Martial Arts and Asymmetry, how do we fix this?

As Martial Artists we should be just as strong and flexible on both sides but it’s natural to favour your most flexible and strongest side which causes imbalances. This can lead to pain and injuries.

Asymmetry of strength and flexibility are THE main causes of the most common physical problems developed an asymmetry by simple repetition of the patterns we use. We MUST strengthen the weakest spots while releasing tension in his tightest area. We also must remember that pain isn’t necessarily caused by anything physically wrong, and dysfunction doesn’t necessarily lead to pain.

The body’s load is transferred to varying degrees through bone, joints, tendon, ligament, muscle & fascia. The language of the body is sensation, and that type of information would be stored in our nervous system. The results of loading are in the different types of adaptation that occur at different rates depending on the tissue in question. Which connective tissue can thicken, develop more stiffness for better load transfer or ‘creep’ for elongation. Your nervous system doesn’t perfectly / accurately relay and interpret sensations in a consistent relationship with what is physically happening. It does however modulate information going from your brain, and coming towards your brain. There is a lot of major research and successful interventions that are based around how ‘structure’ doesn’t matter as much as we previously thought. 

Working on your asymmetry (both in strength and flexibility) will make an immense difference to the way you feel and function but stretching alone or strengthening alone will not fix the issue with your body, we must strengthen the weakest spots while also releasing tension in the tightest areas. Strengthening is the same as with stretching, we would want to stretch the tightest spot/side to adapt to the more mobile side and then stretch them both to increase our overall range of motion, whilst with strengthening you want to go after your weakest spot/side to adapt to the more strong side and then strengthen them both to increase your overall strength. This combination of both will lead you to amazing active flexibility or full range strength, which I would consider as “true” strength. Also IF your strength is compromised at all by unilateral training of one side then you’d need to fix that by the same or similar unilateral training of the other side too.


Visualisation and the mind-body connection to Martial Arts

Mentally running though motions like punching,kicking,forms or any type of movement while laying in bed or anywhere that’s quiet has an effect on the muscles associated with the movements you are visualising.

It improves mental pathways and nervous links to you muscles. When you can’t practice for real, practicing in your mind is beneficial.

It’s reasonable to speculate that somebody who does both practice will do better, particularly since there are physical limits to how much your body can practice but there’s also a limit on how much a brain can practice, but its harder to sprain your hippocampus than your ankle when fatigued.



List of MMA fighters with Kung Fu backgrounds

Here are a few fighters in MMA with some Kung Fu background

Cung Le (UFC, former StrikeForce middleweight champ) Wushu Kung Fu, Kuntao & Vietnamese Kung Fu, Sanshou. Three time Bronze Medalist in the Wushu World Championships. The only American Wushu Kung Fu Athlete to have three World medals.

Yi Long (WLF) People say he’s a Shaolin Kung Fu Master from the Shaolin Temple which has been proven to be false but he has practiced Shaolin Kung Fu. Sanshou.

Roy Nelson (UFC, tuf 10 winner, former ifl hw champ & ifl 2007 hwgp champ): Shaolin Kung Fu black belt. Bjj. Nelson stated, “Kung-fu is the root for I would say 95% of all martial arts. I practice it every day.”

Dan Hardy (UFC) Trained with Shaolin Monks in China. Wushu, tdk, bjj.

Pat Barry (UFC) Sanshou. Trained with Chinese National Sanshou team at the Shaolin Temple. Won the Sanda Kungfu Federation (SKF) United States Heavyweight Championship

Sami Berik Wing Chun and T’ai Chi. Received gold medals at T’ai Chi tournaments in Britain and Europe

Peter Davis (one fc 10-3) Kung Fu

Luke Cummo (UFC) Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, bjj. Also appeared on The Ultimate Fighter.

Jason Delucia (UFC) Trained in Five Animals Kung Fu.

Bao Li Gao (ruff) Sanshou

Zhang Tie Quan (UFC) Black sash in Sanshou (Sanda), brown belt in bjj.

Ian McCall (UFC, former tpf flw champ): Black belt in Kung Fu, bjj.
James Wilks (UFC, tuf 9 winner): Full instructor in Jeet Kune Do, black belt tdj, brown belt bjj.

Michelle Waterson (UFC, invicta aw champ) Wushu, black belt in Karate

Daniel Spohn Iron Body Gong Fu System, black belt in traditional Kachido Aikijitsu.
Jumabieke Tuerxun: Sanshou. He trains out of China’s elite Xian Physical Education University, where he is a pupil of Zhao Xuejun.

Chuck Liddell (UFC) Hawaiian Kempo. Kajukenbo. While he did not study literal Kung Fu, Liddells trainer, Hackleman, was schooled in Kajukenbo which is a mixture of Kempo Karate, Tang Soo Do, Judo, Jujitsu, Chinese Kempo, and Chinese Kung Fu. Hackleman later changed the name of this blend to Hawaiian Kempo. But Liddell was trained in traditional martial arts.

Nick Osipczak (UFC) Tai Chi Chaun Kung Fu, bjj

Bazigit Atajev (pride) Sanshou. He won a gold medal at the World Wushu Championships.

Wang Guan “The Dongbei Tiger”: Sanshou, Kung Fu.
Yao Honggang: (LegendFC) Sanshou, Shuaijiao (traditional Chinese Wrestling).

Vaughn Anderson (Bellator) Sanshou

Ao Hailin (Art of War) Sanshou

Zhang Meixuan (Ruff) Sanshou

Ji Xian (Legend FC) Sanshou, bjj

Liu Hailong Sanshou. Called the “Super King of Sanda.”

Xingxi Shaolin Kung Fu Master from Shaolin Temple. Shaolin Kung Fu, training for mma.

Felix Lee Mitchell (UFC) Shaolin Kung Fu.

Muslim Salikhov AKA King of Kung Fu. Sanshou. BJJ. Champion of European Wushu Championships in 2004, and world champion in 2005. Won championship of World Wushu Championships in 2011.

Shi Yanzi (Hero Legends, WLF) Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin Sanshou. Formerly lived for some time at the Shaolin Temple. He was Chinese National Champion for 15 years. He was an eight time champion at the Chinese national sanda championships as well as twice crowned World Champion. He recently starred in a film.


There’s many Traditional/Classical Martial Artists who believe that MMA guys would not survive on the street because there moves aren’t “LETHAL” enough. The idea that MMA is lacking lethality is crazy!! Some actually believe they can fight without ever fighting. I love Traditional Martial Arts for all the many discoveries, body and minds unique development but NOT for putting things together in an honest and tested way for the goal of protecting one self.

The idea that MMA doesn’t teach you how to safely handle multiple attackers is extremely bizarre. Many traditional Martial Artists simply don’t understand or refuse to concede that their personal training is not at the level they think it’s at. The conditioning for typical MMA gyms goes beyond what a fair majority of Martial Artists are prepared for.

The intensity of training goes beyond what “traditional” training extends to also.
We have to remember that there is no moral or philosophical time spent on the mat of an MMA gym. You are there to learn a technique from a Coach or Instructor who has dedicated time and years to the study of the art. Yes, they teach techniques that would be ill-advised for self-defense but there is no magic button combination that only works in one-on-one but not against multiple attackers. There is no magic technique that defeats multiple opponents but not the one in front of you.

You don’t even have to like MMA to see how it has had a positive effect on all Traditional Martial Arts by cutting the fat from the bone with Traditional Martial Artists who claim to have no-hit knock outs and anti-grappling techniques and those who practice, drill, and spar, utilizing Kata as an afterthought for their training.

If your trying to say that someone like a professional Muay Thai fighter couldn’t kick someone in the balls better than a street defence or Kung Fu guy because he competes in Muay Thai that has rules against it then you are beyond crazy!!

Tradition was important when information was very scarce and geographically trapped, but now that the information is abundant because of easy access to schools and the interent, we need to be spending our time on analysis, cataloging tactics and techniques by physiological, psychological, and environmental demands.

If you cling to “tradition”, you’ll only be overtaken. MMA is just one of many evolutionary steps Martial Arts have taken in the modern era.

The Internal Martial Arts dilemma when it comes to self defence.

The internal Martial Arts vs external Martial Arts debate seems to go on and on. Ask 10 internal stylists why their arts are called internal, and you’ll get 20 answers….. There tends to be a lot of hypnotic/self delusion kind of stuff that seems to seep into the Internal Martial Arts training methods and it only seems to get more and more ridiculous as you go along. Qigong and the internal martial arts were invented to release the tensions which are build up in the external martial arts. I feel the structures, opening and closing of the body, and the alignments of the joints to create power, in order to receive and issue are very similar.

The term ‘internal’ refers originally to no such thing.  In China that was not the intention behind this “internal” term. The term ‘Neijia’ (‘internal school’ or ‘internal family’) was coined by Sun Lu-t’ang in the beginning of the century and refers to the type of process and focus used in the ‘internal arts’ to achieve progress and not to any ‘internal conflicts.

Of course not everything about internal arts are negative, there are benefits to the ‘internal’ concepts such as muscular recruitment pattern re-education, soft tissue remodelling, vascular stimulants and many more.  Qigong and the internal Martial aArts were invented to release the tensions in the “body and mind” which builds up in the external Martial Arts. The internal Martial arts are one area where the eventual progression of some movements is that you can shorten a movement through practice. E.g drawing back the arm to prepare for a punch can eventually be reduced so that the wind up is all in the mind, yet the effect of the wind will still be apparent. A lot of Martial Artists and normal people in general underestimate these principles and Qigong and internal martial arts are often ridiculed by martial artist and people in general.

The internal terminology though seems to be created by those who do not have the terms and understanding of what is happening in the human body and then mystify the action. Imo there is nothing inherently different about internal strength vs external strength. It is just a specific combination of ingredients in a movement chain, a very unique coordination and sequencing, sometimes happening in fractions of a second.

People who study these Internal Arts tend to be more prone to delusion because so many people do not approach it from an inquisitive nature at all. They should ask “Why do it this way?” “Why does this work?” “Can I make it work?” People of internal practices tend to go in blindly.

Things that tend to raise a red flag……
-The teacher who always “wins” in any push hands by starting off with a certain rhythm i.e four directions and then attacking out of the blue with a different technique without allowing the student the same leeway
-The teacher who can’t explain pushing hands with mechanics but only with esoteric terms
-The teacher who doesn’t understand the limited nature of pushing hands, and where it fits in the martial scheme generally
-The teacher who is obsessed with fixed step pushing hands to the exclusion of all other drills
– The teacher who thinks that only Tai Chi is any good and who is arrogant where other arts are concerned
-The teacher that trains their students to lose i.e leap like salmon at the “master’s” slightest touch… You can see these types of demos all over Youtube.

I feel that combat movement needs to be tested against other combat movements. This is the reason why Kung Fu is severely ineffective against someone who is a Professional Fighter as an example, which we see from all the “Kung Fu challenges from China.

So many Martial Arts are only tested against their own practitioners and it leads to a false sense of expertise. If Martial Arts Masters were required to be tested against other Martial Arts practitioners on a regular basis then I believe it would ween out all the nonsense and all Martial Arts would grow exponentially!! I also believe that martial movement should disconnect itself from the world of the martial period. I have a lot of respect to those that understand this reality while others… have more excuses than you can imagine! The modern fight lab has produced concepts of mobility, in general, over outdated overused concepts of rooting and stability.

True Martial people are not artists of movement. They are artists of war.



Speed of movement in Martial Arts

Speed of movement is relative to how fast you can move something from one point to another

A popular question is “how can I be faster?” They usually ask if whether they need to build up their muscles and get stronger to be faster. I always like to remind people that speed can also be created in many ways and often times, the people who have been practicing Martial Arts for many years and are not so well developed muscularly are some of the fastest people you will ever meet.

In the case of martial artists, it is not only important to how fast you can get from point A to point B, but equally important is how little we give away to our opponent prior to making that process happen. Speed is not always based on the time it took for the strike to start and then land, but just as importantly to when the movement or strike starts and when the opponent is able to recognise it is happening..

Efficiency in movement and staying relaxed are huge when it comes to speed. The more you want to “load” the muscles or put into the movement, usually the longer the process takes. Certainly, the loading is telegraphic in nature and triggers the opponent to movement.

Take this into account! The second we create a movement is the second the opponent is triggered and reacts to our movement. Often times, many people actually have tell-tale signs that they give right before they even start to execute a movement, it is potentially possible to give yourself away even before you have moved at all!!!!

For example when was the last time you tried to capture a fly with your hand? If you TRY to hit the fly with speed or power, you almost always miss it. The fly is “triggered” by movement and the slightest of movement makes the fly take off. It is when you don’t load up on the strike and all you do is focus on closing in with no preloading that you are then more likely to catch the fly before it has moved and flown away. This same reality applies to what we do against an opponent.

You also don’t need to look so much into building muscles up or making yourself stronger to become faster though it can help. Being faster though really comes down to how much you give away before the strike gets to the opponent and how fast you can get your attack there. Timing obviously helps as well when you are basing your strike off something that they have done to cause you to move, but if you are just trying to initiate an attack, then timing is not so relative.  The “Gap” however is. If you are trying to cover too much ground, this can cause you to fall short or even worse, it gives your opponent more time to respond!!

Remember that the most important principles to master when wanting to strike effectively is speed in movement, mastering the gap and developing good timing.
These 3 components to training are so essential to success.

Remember to consider these definitions:

Speed in movement: Means not just how fast you can move an object from point A to point B….but how well you can avoid giving notice to the opponent that something is happening. Purity of flow is allowing absolutely nothing else to happen that takes away from moving between the 2 points but the movement itself.

Mastering gap:  To know what is a realistic distance you can effectively cover without giving too much away or extending yourself beyond a realistic distance to the opponent/target. If you want to be successful you need to make sure that the distance is realistic and that you are accommodating the covering of that space.

Developing good timing: Means to have the understanding and ability to time your movements to a rhythm or cadence that makes your movement make sense. This could be working on half beats to one and a half beats etc to insure that whatever you are doing happens at the time you are desiring.

Learning to read the gap in sparring / fighting

Being able to read the gap is a very valuable skill as a Martial Artist. Gap is the distance between you and your opponent.Understanding that distance and how that distance favours you and your strengths is such an important part of your training.
As an example, if you are sparring a person who is a kicker, you may want to stay just far enough at a range that the opponent has to move in to kick you. The second the opponent initiates their advance and if you step into him, you have greatly changed the plan he has formulated on their attack.

Most people will either try to stand in place and block the kick or try to move back an equal distance in hopes to follow the kick in after it has reached it extension. Some people are so intimidated by big kicks coming at them that
they just want to avoid the kick as a whole and will move way back when they see it coming.