Iron Fist Archie's Fighting Tools (Part 1)
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The last time I probed into the fighting philosophy of this extraordinary martial artist, the end result was my article "Iron Fist Archie's Exercise Junk."
This followup was written nearly four years after that piece ran in Tae Kwon Do Times (July 1987), and I continued to receive reader feedback from those of you whose training practices were impacted by Archie's
philosophy. So I thought...why not bring them More?!
The essence of Master Archibeque's fighting philosophy is simplicity. Looking much younger than his 56 years (56 years old in 1991), Archie forever stresses
the essence of martial arts is whatever is most natural in the "moment.".
When asked to explain, he describes that, "True martial arts is simple ... like
walking, like eating, like sleeping. If I were to call myself a Black Belt in eating, I would spend a lifetime teaching you about gathering your food, preserving it,
cooking it, setting the table, eating it, selecting beverages, preparing desserts, and when you reached age 60, you would still feel that you had only scratched
the surface. Fortunately, I don't pretend to be a teacher of eating, and likewise, you don't pretend to be a student. That frees you to be what you already are, an
expert on the topic. The fact that you are already doing it completely naturally is what makes you an expert. Dissecting it with your mind does not. Neither does
practicing -- though serious practice would upgrade your level of execution."
"Are you saying that formal study of the martial arts is without value?"
"No ... to the contrary! Formal study is like the elevator inside of a giant skyscraper. It lifts you level by level to where you hope to go. But when you
finally get there, you must leave the elevator and absorb the panorama which was your intention in the first place.
Standing at the pinnacle, the whole world is within grasp and the elevator has completely disappeared from your consciousness...why stay in the box, when you can step out?"
"Are you talking about enlightenment?"
"No! Enlightenment is different! I'm talking about awareness. Awareness of oneself and one's relationship to the
world of matter. Once that is accomplished, martial arts becomes as natural as eating when one is hungry and sleeping when one is tired."
"Please ... explain ..."
"I can use any piece of junk you give me as a weapon to defend myself!"
A discomforting period of silence followed while I struggled for a response.
Delicately, I said, "That seems a little far fetched ... "
"Don't you see", he interrupted, "That's the pinnacle ... find out if I'm there!
"Well, you said you can defend yourself with anything?" I reached into my pocket and pulled out a canister of film. "O.K. old man, show me what you can do with this."
"No problem", he said, as he reached for the film canister. "Like all small objects, the film canister is not a strong attack weapon. Rather, it is a
weapon of convenience, acting like a magnifying glass to focus and amplify your own energy when directed against your opponent."
After demonstrating the proper gripping position, he had one of his students come forward with various attacks,
i.e. grabs to the clothing, the hair and the head. He responded instantly by taking the film canister and forcefully applying it to selected pressure point targets.
"If utilized properly, the film canister augments the pressure point discomfort level by a factor of three, resulting
in nearly incapacitating pain, almost guaranteeing the opponent will terminate the attack. The important thing to
remember is that there are thousands of objects in your everyday environment which can be used in precisely the same way.
The canister is maneuvered below the attacker's line of sight, into his mandibular
joint, or alternatively, against his nose, or into his carotid artery/reflex. Against a head lock, pressure is applied at the brachioradialis.
"How about another something else?", I asked.
Smiling, Archie nodded, "Certainly!"
By luck, I found a hammer sitting on his desk. As I walked it toward him, he said, "This is going to be easy."
Handing it to him, I said, "You can't strike with it!"
He smiled, "O.K. wise guy, throw your attack."
I executed a right punch and heard the hammer whiz by my right ear.
As the author executes a right punch, Master Archibeque latches the "claw" of
the hammer into the soft tissue of the trapezius, then drives the attacker to the ground. So that's how a nail feels when it's being ripped from a board!
But the hammer never struck me. Instead, its claw dug firmly into the soft tissue behind my right collar bone. This
alone would have been enough to stop my attack, but simultaneously, Archie locked onto my right sleeve and pivoted counterclockwise, dropping me hard to the ground. There he put me into submission with an arm lock and
additional pressure on the hammer.
"Had enough tough guy", Archie beamed down at my submission position. I tapped twice, and the pressure instantly disappeared.
"How about one more, before I go somewhere to recuperate?"
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"O.K., but this time, try not to make it so easy for me."
I walked the dojang for nearly a minute before I spied a dust pan in the dressing room. "This time I had him," I thought.
As I approached, Archie said, "Good choice ... it brings to mind something I forgot to tell you. There is a perfect
way to hold every weapon, and if you are to use the weapon most effectively, you must discover what that is. In
the case of the dust pan, most people will grab for the handle, simply because the handle is there. However, the
expert martial artist will grab it as so. He reached his fingers deep into the dust pan tray and locked his grip solid onto the cover (see Photograph below).
"Go ahead, try to take it from me."
I couldn't move the pan. It appeared to have become one with his hand.
"If I had taken it by the handle, you could easily have removed it from my hand."
Standing ready, he commanded, "Now, attack me!"
Responding to a punch, Master Archibeque uses the broad surface of the pan to catch his
opponent by surprise, then culminates the response by using the lead edge to bring the attacker to submission. Note the grip on the dust pan (Photo 3b).
I did, and as I executed, the flat surface of the dust pan struck flat against my face.
Archie continued the pressure, accelerating me to the ground, where he again culminated in a submission technique, using the front edge of the pan to cut into my larynx.
Once again, Archie had made his point.
Archie didn't ask if I wanted to see more. I knew from past experience that this signaled the end of the lesson.
Like a careful chef, he knew that the secret of a good meal was to stop before your guests became hopelessly stuffed. That made certain they would be eager to return for more.
Which, of course, was my very thought as we respectfully bowed to conclude the session.