Friday, June 24, 2011


As legend has it, Bruce Lee almost got his butt kicked in a challenge match. The year was 1964 and the place was Oakland, California. Lee was teaching Wing Chun to non-Chinese, a practiced frowned upon by the Kung Fu community. Ergo, they set out to stop this egalitarian practice –- the hard way. They sent a guy to whoop Bruce’s behind.

To make a long story short, it didn’t work. Sifu Bruce beat the dude down and kept teaching anyone he wanted. Probably because of that victory, I’m now able to practice Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do, so I’m thankful for the challenge’s outcome. But that fight also helped teach Bruce (and us) a valuable lesson about martial arts and fighting. As the story goes, the fight lasted a LONG time, and Bruce got tired. Way tired, and he was surprised by his weakness; he almost didn’t get through it. After the match, he had an epiphany, realizing physical stamina is incredibly important in combat, and later he commented that most martial artists spend too much time practicing just techniques but not enough on the nuts and bolts of cardio and conditioning. He then immediately changed his training and became a fitness machine.

I can relate to Bruce’s experience and am sure we all can too. How many of us get so winded during training or a tournament we feel like we can’t continue another moment? How many of us have even passed out or thrown up during class? I have, and it’s no fun.

Especially as I get older, it often feels like I’m knocking on Death’s door as I roll with my buddies. I’m a step away from black belt, so I feel compelled to keep up with guys in their early 20s who train 3 classes a day and never get tired. That’s not me, though, and I’m sure you can empathize too. After the warm up drills, technique work and circuit training, those last rounds of sparring are the hardest. I swear, sometimes I think the Grim Reaper is standing above me on the mat, just waiting to take me, and I’m going to be tapping out to him next. After all, most Dictators don’t live to see old age.

Breath control is an incredibly important component to our games, but often we don’t pay attention to our cardio or how to improve it. Recently, however, the Dictator came across this video about preserving one’s breathing when in bad positions and thought it great advice. I’m sure we’ve experienced most of these things in our own training, but I’ve never seen the concepts articulated as well as this video explains them. These techniques are probably as important as any of the others we learn, drill and execute against our opponents. So watch and learn. Follow their advice and take a breather.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! I totally recognize that dojo! Sho rei sho bu kan in lincoln nebraska! I had a judo seminar with an olympian there!