TanDao on November 12th, 2013

Tan reads by Toni Tan

At TanDao, we usually present self defense techniques and tips to give you the martial edge in the street – the warrior movements. But Evolving Martial Artists are also part scholars, who think about the deeper meaning of martial arts and part monks, who seek to mindfully apply their power to everyday living.

Here are six questions that I pose in my Red Book, TanDao for Evolving Martial Artists

1. How do traditional and modern martial arts differ?

Evolving Martial Artists bridge traditional and modern ways.

The divergence of MMA from tradition has created very different definitions of martial arts. Modern styles are evolving the technical and fighting aspects but are incomplete. Tradition embraces philosophy, healing and meditation but the knowledge is fragmented and the teaching method is incompatible with today’s mindset.

2. What are the universal principles underlying all styles?

Evolving Martial Artists explore comparative combat.

Karate, boxing, kung fu – all employ punches. Yet the reverse punch, right cross and vertical punch use different body mechanics. Only by probing deeper into stylistic distinctions will we discover techniques, strategies and tactics common to all methods.

3. What is true mastery?

Evolving Martial Artists aspire to authentic mastery.

With the glut of masters the world over, the title “master” is almost a meaningless cliche. We must reconnect to the deeper spirit beyond the pop view. The authentic master is a holistic ideal that embraces intellectual, moral and spiritual qualities that go beyond physical prowess.

4. Are there hidden “secrets”?

Evolving Martial Artists seek the secrets.

The hallmark of traditional martial arts is secrecy. Some say this is a myth. With the advent of internet, blogs, videos and articles on virtually any technique, master or system is available. But “secrets” do exist since each generation only a few were taught the esoteric transmission.

 5. Is the key to power qi or biomechanics?

Evolving Martial Artists integrate science and intuitive wisdom.

The use of modern scientific disciplines like biomechanics, physiology , psychology and anatomy help us grasp the often mystical and obscure notion of qi or life force energy. Yet the Chinese intuitive model of qi power defies our rational world view.

6. Is a martial art a spiritual path?

Evolving Martial Artists seek the unknown realms.

Although phrases like mind, body spirit are common in describing martial arts, the intellectual and spiritual are not addressed with any depth or systematic teachings. Today’s martial arts focus on sport and defense. That said, there is still a hidden connection to ancient wisdom traditions waiting to be discovered.

These questions are underlying themes that complement our self defense studies.

What do you think? Is there any validity or are these questions irrelevant to kicking ass? Please tell us your views.

Keep practicing and exploring,

Lawrence Tan

PS — And if you miss the warrior tips, check out this week’s newsletter which discusses a secret training method for effective power striking, used by both karate legend Mas Oyama and Bruce Lee.

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TanDao on November 5th, 2013

james dean

Today weekend seminars that specialize in gun and knife disarms are common. These seminars are “fun.” Fun? What do you mean? This is life and death.

Exactly, it can be deadly – for you.

Decades ago, I studied under Sifu Chan Poi (Grandmaster of Wah Lum Northern Mantis) traditional kung fu weaponry: sword, staff, three sectional staff, etc. It was fun!

But it was the formidable Uechi Ryu black belt, sheriff and SWAT team member, Sensei Bob Bethany, who first exposed to me to REAL knife and firearm defense. It was scary!

After all, what are the chances of being attacked by a spear wielding attacker on city streets? But a knife and gun? That’s different.

Here’s the problem: the best of these seminars DO teach intelligent theory and practical knife and gun disarm techniques. But they DON’T train you to instill instinctive reflexes nor the psychological mindset to cope with a terrifying encounter that brutally destroys all vestiges of our super hero fantasies.

And without intense specialized training over a period of months and years, intellectually knowing the greatest knife and gun disarm is useless. With today’s hectic lifestyle, we barely have enough time to develop our basic unarmed defense skills.

Get real.

Don’t even entertain the idea of ever using them in the streets without constant specialized training.

So unless you are in special forces, law enforcement or security and professionally train to internalize these knife and gun disarms, then I would advice you to learn these moves for “fun.”

Martial art weekend seminars are valuable for exposing us to martial skills outside our style. But superficially learning new techniques, without the follow up of months and years of training is dangerous.

Evolving Martial Artists always seek to expand their knowledge but cautiously avoid developing a false sense of security.

Explore, practice and reassess,

Lawrence Tan

P. S. Check out our TanDao Newsletter for tips and techniques to give you the martial edge.

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TanDao on October 29th, 2013

 Into by Toni Tan

Martial arts, in a word, is about power. Most basic is physical power. Whether a punch, hook, cross, palm or tiger claw, we want more power. Right? Of course we practice hitting and kicking the bag, and focus mitts. We also develop our strength with relentless pushups and weight training. What else?

Here are two closed door secret tips of to give you the power edge.

#1 – Develop the Capacity To Penetrate

When kicking and punching drive your force deep into the opponent’s centerline axis or into the spine. Incorrect use of the heavy bag and also controlled sparring where blows are pulled can develop bad habits.

Do not hit ON the target, hit right THROUGH the target. Too many times martial artists aim to hit the target rather than THROUGH. I know this sounds like a cliché we all know already, but only the champions and masters seriously train for years to develop the skill to make penetrative strikes natural and instinctive during the chaos of combat.

#2 – Align The Bones of Your Body Weapon

A big secret: Alignment is power. Whether you are using your fist, palm, elbow, foot or knee to hit, there are precise methods of aligning the limb that will magnify power. But a secret teaching behind kung fu and karate form training is the precise skeletal alignment when executing a punch or kick.

What foot position or angle of the fist will maximize force on impact?

Alignment differs depending on the type of punch or kick used and the angle it impacts the body. For example, if you are executing a reverse punch your technique will be structurally stronger if your elbow points to the ground. For hooks and uppercuts. make sure that your elbow follows the same trajectory as your fist. The old masters taught how to align the bones when making a fist. This must be studied and learned. Takes years to understand.

These two tips – they are big secrets – are doorways for you to investigate the subtleties of power.

Think about it.

Keep practicing and exploring,

Lawrence Tan


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TanDao on October 22nd, 2013


One of our Facebook fans asked this relevant question: How does one train to prepare for the real violence that happens in the world? First awaken to the fact that violence is ugly, brutal and always bad karma – even for the victor.

Here are six points to give serious consideration to:

1. Walk Tall:
Develop a strong erect posture to convey personal power, awareness and confidence when standing, sitting and walking. Our challenge is to make centered body postures a daily habit where ever we are and whatever we are doing. You do not want to project a “victim” personality. (Secret: kata and form training cultivate proper postural alignment that can be applied everyday )

2. Prepare for the Unexpected:
Learn the difference between real fighting, sparring, and fighting drills. Sparring and fighting drills are methods that prepare us but are not real violence. Explore what works under intense pressure, when you are scared or hurt, in unpredictable situations, or when your adrenalin is surging and you are not prepared.

3. Forewarned is Forearmed:
Study realistic fighting scenarios – muggings, escalating arguments, surprise attacks, bar fights, road rage, arguments with friends or family – and understand the dynamics of violence.

4. Core Fighting Techniques:
Develop three practical techniques – simple, direct and effective – that become muscle memory and hard wired into your nervous system. Always train these moves, even as you acquire new techniques. When push comes to shove under pressure your body will instinctively express these moves.

5. Legal Issues:
Know the legal implications of “reasonable force” and know that proving self defense in court is a tricky matter. This is why it is best to avoid fighting even if you are the victim.

6. Moral Issues:
Reflect on the moral, ethical and spiritual implications of your self defense actions. Under what situations are you willing to use dangerous techniques that may permanently or fatally injure another human being?

Evolving Martial Artists know there is little wisdom in solving problems through violence, yet it is a reality that the wise prepare for.

Check out our Newsletter where we discuss the A-B-C of Self Defense.

Think about it,
Lawrence Tan

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TanDao on October 15th, 2013

LT mural punch

Do you want to maximize your punching power? Whether we practice MMA, krav maga, karate, kung fu or kick boxing, we seek ways to increase power. Different styles use different biomechanics to generate power so a shotokan reverse punch, boxers cross, JKD lead, or a wing chun punch are different.

Here is a tip that will augment your power whatever your style:

Put Your Body Weight Into Your Punch

When throwing a hook, straight or upper cut it is common to generate power through the arm muscles. Experienced fighters discover that power is maximized when you transfer the force of your body weight into the punch.

Taiji masters use “fajing” a slight motion, to send an attacker flying. The equivalent of this is when Muhammad Ali employed a controversial “phantom punch” to knock out the powerhouse Sonny Liston. Both demonstrate how destructive power comes from skillfully blending one’s body mass with a strike.

Although the theory is simple, expressing it in combat is not so easy. Whether a punch, tiger claw, kick, joint lock or throw, it is not a matter of strength but how to use the strength. Using one’s body weight is a refined body skill that can be learned, experimented and practiced until body awareness develops over time.

Keep practicing and exploring,
Lawrence Tan

Check out our TanDao Newsletter to learn a secret on how to use your body weight to maximize power. It was taught to me by one of Taiwan’s most controversial masters, Li Min Ching.

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