Saturday 3 September 2022

The 4 elements of STMA


The 4 elements of STMA are:

Feng Wei

Those familiar with the Godai concept of 5 elements in Oriental philosophy will know how they relate to the chakra system of consciousness.

Some of you will have read my previous work on this subject and how they relate to the psychological and physical aspects of combat.

We are now able to relate each of the 4 elements of STMA to the 4 elements of earth, water, fire and wind.


The Earth element stands for strength and stability. It is the mountain that does not move, the tree standing firm. In the body it stands for the bones and muscles, the physical structure of the body.

In STMA, earth is the grappling element. You stand firm, pull your enemy in and pull him to the ground. You keep him there, even after you walk away. You feel confident. There is no need to run away from the enemy or even "defend" as such. You invite him in and take him down.


The Water element stands for adaptability. It is the rivers moving over the land, running to the ocean, the rain that falls from the sky.

Water cannot be broken, snapped or grabbed.

In STMA, water is the Feng Wei element. Based on Kempo, Wing Chun, Jun Fan, standing Jujutsu, and part of Kali, it is adaptive, defensive, evasive, yet powerful when it crashes in.

Water can arode a mountain and a flood can clear a village or knock down the strongest tree.

"Be like water" Bruce Lee advised his students.

In the body water refers to the blood and the liquids that make life possible.


The Fire element stands for Power, energy, attack. Fire is all consuming, it burns up everything in it's path.

In STMA Fire is the Kickboxing element. It is the forward driving power of the boxer or Thai boxer. The powerful punches on the focus pads, the mighty kicks, knees and elbows on the Thai pads. It is the power of karate as it breaks through wood boards.

The opponent has no option to retreat into the corner. If he tries to hit back we cover, evade, take his bows on our gloves or shins, and hit him back even harder.

In the body Fire refers to metabolism, the use of energy.


The wind element in STMA is weapons.

Just as the wind moves over the land, moving objects with it's unseen power, so you move across the floor with your footwork, wielding your stick in your hand.

The sticks cut the air like wind, the crack of wood on wood is like thunder, the stick moves fast as lightning and when it strikes the enemy it lights up his nervous system with a flash of pain.

In the body the Wind refers to the breath.


The 5th element in the Godai system is the Void.

Void is nothingness - the space that must exist for the other elements to manifest in.

It is the space between the stars, the space between the atoms.

In the body, it is thought, the creativity that is the manifestation of all action.

If the other 4 elements are the gears of the car, Void is the neutral position, the space you shift through that makes gear changes possible.

In STMA, the Void state is when you are no longer manifesting one art, and are liberated from all structure, moving freely. It is what Bruce Lee called "Jeet Kune Do". The state of Mushin or Wu Wei. The place we all want to be.

This comparison with the Godai is only a metaphor and not to be taken too literally. It is a model of consciousness, a way to understand the program.

Like the gears of a car, you need to change between the elements as the need arises.

It is a mistake to think "I'll be fire and beat everyone that way". Every karate "master" who was taken to the mat and choked out by a Gracie found out the folly of this approach. You need to have all 4 elements.

But the final goal is to be a White Tiger not a representative of WTMA.

A Tatsujin - a Human Being, not a Human Doing. I've been writing about this a lot recently.

The goal is to be Void - the neutral gear. Eventually you will be like an Automatic - the gear changes will hapen beneath the surface without any conscious effort from you.

THIS is where you want to be.

DO NOT pick a single element and try to be just that or you will be destined to fail. You will have limited yourself to a structure. The Truth is liberation from all structure.

Having no way as way, having no limitation as limitation.

In combat there is balance between the elements.

Compare a contest between fire and water.

If there is enough fire it will boil the water out of existance.
If there is enough water it will put the fire out.

Of course by adapting you can also overcome.

Water cannot dilute water.

Again, these are metephors, not to be taken too literally.

The Godai is read from the ground up:


these are the elements

However another version of the elements:


this version can be seen in the Gotonpo of Ninjutsu - the elements of escape.

The 5 elements appears in the Western mysticism as well - the 5 elements are a big part of pagan and wiccan symbolism.

Ths is similar to how the number 3 pops up - the torite kihon sanpo, how we have 3 ranges in serrada, and 3 drills, each with 3 moves.

And in wiccan, the 3 aspects of The Goddess which relate to the 3 phases of the moon. In Christianity the Holy Trinity Father Son and Ghost.

Again, none of these symoblic metaphors are too be taken too literally, they are to help build a model of consciousness for understanding of technique and tactics.