James Brown, Martial Artist

The Immortal James Brown

Martial artists could learn an important lesson from James Brown.

From Wikipedia:

By mid-1960s, James Brown had developed his signature groove that emphasized the downbeat – with heavy emphasis on the first beat of every measure to etch his distinctive sound, rather than the backbeat that typified African American music.[6]

Brown often cued his band with the command “On the one!,” changing the percussion emphasis/accent from the one-two-three-four backbeat of traditional soul music to the one-two-three-four downbeat – but with an even-note syncopated guitar rhythm (on quarter notes two and four) featuring a hard-driving, repetitive brassy swing. This one-three beat launched the shift in Brown’s signature music style, starting with his 1964 hit single, “Out of Sight” and his 1965 hit, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag“.

Note the key idea: James Brown had his band come in on the first beat –Pow! I believe it was Bootsy Collins who explained in an interview how unusual that is. Most bands come in on the second beat or the fourth beat, but James’ idea was to blast right out of the gate.

This is in contrast to many (most?) martial artists and martial arts styles, who also want to come in on the second or fourth beat, even. In other words, many stylists block (one) then HIT (two). Or even in many FMA block (one), parry/check (two) HIT (three). Even worse, is step (one), block (two), HIT (three).

A key idea, hammered into me by GM’s Estalilla and Vasquez, is to hit on the one. Do not block, do not go to preliminary moves, set-up moves, etc.

As James used to say, “On the one!” POW!

GM Brown


3 Responses to “James Brown, Martial Artist”

  1. I agree, and who was more smooth than The Godfather of Soul??

    There is an old saying in boxing : “BE FIRST!” I learned that when I was 8 or 9 and have been trying to perfect the execution ever since.

  2. As he sang in the Payback…”I don’t know karate but I know Karazy”…lol

  3. Guro Blackgrave,

    “Payback” is one of my favorites.

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