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
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. The answer if obvious, why stay in the
box, when you can step out?"
"Are you talking
"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 ... "
see," he interrupted, "That's the pinnacle. Find out if
I'm there! Test me!"
"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
is maneuvered below the attacker's line of
sight, into his mandibular joint, or
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,
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.
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
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
Standing ready, he
commanded, "Now, attack me!"
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
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