4.1 Orange Sash

Congratulations on getting your Orange sash!  Now you’ve got something around your waist that symbolizes the progress you’ve made as a martial artist, you're probably wondering about the symbology of the sash.

The three knots you make when you tie your sash represent the mind, body and spirit.  Since we are an external style, we put the color side of our sash on the right - the “body” side.  An internal stylist would place the color side on the left - the “mind” side.  The middle knot represents the spirit.

What’s an external style?  Martial arts can be broadly classified as internal or external.  An internal style focuses on developing structure.  An example of an internal style is Taijiquan.  An external style focuses on developing power.  An example of an external style is Shotokan Karate.  This is not, of course, an exclusive definition.  Internal stylists train power, just as external stylists train structure.  It is a division that points out where the majority of a styles effort is focused.

4.2 Teaching Hours

Part of training in Mo Duk Pai involves passing on information to other students: teaching.  This may involve leading a warm up, teaching basics, touching up someone’s form, etc.  Whatever you are teaching to a student, remember to be patient.  Try and take yourself back to when you learned the technique.  How was it taught to you?  Did your teacher make you hit pads?  Did you work with a partner?  Did you train it as a basic and then apply it in a drill?

This doesn’t mean you have to teach it exactly in the way it was taught to you.  Every student is different.  The best thing to do is to adapt the lesson to the particular student at hand while still remaining true to the basic.

For attaining the rank of Purple and above, students must put in a number of teaching hours.  A teaching hour is when you are the assistant for an entire class.  If you need to get some teaching hours, talk to whomever is leading the class beforehand and see if you can be their assistant.  Even better than that, talk to the head instructor a week in advance, and ask when you can schedule your teaching hours.  

Hours required are:

Purple = 6 hours

Blue = 8 hours

Green = 10 hours

Brown = 18 hours

Brown/Black = 36 hours

Black = 45 hours

4.3 School Culture

Senior students set the example.  When beginners see the more advanced students hustling to get lined up, they follow suit.  When beginners see the more advanced students yawning during class, they follow suit.  This is part of how school culture is created, by the example of the senior students.

As a theoretical guide, think of the following universalizability test: conduct yourself on the training floor in such a way that you can envision all students behaving in the same way.

Set the example by how hard you train.  Set the example in the way you conduct yourself.  Other students will notice and follow suit.  

4.4 Mission Statement

A mission statement is a concise statement of purpose.  For example, the mission statement of a hardware store could be: “To provide quality wood product to all customers.”  Simple.

The mission statement of the Westside Academy of Kung Fu is: “To foster physical, mental and spiritual growth in students.”  Simple.

4.5 Application vs. Theory

Theory is an idea about how something works.  Application is the testing of a theory.  For example: “Twisting your hips when you punch will make you hit harder” is a theory.  Punching a pad while twisting your hips, punching a pad without twisting your hips and then comparing the power generated each way is application.

It’s easy to theorize about anything.  All it takes is the ability to string words together.  This doesn’t mean theories are useless.  In fact, theories are wonderful things that often lead us to new discoveries about the art.  The only way they do this, though, is if we try them out.

Some theories are easier to test out than others.  We can theorize that a good solid eyepoke will stop an enraged attacker but it’s a hard thing to test.  Who will be the subject of this test?  Are they truly enraged or are they simply playing a role?  Even if it works on one person, will it work on everyone?  It’s a difficult thing to know.

In an ideal world, we would test all our techniques on a variety of fully resisting opponents to make sure they truly work.  In the real world, our training partners only remain partners so long as we don’t seriously injure them.  Test out all the theories you encounter while working at a level that you and your partners can safely handle.  

4.6 Fighting Principles

Some of our time in class is spent on drilling individual techniques, counters and combinations.  These are tactics - ways of striking, blocking, submitting, etc.  These are dependent on the tools we have and the rules of the game we are playing (open hand versus weapon, striking versus throwing, etc).  We can however, take a broader view and look at strategies: catch all ideas of thinking about how to win a fight no matter what tools or rules are involved.  One way we attempt to communicate these strategies is through the fighting principles - ideas that are meant to be applied to improve a student’s chance of winning, regardless of what game is being played.

Many of the principles overlap one another.  For example, position and mobility are two separate fighting principles but a student’s ability to achieve a dominant position in grappling is affected by their understanding of mobility.  It’s important to be able to think about each of the principles independently and also how they interrelate to one another.

Hopefully it is obvious that one shouldn’t just theorize about the fighting principles but actually try to apply them.  You’ll find that when you experiment with new strategies (fighting principles) you’ll often lose at whatever game you’re playing.  Don’t worry.  That’s because you’re thinking about what you’re doing and thinking is slowing you down.  You could go back to the way you’re used to moving and you might start winning again.  Don’t get tempted by the present tense win.  Go out on a limb.  Try out new ways of moving and thinking about fighting.  Don’t lose on purpose but don’t let it bother you when you do lose.  In fact, if you’re not losing from time to time, you need to either spar more skilled partners and/or you need to expand your repertoire.  Examining and thinking about the fighting principles is part of a long haul strategy to improve at the art.

4.7 System Seal

The system seal was designed by Professor King to signify the ideas that Mo Duk Pai are built on.

There are two flames on the seal: one large multicolored flame and one small blue flame.  The big flame represents the "fire in the belly" of both the individual practitioner and the system at large.  Training is not an easy endeavor.  This big flame symbolizes the passion that is required to keep going.  The small flame represents our martial ancestors and their passion.  The bigger flame has more colors to represent the complexity of being a modern martial artist as opposed to the small flame, meant to represent the relative simplicity of being a martial artist at the dawn of humanity.  

The three rings represent three facets of our training: physical, mental and spiritual.  The rings remind us that all three of these aspects must be addressed in training and each one influences the other two.

The sparks coming off of the flames represent moments of realization that happen during training.  Students are hopefully always making steady progress in training but the sparks are not about this constant movement but are meant to represent epiphanies, moments where some concept or technique snaps into place for the practitioner.

The many colors of the seal represent concepts that the system is trying to embody and reflect.

Black represents history.  This is meant to encompass both the history of our own art and the history of martial arts in general.

Green represents growth.  This means the growth of the individual student, the schools they train at, the system and the expansion of martial arts as a whole.

Yellow represents depth.  This means the richness of technique and concept present in the system.  It also is meant to remind us to appreciate the variety of people we train with, the diversity of schools in the system and the wide variety of martial arts present in the wider world.

Red represents creativity.  This is meant to remind us that the training students do is meant to instill spontaneity and creativity in problem solving.  There is rarely only one right answer to a martial situation.

White represents purity.  Training is an unfolding, a process meant to help the student understand themselves.  While perfection is impossible, it can be helpful to have an ideal in mind.

Blue represents courage.  Through training, courage will be developed and hopefully is continually challenged.  These tests of courage are an excellent moment for students to reflect upon the ethics of their actions.

4.8 School Seal

Every teacher has the privilege of creating a school seal. Ideally, that image is a reflection of their teaching and training style.

The seal at the Westside Academy of Kung Fu has three major components:

1. The bamboo.

2. The water.

3. The reflection of the moon.

Each one of these pieces is symbolic of a larger concept.

The bamboo symbolizes growth.

The water symbolizes our parent school the Academy of Kung Fu and their school seal – The Wave.

The moon symbolizes the passage of time.

Put the notion of growth and the passage of time together and you've got growth over time - exactly what we strive for in our training at the Westside Academy of Kung Fu.

The two concentric circles around the seal represent the school (inner circle) and the outside world (outer circle).  The fact that the outside world contains the school is both obvious and symbolic.  The school should be a safe bubble where students can train and experiment with the use of force and contemplate what ethical behavior means for them. The world should be the place where the student tries to manifest these ethical experiments into reality - making the world a better place.

4.9 Kajukenbo

Upon examining the lineage of Mo Duk Pai, you may have noticed that Professor King has two black belts in Kajukenbo.  So, what is Kajukenbo?

Kajukenbo is a system of martial arts that was created between 1947-1949 in the Palama settlement on Hawaii.  It was formed by a group of five martial artists who called themselves the “black belt society”.  They trained together and came up with a system that they felt created students that were ready to defend themselves in a live self defense situation.

The five arts that Kajukenbo derives from are: (Ka) Karate, (Ju) Judo & Japanese Ju Jitsu, (Ken) Kenpo and (Bo) Chinese Boxing (aka Kung Fu).

As you go up in rank, you should be investigating more and more of these kinds of details on your own.  The Internet makes it easy.  Read.  Know your history.

4.10 Five Primary Techniques (Fighting Principle #7)

If you are doing tournament sparring for an hour against a wide variety of partners and you were to count all the techniques that you threw during that hour, what five techniques would score the most points for you?  Those five techniques are your five primary tournament sparring techniques.

You could repeat this experiment for grappling, street drills, throwing or any other drill to see what your primary techniques are for that specific game.  By having a sense of what you are good at, you can start to expand what you are weak at.  By knowing what you are good at, you can develop combinations that play off your strengths.  By knowing what you are good at, you can try to set up positions that will allow you to use your five primary techniques.

Know your strengths and weaknesses as a student.  Work to improve both.

4.11 Initial Speed (Fighting Principle #8)


Initial speed is exactly what it sounds like - the speed at which a technique begins.  

Imagine your kick is an eighteen wheeler.  It takes a long time to start going - there are lots of gears to go through before it gets up to top speed.  Now imagine the same kick as a race car.  It is built to come out of the starting gate at an amazing speed.  Finally, imagine that your kick need not travel from point A to point B but is simply there the moment you kick.

Experiment with the above imagery and see if it makes your strikes any faster.  While they are merely metaphors, a good mental image is often the best way to connect with the fighting principles.

To get a broader sense of the idea of initial speed (and the idea of initiative as a basic skill) watch the way other students move.  Do they have to shift through gears before they “get going” or are they flying out of the gates?  Don’t limit your observations to only strikes.  Watch the way people move before they begin doing a form.  Do they fidget and sigh before starting the form or do they simply do the form?

The speed at which you begin any problem solving endeavor is the initial speed.

4.12 Combinations (Fighting Principle #9)

No gym locker worth the name locker has a combination only one number long.  It would be too easy to open.  Similarly, most fighters of quality do not get hit by a single strike but instead have to be set up with a combination.

Sometimes this combination involves fakes and footwork.  Sometimes it involves changing levels and targets.  However the combination is specifically structured, it works by presenting a complicated problem that the fighter is unable to keep up with.

Combinations are difficult because it often means staying in the pocket longer than you might want to.  This means you too are at risk for being hit.  Your combination is your defense.  Try and keep your partner busy defending so that they don't have a chance to launch an offense.

This idea of combinations holds true for any type of sparring.  When doing chi sao, you can mix combinations of punches, throws and dirty street techniques... the sky is the limit for keeping your partner confused and on the defensive.

4.13 Defensive Choices (Fighting Principle #10)

Going for a walk in a big city?  Probably wise to wear a pair of shoes so that you don't get a shard of glass or a nail in your foot.  Wearing shoes is an example of a defensive choice - something that you do to prevent something bad from happening.

Keeping your arms close to your body in sport grappling is a defense choice meant to prevent armbars and shoulder locks.  Keeping your hips away from your partner in randori is a defensive choice meant to prevent getting thrown.

There are lots of defensive choices to make and they all have side effects.  Wearing a pair of shoes means you can't quite feel the ground as well as if you were barefoot.  Always keeping your arms close to your body means limited options for framing off your partner.  Keeping your hips away from your partner means it is harder to commit to your own throws.

The dilemma then is: what is the cost and what is the benefit of the defensive choice you are making?

Suggested (optional) reading:

Universalizability test: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, by Immanuel Kant.

Fighting Principles: The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.

Theory vs. Application: Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence, by Rory Miller.

(If you notice any spelling errors, grammar mistakes or have any questions regarding the training manual, please email me at sifu@westsideakf.com)