This page will be dedicated to possibly my favorite style; actually my favorites are L9H, Splashing Hands, Chen Tai Chi, Ba Kua, Hsing-I and Tzu Men Chuan; not necessarily in that order. In other words I love them all but Splashing Hands along with Hsing-I was the first real instruction that I had outside of Judo as a kid and I thought “Tinys’ style” was particularly cool with the stomping, shuffling, jumping and slapping; the speed you can develop is awesome.
It was just a select few of us at first that would stay for the private “after class”. The practice was Splashing Hands, then known only as Tinys’ style. Lao Tzu, of course then he was “Sifu”, did not publicly teach Splashing Hands and my brother and I only became aware of it by the close, puppy-like attention we paid to every move Lao Tzu made and we noticed a short stomp he would sometimes use that added such an obvious level of shock and impeccable timing that it was hard not to see the efficacy. Our sloppy attempts at emulation prompted him to begin formally teaching us and other students were soon drawn in as well. I like to think and hope that Gary and I were somewhat of a positive influence on other students if not for our enthusiasm alone but in particular that we were a driving force behind him beginning to publicly teach it to other than senior brother Al Lam and possibly senior brother Joji Hollands.
Splashing Hands Kung fu was my bread and butter back in my wild days. This extremely effective soft style of Shaolin street fighting was introduced to my brother and me gradually over the course of our first year as we were learning Hsing-I. It was so popular among the students that Lao Tzu began to teach it formally with Hsing-I. I teach and practice the complete system, including all Five Animal Forms developed through the effort of Chris Lomas in England.
I am not sure of the status of the availability of the Animal Form DVD’s put together by Chris Lomas in England, I would love to get another set myself. The last I heard there was some type of issue but I have not talked to Chris in years. If you read this, Hello, Brother! I have heard a couple different stories about the origin of these awesome forms and I would love to some day get the scoop right from the source. I was fortunate enough to get copies of the five DVD’s from Chris and I appreciate the hard work he put in, I treasure them. I put in an entire year of meticulous work teaching myself the five forms aided greatly by the multiple angles of view. I try to stay up on them as far as remembering the forms so that I am not screwed if something ever happens to the DVD’s although I have since backed them up further.
I believe this style combines well with any one of the more formal internal styles we practice to add explosiveness, machine gun striking capability and for closing the gap. The longer Animal Forms are 2-3 minutes long at Splashing Hands speed and when practiced in an extensive and intensive way bring a level of anaerobic fitness that is hard to match. This is a fancy way of saying that if you string the forms together one after the other until you drop you will gain extreme endurance. If you can get through an “hour of power” Splashing hands workout you can go five, five minute rounds no problem.
When we met Lao Tzu McNeil my brother and I had a practiced and ingrained Jeet Kune Do fighting style, meaning modified boxing hand techniques and a side ways stance that focused on the forward leg side kick and the lead leg roundhouse kick or what Bruce Lee called the hook kick. What traditional styles call a hook kick he called a reverse hook kick. We used a light bouncing movement to induce a rhythm in the opponent and a quick powerful burst into the technique of choice. Splashing Hands isn’t a lot different except the side stepping movements differ greatly; although an entirely natural movement, integrating the Splashing Hands footwork so that it felt natural and could be executed without thought took a long time. The hand techniques are very similar; both are based around the lead jab with a vertical fist and utilize open hand parries as opposed to “strong” karate blocks. The “cracking of the whip principle” is the same and when combined with the power of Hsing-I, I had a potent combination that I was eager to try.
Our forays into the point tournament world were disappointing to say the least, most of those guys I could let them hit me just about anywhere and they couldn’t hurt me. We were interested in full contact style fighting like Lao Tzu talked about with the Tang Shou Tao tournament in Taiwan. No gear and very few rules. There were only a couple organizations outside of point and forms tournaments and they would pick and choose who could fight based on willingness to provide a show, (this from a brother student that tried out for one of the big kickboxing organizations, won all of his tryout fights quickly and brutally and was not allowed to fight because of his unwillingness to “take it easy” and make the fights last to make a good show. In fact during that same time or soon after is when the Gracie’s first issued their challenge of all comers for a $100,000 purse as advertised in Playboy magazine.
The catch of course was that each fighter had to come up with a secured bond of some sort for the money with winner take all. This was all still illegal, of course, so the fights would take place on a ship in open waters outside of U.S. laws governing such matters and I say fights because there were three of us that wanted to do it; senior brother Joji, my brother Gary and myself, fighting respectively, Rorian, Rickson and Royce Gracie, tentatively; I do not know for sure if anything was ever actually in the planning stages with them or if we were just trying to raise the financing first and those particular Gracie’s were the ones active at the time and corresponded to each of our weight classes. I don’t think that was the case though because all of those guys were bigger than Gary. I know we would have had our hands full except maybe Joji, he is just plain bad-ass with an incredible amount of fighting-for-real experience; but they would have had their hands full as well. Lao Tzu McNeil tried to secure backing from some Chinese business men he knew but for whatever reason it did not happen. It is interesting to contemplate the ways my life could have been different had that event taken place. There really wasn’t anything else in the U.S. that I knew of so off to Taiwan for the fabled Tang Shou Tao tournament in 1988.
Taiwan was an explosion of sensory overload for a kid that had never been out of the United States other than trips to Mexico. I was twenty eight years old but still very much a kid in many ways. Unfortunately my brother was unable to attend, so regrettable, it would have been awesome to have that experience together. I went with a junior brother student, Eric and Lao Tzu of course was accompanied by a woman from Taiwan that I believe was a friend of Master Chiao. I forget exactly how long we were there but it was several weeks to a month or more, it was a long time ago although I bet Lao Tzu knows. Regardless, it was a formative experience I will never forget and it was something that I needed badly with pent up aggression eating at me and the desire to test myself as strong as ever.
I had been training for months to prepare with copious amounts of Iron Hand to take advantage fully the use of bare hands and Shih Shui with a particular focus on heavy beater work to strengthen my body for possible do or die. We were just learning Chen Tai Chi and Hsiao Chui Tien at the time and were at rudimentary stages with both, so my method was an imperfectly integrated combination of Splashing Hands and Hsing-I although it was a Hsing-I tournament. I still struggled with trying to lose my old ways a little bit but the Splashing Hands was pretty well practiced. I used a Hsing-I extended guard but my striking technique was nearly all Splashing Hands. Let’s put it this way, I never tried to come forward out of a Pi Chuan stance and strike anyone with Metal. My bread and butter was reverse shuffle/kick, jab and punch, turning the kick into what ever kick I needed for the circumstance.
We arrived early before the tournament and had several days of training in the park with Lao Tzu and Master Chin, sight-seeing, partying a little and marveling at this intense land. Driving the streets as a passenger is one of the scariest things I have done in my life and I once fought with a punk rock gang in the middle of the pit at a show at the Olympic Auditorium, home of legendary bouts in it’s colorful history. That of course is another story that I will tell on the Chen Tai Chi page because the Tai Chi push as well as the Hsing-I Tiger was showcased in my evenings “performance”.
It was refreshing to train outside in the parks where it was so accepted that it was common place and nearly unnoticed by most passersby, unlike in the U.S. where conflict can frequently arise. Learning the Five Exercises and Three Forms of Tzu Men Chuan in Taiwan with the man himself, Master Chin, was an honor beyond words that I probably didn’t realize the significance of at the time. Thank you again, Lao Tzu, for making it happen. This was the year that Lao Tzu was honored with the Little Nine Heaven sword.
I have some great stories of extra curricular activities that Eric and I got up to while Lao Tzu was training with one of his three teachers. I will save those perhaps for another time or page. With great anticipation the tournament day finally came, it is what brought me to this far away foreign land and I was ready to get it done. I was immediately struck by the fact that we were the only Americans in attendance. This was four years after Master Hsu’s death but the Tang Shou Tao Association still existed and the tournament was still held every year in honor of the dead Master. None of his other American students were there but many others from around the world were in attendance in colorful uniforms that gave it an exotic feel.
Traditionally the tournament was divided into weight classes with no protective gear and full contact rules that forbade only striking the throat and groin. Injuries were common in Sifu’s day with broken noses and other bones and a Chinese doctor was on site at the ready. It was one of the primary reasons I wanted to go all that way and fight; the fact that it was more real than anything in the States at the time. I was confident in my speed and the strength of my hands and body against punishment, especially with no gloves. I doubted many of the other fighters had the level of Iron Hand that I did and I knew what a hand that could slam with impunity into lead shot could do to a human body. I also knew that Splashing Hands was a secret weapon. It was an International Hsing-I tournament and they had probably seen nothing like it before.
Then the first shoe dropped; I don’t know how Lao Tzu didn’t know before hand, maybe he did and just didn’t say anything, wanting me to fight anyway. The tournament was no longer fought bare-knuckled; protective gear was now mandatory. They had begun to use it in previous years and it was optional, similar to the UFC at one point. Perhaps they discovered that the gloves actually protected their hands and they could hit with weird hand positions and not get hurt also similar to the UFC now. There is a school of thought that believes more damage can be caused wearing the gloves for this reason. I agree with this except when we are talking about an Iron Hand trained hand and proper ingrained instruction on hitting with proper hand placement attitude for the angle of the strike. This is not something that is easily learned even with a teacher.
Now they provided a large Kendo style glove with covered but articulated fingers similar to the gloves in the opening scene of “Enter the Dragon”. This was good because I owned a pair and was used to using them. They also provided a full body Olympic Tae Kwon Do style chest and groin protector worn with your own cup underneath and a Kendo style mask almost like a hockey goalie’s mask with a very thick plastic face shield. Everything was very influenced by the Japanese you could tell, all the way down to fighting barefoot on large Tatame mats, another curve ball that I had problems with. I was not used to fighting barefoot and especially not on the coarse weave tight packed straw mats. It was a factor in my fights later.
I tried to take it in stride but the use of protective gear is not something I had trained for and I would have if I had known before hand. The barefoot thing really sucked and messed with me a little because I was a total tender foot and they felt vulnerable; I would have definitely prepared for that as well. It is a weakness that was revealed to me and that I took pains to rectify afterwards by toughening my feet and going barefoot more often. I even started doing it regularly outdoors but the callouses got too extreme. I guess I had somewhat prepared because my brother and I had at one time done some Karate style foot training with Makiwara boards and kicking sand bags. We didn’t get too into it and this was before we met Lao Tzu so it was good we didn’t pursue that type of conditioning. I know Lao Tzu thinks that type of foot training is not necessary and could be harmful.
My teammate and I readied ourselves mentally as we all participated in a ceremonial opening to the tournament with all the teams lined up behind their teacher. Ours was a short line with just myself, Eric and Jenny lined up behind the man. Jenny was there as our guide and was not fighting although I think she could have held her own and was of sturdy Mongolian stock.
The tradition was for someone from each team to do a form and I was going to present the Small Cross Form for the first time. The time came and again we did everything on those lame ass straw mats and barefoot of course so it effected my form a little and with my natural stage fright I messed up a little but covered it okay. Like Lao Tzu always said “If you don’t act like you fucked up and just keep doing something until you pick it up again they will never know, nobody knows what you are doing and whether it is right or not unless you give it away”. I must have done okay because I had some enthusiastic applause.
Then the time came to fight.
I was filled with an excited anxiety, my only real fear was the fear of failure. The change in the rules implementing protective gear had a dual affect; I was disappointed in one respect in that I knew bare-knuckled was my best chance given my level of Iron Hand and I felt my Iron Body training through Shih Shui would give me an advantage over the others if we fought without the body protectors. Truth be told I really didn’t know anything about the other competitors, for all I knew they could have had the same training I did, being students or grand-students of Master Hsu. But on the other hand I was somewhat relieved because I knew that with the gear it was pretty much assured that I would not get seriously hurt no matter how it went.
One of the rival teams was also one of the biggest teams at the tournament; a Japanese team sporting matching uniforms that were a colorful robin’s egg blue and styled like a Karate gi. They also fielded the reigning tournament Champion for the previous three years straight. The floor of a large gymnasium was covered with the aforementioned Tatame mats and multiple fights occurred at once with the fighters separated into very general weight classes. I weighed 170 pounds and my first fight was against a Japanese guy from the Blue Gi Team, I will call them, who was probably 190 pounds, a little taller maybe but much stockier than my lean frame, like most of the Japanese fighters. He looked like he was probably a nice guy, much more so than I was at that time, as we donned our protective gear, got our last words of encouragement from our teachers and stepped onto the mat to square off. The fights were two three minute rounds and there were no rules other than the mandatory protective gear.
Except for volleyball I have always been mediocre at sports but I have been blessed with a certain level of athletic explosiveness that I take somewhat for granted and that not everyone has, even professional MMA fighters. I have some natural hand speed but I also know how to be fast using my suddenness along with non-telegraphic movement. Extensive Splashing Hands training had made my shuffles and strikes like lightning and I decided to try and knock this guy out even with the kendo style head gear, showing them that it made no difference.
The referee blew the whistle and I blasted forward with a reverse shuffle kick, jab and punch combination as my opponent stood there with his hand out in a Pi Chuan stance. The kick was a feint to close the gap and both jab and punch smashed solidly into his mask right where his nose was located, driving the plastic into his face beneath. I saw his eyes widen and I moved in again with a couple stepping side shuffles then I drove forward again with a reverse shuffle front kick that impacted hard into his chest protector and I stepped in again with a hard jab and punch to his mask with the same affect as before.
I don’t recall him laying a hand on me and I got him with a variation of that same sequence a couple more times and he finally went down. Without the gear it would have already been over but they let him get up, I guess the referee decided he wasn’t knocked out enough and let us continue but the round ended very conveniently soon after. By now I felt like I could do anything I wanted to him so I got cocky and when the second round started I tried a stupid move.
I took Judo lessons when I was 9 years old for about a year and a half and I had an aptitude for it, excelling in sparring with higher belts. I used a move that I don’t remember the Japanese name for, I could look it up but it doesn’t really matter. You pull the opponent forward on top of you as you fall into a backward roll, using the extended leg to catapult the opponent over your head. I had decided in a flash of idiocy to try it as we squared off again but I altered it into a knee variation that spears the knee into the opponent’s torso as you fall back to the ground.
He came at me and we clinched where I grabbed his gi lapels and executed the move. I bore the full brunt of his 190 pounds onto my right knee as we slammed into the mat. Without the chest protector it may have killed him; as it was it knocked all the wind out of him and I rolled him off of me and jumped up simulating finishing him with a punch as the referee rushed in to back me off.
I stepped back and I immediately knew my knee wasn’t right. I had re-injured the same knee that I had messed up doing forward hand springs when I was 20 years old just before I met Lao Tzu. One went wrong and I landed with a fully flexed knee, hyper-flexing and partially rupturing something in the patella tendon/quadriceps tendon area of my right knee and of course it had never received any kind of therapy; what did I know for therapy, I never even went to the doctor. I had also, somewhere along the line, avulsed a huge chunk of meat off of the bottom of my left foot from fighting bare-footed on the coarse straw mat.
Amazingly the referee let the Japanese fighter continue once again even though he had technically been knocked out twice now, once with the head shots and now to the body; the knee to the sternum had left him gasping like a fish out of water, completely at my mercy if it had been a real fight. Then the time ran out with no further clashes as my knee began to rapidly swell. I was declared the winner and would continue on in the tournament.
My knee quickly stiffened and became painful but we were unprepared to deal with injuries of any kind. No ACE wrap, no ice, nothing but a two hour wait before my next fight as it had become obvious to everyone that my only competition was the tournament champion. The rest of the “weight classes” fought throughout the day, including my teammate, Eric. His was an epic battle with one of the best guys at the tournament, a student of one of the other big Japanese schools, which I will call the Orange Gi team.
Eric was a junior brother who became a pretty good friend although I have not talked to him in years. I hope you are well, brother. His fight was one of the most exciting ones I have seen to this day, professionals included. Eric is part Native American and at the time had very long lustrous black hair that all the girls were gaga over and of which he was very proud. I knew the allure of a long-haired man to some women and at one time I had hair down to the middle of my back and had my best luck with girls when my hair was long.
He had it in a long ass ponytail and we tried to stuff it all up into the headgear which would turn out to be a mistake. We should have just left it hanging out the back of the mask with multiple rubber bands to restrain it along it’s length but more on that in a moment. His opponent was a stocky Japanese that looked pretty mean and Eric is a sweetheart of a beanpole, the nicer version of me. Eric’s opponent was definitely one of the best fighters there. Their bout was really the championship because of the luck of the draw I guess, but either one could have beaten the eventual tournament winner in that weight class; sorry for the spoiler but this fight between Eric and this Asian fighter was the battle of the tournament, in my opinion.
Lao Tzu, Jenny and I “cornered” for him and I could tell he was nervous, who wouldn’t be except true psychopaths, who are pretty rare. I had already fought my first bout and was gimping around on my rapidly stiffing knee and I was nervous about my own fight still to come. I would eventually wait over two hours before fighting again and I could barely bend my right knee. This fight I am about to describe served as a great distraction to get my mind off of my leg. We got Eric’s gorgeous flowing locks barely restrained under the headgear like the Snakes of Medusa, struggling to escape. His hair was really long, well past the middle of his back and we only had one hair band to bind that mess. I was a former hippy so I sympathized and tried my best to help him get it stuffed in there. But my sympathy would be short lived.
Eric was a skilled junior brother with good forms but I am not sure how much real fighting experience he had; he is probably too nice of a guy. He started stiffly as the referee blew the whistle and he moved forward with a hybrid Splashing Hands and Hsing-I stance, similar to what I did. While I had much faster Splashing Hands and really controlled the fight with my opponent, Eric started getting tagged early, further shaking his confidence. His opponent certainly was not trying to use a Pi Chuan stance either and he seemed like a Karate guy. He was very good and peppered Eric’s headgear with good sharp shots. I will give credit where credit is due.
The round ended with Eric barely hanging on and he kind of looked like he had hit the pavement off of the back of a motorcycle. Sifu and Jenny sat nearby on the sidelines and I stood up with Eric. He was heaving for breath and I will never forget his face, what I could see of it anyway, when he turned toward me in the corner. His treasured tresses had migrated during the melee around from the back of his head where it was inadequately contained by the headgear. His entire face was covered in a carpet of thick black hair that I don’t know how he could have possibly seen through. His wide eyes peered out at me from within the hedge of hair trapped between the hard plastic of the face mask and his face, blocking air like a hostage’s gag. I was filled with a weird anger mostly because he had been encouraged to cut his hair for the trip but had not done so and was now paying the price. In my mind he was performing like shit and making Lao Tzu look bad.
He was gasping and sweating as I tore at the fastenings for his headgear, hissing at him from between clenched teeth, “Get this fucking mask off your head, asshole, I ought to rip that fucking hair out of your head.” He caught his breath and with an air of dejection said, “I’m sorry, man.” I felt sympathy for him surging within me and I helped him wrangle his mop again and stuff it back under the headgear as he readied himself to start the second round. I refastened the bindings of the headgear and whispered to him, “If you don’t go back out there and kick his ass I am going to kick yours.” I know, I am not proud of myself and I am even less proud of what I did next.
I sat down next to Lao Tzu as the second and final round began but I was soon back on my feet cheer-leading. Eric had a renewed determination that was obvious, a staunch refusal to let his teacher down. Like the waves of a riptide the two fighters clashed with each other a few times then Eric’s greater reach allowed him to begin to score shots to the opponents’ face, smashing the heavy plastic of the head gear face mask into the sweaty mug beneath. Every strike caused my own excitement to mount and I began to shout out, “Headhunter, headhunter!” with each landed blow, knowing that with all the gear this was the best tool to use to gain a knockout. I believe Eric was spurred on by my bellowings of encouragement and it may well have been instrumental to him seeing the fight through but sometimes, in competition, winning is not everything and I did not realize that what I was doing was disrespectful and was causing Lao Tzu to lose face. What would have been acceptable in America, here, in Taiwan was not.
Then with an incredible flurry of pinpoint blows the Japanese fighter went down for one of the only true knockouts of the whole tournament, other than the two I was not given credit for in my fight. Exhausted, relieved and very happy that the fight was over, Eric stood there breathing hard as we helped him out of his gear and Lao Tzu chastised me for my disrespectful outbursts; I could tell he was pretty angry and I hope to never make him like that again. I have only seen him really mad a couple of times and he was close because of me and my antics. Unfortunately as we helped Eric remove his gloves and he began to complain of pain in his hand we realized that he had broken his hand against the hard plastic face mask after hammering it with so many punches and would be unable to continue. It is really too bad because he would have won his weight class easily after that, although then it may have been possible that Eric and I may have had to fight each other; I am not sure how this type of situation was handled.
Eric having to drop out left only me to fight in the final bout for the Grand Championship of the tournament against the reigning champion from the previous three years running, a huge Japanese who was the teammate of the guy I beat the crap out of in my first fight. He was probably 6’3″ and 225 pounds of solid hog-head Japanese and I was a lean and mean 170 pound skinny, gimpy machine with a locked up right knee from the damage I did to myself in the first fight. With proper treatment and a shorter time between fights I think I could have done much better but I figured I could change stance to orthodox and put the damaged leg more out of reach of this known leg kicker and said fuck it, let’s go. I was adept at fighting from both sides so I figured I had a chance but one of my greatest assets, my speed and maneuvering ability was greatly compromised.
Without having control of the gap and being able to maneuver I was essentially forced to stand and “bang” as the kids these days like to say, with a way bigger, pretty well trained and experienced fighter. He really was huge, I remember standing in front of him and looking up thinking he was a brick shit-house so to speak and really wishing we weren’t using protective gear; I was so confident in the strength of my hands. I could slam strikes to mid forearm in shotgun pellets and I knew just a graze from my finger tips could slice open flesh. Even injured I believe I would have prevailed.
It started and we closed on one another; I was looking for the counter because I knew I couldn’t get off first like with his team-mate so I was in an orthodox stance with my right leg behind to keep it from being kicked. I think that maybe, in hindsight off course, that I should went southpaw and kept my good leg back off of which to maneuver and better get my whole body into my punches and get a quick knockout in order to not get hurt any further. It didn’t quite happen like that of course and I was about to get hit twice harder than I had ever been hit before or since by man or object and I have been hit by just about every blunt object known to man. More on that on the Little Nine Heaven page.
The rise of desperation was heralded by one of his famous rear leg roundhouse kicks which I would have normally easily avoided. It crashed heavily into my left thigh, hard enough to leave a bruise the size of his foot on the outside of my leg; his foot was literally the length of my femur and I have some pretty long legs. My left leg instantly seized up as I tried to lamely shuffle away realizing that I was like a tank with no tracks. I threw caution to the wind and moved in close to take away the kick and got a couple decent shots in to his face; my hand speed was still unmatched. But I couldn’t finish him inside with the gear on and I tried to move away on wheels that didn’t work.
It was the first time I have actually “seen stars” from getting hit in the head. Bear in mind the guy I was fighting was the tournament champion at least three years running and was experienced in every aspect of the rules and gear used in this particular competition. The hard plastic of the head gear stopped about half way back toward the ear area, with from the ear back covered only by a single layer of thin leather. My head and his looping overhand right intersected, with the impact in the perfect spot where my head was unprotected, right above and slightly behind the ear. It was perfectly timed and targeted and Fourth of July went off as I disengaged as rapidly as I could with my non-functioning wheels.
I shook it off and burst in again with punches and WHAM! the same thing happened again; it was the closest I have ever come to being knocked out except for the one time I was knocked out by a cheap shot in a street fight. Again check out that and other stories on the L9H page. I was fucking mad now and had determined that I was going to close with him, tear the mask off his head and beat him unconscious; as far as I was concerned it had become life and death. Funny how getting your bell rung can do that.
I still think it was an early whistle to end the fight; maybe the powers that be recognized me getting out of control with anger, or they were trying to protect me from getting tagged again. Maybe it just seemed short because I didn’t want to stop and admit defeat but the fight was called and my opponent was given the well deserved victory. I wasn’t hard on myself, I thought I did well given the circumstances I had faced but I also knew I would have done some things different if I had more information about what I was getting into.
The guy came up to me and put a respectful fist on my chest and said something in Japanese. I bowed to him with barely restrained anger but I was relieved that it was over. Sifu told me that he was saying that I was very strong and a good opponent. He had a mouse on one cheek and he limped on the foot that he had kicked my leg with at the start of the fight; a testament to the power of Shih Shui and Iron Body training. His kick could have easily broken a normal leg, especially skinny ass bird legs like mine; but my legs were like iron rods beneath a small sheath of muscle. Lao Tzu also told me recently something that I had forgotten; that the guy had said that if I came back the next year he would not want to fight me again. It was a nice honor and he really was a good guy.
I came back from that trip with a new confidence in myself and with a temporary satisfaction to my desire to test myself. It was short lived though and I began to seek out ever more dangerous challenges out on the mean streets of Los Angeles and Orange County. These stories will be chronicled within the pages of this website as I continue my recollection and recapitulation.