BAR and Players To The Game

Within our training we incorporate various principles into what we do in order to improve the effectiveness of our responses to aggression. These principles can be explained in various ways, but for the purpose of this article we shall refer to the principles using the phrase ‘Players to the Game’ as coined by Grand Master Rick Moneymaker of the Dragon Society International in the 1990’s. Listed below are the individual ‘players’:

Absorption of Attack ~ Go with flow
Accumulating Points
Alarm Points
Anatomy/ Physiology
Angle of attack 15,30,45,90
Associated Points

Body Alarm Reaction (BAR)
Body Positioning
Body Type
Branch Meridians
Broken Rhythm
Colour Projection
Combining Points
Connecting Points
Constructive Cycle
Cross Body Motor Reflexes
Damming of Meridian
Dan Tien ~ Lower Burner
Deep -Vs- Superficial Energy
Destructive Cycle
Direction of Meridian Flow
Diurnal Cycle
Eight Meeting Points
Entry Points
Exit Points
Extraordinary Vessels
Five Elements
Flow of Movement
Four Seas Point
Inanimate Objects / Assistance
Inherence for 2nd strike
Intersection of Meridians
Kidney #1(station point )
Maintain 45 degree body angle
Mechanical Alignment: Footwork/ placement
Muscle Tearing
Neural Response
Opening the Gates (Blocking)
Pinwheel (Blocking)
Planes of attack
Point Location Accuracy
Power Zone
Proper Grab/Latch technique ~ “Bite”
Qi Gong Blocking (Iron Shirt)
Qi Gong for Borrowing
Qi Gong for Projection
Qi Gong for Storage
Quadrant Theory
Quickness / Personal speed
Range/ Distance/ spacing from opponent
Reversing the Cycle
Sealing the Air Gates
Sealing the Blood Gates
Sedation Points
Small Circle Technique
Special Meeting Points
Sound Intonation
Source Points
Strength / Personal Power Level
Strike Selection (max. “vehicle” to deliver)
Structural Damage
TCM Theory
Tongue (to roof of mouth)
Tonification Points
Wave: Diagonal/ Horizontal/ Spiral/ Vertical
Weapon First
Yin-Yang Theory

This list, in my humble opinion, involves some principles which are not required for the purpose of self-protection, but which can have an effect upon a given technique. For example (though it is not listed here) feng shui could technically be considered a ‘player’. However, if you have time to check out your surroundings for how furniture and walls are positioned with relation to how they affect the energy within the room prior to protecting yourself, then I would suggest that the threat is minimal! You may however, quickly look for walls and chairs to hit people with/ push them into, thereby utilising your zanchin or general awareness. Thus, not every player is essential for self-protection.

One player however is extremely important due to how it changes the psychological and physiological state of both yourself and your opponent/s. Body Alarm Reaction (BAR) is taken from the studies of stress upon the body, by Dr Hans Selye. Selye described the process of the effects of stress as General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). GAS itself can be divided into three sections, these being:

Alarm, Resistance and then Exhaustion each becoming more severe in nature with respect to how they affect the body.

The first part of GAS is the part which is of real importance to the Martial Arts as this is involved with the early stages of the pre-fight dialogue and the initial stages of an attack. BAR is also known as ‘Fight or Flight’ to which we can also add ‘Freeze’. For more information regarding this phenomenon I can do more than to recommend the works of Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson. Mo Teague also referred to it, somewhat eloquently as ‘F***ing shi**ing yourself!’ Excellent.

Now, what interests me the most about BAR is how it changes what we can physically and mentally do and also how it provides areas of weakness within ourselves and the opponent. During BAR the following things can/do happen. The legs will shake, the mouth will go dry, tunnel vision and auditory exclusion occurs, monosyllabic speech takes over (this is the case with some people anyway) the musculature of the body tenses and the lungs and heart go into overdrive. There are more physical symptoms but I find these to be the most useful for combative purposes.

Some have argued that due to these debilitating effects upon the body, it is impossible or close to impossible to utilise vital point technology/martial technique. I partly agree with this statement if by this means standing in Crane stance and striking a point with a finger-tip, however if you are blasting forwards into your opponent and striking with a large area of your own body, then I disagree whole-heartedly.

Rand Cardwell goes into great detail in his book ‘The Western Bubishi’ about how to attack the energetic structure of the body whilst experiencing BAR, so I will be careful not to simply repeat what he has already said. Instead I will utilise the knowledge of what I have learned from training and researching the information and attempt to summarise what I have ‘discovered’ so far.

When attacking pressure points in a combative situation you do not have time to think about the order of the points that you are going to strike, instead you should be ‘doing what you do’. What do I mean by this? Basically, in various arts ours included, the arms of the attacker are struck in some form usually prior to an attack to the head or body, if you haven’t been lucky enough to land your pre-emptive shot at a vital area.

From a TCM perspective, you have just attacked the fire and metal meridians of your opponent which are already in an excessive state due to the effects of BAR (The heart and lung meridians are ‘fired’ up as the heart and lungs are working at an increased level due to adrenaline released because of stress.) Following this a strike is ‘usually’ thrown to the head area or body which is designed to take the opponent out. The strike should be targeting a vital area in general and does not need to be perfectly accurate as long as you hit with impact (particularly for the body). From a TCM perspective you may wish to attack a point along the fire and/or metal meridians or strike a Wood point for the infamous three point energetic knockout, thereby utilising five element theory. Or, you can just hit them in the head!

It is essential never to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve. You are trying to protect yourself, not prove to yourself and those around you that you can hit in accordance with a theory. Also, when inBAR, the last thing that you can/should do is stand there ‘looking’ for the pressure points, this is why it is necessary to add points to what you already do, not the other way around. Any reality-based martial art (I’m never sure about that phrase) will be hitting pressure points anyway, so it is critical that you train in a system that involves actual contact and BAR if you want to improve your chances of protecting yourself. BAR can turn the best martial artist into an absolute rank beginner when attacked ‘on the streets’, if they have never experienced the stress of a physical/mental attack.

What exactly is it that I’m getting at here? Well, it’s this. I believe that you must train BAR first before attempting to utilise the other players for combative purposes, otherwise knowing all the players on the list won’t help you one iota as you won’t be able to apply them due to stress. Grand Master Tom Muncy said this exact thing to me when I last did a seminar with him. Now, if you train using BAR and you are actually making contact with your training partners, being aggressive etc then lots of these players can be very useful in a combative situation. If you want to learn these players because you have an interest in Martial Arts, then excellent, enjoy yourself and have fun, but remember not to confuse art and combat.

How can BAR help rather than hinder us then? Everything that you are experiencing, your opponent is experiencing, we must remember this. Geoff Thompson has written in length about how the feelings associated with BAR remain no matter how much we train, it’s how we deal with it that can change. I know that I am a naturally nervy and energetic person by nature, I also know how I act when experiencing BAR so I cater for my psychological and physiological responses when formulating self-protection techniques. I would NEVER be able to launch a head height kick whilst experiencing BAR, (unless my opponent was lying down) due to the fact that my legs shake like mad if I don’t act quickly. Secondly, my targeting goes off big time, so I want to hit a big target on my opponent (jaw/face) with something hefty usually a palm or head as powerfully as I can.

Something else which I have used in the past which Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson also swear by, is the use of an action trigger in the form of a word. I tend to use a word and gesture simultaneously as it allows me to ‘set myself’ as it were, that’s whenever I have been ‘fortunate’ enough to be able to line them up. If you have absolutely no other choice other than to hit, then you must do it first and as hard as you can with total mental commitment, an action trigger which you (should) use whilst training will help with this initial explosion and decision making process.

What players could have been used in the last example? If we take a look back at the players we can see numerous things that could be applied in order to ‘enhance’ the effectiveness of the initial strike(s). Possible Players that you could/should use in a pre-emptive shot:

  1. BAR.
  2. Intention.
  3. Visualisation.
  4. Strike Selection.
  5. Mechanical alignment-footwork.
  6. Body Positioning (maybe as long as it’s deceptive).
  7. Range/Distance from opponent.
  8. Wave/Impact.
  9. Point location accuracy.
  10. Personal speed.
  11. Intersection of Meridians.

I am sure that you can think of others players that could be added quite easily without altering the example of:

A) Set yourself/Fence

B) Be committed to strike

C) Use action trigger

D) Explode into opponent with slap/ Head butt /Punch whatever.

The Players when used in this way are maybe more useful than merely trying to learn them all and make techniques to fit them, I find that the wrong way of looking at them. The only way that I have changed ‘what I do’ is by paying more attention to details of techniques during training in order to improve my chances of utilising the science when under the effects of BAR. When I slap now, I use visualisation, footwork, a waveform/double hip motion, intention and so forth but I also aim to hit Stomach 5, the ear or Stomach 4. Stomach 4 would be my chosen strike due to its intersection with the Large Intestine Meridian, the Conception Vessel and the Yang Heel Vessel. It is also the release point of the neck so could create a whiplash effect on my opponent’s neck to improve the chances of a KO. Or, I could miss, catch their temple (result) and still buy time to escape. I aim to hit areas that have a high degree of success at taking someone out without the need for pressure points, let’s not forget that pressure points should be the last 5% of a technique.

The Players to the Game should be added to your techniques in the gym, not when you are standing outside a chippy minding your business when some Neanderthal decides they want to ‘have a go.’ This prevents the ‘technique log jam’ which we are reminded of by those who have been there for real. You don’t want to be stood there thinking, ‘Should I try to reverse the cycle of destruction or not because if it’s 2 AM then the Liver Meridian is active..’BANG! You’re down and are being used as a play thing for potential murderers.

We need to be sensible when using the Players they are not a Martial Arts panacea, they are merely the ‘bits’ which make a technique work better, with exception to BAR which, as I have stated should be the principle part of any combative technique. This may then help to avoid over-complicating things, but we must analyse techniques in order for them to be more natural.

Bruce Lee said the following and I believe that it succinctly sums up what I am trying to say:

“Before I studied the art, a punch was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I studied the art, a punch is no longer a punch, a kick is no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick is just like a kick.”

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