Archives for May 2012

Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything

In 1978 the ground breaking radio show Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gave us the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

The answer is 42.

For over 30 years folks have been wondering what The Question really is.

Meanwhile, also during the last a little over 30 years, Sigung Clear has been asking questions as well.

Different questions.

He’s been asking Tai Chi masters Tai Chi questions, and Bagua masters bagua questions.

He even asks his students questions so he can learn how to teach them better.

And when he began designing the Clear’s Kun Tao Silat curriculum he looked at all the advanced arts he knew:

* Tai Chi
* Bagua
* Xing Yi
* Several Silat styles
* and a few Tibetan arts

and he asked a very important question:

“What do these arts all have in common?”

Phase 1 is the answer to that question. It’s a synthesis of all the principles and techniques that are shared by several or all of these arts.

And it’s broken down class by class so that students can learn these skills as quickly and easily as possible.

What happens when you take the most common principles from the most advanced martial arts and break them down class by class?

You end up with 42 classes.

Go learn which questions you should ask and which answers you should question right here:

(There’s also a 42% discount if you get the entire phase 1 series at once.)

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

P.S. Don’t forget your towel.

5 important questions, & the only one that really matters.

Ask questions.

Asking good questions of your teachers, your peers, your students and most importantly yourself is absolutely critical to success in the martial arts.

…but there’s only one question that really matters.

First the top 5 runners up.

– How long is this going to take?
– Can I use this when I’m 90?
– Will this training help me reach 90? (and what condition will I be in when I get there?)
– Does this help me grow physically, mentally & spiritually?
– Is this fun?

These are important and I’m sure you can think of a few more.

But the most important question, the one that must be answered by all Martial Artists, is:

Can you fight?

This is first because without it none of the others really matter.

This survival first mindset is a big part why our training methods are so effective.

This is why the efficient & direct training methods we talked about yesterday are so important.

Training shouldn’t begin with long forms or tedious solo exercises.

To begin training with how to USE the art head on over and check out our Clear’s Silat starter package here:

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

What Indiana Jones can teach us about Kun Tao.

One of the most memorable scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark is when a Really Big Guy with a really big sword steps out of the crowd to confront Indy.

…and Indy just shoots him.

Nice and simple.

No wasted time on a elaborate fight scene.

Just take out the opponent quickly and efficiently.

…and in a way that is completely outside their expectations of the situation.

That’s Kun Tao.

It’s what sets Kun Tao apart from traditional Kung Fu.

Kun Tao doesn’t mess around with elaborate choreography they way traditional Kung Fu systems do.

Kun Tao doesn’t waste time on complex training methods that are slow to yield results. (a problem that plagues the internal arts: Tai Chi, Xing Yi & Ba Gua in particular.)

Kun Tao is the direct approach.

Explosive, Efficient, Effective self defense methods and training that is powerful and direct.

Why waste time with anything else?

To save time and learn efficiently go here:

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

p.s. I know many of you have experienced what I’m talking about first hand. So send me some of the craziest things you’ve heard from teachers who were trying to waste your time.

My favorite one that Sigung Clear tells is about walking into a school and the teacher telling him, “You train too much!”

Phase 1 Vol 15 – Surprise Attacks & Ground Fighting

This video contains the last 4 Classes in Clear’s Silat Phase 1

  • c39 Falls & Rolls
  • c40 Surprise attacks
  • c41 Jumping
  • c42 Ground Fighting

This video contains in-depth instruction in the essential skills for surviving a surprise attack and fighting from the ground when an attacker is trying to kick your head in.

Kung Fu Secrets of Bass Guitar.

My first class with Sigung Clear…

(We talked about that on Monday)

…was just like learning to play Bass.

I had decided I wanted to learn Bass Guitar. So, I made an appointment at the local music shop and went to meet their teacher.

He had a Celtics cap & was originally from the Boston area.

Here’s what he said,

“I could teach you to play a song each week. That’s what a lot of teachers do. And in a year you’ll be able to play 52 songs.

That may sound like a lot, but if you want to be a musician, you’ve got to know a lot more.

So instead I can teach you how this instrument works. I can teach you the skills you need, the principles and the theory behind it.

Once you understand that you won’t need to memorize a bunch of songs. You’ll be able to hear what’s going on and just jump in and play with anybody.”

The martial arts are plagued with teachers who only teach songs.

Their students learns form after form but when it comes time to play everything falls apart.

…because in self defense no two songs are ever the same.

With Clear’s Silat you learn how to play.

Sigung Clear breaks everything down, note by note, so you can understand the pieces.

You learn the theory behind it. And you learn how to listen. How to read your attackers & understand what’s happening around you.

So when the time comes to jam you just jump right in. You may not know this song but you know what’s going on.

You can improvise and take it wherever you need to.

We need more martial arts teachers like my Bass teacher.

Folks who want to teach people how to really use these arts instead of just teaching form after form. People who love to learn, to work hard and who love to play.

We need you. (Celtics cap is optional.) Your mind and body is your instrument.

Don’t just memorize more songs.

To learn how to really play go here:

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

P.S. We’ll be in Peoria IL this coming weekend and Albany NY two weeks after that. Email me for details.

7 reasons NOT to use a fist. (Because the Open Hand is better.)

“1 Touch Knockouts!”

That’s the title of our most viewed and most controversial video on Youtube.

The video is very simple.

All we do is teach a complete beginner how easy it is to break a 1 inch board with the open hand. All the instruction is right there in the video so anyone could try it and see for themselves.

People hate that video. They hate it with a passion. They hate the title, they hate the uniforms, everything.

But what people hate the most is when we say that the open hand is better than the fist.

It drives them crazy.

(especially now that the likes are outnumbering the dislikes 5 to 1)

So just in case any of our Youtube haters also read this newsletter here are 7 more reasons to get mad.

1) The fist is slower than the open hand

The fist is slower 1 for 1 and it’s much slower if you try to keep up a continuous barrage for more than a few seconds. (assuming full power with both the whole time.)

2) The fist is less powerful than the open hand.

The open hand is simply more powerful. Sure, you could train up your fist (and we do) but your open hand will always stay ahead of your fist if you train both.

3) The fist is less versatile than the open hand
The open hand become all kinds of things on it’s way to the target. A fist must open (becoming an open hand) first.

4) The impact from a fist does not penetrate the way an open hand strike does

The open hand has a penetrating quality that takes a lot of training to duplicate with a fist.

5) You can’t manipulate someone with a fist.

The open hand is much better for controlling an attacker when you want to use them as a weapon.

6) The fist covers less surface area (yes that’s a bad thing)

The smaller surface area of a fist means you have to be much more accurate and it’s much easier for the fist slide off, dissipating the force before it enters your attacker.

7) The fist is more dangerous (to the one throwing it) than the open hand.

If your alignment is off you can break your wrist & throw out your shoulder or even your back with a punch. Even if your alignment is perfect you can still break your hand on an attacker’s head or elbow.

The open hand doesn’t have either of these problems

So there you have it.

The Clear Defense Method is a crash course in how to make full use of these advantages and destroy the common punching & kicking methods that are so prevalent today.

Not only is it highly effective, it can be learned very quickly.

Next week the Clear Defense Instructor Package goes on sale for 3 days (April 19-21) and the early bird price ends for the Clear Defense Certification Workshop (April 21st.)

My first encounter with Sigung Clear…

Many years ago…
I studied Karate for a short time.

I only ever fought in one tournament. I got kicked in the head twice and took second place because there were only two of us in my division.

It was frustrating.

Not because I lost.

Or even because I was roughed up a little. It was frustrating because [Read more…]

3 Benefits of Overload – The light side of the force.

Monday we talked about the dark side.

How teachers use overload to hide information and how you can fight it.

But there’s a light side too.

Uses that are good and productive.

Here are 3…

1) Principle vs technique

In our Kun Tao Silat classes we will often show dozens of techniques on a
single principle.

Students are overwhelmed by the number of techniques and so they pick up the

They gain functional skill much faster this way.

2) Immersion…

We use this in our Fa Kung Healing workshop.

We take material that would normally be spread over months or years and by
condensing it into a single weekend students experience a dramatic increase
in their ability to feel and manipulate energy.

Our upcoming Xing Yi workshop uses this as well.

You will leave with more power and a better ability to use it effectively.

3) Video…

You can pack a lot of info into a short period of time…

and there’s no danger of overload.

Plus students can choose between and intensive immersion experience or
learning a step at a time.

The key to all these methods is carefully designing a curriculum to maximize
the result your students will experience.

To experience this yourself check out our Tai Chi Iron Body program:

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

Lie to your students… while telling the truth… and look good doing it.


This is a classic way to lie to your students…

…While telling them the truth…

…and look good doing it.

The Tai Chi (or Kung fu or whatever) master shows you lots of cool stuff. By the end of the session your head is overflowing with new ideas and skills.

By the next day everything is a blur and you can only remember bits and pieces.

This happens at seminars too.

Especially ones with several different presenters.

Overload won’t work on you if you know how to fight it.

In fact if you know how to recognize it and you are prepared you can learn quite a lot.

The best way to fight it is with a notebook.

Write down everything you learned.

If you can’t take notes during the lesson, do so immediately afterwards.

Sit down and write out a quick list of everything you where shown. Than go back through the list and fill in more detail. If writing is too slow use a voice recorder or whatever works best for you.

Now you can go back through your notes over the next few days.

Practice what you were shown and start putting pieces together.

If you see me in a workshop at the Tai Chi Gala you can bet I’ll have a notebook in my hand.

I’ll even be taking notes at our Xing Yi workshop in July.

That workshop is packed with so much great stuff there’s a risk of information overload.

Don’t get me wrong.

You’ll get some major benefits from doing that much Xing Yi in such a short period of time.

Not to mention the benefit of being able to feel first hand what Sigung Clear is showing.

Plus the benefit of receiving direct feedback and corrections from Sigung Clear.

I’m just saying you should remember to bring a notebook.

Your notes don’t have to be perfect.

We will film the entire program and make it available later. (and as a workshop attendee you’ll get first crack at it in the fall.)

But you should pay particular attention to the corrections and feedback you get from Sigung Clear.

Put a little extra detail into those sections of your notes.

If you haven’t registered yet you should hurry.

As soon as you register I’ll send you 4 video clips
on some of the training you need to prepare for the weekend.

Deadline is July 12th.

However, the sooner you start preparing the better.

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

p.s. There are some good ways to use overload. Ways that will help your students develop faster.

I hinted at it above but I’ll talk about it in more depth later.

Xing Yi Q&A

We’ve been asked several questions about our Xing Yi program.

Why Xing Yi?

Because it’s efficient, explosive, effective, powerful.

Because it builds internal power quickly and is quick to learn.

Why Now?

Because it’s time…

Sigung Clear began learning Xing Yi (and I Chuan) in the early 80’s. Since then he has pursued it in depth because of its street effectiveness and internal power.

He began teaching it in the mid 90’s.

But, until now, it was embedded in the Kun Tao Silat program as the last step before earning a Black Sash (phase 4.)

Over the last couple years, more and more people have been asking about our Xing Yi training.

So he felt it was time to put together a straight Xing Yi program for Xing Yi players and enthusiasts who want to get to the essence of the system and build skill as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What is Kun Tao Xing Yi?

Kun Tao are Kung Fu systems that have been refined & streamlined by their exposure to the fighting systems of South East Asia.

So Kun Tao Xing Yi is a Xing Yi system that has been streamlined to build skill as efficiently as possible.

Sigung Clear has studied Xing Yi with Kun Tao Silat masters from the islands as well as traditional Xing Yi masters in mainland China.

He has put together a curriculum that will take beginners and bring them up to fighting speed with Xing Yi (if they’re willing to do the work.)

…And it will take experienced Xing Yi players and help them understand the purpose behind the form. It will give them the tools to build the skill they’ve seen from other Xing Yi Masters.

Clear’s Xing Yi will be accepting new students in the fall.

5 Self defense blades you must know inside & out

“Everything is a Knife.”

That’s the good news & the bad news.

First the bad news,

The opponent is always armed.

Even if they don’t realize it…

…they always have lethal weapons at their fingertips.

Do you trust your opponent not to use them?

The Good News!

You are always armed,

…If you understand how to use the tools at your disposal.

Here’s a quick checklist of self defense blades you should be familiar with:

1. Pocket Knife. – The obvious one.

2. Pens. – There is very little difference between a knife and a pen.

3. Fingers. – These are great for cutting, ripping and tearing. With a little work you’ll think about your fingers the same way you would a knife.

4. Elbows and Knees. – These are more great tools for slicing and dicing.

5. Corners & Edges. – You find these everywhere. Doorways, Counters, Benches etc And they’re great for. The only difference is you bring the opponent to the blade instead of bringing the blade to the opponent.

To use these weapons you must understand them.

To protect yourself from them you must understand them as well.

Learn how to use ALL the tools at your disposal with Clear’s Kun Tao Silat.

Get started here:


Bubble toe fighting secrets of Jack Johnson

“Move Like a jellyfish, rhythm is nothing
You go with the flow, you don’t stop” – Jack Johnson, ‘Bubble Toes’

1. Move like a jellyfish.

  • Don’t hold tension anywhere,
  • Effortlessly float out of the way of an attack,
  • Make sure every touch is excruciatingly painful for the attacker.

2. Rhythm is Nothing.

– You use rhythmic movement but you are not bound by it. The Rhythm changes constantly and you mix in a healthy dose of broken rhythm.

3. You go with the flow.

We prefer the phrase: “Go where there’s no resistance” but the principle is the same.

Let your movement flow from what is happening.

Don’t try to force a technique or strategy.

4. You don’t stop…


Constant motion is critical.

Change the distance, change the flow, change your position.

Never be in one place for more than an instant.

Unless it’s bait.

We teach all of this in the first phase of Clear’s Silat.

In a few days all 17 Phase 1 DVDs will be finished and I’ll put together several instructor packages and discounts for folks who want to study the system in depth.

Get started right now.

Head on over to amazon and get
Internal Combat Arts Vol 1: Kun Tao Silat

A shortcut by any other name…

“There are no shortcuts in Kung Fu.”

I bet you’ve heard this before. I know I have.

And I would almost agree.


What do you call the direct route when no one else knows it?

It’s not really a short cut. It’s just how you get there.

Like taking the freeway instead of the scenic route. You’re going 75 mph while everyone else is winding their way through the mountains.

30 mph.

one switchback after another.

up the mountain, down the mountain, then back up again. Over and over and over.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the scenic route… When I have time.

But if someone told me I had directions to the freeway and I ended up on some one lane road in the middle of nowhere, I’d be pissed.

There are no shortcuts in kung fu ONLY if you know everything already.

I know I’ve still got a few things to learn…

So I always keep on eye out for that freeway sign.

Even Sigung Clear is still learning. Now more than ever. He’s constantly looking for the next level of information. Filling in more pieces of the puzzle.

And always looking for better ways to teach the things he already knows, in the hopes that his students will one day catch up to him.

If you feel like you’ve been on the scenic route a little too long…

Try the freeway for a change.

It’s still hard work,

But you’ll get there a lot faster.

Our Internal Combat Arts series is the on-ramp. Go check it out over on Amazon:

Backwards Kung Fu Teachings

Kung Fu is taught completely backwards.

  1. Learn your stances. Start building your low horse.
  2. Learn some forms & techniques.
  3. Maybe learn a couple drills.
  4. Learn some highly technical applications.
  5. And then maybe someday you learn about how the art really works, or you move beyond qigong sets and actually learn a little of what internal is really about.

This is backwards. It’s wrong. It’s designed to waste your time.
[Read more…]