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September 2014
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My Kung-Fu Teacher Wanted Me To Lie -- And I Did

My teacher stood in the middle of the kung-fu school, explaining how you can disrupt your opponent's chi during an attack by drawing a circle in the air as you drop to the ground.

Here is how he explained it to us. Your opponent is rushing at you to tackle you, and if you drop to the ground you can guide his chi over you with this half-circle you draw in the air as you drop. His chi will be disrupted and he will fall over you, unable to touch you.

My teacher said we would all try it, and he picked another student, a very nice and very loyal student, to go first.

The student ran across the floor, and just as he was about to reach him, my teacher dropped to the floor and drew and half circle with his hands in the air.

The student fell over him and did a breakfall on the other side. 

It worked! My teacher was untouched.

Except that I was standing there watching, my critical thinking skills firing on all cylinders, knowing that you can't control someone that way. It can't be done. Anyone with a brain knows it can't be done.

The teacher has prepped us. He told us what he expects us to do and we do it so we aren't the one asshole in class who makes the teacher lose face. Nobody wants to be that student.

Before long, it was my turn. I rushed toward my teacher, who was standing in the middle of the kwoon. I was filled with the knowledge that I could pounce on him as he fell and get in a few good punches or kicks. I was almost there. Would I play along or would I dive into him when he dropped to the ground and show him that this is a lie?

Just as I reached him, he dropped and drew the circle. I dived over him and did a shoulder roll on the other side.

My teacher was untouched, but I had been deeply affected.

We all have decisions to make in our martial arts journey. We meet many teachers of different arts who will tell us that their art is the One True Art. They will tell us of near-miraculous skill that is achievable, skill that ancient masters possessed (fortunately, these masters are dead and we can't verify their skill). And they will hint, or just lie to us and tell us that they possess this skill, too.

They always find students who play along, whose critical thinking skills are put on hold, who are seeking something that fantasy fulfills. You see the same people flocking to churches, all looking for the mystical, all being told of the power that long-dead people had, and applying no real thought to the fantasies being told by ministers and priests who, like my teacher, ask them for money in exchange for the knowledge they possess.

But it's more than just critical thinking skills -- it is the "family" that develops in these situations, the friends you develop in a martial arts school and a church, the hard work, the emotion, the financial investment (fees and tithes). You want to do what?? You want to leave this family and your friends and your spiritual guide because we told you something that isn't true?

Not everyone has the ability to walk away after such an investment. So our default mode is to do the easy thing -- reject the facts and defend our investment. 

I see the same thing in martial arts schools that I saw in church before I walked away. I see intelligent people who invest in the system and suspend their disbelief. In churches, most of the people were born into it and never had a chance. In the martial arts, the investment comes later in life and it is a little bit easier to walk away, but not for everyone, depending on just how badly they need the fantasy.

I eventually left that Kung-Fu system and trained in Chen style Taiji with more reality-minded instructors. I guess I am the type of person who just can't tolerate dishonesty and the type of people who need others to think of them as possessing powers they do not possess.

I urge you to hold your teachers up to this same standard, and leave them for more honest instruction when they start preaching the mystical. This is why, as a teacher, I strip the fantasy from my own instruction.

Here is a video clip that shows you just how dishonest many teachers -- and students -- can be. But you do not have to be this way. You have a choice. Do not check your brains at the dojo door.



New in the NOOK Store -- Silk-Reeling and Baguazhang Ebooks

Three of my ebooks are now available in NOOK format and are on sale in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

I published my first ebook in Amazon's Kindle format in June, 2013. Since that time, each new ebook has been exclusive to Kindle, but I am now beginning to roll them out in the NOOK format.

Each book is a great portable reference for its topic.

Bagua-Bldg-Blocks-Cover-3D-250The newest book, just completed last week, is Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defense. It contains 606 photos and detailed instruction in some of the primary principles for fighting with Bagua. Photos are in stop-action, step-by-step sequences, frozen from videos so you can get a clear idea how the technique is supposed to be performed. This book costs only $5.99.

Many martial arts books contain photos, but often there are gaps in the action, and it is not clear how to get from Point A to Point B. My books are written to be crystal clear. I write them with the eyes of a student.

Bagua 8 Main Ebook Cover 250Another ebook that is new in NOOK is the Baguazhang 8 Main Palms Form. It contains 340 photos and detailed instruction, taking you step-by-step in stop-action format through the entire Cheng-style Bagua form. This book costs only $4.99.

The Baguazhang Eight Main Palms Form is the first major form that my students learn after they are familiar with the basic skills of Bagua, including circle-walking, the mother palms, tea-serving exercises, and more.

SRE-Ebook-Cover-250My Silk-Reeling Energy ebook is also now available in NOOK format. Silk-Reeling Energy is a spiraling action that travels from the ground through the body, giving more power to your internal techniques. It is not mystical, it is physical, and this ebook is a great reference, showing exercises that are taught by Chen Xiaowang and others to beginning students. This spiraling motion is an essential element of Taiji and Bagua, and is also a key part of Xingyiquan. This book is also only $4.99.

Each of these ebooks are companions to a DVD, and is very handy if you are in a practice location with a tablet or phone and need to reference a movement or technique.

I don't really like to put this type of "commercial" blog post up, but this is a major development in the dissemination of my internal arts curriculum and I want everyone who uses NOOK devices to know.

In the coming week, two more ebooks that have been on Kindle exclusively will go up in the NOOK format -- my Qigong ebook and the Chen 19 Form Self-Defense applications book. Stay tuned.

Bagua Self-Defense Ebook Contains 606 Photos and Step-by-Step Instruction

Bagua-Bldg-Blocks-Cover-3D-250Baguazhang is a beautiful art -- smooth, flowing, with spiraling, twisting movements and circle-walking. 

But how do you fight with it? How do you use it when someone attacks you?

Like any martial art, you start with the basics and practice, practice, practice.

My newest ebook, titled Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defensetakes you step-by-step through some of the most basic and important fighting concepts in Bagua, and walks you through more than 130 fighting techniques that really work -- without mysticism, laser-focused on internal body mechanics.

Ken Gullette Bagua Self DefenseThese are the techniques I practice with my students. I believe in self-defense that works, not flowery, metaphysical stuff that falls apart as soon as you face someone who is not cooperating. Bagua is like any other martial art -- the most effective techniques are often the most direct.

You will learn 25 ways to achieve the three main goals of a Bagua fighter -- uproot, unbalance, and control your opponent's Center.

You will learn self-defense concepts such as Rotating, Twisting, Supporting, Boring, Scooping, and 20 more -- each one demonstrated and explained through specific self-defense techniques that highlight the movement and "energy" that each concept represents.

Photos are presented in stop-action sequences. You are not left to fill in the gaps from one movement to the next. Every movement and technique will be clear through the images and instruction.

The sequence of photos here shows one technique from the concept of "Scooping."

This ebook, and the companion DVD, is what my students learn after they learn Bagua basic skills and their first form, the 8 Main Palms form. Without understanding the basic building blocks of Bagua self-defense, Bagua movements are meaningless. This knowledge gives their movements depth, and provide them the tools they need to begin moving from form to self-defense.

I try to give a lot of value at a reasonable price. The cost of this ebook is only $5.99 on Amazon Kindle. Follow this link to the Amazon page for Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defense.

The internal arts seem mysterious, and when the techniques are clouded in abstract, mystical terms, they become indecipherable. Some of this is perpetuated by teachers who simply parrot what their teachers said, like people do in a religion. Other teachers have giant egos and they need people to see them as possessing of supernatural powers and "indoor" knowledge.

I write all my ebooks and produce my instructional videos to break through all of the nonsense and show you the real martial art beneath the supernatural silliness. Real Bagua fighting does not depend on some invisible and unproven energy (qi) flowing through your body. Real Bagua is amazing enough on its own without all that baggage heaped on it, so my ebooks and videos are aimed at showing you the internal body mechanics that give you the relaxed power that makes Bagua an effective art for self-defense. 

Real-Life Self-Defense On the Streets - A True Story

What is self-defense like "on the street?"

Some people want you to believe that you must be prepared to take on a champion MMA fighter. They want to make you think that traditional martial arts are ineffective. They want you to think that if you don't hurt people in practice, and if you don't get banged around yourself, you can't defend yourself.

That's ridiculous. In my classes, the risk of injury is always present but as a rule, I don't believe you need to hurt anyone or be hurt to be a good fighter. And some of my students have proven me right when they have had to use what they have learned in class.

In reality, the person who attacks you on the street is someone with an anger issue, sometimes they are drunk, and they will not be trained in martial arts. They are not in good shape. Their aerobic conditioning is bad. They are bullies, and they think you will not fight back.

Here is a video that shows a real-life self-defense situation. A black street musician is accosted by two racist thugs. Watch how the musician warns them and then dodges a couple of attacks. The attacker is so full of anger that he loses his balance and falls down. 

Also notice how the musician continues moving. That is a very good technique that keeps a potential attacker off his game. He is also smart to keep either of them from getting behind him.

This is very realistic because it is true. And these thugs are representative of the type of idiots you will come up against "on the street," and not someone who would win an MMA match.

Keep training, stay out of dangerous places, and be confident.

Caution -- Adult language is on this video! Do not play with children present (or at work).