Tiger Fist

To longtime readers of Black Belt, Steve DeMasco needs no introduction. A student of the martial arts since 1968, he's been a fixture in the magazine since his debut in the February 1998 issue. Over the ensuing years, he's espoused his views on the physical and philosophical sides of the Shaolin fighting arts—specifically, Shaolin kempo. At the end of 1998, he was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. In the following article, the New Hampshire-based master, who serves as Shaolin Temple's cultural ambassador to the United States, continues the topic he started in his March 2007 Shaolin Path column by describing and demonstrating the self-defense techniques of the five animals of the Chinese arts.


Kung Fu Animal Style #1: Tiger

Popularity: high (for tiger), rare (for black tiger)

Shaolin saying: "Tiger strengthens the bones."

Characteristics: strength, agility; considered one of the two most powerful animals in Chinese astrology

Strategy: tends to charge the opponent and attack directly with brute force, uses circular arm movements to overwhelm the enemy, relies on the arms but occasionally uses low kicks

Targets: any part of the body, especially those that react to tearing techniques

Physical requirements: relaxed muscles, speed, solid build, ability to adopt a strong stance and quickly change to another stance

Training: push-ups, sit-ups, calisthenics, sparring, chi-development exercises

Trademark: tiger claw, an open-hand grabbing and striking weapon formed by spreading the thumb and fingers, then bending them slightly

In legend: "It offers the power to shake the earth and to be the authoritative king of its lair," kung fu master Rob Moses says.

Kung Fu Animal Style #2: Leopard

Popularity: high

Shaolin saying: "Bend fingers hard, like iron."

Characteristics: strong, efficient, fast, technical, defined by accuracy, capable of stealth attacks

Strategy: strikes quickly to inflict pain, then follows up for the kill

Targets: soft-tissue regions and other vital areas, including the ears, neck, armpits, temples and groin

Physical requirements: relaxed muscles, supple strength, ability to quickly retract the arms and legs after a strike

Training: striking drills that develop accuracy and precision

Trademark: leopard paw, a half-fist that strikes with the second knuckles of the four fingers. It's a rigid weapon that makes contact with a small, penetrating surface.

In legend: "It's nature's master of precision and prowess—sharp, efficient and lightning fast," Rob Moses says.

Kung Fu Animal Style #3: Crane

Popularity: medium

Shaolin saying: "The spirit of the crane resides within the stillness."

Characteristics: evasive, rarely offense-oriented, subtle, graceful

Strategy: keeps the opponent at a distance and capitalizes on the length of the arms and legs, tends to strike with the very end of the natural weapons, attempts to overwhelm the enemy with rapid hand strikes, evades using circular movements

Targets: soft areas such as the eyes, throat, ears and heart; sides of the head; ribs

Physical requirements: tall, long reach, ability to remain still for extended periods, good balance, concentration, minimal strength

Training: mobility-enhancing drills to develop the ability to maintain distance between oneself and the opponent, speed training, quick retraction of natural weapons, chi-development exercises

Trademark: crane beak, formed by bunching the thumb, index finger and middle finger together to strike with the fingertips

In legend: "It dances with accuracy and control, and offers weightlessness to rise above crises," Rob Moses says.

Kung Fu Animal Style #4: Snake

Popularity: medium

Shaolin saying: "Hard like steel and soft like a rope of silk."

Characteristics: deceptive, agile, fast, accurate

Strategy: relies on awareness, employs coiling motions and hisses to intimidate, uses whipping toe kicks to the lower half of the opponent's body, utilizes simultaneous striking and locking techniques, avoids using the traditional fist

Targets: vital parts of the body, especially the eyes, face and throat

Physical requirements: thin build, quick muscles

Training: drills to increase explosiveness, which enables one to take the opponent by surprise; exercises that enhance balance and accuracy

Trademark: snake hand, which uses one or two fingers—or, in the case of the spearhand, all of them—to attack and defend

In legend: "It has extreme chi power, which helps activate profound sensitivity and enables all the muscles to work as one," Rob Moses says.

Kung Fu Animal Style #5: Dragon

Popularity: rare

Shaolin saying: "Dragon fist trains the spirit."

Characteristics: strong, smart, deceptive, unpredictable; includes traits of the other four Shaolin animals; considered one of the two most powerful animals in Chinese astrology and the sign of the emperor

Strategy: uses quick, snapping kicks that hit with the blade of the foot; uses the full fist and the forearms to strike; may combine physical techniques of the other Shaolin animals

Targets: any body part that can be grabbed; the head, which is simultaneously grabbed and struck

Physical requirements: relaxed muscles, ability to switch from soft movements to hard movements

Training: drills to build explosive power

Trademark: dragon-tail kick, which is used to hit or sweep; dragon claw, which positions the digits in a flatter orientation than does the tiger claw

In legend: "It protects treasure, defends against famine and floods, and is filled with ancient wisdom and folklore," Rob Moses says.


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Judo
Saddleburn

Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Destinee Tartuffe

My friend Destinee Tartuffe a 4th dan and Head Sensei at Good Time Judo in Santa Rosa, CA has always been a pioneer and developer in all her life endeavors. She first took over the judo program at Santa Rosa Junior Collegestarted by my old friend Terry Kelly upon his retirement then went on to complete getting her law degree, JD.

Recently Destinee contacted me about a new training tool she’s invented. Upon my investigation, I was so impressed with this product that I asked her to write something about it for this week’s Black Belt Blog.
Judo Equipment

Members of Good Time Judo using Judo Jaime Training Tools.

As judo practitioners we know judo is an exciting dynamic Olympic or recreational sporting activity that offers social interaction, stress relief, and tons of fun. However, we also know that judo can be a dangerous, and potentially deadly activity when used for self-defense or when not practiced safely.

For all the fun and benefit that judo provides an enthusiast it seems to be the world’s best kept secret from the general populace. My coach and mentor taught me that judo is an inclusive, not an exclusive activity. So, I look for ways to get more people interested.

One of the biggest issues relates to the very idea of inclusiveness, which for me translates to one dojo cannot be everything to everybody. The age old saying jack of all trades, and master of none comes to mind.

Recently, I watched YouTube videos of three respected Judo coaches discussing the state of Judo in the United States. One of their common observations is that students who come to train with them lack the fundamental skills which would allow them to actually help those students reach a level of Judo expertise whereby the student could compete at an elite level of competition.

While I was disappointed to hear their dire opinions, they were similar to what I was experiencing in my college classroom. Honestly, I have been concerned for many years about how to continue when so many of the students come to class with an attitude of being a “super ninja” when in actuality they are often uncoordinated and seemingly unwilling to follow even the simplest of instructions. This creates a situation or environment where “bullies” prevail, injures occur, and students are lost. This attitude seems a direct conflict to the principle of Mutual Benefit and Welfare, and it made me think about hanging up my judogi.

Then, COVID caused programs to close, but as a college Judo instructor I was tasked with creating an online curriculum for my students and doing so within one week! I knew my students did not have the proper safety equipment in their homes to continue with the rolls and falls that we were practicing in class. We spent the last eight weeks finishing out the semester via Zoom class. I found the biggest challenge to be communicating to the student how they needed to correct their postures, or their ability to visualize the skill and apply my instructions for any given lesson.

The last night of class of had a vision of how these issues could be addressed. That’s when I created the Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and a Proximity Training Device that I call Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke. These tools can be used together or separately. The benefits conferred to the user by using the tools together can greatly excel the beginning students understanding of the application of Judo.

These tools are not just for beginners, it is important for even the most experienced judoka to review the fundamental movements regularly. Think about it there are pre-arranged forms (katas) that specifically address movement!

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat is a durable vinyl mat with an elliptical design (mapping the movement of the Judoka in the plane of applied Judo). The instructor whether in-person or in an online class can assist the student by directing them to orient either along the horizontal or vertical 180 degree lines, which are also used to demonstrate and solidify 90 degree turns/pivots that are important to the fundamental movements for application of Judo. The mat also has indicators for the student to see the 45 degree angle of technique application easier.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device that allows beginning Judoka to develop the proper posture and understanding of the proximity for applying judo techniques without the resistance, frustration, or fear that working with a partner initially brings. My years of teaching adults have shown me that despite what the student says, they often approach contact with another with fear and the mistaken belief that over-powering or resisting their partner is the proper thing to do; however, one-half the goal of Judo is that someone falls down! With Judo Jaime the student has the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills to make an actual attack when they are ready to engage with a person.

The device weighs no more than five pounds and is approximately 53” in height (when assembled). It is easily transportable and fun to use vs. the usual training dummies which are awkward, heavy and unsafe to use without proper instruction or direct supervision. While either product can be used alone we recommend using the tools together. This allows the student to fine-tune visualization skills and apply techniques, here again, without resistance from a partner. The student will develop an understanding and integration of the techniques for proper response timing more quickly.

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and Instructional material is copyrighted by Destar Productions, Inc.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device with a patent pending by Destar Productions, Inc. For questions regarding orders and other product descriptions email Destinee Tartuffe at senseidestinee@gmail.com or visit our online store directly.

Judo Jamie

Judo Jaime

Fundamental Direction Training Mat

Fundamental Training Mat

Good Time Judo Outdoor workout with Judo Jaime

Outdoor Judo Jaime2

Judo training Without a Partner/ Introduction of Training Tools for Standing

This video introduces some new training tools for practicing, maintaining and gaining skills for application of Judo technique.Be sure to check out the Demon...

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training UkeBe sure to check out our video Judo training while social distancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSY5VGeA6M

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz
Xiaolin Gruv
Photo Courtesy: Carmichael Simon

Title Image: XiaolinGruv Masters 2005 : Nigel Bolton, Carmichael Simon, Kory Watkins, Anthony Gooch, and Jeriel Bey

During the 1980s as BBoys (Breakers), Poppers, and Lockers share their creative spirits within the New York City transit line, Los Angeles nightlife, and media platforms such as Soul Train, we travel a few miles from Bruce Lee’s nostalgic school where the “Arts & Soul” of Oakland, California harmonize. Orchestrating the culture of their roots, heritage of movement, and diversity of social economics, we find the Alice Arts Center.

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