by Stephen Joffe
“With an elasticity of the mind, will come the snap of the body!”
Center Line Martial Arts
Center Line Martial Arts teaches the Arts of Muay Thai, Ving Tsun Kung Fu & Pekiti Tirsia Kali. Each art contributes to the entire learning system in a unique way. No longer living in traditional times, we teach our arts & accord them their distinctive characteristics; without conscious effort to blend the systems the training methods themselves are allowed to take hold of the student & elicit a true response from the individual.
“sometimes coffee, sometimes tea!”
Thai, Chinese & Filipino Boxing are ancient Martial Arts; they have long been recognized as original forms of ‘Chuan Fa’, or pathways to self-awareness. ‘Boxing exercise’, was originally instituted as a direct method to reduce the stress of an existence, brought about by thoughtless actions, or poor understanding of life. Our simple work…
We prefer progressive mentality & find this vital within the realm of combat/life.
Training in our system provides broad stimulation.
Chi Kung is the Root training upon which powerful & appropriate combat skills are built; Muay Thai training is physically demanding & provides a continual testing ground for no-nonsense Martial Art practice; Ving Tsun forms the basis for a systematic approach to the real challenges of Human Combat, here Center Line principles & fighting concepts are driven home in a direct & efficient manner; Pekiti Tirsia Kali, is our Filipino method of choice, this opens angles or avenues of understanding and develops combat mentality; Such is the scope of our learning system, like all Martial Art it is an untapped source of vitality, designed for the benefit of all.
“Correct spatial orientation, flexibility & ability in application.”
To quote a great legend:
“The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way,
that they will be useful at anytime, & to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things. Discerning the rhythm when the time comes, one strikes spontaneously & scores naturally.” (Miyamoto Musashi)
Advancing Martial Art Education
“Time is of the essence.”
Chi Kung or energy cultivation, is the pursuit of a ’supreme state of being’, it is considered the core personal practice of harmonizing human nature with life itself. Exercise aims toward correct energy cultivation & concentrates on 5 basic principles.
These are arranged & can be visualized as a 5 sided star, the core elements are defined below, for clarity in understanding:
Elemental qualities sought for internalization
Practice: 8 Extraordinary Meridian Chi Kung
Every year we offer a 9-month training program in 8 extraordinary meridian Chi Kung, it is these meridians which form the substructure upon which rests the surface or more commonly known 12 meridians. Practice is performed in the seated position & the training program is experiential.
As the 8 extraordinary meridians are central to Chi Kung, many consider this type of practice the pinnacle of achievement & an essential method in the attainment of realization.
Taoism as a non-religious all encompassing philosophy on life provides us with an important lesson for our broad practice; the practice of seated mediation is derived from the Taoist tradition & within our chosen combat systems the elemental quality of practice, manifests within action.
It is this that ensures our martial path is in correct relationship to the Universe, quite simply we seek to attain the virtue of the Tao…
The benefits achieved through Chi Kung are far reaching & all pervading:
lifelong health & long life.
Practice in Center Line Martial Arts is also of an external nature &
the physical qualities sought in our practice can also be visualized
as a 5 sided star; these are outlined below:
To be limber, or to possess the property of being lithe, agile, nimble
• Movement the 1st sign of Life
To be supple, or without resistance
• Showing the ability to adapt
To maintain balance or hold correct regulation
• Demonstrating stability of body & mind
To be empty, or open & receptive to ones surroundings
• ‘True Way of The Universe’
To have hardness, or to show the essence of firmness & solidity
• Utilized with precise aim
These are practiced within combat training & exercise aims to establish an ability in linear application & healthy rounded breathing.
Pekiti Tirsia Kali
When embarking upon the study of Pekiti Tirsia Kali, it pays to understand the rich background from which this art stems. As a rapidly evolving culture and in view of the future, surely it is to the largest human archipelago (greatest density of human population) on this planet that one must look, here can be found a vast realm, of diverse fighting arts honed to fine skill, these largely weapon based systems, compounded with an expertise in jungle warfare, give an exciting & seemingly infinite framework for learning. The Philippines are composed of many different islands; this separation of peoples has resulted in a very broad spectrum of culture & much of this warrior culture, small wonder in regard to the Filipino’s martial ability.
As a warrior culture it is their training in weaponry that results in a transfer of combat mentality to empty handed fighting, this delivers to us the understanding of the Bladehand concept & the necessity of the
principle of Mastery within the system of Pekiti Tirsia.
The Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system
The Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system is an authentic, indigenous combat Bladefighting system from the Philippines that employs all traditional weapons including Empty-Hands. The foundation system of Pekiti-Tirsia is the Doce Methodos. The Doce Methodos are the twelve (12) methods that define every manner and method in which a bladed weapon can be used to strike with. Doce Methodos defines strikes and attacks by angle, energy, weapon anatomy (strikes with the edge, point, back of blade and butt) and manipulation. Knowledge of the tactics and techniques of the Doce Methodos transfer to all weapon categories and allows one to effectively employ any weapon (edged, impact, flexible, projectile) and combination of weapons (double, long and short) in combat. The advanced systems of Contradas, Contra-Tirsia Doble-Dos, and Advanced Combat Methods all likewise transfer in application to all weapons. This strategic structure and systemology provides the most effective and expedient training process for transferring the knowledge, understanding, and skills of close quarters combat. This systemology is unique to the Filipino martial arts and exclusive to the Pekiti-Tirsia system today.
Life, success, health
Ving Tsun Kung Fu
Wong Shun Leung Ving Tsun Kung Fu is one of the best combat systems. According to legend this martial style was practiced and pioneered by a woman with great success, after which it was passed down through four generations to Yip man, whom instructed the system until his death in 1972 in Hong Kong. Arguably the most successful fighter among Yip Man’s pupils was Wong Shun Leung.
The system was developed purely with survival in a combat situation in mind.
My involvement in the study of Ving Tsun, started in 1984 with training at Guys Hospital London, in 1986 I met Michael Street. Michael was at this time one of Victor Kan’s top challenge fighters; he & I worked together in the west end of London as security team leaders in theatres & clubs, we were also weight lifting partners & I would exchange swimming lessons for lessons in Ving Tsun. When training with Michael I felt I knew little of Ving Tsun, but what struck me most about the system was the fact that Michael was a devastating fighter & as he attested it was rooted in what appeared to me as seemingly ineffectual hand positions. Rooted is exactly what Ving Tsun was, this 1st real contact with a Ving Tsun practitioner of genuine caliber never left me & although I was at the same time in full pursuit of Thai Boxing skill
I felt no hesitance in my paralleled passion for Ving Tsun. The slow development of my Ving Tsun over the years (I had been separated from my teacher when moving to the US) & my adherence to Michael Streets’ combat orientation, turned out to be very lucky – in the fact that my simple introduction, was given time to establish a solid foundation. Whilst living stateside and teaching Muay Thai & Ving Tsun, my teacher was enjoying contact with Philipp Bayer & in this his exposure to ‘Wongs Way’, as he put it made all the difference. Subsequent contact with Michael as I traveled to and from England with the express purpose of completing the Ving Tsun system, was very efficient – Michael’s delivery of practical no-nonsense Ving Tsun Kung Fu; compounded with visits to Hong Kong to train within the Ving Tsun family under Yuen Yim Keung greatly enhanced my understanding of Ving Tsun. Most recently a series of seminars conducted in the USA, whilst assisting Michael in the completion of his book: The Science of Ving Tsun Kung Fu; brought my practice full circle in the crystallization of two decades within this Kung Fu. If Ving Tsun has taught me anything in combat, apart from the continual pursuit of skill, it has taught me to think outside of the box! This alone is of the greatest value.
The Ving Tsun Kung Fu system
1st level (primary)
Sui Nim Tau
Poon sau/Lok sau
2nd level (intermediate)
3rd level (advanced)
Muk Yan Jong
Luk Deem Boon Gwun
Baat Jum Dol
Ving Tsun is a pathway to cultivation; the system is a ‘tool’ to be utilized in the quest for excellence, skill & self-fulfillment.
A quote from Michael Streets book:
This code of conduct as preserved within the Yip Man Ving Tsun family lineage is a reflection and manifestation of an ancient tradition in many cultures worldwide, of observing and upholding the warriors’ ethic or martial code. This is familiar to all followers of the martial path and tradition – the so called “Way of the Warrior”.
The idea of such codes serves to remind practitioners and students that the physical skills and prowess are only part of the whole picture, the greater part of which addresses cultivation of the self, and the development of character. This is to confront and engage the most important fight, struggle and opponent – the internal one. As our skills improve this is mirrored by our own development as more tranquil, fulfilled and centered human beings, to find a path to that place of peace which resides in all of us. Peace through the study and practice of War. This then is the paradox and eternal juxtaposition of the warrior’s path, a daily expression of this principle of Yin and Yang on both a physical and metaphysical level on a journey beyond self. This is the true Martial Way.
Thai Boxing is a practical Martial Art, firmly rooted in Thai culture it is a fighting style of great renown for its’ skilled use of ‘the 8 limbs’, strong Buddhist influence and a people, at one with their environment, has delivered a Boxing System second to none. Our training includes: Basic Thai Boxing; Northern Style; Japanese Kick-Boxing; and Classic Muay Thai.
I started Muay Thai in 1986 whilst at University in London, where I met & began training with Tom (Cameron) McGee; ‘Tom’ had lived & trained in Bangkok, Thailand for 6 years he was a Thai Champion that had acted as sparring partner to Ronnie Green (the 1st Thai Boxer of non-Thai origin to claim a title by knockout in History). Squeezed between the stables of Master Sken & Master Toddy, Tom McGee came from a region in England famous for its tough Thai Boxers & every lesson presented challenges from outside fighters, this in turn was taken directly onto the streets of London &
tested under most grueling circumstances.
As martial artists we ran a Muay Thai program for 3 years at University College of London. From here I left for America & my Muay Thai took an even bigger leap as I began training with & teaching American Thai Boxers such as Duane Ludwig, Demain Hommel, Amal Easton, Jay Jack, Mitsuyuki Ninomiya.
It was here also that my ventures to South East Asia saw training alongside Thai Champions such as Parinya of Kiat Busaba, Chun, Kem & the Japanese Kickboxing Champions Saitoshi Nizuma & Riki Onedero.
However my initial training with Tom was undoubtedly the most important
it was this association that prepared me so well for what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging of fighting arenas.
Quote from Hardy Stockmanns’ book: ‘The art of Siamese un-armed combat’
The Thais have deserved sympathy for a very long time, that is, from before the beginning of the Buddhist era until the present. They were constantly harassed and their peaceful existence disturbed until about 250 B.C., when they left the rich and fertile land called Thai Mung or Thai Muang, believed to have been in the area of today’s Szechuan, Hupei, Anwei and Kiangsi provinces, on both sides of the rivers Yangtze and Hwang Ho in central China.
In order to avoid enslavement, the Thais evacuated and dispersed in all directions. Eventually, and with great difficulty, encountering many hardships and having to cope with starvation, injury, disease and death, they became experts in what is today called traditional medicine. Fending off wild animals and all-too-frequent battles with savage warlords who never missed a chance to attack, only strengthened their fighting spirit, and their love of freedom overcame all difficulties. Weakened, suffering severely and exhausted, they escaped.
When the refugees had settled in an area where there were “fish in the water and rice in the fields,” elders of the different clans attempted to build up the courage and skill of the young men by promoting athletic games such as wrestling, running, swimming, boat races and acrobatics. For reasons of security and to ensure their future freedom, a system of self defense was devised, which after generations of changes and improvements resulted in a set of rules and regulations. When the clans were finally unified into a nation, a manual of warfare, the “Chupasart,” was drawn up. It dealt mainly with the use of weaponry such as knives, swords, spears, battle axes, halberds, throwing knives and poisoned arrows shot with crossbows. During times of peace, the Thais trained under the guidance of experienced warriors, learning the different fighting techniques based on the manual, but often substituting the “arm” for the real weapon, in other words, practicing unarmed combat, or what is commonly known to Thais as “dee muay” or boxing.
An inherent cultural characteristic of the Thais is to show respect and gratitude, especially to those who impart knowledge, like parents and teachers. A worthy and beautiful custom is a boxer’s way of paying homage to his teacher by performing the “ram muay” or boxing dance. This ritual differs from camp to camp and should two fighters be seen rendering a similar performance, they are almost certainly students of the same teacher, or their instructors might have come from the same camp. If an inquiry reveals this to be true, the two boxers will on no account fight each other. This tradition is the result of strict disciplinary training and the pledge given during the “khuen kruh” ceremony. It ensures a feeling of close unity in the camps and villages, and is meant to foster a sense of belonging to the race as a whole.
Muay-Thai is an art of self defense using various parts of the body. Because it is based on the principle of “doing no more than necessary to teach a lesson,” it is equally well suited to be used as a competitive sport as well as a “fight to the finish.” In ancient times, Thai warriors had intensive training in the art, giving them a distinct advantage in close-combat situations. Royalty, military leaders and those common people having a part in defending the nation, received regular instruction by leading exponents of the art.
Muay-Thai is also a very popular spectator sport, enjoyed by Thais more than any other. All the greater is the tragedy that a national heritage which should be preserved, has deteriorated into a “commercial art.” Only if Muay-Thai in its pure form is revived, instruction given and training conducted by the old rules, and ancient customs enforced by officials and teachers who do have the “right knowledge,” will students receive lasting benefits beyond all expectation. Discipline, competence and perfect health of body and mind will be a guaranteed result, in spite of the views of the numerous “know-alls,” ignorant of the real art, who can only “see dry rice straw, blown by the wind and floating on the surface of the water, but fail to see the pearl lying on the bottom.”
In summary, Muay-Thai is a philosophy, a science, an art, unlikely to have come about easily or by chance. It is a result of diligence, perseverance, trials and errors and endless practice sessions to master those techniques that transform a beginner into an expert.
The venerable Khetr Sriyabhaya, Muay Thai enthusiast, Thai cultural expert
Michael Street & Wong Shun Leung: Chi Sau