Category Archive 'Martial Arts'
30 Mar 2018

The Immovable Heart

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28 Mar 2017

The Mystery of Stephen Seagal

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Stephen Seagal and friend.

Kenneth Lowe marvels that, old, fat, and ill-behaved as he is, Stephen Seagal is still able to keep making lots and lots of really terrible movies.

    “What you have to understand is that Steven Seagal isn’t about being a good action hero. He’s always about being a complete fucking asshole. That’s, like, his duty. … Steven Seagal is our hero/villain, where he’s apparently the protagonist, but he just does the cruelest, most fucked-up shit that he possibly can.” —El-P, member of Run The Jewels and avowed Seagal fan

Since his falling out with Warner Brothers, Seagal has become an unbelievable workhorse, albeit one who shows up to maybe a few days of filming and looks terrible. With the exception of the couple of years he was doing his reality show and another TV series, he’s put out two if not at least three pictures per year since 2003, almost all of them direct-to-video. I haven’t seen one scene in any of them where he can convincingly throw a punch.

He will never stop making them, because they will never stop making money, because his own salary is probably the largest expenditure of anything involved in the production. It certainly isn’t lighting or locations.

I wanted this to be a handy explanation of why Seagal is still around and why he continues to make pictures, but in tracking his career, I realize I’ve failed. There is no explanation, not in any way that makes sense in a sane and ordered society that rewards merit and punishes incompetence, sloth and cruelty toward others. …

That’s the final paradox of Seagal. He cranked out more movies last year than Jude Law at his height, yet he’s the laziest actor imaginable. He puts people in real bodily danger by his very presence, yet he walks free and enjoys celebrity. He can’t throw a punch in fewer than three cuts yet he’s immune to shame, Man’s oldest weapon.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Stephen Green.

04 Mar 2017

A Martial Arts Story

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From Peter Cohen, answering a question at Quora:

A tea ceremony master was walking through the town market one day when he accidentally jostled a samurai. The samurai took great offense, but because the samurai and the tea ceremony master were of the same social caste, the samurai could not simply lop off the tea ceremony master’s head. So the samurai challenged the tea ceremony master to a duel the following dawn.

Now the tea ceremony master knew nothing of sword fighting, but was bound by honor to show up for this duel. Not wanting to embarrass himself, he went to the town sword master and asked the sword master if he could be taught to use a sword. The sword master was rather flustered, not really being able to teach much in the space of one evening. He showed how to hold a sword, how to do a basic sword stroke, and then said;

“I can teach you nothing about how to fight this evening, but I will tell you this; Go to the bridge in the morning, hold the sword thusly over your head. Think of the tea ceremony. When your opponent approaches, strike with all your might.”

The next morning at dawn the tea ceremony master stood at one end of a bridge and the samurai arrived at the other. The tea ceremony master held up his sword as he had been shown and thought of the tea ceremony. The samurai watched the tea ceremony master for a good while. Finally he bowed, turned, and walked away.

22 Feb 2017

Japan, Nuked Too Much, or Not Enough?: Chicken Attack

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

08 Jan 2016

Using the Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife

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FairbairnSykes
The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife is a stiletto with an overall length of 11.5 inches and a double-edged blade of 7 inches. There are a number of variations which include such differences as minor changes in the length of the blade, the design and shape of the pommel, manufacturer’s stamps, and handles that have different grip patterns and materials (metal, wood, and compressed leather washers).

The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife was designed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes, and was based on the Shanghai Fighting Knife they designed while serving as constables in the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP), the multinational police force of Shanghai’s international community. Prior to World War II, Shanghai had the reputation of being the most dangerous city in the world.

Christopher Lee evidently used one during WWII. The Week:

Long before he embarked on his illustrious acting career, Christopher Lee… was a member of the British Special Forces in World War II, a unit that engaged in acts of espionage and subterfuge against the Third Reich, including blowing up bridges, disrupting supply lines, and, yes, killing Nazis.

It turns out his experiences in warfare came in handy in the filming of The Lord of the Rings, when his character Saruman was stabbed in the back by Grima Wormtongue in a scene that was not included in the theatrical release. As director Peter Jackson explained in the movie’s DVD commentary, he tried to get Lee to scream as he was stabbed, only to be corrected. “Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody’s stabbed in the back?” Lee said he asked Jackson. “Because I do. [I]t’s more of a gasp because the breath is driven out of your body.”

Trooper Stan W Scott, No. 3 Army Commando, demonstrates how to use the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife.

21 Dec 2015

Medieval Poleaxe with Chemical Weapon

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From Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi’s (c. 1340s-1420s) The Flower of Battle, Axe in Armor, 16:

Poleaxe1
MS Ludwig XV 13 (Getty)

Questa mia azza era piena de polvere e si è la ditta azza busada intorno intorno et è questa polvere sì forte corrosiva che subito come ella tocha l’ochio, l’omo per nissun modo nol pò avrire e fuorse may non vederà più.

E azza son ponderosa crudele e mortale, mazori colpi fazo che altra arma manuale. E se io falisco lo primo colpo che vegno a fare la azza m’è di danno e niente più non vale. E se io fiero lo primo colpo ch’io fazzo tutte le altre arme manuale io cavo d’impazo. E se son cum bone arme ben acompagnada per mia deffesa piglio le guardie pulsative de spada. Signore nobilissimo Signor mio Marchese assay chose sono in questo libro che voy tale malicie non le fareste. Ma per più savere, piazavi di vederle.

This poleaxe of mine is full of powder and the said poleaxe has holes around. And this powder is so strong and corrosive that immediately as it touches the eye, the man cannot open it in any way, and maybe will not be able to see anymore.

And it is a heavy, cruel and mortal poleaxe, better blows it makes than other manual weapons. And if it fails the first strike that it comes to do, the poleaxe will still do damage and the opponent will be no more of any use. And if you fiercely make the first blow, you will avoid trouble from all the other manual weapons. And if accompanied with good armor for defense it will stand up to the hammer blows of swords. Very noble Lord, my Lord Marchese, there are many things in this book, featuring such malicious things as you would not do yourself. But to understand them better, please read of them.

Poleaxe2
MS Ludwig XV 13 (Getty)

Questa è la polvere che va in l’azza penta qui sopra. Piglia lo latte delo titimallo, e seccalo al sole overo in forno caldo e fane polvere, e piglia di questa polvere uno V e una onza de polvere d’fior d’preda, e mescola insembre, e questa polvere si de’ metter in la azza qui de sopra, ben che se pò far cum ogni rutorio che sia fino, che ben ne troverà di fini in questo libro.

This is the powder that goes into the poleaxe drawn above. Take the milk of the titimallo [some member of the spurge family of plants (genus Euphorbia)], and dry it over a warm oven and make it powdery, and take two ounces of this powder and one ounce of powder of the fior di preda, and mix them together. And put this powder in the axe which is above, as you can do it well with any ?rutorio? that is sharp, because you can find sharp things well in this book.

23 Jun 2015

Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle

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Biddle
Col. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, hand-to-hand combat expert, 1943. Known for ordering trainee Marines to attempt to kill him with bayonets, and disarming them all.

31 Aug 2014

Thrown

NeckThrow1

Via Megazal.

27 Aug 2014

Isao Machii Selling Toaster Struedels

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Isao Machii is so skilled with the Japanese sword that he can draw his blade and cut a BB fired at him in two.

Even Iaido Masters evidently have to live, unfortunately and so we find the same man cutting up thrown fruit and starring in an inane commercial for Pillsbury. Sploid

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

19 Aug 2014

Martial Arts Referee Loses His Temper

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It’s always better to listen to the referee.

01 Aug 2014

Bruce Lee’s Legendary One-Inch Punch

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Bruce-Lee

Remember how, in Kill Bill 2 (2004), Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) is able to break out of the coffin in which Bud buried her alive by smashing its boards, despite having only a few inches of arm room to throw a punch? Fortunately for Beatrix, her Si Fu Pei Mei had taught her Kung Fu rigorously, making her break two-inch boards starting the blow only an inch away from its target.

Terrence McCoy, in the Washington Post, reports that scientists are attempting to explain how Bruce Lee could do the same kind of thing… in real life.

It’s a punch that has captivated our imagination for decades. From the distance of one-inch, Bruce Lee could break boards, knock opponents off their feet and look totally badass doing it. It’s one of the most famous — and fabled — blows in the world.

Days ago, Popular Mechanics set out to solve the mystery behind it – and did.

Drawing upon both physical and neuro power, Lee’s devastating one-inch punch involved substantially more than arm strength. It was achieved through the fluid teamwork of every body part. It was his feet. It was hips and arms. It was even his brain. In several milliseconds, a spark of kinetic energy ignited in Lee’s feet and surged through his core to his limbs before its eventual release.

Scientists advise that you watch Lee’s movement closely. If you do, you’ll see every part of his body move. …Every bodily jerk has an apex of force. To not only maximize on that force — but to augment it — Lee perfectly synchronizes his movements, one after the other, linking them like boxcars on a train. To be sure, countless muscle men have been stronger than Lee, but few, if any, could deliver more more power than Lee with just one inch.

What makes the difference? Lee’s brain.

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Popular Mechanics:

To understand why the one-inch punch is more about mind than muscle, you first have to understand how Bruce Lee delivers the blow. Although Lee’s fist travels a tiny distance in mere milliseconds, the punch is an intricate full-body movement. According to Jessica Rose, a Stanford University biomechanical researcher, Lee’s lightning-quick jab actually starts with his legs.

“When watching the one-inch punch, you can see that his leading and trailing legs straighten with a rapid, explosive knee extension,” Rose says. The sudden jerk of his legs increases the twisting speed of Lee’s hips—which, in turn, lurches the shoulder of his thrusting arm forward.

As Lee’s shoulder bolts ahead, his arm gets to work. The swift and simultaneous extension of his elbow drives his fist forward. For a final flourish, Rose says, “flicking his wrist just prior to impact may further increase the fist velocity.” Once the punch lands on target, Lee pulls back almost immediately. Rose explains that this shortens the impact time of his blow, which compresses the force and makes it all the more powerful.

By the time the one-inch punch has made contact with its target, Lee has combined the power of some of the biggest muscles in his body into a tiny area of force. But while the one-inch punch is built upon the explosive power of multiple muscles, Rose insists that Bruce Lee’s muscles are actually not the most important engine behind the blow.

“Muscle fibers do not dictate coordination,” Rose says, “and coordination and timing are essential factors behind movements like this one-inch punch.”

Because the punch happens over such a short amount of time, Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab—his twisting hip, extending knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist—with incredible accuracy. Furthermore, each joint in Lee’s body has a single moment of peak acceleration, and to get maximum juice out of the move, Lee must layer his movements so that each period of peak acceleration follows the last one instantly.

So coordination is key.

31 Jul 2014

Men!

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Men

In Kendo, you shout “Men!” as you strike at the head.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

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