Q& A #3 –2/27/17
Q:What kind of diet do you follow?
A: I get asked this a lot. The answer is pretty simple when it is really broken down. I figure that if you’re looking at nutrition you can go two routes to do it right. I have chosen to go basic- I simply listen to my body. This was learned through discipline and not getting involved in common “diets”. When it comes down to it, I generally eat what I want because I learned a few things early on; I eat less, eat less often, and eat natural live foods more then other types of things. This is really it. I very rarely count macros or calories. More importantly, I do not eat fast foods or chemically induced flavors. In truth, I would rather fast for many days than eat based upon modern conveniences.
I generally enjoy seasonally minded food, and I like a heavy vegetarian diet just because I like vegetables. This is especially true in the summer when I can go out and pick a snack, but I am not opposed to a steak at this time in my life. We raise chickens for eggs and have had some rabbits here on site other then that we purchase from local farms as opposed to grocery chains.
As I said already, I like to forage for native foods, and I do a bit of farming as well. I do a lot of food preservation through canning, dehydrating, fermenting, etc. This takes care of a lot but not all my wants. Generally, I do eat lower carbohydrate meals However, I do like tacos and since I am rather active and I am mostly aware of my food sources, I do not restrict myself to this. The last few times I did the calculations I was 100 or less grams of carbohydrates for the day. This is just sorta natural for me I guess. However, there are days when I simply go for the honey jar. I eat lots of greens that i grow or harvest wild. In truth, I have no real concerns outside of pre-manufactured food and refined sugars, these things are not for me.
Again I go by how I feel and make adjustments as I go. Since I eat less often and I eat less at a time I can pretty much mix and mash my wants and needs.
I do fasting daily and have for many years and in the early spring time I do an extended fast. Generally speaking for my day to day I am not eating from 12 midnight to late afternoon the next day. This is my average window to consume food– which provides my daily fasting state. Very rarely will I eat anything before around 4 pm but its been know to happen if the mood is right. I tend to have my main meal around 9:00 or 10:00 pm on most days .
Sometimes I will eat a small snack like tuna, eggs, or cheese or ill make a smoothie before I start teaching for the night. Again, I go by feel. I very rarely ‘go out’ to eat but I do on occasion in which case I eat as I please. I do make many exceptions for hospitality.
Q: What’s your weight class?
A: Last time I checked, I was about 170 lbs at 5’7″.
Q: Can you explain the soft and hard hand training ?
A: This is a fun one. It would seem that the majority of internal stylists do not use hard hand and that the hard systems do not use soft hands…but this is wrong. We find that each hand shape as well as kicking skills all have a soft and hard application. From there, it depends solely on practitioner’s skill level. Learning things such as responding to the momentum that one is receiving can tell alot. If you can hit hard, you should be able to hit soft. You should know the; when, where, and why each method is used. This is only possible if you understand movement, space, timing, and proper intent. The benefit of this is that you can reduce the “feeding” energy you provide your opponent as well as regulating your output of energy based upon the moment. You learn to move beyond the fundamental principles and into the art itself so as to avoid force to force. For example: If someone swings hard, you do not necessarily want to block with a direct hard hand so as to avoid injury to yourself. If you’re too soft, you will collapse under pressure just as one might expect. Only through mindful training can you begin to understand this in terms of real world application.
Let’s take a simple hand technique found in Mantis called Gwaat shu /gwaak shu. You can use this to redirect and trap OR to cut through and refuse the attacking leg or arm. The end results that your opponent experiences are vastly different, but the hand shape remains relatively consistent– you just change your intent.
This is true of each hands shape…..Take a look at the straight jab; Jik/Jeet Kyun. One could perhaps say that they are separate, that each hand is actually two techniques, although the shape is the same. The straight jab can strike; the straight jab can intercept.
So, to simply punch forward following the straight line is to ‘jik’ while to block and strike simultaneously with the same hand is to ‘jeet’–no change in shape with a great change in expression. Once you learn how to activate the two energies then you decide which is apporopriate
Q: What do you feel is the most common misunderstanding in traditional martial arts?
A: Training methods in general are lost to many when it comes to applying them in the moment. People think in such extremes and miss out because of their rigid views. Take sparring for example. You absolutely must touch in order to advance your fighting skill. You should limit the use of pads for this type of training. Pads are for power expression not so much for conditioning.
You must not punch in front of your partner/target any more than you should for a knock out with every training session. I find a Superior method to free sparring to be focused drilling. Train on a daily basis and opening it up on rarer occasions to test yourself and get the blood up. I think that if people start becoming more true to martial development then more people would train properly from the start. The world would be much calmer if we were more honest about martial arts.
This is where Southern Mantis is top notch. The syllabus is filled with very specific drills both solo as well as partner exercises that are very active and extremely aggressive; however, they remain rather safe to train (different from comfortable) and they scaffold in a very dynamic spiral. This is, of course, only if you and your training partner are both competent, which in part requires a skilled teacher. A teacher who does not provide reality into the syllabus is not a good teacher. You must not only learn that things are multifaceted, but you must learn to control and not pull your power expression so that you may continue training for many hours at a time with out playing silly games building false confidences.
As you train this way, your body develops combative conditioning as you and your partner both begin to express more and more power in training. But if you can’t go slow enough to understand the how of things, then chances are you won’t be able to go fast without causing serious injury to you or your partner at some point in your future. On the other side of going too fast or hard is that you can easily fall in the pit of training less than realistically. This is done by relying on compliance and very elementary philosophy. You have to learn hands-on from someone who can show you the ways of combat training for it to be more than theoretical. Again, if you are not touching, then you are not learning. Both soft hand and hard hand exercises should be trained systematically to gain more than a child’s understanding of the martial art. This is the only way to keep things alive.
If you are not touching, then you’re not learning.
Q: What do you consider the most under rated part of training traditional martial art?
A: The time it takes to learn concentration. I mean the very name kung fu tells you time and effort is required to gain skill. Yet, people still want their short cuts, their pill. It takes daily fucking effort people. They want the appearance and not the discipline. Then they wonder why their structure falls apart under even modest pressure, or they wonder why they get fat and have bad knees. I suppose this is why they changed the name from Kyun faat /Chuan Fa 拳法, the law of the fist, to Gung fu 功夫, skill through time. I get it man, shit is hard…I too once avoided facing the wall, but then I did it and things changed for me.
It takes daily fucking effort.
Q: What skill is best to learn early on ?
A: Mobility is huge. We should learn this as soon as possible….Coordination as well as flow skills should be in every elementary school on up through the years and it should be trained daily. Humans are taking their mobility for granted.
I see many young adults without very good ranges of motion, often due to a poorly balanced athletic practice or it could be due to simple inactivity–both run rampant. I’m not talking about flexibility I am talking about functional mobility. This comes from repeating patterns– incorrectly. From sitting to squatting– mindfulness is required.
Habits such as strength training that work from the outside only can mess up your mobility just as sitting day after day can cause massive dysfunctions. You need to work the joints and connective tissues intelligently so that they can handle the increased stress as you gain muscular strength and increase mobility.
We absolutely can not afford to give up our mobility for the appearance of strength any-more then we can afford not to be strong. These skills should complement each other and develop side by side.
In Mantis training we do very little as far as linear strength training, like bench press or curls. Instead we are training to work with full ranges of movement while using our bodies and specialized partner training methods that facilitate connective tissue and dense muscle and bone growth. We then augment them with the various tools of the trade as we continue the process.
Step one…shake the body loose. Remember, movement should be fun…like a dance.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge as a teacher so far?
A: Seeing people give up.