pressure points

The Key Is to Customize Your Forms by Playing With Them!

When facing a real attack, creativity and fast thinking are crucial for overcoming an opponent. The human problem, however, is that in a moment of stress, people tend to resort to a single, familiar response — whether it works or not. The goal of martial arts training is to help the student develop the ability to solve various tactical problems in moments of crisis. To achieve this, several attributes must be cultivated. One of the most important is the flexibility of mind needed to make good tactical decisions. What may be surprising, however, is the method that traditional arts use to develop flexibility of mind: kata.
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Florida-based kung fu instructor John Wai explains what his art's three-pronged attack is and why it's so effective in self-defense.

Choy lay fut is one of the most widely practiced styles of kung fu in the world, and one of the art's rising stars is Plantation, Florida-based John Wai. He began training in wing chun when he was a teen, then studied choy lay fut and ended up falling in love with its perfect combination of forms, weapons and full-contact fighting.

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Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh in action! Watch the head of kuk sool won demo the self-defense techniques described in his cover story.

The Korean martial art of kuk sool won is renowned for its comprehensive collection of combat techniques. In particular, it teaches an extensive set of offensive and defensive moves designed to take advantage of the human body’s many pressure points. For that reason, when we were conceptualizing the April/May 2015 issue, we looked to kuk sool won. Specifically, we asked R. Barry Harmon — who’s a ninth-degree black belt in the style, a licensed acupuncturist and one of kuk sool’s most prolific writers — to pen the cover story. We were fortunate that In Hyuk Suh — the man who assembled the art in 1958, founded the Korean Kuk Sool Association in 1961 and moved to the United States to spread his system in 1974 — was available to travel from his headquarters in Texas to Southern California for the shoot. Because we live in the age of Internet video, our staff recorded all the action involving In Hyuk Suh and R. Barry Harmon at 30 frames per second. Below is a video synopsis of the day.

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In this article from the Black Belt archives, retired Marine Leon Wright teaches military personnel -- and you -- the physical and mental techniques needed for survival in close combat!

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the January 2012 issue of Black Belt. As such, its time references have been left intact.They say there's no such thing as an ex-Marine, so it's not surprising that while the service record of a certain gunnery sergeant named Leon Wright says he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003, "private citizen" Wright has yet to complete the transition and ease himself into a relaxing life of golf and gardening. On the contrary, for the past nine years, he's worked as a civilian-defense-industry contractor, clocking as much time with the Marines in the combat zones of the Middle East as he did on active duty. In the spirit of the Corps' semper fidelis motto, Wright has dedicated his post-military life to serving his country and its men and women in uniform. So while his retirement job as a civilian "area site manager" has him overseeing the daily operations of numerous coalition forward operating bases in the no man's land of Afghanistan, Wright is engaged in a more hands-on activity to support his fellow Marines. It's an activity that combines his enduring sense of duty to the Corps with his lifelong passion for the martial arts: He volunteers his free time to teach a growing cadre of students his personal martial art, souseiki ryu sekkinsen shigaisen.

Martial Arts Credibility

Truth be told, Wright is not merely a guy who's generous with his time and happens to love the ways of mano a mano. To understand why so many students accept his pro bono offer, a quick scan of his résumé is required. With 41 years of experience in a range of Asian fighting styles, Wright is a 10th-degree black belt and the founder of souseiki ryu, an art that's formally recognized in Okinawa and Japan, as well as the United States. The recognition of Wright's art in the Far East endorses more than just the man. "The masters there are not as interested in the individual who founded the art as they are in seeing the students of that art," Wright says. "To them, the quality and character of the students determine the legitimacy of the system."

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