WAKF & Crossfit Blog

Out and About

July 22nd, 2015

From time to time, someone stops by the school to tell me that they appreciate seeing us moving around the neighborhood. Sometimes they talk about enjoying watching us do forms. Sometimes they talk about enjoying watching the CrossFitters carry odd objects around the block.
Whatever it is they talk to me about, it is such a great feeling knowing that we are part of this neighborhood and that people (at least some of them) appreciate what we are about.


July 20th, 2015

What is all this pausing about? Why stop in the middle of a lift and just hang out for three seconds?
The hope is that the pause gives you the chance to analyze the position you are in and if it sucks, to fix it. Are your shoulder blades down? Are you on the correct part of your foot?
Another benefit is that you are making your body memorize those good positions (assuming you can hit them and/or fix them) so that when you go to do the lift at full speed, the correct position will just happen.
So take a moment. Pause and take stock of your position.

Ethics Based

July 19th, 2015

Below is a  document I’ve been working on for kids class to help explain how training in MDP is supposed to be about more than just kicking, punching, throwing and choking. Please give it a read (and as it is a rough draft) and let me know if you see any errors or if you have feedback.

(begin document)

Mo Duk Pai means martial ethics method. Our hope, as a system, is that through studying martial arts students begin to think about the consequences of their actions and how they can use their training to think about the bigger picture of right and wrong – ethics.

Our goal is not only to have students improve at techniques and fighting but to also see them grow as the kind of problem solving citizens we want in the world. We think that these 9 C’s that follow, while not a complete recipe for understanding ethics, are a good start and that these nine qualities should all show improvement as students move through the ranks.


What is it?
Competency is another word for skill – can you move your body in the way you are being asked to move it? In the martial arts, competency means having the ability to punch, kick, throw, etc while a partner is actively trying to stop you.

Where does it come up in class?
When your teacher has the class drill basic strikes, they are probably assessing your competence at those basics. When your teacher has the class spar, they may be testing your competence against an actively resisting partner.

How can you drill competence outside of class?
While a big part of martial arts involves working with partners, it is easy enough to take a few minutes a day to work on your kicks and punches. Buying a heavy bag and hanging it in your garage or basement makes it easier to practice and helps give you some feedback.

Physical competence in the more general sense is also very important for martial arts. Expose yourself to other sports and movement arts. Play. The more you use your body, the more competent you will become.


What is it?
Courage is the ability to act in the face of fear.

Where does it come up in class?
When you are asked to spar a student who scares you, it is an opportunity to work on your courage. This doesn’t mean you have to hurl yourself into sparring foolishly. It simply means that working through it when you are a little scared can be a good thing.

How can you work on courage outside of class?
Find out what scares you and see if you can do it anyway. Obviously, you shouldn’t pick things that are extremely dangerous, but seeking out things that make you a little nervous and then conquering them is a great way to build your courage.


What is it?
Compassion is empathy (knowing what someone else is feeling) and then acting on that knowledge so as to try and make that person feel better.

Where does it come up in class?
When you are working with a partner who is lost in a drill, it is an opportunity to be compassionate. Rather than yell at them and tell them they are doing it wrong, take the time to explain the drill patiently to them. Try demonstrating what they are supposed to do. Ask them to show you what they are supposed to do for the drill. Make them feel comfortable. Make them glad they have you as a partner.

How do you practice compassion outside of class?
Do you know anyone who makes almost everyone feel comfortable when they are around? Odds are pretty good that person is compassionate. Listen to the words they use to make people feel at ease. Watch their body language. See if you can use the same techniques to make people glad that you are around.


What is it?
Culture is the rules, customs and relationships that exist amongst a group of people.

Where does it come up in class?
When we do basic drills like street stages or harmony sparring, do you know the rules? When we do partner work, do you know who should go first and why?

How do you practice it outside of class?
How many different cultures do you belong to? Is the culture that exists in your immediate family the same culture that you share with your friends?


What is it?
Consistency means doing something on a predictable schedule.

Where does is come up in class?
We almost always line up and salute in before starting class. That is consistency – doing something in a predictable way. This consistency makes the beginning of class predictable and easy. Everyone who has been to class before knows where to go and how things will begin.

How do you practice it outside of class?
Pick a technique that you want to be better at. For one month, practice that technique every day for 3 minutes. See if this consistency yields results. Ask yourself at the end of the month – am I noticeably better at this technique I spent 3 minutes a day on?


What is it?
Character is the way you think of yourself and the way others think of you. It is built, over time, through everyday actions.

Where does it come up in class?
Every time you get a partner in class, notice how they behave and how you behave with them. If they are always unfocused and difficult to work with, then that is the way you will begin to think of them as a partner – someone who has the character of being unfocused and difficult to work with. If they are always focused and easy to work with, then that is the way you will begin to think of them as a partner – someone who has the character of being focused and easy to work with.

Building good character takes time. Every chance you partner with someone in class is an opportunity to build character. Without being fake, try to act in a way that you are the kind of partner whom other students want to work with if they want to get better at martial arts.

How do you practice building character outside of class?

Every time you interact with another person, you are building your character. They will take note of how you behave. You will take note of how you behave. How do you want to be seen by others? How do you want to be seen by yourself? Do you want to be seen as honest? Mean? Brave? Lazy?

As martial artists, we strive to build character that inspires others, character that makes other people seek our help when there are problems to be solved.


What is it?
Community is the quality of relationships that we have with a group of people.

Where does it come up in class?
When you play cooperative games in class, you are building the school community. When you play competitive games in class and you are a good sport, you are building the school community.

How do you practice building community outside of class?
Quality communities depend on active members. If you have a friend who you think might benefit from martial arts classes, share with them how it has helped you.


What is it?
A connection is when you understand how one activity relates to another activity.

When does it come up in class?
Sometimes the teacher will make connections for you, sometimes you will make your own connections and sometimes a fellow student will make a connection for you. An example of the teacher making a connection for you is them telling you to move your feet when you spar because you are harder to hit just as someone is harder to hit with a water balloon if they are moving (as opposed to standing still).

How can you practice finding connections outside of class?
When you do other sports or movement arts, see if you can find any similarities between the techniques or strategies we learn in martial arts and how you play or move in that art. If you do, you are making connections.


What is it?
Creativity is the ability to make new things.

When does it come up in class?
If your teacher asks you to make up your own hand combination, they are asking you to be creative. If you spar with someone and they defend all your favorite strikes, one answer might be to get creative with what strikes you are throwing or how you are combining them.

How can you practice creativity outside of class?
Almost every human endeavor can involve creativity. When you are asked to draw the night sky in art class, you could copy the example the teacher puts up or you could make up your own night sky. You could even draw the night sky as you imagine it looks from another planet. When you close a car door, you could use you hand or you could see if you can close the door with your foot, or hip, or knee… or whatever. Creativity opens the door to solving problems in different ways.

Now What?

July 14th, 2015

Watching videos of yourself move is great if and only if you do something with the information you receive.
As an example, I’ll pick on myself. If you watch me clean in the video, you’ll see me jump forward most of the time. This means that the bar is moving forward and I’m chasing the bar. This makes coming out of the front squat harder. This is happening because I am launching too early. I should be pulling the bar further up my leg before jumping.
What should I do? High hangs. Deadlift to power position then immediately bring the bar back down and clean, remembering to bring the bar back up to the power position before launching.
Watch yourself then fix yourself.

Entry Point

July 7th, 2015

We often spend time in Kung Fu talking about how to be creative. That’s a good thing. The problem can be that if you’ve got no place to start from, it is difficult to be creative.
My suggestion to the students tonight was to find a kick that they liked. From there, they hit the pads with that kick. Then they hit each other with that same kick. Finally, the worked that same kick against a bit of resistance.
The hope behind all this work was that they found a kick that worked for them. Ideally, this kick could become an entry point – a place to start developing a game from.
Do you have an entry point for your self defence game? Do you know what techniques or combinations work well for you? Do you want to get in close and wrestle? Do you want to keep your distance and kick?
If you don’t have any answers to these questions, it’s okay. As you learn basics, spar and work drills with other students, you will find your entry point. Once you find that entry point, don’t fret about being super creative. Take your time. Build your game one step at a time.