GongKwon Yusul is a modern Korean martial art system that “emphasizes the application of striking, locking and throwing techniques in practical, free-flowing fighting situations,” and is influenced by Western boxing and the grappling techniques of judo and jiu-jitsu. Until this morning, I’d never heard of it. But apparently, 81-year-old country music legend Willie Nelson has been studying it for 20 years and just got his fifth-degree black belt in the martial art in Monday. Luckily, the video above doesn’t portray GongKwon Yusul as a Martial Arts Fail of the Week-worthy embarrassment, though we can’t help feeling a little skeptical when Willie discusses the board-breaking involved in the belt tests.
Whatever keeps the Red Headed Stranger happy and active is fine by us. That being said, we will go to our graves defending the superiority of Kuk Sool Won.
This week, we have a follow-up to that video in the form of a sparring match between two black belts from what appears to be the same school. That’s right, a sleuthing member of Reddit unearthed the dojo’s identity. Apparently, this Taekwondo McDojo is called the World Martial Arts Association and is headquartered in Brooklyn. If the words of an anonymous Redditor who claims to have once been a student can be believed, they charge $40 a class, and $600 per belt test. Here’s the full thread on Reddit, in case you’re interested in this sort of thing.
The funniest (or saddest) part, however, isn’t on Reddit or YouTube, but on the school’s own website…
And it’s legit…or at least legit in the sense that the guys who peddle this crap actually believe it works. It doesn’t though. There are more things wrong with this takedown “defense” than are wrong with Vitor Belfort‘s sudden removal from his UFC 173 title bout against Chris Weidman. Let’s just say this: Count yourself lucky if you wind up in a street fight with a “wrestler” who opts to grab your rear leg on a single leg takedown, let alone make thousands of other mistakes.
Stay tuned for next week’s traditional martial art’s fail, where another favorite from the past will be telling us how to defeat boxing with deadly street smarts.
If you see any video that’s good (or bad) enough to make the cut, let us know! Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(They’re wearing camo so the technique must work.)
By Eric Linderman
Hey, everybody. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. Frankly, I don’t care that you don’t care. But I’ve done this stuff for at least a decade, so I hope that adds some credibility to my destruction of bullshit martial arts techniques. I could go and list and all my belts and experiences, but really you don’t care. You just want to know this week’s Martial Arts Fail.
So what do you do in a knife attack? What is my defense? Do I stay out of range? Obviously not, because that would actually make sense. Do I get in really close? Yup, and not only do you get in really close but you also block and strip your attacker of his weapon.
I have seen a number of movies, YouTube videos and martial art seminar that come with a blistering array of stupid “katas” and series of moves to disarm a knife attack. As a result, it spawns all kind of stupidity.
Remember that movie Jason Bourne with Matt Damon? Yeah the one where he fights that foreign guy who has a knife and Matt Damon prevents being stabbed by stopping the knife wielder’s attacks with a towel? Yeah? Good. Sounds dumb when I spell it out don’t it?
Jump to the 1:10 mark to remind yourself.
In my time, I’ve had many good teachers and I’ve seen lots of crap. My problem with “cool moves” in action movies is that it spawns kids to go and find out what martial art style will teach them to fight “like that” or a martial art instructor who will teach them “crap” because it is what kids want to learn. So here, we go with stupidity demonstration number 1:
You may have already read the depressing accounts of “McDojo”-type martial arts schools written by our own Brian J. D’Souza and Seth Falvo, but here’s some visual proof that the culture of bullshit, bastardized karate/kung fu/whatever is alive and kicking (no pun intended), and still being swallowed up by gullible cult-members.
The above video shows a 5th-degree black belt test held by the World Martial Arts Association, based in Brooklyn, New York. Forget the fact that all these guys move like hyperactive yellow belts, and would all be smashed by anybody with four months of actual striking or grappling training — they’re grandmasters, every last one. Be sure to watch to the end to see a woefully out-of-sync kata demonstration, in which grown-ass men all try desperately to be the first one to finish. IT’S NOT A RACE, TIMMY.
After the jump, “headmaster” Michael T. Dealy freestyles against three attackers. You have never seen so many kicks blocked with forearms in your entire life. Lots more here.
A revolution is something that changes the system in a radical way. It’s an advancement that brings new ideas to the forefront. In many ways, this was what UFC 1 was. Organized by Rorian Gracie, Art Davie, and Bob Meyrowitz of Semaphore Entertainment Group, martial artists from a variety of styles were called upon to prove the superiority of their art by entering an eight-man elimination tournament at a November 12, 1993, event hosted in Denver, Colorado.
Many MMA fans know about the legend of Royce Gracie defeating professional boxer Art Jimmerson, Pancrase fighter Ken Shamrock and Savate champion Gerard Gordeau in one night to be crowned the first ever UFC tournament champion. But now, nearly 20 years after that historic event occurred, how much “truth” about how to effectively train and prepare for fights has trickled down to martial artists across the globe?
Sure, there are growing numbers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools and a resurgence of interest in Muay Thai or other stand-up styles suited for MMA across North America. But the same old “McDojo” styles consisting of impractical or untested methods are just as prevalent today as they were decades ago before the inception of the UFC.
I learned this for myself a couple of years ago when I was working part-time at a downtown gym. Because it was free, I checked out the “kickboxing” class that was offered. I knew the basics of boxing, and had done some Muay Thai before, so I figured I’d at least get a good workout. I didn’t bank on discovering that the McDojo mentality was still alive, even well into the heyday of the UFC’s dominance in Canada.
The class itself was basic Taekwondo repackaged as kickboxing. Some unorthodox TKD kicks can be effective, as various MMA fighters have demonstrated over the years. That still doesn’t compensate for a lack of footwork, defensive drills, or other deficiencies inherent in this variation of kickboxing.
The stone in my shoe that started with irritation and eventually became unbearable over time wasn’t the lack of useful techniques taught, but the tall tales that the instructor told. In one of his stories, a disrespectful jiu-jitsu practitioner (identified by his T-shirt) stepped to him at a bar; he responded by thumbing the BJJ guy in the eye, bragging to his students “Sometimes you have to fight dirty.” In another story, one of the instructor’s students — who knew nothing whatsoever about wrestling or grappling — had gone to a BJJ school, and “did well.” The student had also “almost KO’ed” another student.
Just because you’re a martial arts master who’s been teaching a specific fighting style for years, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from BJ Penn. In fact, Penn would like to help 300 hand-picked martial arts instructors improve their minds, bodies, and spirits through a year-long training camp in Hawaii called "The Live Like a Champion Project." (The press release is after the jump, in case you don’t feel like clicking on that link.) This is troubling for a number of reasons:
1) So basically, the Prodigy is luring the world’s most skilled fighters to an extended stay at his shadowy island fortress. Yes, that’s the exact plot of Enter the Dragon.
2) It’s such a perfect expression of BJ’s hubris. Penn has gained fame as a brilliant fighter, but he’s not really known as a talented teacher. (Sorry, Rude Boy, it’s not your fault.) Yet he feels he’s qualified to tell hundreds of instructors how to do their jobs. Particularly, he aims to train the minds of these people. The irony of a blood-lickingcrybaby obsessive holding seminars on inner tranquility is apparently lost on him.
3) The fact that the program requires its participants to spend a full year in Hawaii will generally attract men without families, who have no problem quitting their paying job and living off the food and shelter that Penn gives them — in other words, disturbed loners who will be easily influenced by the Jim Jones-like sway of BJ. Okay fine, I’ll spell it out for you: BJ Penn is obviously trying to start his own cult. Check out his Christ-like pose in the above image. You wouldn’t drink cyanide-laced coconut milk for this man? Of course, before the mass suicides, the Penntown 300 could be sent on revenge missions against Georges St. Pierre and Keith Kizer. Far-fetched? Maybe. But don’t say you haven’t been warned.
(‘Get your narrow asses into that theater and see my damn movie.’)
I actually wrote that headline about a year ago after suffering through a long bout of insomnia. I was delirious and running around in nothing but a pair of waders and a replica L.A. Rams helmet, and without knowing what the words meant I carved them into the wall of my bedroom with a rusty nail. It was a very dark time for me. Never did I think my prophecy would come to pass. Now I fear I’ve somehow brought this down upon our heads by inadvertently calling upon Gods that are both too powerful and too cruel.
According to media sources, Kimbo Slice and Hulk Hogan are set to co-star in a martial arts children’s comedy entitled, “Kung Fu U”.
It’s about a group of nerdy kids who are sent to a special school (Kung Fu U, we presume) to learn fighting skills that will help them stand up to bullies. Their instructors, played by Slice and Hogan, help them out, and in turn the kids help them by teaching some bullshit lessons about their bullshit lives. And who’s behind this? How about Stereo Vision, which is chaired by “Baywatch” creator David Schwartz, a man who knows better than anyone how to grab onto the zeitgeist and ride it for all it’s worth:
“We’re very happy to have Kimbo Slice co-starring in ‘Kung Fu U.’ He has an enormous media presence, and he’ll fit right in with our star Hulk Hogan, and the other cast members in our made for kids 3D movie. We hope to have ‘Kung Fu U’ in 3D in theatres by the fall of ’09.”
Oh, good. It’s in 3D. For a minute there I was concerned that this children’s movie starring a former pro wrestler and a former bodyguard for internet pornographers might turn out to be a horrible fiasco. But no, 3D. That’s how all the quality films are done. Just look at “Captain EO”.
Aren’t you usually supposed to wait until you’re a top-ranked fighter before you start indulging in the kinds of distractions that will eventually pull you away from the fight game? Isn’t that typically how it goes? Perhaps times have changed. They must have, because for once Hulk Hogan is poised to be the veteran actor on the set. One can only imagine his advice for Kimbo on how to really locate and understand the motivations of your character, brother.
(Just one of the reasons why you should rent “The Story of Ricky” immediately.)
Long before we became obsessed with MMA, martial arts flicks satisfied our thirst for blood. We now pay tribute to the best of the best — and the kickass fight scenes and iconic stars that made these movies so essential. Click the links for video clips, and let us know how you feel in the comments section…
Say what you will about Kickboxer, but it delivers what it promises. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Kurt Sloane, the European-accented brother to an American kickboxing champion (?) who travels to Thailand only to be paralyzed by the vicious Tong Po. It isn’t until Sloane seeks out the wisdom and awesomely unorthodox training of Xian Chow that he is ready to seek revenge in a brutal underground match that features no shortage of broken glass-encrusted fists and long, drawn-out screams.