I am curious how training at your gym has changed over the last few years. I have seen your guys compete and they all looked good, and they also looked like they train hard and realistically. Yet in the past in MA mags, I have seen techniques demonstrated by you and the other guy (Ventura) who wons the gym with you that looked straight out of old school kung-fu, I am thinking of the anti-grappling articles for example.

Has this changed or do you still train the same as you did 8 years ago.

Just to make it clear this is not a troll post I am genuinely interested.


The articles you are probably referring to are the old Inside Kung Fu (IKF) magazine articles. We looked so cute in our kung fu pj's didn't we? :) To answer properly, it's a bit complex so bear with me.First, those articles were geared toward waking up so-called "traditional" kung fu people to the fact that Traditional Chinese Martial Art (aka TCMA) is a FIGHTING art and that they were all pretty clueless when it came to applying it for real. So we wear the silk pj's and we presented things in a certain way. Make any sense? Now here's where it will probably get hairy. HOw much have we changed the way we train? I think more packaging than essense or substance. I personally don't run a kung fu program anymore. Steve Ventura still does. But personally, I think I am being more productive doing San Shou only, which I view as the modern way to train traditional Chinese fighting concepts.So I don't wear silk pj's anymore, I don't teach forms (which arose in the early 1900's for commercial schools mostly anyway, but that's another argument) and I don't waste my students time teaching them archaic weapons like broadswords and lances and spears, etc.My "kickboxing" classes, ie my San Shou classes, focus on the kicking, striking and wrestling that my traditional kung fu system used to do. Except we don't do the forms, we just do the equipment work and the partner drills, and of course the SPARRING. I did all that stuff all the way back in 1988 when we openned the first school. That has NOT changed. I think it is just easier to recruit good students who want to train this way because we don't call it "kung fu" anymore. In the past, "kung fu" brought nut jobs who wanted to learn the secret weasal death touch and sacred chi blast. And no one with a good boxing, Muay Thai or wrestling background would come in, thinking we'd have them do the single legged crane flying high technique (insert sarcasm here).I have grappling classes which changed from my teacher's traditional approach in that we no longer have the anti-ground bias. And you have to follow me carefully on this, my teacher DID teach ground work, including the infamous "tiger suns its belly"cont....

the old "bias" was to try not to go to the ground and not to spend too much time there. I think that thinking is a bit off because 1) we aren't training for war/combat that much anymore 2) we do train in part for fun, and rolling is fun and 3) in the world we currently live in, a lot of people are doing groudn fighting stuff so you should be at least studying what the "enemy" is doing...

Have I cross trained? Of course I have, mostly I think I am currently influenced by Sambo and Catch (aside from my traditional Chinese martial art training). But we were never anal retentive close minded a-holes anyway, my teacher loved western boxing and talked highly of the Japanese Judo people that fought challenges in China.

What ever I have of the traditional that doesn't neatly fit in the above classes, gets thrown into our self defense program. That's weapon defenses, nasty dirty tricks, blade work, stick work, etc...

This pisses a lot of people off, but I haven't changed much and certainly not anything essential in all the years I have been teaching. TCMA is and has always been about mixing striking and grappling and has always been a fighting art. The stuff I dropped like uniforms and forms practice is in reality superficial.

I also think that my TCMA base is the reason that my people do so well. We use traditional fighting theory and strategy in every sport we compete in. When we fight in a Muay Thai match, sure we are kicking, and punching and kneeing, but our strategy is very different and most of the time that throws off our opponents completely.

I've had some guys who have done pro MMA in my gym, and I guess they pretty much thought a San Shou class was going to be just a mix of Muay Thai with some wrestling. They are always surprised to find out how differently we do things from the boxing coaches, Muay Thai Kru and wrestling coaches that they have worked with in other places

Did that answer your qeustion?

Yes, thanks for your frank answers.

"In the past, "kung fu" brought nut jobs who wanted to learn the secret weasal death touch and sacred chi blast. And no one with a good boxing, Muay Thai or wrestling background would come in, thinking we'd have them do the single legged crane flying high technique (insert sarcasm here)."

My Lord did you hit the nail on the head with that one.

But dont you think that learning TCMA the "old way" also has some value? For example, while it may be more effective to develop leg strength in the gym with weights, isnt there some some value other than gaining muscle mass by learning the traditional exercices?

BTW, I am in 100% agreement that too many in the CMA world do not bother teaching anybody to fight anymore. This bothers me the most when I know for a fact that the sifu can fight, but chooses not to make his students learn to fight, I think because it scares to many of the off.

TCMA training is not only un-scientific and out dated, it is grossly ineffective. As I said, my teacher COULD fight, he was a dangerous guy. He made a name for himself at 67 when 3 guys with knives attacked him on 42nd street here in NYC, he hospitolized all three and the Daily News ran a feature on it. In his 70's he was attacked by a bunch of guys on the subway and also disposed of them in some horrible ways, threw one onto the tracks. I personally watched him drop a guy trained in Muay Thai with a single punch. Too bad of the 5000 or so students he had in North America, about five of them can fight!No crap, FIVE, the rest are so worthless it is embarassing. A whole long list of "masters" in the tri-state area who all can't punch their way out of a wet paper bag.Do stances build up leg strength? A lot of TCMA people think so, I really think you are better off building leg strenght by KICKING STUFF and doing Wrestling (Indian) squats which replicate functional range of movement (ie lifting someone to throw them). Stances were originally designed to, now see if you follow me, make students LEAVE to "weed out" the "unworthy ones" so to speak. And TCMA instructors wonder why their students seem to leave :)Stances are also an ass backward way of teaching base and rooting. There are MUCH BETTER ways than these "traditional" methods.Of all the traditional methods that I can think of that aren't ass backward and actually work, you do them in a San Shou program. We just cut out the crap, really

what' s his name?

I think your statement about "weeding out" students with stances is interesting. I think most TCMA instuctors now go out of their way not to "weed out" any students, be it with 5 minute horse stances or *gasp* making them fight.

I have always found the "traditional" methods interesting in that while they may not hand you the concept , ie base/body mechainics , on a silver platter, and I am sure there are eaiser ways to teach it, or learn it, the concept is taught. It is just that sometimes it is up to you to find it.

I know a bunch of TCMA guys who can do a mean looking form, and maybe even explain to you the applications of the movements, but could never in a million years make any of it work in real time.However, it is also interesting to note some guys who can fight can show you how the concept of what they did in a sparring match is in a form, if not the stlyized movement, but the theory and concept is there.

I find all of this fasinating.

lkfmdc, I have a couple of other you still ever run through your forms to keep them, or have you put all of that away? And there are alot of schools/lineages in the NYC area, do any of them produce students with any fighting skill?

Good thread guys. I have a few comments to add here.

About 11 or 12 years ago I was disappointed and feeling stagnant with my TKD training (6 years of it) and looking for a new place to work out. Purely by chance, I visited David Ross'and Steve Ventura's school. It was, at the time, the most practical training I had found in that it did incorporate ground, takedowns, striking, and all the "dirty" little things like eye pokes and such. They actually made you use the techniques found in the forms.

The old Lama Kung-Fu program offered the closest thing to MMA at the time. True, in those days a lot of nuts came it to try class...looking for some guru to show them the way. I don't think that will ever we get other nuts and egos who just want to kick some ass. Sure, there were still forms and weapons being taught but, I appreciated them from a historical and meditative perspective.

As a founding member of NYKK San Shou team it is important to note that we ALWAYS trained with contact and practical application in mind. It was nothing like other kung-fu schools I had visited. We would often head out to Gleason's gym to spar with ourselves or whoever was there. I can't believe people still buy into that "it's too deadly to spar with" crap...a well known NYC kung-fu teacher actually told me that recently when I asked him why his students don't spar! Back then we competed in anything available...grappling, freestyle (amature MMA), San Shou, whatever. I won't ever forget the look on the faces of the organizers of the 1998 World Grappler's Challenge in Toronto when they saw a bunch of "kung-fu" guys come to compete. It was even better when we achieved a semi-finalist spot, a bronze in the heavyweight division, and a pat on the back from Gene LaBell!

The training at NYKK has not changed all that much in it's essence. It has evolved quite a bit since the early days. I just came back to share space with David in his midtown school after five years of Combat Sambo training. It was refreshing to see that they may have stripped down the "esoteric stuff" like forms, pj's, and ancient weapons but, they still focus of plain old practical fighting. After all, that is the point. There are too many folks out there who have "black belts" and have never taken a punch. That is sad.


Cool thread.

Very cool thread. IMO from what i have seen, San shou is the missing link between striking and grappling in MMA (and streetfighting) that so many people have trouble integrating.

Lkfmdc i am curious as to how u achieve this intergration? is it a matter of technique or just plain old incorporating them together from the beggining? I know Matt Thornton says he never teaches boxing without grappling anymore as the arts will forever stay "seperate"

good stuff..

SamboSteve's post should be of interest to all of you since he was indeed a founding member of our team and was training with us when we first started sending fighters out. It should be noted that he submitted his opponent in around one minute by neck crank at the 1998 Tortonto event and was congradulated by Gene LeBell who sat mat side for the match.

This pisses a lot off, but the current trend of doing boxing one day, BJJ another day, wrestling a few times a week is NOT a way to MMA. The skills are not being taught to be integrated, not with an awareness of how all the elements fit together in the big puzzle. Chinese martial art and San Shou has always been about one art with one approach and a constant awareness of how striking and grappling integrate.

BTW, this weekend Andras Gal of NYKK won a USA Boxing amateur boxing match while Adam Resnick and Nizar Balghitti of NYKK won their San Da matches at Scott Sheely's wonderful Ohio show...

Congrats to Adam and Nizar! Good work guys!

Congrats to Andras as well! Sorry I forgot you.

nice thread...just one question, if i may ask...

i agree that training all of the different components (boxing, bjj, wrestling) on different days might leave one with a bunch of pieces and not the whole, but how do you avoid doing the opposite? i mean, if you train in all of the different aspects of fighting, how do you keep from being "a jack of all trades, master of none?"

i just ask this becasue when i used to train thai boxing, they divided the training in three parts: boxing, kicking, and clinching/kneeing. i felt ok with two of those, but one aspect i absolutely sucked in (boxing), and that place simply didn't give me what i needed to learn in that regard. i had to leave to get better training in that area.

i mean no offense to anyone in this, but some places i've found to especially guilty of the "jack of all trades" thing were jkd schools. the students never seemed to get good at any particular range, just ok at everything.

please, no one take offense to that, i know there are many great jkd places.

lkfmdc, congrats on your school, i have no doubt it is a very strong training environment. i ask this just to find an alternative way.

Again, this will piss a lot of people off but it is the truth. If you are a jujitsu or or wrestling or sambo school and you bring in a boxing coach to teach boxing classes then you are NOT a MMA school.Pretty simple concept but a boxing coach teaches BOXING. And boxing is not MMA. A boxing coach teaches punching with only one thing in mind, not getting hit by counter punches. He doesn't worry about (doesn't even think about) clinches, shoots, leg kicks, knees, and elbows.A Muay Thai coach teaches a punch a little more, but not a lot more, closer to MMA only because he teaches you to punch with leg kicks, knees and elbows in mind. But a serious issue if you are doing this for MMA competition is that Muay Thai techniques are not executed with grappling in mind. View a few of the San Da vs Muay Thai tapes for a clear affirmation of that fact.How do you train them all together? By training them all together. It's simple if you understand it, almost impossible if you don't. When we are doing pad work in my gym, every detail of the execution and movement takes into consideration both striking and grappling. It isn't let's do some boxing drills for 15 minutes and then we'll wrestle.

"When we are doing pad work in my gym, every detail of the execution and movement takes into consideration both striking and grappling"

Could you give a few examples of these types of drills?