Without Writing

The art of writing without writing… about fighting.

Category Archives: Martial Theory

Urijah Faber’s Trouble in Bali – Learning Self Defence from a Champion

Is a world-class fighter automatically good at defending themselves from harm? No!

Is a world-class fighter automatically good at protecting themselves from violence? No!

On May 16th of this year, the incredibly dangerous martial artist Urijah Faber fought the incredibly dangerous martial artist Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night 66.  In this excellent fight we discovered once and for all whether Edgar’s fantastic sense of shootboxing timing and peerless cardio were up to the task of defeating the durability, veteran experience and whip-smart submissions of Faber.

They’re both ex-champions of the highest calibre. To me this was one of the most interesting matches of the year, and the best match that either fighter had been involved in since Edgar’s (debatable) points defeat at the hands of Featherweight champ Jose Aldo in February 2013.

On watching this fight my mind was drawn back to Faber’s style and his history. One well-publicized incident stands out as a worthy topic for an educational blog post: We’re going back a way here; back to the late noughties. In approximately June 2006, whilst on holiday on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Faber was involved in a serious street brawl in the popular tourist night-spot, Kuta.

Read more of this post

Empty Force and Empty Promises

Another exposé of no-touch knockout bullcrap has been doing the rounds. In this one, a wonderful group of skeptics attended an “open seminar” by a Finnish pseudo-martial artist named Jukka Lampila.

Those courageous skeptical fool-smokers really did a number on him, specifically by asking a set of very basic questions, by not flinging themselves in the direction of his pats, wafts, prods and pokes and generally not being willing accomplices to his cultish buffoonery.

I could spend the entirety of this post taunting his poor, misguided followers that leap into the air and fling themselves on the floor at the slightest provocation, and metaphorically shaking my head in disbelief that he’s probably still teaching the same nonsense back home, even after this very public experience. But this would not be the best use of anyone’s time, and I’ve already done it so often in the past relating to similar incidents, that it would be redundant.

Instead I’d like to take the opportunity to address two points. Read more of this post

Kill Your Ego… Before It Kills You (Part 2)

This is the spectre... of EGO!

This is the spectre… of EGO!

My first post on this topic examined how one’s ego can drive one into potentially violent situations for no good reason. Hopefully anyone who reads these posts will have the strength of character to recognise their own ego in some of the examples given, and strive to bring it further under the control of their better nature. Because we are all controlled by our ego at times, and our best defence (as is the case across the board) is an awareness that this is happening.

However, the ego has many faces, and bleeds into one’s life with great subtlety and wearing many insidious disguises. In this post I shall examine some of the less obvious ways that one’s ego can interfere with one’s pursuit of safety and security, and look at the consequences of leaving it to run unchecked.

How can one be fully aware of one’s own ego, when the ego’s raison-d’etre is to conceal itself? Read more of this post

Rape and Self Defence: How to approach the issue

untitledHere’s a delicate subject. Perhaps the most delicate, misunderstood, loaded subject one can deal with when discussing self defence. The subject of sexual assaults and rapes. Frankly I doubt my own ability to cleanly delineate the issues involved; they are so many and varied and subtle that no self defence commentator has walked the fine line carefully enough to avoid accusations of victim-blaming on the one hand, or to avoid watering down the self defence advice too much on the other.

I for one know all too well that one can be accused of victim-blaming when discussing less emotive topics like wilderness survival or street-attack avoidance… So it’s very likely I’ll be accused of victim-blaming in this case regardless of how cautiously I proceed. With that in mind, let’s begin.

The issue (in brief)

A primer for those new to the subject: Rape’s a crime that is predominantly but not exclusively committed against women. Children are victims a great deal of the time, and lastly and least commonly, men are also rape victims. Rape therefore tends to be regarded as a “women’s issue”, though some very smart commentators take issue with this classification for various reasons. Suffice it to say, the issue of rape has been of very great concern to women, women’s activist groups and women’s self-defence instructors and commentators for some considerable time. Read more of this post

Kill Your Ego… Before It Kills You (Part 1)

This cat would be safer if it saw a mouse staring back at it from the mirror

This cat would be safer if it saw a mouse staring back at it from the mirror

There’s an old saying in Ireland: “Many a man’s tongue broke his nose.”

A typically dry witticism, and also quite true; saying the wrong thing can get you seriously hurt.

Many people have stampeded towards an avoidable violent confrontation for no better reasons than: to have the last word; to let another person know how annoyed they are; to belittle another person or simply to posture and present a “front” based on bravado.

But this post is not just about keeping your mouth shut. It’s about the larger problem; it’s not just what one says that can get one hurt, it’s everything one does. Excessive eye contact can make other people aggressive; Rushing to catch your train and barging into another pedestrian could result in anything from a few harsh words up to a brawl; Read more of this post

Learned, but not taught

The difficulty of teaching ANY movement cannot be overstated.

I have discussed in a previous article how easy it is for those of us who are familiar with the motion of two bodies- one applying a throw and one attempting to resist the throw- to tell when a move will work on a technical level (a wrestling throw, for instance) and when it will not work on a technical level (e.g: an Aikido “throw”).

This kind of physical intellect, an awareness of how the human body really works in combat, cannot be taught. It must be developed by each fighter himself/herself, through many hours of actual practice.

Equally however, it could be said that many moves themselves, such as throws, cannot be “taught” in any normal sense of the word. Read more of this post

Why I Write… Without Writing

I have touched in past posts on my reasons for starting this blog, but they are many and varied, and interesting enough (I feel) to warrant more detail.

The martial arts have been the main focus of all the articles I have written for this blog so far, and this is primarily due to my personal passion for the field of combat; there is no more stimulating game, I assure you. “Human Chess”, some have called it… but to call it that is to undersell the game. Chess has finite combinations of moves and outcomes- breathtakingly complex by human cognitive standards to be sure, but still limited by the 64 squares and the prescribed motions of the pieces.

Combat on the other hand is as close to infinitely complex as any game can be; Read more of this post

Skillfulness and Unskillfulness

Buddhism has long been associated with the Chinese martial arts. There is an old legend (often wheeled out erroneously as a fact) that some of the first organised forms of Chinese martial arts were born when a buddhist bodhisattva (a person who has totally dedicated themselves towards seeking enlightenment and liberation) from India came to China and taught the monks of a temple called Shao Lin (Mountain-forest) the rudiments of buddhist breathing meditation.

This prototype “Chi Gung” or “Energy work” became the basis of the increasingly demanding physical workouts for the monks, which (so the legend says) evolved into martial forms of Shaolin Gung Fu, which then evolved into various southern and northern styles of Gung Fu, and were re-worked and exported to other nations such as Indonesia, the Phillipines and Japan. Read more of this post

The Power and the Story and the Lack of Recognition of Steve Morris

It’s about time I dedicated a whole post to Steve Morris. Not because I’m one of his fanboys, (of which there are few enough, despite his obvious ability and outgoing personality) but because the case of Mr Morris illustrates several points about the martial arts as a whole, and yes, even some points about human nature as a whole.

Some background: Mr Morris is the quintessential martial artist. By all accounts he has studied more martial arts than most people have ever heard of, in places most martial artists have never visited. (Despite the art they’re studying having originated there.) Read more of this post

Boundaries… and Honesty

This post will discuss personal boundaries, self-worth and the importance of honesty in both areas.

The great martial artist and martial philosopher Bruce Lee was fond of saying that martial arts are all about “expressing yourself honestly”, and also “not lying to oneself”. And he was right on the money.  The discipline of being honest with oneself and honest to others is key in the proper application of martial arts in all potential settings. Read more of this post