Tai Chi Martial Applications

<= As part of earning a black belt, Austin LaPointe has had to write a martial-arts article.

Though I have never met Austin, I feel that subscribers (and visitors to this site) will benefit from his take on The Martial Applications of the Eight Energies of Tai Chi.

If you ever thought Tai Chi was only for exercise, then you need to read these martial applications….



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Improve Aikido Techniques

I think aikido is a valuable martial art. It has so much to offer — techniques, balance, principles of direction and redirection of force, and philosophy.

My one complaint with some of the aikido schools is the cooperation that fellow students offer each other while practicing. They seem to go along with the technique, whether it be throw, wrist lock, joint lock, or some type of aikido arm bar…

You don’t find this happening in all aikido schools — just some.



Beyond the Learning Stage

I believe they are helping each other succeed with their aikido techniques too much for their own good.

I am in favor of cooperation, but only in the learning stage.

When you first start practicing an aikido move, you need to take it slowly. And it helps to have a cooperative partner, to help you learn the intricacies of the movement.

At a certain point, you have to add the element of realism back into the practice session.

Unfortunately, I often see this helpful attitude to the degree that the attacker almost falls over before being touched (don’t you dare us the proper ‘energy’ argument).

This lacks realism — especially during some of the aikido demonstrations.



So, How Do We Fix the Problem?

When you practice, add the element of a shove.

Call it an interruption of technique. Agree with your partenr who is going to do the pushing. The attacker is also the person who does the shoving.

So, your partner attacks you. You respond with one of your beautiful aikido techniques — maybe something that leads into an aikido wrist lock.

Suddenly, midway through your motion, your attacker shoves into you. Maybe he or she shoves using outstretched hands. More likely, a good body slam, a shove with the shoulder, will be what interrupts your technique.

All you are looking for is a break in your ‘normal’ pattern. It could be an unexpected kick or punch. You want a change in the equation, so to speak.


OK, your partner shoves you mid-technique:


Can you continue with the same technique?
Does it work inspite of the interruption? 

Do you have to modify the technique, to make it effective?
(Change angles, pressure, or stance) 

Should you abandon your current technique and flow into
a different aikido move? 

The main point is that interrupting your practiced norm adds realism to your practice session. In real life, fights and self defense situations rarely go as planned.

Are you prepared to go with the flow — bend in the wind?

Always look to add realism back into yourmartial arts training sessions.



No Wrist Lock at the Courthouse

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]No Wrist Lock at the Courthouse[/headline_arial_medium_left]

This morning, my wife and I had to look something up in the records section of the Lane County Courthouse. An “interesting little episode” occurred just as we were entering the building….

As I grabbed the door to one of the entrances and held it open for my lady, a man in a suit (looked like a lawyer) with a briefcase, entered the door to the left of me. The problem was that it was an exit, not an entrance. And at precisely the same, a “Paul Bunyon” type came out the exit.

The “suit” stepped a little to the side and said, “Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry.”

The logger guy responded with a loud yell of “F_ _ _ _ YOU!”

As he yelled his profanity, he turned toward the lawyer, which cause him to yell partially facing me. And I noticed that my fist had twitched just a little and started to raise as he leaned toward me. Then he continued turning to face the lawyer with his yell.

The lawyer sped up into the building. The security guards at the metal detector and scanner looked perplexed. The Hulk with the temper continued out into the lovely, sunshiny morning.


[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]So, Why Is This Episode in a Wrist Locks Blog?[/headline_arial_small_left]

Because, once his body was again outside my bubble, my thoughts turned to a wrist lock. Paul Bunyon still had his hand on the door … perfect for a wrist lock, if he tried to attack the apologetic guy in the suit.

I didn’t mean to be ready; I hadn’t planned on it. I just noticed my personal, subtle reactions.

[features_box_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]

Note: Just as I had noticed my wife’s fist start to raise a little, when two blocks before, another downtown businessman had rounded a corner of a building and was surprised by the two of us. Both he and Kate exchanged the polite “excuse me” remarks, but afterwards, Kate mentioned that an automatic reflex had almost kicked in.

I had noticed.

And our automatic reflex is not to block, but rather to hit first … a la Bruce Lee and The Way of The Intercepting Fist (JKD).


[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]Instant Fight Evaluations and Assessments[/headline_arial_small_left]

Do you make such instant evaluations when presented with a possible situation?

Do you know to hit, when a meanie advances on you? Does your brain change that hit to a joint lock, when the immediate threat turns away from you, and puts the attacker’s free hand out of range?

If you start with a practice partner squarely facing you, at what point of him pivoting to turn around, does your wrist-lock instinct kick in? Is it when he’s facing away from you completely, or simply when one arm or leg can’t reach you any more?

Could you devise an exercise where your partner, almost in range for a hit, pivots slowly, eventually turning around (180 degrees)? As he or she turns, you figure out the most appropriate defense to a particular attack, given your enemy’s current orientation to you.

I think such experimentation is useful for defining when you should and when you shouldn’t attempt a wrist lock as your first move.


Instructors who teach practical self-defense have a major criticism of other martial arts styles.
Their gripe is partially founded, but they shouldn’t completely discount the the “unrealistic aspect of wrist-locks practice.”

[features_box_yellow width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Note: Follow the progression of this article to the end, and you’ll get a secret training tip. No kidding.[/features_box_yellow]

I’m talking about the unrealism of practicing wrist locks against a partner, while you both just stand there, facing each other. Most hand-to-hand combat instructors poo-poo this gentle, stand-there-passively mode of training.
As I said, they are partly right….

[headline_georgia_medium_left color=”#000000″]The Learning Stage[/headline_georgia_medium_left]
These instructors would have your partner put up a lot of resistance, as you try each of your moves. They’d make sure each time your training partner grabbed you, that you got shaken to the core with violent grabs, trips, and so on.
Great. There’s a time and a place for this type of training, and we’ll get to it, and more, in a minute. However …
When you’re first learning a lock, you don’t need the distraction, of resistance.
Did you get that?
I know that I’m going against popular thought, but I think you need a cooperative stage when first learning a wrist lock or joint lock. In fact, you need your partner to tell you when you’re causing pain.
This is a learning stage; how are you supposed to know the exact precision needed to find the most pain. You need a practice partner to help you.
The stand there and experiment phase is fine, as you are trying to learn the least force to cause the most effect.

[headline_georgia_medium_left color=”#000000″]Resist a Little[/headline_georgia_medium_left]
In the next stage of wrist lock perfection, have your partner resist a little. Still, no need for complete a-hole resisting. You want to get the feel of effecting the lock while your partner grabs you a little tighter, winds up for a punch, and starts to wrestle you a little.

[headline_georgia_medium_left color=”#000000″]More Wrist Locks Resistance[/headline_georgia_medium_left]
Progress more and more. Have your partner try to shake you to the ground, trip you, grapple you, and completely rough you up. While all of this is going on, you are put on your most appropriate lock for the situation and position.
Now, remember how I said that you’d get a secret to practicing effectively?
The secret is to figure out exactly how your partner would grab and subdue you. Experiment to determine the kind and level of force that a real attacker would employ given the situation, and the positions.
Once you know exactly what level of intent and violence would be used, add an additional variable. Make it harder than a real situation.
If your attacker would try to grab and shake you, have your partner grab, shake, and trip you. Maybe have your partner try to knee you in the middle of the grab.
Just make it more difficult than normal.
The idea is that if someone really does attack you aggressively, and you decide at some point to lock, it will feel easy, because of your practice method.
One last thought: depending on the situation, you can make your lock easier by hitting hand kicking first. It’s easier to lock someone who has been “tenderized.” (Careful of any legal ramifications. This is a theoretical discussion, only.)

Best Security Guard Ever

No, this isn’t the video of the security guard trying to pull a shoplifter out of a moving car. This is a how-to video (only 2 minutes) that will help you become better (and higher-paid) in the security industry.

If you’re looking for more resources, check out the Top 50 Security Guard Training Sites list, and be sure to sign up for the mini-ecourse (Free). It’s a wrist locks ecourse geared for professionals, and it’s different from the one to the right of this post. 😉

Teach Self Defense Video


I just put together this quick video with a couple of tips on teaching self-defense. This is just a tidbit to start you out, but you might find it just the boost that you need.

It’s about two-and-a-half minutes long.

Take a look:

What kind of teaching tips are you looking for?

And have you visited either MartialArtsMoney.com and/or TeachingMartialArts.com ??

Hint, hint. 😉

Professional Security Guard Training

Professional security guard practice should include training in emergency responses. In fact, top-notch security officer training should include emergency responses to, what I call, mundane emergencies.

Let me give you an example; this really happened, today. Not only is it a good example of quick-reaction response, but it will get you thinking about the image that you project when you “aren’t” working.

Here’s what happened:


After picking up registration papers for my daughter to attend high school, next year, I headed over to the barbershop.

A man was leaving as I entered. Karen (named changed to protect …), the owner, motioned me to sit in the barber chair. At first, we were the only ones in the shop, but as she continued cutting my hair, a few more men came in, sat down and waited.

Karen was just about done with my cut, when she tripped over the rubber mat under  and around the barber chair. She went down hard and fast. BAM! … and I do mean BAM!

If I had to guess, I’d say it took me less than a second to  fly out of the chair to her side.

Even though her head had bonked, she didn’t seem worried about it, and I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary (blood, for example). I had her see if her legs were okay; they were.

She was worried about her back … she has a herniated disc.

About a minute passed; I told her that there was no hurry to move. It was alright to just lie there few a few. At that point, some of the other patrons finally got their keesters out of  their chairs, and came over to offer assistance….


[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]Different Security Guard Training[/headline_arial_medium_left]

The conclusion to the story is that we got her up, and when I called back later, she was fine.

So, at this point, you might be guessing that I’m going to suggest you take first-aid classes to be a more professional guard. Well, I think that should go without saying, and that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Let’s read between the lines of this seemingly non-security-guard-training-anecdote:

    1. I was the fast reactor out of everyone in the barbershop. It looked like the others were jumping into action, but … it took them almost 45 seconds to respond. 

    2. The entire time, Karen spoke to me, and to me only. I wasn’t the oldest or the youngest there. I don’t know if it’s because I used to be a teacher, and have a teacher persona about me, or if I project a sense of security as a martial artist, but it was clear that she wanted to talk to me, and not to the others. (Hmm, trust.)

    3. I’m willing to bet that I’m the only person to do a follow-up phone call, to check on her. Yet, I wasn’t the only one there who knew her by name.

    4. Even though I hadn’t had any first aid training in 25 years, I still had the sense to tell her to take it slowly. In fact, on the spur of the moment, I told her to roll only about a quarter-of-an-inch to each side — just a slight wiggle, to see if there was any pain. I told her that we’d take it from there.

    5. Even though three of us helped her up, she put all of her weight on me. Hmm, why is that?


[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]Lessons for Security Guards[/headline_arial_medium_left]

If you read between the lines, you’ll see several potential lessons in this little story. Do any of the points inspire you to go out and get further training?

How about lessons in instilling confidence and trust as a security guard?

And what about those first-aid lessons?

Any thoughts to working out, so you have enough muscle to help people up, and let them support their weight on you?

What other training could you glean from this security-guard blog post?


Last thought: The only ebook that I know of that will teach you specifically how to become a higher-paid security guard is a bonus that comes as an instant download to the soft cover book Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert. (Another skill you absolutely need as a security guard.)


Wrist Locks Review Diane Calise

This is the first video testimonial that we have ever posted….

In this review/testimonial, Diane Calise (2nd Degree black belt) sings praises of the book Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert.

You’ll even learn a lock … the testimonial becomes a mini demonstration, almost a tutorial.


Take a look:

Someday, I’d like to meet Diane in person. Until then, an electronic thank you, will have to do.

The End of Horseplay

While working on a new ebook about horseplay, one of my subscribers, Pedro P. wrote to tell me that he sort of missed the days of a little roughhousing.

You see, as you gain martial arts skills, your buddies become less likely to “pick it with you in fun.” Pedro’s friends stopped trying to test him. In fact, they avoided any horseplay with him, from a certain point on.

This is a common occurrence. In fact, I remember one event involving some teasing boys, fencing, and my daughter….

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]Fencing with Rulers[/headline_arial_medium_left]
A couple of years ago, at the height of my wife and daughter’s fencing practice, my daughter came home with a proud story to relate. It involved some roughhousing boys in her classroom.

Two or three guys had taken out wooden rulers and were having sword fights. The problem was that their rambunctious behavior was spilling out of the aisles and onto desks where some students were working.

Leave it to my daughter to see an opportunity….

She borrowed ruler and jumped into the fray.

From the accounting that one of her friends gave later, some of the boys snickered. They even boldly took predictions on how long she’d last.

And as the cliché goes … “Little did they know …”

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]JKD and Fencing[/headline_arial_medium_left]

My wife and I both approve of her fencing instructor and his method. Just like JKD, they head straight into the body. They stay on centerline. They learn not to telegraph.

This meant that when the Q (my daughter) attacked, she ignored their “swords” and lunged straight in. Very direct.

It immediately put the boys on the defensive. They didn’t want to get poked in the chest by her ruler.

And when one of them tried to attack her, they most likely tried to cross swords.

Later, Quinn told me that she barely had to parry.

It was very one-sided. So much so, that just like Pedro P., they no longer wanted to play or tease.

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]Why Talk About Horseplay in a Wrist Locks Blog?[/headline_arial_medium_left]
The ebook that I’m working on focuses on ending horseplay efficiently.

Fortunately, one of the best ways to put a stop to roughhousing is with wrist locks and joint locks.

Are you with me?

Let’s continue this discussion as I get closer to finishing the ebook. OK?

pressure point nerve strike

by Keith Pascal

Even though we are about to discuss pressure points, this is really a discussion about nerve strikes. And even though this is a discussion about causing pain as you wallop the nerve, we’re still really in the middle of a discussion about wrist locks. Yes, wrist locks …

Are you ready to learn about a few spots that can be real fight enders … even though that’s NOT how I use them?


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]1. Separating Two Sides of the Nerve Strike “Practice Coin”[/headline_georgia_small_left]

Anyone who has been a subscriber for any length of time knows that I always look at the “flip side” of any situation. And those very same subscribers have heard me explain this before.

Well, today, I’d like to present a different idea. Call it an experiment for you to try:

Instead of practicing both the wrist-locker’s punch response and the response by the person wanting to escape, one drill right after the other, try this change.

Today, whether your are the locker or the lockee, only have the person locking shooting for these lesser-known targets. Tomorrow, switch, and the person trying to escape the lock attempt will do the punching.

If you’re a little confused, now, don’t worry. As you contrast the difference between the two days, you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about.

I think the separation of drills into two days will do your skills good. In this instance, you’ll be able to use the strikes both in an attack and as a defense more effectively. It’s just a theory that I have … and that I want you to test.

Remember, lock-hit, today. Escape-hit, tomorrow.


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]2. Ouch, That Hurt![/headline_georgia_small_left]

If I just say “glands,” half of you would click away.

I want you to think about this for a minute … think about your glandular areas on your body, behind the jaw, below the ear.  Ouch.

How about in the armpit?  Or just as bad, in front of the arm pit, toward the pectorals?

Do you know about the glands on the inner thigh?

What we are really talking about are your “Lymph Nodes.”

Got it?

These are important, but often overlooked, targets for martial artists.

Today, we’re going to use them a bit differently. Okay?

Think lymph nodes.


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]3. Today’s Exercise Sequence[/headline_georgia_small_left]

Get a practice partner. One of you will be wrist locking, the other receiving. Are you ready? Here are the steps to practice:

a) Put a loose wrist lock on your partner; any lock will do. Don’t effect pain, yet.

b) While the one hand holds the loose lock, your other hand (fist) experiments to see which lymph nodes you can reach with a quick strike. Choose the best targets for this lock position.

c) While still holding the loose wrist lock, practice efficiently punching “to the node.” Careful; don’t actually hurt your partner. Those are tender spots. Do this for at least ten minutes.

d) Now, you’ll tighten your lock, for this exercise: You snap on a lock. As your partner feels pain, he or she resists. The instant you feel the resistance, you prevent the escape with a jab to the closest lymph node … the spot you practiced hitting so much, it now feels automatic to stop the escape attempt.

e) As a last step, set up a few realistic situations, where your response would be to go into this very lock. The minute you feel any resistance … “if” you feel the escape attempt … you respond without thinking. You “nudge” them back into compliance.

And that’s enough for today.

Tomorrow …


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]4. Tomorrow’s “Flip-Side” Sequence[/headline_georgia_small_left]


Obviously, you don’t have to limit the above practice to one wrist lock. You could do this every week for an entire summer, for example. Each week, choose a couple of different locks or controls. Vary which lymph nodes you punch.

Now, after you have given the above exercise a break of at least a day, you’ll try the flip side of the coin/exercise.

This time, the person being locked will use those lymph nodes to effect an escape … and turn around the situation:

a) Grab your partner in a loose lock, just like yesterday. No pain … yet.

b) This time, your partner will explore all of the reachable lymph nodes on your body. Which can ‘she’ (I’ll practice this with my wife) reach with a speed hit? Which spots have no impediments? Direct shots only. (Yesterday, you did the hitting; today, your partner hits, to escape.)

c) Have your partner practice those hits over and over, until boredom really sets in. You want those hits as automatic as possible. No pauses in between the start of the lock and the escape response hit.

d) Now, you tighten the wrist lock, simulating a real situation … and your partner escapes with a hit (careful in practice) to your lymph node. Do this repeatedly.

e) Have your partner practice variations on follow-ups after the lymph-hit. The person shunning the wrist lock needs to escape and then either run … or get control of the situation. Practice for this.

f) Be sure to practice both parts. You need a chance to try to escape, too.


Any questions comments additions, deletions, and or completions?



PS Right now, “Wrist Locks” (revised) is only available as a soft cover. Would you prefer that it stay that way, or should it be published on Kindle? Would you prefer Nook?