SP ARCHIVES: Impressed?

This thread began in response to a question by Brian S. about inspirational teachers in Steve’s MA background.  Because Brian later deleted all his posts on Steve’s Q&A, we don’t have a record of his specific question, and we don’t have a record of what else he may have said in the discussion afterward.  Here is what we do have, and it’s a long thread that ends up on Sanchin.

 Steve’s reply:

My personal inspiration has invariably come from people I HAVEN’T trained with, fighters I’ve watched. Boxers, Muay Thai fighters, wrestlers. They were people I could actually see on film and take away an impression of their ability. And they helped me to analyze and break down the fight.

Unfortunately, in ‘real life’ I never found anybody who could inspire me or help me; that’s why I was always searching. There have been times when a guy has given me a flash of inspiration, but as the thing played out it turned out it was wishful thinking on my part. And I’d move on.

In 1993 after my China trip, I figured out that I wasn’t going to find it because it wasn’t there.

That’s why I say the fight is my teacher. It really is.

 Les Turpin wrote:

steve, i kind of find that a bit sad…. because i am a big softy lol … did you ever LOOK at someone for inspiration but just did not find it and were dissapointed? i kind of get the feeling that was what was happening through most of your early training.

do you think the people you have trained with then have showed you ‘what not to do’ ? or did you truly beleive in what they were teaching upto a point of ‘finding the truth’ so to speak.

surely there were some elements from some people that changed the way you looked at stuff or was it purely from your personal fight experiences.

Unfortunately, in ‘real life’ I never found anybody who could inspire me or help me; that’s why I was always searching.

are you still searching for someone now for inspiration or something new. or does the inspiration to keep training come from your students ?

Rob Mac wrote:

Steve, if teachers didn’t inspire you then what fighters/fights inspired you? mine run into the scores but Randy Couture inspires me especially at the moment because of his tenacity and of course age.

Steve wrote:

To Les: Yeah, you’ve said it. You start off and you think a lot of guys are going to be the mustard, but down the line you get disappointed.

What do I get inspiration from? Lots of things, but usually outside the martial arts. I read a line once from Aristotle and that set me off on a whole research into kinesiology.

But it’s not so much inspiration as enthusiasm to go on and keep looking. When I see a great fighter or a great athlete, I’m happy. It doesn’t make me want to go out and do sit ups or squats or whatever, it just makes me enthused to be engaged in something. Like a musician would get enthused about hearing a great singer, there’s a kind of commonality there.

to Rob: lots and lots of fighters over the year. Too many to mention. Couture is inspirational from the fact that he shouldn’t be in there according to his age, he’s taken some beatings and his character and persistence to weather the storm is unbelievable and admirable. When you don’t think he can, he finds a way of winning. And he’s magnanimous in defeat. He’s got the qualities of a warrior.

There’s lots of guys with different attributes, and from them you form a composite figure of what you want to be. And address those things you can in your training and in your daily life.

Naming fighters is hard. If I name one, I miss out a hell of a lot of others.

I really like Ali, Tyson, there’s a wrestler called John Smith, Buakaw in Muay Thai, Ramon Dekker in Muay Thai, and that’s just a few off the top of my list.

My biggest recent inspiration was the young American wrestler Kyle Maynard, and I’ve posted about him on my site, which is unfortunately DOWN right now due to server problems, but there’s a post on ‘Watch the Fight’ called ‘no excuses’. Now that guy is inspiring.

I watched clips of him, talk about emotion!

So there’s your short answer.

Well here’s Hagler vs Hearns and another favourite of mine, Berrera vs. Morales. Plus some great knock-outs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYHSHd1xfpY hagler vs hearns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJVnMkw-It4 berrera vs morales



What always surprises me is the number of martial artists who can’t see that boxing could be easily translated to the street, particularly from the standup point of view. Sure, they’re wearing gloves and they’ve got boxing trunks on, but stick ‘em in street clothes and capture that moment. You’ve got the target and the dynamics and timing, not to mention ferocity, of how to hit a guy.

And obviously, what they’re doing does not involve weapons. So there are going to be experts out there going ‘Yeah, but they’re not dealing with knives.’ OK, but when you look at the way some of the experts propose hitting the guy holding the guy holding the knife, their dynamics and delivery of power are nowhere near what they need to be to put a man away. That’s why I’m saying, look at the way these guys are hitting and emulate that. Then you can add your knife and all your other stuff.

This is the way you should be hitting a guy (closed fist or open)! In my book, boxers are a special breed. They shouldn’t be relegated to some kind of ‘sporting’ speciality. You don’t want to get hit in the ribs by Ricky Hatton, under any circumstances!

 Tommy wrote:

I definitely agree with your boxing/street fighting point. Besides the fact that demographics usually plays a role here. Boxing gyms get put in poor neighborhoods and is cheap or free to get kids off the street. They go in there already with a street mindset. When I was a kid boxers were very valid street fighters as their hands were way above the average guy. Not only that but they had the attitude to get the job done and withstand some punishment. I’ve see allot of well laid self defense plans go out the window when the inexperienced gets hit in the nose and stutters or checks for blood.

We have seen many cage matches end unexpectedly in under a minute from a solid knockout punch. At that point it doesn’t matter what you know/knew/could have or would have done….it’s over brother!
Now imagine a guy extremely skilled at getting that one punch in.
Boxing may lack completeness in a fight but it is a vital part of it and very valid IMO.

Rob Mac wrote: Couldn’t agree more with Tommy and Steve. When I was younger it was only boxers who seemed to be able to mix it on the street, and when I was in my late teens you could add kick-boxers (full-contact) to the list. The vast majority(of street fighters) however where un-trained and if there is anything similar to that it would be the stuff that alot of the RBSD guys try and replicate. That is not to say that Karate,TKD etc aren’t usefull, it’s just my experience, I can’t help that, that’s what I saw.

I have my views on this, I seriously believe that alot of this is cultural. In Britain and the states there is a long history of boxing. When we used to fight as kids we would hold our fists up like Boxers long before we trained. After all the stuff I’ve done, when we pressure test our pad work, orspar only a limited number of techniques come out, they are all derivites of boxing;simple jab/cross and hooks.
When I lived in Rhodes the Greeks used to kick off alot and they always used open hands and football type kicks. Friends of mine in London who where bought up in Iran said they always used to wrestle for fun as kids and into their adult years. They would then naturally lean towards an art that incorporates these styles. Boxing is natural for us and a fantastic grounding for anyone who’s serious about fighting, whatever art/sport you do.

The Spaniard wrote: You’re right Rob.
As you might have discovered boxing is not a popular sport in Spain.
So if i want to join a gym in my city i have to train alongside with all the chavs i want to avoid in my daily life
As a result kids start later than,lets say UK.
I posted a while ago that in the States due to their football and wrestling at their highschools you can see teenagers doing tackles and grappling at their fights.
While headbutts there are not as common as in Europe because of our football (what they call soccer)

Steve wrote: Tommy, I could’nt agree more.

Rob Mac, It’s true that different cultures resolve disputes in different ways, that’s one reason I advocate a multidimensional approach to fighting. You never know who you’re going to encounter.

Tommy hinted at one of the most important ingredients for a fighter, which is not only being able to furiously dish it out, but being able to take what is furiously being dished out at you. And still remain focused on what you’ve got to do.

And speaking of furious, here’s a couple of clips that for me, say it all in this department.




ps If you look at the second clip, I wonder if that’s where Mick got his indexing??

Tommy wrote:

steve morris wrote:
one of the most important ingredients for a fighter, which is not only being able to furiously dish it out, but being able to take what is furiously being dished out at you. And still remain focused on what you’ve got to do.

Steve, I have taught as well as written in at least a couple of articles that I believe in being able to take a beating as well as give one. Many have disagreed with me saying that learning to fight or how to defend yourself is about “not getting hit” rather than learning how to get hit or take a shot. My position has always been, ” Ok, if you can get in a fight and not get hit then more power to ya!” But I don’t see it happening and I’m not going to put all my money on that horse if you know what I mean (based on my experience). Then I get the guys who start to give me “everytime your opponent touches you you should think “what if that was a knife or a sword.” IMO that’s a completely different scenario and personally I like to address those things separately. I’m not going to start to imagine every empty hand attack as one that potentially contains a weapon….but maybe that’s just me. However the “fighter’ has to be aware and then deal with things as they arise. But I look at it like a smooth transition that you enter into. Like driving. You can break it down into separate parts and if this happens you do this or if he stops short you do that, but with experience everything is a smooth combination of all your driving knowledge and experience. You just flow. When the guy stops short in front of you you could slam on your breaks and then think what your next move will be or you could smoothly let off the gas, turn the wheel and change lanes without missing a beat. It’s all part of one big picture.

So what are your thoughts on being able to take a good hit or learning to take a good licking as well as give one? I’m not looking to change my attitude because people disagree with me. It has been my experience, thinking back to my first fights or even witnessing street fights, that getting hit sometimes changes your whole mindset. It could end up getting your ass kicked or with the right attitude can switch your ” kick ass button to “on.” Personally I don’t want to “stutter” or miss a beat when I get hit. I want to fire back harder. Do you agree with training in that regard….. to be able to take it as well as give it? Or do you agree with the “you shouldn’t get hit crowd.” I can’t see ever thinking you won’t get hit. Expect the worst and hope for the best. I’m not advocating actually “taking a beating,” but don’t you think you should be able to withstand the assault. What was that saying….Down seven times up eight?

Ken Milling wrote:

Ken Milling wrote:

Tommy hinted at one of the most important ingredients for a fighter, which is not only being able to furiously dish it out, but being able to take what is furiously being dished out at you. And still remain focused on what you’ve got to do.

There was plenty of the above at UFC 75.

Bisping got caught in round 1 by a heavy right hand from Hamill that visibly buckled his legs but he managed to get through. The fight was mostly MMA style boxing (interspersed with clinches, takedowns, working from the guard etc). Bisping kept his cool under enormous pressure, he actually looked as though he was fighting out of his weight class as Hamill seemed to be significantly larger and seemed to be the more powerful guy.

On the other hand Kongo took the fight to Cro Cop who looked like he didnt want to be there, he looked beaten early on in the fight, IMO.
Maybe the brutal KO experience (by Gonzaga) has dented his confidence?

I cant think of any guy in this UFC who wasnt on the end of ‘something’ be it a strike and/or grappling against skilled and supremely fit athletes.
Some guys at various times in the fight look as though they are functioning on instinct (?)

Steve wrote:

Tommy it’s a broad spectrum, what you need to do in a fight. THe ways by which you hit without being hit are many. But one of the most important things, for me anyway, is to hit in anticipation of being hit. In fact, the hit itself, if you do it right, produces its own protetcion, not only tactically but from a physiological point of view. When the whole body is engaged in the strike, the musculature, the set of the mind, everything is part of the destructive act. One of the reasons people get knocked out is not only because they don’t see the shot, it’s because they’re not psychologically and physically anticipating the shot.

That’s why I emphasize the startle reflex. It can act as a way into understanding this phenomenon when you’re fighting. How the body can reactively respond to a cue (audio, visual or tactile) to not only produce this sudden explosive release of force, offensively, but also defensively by the action of the arms and the tensing up of the body.

For those people who practice Sanchin, this is the whole basis of the form. THe logic being, that when you’re hitting you’re ‘in a mix’ and there’s a good chance you’re going to get hit, and that could come from almost any angle. You can’t simply protect targets with blocks or covers, your entire body has to be set to take shots. That’s the principle of Gold Bell Cover and Iron Shirt. So you need to be attacking as well as set to receiving a shot, all at the same time. And that’s one of the things Sanchin should teach you. The problem comes when you separate offence from defence, and hit without consideration of being hit, or when you defend without the consideration of hitting back.

Tommy, I’ve said many times that I’ve been in fights and I’ve walked out of it looking much worse than the guy I defeated. But that’s my mindset, that’s to do with my childhood and the circumstances of my life. I haven’t trained that, it’s just who I am.

So, it’s a funny one to try and explain. I don’t advocate people just learning to take shots passively. But in my drills and conditional fighting, I will create ‘the storm’ as I know it to be, as closely as I can replicate it without risking serious injury for the trainees. You have to learn to deal with that storm, in many different ways, and stay focused on what you’ve got to do.

There’s four great words that come to mind and they come from Tibetan White Crane. (not to be confused with Fujian White Crane)
Chon: to destroy, that’s your intent, that’s not negotiable. That’s how you start the fight, that’s how you’re in the fight and that’s how you finish it.
Sim: to evade
Chun: to penetrate
Jeet: to intercept
You need to embody all of those, all at the same time.

Speaking of boxing, you’ll see a lot of guys who specialize in evade-and-hit, and you look at them and you say, ‘Yep, sooner or somebody’s going to get you.’ And they do. Because the guy’s separating his hitting from his defence. It’s a whole package. You have to be able to do it all.

Ken, yeah, and the key to working instinctively at that level is having the conditioning and mindset to stay in the fight when the shit hits the fan.

Rob Mac wrote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oJy5euFaeM taking punches and having the will to win.

Cartmelpete wrote:

Rob Mac wrote:
I second that, thanks. It’s nice to see fighters getting the recognition they deserve. Anyone who’s been there knows how hard it is, just to get in the bloody ring/cage. I still think Hagler deserves a menton. 

I second that re Hagler wholeheartedley. (Great thread by the way) Great fighter, not too flashy but did everything right. Came up throught the ranks the hard way and wasn’t some overhyped media darling sensation. Wow, what a finisher too, look at the Hearns K.O, lots of venom and aggression.
Barrera and Morales too. I love their attitudes. In fact I’m a BIG fan in general of the Mexican fighters. Good walkup styles, never quit attitude, can take some punishment and still keep on, true warior spirit, in my humble opinion of course. A lot more skill than people give them credit for as they aren’t as flashy as some fighters.
I’ve met a few Mexican and Mexican American people over the years and was always impressed by their stoical type of attitude.
Saw a video tape some years back by Tony Blauer where Matthew Hilton, (ex World Middleweight Champ) spars some of his pupils. On the comentary Blauer says, “Wow just look at Matthew’s conditioning, punching and footwork. Just imagine if he knew how to throw a Thai kick or a headbutt….”
I was thinking that, “what makes you think that he DOESN’T know how to throw a Thai kick or a headbutt?”
O.K, granted not a technically perfect Thai kick but I’m sure some kind of kick or knee and a headbutt, well I’m sure about that. As Tommy P says most boxers come from pretty rough beginnings so I think most of them are pretty familiar with headbuts, knees, gouges etc. They’re the boxers stock in trade of “dirty” tricks anyway.
Sorry to jump in on this thread but wanted to agree that a lot of people underrate boxers and their ability to perform on the street.

Steve wrote: cartmelpete, you’re welcome to jump in.

About Blauer–I agree. I think he could be locked up in his box if he thinks that.

I think the thing is, in the words of baseball coach Yogi Berra, ‘It ain’t over til it’s over.’ And I’ve learnt that from experience. In 1961 in Catterick I got in a dispute with a six foot four plus guy who later turned out to be an MP in civvies, and I kicked him in the head with a round kick. (I’d learned the kick from Leon Fu’s correspondence course, by the way). So the guy’s laid out (or so I thought) on the pavement and everybody’s asking me how did I do that? When suddenly the guy jumps on to me from behind and starts pounding me. I finally managed to dump him, and I ground and pounded him, and he subsequently spent a week in Catterick military hospital. BUt I was lucky.

It really ain’t over til it’s over, not for some guys.

cartmelpete wrote: Funny you should mention the old Leon Fu’s Kung fu course.
I remember reading an ad for that when I was still at school back at the old Ulverston Grammar school as it was then Cumbria. I think I actually saved up my money from my part time job and bought it but it’s long since been lost. I’d forgotten all about it until you mentioned it. Ah, the memories

The kick to a 6′ 4″ guy is pretty impressive. Yes, point taken re it’s not over ’til it’s over for a lot of guys. There have been guys I’ve met over the years who didn’t have too much formal training as such, maybe knew how to throw a decent punch and a headbutt, but what they DID have was that never give up attitude and the ability to absorb some considerable punishment and still keep coming. Quite formidable.

One thing I’ve slowly come to realise over the years ‘though I’m definitely no expert is the importance of mindset and attitude re fighting or even just confrontations.A lot of your writings go into this in more depth than I’ve thought of myself. Very interesting and important stuff I feel.

I’ve spoken to people who’ve had a lot more real world experience than me and in their mental makeup they seem to be divided into two camps.

There’s the people who go in with the attitude that they want to avoid losing at all costs, maybe through fear of injury, ego, embarresment or whatever. Then there’s the people who want to WIN at all costs. A subtle difference in motivation but important I think.

What are your thoughts on this Steve?

Jon Law wrote:  Hi Steve another one jumping in……..

steve morris wrote:

Speaking of boxing, you’ll see a lot of guys who specialize in evade-and-hit, and you look at them and you say, ‘Yep, sooner or somebody’s going to get you.’ And they do. Because the guy’s separating his hitting from his defence. It’s a whole package. You have to be able to do it all.

reminds me of a discussion we were having last night. We were talking about Nasim Hamed and how he was almost untouchable, particularly early in his career. His evasion was amazing, but there was always a nagging feeling that someone was giong to get him in the end, which of course did happen.

But he was able to hit from such bizarre angles as he evaded the other fighter. I watched him win his first World Championship in a packed pub, which had many boxers there, you could tell by their noses

The boxers were shouting for Robinson, who was a technically excellent boxer. He had no answer for Hamed, literally couldn’t touch him, Hamed picked him off comfortably. These boxers were amazed at how he could hit with power ‘outside’ of standard boxing technique, if you like.

I guess, Hamed was someway better than the evade-and-hit boxer you mention but his lack of completeness, i.e. very little in the way of standard boxing defence, caught up with him in the end.

Luciano wrote:

…And discussing more about boxing in MMA, the following classic clip show one brazilian boxer called Vitor Belfort throwing a punch punition over Wanderley Silva:


Good example of some Morris Method´s theories I guess.


Steve wrote:

Belfort at his best was absolutely phenomenal. THat’s total body movement, commitment–he had it all.

I posted this on another thread this morning, and then thought it could go here as well for the record:

Here’s something that REALLY impresses me:


Something like this would be a great supplement to martial art training. To do this, you gotta get out of your box and look around and see what other guys are doing in this world.

And here’s something else you could take inspiration from as a martial artist.


 Luciano wrote:

You really have a big and open and fresh vision my friend!
Maybe I discover your “youth secret”…

I train Parkour in Brazil last year with some friends in my neighbourhood too. Some Parkour´s movements like the rolls and jumps improve my skills and include can save my skin if I will need to run 100 meters and jump a wall in city

“Fight or fly” reflex reaction…

Jokes apart, see David Belle (today with 34 years old) performance:


And about the “Street Dancers”, I imagine this guys putting punches, kicks and takedows into that freak (and unexpected) movements in fight

Julian wrote:

Steve, regarding this sentence

And that’s one of the things Sanchin should teach you

Which are the other things Sanchin should teach?

(Sorry, if I get something wrong here)

In Sanchin there’s the shaking oscillating moves, the shoulder-knee alignment, the upward energy (extensor thrust), probing step, the wegdge with the arms to deflect yourself, the withdrawal reflex etc.

Also some point which interest me ist the Pu-Tim-Tun-Tau principle seems like the startle reflex and the shaking of the body.

But finally Steve, you are able to explain the principles behind it. So your students can adapt the principle.

Ha, just the other day I found an old kata book of mine and I thought about the old time warriors comming back from war. These guys which were suscessfull and enjoyed the killing but now it was over they maybe done some shadowboxing to let the aggression out in some way. Then some other guy with no experience in fighting comes along and ask him: “Hey, what are you doing. Can you show me?” and the warrior shows him some of his techniques and the non-fighter takes the free shadowboxing and coreographed it in some way so he don’t forget it. Than add a little of the peak-shift effect, you explained on your website Steve and voila… you get … bullshit. Of course if you have a fighting mindset you can make it work again in some sense, because if you are a natural fighter you using already some of the principles and concepts which determines the winner. Yeah, just a thought.

Steve wrote:

You’re exactly right. You can’t capture the experience of a fight in a kata. That has to be put in through some form of live exchange, either actual encounters or the realistic replication of encounters.

If you’re going to practice kata, you’ve got to be aware that there’s a big element missing: in fact, the most important element of all, which is combative experience. Because on the basis of that, you will either adapt the kata to those combative experiences or recognize a move or sequence as being something that you’ve also experienced in a fight.

One thing that you mustn’t do is to arrange the conditional fighting to fulfill a kata. That’s completely ass-backwards.

The pu tim tun tao is float-sink-swallow-spit, and what’s more important rather than the tactic is finding the dynamics to support it. Particularly with the sudden and violent displacement of weight (up, down, forward, back, left, right) and the way this energy is translated in different directions varies from one animal system to another. As well as the hands which express it.

Now, if you want to talk about Sanchin that’s going to be a huge one–that’s a book–I can’t do that today. Sanchin is fundamental to fighting, psychologically, physiologically, technically/tactically, all of those things. But in order to use it in a contemporary environment, you’d have to adapt it, and it for me what was more important about the Sanchin was the ‘why’. Exploring what were the reasons for doing Sanchin. ANd then, once I understood those reasons, I didn’t need the Sanchin.

Because of its ambiguity, it allowed me to be involved in a process of finding out everybody’s interpretation of Sanchin, matching it against my sense of reality, and distilling from that what I believed was essential to the fight. So my Sanchin, the one that everybody talks about, is not the one I was taught in Japan or Okinawa. I arrived at it by a creative process.

With kata, much of it is ambiguous. In the West we have shadow fighting, and it would make more sense, based on the realistic experiences of others or yourself, to create your fighting imagery from that. And what you describe about peacetime training, or when duelling might not have been as prominent, that’s a real possibility. movement could become idealized notonly on the part of the master but also on the part of the student.

There’s a saying that Sanchin isn’t Sanchin unless it’s tested. But often the test is done on the assumption that what is being tested actually works in the fight. But we don’t know that. The only way you really test it is in a fight. So whatever the stance, footwork, the alignment, the bridging hands, the shock power development, etc., psychological state of mind, all those things, ability to take shots, all have to be tested in a real environment. Not an artificially contrived one.

Julian wrote:

I’ve read elsewhere a nice quote about Sanchin:

San chin is a vehicle, after you get to your destination; there is not need to lug it around on your back. San chin has many gears, no need to get stuck in first gear, not when you’ve got a ten-speed.

I think it’s says much about it.

Tommy wrote:

steve morris wrote:
So whatever the stance, footwork, the alignment, the bridging hands, the shock power development, etc., psychological state of mind, all those things, ability to take shots, all have to be tested in a real environment. Not an artificially contrived one.

This reminds me of a guy I used to know who trained his students to take solar plexus shots. They would partner up and start out punching lightly with the recipient controlling the impact by either saying harder or lighter. Over time they would build to taking a pretty good shot. I never could understand this…it was kind of weird to me.

Anyway, they could all take a pretty good shot, especially the instructor.
But that only worked while standing there prepared; it didn’t work while sparring. You can beat a good set up!!

Steve wrote:

San chin is a vehicle, after you get to your destination; there is not need to lug it around on your back. San chin has many gears, no need to get stuck in first gear, not when you’ve got a ten-speed.

The analogy of a vehicle is interesting, because the vehicle I climbed into when I practiced Goju-ryu, both in Japan and Okinawa, was a complete wreck! No engine, no wheels, no gears, no seats, even the rear view mirror had been stripped! And that’s why, through my fight experience, knowledge of boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, kinesiology and research into the Fujian/Southeast Asian systems, I tried to rebuild it into a functional machine.

So as a vehicle, Sanchin didn’t actually take me anywhere! But after I’d rebuilt it, although a lot was said about my Sanchin, nobody was interested in taking a ride with me.

Everything I put into that Sanchin had been tested in some way or another, and what’s interesting is how, from the perspective of the Fujian systems, apart from that which was beneficial to the enhancement of the neuromusculoskeletal structure and some of the ways of developing power, many of the applications of the skills simply wouldn’t have worked against an assailant, armed or unarmed. Whereas, everything that I put into that Sanchin had been tested in some form or another, with a view to not only combat but also the enhancement of the structure.

That’s what I meant by, the Sanchin has to be tested. There are a lot of people practicing Sanchin who simply can’t fight. And their Sanchin isn’t going to help them fight, because they’re not testing it. The ways in which Sanchin is tested are very limited, and they bring out what people want the form to be, without thought to the reality of combat. Now, there are obviously those who can fight who practice Sanchin and will claim that Sanchin has helped them. But the truth is, if you actually examine a lot of the psychological, physiological, and physical attributes of those who make this claim, the fact is they could make anything work. Guys like this could make even an inferior tool work. It doesn’t say anything about the tool or the training method, only about the guy. The only way you can really test whether it works (not even absolutely, but in a general sense) is through some form of conditional test.

For example, let’s say that you’ve been trying to raise your anaerobic threshold for fighting, and you’ve been doing specific and non-specific work so you can complete say ten minutes of high intensity interval work. Let’s see if it works. Let’s put you in a conditional fight against first one guy, say for thirty seconds, then another guy, another thirty seconds, then another guy, and another, and another, until you’ve completed your ten minutes. Chances are, you won’t do it. You probably won’t even get through two minutes without becoming exhausted.

So, you then have to go back and adjust your training and then test it again.

And the same can be said also about skills.

Somebody’s going to claim that, say, in the kata Sanchin you could deflect your opponent’s attacks, capture his arm, come in at an oblique angle, and perform some Chi na skill on him. OK. Let’s try it. And we’ll do it under the same conditions as before. First one guy will come in, and he’s got ten seconds to try to knock you out with a skill you claim the kata is going to be able to deal with. You know it’s coming, it’s not even like in a fight. Now try it. First with one, then another, then another. They’re all aggressors, they’re all different in the way they’re throwing the shot, and they’re not going to comply with you. They’re out to test you. Let’s see what your percentage is on that.

And you can do the same with a knife attack. You could keep it simple with one attack, or you could make it more complicated but still in a conditional form. Let’s see if it works. Do it with a marker so nobody gets hurt. Count the slashes afterward. I bet you ten to one you’re going to be counting a lot of slashes on your t-shirt, and your arms, and your wrists, and your fingers, and your legs, and your face. You know how I know that? I’ve already done the test.

So for me, my personal experience of testing and applying Sanchin for real is that it’s very much a personal thing. You shouldn’t climb in it and assume it’s going to take you anywhere. It’s what you do with it that matters. There is no such thing as an absolute ‘this is Sanchin’—you have to make it work for you or you might as well not bother. And in my opinion, there are far too many assumptions made about Sanchin. Forget the Sanchin. If you see something, as I did, interesting in the Sanchin, then go ahead and explore it. But equally, I’ve seen something interesting in the way a guy serves a 140mph ball in tennis, and I explored that, too. I didn’t take up tennis to do it!

If I had my chance to make this journey again, that’s the way I’d do it. The testing is the most important part. And don’t believe. Don’t use something like Sanchin to support your belief of what you want it to be.