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Positioning in Holistic Kung Fu – Part 1

In Self-Defence, real self-defence, not combative sports or contests, The Best Defence is not a good offence. The best defence is not being there.

A good offence is the second best defence; if you’re not there in the first place there’s nothing to defend against. If the best defence is not being there, then the best offence (or counter attack) is simply being there. As Woody Allen said, “80% of success in life is just showing up”. In combat, this means if you are in the right position to counter attack, you may find yourself possibly in your opponent’s blind spot, or at an angle where you can easily knock them off balance, or a position where you can hit them easily while they cannot hit you. Alternately, if your position is poor, even if you hit them with more speed and more power you may still lose if you’re not in the right place at the right time.

In Holistic Kung Fu, this is what we call Positioning.

This is a versatile concept that doesn’t just apply to defending against violence.  It also applies to accomplishing goals, building a successful business, living a healthy lifestyle, and building and maintaining healthy relationships.  I love talking and writing about it. I will continue to do so, but today I’ll start with living a healthy lifestyle.

How do we live a healthy lifestyle?

While the question itself is inexhaustible, mostly everyone would agree on: Diet and Exercise (both of the mental, physical, and spiritual variety). A healthy lifestyle is based on habits, habits that shape how we eat and what exercise we engage in. We are the product of what we continually do. Our habits conduct our continued action and bring about results. While habits guide our continued action, they also require continued action to be built. This is where Positioning comes in. It can be difficult to develop a habit that is good for you; Habits that are bad for you not so much.

If you would like to build good habits and have failed to or struggled to do so before, factor in some better positioning.

If it’s a willpower fight for you to get up in the morning and go for a run, ask yourself what kind of positioning you could use. Just like using good footwork to pop into an opponent’s blind spot and therefore require much less force for a knockout, use good positioning and require less willpower to get into a routine.

Minimize the things that have to happen between you getting up and you actually running.

If you try to make a big routine out of it you will increase the likelihood of running into some kind of limiting step. A limiting step is anything that must be done before your desired exercise takes place.

For example, if you have a favourite track suit that you feel you must wear, when that track suit is in the wash, you’ll be more likely to skip that day. If you must make your coffee or tea before you start, there are more potential limiting steps in your way. For example, the tea pot needs to be rinsed, but you left a sink full of dishes the night before. Now you have to wash them, then make the tea, then go for a run. Now the morning willpower climb is greater than it needs to be, and your odds of making an excuse instead of running have increased.

Whether these examples are relatable or not is irrelevant, because everyone has their own version of this.

You have to know yourself.

Find every possible way to eliminate limiting steps. The night before, ask yourself what you can do to position everything for the morning to minimize decisions in between getting up and engaging in the activity. Pre-load the coffee machine or teapot, put your ipod and headphones by the door, put your clothes and shoes right beside the bed so you have to trip over them as soon as you get out of bed.

Remember, thinking you need to allow time to “psych yourself up” will also allow opportunity to “psych yourself out”.

If you’ve done this successfully, don’t forget to positively reinforce this behaviour with some small celebratory action. This is why I recommend getting moving before coffee. Let your first sip be a pleasurable reward for taking immediate action on a new (or continued) routine. This will not only provide you with positive reinforcement and make you want to repeat the process tomorrow; it will also eliminate one other step between waking up and the activity itself. Also, the coffee will taste better.

More to come on Positioning.


Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. Students learn effective self-defence while designing a fit and healthy physical, mental, and spiritual lifestyle

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