Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 02/17/18

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


I finally adulted up and went to the doctor Saturday morning for drugs to get over the nearly two week illness I'd been fighting.  Thank goodness it's not the flu - it's a sinus infection.

GM Art Miraflor from Stockton, CA has been working in the area for a couple of years now, and he is finally transferring back to his home.  Mr. Chick and my teacher have been studying with him on the side, and he came to our Arnis class on Saturday for one last training sessions with him.  We'll miss you, GM Art!

 I spent the rest of the weekend resting.

Monday I felt a lot better, so I went to Arnis class at Hidden Sword.

Tuesday I took younger daughter to taekwondo class at Hidden Sword.

Wednesday we covered classes at Hidden Sword and Mr. Chick taught us some drills he learned from a visit to another Arnis school over on the Dallas side of town.  Yeah, it was Valentine's Day, so we spent it training, which is way more romantic than flowers and candy, y'all.

Thursday I took younger daughter to taekwondo.

Friday I went to bed early, as I had a day-long vestibular migraine and I was exhausted.

I am still not 100% well - the sinus infection I have is a tough one apparently - but I am a lot better and coughing a whole lot less!

Me, GM Art, Mr. Chick


Monday: One is the Loneliest Martial Arts Number
TuesdayPeace and the Martial Arts
WednesdayWhy Stick Sparring ROCKS!
Thursday: Breaking the Law
FridayQuestions from Quora: In what way can martial arts benefit you that common sports can’t (other than self defense)?

HELP THE CHICKIE OUT: I have goal for 2018 to get the Stick Chick Blog Facebook pages to 1000 likes.  So please, if you're on Facebook, like the page, will ya (link is RIGHT HERE)?  Share it with your friends who like the martial arts too?  Pretty please?


That's where my glasses and car key went...


Friend me, connect with me on Google Plus, follow me on Twitter or on Tumblr... just CONNECT, because you're my kind of people.


My teacher is off in Mississippi teaching and helping out at a seminar by +Hock Hochheim so we're covering Arnis class today. I plan to get in some kobudo practice in the morning.

Then, because I'm NOT 100% I will rest up some more.  I dunno if this is just a really bad infection, or if it's just my age, or a combo of both.  Annoying.

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Breaking the Law

Most martial arts styles have a set of basic rules they go by.

I'm not talking about the etiquette and cultural rules, I mean the style rules, the basic principles and strategy behind the way you are taught to move and to fight.

You guys know what I mean.  These are rules such as your stances look like such-and-such, you punch using a specific mechanic, your footwork and body positioning goes a certain way, etc. 

These are the habits that you are teaching with most of your basic drills.  The idea is that there comes a point where you are following those rules - call them laws by that point - without having to think about it, as you move on to add in higher level skill sets.

Here's a few of ours:
  • The weapon hand that is forward is the same as the foot that's forward
  • Always assume there's a weapon somewhere even if you can't see it
  • Hands up, especially the empty hand (live hand)
  • Chamber for your strikes
  • Take the simplest and most direct shot you can (a less ideal fast shot is better than an ideal but late shot)
There's more, but those are some that we emphasize a LOT in our school.  

Thus, by the time a person reaches Black Belt level (or the equivalent in your style), these laws are well known and understood and are habits and you can not only execute them but you understand why you do.

And then... you start breaking the laws.

We want our guys to move and behave a specific way that we believe is best to deal with the most common scenarios. That's why we drill those basics so hard, so that they become so habitual we don't have to think, we just DO.  They're the "default" settings.

DEFAULT. But it doesn't make it the ONLY settings.

There's plenty of times I break the rules - the LAWS - I listed above in my style.


Let's take one, weapon hand/weapon foot forward.  The reasons we teach this is that we want to keep the weapon in between our meat and the bad guy's weapon, we want to have a better reach, and if we narrow our stance a bit, it makes us a smaller target.

We immediately break this rule when it comes to blocking... sorta.  See?

Weapon is back, not forward, on this block, which is versus
a strike coming in on my right side (attacker's left)
I say "sorta" because in this block, my empty left hand becomes, for a moment, the "weapon" hand, to hinder the opponent so I can re-deploy the weapon in my right hand (or not, depending on what I choose to do next).

But there's other times where the demands of range or what I'm fighting with or against or my body positioning requires my weapon hand and foot to be back, not forward.  Here's another shot of me breaking the law:

That is... if I'm striking.  If I'm blocking (with the attack again coming in to my right side), I'm actually following a different rule, which is to get out of the way against an incoming strike (my right leg is back).  This creates clearance so my right leg doesn't get hit.  That law supersedes the basic one of weapon hand/weapon foot forward.

There's other examples where we break this specific law, but those are just two.

This is why it's tricky as all get-out to judge what someone is doing based on a snippet of video or a photo or two.  They might have messed up in a fundamental law. Or... it just might be that the situation they're working on REQUIRES the law to be broken as a greater good, if you will. 

Our laws and rules exist for good reason, but it doesn't mean that they're universally applicable to every situation, especially given the chaotic nature of violence.  There's a time to follow the rules strictly, and a time to toss them by the wayside.

You learn which is which as you continue your studies.  That's another reason, kids, that not only should you practice your fundamentals - your laws - but you need to study long enough to realize that there's plenty of good reason to break them.  You start learning when to uphold the laws, and when they should be broken!

So which "laws" do you have in YOUR style, and when do you start breaking them?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 02/10/18

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday and Sunday I attended WMAA Texas Camp.  While the content was somewhat familiar to me, it was presented in different view point than I'm used to, and that's always a GREAT way to learn!

Sunday night I attended a Kung Fu Knife seminar by +Dr. Tye W. Botting.  Very good content, and it's always great to get a different strategic perspective than the one you usually get.  Great seminar!

If you read last week's round-up, you know I was sick half of last week, and I was still sick over the weekend.  Monday it caught up to me and I stayed home and slept a lot.

Tuesday both younger daughter and I stayed home due to illness.

Wednesday I attended Arnis class and we worked on Trapping Hands De Cadena and some variants of hubud.

Thursday I took younger daughter to Taekwondo class, and Friday, well, still sick (that's 10 days if you're counting) so Friday night while Mr. Chick and my teacher were training I was in bed in a Nyquil coma.


When I'm sick, my posting schedule gets all interrupted!

TuesdayInjury: The Nature of the Beast
WednesdayWe're Crazy People, You Know That?
Thursday: Letters, Words and Phrases
Friday: No post, because Friday posts are NOT WORKING OUT.  Y'all got any ideas?

HELP THE CHICKIE OUT: I have goal for 2018 to get the Stick Chick Blog Facebook pages to 1000 likes.  So please, if you're on Facebook, like the page, will ya (link is RIGHT HERE)?  Share it with your friends who like the martial arts too?  Pretty please?


Especially the last 10 days, fighting off whatever this thing is...

I couldn't stop watching it.  I may have a problem.

Define "very".

Me, last weekend:

"When are you ever going to get into a stick fight in the street?"  Well.... here you go:


I have finally decided to start adulting, so I'll be going to the doctor today and taking the weekend off to rest and (hopefully) recuperate from the cruds.  Wish me luck.

Hope you have a great weekend, everybody!

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We're Crazy People, You Know That?

I've been fighting off some sort of bug, a nagging illness that just won't GO AWAY.

It comes and goes - sometimes I'll feel okay, then two hours later, whammo, sick as a dog yet again.  Fever, congestion, coughing, body aches, and any combo of those in bits and pieces off and on for a week now.

Of course, I had a full weekend of martial arts training planned (and paid for, mind you) during this period.

A normal person would back out and decide to rest and recover and train another day.  I'm sick enough where my brain doesn't operate properly to do my normal nine-to-five job, mind you, so yeah, it'd be wise to hole up in bed with meds and sleep it off, right?  Take the downtime now in order to get over it faster, right?

Every martial artist reading this post knows what actually happened.

Of course I didn't miss training. Not only that, it was a camp, so yeah, I went to lunch and dinner and hung out with the crew as much as I could, sneezing and coughing and sniffling as I did so.  By the end of my weekend I was dead on my feet and ready to sleep, but I was there.

I know many of you out there are thinking to yourselves, "Dick move, Chickie, you could get your training partners sick." And you're right, I grant you that. I did keep washing my hands and using hand sanitizer, and we weren't working on too much that required getting super-close most of the time.  I didn't hug anybody, and if you know me, that's so NOT like me.  But yes, it was dickish to risk infecting my training partners.

But most of you - MOST of you - if you're honest with yourselves, would have done the same thing I did.  You'd have sucked it up and trained, just like I did.

That's our culture, isn't it?  Injury? Suck it up and train.  Illness? Suck it up and train.  Chronic pain or disability?  Work around it, suck it up, and train.

It's what we do.  It's one of those things that binds us together as a community, no matter what style we actually practice. My friend Mike Mahaffey suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and he lives with incredible pain much of the time.  His solution, especially when his meds aren't getting the job done?

He rolls, that's what he does.

The Black Knight part of "Monty Python & the Holy Grail" is a lot funnier to me now that I train.

We know, on an intellectual level, this is a bad idea.  We need to rest. We need to recover.  When we're sick, we need to take care of ourselves and get better.   We're mostly grownups here, and our grownup selves would tell our children to do just that, right?

But we don't do it.

We train. 

It doesn't take very long for many of us to make the decision to train over being realistic and, well, SANE.  I tore a calf muscle early in my training - about three or four months in, maybe? - and I didn't miss my first-ever seminar two days later nor did I miss a single martial arts class, and I went to class five times a week back then, even though any amount of weight on that leg caused me to scream in agony for most of a month.

Each one of you has a story like this, or have heard it from somebody else. This is just NORMAL in our weird little hobby.

What happens when you get hurt IN CLASS?  Well, if you're like me - and I bet you are - you pretend it doesn't hurt that much until you lose functionality,  In my case, I take pride that I can take a shot to the hand from a newbie - it's always a newbie - that hurts like a mo-fo and the newbie doesn't even realize it happened.  It has to be swelling and non-functional for me to stop training, like when I got my fingers jammed soft weapons sparring and I had to go to the Urgent Care to make sure nothing was broken.

We all know that you can only put this "rest and recover" thing for so long, though.  You're accumulating a physical debt that will eventually have to be paid, my friend.  That means that now, I had to take a day off of everything else in my life - work, regular martial arts classes, and y'know, the normal non-martial-artsy stuff - because I just couldn't be in go-mode any more.

So WHY? Why do we do this to ourselves, my fellow crazy persons?

Some of this is the machismo of our culture.  We buy into this weird, completely unrealistic self-conception that we can take any kind of physical punishment and keep going.  It might be that women actually internalize it a little more deeply, as we don't want to be perceived as weak and not able to keep up with our male training partners.

But it's not the only reason.

Martial arts training is far more than just physical activity and learning how to do violence.  For many of us, it becomes part of our identity. It's fulfills physical, emotional, intellectual, and social needs. It's a place where we feel safe, feel like one of the group.  We're accepted, and in that space, we're with our people.

Along with community, the mat is our "happy place", where we get a break from the trials and troubles of work, family, politics, religion, relationships, and daily life. I know when I'm deep in some martial art problem, that mental break is something I need to keep me going.  Even when I'm sick or hurting, I can take my attention OFF IT and put it on something I like a lot more.

And there's upsides!
We have so many good reasons to keep training in the face of illness and injury that to outsiders seems like insanity, don't we?

We're crazy people.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap. I have to get to Arnis class soon.