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Pearls Of Wisdom: The White Dragon School Blog

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On Saturday, January 16, Master Nathan Fisher will be holding his annual seminar series for all Accelerated Black Sash Members at White Dragon Martial Arts Mira Mesa. 

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Are traditional martial arts incapable of change? Do contemporary martial arts lack foundation and substance? These are two critical questions facing practitioners as they begin the process of choosing a style. What will happen, they ask, if their traditional martial art must grow to meet 20th century demands? Can it sustain such change? Or, is this new art secure enough to withstand the hands of time? Is there enough moral fiber to carry it through the rough times? The only way to answer these difficult questions is to compare and contrast traditional and modern styles.Tai Chi for Seniors San Diego

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, tradition is “the handing down of beliefs or customs from one generation to another.” A traditionalist, the same source says, is a “person who follows or upholds traditional beliefs.” Therefore, a traditional martial art constitutes a style which has been standardized and passed through generation after generation of martial artist.

Three examples of traditional martial arts are Choy Li Fut, Kuk Sool Won and Kenpo. Choy Li Fut originated in the mid-1800s in China and included principles handed down from previous generations, its founder, Chan Heung, Borrowed the best techniques from three teachers (one from northern footwork, one from southern fist and one from southern Buddhist palm) and created one kung-fu style, The Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won is a new traditional system, Although developed as late and early 1960s, it is a collection of ancient techniques and principles derived from original Korean martial arts.

Even more contemporary is Ed Parker’s Kenpo, an American Chinese martial art based on traditional martial systems. However, since the same Kenpo techniques and forms are taught in standardized fashion in virtually all the system’s schools, tradition has come to the style. According to the same reference book, modern is described as “new and experimental, not following traditional styles.”

Certainly Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do could be called modern, However, assuming each legitimate Jeet Kune Do school is teaching the same principles, it also has earned the right to be called traditional. Lee and his followers believed JKD constituted a revolutionary step in martial concept by replacing worn fighting methods. But if that’s true, could JKD also meet the same fate in 50 to 100 years? Do JKD practitioners have to periodically change Lee’s concepts and teaching to maintain the art’s modern image?

mma bag workoutOne can plainly see that traditional modern are prone to overlap. A good martial art will encourage its instructors to make changes for the betterment of the system. At the same time, instructors of more recently developed systems (like mma or mixed martial arts) should refrain from calling traditional styles obsolete. After all, even the new martial arts have a background in the fundamental teaching of the ancient systems.

At the same time, a traditionalist who complains about contemporary martial arts should remember the value of any system is its ability to adapt to present-day needs. Today’s Choy Li Fut, while still considered a traditional system, is far more contemporary than the original version.

There is a place in the martial arts for both traditional and modern attitudes, Like a new house that cannot stand without a solid foundation, so too martial arts must have both traditional and modern values to maintain the past while building for the future.

by Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong Inside Kung Fu Magazine, March 1987

Editors Note: Many of today's top mixed martial arts fighters have backgrounds in traditional martial arts training. As the sport of MMA continues to evolve and the use of systems becomes more widespread, perhaps the question is more relevant today than every before.

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Holiday Sale 2015 White Dragon Martial Arts

Get inspired this holiday season! Plan to save big at White Dragon’s Annual Holiday Sale on Saturday, December 5, 2015. When you upgrade your membership at the sale, you'll enjoy some of the lowest tuition prices of the year. Also, save up to 40% off supplies and equipment that you’ll need for the next level.

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White_Dragon_Martial_Arts_San_Diego_Rescue_Mission_Donation.JPGMaster Nathan Fisher Presenting a Check for $5400 to the San Diego Rescue Mission. White Dragon has raised over 10k so far in 2015.

On Sunday, October 11, 2015, White Dragon celebrated it’s 30 Year Anniversary at a banquet for 362 students, instructors, friends and family at Jasmine Chinese Restaurant. Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong, all 10 of White Dragon’s Sifus, as well as several visiting Plum Blossom Federation Sifus were also in attendance.  Remarks from White Dragon’s Founder, Master Nathan Fisher follow:

“Wow…..White Dragon is officially 30 years old!  You know, 3 decades of existence for any organization is an incredible accomplishment. And, we have a lot to be proud of: like the fact that White Dragon is the oldest and largest group of schools in Grandmaster’s Plum Blossom International Federation. And, outside of Grandmaster’s Headquarters School, we’ve also produced the most high-ranking Sifus, the most black sash students, and the most instructors over those 30 years than any other school in the Federation.  

But these achievements have definitely not come easily. In fact, it’s been very challenging at times. And we definitely would NOT still be here, if it weren’t for some very special people:

Firstly, White Dragon has a truly amazing staff of young men and women who dedicate themselves each and every week to transforming our students into great martial artists. Your time, your energy, and your patience help me and your Sifus build and sustain an organization that benefits thousands of people each year. You make it possible for traditional martial arts to flourish in an age where many such schools are closing. So, let me just say “thank you” on behalf of your students, your Sifus and Grandmaster for all that you do for the school.

Secondly, White Dragon has an absolutely incredible, amazing group of Sifus who work harder than any martial artists I’ve ever seen. Didn’t they do a fantastic performance for you the other night at the exhibition? You guys make it possible for students of all ages to learn our incredibly sophisticated system of martial arts. In you, lives the hope of a future where traditional martial arts flourish, because through your expertise and leadership you make our traditional system relevant to today’s generation of students. Without you, White Dragon simply would not exist. So, I want to thank you personally for all that you do for your students and for me. I couldn’t ask for a better adopted family than you!

Thirdly, I have to acknowledge the indispensable contribution of my teacher, who has supported White Dragon by working with me, and our staff and students, for 30 years. You continue to amaze us with the depth of your knowledge and the depth of your caring for our students. All these years, you’ve been coming to San Diego to share your expertise with us, and we will not let you down. In the years ahead, you will see even more students practicing the martial arts you love. And together, we will build a lasting legacy of improving people’s lives with the valuable lessons you’ve taught us.

I also want to thank our great students, some of whom have been training at White Dragon for decades.  People like Mr. and Mrs. the Spear, who’ve been training in the La Mesa since 1993, or Cassandra Wong with us since 1990. Or Joe Vasconcellos, training in Clairemont since 1990, or Kendrick Eaton, with us since 2000. There are so many more who are here tonight, that have practiced with us for more than a decade.  Your support has afforded us the time to live our lives as martial artists and as teachers focused on helping others. In my opinion, there is no better life to live.  So, thank you for your continued support of the work that we do. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together over the next 30 years.

Finally, I want to give thanks to the community in which we’ve made our home. The people of San Diego have allowed us to prosper and grow through good and bad times, and yet too many of the people who live here go without the bare necessities of food and shelter. So, in an effort to tackle this ever growing problem, this year White Dragon began donating a portion of all special event proceeds to the San Diego Rescue Mission, an organization that’s been serving the homeless here in San Diego for the past 60 years. So far this year, with your help, we’ve been able to raise a total of $10,300 to further this great cause.  

So, this evening I am pleased to present a check for $4850 to the Rescue Mission’s Director of Community Events, Mr. Ryan Chambers. Let’s give him a warm welcome…

Now, before we start the feast, I just want to mention one more person who’s done an awesome job for the school over the past few years. He’s been training with Tai Sifu Tittle for over 10 years now. And, he’s been a key part of the team that built White Dragon Chula Vista into the largest school in our organization. To recognize all this exemplary work, it is my great pleasure to officially promote him to the level of Assistant Chief Instructor of the Chula Vista school. Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in congratulating, Mr. Galih Bimaputra.  Congratulations Mr. Bimaputra!”

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 Choy Li Fut Kung Fu Throwing Techniques

Throwing and knock-down techniques are a big part of Choy Li Fut kung fut's overall self-defense strategy.

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A Choy Li Fut joint locking demonstration by Master Nathan Fisher at an exhibition in 2003.

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White_Dragon_Martial_Arts_-_Safety_First.jpgMartial arts -- the term is based on fighting. Originally, martial arts training was often the deciding factor in life and death combat situations. Some martial arts started with armies, where soldiers learned the military art of survival at the enemy’s expense. Others were developed for common people who needed to defend their families and possessions.

Today, the fighting aspect of martial arts is for self-defense . Our modern society says that settling disputes by first or weapon fights is antisocial and illegal. So we learn self-defense, on the premise that it might just save our lives someday -- and it might.

However, there’s a big difference between self-defense fighting, where anything goes to save yourself from bodily harm, and sparring, the most common expression of martial arts fighting. Too many people seem to think that sparring and fighting are one and the same. If you’re tough in the studio or tournament, you’ll be tough on the street, because fighting is what it’s all about.

Wrong. Self-defense fighting and sparring are two entirely different things. Those of you who teach martial arts are going to have to realize that, because the number of injuries across the country in martial arts schools and tournaments is forcing insurance companies and state regulatory agencies to crack down on the concept of sparring.

Although it may have been rough and tough in the good old days of the survival of the fittest, things are different now. Major insurance companies are telling school owners and tournament promoters that no head contact is allowed in the school or at tournament. They’re requiring students and competitors to wear protective head, hand and foot gear, or they won’t carry the school’s insurance policy.

I don’t know about other states, but California’s martial arts tournaments are regulated by the state athletic commission. They put out a rule book every year, nicknamed the “red book”. Here’s how the red book describes martial arts sparring contests.

Article Two, Section 18627 defines the term full and light contact for martial arts. It says, “Full contact means the use of full unrestrained physical force in a martial arts contest. Light contact means the use of controlled martial arts techniques whereby contract to the body is permitted in a restrained manner, no contact to the face is permitted, and no contact is permitted which may result or is intended to result in physical harm to the opponent.”

In California, all full-contact, and that includes head contact, contests must be licensed by either the state athletic commission or the Amateur Athletic Union. So if you’re putting on a tournament that allows any head contact, and it’s not license, you’re breaking the law. Of course, if your insurance carrier finds out, they probably won’t honor any claim from your tournament.

What amazes me in the very few California tournament promoters who are even aware that their tournaments come under state jurisdiction, much less know the laws about light and full contact. Even though California’s law is clear, many people still misunderstand, allowing what they call kiss contact or light head contact in their tournaments. Each year these promoters unwittingly sponsor illegal martial arts contests. Since California is planning to crack down on such events, those unknowing promoters may unfortunately find out the hard way.

Many schools advertise full-contact training. It’s legal to train full-contact fighters in schools, at least in California. Boxing (kickboxing and mma) gyms do it all the time. However, are these martial arts schools really full-contact schools? Are the students actually knocked out during training? Do they allow punches and kicks to the face? Remember the insurance companies say that if you allow contact to the face, there could be a chance of knocking out the student with a blow to the head of his head striking the floor on the way down.

Personally, I think that insurance companies are right. Today’s martial art schools are not the same as in the old days. Not only can a blow to the head cause injuries, it can create negative feeling in the school. Sometimes when students get punched or kicked in the face, they lose their tempers and fight back in anger. And, for those of us who teach minors, parents hate to see their child injured.

That controversy about pulling punches ruining your ability to actually hit something is not true. You can use bags for power and penetration. If you can hit your opponent’s body in sparring practice, you’ll still have plenty of ability to hit a face in self-defense.

Don’t misunderstand me. I teach sparring and I teach self-defense. Most self-defense techniques cannot be practiced safely in sparring class, so students develop their fighting power on bags, dummies, forms practice, and two-person sets. Sparring is a way to develop better timing, tactical knowledge, footwork, reflexes, and awareness.

by Doc Fai Wong

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White Dragon Martial Arts is proud to host our annual seminars with Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong. Grandmaster Wong is one of the highest level Choy Li Fut Kung Fu and Tai Chi masters in the world. He comes to San Diego to work exclusively with White Dragon students.

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At White Dragon Martial Arts, our mission is to be the best in the world at improving the lives of our students through the practice of martial arts. We accomplish this mission through our unique training method and by instilling core values. By teaching important values like discipline, humility, positive attitude, and respect for self and others our students learn that martial arts is a complete way life, not just a system of self-defense. The White Dragon method focuses on building a stronger mind along with a stronger body in the hope of producing confident and well rounded individuals, capable of reaching excellence in all areas of life.

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