Video review: The Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat by Bob Orlando

It’s been a while since I did a video review, so here’s another one: The Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat by Bob Orlando. I’m going to try something new from now on and do the review in video form instead of writing it all out. It’s easier for me and allows you to listen to the review any time, any place instead of having to read everything on my blog here.

That said, here’s my video review:

Resources:

A sample of the videos:

Bob Orlando’s website.

His videos:

His books:

Extra:

 

The evolution of combat sports

Just recently, I watched the fight between one of my favorite boxers, Roy Jones Jr. and his opponent, Enzo Maccarinelli, which got me thinking about the evolution of combat sports. I always liked Jones a lot. In his prime, he was a master of the ring, dancing around his opponents as he pleased. Both his offense and defense was impressive but most of all, he seemed to land punches at will. He was arrogant and a showboat, but he had the skills to back it up so people didn’t mind as much as he always tried to give viewers a great show.

Here are some highlights of him at his best:

This video doesn’t do him justice though. Watch some of his full fight videos to get a better idea of just how impressive he was.

Then watch this video of his last fight…

Roy is still a great boxer, much better than most people who ever stepped into a boxing ring. But at almost 47 years old, he is becoming a shadow of his former self. When you watch his last few fights, you’ll see he is almost flat-footed compared to how he moved in his prime. He still hits fast and hard, but that’s not enough anymore against those younger opponents.

There are two points I want to make about this: [Read more…]

What am I up to in 2016?

First of all, a happy New Year to all of you. May the best of 2015 be the worst of 2016.

Second, I usually do a recap and look to the future at the beginning of the year, so here goes…

2015 was a difficult year for me. Lots of business stuff going on but mostly, I had to focus on my rehab after my surgery. That took way more time and energy than I had anticipated because my injuries were much worse than expected. Both my surgeon and physical therapist gravely underestimated them. In short, I walked around with increasingly more dislocated ankles for several years. It’s taken daily rehab sessions to both activate atrophied muscles, reinvigorate my connective tissue, realign my body and work on correct proprioception, all at once. Progress has been steady, but it’s also been slow. E.g.: it’s been a year and two months since my surgery and it’s only been a week or two since I have a bounce in my step again.

The good part about all that work is that I’m finally coming closer to the point where I can train normally again. Unless something breaks (fingers crossed…) I should be back to 100% in a month or so.

The bad part of all that rehab is that it left me with precious little time for much else. Then there was my professional life (of which I haven’t talked much here) that got crazy hectic. Some background on this:

  • I’m a self-employed personal trainer/consultant/coach. I teach martial arts, self-defense and conditioning to private clients but also small groups. This used to be my main job, but other activities have started to take up more of my time these last few years.
  • I do business seminars and workshops teaching companies how to apply the lessons from martial arts to their professional environment. That business has been growing steadily over the years and got a big boost in 2015.
  • I’m a Master Trainer with Technogym and do workshops and training sessions for both their physical products and Cloud software solution. They also kept me busier than ever.
  • In the last few years, I was approached numerous times by C-level executives for coaching them through difficult professional situations, helping them with stress management and more. This has gradually developed into another business that is getting more and more traction.

There’s all that and also having two kids, who I very much like to spend time with as much as possible… Whatever time I have left goes to other projects like blogging and writing, which wasn’t all that much last year.

From the looks of it, 2016 is going to be a critical year and I will probably have to make some choices on a professional level, because I can’t do everything, nor can I be in two places at once. That’s a first-world problem, so I’m not complaining. Whatever comes next, it’s going to be good and I’m looking forward to taking on new professional challenges.

There’s another upside to all the rehab I’ve been doing: I feel so much better now than last year and have a lot more energy than before the surgery. I finally feel confident that I can be more productive again and finish all those projects I had lined up before I got sick. That, plus some new ones. Here are some of the things I have planned so far:

up to

  • The next two books are “The Leg Kick” and “Boxing for Self-Defense” The first one is about 80% done right now, but still needs a lot of work in post-production as there will be a free video-course that comes with it. The second is in the planning phase.
  • Other books in varying stages of production are
    • Essential Self-defense Tips for Men to Avoid Violence”
      The title says it all basically: practical tips for men on how to avoid violence. In each chapter I explain one tip in detail and then give some useful tools to implement them in your daily life. The book isn’t about how to knock somebody out, it’s about avoiding having to throw that punch in the first place. I write about fundamental issues you need to understand and apply, instead of giving general tips. My goal is that you’ll be able to apply the information right away. As of this writing, the book is about 50% done.
    • Knife Defense Book
      This book only has a working title. I started a few years ago, but it’s been hell working on that one and I got so fed up with it I put it away for a while. It was either that or pulling my hair out in frustration. In hindsight, that was the best decision because I now have a better take on the material and some new ideas.
    • The Warrior’s Body
      After the Knife Defense book , I’ll start writing the sequel to The Fighter’s Body. I’ve been collecting studies and data for years, figuring I’d eventually write it. I’m looking forward to sharing all that in the book. The focus of this book is the “older” martial artist, meaning 40 and older. What is it like to train at age 40, 50 and older? How do you stay in shape, healthy, manage injuries, etc. But I’ll also cover what to avoid in your twenties so you don’t wreck your body by the time you’re 40.
      I’m psyched about this book. It’ll be a lot of fun and I hope it will be valuable to young and old.
  • One of the new things I’m going to do for all these books is give you access to free resources. You’ll be able to see videos of my interviews with experts, additional material, tools to use in your own training and much more. Technology has finally come to the point where I can deliver an “enhanced” book that doesn’t stop after you read the last page. So I plan to make the most of it and give you every last drop of information I can think of.
  • I just wrote my publisher a proposal for two more instructional videos (tentative titles):
    • Combat Sanshou: Basic Self-Defense. This project fits in the whole of the Combat Sanshou series as an entry point for the absolute beginner: basic techniques against the most common attacks. It’s actually a system within the system and integrates well with the already available material. It’s also broad enough to be interesting to people of other arts and systems as the pedagogical approach is an integral part of making it effective. In short: it’s what I teach clients who come to me with zero knowledge and want the quickest possible results.
    • Fightstoppers: End it Now! This is a collection of techniques/moves with the purpose of ending the fight before it really starts. They’re similar to what you can see here. Most of them are entries and set ups or short combinations that target vital targets and weak spots of the human anatomy. I’ve been getting lots of requests for this kind of stuff ever since that original video and have been preparing a catalog of such moves ever since.
  • I’m still looking into it but a podcast and live streaming events are also on my list. The main hurdles have been technical, but I’m closing in on a few solution’s for those. We’ll see what happens and if I can free up the time to do this on a regular basis.
  • I published my military thriller short story a few weeks ago and it’s done very well since then. Turns out a lot of you liked that fight scene… If time permits and I can come up with a good plot, I might write a full novel for those characters. That said, I have a few other short stories in the urban fantasy/horror genre I need to get out of my system, so those might come first. All in all, these aren’t priorities for me. I write fiction to take my mind off the non-fiction writing. It helps prepare me for the next martial arts or self-defense project if I can do something completely different for a few weeks. We’ll see.
  • If you want to make sure you stay informed, sign up here on my notification list (don’t forget to click on the link in the confirmation mail you receive) and you will get an email whenever I publish something new.

As you can see, I’ll be busy in 2016.

I better stop writing this update then and get to it…

 

This is not a John Rain short story

I just released another fiction short story, “Hong Kong Brawl”. It’s about an hour’s read and only in ebook. You can get it at the following places:

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

Inktera/Page Foundry

iTunes

Hong Kong Brawl - Wim Demeere

What’s it about?

Special Forces soldiers, CIA operatives, stuff like that. But really, it boils down to Tai Chi Chuan vs. Boxing and who will win…

Here is some background about it.

This story is the result of many different elements coming together over a period of several years. Let’s start with the first one: me ending up as a character in one of Barry Eisler’s novels.

I’ve known Barry for many years now, first as a client and later as a good friend. We still train together whenever our schedules permit and post-training usually involves great conversation, laughter, good times and the occasional alcoholic beverage.

When Barry first asked me to train him, I started reading his John Rain series and absolutely loved it. He created not only a plausible world but also engaging stories that included real world events, impressive action and of course, steamy sex scenes.

There I was one day, enjoying the hell out of “Redemption Games” when all of a sudden the bad guy, Hilger, gets a phone call from one of his men, “Demeere”. My friends can attest to the fact that I am rarely at a loss for words, but I sure was speechless then. I got in touch with Barry and thanked him; it’s pretty cool to see your name show up in a hugely successful book series.

Fast forward a bit and Barry asks me if he can use my full name to flesh out that character in an upcoming book. He needed some specifics about an operator’s potential military career in the Belgian armed forces and I did my best to provide him with that information. Fast forward again and “Demeere” shows up for a bigger part in “The Killer Ascendant” along with the rest of Hilger’s team. I will not spoil that book for you, go read it and you’ll know what happens, but of all the bad guys in John Rain’s world, I like this particular cast the best. Primarily because I know the people who were (in part) the inspiration for the characters “Garza” and “Guthrie”, they’re good friends of mine. But also because they all have specific skills that complement each other, which makes for some great twists and turns in the story.

Early on in “The Killer Ascendant”, Hilger mentions a sparring match in a hotel room between Garza and Demeere that almost got out of hand. I smiled as I read that because Frank and I did indeed have a sparring match at one time and I’ve been told it was interesting to watch. I thought it could be fun to fill in the back story of what Hilger mentioned there in passing and “Hong Kong Brawl” is the result.

Barry Eisler Wim Demeere

Barry and me, being all serious and stuff during our training sessions…

Wait, what? How?

Barry had joined Kindle Worlds, an Amazon company that licensed his work so others could write in that world as well. A form of “official” fan fiction if you will. I had contacted them before starting my story, to check if as a non-US citizen, I could enroll in their program. Their response was that it was no problem. All I needed was a US bank account, a Tax Identification Number and we were fine. So I went ahead and got those, at considerable personal expense, and wrote the story.

Turned out we weren’t fine.

When I wanted to publish it, all of a sudden I needed a US address for IRS purposes. I called the IRS: they said they didn’t need one and used foreign addresses all the time, which I explained to the folks at Kindle Worlds. After some emails, they admitted that their administration systems weren’t set up to accept foreign authors. But… They were working on it, it was a top priority!

My question of why they had previously confirmed there was no problem on that front when I specifically asked about that, remained ignored.

After a year and a half and some more attempts on my end to find a workaround (thank you Joe Konrath, much appreciated!), their top priority still wasn’t resolved so I mailed them again. Their response was that it would be fixed “soon” and they were “eager to roll it out”. I asked for a specific date and they repeated the “soon” line. My response was that I no longer believed them, so I took a different course: starting over.

I had prepared for this contingency a while ago and already created a new world with different characters, backgrounds and so on, changed the plot and re-wrote the story from scratch. That said, if you read the John Rain novels, you won’t have a hard time figuring out which characters they would originally have been…

All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

What’s next?

I’m primarily working on two manuscripts right now: The Leg Kick and Boxing For Self Defense. The first is 75% done. The second is in the beginning stages, but these two will be released in that order. Afterwards, I’ll continue on the Self-Defense Tips for Men book, which has proven to be a lot more difficult to write. I’ve been extremely busy professionally and my writing time is much  more limited than before. That’s why it’s taking so long to release new material. But it’ll get there eventually and if you sign up here (it’s free) I’ll let you know via email when it goes live.

In the mean time, you can enjoy some of my other fiction stuff here, a bunch of urban fantasy/supernatural short stories. I only write fiction if I need a break from non-fiction, which is in-between projects. So it’s not like I release a ton of fiction material. But I’ve found that it helps me clear my head from the previous non-fiction work before starting another one.

That said, I have 10 martial arts and self-defense books at the information and idea gathering stage right now. 15 if I count the ones I’m not sure I’ll eventually write, but am gathering thoughts for to find out just that. Every now and then, I have new ideas for books and add them to the list.

So there’s lots more to come.

Thanks for all of you who buy my stuff and support my writing. I very much appreciate it.

 

The Paris terrorist attacks, the connection to Belgium and what comes next

Lots of ink has flown since the terrorist attacks in Paris, a lot of it was a bunch of nonsense. I’m not going to address that. What I will speak of is how the attacks relate to my home country, Belgium, what the future holds and how I plan on living my life in this “new” reality. To do that, I have to go against my policy of refusing to talk politics. To paint you an accurate picture, I need to address the political situation in Belgium even though I’d rather not get into it. To be clear:

  • I will not engage in political discussions in the comments section. If you do so, I will either block your comment or ignore you.
  • Both people from the left and the right will not appreciate what I have to say. If I get everybody upset, I’ll probably come closer to the truth than if I only get one side angry. For the record: I despise all politicians equally.
  • If you do get angry, see the first point in this list.
  • I will only speak of Belgium. If any of it applies to your country too, fine. If it doesn’t, equally fine as I wasn’t talking about your country to begin with.

That said, here are my thoughts.

What riots in Molenbeek look like.

What riots in Molenbeek look like.

The Paris terrorist attacks

Last Friday, I drove through one of the Brussels municipalities called Molenbeek (we’ll get back to that) on my way to dinner with friends. I made some comments to my girlfriend about the state that municipality is in, the problems there and how one day, it’ll blow up… A few hours later we left the restaurant, I checked my cellphone and saw the news of the Paris terrorist attacks. My first thought was “It’s begun.”

The writing has been on the wall for years for the Paris attacks, I’ve often stated both in private and in public that terrorist attacks are to come both in Europe in general and in Belgium in particular. Back then, the response I usually got was ridicule or eye-rolling. Today, the response is fear and panic. Neither response is useful.

It’s early days, but from the looks of it, this is the attack I’ve feared for a long time was coming. Some of the changes that have been seeping into EU societies will now pick up steam and get implemented at an increased rate.  More on that later, but first and foremost: my condolences to all the families of the victims.

 

The connection to Belgium

Many of the Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe (and beyond) are linked to Belgium in general and Molenbeek in particular:

The list is longer than this, but you get the picture: this has been going on for a long time.

There are many reasons why jihadist terrorists find Belgium such an attractive place to stay. I won’t cover all of them, just the ones I feel are most relevant. Let’s start with the first one.

 

Belgium is an artificial state with systemic failure built into it.

Long story short, Belgium was created as a buffer to keep other European countries from going to war all the time. The current result is three ethnic communities (Dutch-speaking Flemish, French-speaking Walloon and German) forced together into a construction that never worked properly and likely never will. For example, for a country with only about eleven million inhabitants: [Read more…]