Monday, April 30, 2012

Wilder Seminar Review

This last weekend Sensei Nick and I had the chance to attend a Kris Wilder seminar in Columbia, MO.

If there is one thing Mr. Wilder knows, its how to hit with power! This seminar was AWESOME! I would venture to say that most Martial Artists/Martial Arts schools in America work based on rotational power. Round house kicks, rotating at the hip, etc. Wilder hits with structure aka vertical power. I swear, watching this guy hit people is like magic. Martial Arts Guru Magic. Thankfully I did not receive any of Mr. Wilder's punches, but I got to watch several of the larger participants get punched only to stumble several feet back. It doesn't look like much, but these people really got moved. I got a light kick on the thigh, and WOW.

The first day was all the learning and the second day was all the application. The first day was broken down like this
- The Fighter vs. the Warrior
- Summoning power lower body
- Summoning power upper body
- Deception of movement principles
- Deception of movement principles and practice
- Killing the Center

All in all this set up really flowed well. The logical progression through the material allowed Wilder to give us the basics and continually build on those basics.

Honestly, I think one of my favorite parts of the seminar was the introduction, The Fighter Vs. The Warrior. Wilder talked about how fighters play the game and warriors end it. I know that this is counter to what I am supposed to be thinking and that Miller would probably be ashamed of me, but I tend to romanticize the idea of being a warrior. I like the idea of living every day as if it were your last, of following the bushido code, and being capable of having to act as a warrior should.

I want to be clear, I am not advocating or trying to glorify violence in any way. I have read Miller's Meditations on Violence and I had to put it down for a few days about three quarters of the way through the book because it was so dark. Real violence is nothing like movie violence. Truth be told, I don't have any experience with real violence. I honestly hope to God I never do. But I have talked to people who do and tried to understand their position, or put myself in their shoes. Trying to visualize and empathize and understand what they went through. It's no substitute by any means, but I feel like it gives me just enough of an understanding to let me know that I don't want to know. I know just enough to know that I don't know know shit about real violence, I know just enough to know that I should be scared.

With that being said, I feel like that's what really separates the fighter from the warrior. To me, in my mind, A fighter wants to keep the fight going, wants to play the game, wants to monkey dance, wants to win for face and status and ego. A warrior seeks peace, they do not want to fight unless there is absolutely no other given choice, and if they are forced to fight, they want to end the conflict as quickly as possible. Based on those terms, I want to be a warrior.

Moving on, Wilder talked about how to build your structure from the ground up, how to use "Mud Foot" or "Gundam Foot", moving on to the "Chinese Doughnut" around the knee, and then aligning the hips/back/spine, and eventually the shoulders and arm movements necessary to really stand and strike with force. I don't want to actually go into detail in case anyone else has the opportunity to work with Wilder. I'd rather let the man himself explain it to you, but it all really makes sense and it WORKS.

Wilder also knows some really nifty ninja cheats to help you out. He went over some of these like twitching and using your peripheral vision in order to cheat your brain into being faster and to psych out your opponents brain. I was never really able to catch a telegraph or understand how to look for them before this weekend. I don't know why, but for some reason, something clicked and I now feel like I have a much better grasp on what to look for and how to telegraph, or false telegraph, or what to do to not telegraph at all.

Wilder makes some interesting points on human behavior, especially how we tend to pick up on and use each other's behavior. In his words, "Human beings are designed to infect one another." Once you understand this principle, you can really use it to manipulate people in a fight to your advantage.

The second day we looked at some kata applications. I don't know any of the Goju Ryu kata, but some of the movements are very similar to our shotokan kata. The same basic movements, just in a different order. I really like some of Wilder's applications/Bunkai over some of Abernethy's explanations. Not that I dislike Abernethy's Bunkai, just that I feel like Wilder's may be more effective for my body type. In addition, many of the Bunkai that Wilder suggest from the kata movements are identical to many of the techniques I learned in Aikijutsu. So for me, these felt much more natural then some of the ones learned from the Abernethy seminar. I am now very excited go through some of Nick's DVDs from Wilder. (Although I still need to read Teaching the Martial Arts.)

I am really looking forward to Brent Yamamoto Seminar in July because from what I understand he works to blend Karate and Aikido. Watching Wilder's bunkai and practicing both Karate and Aikijutsu really emphasizes the fact that all martial arts are intertwined and compliment each other very nicely. Sensei Nick and I are very eager to begin work on his book about that very subject, although I have a lot more research to do to catch up to where Nick is as far as knowledge and understanding.

Overall, it was a great weekend, and I am really looking forward to using what I learned in class and excited to practice 'standing' on my own while Nick is out of the country in May. There was some discussion afterwards about what could be improved upon in future seminars. A few people mentioned that perhaps a take-away might be good, but I am still on the fence on this matter. I think if people are interested they can take their own notes, and that a take-away may be a bit superfluous, but I can understand why some people would suggest it. I think everything went well and personally wouldn't have changed a thing.

I take that back, I have one minor concern, but it wasn't with the seminar itself as much as the attendees, but I will post that later this week.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 6.


  1. Good review. Is there a centralized hub where schools and individuals post their seminars? I have looked and looked but the whole circuit seems very decentralized.


    1. Hi Brett,

      I know that Miller usually posts his seminars on his website pretty far in advance. Some of the other people may do the same, so you will want to check their websites often, or perhaps contact them directly for a yearly/seasonal seminar list.

      The people who have been hosting the last two seminars I have attended are the Karate 4 Life foundation. Information can be found at You can e-mail them for information. Eric Parsons is a really nice guy, and he can add you to his mailing list for seminars he hosts in Missouri. I'm not sure where you are located, it may be a long trek for you, but Nick and I drove 6 hours for this last one, so I guess on whether you feel its worth it or not.

      I know that's not a lot of help, but that's about the best I can do. At least it's a place to start!

  2. I was introduced to "Human beings are designed to infect one another." over breakfast with Marc MacYoung, you can find out more about the concept as it applies to violence in his work and books. Solid as Sears. Kris+

    1. Cool, I don't think Nick or I own any of his stuff... I will look for some of his work and put it as a priority on my wish list.

    2. "infect"....sounds a lot like memetics. maybe I should check this out.

  3. Good, informative post - thank you! It really makes me hope that I'll be fortunate enough to attend one of Mr. Wilder's seminars.

    1. Sure thing! As I mentioned above, I'm not sure when Wilder would be coming back but you can contact Eric Parsons at and he may be able to give some information on upcoming or future seminars.