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  1. Jack Rusher is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 9:37am


     Style: ti da shuai na

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Review: Tim Cartmell Seminar

    Tim Cartmell came to NYC to teach a three day intensive last weekend, five hours each day. Although I was familiar with Cartmell's books and videos, I'd not had the chance to meet him until Saturday. He has excellent shen fa and is the clearest, most lucid explainer of this material I've ever encountered.

    DAY 1: Di Long Jing

    The first day was spent on Di Long Jing, a set of "ground fighting" techniques that are included in Cartmell's xingyi practice. This isn't ground grappling in the BJJ/sub-grappling sense, but rather a set of techniques that a downed fighter can use to get back up. I didn't attend this segment of the seminar, so my understanding of the material is quite limited, but the general sense I get is that it involves break-falls, a set of strategies to avoid getting stomped, the technical stand up, up-kicks and sweeps.

    DAY 2: Zheng Ti Jing / Hua Gong

    The second day focused on the body method common to all the "IMA" styles. We started the session with a series of “alignment tests,” which were basically the usual demonstrations of body skill, but rather than approaching it from the “you can’t bend teacher’s unbendable arm” angle, we paired up and did each thing the wrong way and the right way, back and forth. For example, one partner would hang off the other’s shoulder while the latter held good or bad structure (shoulder relaxed down or held up) to demonstrate how easy it was to maintain balance with a good frame. Once we’d finished this Cartmell said, “There you go, instant internal power. You just saved yourself 25 years of private lessons.”

    He went on to explain that “internal power” is a bad term for what it describes, and that “natural power” is probably the best way to say it. That is, the body method this sort of training is meant to cultivate is the kind of relaxed movement with excellent posture that one naturally has in childhood (and that natural athletes retain into adulthood). He revisited the famous arguments over sunken chest/senile posture, &c, with an emphasis on the need to keep a neutral, healthy spinal alignment as much as possible.

    We then did a series of exercises designed to improve posture/alignment and illustrate the axes of motion available to the body — front/back, side to side and rotational. These included arm swings, wide squats, shoulder rolls (with an upper back arch), hip circles, leg spirals, &c. Most of the exercises had common ground with yoga, dance and other forms of posture-focused physical culture. The squat/arm-swing combination reminded me of kettlebell swings, the upper back arch shoulder rotations made me think of deadlifts, and he verified that both movements were close kin and that those who train swings and deadlifts tend to learn this material faster because of carryover.

    Next we discussed how the body method relates to receiving and issuing force. An important point that Cartmell made clear was that one yields only when in danger, and that the practice of pre-emptive yielding to the lightest force is not sensible. He also explained that the correct application of yielding is to move the part under pressure away from the opponent while moving everything else toward him, sort of like a wave in the ocean — push away whatever part of the wave you wish, the rest will still crush you.

    “Always press forward, flow around force that puts you in danger; if he’s completely passive, just bulldoze him.” We had a quick aside in which he verified that this is exactly the same as downward pressure during sub-grappling.

    The second half of the day was spent on partner drills where we applied the above postural skills in the form of taijiquan’s rollback (inside, outside, double and turning), each drill ending with the person rolling back in a superior position (arm drag, 2-on-1, harness, inside control, rear harness). All positions and movements were explained with reference to their form movements in taijiquan, baguazhang and xingyi, along with their names in western wrestling, BJJ and/or Judo.

    These drills were the historical basis of push hands (“hua gong,” transforming force) practice. The modern version that stops at uproot is for those too old/injured to get thrown repeatedly, and is of limited use to those who haven’t developed shuai. “What’s the point of getting really good at throw entrances and setups when you don’t know how to finish a throw?” He also talked a bit in this context about working from gross motor skills to fine motor skills in terms of more difficult (i.e. lower percentage, more technical) take downs.

    DAY 3: Tui Shou / Shuai Fa

    The third day continued where we left off on the second. We went through all the exercises/warmups from the previous day, ran over the throw entrances, then put down mats and practiced tossing each other for a few hours. Cartmell was careful to explain that the actual techniques (strikes, throws) are basically the same in all martial arts, the only differences being power generation and entrance techniques, and he continued to correlate CMA techniques with their non-CMA counterparts.

    Key principles: always push toward the dead angle (straight back in horse stance, to the side in bow and arrow, &c); uproot (force him onto one foot) so that all angles become the dead angle (a form of kuzushi), crowd into the opponent to disrupt his frame, make contact with as much surface area as possible (not just to “join centers,” but to provide so much sensory feedback that it’s hard for him to feel what’s happening).

    Some observed differences to other throwing systems: many of the throws were very like their Judo counterparts, but using a spiral motion instead of an arcing one (to borrow the terminology from Effortless Combat Throws). For example, we drilled an osoto-gari variant that used hip displacement and a spiral toward the ground rather than a reap to an arc. I’ve done the same throw the IMA way, the Judo way, and halfway between in shuai jiao, but here the differences were made clear in a way that most instructors with more limited cross-style experience would not have been able to explain.
    “Most people do not do, but take refuge in theory and talk, thinking that they will become good in this way” -- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II.4
  2. Rivington is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 10:22am

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     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Sounds very sharp. What was the seminar billed as? A CMA one? Throwin' With Tim?

    Also, who came? People familiar with Cartmell because of his cross-training? Chi people? Was it crowded? Expensive?
  3. Jack Rusher is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 10:59am


     Style: ti da shuai na

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rivington View Post
    What was the seminar billed as? Also, who came? Was it crowded? Expensive?
    It was organized by a local group called Internal Arts 101, and thus primary marketed to CMA guys (notice with prices here). I wouldn't have heard about it if Tim hadn't mentioned it on his discussion board.

    The organizers limited attendance, so it wasn't unduly crowded and it was always easy to get questions answered and direct help as needed. Crowd was mixed, mostly martial hobbyist, no obvious hardcore chi bunnies. One of the other fellows was a xingyi guy who has kickboxed and crosstrained with Sambo Steve.
    “Most people do not do, but take refuge in theory and talk, thinking that they will become good in this way” -- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II.4
  4. Rivington is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 12:50pm

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     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Sounds good. Also not too expensive for a seminar.

    I had a very Berkeley moment last month—I saw at the grocery store (okay, Whole Foods!) a flyer for a seminar by Bruce Kumar Frantzis. It was something like $345 and was about neigong breathing. The leaflet even described only "Possible topics" to be discussed/demonstrated. And this was the picture he put on the flyer:



    I believe that's the "Crazy Bus Driver Runs Down Children" posture.

    I showed the flyer to my instructor who was amazed and appalled. "Who ARE these people who'd pay so much to breath!" he wanted to know. (He's the kind of cat who tells people "Pay what you think it's worth" and doesn't keep track of tuition. He also lets students with money troubles, lay-offs etc. train for free with him.) He then noted that the seminar had two-hour lunch breaks each day and wondered if the tuition included meals. We decided though, that Frantzis didn't look like the kind of guy who'd give away food.

    Seminars in general always struck me as a rip-off, at least in the CMA community, so I was very pleased to hear that Cartmell's was both relatively affordable and offered such a solid curriculum.
  5. Diesel_tke is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 9:14pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: stick,Taiji, mountainbike

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Where could I get more information about the "Ground Dragon" stuff in Xingyi? I tried looking it up but couldn't find anything.
    Combatives training log.

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    Drum thread

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  6. Ming Loyalist is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 10:49pm

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     Style: Judo, Hung Family Boxing

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    what the ****, man? the first i hear of this is your *review*?

    :P

    nice review, sounds like an awesome seminar.
    "Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
    "When I was a little boy, I had a sailor suit, but it didn't mean I was in the Navy." - Mtripp on the subject of a 5 year old karate black belt
    "Without actual qualifications to be a Zen teacher, your instructor is just another roundeye raping Asian culture for a buck." - Errant108
    "Seriously, who gives a **** what you or Errant think? You're Asian males, everyone just ignores you, unless you're in a krotty movie." - new2bjj
  7. Jack Rusher is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/19/2010 7:00am


     Style: ti da shuai na

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by diesel_tke View Post
    Where could I get more information about the "Ground Dragon" stuff in Xingyi?
    Cartmell's student Jake Burroughs wrote an article about it that appeared in the November 2008 issue of Inside Kung Fu magazine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ming Loyalist View Post
    what the ****, man? the first i hear of this is your *review*?
    I thought you were in Japan! The organizers said they want to bring him back several times a year, so there should be more opportunities.
    “Most people do not do, but take refuge in theory and talk, thinking that they will become good in this way” -- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II.4
  8. It is Fake is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/19/2010 7:48am

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     Style: xingyi

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rivington View Post
    Sounds good. Also not too expensive for a seminar.

    I had a very Berkeley moment last month—I saw at the grocery store (okay, Whole Foods!) a flyer for a seminar by Bruce Kumar Frantzis. It was something like $345 and was about neigong breathing. The leaflet even described only "Possible topics" to be discussed/demonstrated. And this was the picture he put on the flyer:



    I believe that's the "Crazy Bus Driver Runs Down Children" posture.

    I showed the flyer to my instructor who was amazed and appalled. "Who ARE these people who'd pay so much to breath!" he wanted to know. (He's the kind of cat who tells people "Pay what you think it's worth" and doesn't keep track of tuition. He also lets students with money troubles, lay-offs etc. train for free with him.) He then noted that the seminar had two-hour lunch breaks each day and wondered if the tuition included meals. We decided though, that Frantzis didn't look like the kind of guy who'd give away food.

    Seminars in general always struck me as a rip-off, at least in the CMA community, so I was very pleased to hear that Cartmell's was both relatively affordable and offered such a solid curriculum.
    I have some interesting stories about this guy. Let's just say my interactions and those of my former instructors are very interesting. As they are hearsay I'll leave them be.
  9. Sri Hanuman is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/19/2010 7:49am

    Join us... or die
     Style: Cheng Man Ching Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    And miss out on all the gossip? Golly, no.
    Any chance of a separate YMAS thread on this subject?
    =================
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  10. Ming Loyalist is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/19/2010 11:19am

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     Style: Judo, Hung Family Boxing

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Rusher View Post
    I thought you were in Japan! The organizers said they want to bring him back several times a year, so there should be more opportunities.
    i was just home from japan, but had plans that weekend anyway and couldn't have gone. i'll send you an email, some news to fill you in on.
    "Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
    "When I was a little boy, I had a sailor suit, but it didn't mean I was in the Navy." - Mtripp on the subject of a 5 year old karate black belt
    "Without actual qualifications to be a Zen teacher, your instructor is just another roundeye raping Asian culture for a buck." - Errant108
    "Seriously, who gives a **** what you or Errant think? You're Asian males, everyone just ignores you, unless you're in a krotty movie." - new2bjj
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