During the early 2000's I was hellbent on writing articles, outlining notes for training videos, and promoting the core of Jeet Kune Do. My training eventually evolved into other aspects of Martial Arts and I abandoned all articles and video ideas which I recently discovered going through hundreds of DVD's during this quarantine.
Below are notes I put together for an article on the Bai Jong stance of Jeet Kune Do. During this time I was HEAVILY into attributes training in JKD and details meant everything. This article was great to discover because much of what I wrote I currently use for my SKANF style knife throwing.
Sorry there aren't any photos to accompany this but I might do a video on it someday since this seems to be lacking in the current JKD scene. It's been very troubling to see some Wing Chun people that have little to no experience with real JKD pawning themselves off as members of the Bruce Lee lineage. It amazes me these seminar certificate collector clout chasers get away with this shit.
In other news: I am still carving away at my Wooden Dummies making a mess and pissing off my neighbors and I'm in the process of filming new videos for my YouTube channel. Bruce Lee's staff fighting secrets will be up soon!
The article was never finished and there are a few random notes and ideas.
Please let me know your thoughts and comments:
Compare this stance to the position a baseball player takes before he hits the ball. The hips are turned and he is poised ready to strike the ball. Depending on his situation, he may bunt (like a feint) or slam the ball using his entire body. Either way his hips are aligned in such a way that whatever his move is going to be will remain a secret until he swings. This can be compared to being non telegraphic before using one of your tools.
His stance allows him to make quick adjustments in hitting the ball or for sprinting to first base after the hit (notice how some hit left handed, stronger side facing the pitcher, allowing proper footwork to run to first base). They have conditioned themselves so they are not thinking about all the factors involved with hitting the ball. The pitcher acts as the opponent in this brief encounter. The batter wants to hit and the pitcher must manipulate the ball so he doesn’t make contact.
Just as Carl Weathers’ character Chubs said to Adam Sandler in the movie HAPPY GILMORE “it’s all in the hips…”
3 inches below your navel is your center of gravity. Think of the alignment of your head and this point as your gyroscope. If they are not in sync the gyroscope loses balance and falls over.
Once you are aware and can control these sweet spots it will be like getting rid of a dull rusty saw blade for a high powered radial arm saw.
The first step is the correct stance. On balls of feet to maintain control of the rotations and force, bent legs to prevent jarring of joints.
At first this stance feels unnatural. However over time with PLENTY of practice, the movements will become second nature. Think back on how frustrated you were when you were learning to ride a bicycle. For most of you, you never quit until you were able to do it. Once you learned, you just know how to do it. Some will just ride the bike while others will learn everything there is to know. Either one is correct. However if you know the parts and mechanics of your bike, you can make fine adjustments to suit your needs.
Treat this article as not getting from A to B but the space between A and B. As musicians will tell you sometimes it’s the space between the notes.
Developing the use of my waist first came from training in TANG SOO DO. Typical karate kicks are chambered then thrust out to achieve a snapping sound in the uniform. Like throwing with an iron bar with great control. The problems are a lack of quick recovery or follow up and eventual damage to knee joints. JKD uses the natural bend, relaxation, then whipping everything into place.
Pick up a garden hose with a metal nozzle at the end and whip it. Notice the harder you whip it the faster and more powerful the energy travels and raises the nozzle. Pick up a staff the same length of the hose and try achieving the same amount of power.
In using a whip it’s not just thrown out, timing of snapping the wrist as you break the sound barrier, and tremendous damage that can be caused.
The waist contains your center of gravity. Awareness of this allows gymnasts to perform on the high beams, ice skaters to spin, and dancers to glide through the air.
If you are not aware of your center, it’s like being hollow. You can only be as strong as your outer shell.
Once you become able to control your center of gravity, you will be able to generate enormous power regardless of what art you practice.
Feet and legs are the spark plugs to the waist engine.
To understand how power is generated one must first know what is meant by a “kung fu punch is like an iron ball attached to an iron chain…”
It cannot be stiff like a karate punch.
Supple yet with strength, the snap of the arm causes the tip to break the sound barrier thus the loud snap such are the tools of JKD and the impetus is the waist.
Pliable and strong like bamboo. You can’t chop it without fraying the reed. Go at angle and slice away.
A lot of power can be generated with rear kicks but they are extremely telegraphic. Sometimes twisting of the knees occurs, the body is out of alignment, or too much pressure is placed in the wrong direction.
If you notice in some NHB matches, more and more fighters are beginning to understand the principle of closet weapon to closest target. Harness the power of the hips for truly powerful tools.
Winding up and missing, offering your back to your opponent.
May think twisting of the hips can be telegraphic not necessarily true. All tools are projected from here it is up to the person delivering the tool to steer the energy generated to the tool. Hand before foot principle applies well here.
Can be used for PIA and ABD (show example)
Bai jong stance prevents telegraphic or set up moves since everything is thrown from the same position. It is harder to detect which tool will be used.
Practice throwing punches and kicks with waist awareness and you will develop a “sixth sense” of how to move your body for the most effective power, economy, speed, timing, distance, deceptiveness. These elements combined with broken rhythm and sensitivity drills are the goal of JKD.
Stance is designed to protect the centerline.
For the last two weeks my Stay At Home hobby has been a Russian instinctive style of knife throwing developed by Yuri Fedin. I've had one private training session in knife throwing a few years ago and never had the chance to practice since but this is a whole new game that I want to document.
The second half of the video I'm practicing the "wave technique" which is similar to energizing a bull whip. I'll do a comparison soon. Look up YURI FEDIN and notice how he generates a whipping motion like he is breakdancing. His throwing skills are still unmatched from what I have researched.
I've also made some progress on my Wooden Dummy trunks and will get that updated soon!
This jagoff was another instructor I had in college. It would be bold of me to call him a professor because I don’t believe he had the educational qualifications and it showed.
During my last semester of college I was anxious to finish my degree and get on with my career. This was directly after my internship with OPTIC NERVE STUDIOS on the George A Romero film THE DARK HALF. I worked up until a day before classes started and foregone my Winter break because I loved it and I was making GREAT money! However my class workload was going to be crazy because I needed 18 credits to graduate.
As I mentioned previously I was very close with the College of Arts Dean’s office. They knew me well, my work ethic, my accomplishments with the film industry internship that I got on my own, as well as my martial arts experience and performances. They hired someone from the SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FIGHT DIRECTORS to teach a course in stage combat and wanted my honest opinion of the instructor because they were thinking of repeating the course in the future.
At first I was very excited to take the course because this was right up my alley and I was not aware of this organization. I was aware of the British Society of Fight Directors because Tom Savini and Taso Stavrakis were members. We talked and practiced stage combat and fencing quite a bit. I even auditioned with Taso on Broadway for the George Lucas Live Adventure Stage Show under B.H. Barry (that will be another blog).
As with the other instructor I “hate” I won’t mention this guy’s name because he is still active in that organization and this happened in 1991.
First impressions are always important and you would think a first time instructor at a new college would want to leave a lasting impression especially in the Theater Departments’s beautiful newly renovated Waller Hall that we were all very proud of. He was arrogant and dressed like someone in Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I immediately had a weird feeling about this guy however we had an interest in the fighting arts so I wanted to get to know more about him which proved fruitless because he was only interested in hooking up with the females in the theater department.
The class was simple hand to hand combat, quarter staff, and fencing work. The final test was going before one of the Fight Society’s directors in order to get “certified” in the organization.
Trust is the first thing you learn when getting into an acting school. Knowing instinctively that your fellow actors have your back and concern for your safety as well as their own. I was always good at the choreography but often had trouble remembering lines back then due to concentrating so hard on the fight performance. This is where I learned the importance of trust on the stage. We all looked out for one another. There was something “off” about this instructor that I couldn’t trust and he NEVER instilled that in any of us.
At first it was a group class where we paired up randomly to practice. Everyone knew of my background and would ask me questions when he wasn’t available. He didn’t like that. We were then paired with permanent partners according to his plans. I was paired with someone that was having a lot of difficulty and became frustrated very easy. There were times she left or walked out of class crying. Things like this happen and it happened a few times with students I had when I was teaching at a makeup school. A class environment can be overwhelming when it’s something you’re not familiar with let alone when you're holding a real sword for the first time. I got this way whenever I picked up a basketball. It’s the instructor’s responsibility to step up, not a classmate, which I did EVERY time because she didn't trust talking to him.
This class was nothing new to me. I wasn’t learning anything and I wasn’t getting any better because I had to teach instead of practice.
During the course many rumors started flying around about him hitting on classmates, going to bars with them in town regularly, as well as his arrogance towards students and other professors wanting to make it in the theater industry. Openly in class he would mock my love of movies and make fun of fight choreography scenes that were decades old. He often bragged about living in New York and doing it “for real” and went as far to disparage one of my favorite instructors (Ed Simpson) for teaching stage combat in his Movement classes. Mr. Simpson is one of those teachers where EVERY class stuck with me because I enjoyed them so much. I anticipated his classes and never missed one. I LEARNED things I never knew (I still cant juggle properly even though I still try occasionally). He INSPIRED me to take more theater classes after having him for his INTRODUCTION TO THEATER. I was lucky enough to take his ACTING and STAGE MOVEMENT classes which have helped me incredibly throughout my career.
People grew to dislike this Ren Faire reject very quickly and they began complaining to department heads. I was asked if these complaints had merit. “Oh indeed they did”, I responded.
A week before the testing he spoke with everyone privately regarding their performance during the class. He thanked me for helping with the student and said, “look we both know you will pass this.” He spoke more of my training partner and problems with her. Calling her a “delicate flower” at one point. I will never forget that because she was outside the window hiding behind bushes listening which I wasn’t aware of. She told me this right after because she was going to complain about him with other students. The delicate flower remark made her laugh. So I know she heard everything and wasn’t lying.
The evening of testing came as some hot shot from the organization was flown in at the school’s expense to judge the students. A few students were sent to pick him up and some of my classmates were irate about this because it shouldn’t be a student’s responsibility.
We tested with our class training partner and then paired with someone from another class. Everyone else was randomly picked, except for me, the instructor pulled the worst student from other the class and paired me with her. He whispered, “help her out” which I tried my best.
The next day the results were posted on the theater department’s bulletin board. I haven’t seen it yet but students were REALLY pissed (the drama showed through big time), especially all the females because not one of their names were there.
I also couldn’t find my name.
The instructor was in his office and he was noticeably irate over something but this didn’t stop me. I asked, “why is my name not on that list?” He immediately got hot headed and began yelling, “I know you think you’re some martial artist but it’s people like you that prevent me from getting jobs.” I was shocked to hear this. “I did your job for you and helped you out. You even told me I would pass.” I responded.
“I have no authority of who he passed and that’s that.” He fired back.
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.” I said as he put his face in his palm sulking and looking at his desk. I just walked away and went directly to the dean’s office to tell the assistant dean my story. She mentioned I’m not the only one to say this, that he will not be invited back, it demonstrates his attitude and poor teaching ability all the while they would be writing the Society of their bad experience with him. I didn’t have to tell her anything more.
After this incident I avoided him and he became the bane of the theater department. It was then that he was finally open with the relationship he was having with one of the students. He tried buttering up to me during my makeup class final but I wasn’t having it. He did give me an “A” in the class though.
That was nearly 30 years ago. It feels annoying to write about those two because I haven’t thought of them for years but their insolence drove me further to be successful with my career choices. Within a few months of graduating I was getting stunt work in Pittsburgh, earned my Screen Actor’s Guild card, trained with Joe Odom who was a World class fencer and Martial Artist, was studying Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, and became a part of the local stunt crew.
It goes to show assholes can have a positive influence on your life.
Of course I did a search on him only to see he is still involved with that society and became the chairman at one point. Unfortunately he teaches in San Diego and I couldn’t find anything beyond that. So much for being a New York hot shot fight choreographer. Whatever. I don’t care because I don’t trust some one that still looks like an Irish vagabond with goofy ass hair.
The most rewarding thing out of this class was developing my teaching abilities while seeing my partner develop confidence. She was very thankful but that’s not what I was paying for.
Here is the my final fight of this event.
Details are in the show notes.
I've been itching to make another Wooden Dummy for years and the opportunity finally has come. This time I will be making a few. One for me to keep and two others to sale.
My first Mook Jong was based on plans that Jerry Poteet made for Bruce Lee. The Dummy Jerry made ended up at Daniel Lee's house. Unfortunately when I saw this at Dan's house when I trained with him it wasn't really taken care of.
I'm not sure what base I plan on using at this time but I do want to make it more portable because I move residences quite a bit. My original wooden dummy mounted to the wall so this will be freestanding of some kind.
My main focus is for it to have a springing energy that is not passive. The Wing Chun dummy is incredible for developing explosive energy in addition to honing techniques. I'll be filming demos of this for sure.
The first step was creating the traditional arms which my Dad created with laminated hickory.
These will take a beating for sure. Jerry Poteet often described that baseball bats shaved down are some of the best wood for dummy arms. He showed me a set he made with steel cable inserted that offered a great spring and resistance.
My first dummy was made out of laminating and screwing boards together because I want to go the traditional route I needed to find a tree trunk. It took a few days of emailing and phone calls so I was lucky enough to get in touch with a tree removal company in Ontario, CA and they were extremely helpful.
The type of wood available depends on what they have recently cut. I was introduced to Acacia which is similar to Walnut and will make a beautiful dummy. Camphor was available which is also going to be very nice and the one I plan on selling. Then there is Redwood which is a soft wood but has amazing cracks in it that I plan on doing some experimentation on. If it goes well this will also be for sale.
I found the straightest pieces I could but there will be lots of fun sanding nonetheless.
If you are interested in the Camphor piece let me know and I can make it according to your specifications. I'm willing to sale the trunk only if you have your own stand, arms, and legs.
I'll be posting progress shots and document as much as I can. If you have any questions please comment below or send an email on my contact page.
My second win of the day.
Details are in the show notes.
One more fight to post then on to some rare Jeet Kune Do footage from 18 years ago!
Read the show notes for details!
More RARE Martial Arts information coming soon!
Be sure to visit my RedBubble Page!
I'm very excited to present my latest offering! High quality design I made for a podcast contest years ago. They loved it and made some posters but that was the end of it so I modified it last night after recently finding among my collection of hundreds of DVDs.
Here is the LINK
Time off has allowed me to search through the hundreds of DVDs in my collection and I have found some forgotten emails such as this.
The following is a write-in interview that someone did as their high school project. They contacted me through My Space I believe and I don't really remember writing this. I never heard from this person again or received a "thanks" so I'm wondering if they failed the project.
I wrote this when I was doing a lot of work at Optic Nerve Studios, Spectral Motion, and Quantum Creations. Work was VERY difficult to find back then due to an immense dry spell and the industry doing everything with CGI. This was when I used my income tax return to create the GRAB-IT PACK and things began to turn around for me. I received numerous big "pay days" through my invention which is an incredible feeling.
It is weird to read this because so much has changed since then: My product gave me financial freedom for 8 years, I became a makeup instructor, shops have more "permanent" employees, social media CAN get you noticed, CGI hasn't gotten any better and makeup effects has become more prominent and demanded in the industry.
My prediction for HDTV seems to have come to fruition and my 2005 demo reel has been online for 11 years and no one has watched it ;) I haven't updated it since.
1. What is your job description? What responsibilities and daily activities does this position entail?
Job description (from my resume): Created, implemented, and managed teams in order to meet stringent deadlines. Priority skills include: Silicone, Gelatin, and Foam Running for Appliances and Mechanical Creatures; Seaming; Creature Suit Construction; SAG Puppeteering, and Core “Sock” Tailoring. Experienced in Computer Graphics and Desktop Filmmaking
My “typical” day I run foam latex, gelatin, or silicone appliances. It depends what shop hires me. Bigger shops like Spectral Motion, I’m running foam, prepping molds, and that’s it. Smaller shops like Optic Nerve give me more responsibility such as fabricating suits, coming up with gags, and supervising a team of artists.
2. What are the skills, personal characteristics and physical abilities you should possess if you are considering this position?
When I have the ability to hire people this is what I look for: Extreme attention to details, must work well under pressure, thinking on your feet problem solving skills, ability to complete tasks without constant supervision, ask questions if not clear on job duties, and honest with abilities.
Things I won’t hire people for: causes drama in the shop, back stabber, known for not taking direction or completing tasks, too interested in climbing the ladder rather than doing a good job, excessive partiers (known to not show up for work due to hangovers).
3. What are the chances of getting a position in this particular field? In what parts of the world are these positions available? What are future trends of this position? What can this position lead to?
If you’re new to the business and keep your pay rate low… very good. Shops like to take advantage of less expensive, talented new comers.
Anywhere there is an effects shop and a film industry.
Makeup effects has changed little although materials are upgraded and some new techniques are being invented. I’ve noticed that less shops are having “permanent” crews year round.
Where you want to go with the position is entirely up to what you want to focus on. It is rare that opportunities are handed to you but I’ve seen it happen.
IMHO with advent of HDTV makeup artists are going to be in more demand and under more scrutiny.
4. What are some of the great things about your field of work? What do you feel the rewards and satisfactions are?
The experience, learning new things, meeting interesting people, and hearing great stories. Residuals for puppeteering and stunt gigs.
It’s nice to be complimented, rehired due to your work, and given more responsibility.
5. What are some negative aspects of this field? Do you feel any drawbacks or dissatisfactions?
Not being recognized or appreciated for work, fake friends, back stabbers, damage control when people lie to prevent you from getting hired, growing lack of work year round, it’s a young person’s industry, CGI steals a lot of work, lack of big long term projects, unstable work hours, and worse of all…seeing untalented, ass kissers getting promoted.
6. What are the usual hours you work? What time day or night would you be required to start your day?
It depends on the project. Some shops will not allow overtime so it’s 40 hours a week. However there have been times where I’ve worked two days with no sleep and 84 hour weeks.
7. What kind of environment would you expect to work in? Indoors, outdoors, office work.
In a shop, hopefully well ventilated.
8. In this field what would entry-level pay be? And what would be a maximum salary? Is it subject to change often? Any other benefits or perks? (Not asking your actual salary)
Entry level could start around $13/hour depending on experience. You have to be a good negotiator and prove why you want a higher salary.
The past two years I’ve had to take less money and work more hours.
Maximum salary depends on where you want to take your career.
Benefits are working often due to good word of mouth, working on set, occasionally a puppeteering gig. As for fringe benefits, there is no such thing unless you consider getting an occasional crew shirt or screen credit a benefit.
9. Do you have an updated portfolio that you present clients? Do you use it often? Website? What are your thoughts on the importance of either of these mediums?
Constantly updating portfolio and you will use it at EVERY interview, no one’s ever watched my demo reel. Websites are ok for personal use but not likely to land you a job. You’ll get A LOT of independent films asking for free work with a website. OK for experience but not good for the wallet.
As a tip: all work in your portfolio if you’re new to the business should be work you did OUTSIDE of school projects, this will set you apart from the crowd
10. What formal education, if any, would you suggest having in order to be hired for this position? What additional training would you suggest taking? Does this area offer training?
A good makeup school and stay focused on what you want to do. Most important is to EXPLORE outside of the classroom. When I started I had to learn from mimicking makeup artists in FAMOUS MONSTERS and FANGORIA magazine. Tom Savini’s first book started my training while I was an art major in college. I also went to business school for a year and it helped greatly in my management skills. Audio books on management are excellent for this as well.
Intern at a shop for the best experience.
11. When you began working in the industry what were your goals? Have you completed or surpasses what you set for yourself? What goals do you have in the future?
I wanted to be Tom Savini (an actor, stunt man, writer, director, and effects guy) I’m fortunate to have him as a good friend. I’ve done most of what I set out to do and have fallen short or got close with my scripts. I’ve given up on acting, it’s not for me. I’ve had a fun career and because I’m getting older ( I just turned 40 and have a 3 year old daughter) it’s hard to save money or travel at the drop of a hat.
Although I am impressed with what I have done considering my background, the monetary rewards have severely fallen short of my goals.
Because of my experience as a makeup artist and stunt man, I invented a product called the Grab-it Pack. I am hoping I am on a new path and this product will become my full time business.
12. Which set that you worked on was your favorite? Do you have any films that you worked on that are special to you?
Believe it or not, my favorite show was SPIDERS (a straight to cable movie). I got paid a lot of money, every shot we did went without any set up problems, and it was a fun crew.
TRAUMA was special because I was with my best friends and was working with two of my idols: Tom Savini and Dario Argento. I got to be very good friends with Asia Argento as well.
THE DARK HALF was my first film and I was a paid intern while still in college. It was my dream come true because I was working on a George Romero film and met people who are my best friends to this day.
13. What advice do you have for any makeup artists wanting to be a part of this industry?
Stay focused and be ABSOLUTELY clear on your goals. Do not spread yourself too thin, that has been a flaw of mine. Learn to be a good negotiator and surround yourself with people you trust. Help each other get work.
14. What has been the hardest obstacle in your career so far?
Whew. That’s a big one to answer. I’ll just say I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me far too many times. I haven’t had a “huge payday” show.
15. What films inspired you to get into the industry?
The original DAWN OF THE DEAD for makeup effects, GODZILLA films for monster suit puppeteering, THE ROAD WARRIOR/KILL AND KILL AGAIN (a South African martial arts film)/Shaw Brothers kung fu films for stunts/martial arts choreography
16. Do you have any artists working in or out of the industry that you take inspiration from?
First and foremost Tom Savini, a long time mentor and friend; Kazuhiro- because he is so scary talented, demands the best, and allows the time to do your best; Bob Kurtzman-because he moved to Ohio and started his own successful film company;
17. What are your thoughts on CGI being more incorporated in the makeup aspect of films?
No problem if it’s done right. BLADE 2 had some good stuff. WETA does amazing work, they do it right. ILM should just make cartoon movies. I just can’t understand that JURASSIC PARK had the best stuff and few CGI creatures compare to that after 15 years.
I really hate CGI blood. Totally ineffective. Some “digitally enhanced” makeups look too contrasty and unnatural.
18. What is your favorite makeup that has been featured in a film that has been created not by yourself?
Straight makeup would have to be in the movie VELVET GOLDMINE, really creative stuff that captured the era.
Prosthetics-Rick Baker’s work on ED WOOD, the performances complemented the makeup and was totally believable. Perfect example of how makeup effects should be used.
Gags- drill through the head in THE GATES OF HELL, amazing work that is down & dirty
19. Is there any specific effect that you love to do?
I love being in monster suits but that has come to a stand-still the last 4 years due to CGI. Next to that would be rigging blood gags and such, it’s like coming up with magic tricks that freak people out.
20. What advice do you have for any makeup artists wanting to be a part of this industry at an entry level?
You have to want it and be focused on what you want. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try not to be taken advantage of.