I wanna share something different but that is very personal to me here.
I won’t go on about the details of my life, but I was adopted as child, and my adoptive father comes from Reunion Island, a French island in the Indian Ocean that was home to slaves brought from Mozambique and later to several different populations (mostly Chinese and Indian). Reunion has a very vibrant local culture, most notably a very typical cuisine between chinese, indian & créole (grew up on that stuff it’s DELICIOUS), prominent music styles called sega and maloya (the latter being unique to the island)... and martial arts !!
Réunion has two prominent martial arts : La Croche, a form of folk wrestling that exists only on the island (and that is similar to most wrestling styles found around the world), and the subject of this video : Moringue.
Moringue is incredibly similar to Capoeira, and some modern Moringue group actually linked it to Capoeira Angola, but it’s something completely unique to Reunion. It’s half dance and half actual fighting, mostly with kicks, that look like an incredible crossover of usual front kicks / side kicks and acrobatic, capoeira-like kicks. Actual full contact competition exist, from the video it looks like the goal is to get your opponents out of bounds through kicks. Kicks are mostly used because, similarly to Capoeira, Reunionese slaves wore chains on their hands and had to use their legs to do anything.
In this video (where people speak a mix of Reunionese creole and french), the guy sitting behind drums with his hair tied explains he is a scientist who is working on Moringue and its history, and mentions concepts like Afro-descendence, something relating to the common cultural heritage of former slaves that explains how places that are as remote as Brazil and Reunion end up having similar traditions. He mentions Moringue evolved from the original slaves, included Chinese and Hindu influence (probably kung fu and kalaripayattu, some of the kicks look A LOT like kalaripayattu) and later more European influences. Reunion moringue is done exclusively to the rhythm of maloya, the one typical musical style of Reunion, which participates to its unique character (Moringue has similar styles in Madagascar and the surrounding islands, but the Reunion one is unique).
It is a fascinating art on so many aspects. Another testimony of African culture that was passed down from former slaves.
My adoptive father was a maloya musician, playing a kayamb, that he had brought from his island and kept like one of his most treasured possessions. It sat on the walls of the house for years. I’m estranged from him now but I can absolutely picture him playing to moringue and i’m pretty sure he did, and that’s where his fascination for martial arts started.
The town I live now has a HUGE Reunionese population. Hell, three of my most regular musical collegues are Creole. I wonder if some of them brought Moringue to the mainland ? I’m gonna look into this when I have time.
In any case, I wanted to talk about that on Budoblr. Please look up Moringue.
Guys, try to avoid recommending multiple styles to someone looking to learn martial arts for the first time. I see people asking for recommendations on what to start with for self defense and getting recommended 6-7 different styles to cover different areas of combat.
First and foremost, they need to find out what’s available to them. They should visit those places and choose one that they like, identify with, and feel comfortable at.
Realistically, today, we can live out our entire lives and never see a single fight. There is zero need to recommend a bunch of styles for a bunch of different areas of combat. Find one you like, stick with it, learn it well, understand it and how it interacts with others on its own, which can take years! beware of instant gratification and feelings of “I know it, so I’m good”. THEN seek to acquaintance yourself with others of interest so that you can learn to understand how they do things and how yours can adapt and interact with that, thus bringing a better understanding all around on other styles, but especially on yours.
By learning basics of a bunch of styles, you'll still be at basic level as a martial artist and as a fighter, and in turn, still ineffective. Don't do that. You wouldn't trust someone to build you a house if you found out they only have basic knowledge on all types of construction know-how needed for it, right? Especially if you found out they only have a few months worth of learning for each, and they learned it all through YouTube, which in turn most likely means they haven’t actually practiced as much as they say they have, which seems to be a thing happening more and more.
In the same way, you shouldn't trust the effectiveness of self defense on simply knowing the basics of different combat areas.
Which leads me to this note: Knowing ISN’T the same as understanding and practice, and it certainly isn’t the same as the application of that understanding and practice. You could memorize 1000 techniques for each combat area and still be incredibly ineffective due to lack of real understanding of the application and practice of techniques in a real sense. You can look at how to put up a door and say "I know how to do that now", but then go put one in, and it comes out crooked, scratches the floor and doesn't fully close. It works the same with this whole learning 4-5 different styles without giving yourself time to understand any single one in its real sense of application.
That is not to say that one can't learn more than 1 style at the same time, if time and money permits them. But its not the same to train 2 systems alternating classes a few times a week, for 10 years, than to do a few months of a single one and decided that now you're missing this and that, so you move on to another one when you still don't get how that first one even actually works in the real sense.
This is why when someone wants to be an all-rounder from the get go, it's better to recommend that they just seek out an MMA gym, a modern martial art that has a focus on some of the most effective aspects of the main 3 combat areas, for sport... and I specify for sport, because a lot of people say they want to learn self defense, but when you explain self defense to them and teach them a few things about awareness, de-escalation and overall avoiding a situation, the question is always the same: "But what do I do if...?" and it's always about fighting. In the end, a lot of them just want to learn how to fight, not how to defend themselves in the real sense.
So please, if you’ve done it, be more considerate of your recommendations. Some people might not have something specific available to them... and not just that, but it might scare them off from actually joining a place from the sheer amount of stuff that’s out there, as well the amount it would cost to cover all of it by doing it all separartely (on the other hand of that, be careful with people looking for very specific things that might not be available at all, and try to steer them into what is actually available and easy to get to). It would have some people thinking it’s impossible and then never even join one at all becauase what’s the point if it’s only one thing and they would be “missing” 8 others, and it would certainly push more and more people, especially teenagers and children, to learn from scratch watching videos, which isn’t a good thing either if you don’t already have real experience and a good understanding of martial arts... I’ve met a few that think they are masters because they’ve been watching videos for a while, but I digress, that’s another topic entirely.
Anyway... some notes to clarify:
Areas of combat - standing, take-downs, grappling, weapons, etc.
By learning basics of a bunch of styles, you'll still be at basic level - if you learn basic punching at karate and basic kicking from Muay Thai, you’re still just a basic level student who may not even realize you could’ve gotten both things from any of the two styles with a little more practice in just one of them. This is an obvious example, of course, but a lot of people don’t realize that styles like Karate have all aspects of combat (save for Sports Karate specifically done for sport), and have very symilar attacks to styles that do punching, kicking, grappling, throws, joint locks, etc.
Knowing ISN’T the same as understanding and practice - Now-a-days, you can literally find anything on the internet. This has caused instant gratification and impatience to skyrocket among people. Many will fool themselves into thinking they understand how something works at its core, simply because they see a 3 to 10 minute video on it. It is not the same to know something, as it is to experience it, do it, learn it step by step while practicing it and seeing the details that those videos don’t show you, and most importantly, having someone teaching you, supporting you, and guiding you along the way, as well as having people to learn and practice with. Referring back to one of the examples above, you wouldn’t let someone build you a house if they tell you they know how because they looked at a video. You’d want someone not only trained properly, but who also continues to learn and update their knowledge. Also someone who is honest about what they do. That one is very important.
In the real sense - the real, under pressure application of a skill... and that includes awareness and de-escalation tactics as much as combat.
It was late, but I got it (getting on the treadmill for a mile) done. Because of the lateness, I did not lift. The world will not end.
Kids went to bed extra late, and my wife and I chose to watch a particularly long show of a series we've recently gotten into - The Boys on Amazon Prime. So far it's ... interesting. The "good guys" are really bad, and it's an interesting twist. Definitely not for kids.
Today we've got the one virtual appointment for my son, and then the whole family goes to taekwondo at noon. I'll likely be a little embarrassed to wear my black belt. Sure I'll recall a lot of the basics, but my flexibility is probably trash, my fitness is not what it used to be, I'm sure I don't remember much of any of the forms... oh yeah and I have to modify the things I can remember/do to avoid triggering my mystery foot pain.
Optimally I'd lift beforehand. Run too, but there's only so much time before noon. So that'll have to be afterwards, no matter the broken down condition my body will be in after doing a bunch of physical stuff I haven't done in over two years.
Found a new red flag today: When you go to a martial arts club and another student/instructor grapples/chokes/disarmes you as hard as they can, simply because they are in a superior position. Don't join that club. There's a difference between 'being rough to the new one' and 'causing an injury because that's how I get my thrills'.
It's just a sport. It should build you mentally and physically up and not down.
Last night the most underrated Australian athlete of all time, Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr, had his retirement fight. The organisation he fought for are letting fans vote for who gets a $50,000 performance bonus.
If you have a moment, please follow the link below and vote for John Wayne Parr. He has more than earned this bonus over his storied career.
I haven’t posted in awhile, mostly because I’ve been training nonstop for the last year and a half — six days a week, two to three hours a day since gyms reopened in June, 2020. I’ve also been given more responsibility at my gym, from teaching classes and filming virtual lessons to helping with event planning. And honestly, I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically — I am a hollow, bone-deep kind of tired. At the moment, I’m training for my brown belt in Kuntao and my next cert in JKD — and preparing for a full-contact stick fight at the end of January. Single stick, rattan, strikes and grappling included.
I have no motivation for any of it. I want nothing more than to take a month off and just /be/ for awhile. No training, no injuries, no pressure to perform. But I can’t. And it sucks that something I love so much has been feeling more like a burden than release.
For anyone feeling burnout — and the guilt that comes with it — you’re not alone.
Choy Li Fut Kung Fu Two Section Staff 大梢子棍 The two section staff is one of my favorite kung fu weapons and I personally think it is highly underrated. Not only is it an impressive weapon to watch, it is a challenge to train and develop technique, and it is quite practical as a long weapon.
So I did a thing! Several things, actually! First up, lifting. Knock the weight back down a bit, increase the sets (of the big compound exercises) back to 5.
Chinups were rough but I eked them out. Dips also very rough. And the rest of "chest day" was OK. Dumbbell fly a little rough. Last time I did those I did a single set of 8 at 17.5, but now back up to 4 sets on most of the "accessories". I think I've finally got my bar and bench placement down pretty well for incline and decline bench press.
Then taekwondo with the family! So a tiny backstory, but one of our favorite instructors ended up buying the business from Master Chung who started it. This was chief among the reasons we came back a few years ago, our whole family LOVES Master Chris. So anyhow some stuff happened, and Master Chris moved the dojang a block south and changed the name, possibly hinting at some behind the scenes drama. TL;DR there was and boy is it whack.
Anyhow the new place is great but they don't have big separate changing rooms - just two small bathrooms, so that's pretty much one at a time for getting changed. Which is fine, mostly - seems most folks there just arrive in their uniforms. Not me though, I need to get OUT of my sweaty dobok before 1) going outside, and 2) sitting on my car seats.
Nice class, but short. We're heavily leaning toward going back as a family, especially since Wednesdays are weapons class.
Then yeah, after getting home I hopped on my treadmill and did some run/walking. Got gassed near the end but didn't take as many walk break as the pace graph shows - except for the one two minute walk break at around the mid-point I only took 1 minute walk breaks.
I'll for sure be sore tomorrow. Oh well! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Out of the first confinement, our dojo did well. We were training with masks but had a lot of people coming and participating.
Second confinement however, killed our practice almost completely. Lost almost all our bogu practitioners.
Since I've only kept practice running as I could, with a huge lack of motivation and feeling burnt out.
We took a difficult decision : after the end of this season in June, we're closing the dojo. Without a core of yudansha practitioners, I can't shoulder the day-to-day responsibilities. I can't lead the training sessions anymore. It feels like starting all over again and the truth is : I'm spent. I've held the dojo together for 11 years but the 2nd and 3rd confinement were my last straw and the final nail in the dojo's coffin.
So, after June, the couple kyusha that have bogus will transfer with me to the nearest dojo (with which we are on good terms and which has a similar spirit). We have removed one of the two days / week of practice at our dojo so that members can start the transfer process and get acquainted with the other dojo's members over the couple months that are left this season.
For my part, regarding my kendo practice, it is a decision to fall back, to focus on myself. 5th dan is the next goal (shinsa in 15 months) and with my professional and family lives I don't have spoons for much : my weekends are always out of the question and I can only afford training once a week tops. This is my post-covid reality. I have nor the room nor the energy to give to other people in these conditions.
I learned a lot "teaching" and "leading" other practitioners for the past decade but now it's time for something else. But I won't quit helping others, as I'll be a senior member of the dojo I'm joining.
I'll still help and guide kyusha and lower-dan members but not in an official capacity. It will be natural, spontaneous.
No pressure. No crippling sense of duty.
I'm looking forward to this freedom.
I hope that in time it will fill me with motivation again.