone showed up separately, meeting in a private room. No one would speak. Which is fine with me–my work in corporate taught me how to be very comfortable with silence. In this scene, it was deafening. After about 10 minutes of watching everyone writhe in their chairs, I began to gently sing an off-key Joni Mitchell song called “People’s Parties”.
All the people at this party, they’ve got a lot of style
They’ve got stamps of many countries, they’ve got passport smiles
Some are friendly, some are cutting, some are watching it from the wings
Some are standing in the center, giving to get something
Photo Beauty gets attention, then her eye paint’s running down
She’s got a rose in her teeth and a lampshade crown
One minute she’s so happy, then she’s crying on someone’s knee
Saying, laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release
I told you when I met you I was crazy, cry for us all Beauty
Cry for Eddie in the corner, thinking he’s nobody
And Jack behind his joker and stone-cold Grace behind her fan
And me in my frightened silence, thinking I don’t understand
I feel like I am sleeping, can you wake me?
You seem to have a broader sensibility
I’m just living on nerves and feelings with a weak and a lazy mind
And coming to peoples parties fumbling deaf, dumb and blind
I wish I had more sense of humor, keeping the sadness at bay
Throwing the lightness on these things
Laughing it all away, laughing it all away
Laughing it all away, laughing it all away

This was met with silence for a minute or two. Scott Weiland finally said “Sifu, you have the worst voice of anybody I know, but that was the most beautiful song I have ever heard.” He had tears streaming down his face. Everyone got up and met together in the room for a collective hug, after which we all went to the recording studio to make an album that sold 4 million records.
In 2001 or so, I was in my Ki Fighting Concepts gym in Wenatchee, WA when the phone rang. It was a gentleman who told me he was from LA up doing business in our area and wanted to hit the bags for a workout. We invited him to come on in and have at it. About an hour later, he showed up with a very ‘LA look’, lots of blond hair, tan, fit, tattooed, cool guy carrying a bag from Big 5 sporting goods. He took a look around and promptly dropped his bag in the garbage can. “I didn’t realize you had a real gym here,” he said. Then he began shadow boxing, doing footwork, jumping rope, kickboxing, hitting bags and the like. I told my business partner, Addy Hernandez, I would go hold some pads for him. He accepted my offer and we trained for awhile, when I noticed he was dropping his right arm when he jabbed. I slapped him a little to keep him mindful of this mistake. He said “Benny never told me I drop my right,” referring to training legend Benny the Jet Urquidez. I found this intriguing but we didn’t go into detail then. After that, he came in from time to time for about 2 weeks and at the end he introduced us to his wife, model Susan Holmes. They were kind and gracious people. When Duff asked what he owed me for the lessons, I told him not to worry about it. He bought me a couple of gift cards for a local book store though and took his leave. Although I knew his name was Duff, I had no idea who he really was until about 3 months later when I went to get a tattoo and the shop owner exclaimed “Dude, you’re the guy who trains Duff from Guns n’ Roses!” Perplexed, I told him he was mistaken but he clarified that the “Duff” I knew was none other than the famous rock musician. Duff later told me that one of the reasons why he trusted and believed in me was because I treated him with respect and dignity and gave him my all even though I didn’t know about his fame and fortune.
Fast forward to 2003, Duff gave me a call and said “Sifu, I’ve got a project for you. Have you ever heard of Stone Temple Pilots, particularly their lead singer Scott Weiland? Well we have narrowed down our choice for lead singer of our super-group and we want him. The problem is, he has a lot of issues to be worked through, and I had you in the back of my mind as someone who can train him and help him pull his shit together.”
“Well, that’s interesting, where would this take place?” I ask.
Duff explained, “We were thinking at your house in Chelan.”
“You want him to live with me?”
“Yeah but I got to tell you first, he’s a cocaine addict, a heroin addict, an alcoholic, he’s bipolar, he’s anorexic and he is brilliantly gifted” explained Duff.
A couple of days later, I met Duff and a few of his crew in the parking lot at Safeway in Chelan, WA. Scott showed up looking every bit as advertised, with a huge gash on his forehead (something with a prostitute and getting caught smoking drugs in an alley in LA). So we moved him into one of my kid’s downstairs bedrooms, shuttling off my teenagers to a hotel, much to their delight. For the next 3 months, Scott lived with Addy and I as we proceeded to eliminate heroine and alcohol from his life cold turkey, and endeavor that required Addy to administer regular shots of synthetic opium to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. We implemented a course of martial arts training, nutrition and life coaching that brought him to health and mental wellbeing. This was all great in itself, but I didn’t really understand the true nature what I was dealing with in Scott until several weeks later.
A few friends of the band were visiting and I had asked them all to keep a journal of their thoughts and experiences while at Wind and Rock. I told them I would read and review these journals so please write something every day as many times as desired. After about 3 or 4 days of them training Tai Chi and hitting bags, working out and seeking a presence of mind and intentionality of focus, I picked up some of the journals while everyone was asleep. One said “Hey babe, miss you guys, on my second cup of coffee,” etc. Another read “Yeah it’s going to be sunny today, hope it’s not too hot” and so forth. When I picked up Scott’s journal I was blown away. There was page after page of sketches, shadowing, lyrics, words and creativity like none I had seen before. All at once, like a shovel to the forehead, it dawned on me that the brilliance and creative genius of this band lives in Scott Weiland. This was the impetus for everyone spending so much time, money and effort on holding him together–because he was worth his weight in gold.
Parenthetically, during the making of “Inside Out” on Vh1, Alex and Alex from the network were smart enough to film the emotional anguish felt by the Velvet Revolver band members in their search for a lead man. They had recalled several awful auditions, during which Duff and Slash were both underwhelmed and frustrated. Then, when Scott came along they said “I don’t want to make the call unless this is the guy”. The “guy” in question was Scott Weiland and “the call” was to me. Vh1 came to my home at Wind and Rock and filmed us training and working out as part of their documentary of the band.
During his recovery, I realized Scott and I were very much alike. We are both creative, passionate and ambitious, and this felt synchronicity caused me to deeply consider things that Scott needed to do to achieve meaning and stability in his life. One of the most important things I invited him to do was plant a tree. Not just any tree, a sequoia redwood. Together we sought out and purchased a 5 ft tree, and I had him do the requisite manual labor to plant it in the ground and then water it regularly. I poignantly felt he needed some permanence in his life and the tree could represent an anchoring and timelessness in his perspective. Whenever he was down or frustrated or anxious, he could know that somewhere there was a tree he planted, that would root and ground him, helping him to sense the something bigger that he is a part of.
Another time, I suggested that Scott shoot his cell phone with a shotgun as a representation of the cleaving off of unhealthy parts of himself. That phone held all the contact information for his drug dealers and shooting it was a demonstration of rejection toward that which drags him down. This act manifested the power and stability that is embodied by destroying that which tried to destroy him. So I took his cell phone out to the woodpile, placed it on a stump 10 steps away and there Scott symbolically killed his past so he could give birth to his future.
With all of his creativity and brilliance, Scott was difficult and often challenging to be around. I remember going out on my trail one day and Addy followed me. “Oh my God I have to get rid of him. I can’t stand him anymore, I’m overwhelmed” I cried. But despite this sentiment, I held on to my patience and vision of the bigger picture of creativity and genius that I saw in him. Reflecting back now, I see that deep inside, I wanted people to believe in me because I, too, am difficult and mercurial at times which causes those around me to feel repelled. What I realize about myself, what I realize about Scott,is that being unusual, contentious, explosive, moody and contrarian is part of the burden carried by creative and passionate people. Like Nietzsche says “The man who moves mountains also moves valleys.” I wanted to see in him what I wished others would see in me, and give him the patience and perspective that he deserved. It is still the one gift I most hope to receive from others.
Several years later, I regrouped with Scott and Stone Temple Pilots, having once again received the call from Dana Dufine. The endeavor this time was regarding the band’s North American tour. Dana shared that STP was on tour and they had been doing quite well. Unfortunately, with 2 months booked and approximately 25 concerts to go, and they were thinking of shutting down the tour. Bear in mind, this was a massive tour involving several busses, a road crew–an overall huge expensive endeavor. Cancelling it would mean a tremendous loss for STP, dozens of people out of work and unseen costs to the band’s reputation and morale. What was even more vexing was the fact that this proposed cancellation was due to personal band dynamics, differences of opinion and so forth, likely incited by drug/alcohol use on Scott’s part. Dana said Scott had been asking for “Sifu”. Apparently he needed some mentorship, anchoring and guidance from someone he could trust to persevere with him through his darkest days. So within 24 hours I flew to LA to meet him and we did 25 more concerts all over the country. We were in LA, San Francisco, Phoenix–you name it, we went there. I lived on the bus with Scott, staying by his side to protect and fortify him as his friend and coach. Scott was able to make the needed adjustments to reconcile his differences with the band enough to work together. In the end, they finished the tour and grossed millions of dollars because of it.
I am an experiential learner by nature. Not all people are, but those who pay attention can mine value from the most intricate and brief encounters. My time with Scott helped me encounter what I value in myself, what I value in others, allowing me to see the extraordinary power that patience and support of brilliant people can yield. I am very proud and grateful for the work I did with Velvet Revolver. I am grateful for my friendship with Scott, Duff, Slash, Dave and Matt. This group produced two albums with several million copies sold, and I am fulfilled for having played a small part in their success. My involvement with Scott Weiland started in 2003 and continues to this day as he built a custom log house on the road I live on in Lake Chelan, WA. I hope the drive by my house reminds him that he deserves to be understood for his creativity much more than resented for his flaws.
For more on the Velvet Revolver/STP story, visit: http://www.mtv.com/news/1583956/velvet-revolver-breaking-up-scott-weiland-seems-to-think-so-even-if-rest-of-band-isnt-sure/
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/velvet-revolver

Small Circle Jiujitsu

Small Circle JuJitsu was Developed by Wally Jay. There are Ten specific Principles of which Small Circle JuJitsu was Governed by. One example states; One must create maximum pain without dislocating a joint, a protocol Expert Martial Artist Joseph Simonet personally does not subscribe to in a combat situation.