Martial Arts: The Art Of Combat (Lessons Learned Along The Way: From Tae Kwon Do to Jeet Kune Do)

So I’ve thought about my Martial Art training and lessons I’ve learned along the way. How it has changed my life and perspective on things. I have trained up to Recommended Black Belt in TaeKwonDo and I have also trained in Brazilian Jui Jitsu, Aikido, Muay Thai Boxing and Greco-Roman/Freestyle Wrestling among other styles.

I am a ‘Lee Jun Fan‘ Bruce Lee fan. I’ve collected and read all his books, watched all movies and TV appearances. He was a very inspiring character in my life. I wrote another article on Bruce Lee’s impact on Martial Arts and my life (that is on this blog). I also bought some Jeet Kune Do dvds and books to teach myself some of the principles of entering, trapping and grappling. The Tao of Jeet Kune Do changed my whole paradigm (world view) drastically. The way of no way as a way. It took all my classical training in TKD, Hapkido, Aikido, Wrestling, Kick Boxing and Brazilian Jui Jitsu, and gave me a framework to become an unlimited fighter, not bound by style. A student of all, master of none.

Let me approach each style and discipline. I’m going to list each style and under each heading things I’ve learned. I’m not sure if it will benefit others I do feel like sharing some bullet points because really the teachers and training laid the foundation for many things that can only be realized in experience. Without the experience the principle may convey an idea as the experience was trans-formative to my life.

The Tae Kwon Do & Hapkido Foundation

I started training in TKD in High School as a method of Self Defense, and I desired to no longer feel intimidated by my abusive father. I grew up in North County, San Diego and live in Oceanside on the border of Libby Lake between the Mesa Loco’s in the Deep Valley Crip territory across the San Luis Rey river from the Deep Valley Bloods. There was a grip of other gangs the Insane Crip Gang, Fruit Town Bloods, Crip Mob Gangstas, etc Gang fights, drive-by and getting jumped where common. So I had been in a lot of fights, more with the few other white kids trying to act hard so the real gangstas wouldn’t mess with them. But I ended up knocking them around and being known as a fighter. I stayed solo didn’t roll with the gangs so I wasn’t a target for them. Had some homies who were who ended up doing time so I figured keep my nose clean and stay out of trouble and I’d be good.

For the most part I was I took of TKD just to feel safe and being a Bruce Lee fan I was happy to be taking any Martial Art. Hapkido, TangSooDo and Tae Kwon Do are branches of the same tree just like Aikido, Judo and JuJitsu share common ancestory. Tae Kwon Do is the style of Korean fighting handed down from the Hwa Rang warriors. Hapkido is a Korean form of Aikido/JuiJitsu that’s more hard style and aggressive. TaeKyon in inception was a no hold barred more, Muay Thai style combat, influenced by Okinawan Karate but with an emphasis on powerful kicks and Karate/AkiJustu style attacks. It was more of an aggressive form of combat like Savate or Muay Thai heavily relying on kicks with a Karate edge.

I learned some basic Korean words through training and regiment, the names of forms. counting to a hundred, combos, etc I found a sense of security and discipline in my Martial Arts training. I gained heightened alertness and increased physical prowess. I found a way to channel my anger. I found a source of strength in the structure and discipline. I found once I knew how to fight I no longer needed to prove myself. The thug on the block didn’t need me to kick him in the head to prove I could fight. Though I have to admit I did, get in a fight and kick a guy in the head and got the nick name Ninja-Boy and Karate-Kid. Which was humorous but kept “most” people from fighting me.

A few kids wanted to test whom I dispatched with very little effort to my glee by slipping punches and redirecting him into a fence and then he tried to kick me and I tossed him down the steps. That wasn’t enough he tried to blind side me while I was talking to some others in PE, I slipped his punch and he busted his hand on the wall as a teacher walked by. I was glad I hadn’t royally beat the crap out of him, and was able to win without really fighting. Ala the “art of fighting without fighting” ~ Bruce Lee. Anyways, this just solidified my Ninja boy status.

So I joined the Martial Arts club at school and became the Vice President along with my friend Jo (aka Jo-Blo-Jitsu) a Aikido black belt. During High School I worked at Family Karate (TKD) cleaning up and washing windows much like Daniel son and Mr Miyagi in the Karate Kid. My instructor would train me the old school way he was taught in Korea, vis-à-vis standing on my hips as I did the splits to help me touch the ground, because I wanted the real training not watered down. I enjoyed competing in tournaments to challenge and grow by interdisciplinary fighting.

I was a fast study due to my street fighting experience and previously self taught through Bruce Lee’s books and VHS tapes I was competing with and beating Red and Black Belts when I was an Orange and Yellow Belt, which was really quick. Faster than most, I love sparring more than anything else. Friday night and Saturday morning sparring where highlights for me.

I had some friends who would drive from Escondido and Rancho Bernardo to spar with me because we loved the challenge and had the never die, never quit, never lose, indomitable spirit. I do miss those days. In TKD there is a lot of physical conditioning with forms, cardio, stretching and mental conditioning through one steps and other exercises.

I got so fast in my reflexes I would find myself kicking people in the head before I or they realized I had moved my foot. I hit people before either of us moved and I’d hit people with spinning reverse kicks incessantly. I gained a good foundation in upright and ground combat. Mostly TKD style striking, with some Hapkido (Aikido/Judo style) grappling.

Our head instructors instructor had done some freestyle “Vale Tudo” fighting in Europe and elsewhere so he started introducing mixed martial arts training. I learned Bo Staff, Nunchuka, Kama and Escrima sticks as well.

I have to admit though I enjoyed teaching the children’s classes, the special needs Kids and women’s self-defense. The little kids loved when I taught and helped teach. I spent two hours teaching, and two hours training everyday.

On top of that I would run 4-5 miles a day, do weight lifting (I took a year and a half of weight training & a year of sport medicine), then I would work on the heavy bag, do sped drills and katas. I would train a good 6 hours a day, on top of school and part-time work.

I also enjoyed doing public demonstrations, which was fun, though I enjoyed doing school anti-drug martial art and board breaking demonstrations more.

Teaching at different locations was fun and challenging. It was a good stretch. That’s was a good foundation. I trained all the way up to the point that I reviewed for and passed my Black Belt review. So my hands are registered lethal weapons, I guess, as they say.

The Wrestling (Greco-Roman & Freestyle) Influence
During high school, I joined the wrestling team off-season and trained for most of a year. I joined because my father and uncles where from Des Moines, IA a strong wrestling state, they had wrestled and my uncle was a wrestling coach. Being opposed to senselessly smashing into people over a pig skin, I got pretty good at wrestling but decided not to compete because I prefer kicking, punching and martial arts (Judo/Hapkido/Aikido) grappling over wrestling so I quit. I later realized when training in Brazillian Jui Jitsu that the take-downs in wrestling helped my takedown game, plus the Judo style throws from Hapkido made me formidable in BJJ.

The Addition Of Aikido & Kendo
I first learned about Aikido through my friend Jo who was the president of the Martial Art club (of which I mentioned I was Vice President), he would teach Aikido and I would teach TKD after school. I picked up some cool techniques, redirecting motion (a further exploration past Hapkido into grappling), break falls, rolls, etc Jo would teach me at Black Belt level so I went more directly to the fluid motion, I didn’t have to take all the time learning the square pattern, to triangle, to circle, so I got to skip a lot of what I felt was a waste anyways and I guess having Hapkido experience it wasn’t completely foreign. I started to learn some Japanese names and terms as well. I did take a few classes and train officially but never took it serious as an art, outside of the principles of using the opponents forces, joint manipulation, locks and throws. Jo also taught me some Kendo bo staff and sword techniques, which enhanced the Korean Bo Staff and sword training I got. I seemed to do a lot of cross training. That’s why Jeet Kune Do and mixed martial arts was the natural progression for me. I was already cross training between grappling and combative arts.

The Brazilian Jui Jitsu Phase
For me BJJ was easy, I had a foundation in Greco-Roman Wrestling and Hapkido with a little Aikido and Judo training so when I hit the mats, I was putting Blue Belts in leg locks, chokes and holds off the bat, first time out, literally, no joke. I had just been in a car accident and was on pain meds so it was a feet to me. I had some in class teaching and grappled with friends who had won national championships who taught me and I was a quick learner. I have to say my grappling game is solid Blue Belt in BJJ, mount, guard, rear guard, takedowns, throws, locks, leg locks, chokes, submission, quiliontine choke, triangle chokes, arms bars, kimura, triangle leg locks, body movement, scissor leg takedowns, etc If ya know, you know the drill. If not, you need to.

Understanding Martial Artist, Special Forces and Martial Combat
Growing up near a military base, I knew people who where Navy Seals, Marine Recon & Recon Snipers. So I asked questioned and learned the principles behind the one strike, one kill, and honed pressure point training I had learned. Which I have to say learning anatomy in Sport Medicine and Weight Training made the nerves, muscle and tendons in Dim Mak (Pressure Point) fighting easier to understand on a deeper level. George Dilman’s teaching on pressure points solidified it for me. Anyways that was a trans-formative understanding of one strike, one hit, one kill. The first contact needs to be the last. You can’t spar in war. Its life and death.

Understanding the nerves that connect to certain parts of your brain, organs and striking them can cause immobilization, passing out, disrupt organ function, etc Along with the art of bone break, nerve attacks can kill, paralyze and disable. The proper strike with a 1 inch blade or knife can kill a person. Jugular veins, Adams apples and the nose are easy targets that don’t take much training. At one point I was proud to know a lot of ways to terminate a person with bare hands.

I understand energy or chi to be your inner will, drive or motivation not a spiritual aspect as many others. I see it as a mental aspect of mindfulness being present, aware and able to be in control of your mental faculties. I did tap into adrenaline a lot. The physiological principles of pain, nerves, pressure points and adrenaline are powerful enough without inviting reincarnated spirits, channeling them or using their presence to invoke power to defeat opponents.

As a martial artist I’ve used verbal Jiu-Jitsu, I have stood face to face with men with guns and knifes who wanted to rob me, not using a lick of Martial Arts I was able to use the Power of Speech to make them leave me alone though I had hundreds of dollars and brand new Nike’s on. Yes, gun and knife defenses at close range are easy albeit very risky. Question is do you wanna die getting robbed or live defending yourself? Just saying.

Jeet Kune Do: My Personal Exploration Into Bruce (Jun Fan) Lee’s Do
While I’ve had very little face to face instruction when I was younger. I’ve read and absorbed a lot of Bruce Lee’s and his students teachings, done a lot of drills and attribute training. As I stated before I had VHS’s and Books that I studied rigorously and trained at home in my back yard with equipment that I rigged up before I started actually studying martial arts. Which really helped me take fighting to its root basic elements of ranges, speed, timing and tools. It took all my forms and styles and turned them into adaptable, pliable weapons.

I studied the art of Wing Chun, the ranges of combat, trapping, etc I switched up from a natural left hand forward boxing stance, to a right lead, strong-arm forward, vertical fist, doing straight blast drills, incorporated the Muay Thai kicks, elbows, knees, shin blocks I had learned to further develop my already expanding arsenal.

My fighting started to look like MMA fighters of today. The UFC started sometime while I was training in Taekwondo, at that time I started sparring full combat no rules style beyond just the BJJ or Muay Thai style incorporating all I learned with those who would let me on occasion. Really the Tao of Jeet Kune Do transformed my life and art of fighting. The drills and techniques I learned, from using the full body to punch (1 inch punches style), parrying, fencing style foot work, to the ranges of combat, the five methods of attack etc Really brought my life and training into full focus.

The Addition Of Escrima / Kali / Arnis?
In Escrima I learned the Single & Double Stick fighting, Siniwali, knife fighting, improvised weapons, knife & gun disarms and Wing Chun style trapping hands/entanglements.

The Addition Of Muay Thai
I learned boxing, to use my elbows, knees, shins and put my whole body into kicks, the shin conditioning (running bottle up & downs my shins) and tree kicking deadened my shin nerves.

My Exploration In Krav Maga
Martial combat is part of biblical life, spiritual combat is essential to life. The struggle for the people of God rages on. The people of Israel are used to combat. As the art of Krav Maga developed from combat by the IDF they blended martial arts. The principles of Jeet Kune Do and real combat are the foundation, the ranges of combat, the aliveness of real combat, attribute training, weapons defenses and the tools of combat. KM is a very raw, attack, defend, immobilize and move on. It’s the bares bones special forces version of Jeet Kune Do without the technical aspects. The uses of adrenaline and realistic training is beneficial. Weapons, mainly knifes and gun defenses are primary. The fighting stances is the strong-arm forward, parries, the defenses and weapons are primarily the core of Jun Fan JKD. Its like JKD minus Bruce Lee’s philosophy and the teaching of Kali, Jun Fan Gung Fu, Wing Chun. It’s a good bare-bones combat art. If you wanna win a fight, it’s the place to be, no classical mess, just combat. I started training in Dallas at the KMW studio in Carrollton, Texas first, later I trained in Haganah in Santa Maria, and attended a few Krav Maga Self Defense Conferences herre and there.

The Exploration of Ninjitsu & the Art of Shurite Tai Jutsu (To Shin Do)
Being a rock climber, hiker and back packer, the stealth, climbing, hiding came natural. I got the nick name Nature Boy and Spiderman because of my climbing and hiding abilities. Knife and Shurikan throwing was fun, along with improvised weapons. Alchemy is always fun, I’m a pyro-maniac I love fire, so explosives, black powder, smoke, poison and darts are cool. I have to admit the occult side of Ninjistu is dark and evil, therefore I only picked up some cool explosive powder mixture to make puffs of smoke. I singed my eyes brows off once playing with black powder it was funny at the time. I had beaded eyebrows. Ninjitsu is very stylized moden Self Defense oriented are now but is similar to Jeet Kune Do & Krav Maga not so much MMA but kinda. I trained a little in To Shin Do.

An Exploration of Shang-Sou/Sang So
Shang-Sou is a lot like MMA, Jeet Kune Do, Krav Maga but with strong spirituality similar to Ninjitsu. The principles of combat make it look a lot like MMA with the use of Dim Mak. Again a martial art I didn’t go far in.

Flapping My Wing Chun Chops

I learned Wing Chun through Kali, JKD, Books, a very little training & DVD’s. What I learned was a rudimentary understanding of trapping hands, lop sao, pak sao, jut sao, finger jabs, one inch punch, straight blast, parrying, stop hits and knuckle conditioning.

Touching On Tai Chi

Yes, I took some Tai Chi early in my studies. I studied one of the earliest recorded forms. I understood the move behind the motion but BORING, I wanted street provable combat skills. Again the monastic focus is a turn off so I’d rather practice grappling or full combat martial arts. I have to say I have found a place for mindfulness and present moment attention from my studies into Mussar an Ancient Jewish meditative practice.

An End Note:

Anyways, these are my early experiences and gleaming from the martial art world. I don’t recommend you try all that I tried. I started my martial arts journey when I was unsaved. Even though I choose to use adrenaline way too much, it affected my health and became addictive. I would recommend against it. I am somewhat retired from training due to a permanent injury to my low back that has mad a lot of things permanent difficult. However, I felt I should share my experiences with those who read my blog to know a little more about me. Maybe understand somethings and hopefully learn from my life story.

Update: To see how I progressed further since the writing of this early compendium before I got back into martial arts click here. Know I am Black Belt in Taekwondo, an Israeli Krav Maga Instructor, an ATA Krav Maga Instructor, a Level 5 Krav Maga Practitioner, a Chinatown Jeet Kune Do Senior 2nd Level – Student Coach, and a Cage Fitness Coach as well as an ATA Fit, Warrior X-Fit and Cardio Kick Boxing instructor as well. I am continuing to train in Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga seeking to become full instructors in those martial arts and eventually open my own school.

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