A Boxer’s Review of Fitness Boxing (2019, Nintendo Switch)

Okay technically I’m not an actual boxer, but I have trained in martial arts for most of my life. I’ve been teaching self-defence, karate, and Chinese internal arts for years now, and though my technique is somewhat lacking to my friends who have studied pugilism professionally (e.g. they can tell when I’m about to jab, even though they can’t pinpoint what about my posture or body is telegraphing my intentions), it’s fair to say that I am an accomplished and efficient fighter.

Well thanks Lyn, now that you think so maybe I'll try teaching some time.

Well thanks Lyn, now that you think so maybe I’ll try teaching some time.

So during this strange time of physical distancing, I was looking for a new way of getting some exercise while my dojo is closed over the next few months. Enter Fitness Boxing.

When Wii Fit (and Wii Fit U) came out, I played them pretty obsessively. I did the fitness tests every day for years, spending hundreds of hours logging exercises and activities (not to mention the Wii Fit Meter I wore at all times). Between $300 for Ring Fit Adventure, and the free demo of Fitness Boxing, it was an easy choice. After playing for about two hours across two days, I took the leap and paid the comparatively reasonable $70 to download the full version (contrasted with the $140 price tag for the game cartridge off ebay), and I’m still figuring out how I feel about it.

In terms of technical advice, I was surprised to find the game was spot on. The trainers gave excellent instruction in terms of common mistakes and efficient ways to throw punches, and at first this was so well-timed that I thought the game was actually picking up every movement of my hands. However, the more I played, the more I realised they were just spouting advice almost randomly, regardless of what I was actually doing. While initially I appreciated the reminders to keep my guard up or to keep my elbows at 90 degrees, eventually I started getting annoyed by the instruction. Switching to the Japanese voices made this much more enjoyable (“Ichi, ni, ichi, ni, mae, ushiro, mae, ushiro!“), and I had a lot more patience for them after that.

Regarding tracking, there were a few times where the joycon didn’t register any movement at all, or worse turned itself off mid-punch, which lead to some frustrating combo breakers in an otherwise perfect level. Furthermore the game seems to only really log the fact that the joycons have made a quick movement, and doesn’t actually track things like direction or curvature. This means that as long as the timing is correct, it registers every technique as “Perfect!” no matter what kind of punch you throw, or what direction it’s in. Annoyingly, the game also instructed me to wind-up before hooks and uppercuts, and it would often register the wind-up as an early punch and then penalise me for getting the poor timing. I’ve learned to wind up a full beat in advance, or to make the wind up and punch all one short, snapping movement on the beat.

Speaking of snapping punches, one problem that I’m encountering is that, without a target to hit, I’ve gotten a little too enthusiastic and strained my elbows by locking them out repeatedly. I’m comfortable enough with boxing to keep a loose grip on the joycon while the rest of my body tenses, but in my excitement I occasionally hyperextend my arms and it can cause damage to the joints through repetition. I guess in a way it’s a testimony to how much enthusiasm the game draws out of me as I do my best to hit faster and harder.

One of the smaller problems I have with the idea of boxing for fitness is the rhythm element of the game. Not to brag, but I’m great at rhythm games – for context, I placed first at a Guitar Hero tournament, and won an iPod from a rigged game of Stacker at Timezone. So the idea of bouncing back and forth in time to the music sounded fun, but not sensible martial training. In martial arts, it’s important for a fighter to be able to establish and then break rhythm at will, and throwing every punch on the beat just feels plain wrong to me.

I think the biggest problem I had with the game was that it seemed to frequently choose unintelligible times for particular techniques. Quick boxing lesson: jabs and straights are “long-range” attacks, and hooks and uppercuts are “short-range” attacks. Sometimes the game would start a combination by using a short-range uppercut, which is a disastrously strategy for closing the gap to the melee range. Furthermore, the trainer would mix short and long-range techniques together in the same combination, but without the requisite leg movements to close/create distance. This meant that, because the game focuses on bouncing backwards and forwards on the spot, half of the strikes would be either too close or too far to land cleanly if they were actually being used against an opponent or bag. I would sometimes get around this by adding my own intentional lunges and turns, but that’s above and beyond the instructions the game provides.

Worse still, sometimes the game would require me to use the reverse hand while moving backwards. This is utter madness, but after a little while I was able to justify this timing by making it a deliberately defensive movement (e.g. I’d throw the straight as I lunged my back foot away, or perform a slip while leaning back to do an uppercut). These are more complicated interpretations of the techniques that are wholly inappropriate for beginners, and which I was only able to do thanks to decades of practicing different ways of moving. The whole game becomes a lot easier if you just stay neutral or lean forwards the whole time, but then why would they start each lesson by establishing the back-and-forth rhythm?

But Xin, why don’t you just copy the trainers?” I hear you ask. Well fam, I would, except they don’t seem to follow their own pre-established rhythms. In moments when they should be moving backwards, they seem to be bouncing on the spot. At times when they should be advancing, they’re winding up for an uppercut. Sometimes their weight changes are obvious, but I could swear that at other times it’s imperceptible and they just just lean forwards the whole time to make the combinations work.

I’m hoping that as I work my way out of the beginner lessons and into the intermediate/advanced lessons the combinations become more sensible, but watch this space.

One thing I do like about the game is that, unlike most boxing, it switches stance halfway through each exercise. Balancing out the body and becoming equally proficient with both hands is a wonderful practice for health and utility.

It’s also worth commenting that there are only 20 songs, and I while you can “randomize” which ones are used during the Daily Workout, you can’t actually select them. With the demo only giving me access to three of them, I got sick of them pretty quickly. (Me, who has had Still Alive stuck in my head for something like 200 hours in a row and *still* couldn’t get enough of it.)

So after all this criticism, why do I like the game? Because it’s still stonking great fun. I don’t need someone to teach me how to box – if I wanted to exercise, I could do a boxing routine by myself. But the thing is, I find it really hard to motivate myself when I’m exercising alone, and having something to focus on and inspire me brings out the best in me. The brillance of Fitness Boxing is that it gamifies the experience, keeping me hooked and distracting me from fatigue and discomfort by focussing on the fun. Having a cute trainer certainly helps too, though there is something distinctly creepy about the way they pose and giggle when you pick different outfits for them. (Patriarchy and the gratifaction of the male gaze is gross.)

Furthermore, it scratches that “just one more” completionist itch in me. Jumping on for a Daily Workout to tick off every day, plus the unlockable lessons and outfits brings a wonderful sense of progression to the whole sweaty ordeal. I find for the first time in many years that I look forward to exercising at home, and that is why I think it was worth the $70.

All up, an excellent way to get me moving martially, and keeping me engaged far longer than if I were training alone.

Sports Fighting and Self Defence

As I grow older, I grow more repulsed by sports fighting. I have not even the slightest inclination to step into a ring or onto a mat and try and hurt someone until they give up or a referee says to stop. There is no sense, no purpose for the violence of blood and broken teeth and strained joints.


Last week I accidentally went along to a tournament sparring class in the wing chun school I’ve just joined. I strapped my gloves on like everyone else to see what their combat fighting style was like, and after a fun and sweaty workout, they invited me back next time. I politely agreed, knowing in my heart that I really had no desire to repeat the experience. Fun as it was, I left with bruises, scratches a worryingly sore (broken?) toe, and the deflated ego that comes from being punched all night long. It confused me greatly how some of the students who attended couldn’t get enough of ring fighting, and celebrated hurting other people to claim a victory.


I used to think that tournaments and competitions were good ways of seeing how you’d go fighting someone who was trying their best to hurt you. I figured that if you could beat a guy in the ring, it would mean you’d probably be able to beat a guy on “the street”. I’ve since realised that the rules of a sports match, and the aim of beating the other guy, are hardly at all applicable to self-defence.


While I was walking down the street with Beth, staggering somewhat due to quite a bit of stomach pain, my peripheral vision noticed someone hurrying towards us from behind. In a split moment, I realised that their pace and direction meant they were either about to barge between us, or they had some business with us. As I turned to face them, they reached a hand towards me and I brushed it aside with a soft hiki uke (hooking deflection), then shot my seiruto (palm strike) straight into their neck. For reasons I could not say, I did not actually strike but rested my palm on the man’s neck without putting any pressure into it. Then it clicked: he was one of my colleagues from work and had come to say hello.


More recently still, I was jogging with a friend, chatting as we approached our cars. I heard a sudden heavy footstep behind us and turned as a body blurred towards us. His arms moved towards me and I stepped back, executing a chopping backfast and a depressing palm strike in quick succession. He had swerved to avoid me too, pulling his arms back so that I didn’t need to deflect them. Then it clicked that he was my third, much fitter friend whom we had gone jogging with, whom we hadn’t seen in about half an hour as he tore off into the distance.


In both these instances I reacted defensively, and I think appropriately. (Admittedly I scared both the people who caught me off guard, however both of them found it funny and neither of them were hurt.) Those responses (not reflexes) might have served to keep me safe and well if indeed I had been under attack. I used to wonder if I really was good enough at martial arts to protect myself, and because tournaments weren’t the best way to find out, maybe I’d need to go into Northbridge and get into a fight and try and break someone’s arm or knock them unconscious. I never did, obviously, because that would have been stupid. However I did use to worry about it a lot, that maybe if push ever came to shove I would lose. I don’t worry about that any more.


Why? Is it because I think I’m hot stuff now that I’m a black belt? Well, kinda, yeah. More accurately, it’s because I trust that all of the thousands of hours I’ve put into grooving appropriate responses will be sufficient if the need ever arises for me to protect myself. Every now and then I’ll be surprised by what could be a potential attack and I’ll respond in a way that makes me feel like I would have been okay if there was any actual danger. I also get reminders from time to time that if a real attack had been imminent I would have gotten my head caved in. I think both of these are important, and it’s worth striving towards being safe and being peaceful.


I don’t mind people who enjoy the game or sport of competitive fighting. I just don’t feel like it will help me learn the sort of things I want to learn from martial arts. And also, I don’t particularly enjoy being beaten up, or even beating someone else up just to prove I could. That’s the arena of bullies.

Finding a Gentler Way

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned on this blog, so if I haven’t done so already, I’ll mention it now. A few months ago I decided to pursue my desire to learn judo, the Japanese art of “the gentle way”. From what I understand, it takes the brutal efficiency of jujutsu (the “gentle art”, the empty-handed grappling art designed to break joints even against an armoured samurai) and turns it into a safer sport based on throws (with grappling as a slightly lesser focus).

I’ve may have mentioned before that I get cravings for certain martial principles and I practice them obsessively. Off the top of my head, I can recall being obsessed with side kicks, spinning kicks, single whip, teisho, mae ude hineri uke, mawashi uke, bagua’s fourth and eighth palm change… Actually, the more I list, the more there are. Suffice it to say I’ll spend weeks drilling one movement as I go about my daily life. A little while ago, my “flavour of the month” was osotogari – the great leg sweep – and I decided I’d follow up on my desire to get better at throwing people.

A little while later I found myself at a judo club, and I picked it up very quickly. It seems that it never gets less scary stepping onto a foreign school’s mat – it was just as awesome and terrifying as that first day of Taekwondo – though I had a good grasp of the basics already and picked up the throws as quickly as I picked up my opponents before dropping them on the crash mats. It was ridiculous how fun it was to pick up someone more than twice my body weight and throw them clean over my shoulder. Although I’m probably among the weakest students, my stamina and flexibility are among the highest that I’ve seen, and my practical fighting skills seem to be more advanced than those of my comrades. I do acknowledge though that the judoka, while more crass than the students of the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts, are good at what they do, and I would like to get good at it too.

However it’s definitely harder for me. Leverage is everything in judo, and for a little guy to throw a taller, heavier or stronger guy is significantly harder. Seriously, size matters a huge amount. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but by jove it makes a difference in the early stages. I recently attended a judo conference (which was targeted mainly at black belts, and I felt sorely out of place there learning advanced knowledge when my basic curriculum was still mostly empty) and did randori with the other attendees for 45 minutes straight. It became pretty clear to me that most of the time they could read my intentions clearly and stop me with a little resistance, and overcome my resistance with a bit of force or muscle. Any time there was a situation where I had to pit my strength against my partner’s in order to break their structure, I invariably lost despite the advice of my teacher (yelling at me to apply my strength against his weakness, and yet I still struggled to dominate).

The greater lesson I learned from the experience is that every single one of my scabs had come off at some point and I bled all over myself and my uniform. My fingers were torn from the rough fabric of grasping other people’s gi’s, I got kneed in the balls (and they still hurt days later), my shoulders are wrecked and my back was horrendously tight due to the improper warm-up, and I was left with dark bruises across much of my chest and arm where my partner had grabbed me with all of their might. I expended huge amounts of energy, gained numerous injuries, and I don’t think I’ve learned enough to realistically apply any of it in my karate randori. I acquire new injuries every time I go, and after every lesson I ask myself whether it’s worth the pain to acquire the skill.

True, I would love to learn how to throw people more easily, and true, my few lessons have increased my success rate already. I guess I’m going through the white belt phase which is horribly disheartening and feels like I’m making no worthwhile progress compared to the skill of the higher belts. I think for the moment I’ll stick with it (at the very least for another lesson) and see if my mind changes once I’ve filled out more of that empty curriculum in my head.

EDIT: I think I’ve figured out why I don’t like judo as much as karate. I’m definitely going through the beginner phase where I’m disheartened by how much I have to learn and how much better everyone else is. However it’s harder to get the balance between practicing basics and practicing techniques dynamically. That is to say, my partners are either letting me throw them without resistance, or resisting so much that I struggle to throw them. And this hurts! Unlike karate where all the strikes are pulled, I seem to be acquiring new injuries every class from straining or being grabbed strongly. Maybe I just need partners who can teach me at just the right level of challenge to encourage me to learn.

General life update

To be honest, I’m only writing this because it’s been a while since I’ve used my mechanical keyboard and I just wanted to type. I guess this is going to be a stream-of-consciousness type weblog about nothing in particular.

I’m learning to eradicate the word “but” from my vocabulary. It’s pretty close to “should” in terms of words that are unhelpful and limiting. What’s so bad about “but”? It’s a negative word. Not in the sense that it’s offensive. In the sense that it literally negates the thing you just said. For example, “You look good, but…” means “You look good, wait cancel that no you don’t.” It’s tricky removing it because it’s become so commonplace to me – I’ve struggled to avoid it once already in this paragraph. Can you pick where I was tempted to use it? I’m replacing it with words like “though”, “although”, “and”, “despite” and “however”. I think it creates more opportunities and places less barriers on things, and I hope that it will translate to my thoughts and actions.

The Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary over the weekend. It’s been thirty years since Dan and Nen first opened the school, and it’s grown into a highly respected and talented organisation. As a black belt, I demonstrated quite a bit of the advanced syllabus, particularly weapon forms. I practiced them for hours, drilling them when I was in the dojo, at home, walking down the street, in the kitchen and lying in bed. I found I was doing the sai form subconsciously, internalising, processing and personalising the knowledge so that it could become an expression of myself. When it came to performing on the day, I made mistakes in almost every performance, though (not but!) they were mostly so minor I doubt anyone noticed. In particular I really nailed the swimming dragon sword form, and I can’t wait to watch the video to see if it looked as good as it felt. To read my teacher’s blog about the event (and a link to pictures), you can click here. http://dandjurdjevic.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/30th-anniversary-festival.html

I’ve been really getting into Resident Evil Revelations 2 on the PS4. (And may I say, what an absolute pleasure it is to own a PS4, the king of consoles, named “Shiriaru” for his whiteness and his deliciousness.) I’ve become a bit obsessive, perhaps even addicted to completing the daily missions, getting the massive amounts of XP and gold and phat l00t. It resets every day at 3pm, and it’s one of my highest priorities when I get home from work to jump online and complete all the missions. I’ve maxed out Jill’s level, and I’m working on getting stronger weapons and levelling up Wesker and Neil so that she can inherit their evasion skills. My max level Jill is going to be evasion master with a crap-tonne of sniper bullets.

Work is an absolute treat by the way. After my confidence-crushing, is-it-me-or-them, maybe-I’ll-be-a-librarian-instead encounter with my last job, I’ve found back at the same organisation and part of a new team.

Ah, gotta go. Write another time.

Black belt

Last night, I finally earned that belt which I have dreamed of. When I was a teenager just starting out in Taekwondo, I thought getting to black belt was the end game, the ultimate goal, the proof of mastery of the art (and the accompanying invincibility and inherent awesomeness). And in just over a year I got it, largely due to monthly gradings and a “if you give us money we’ll give you a new belt” attitude. (My club, despite hosting the most state champions in WA, was a bit of a McDojo/black belt factory.)

Things with the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts are a little different. The gradings are irregular, maybe two or three a year. And they say from the start, it’s a long-term journey. In the same way that one doesn’t pick up a guitar and play Hendrix after a week, it takes hours and hours of grooving movement and internalising concepts before a person has the requisite skill and knowledge to transcend it. This means that the students stay on their grade for months, or even years depending on how frequently they train. The resulting difference in skill between belt colours is obvious, with good reason; each and every student trains until they have learned what their grade was designed to teach them. This makes for a robust system of competent martial artists, where everyone’s current skill level is clearly visible by the colour of their belt.

When I was first introduced to the system of Wu-Wei Dao, I was blown away by how much I didn’t know and how skilful the students and teachers were. I didn’t care in the slightest about rankings or belt colours, I just knew that these guys knew their stuff, and I wanted to have more of that in my life. (And it was admittedly refreshing to find a school where I was not one of the top students, which I had grown accustomed to and caused me to become a little arrogant.)

Last night I achieved that dream which I so treasured as a young man. And I must admit, it gives me a thrill of pleasure to see such a symbol around my waist. But it does not change me. Ever since that first lesson of Taekwondo, I have said to myself that I will act like a black belt whether I wear one or not. I have trained hard, I have worked to cultivate a good attitude, and I have helped my fellow students as much as possible. I have strived to be a good martial artist and human being, to be “an officer and a gentleman” as Kancho would say, and to set a good example for the other students. Being yudansha is more about the colour of the cloth around your waist: it’s an attitude. Jesse Enkamp said it well: “If you’re a black belt, you should brush your teeth like a black belt, tie your shoes like a black belt and wipe your a** like a black belt.”

Wearing kuro obi is, as I said, both thrilling and kinda scary. My brother tells me those two emotions produce an identical autonomic response, it’s just the mind that chooses whether to be excited or fearful. My physical condition, while decent, is not extraordinary, and I still have a lot of work to do on my attitude (I’d like to complain less, be kinder, and to be more grateful, for instance). The other yudansha have set high standards for the school, and I will work hard not only to meet them but promote them, because it becomes me. To put it another way, now that I’ve finally managed to do 50 push-ups, I will not allow myself to do any less from now on. It’s all up-hill from here, but you know? I’m enjoying the journey up the mountain, and I don’t particularly mind that it doesn’t have a summit.


How Martial Arts Has Changed My Life

l_366d2555331aa370f6b96cd2d5010405I was idly wondering this morning what would have happened if I hadn’t swung by that Taekwondo place in 2006 and tried a lesson. I often fantasised about fighting and martial arts, a passion I was often in trouble for as a kid. (Miss Barrett absolutely hated how often I was reported to her for “play fighting” when in actuality I was choreographing complex fight scenes.) Throughout the past eight eight years I’ve trained very regularly, usually around 3 times a week for about six hours in total, but at one stage I was training six days a week for around fourteen hours. Why have I trained so much? Well, because I love it.

But what would have happened to all that passion and energy if I didn’t have the martial arts? I know that no matter how busy I was I always made time for training, and it has been an island of stress-relief in a sea of troubles. I think it’s fair to say that I probably would have broken down a lot sooner, maybe in the first years of uni and just stuck with what was familiar and convenient. I might be still working at Coles, a very scary thought. If I had stuck it out in social work, I don’t know how great I would have been at coping. I certainly would have struggled most days and I’m not sure if I’d be able to manage any job. (Even with martial arts as a coping mechanism, PICYS was still a really hard experience for me.)

Sensei RaveyI’ve made some of my closest friends through the dojo, and I’ve met many great and inspiring people. In particular, my teachers Dan and Nenad are among the very best men in the universe, and I am learning to be a better person because of them. Another important but unspoken element of training with others is that I am practicing being social in good company. I’ve always been a little quirky and I’ve found it hard to connect with others, but having friends forged through a shared passion is one of the most valuable elements of community. In all honesty, without the dojo I’d be supremely socially awkward and probably highly reclusive. (As it is I’m still a little awkward and enjoy time by myself.)

I’d probably be of less-than-average fitness. I don’t really consider myself especially fit, but compared to many other people I have to acknowledge that my physical abilities are fairly advanced. A huge part of how I understand myself is in terms of my flexibility, my strength (what little there is), my ability to fall over and land safely, and the hope that if I’m ever engaged in a fight that I’d be able to defend myself and avoid injury. If I hadn’t learned martial arts, I think some of that confidence and sense of identity would have remained because it’s just always how I’ve seen myself, but it might be muted. It’s kind of unfathomable for me to imagine not being able to touch my toes.

625550_10151904391393158_261813344_nI’d probably not have very much self-discipline. As it is I still eat copious amounts of junk food and can’t quite will myself to sleep early or leave the house with time to spare. Without the tough sessions at the dojo where I push myself to keep on going, even though I’m shaking and staggering and feel like throwing up… Without the gashuku where I confront my fear of pain and cold and hunger and tiredness… Without my morning runs where I voluntarily get up early and push myself physically, I think I’d probably live a more comfortable, sedentary lifestyle. But discomfort is good sometimes because it makes you aware of what you’re capable of surviving, and reminds you to enjoy the comfortable things you have. I daresay without training I’d be surrounded by comfort food (which I kind of am now, but at least I work it off) and have low self-esteem.

I’d probably have quite poor foot-health. As it is, I’m oddly proud of how strong my feet are in terms of twisting and turning and lunging and striking in the dojo. On my runs I wear vibram five-fingers which are essentially gloves for my feet so I still exercise barefoot muscles without stepping directly in duck poo. My feet do a lot for me, and I am grateful for their strength.

It’s hard to say what other changes to my life might have developed if I’d gone a different path. But whatever might have happened, I am so grateful for what has been and what is still to come.


Another self-imposed mini-gasshuku

Unfortunately, the gashuku that I was so yearning for was postponed for this year. In lieu of the much-needed training, my friend and I committed to meeting in a local park, practicing taiji and going for runs together (sometimes joined by another member of the dojo). Every morning last week we met at 6:30 or 7am and practiced the form and its applications, as well as going for a run around the lake (between 1.6-4.8km depending on how many laps we did).


The first morning was fantastic – my body felt fine, and I felt utterly invigorated by the early morning air and bright light. There ducks and moor hens and ibises and so many people walking their dogs, it was hard not to enjoy the atmosphere. The second morning was a bit harder – my legs (so generous the day before) had cramped up pretty badly from the running I hadn’t done in a year.  I tried not to complain about them, but it was hard for me not to share my pain with others. They continued to carry me despite their protests, and the third morning was a little easier, and by Friday they weren’t hurting at all. I realised that at some stage during the week my default setting had become “tired and sore”, and so I lost the urge to complain. It was tremendously liberating not to feel the need to draw attention to how hard things were for me, because that was just what life was like, nothing extraordinary about it. I realised that sometimes it’s good not to be too comfortable.


That initial week of training having passed, I’ve resolved to continue, at least for a little while. I have to say, I’m a bit addicted to that rush of endorphins when I’m flying through the park at a full sprint, the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the air fresh in my lungs. It feels like being alive. And that is a wonderful thing. I’ve discovered it’s much more enjoyable to run with company, because running by myself allows you to focus more fully on how sore and tired I feel, and how maybe I don’t need to run that extra lap, and how annoying the bugs are in my face and so forth. Zombies, Run! certainly helps, but nothing beats company.


I don’t know how long I’ll keep up my schedule – I think the lack of sleep is starting to affect me a little more than I realised – but I’m enjoying it for the moment so I’ll keep at it. If you ever feel like joining me, meet me at Tomato Lake at 6:30am. Don’t be square!

Traditional martial arts techniques in a tournament setting

Over the weekend, my good friend Rob participated in a free style tournament, the same one that I entered in his place earlier this year. He fought commendably, and Leo, his opponent, was a very tough dude. Leo had an unrelenting approach, had a knack for catching legs, and was exceptionally good at preventing Rob from taking him down (which was one of Rob’s main strategies when we were training for it). But Rob handled himself well, using some very impressive flying knees, strong counter punches and a few expertly done throws. Rob’s smile never faltered, even when he was exhausted and in pain, and both of them were gentlemen, repeatedly touching gloves before engaging and giving each other deep bows and big hugs after the match.

While I was helping Rob train for the fight, I lamented that I never used any full blocks during my previous bout. Rob disagreed and said one of the first things I did was a classic gedan uke (low block). We ended up watching the video, and I noticed a few instances where I executed traditional blocks (though they were abbreviated for efficacy). Our teacher, Shihan Dan later went through the video of Rob’s fight and took screengrabs of many of the instances where he applied taiji principles or classic karate techniques. Without wanting to take away anything from his recent victory, I was inspired to go through my own video and do the same.

It is very heartening to me to see that, on some level, I have learned appropriate ways of defending myself when attacked in a variety of ways. So here are some screenshots from my fight of when I applied “blocks” successfully.

Chudan uke with gedan uke from Seiunchin kata

Chudan uke with gedan uke from Seiunchin kata

Soto uke

Soto uke

Wave hands like clouds

Wave hands like clouds

Reverse brush knee from Shisochin kata

Reverse brush knee from Shisochin kata

Gedan barai

Gedan barai

Teisho uke and bong sau

Teisho uke and bong sau

Knifehand strike to the body and teisho uke (from wooden dummy drill)

Knifehand strike to the body and teisho uke (from wooden dummy drill)

Parting the wild horse's mane

Parting the wild horse’s mane

Gedan uke (both primary and secondary blocks)

Gedan uke (both primary and secondary blocks)

Converting wing block into punch

Converting wing block into punch

Knee check

Knee check

X-block, from Sanseiryu kata

X-block, from Sanseiryu kata