Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/22/16

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:  The first day of the two-day seminar with Datu +Dieter Knüttel.  Arnis-y nerdy goodness for the Chick, as not only did we learn some neat striking patterns that lead to espada y daga, and some tapi-tapi stuff, but also a sinawali pattern (and y'all know how I LOVE THAT STUFF!!)
Sunday:  Day 2 of Datu Dieter.  Again, nerdy goodness, especially the part that riffed off of one of my favorite drills, the "6 Count Drill" (or "box drill"), that many of us know as a sumbrada or "3-8-12" by inserting abanicos and disarms in the drill.  YAY!  It was 12 hours of training in toto and I enjoyed all of it!
Monday:   I had to stay home, meet the pet sitter, find all of our travel documents, and started gathering stuff for packing.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on Anyo Isa.
Wednesday:  Skipped Arnis to work on last-minute trip stuff.  There are LOTS OF DETAILS, sheesh.
Thursday:  Hubby covered Mid-Cities while I continued working on the trip at home.

So happy there's a disarm a'comin!


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  And the Beatings Ensue (with Datu Dieter)
Wednesday:  4 Myths About the Martial Arts (Non-Martial Artists and Newbies Believe)

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Peace and the Martial Arts
Thursday:  The Politics of Fighting
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Should We Ban Head-Shots in Sparring?


The trip has dominated EVERYTHING.  Ugh.  So how about this - will YOU share stuff you saw in the comments so I can check it out?  THANKS!


Today I fly off to the coast and tomorrow I'll be boarding a boat for exotic locales.  I'll lose internet while I'm on my trip - I won't get back in internet range until Friday night.

I am a bit annoyed I can't take any martial arts equipment on the boat with me, but we'll make do.

I'm re-running content from the blog y'all seemed to like all week long, starting tomorrow, so please, keep an eye on the preferred Stick Chick Blog channel of your choice -  Facebook, Google Plus (here or hereTwitter, or even Tumblr - for "best of" blog content all the way through October 30!  I'll try to get a fresh post out on Halloween.

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, October 19, 2016

4 Myths About the Martial Arts (Non-Martial Artists and Newbies Believe)

Depictions of martial arts and martial artists are everywhere in our culture.

Television, books, comics, video games, movies, even music.

Oh, you know I couldn't mention "martial arts" and "music" without posting that song, right?

How we are portrayed - the reality vs. the fantasy of it - has changed over time, of course, but today, there are some pretty common misconceptions about the martial arts going around and are believed by outsiders and newbies.


This might be the most commonly believed myth about the martial arts. That holding the rank of black belt makes one an expert in the martial arts.

Hoo boy, this one is FALSE.  I am a black belt, guys.  And no, I'm far, far from an expert in my art.  I have a looonnnggg way to go before that happens, if ever.

Inside the martial arts community, we'll say, "Black belt is the first step of the journey", which is true - it represents "mastery" of our basics in most arts.  It does NOT represent understanding an entire system.

Not far from the truth.

But we do a very poor job in communicating this outside of our community.  

Heck, we do a poor job INSIDE our community, in some quarters.  How many fraudulent grand masters and "sokes" have earned a legitimate 1st degree black belt in a legit martial arts system and then went on to found their own "styles", thinking they knew all they needed to know in their base art?  I can think of two off the top of my head.

I think another reason this myth persists is because we focus on that rank for children to achieve in the martial arts.  We've created "Black Belt Clubs" and we use the rank of black belt as some sort of ideal state of martial arts achievement.  In some schools, we even treat black belts very differently than non-black belts (they enter the mat differently, deference is given to them, etc.).

This reinforces this myth.

A related myth is that a black belt is an unbeatable expert fighter, but I think this one is dying slowly as combat sports have become more popular (most of those fighters typically hold black belt rank in a style or two). I think this myth is more often than not reinforced by some bad marketing on our part more than anything else these days.


This is a common question asked by people contemplating studying with us.

"Which is the best martial art style?"

The answer is, outside of a very few notable examples of terrible martial art styles - such as Yellow Bamboo - there is no such thing.

The truth is that each martial art style represents a strategy, and nothing more than that.  Which martial art is "best" is a completely subjective thing, based upon what strategy you prefer, your personal strengths and weaknesses, what you want to achieve in that style... there are so many variables based on the individual that it's almost a meaningless question.

I tend to prefer weapons study over empty hand.  This is because I am a short, dumpy middle aged woman and I need every advantage I can find in conflict.  Others are different, and can choose differently.  I studied tae kwon do for a time, and decided it isn't for me.  It doesn't mean TKD is a bad martial art - far from it - it just means it didn't suit me, personally.  I've recommended people to TKD schools more than once that I thought were good!

This is why every time this question is asked, most of us answer, "Try out the schools near you and see which one you enjoy the most".


There seems to be this persistent belief out there, by newbies and people training by themselves without a teacher, that they can come up with the perfect, unbeatable technique and that's all they'll need.

No.  There is no such thing as an unbeatable technique.

The truth is, there's always upsides and downsides to everything we do.  Some things have greater odds of success than others.  Everything - and I mean everything - can be countered. 

What we do is that we understand what the weaknesses and odds are, and we learn to cope with failure when it happens (as it will).  The kicker is that, even within a single style, some techniques work great for some of us (better odds) while the same technique will be epic fail for others!

There's many sources for this myth, including:
  • A desire to be a martial arts "master" quickly (if you only focus on one thing, you don't have to work on anything else)
  • The "Mortal Kombat" video game series (and games like those)
  • The Crane kick scene from Karate Kid
Effective if the opponent leads with his face.


This one is the hardest to overcome with newbies and outsiders, because they don't want to believe this is true:

What you see portrayed of martial arts - empty hand fighting and weapons fighting - in the media is, outside of specific and rare examples, always artificial in some way.

Fights on TV and Movies? Always choreographed and staged for safety and dramatic effect. It looks cool because it's entertainment! Believe me, if I hit you in the face with a metal bar - even in the weak strike Oliver Queen delivers here - you won't just go "arrrgh!" and come back to train more any time soon.

Weapons in video games?  They're there for game mechanics, not reality.  If reality were important, a steel katana wouldn't weigh 10 pounds in Skyrim (real katanas only weigh a few pounds, guys) and you couldn't hit a guy 20 times with one and lose a fight.

UFC fights?  There are things they can't do and rules they must follow.

Dog Brothers?  They wear safety equipment.

In regular daily training, we have these rules that we follow, usually for safety, and thus, aren't 100% representative of what reality might be.  It's impossible to simulate reality perfectly in training.

The desire to get as real as you possibly can is admirable but carries many risks and usually most of us want to be able to train more frequently than every six weeks or so (average healing time).

So those are four myths that non-martial artists and newbies believe.  Did I miss any?  Do you disagree with my list?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 17, 2016

And the Beatings Ensue (with Datu Dieter)

I just completed my last big seminar of my year - a two-day, twelve-hour Modern Arnis training session with the awesome Datu +Dieter Knüttel.

This was my third seminar with Datu Dieter (once last year, and during his sessions at the Modern Arnis Unity Camp over the summer).  I never fail to have two things happen to me when we see him:  I learn a lot of fundamental little details that makes me a better Modern Arnis player, and I spend much of the seminar laughing and having fun.

That's what Datu Dieter's seminars are like - they're super interesting brain-candy and you have tons of fun while you are working really hard both physically and mentally.

On day one, we worked on some fun drills working classical strikes that really hammered home the mechanic of using the hips in striking.   We worked on some espada y daga drills, which is always interesting because of the study in changing range from weapon to weapon.


We worked on tapi-tapi concepts (which got me thinking really hard), and then we worked on a sinawali pattern where you toss and catch the stick.  I love sinawali patterns, y'all, and this one was REALLY hard.


Pictured - the one time it didn't bounce off my fingers and fly across the room
Day two we worked on disarms, which is always fun. We worked on the little details of the mechanics of various common disarms.  With proper technique, disarms can be done "naked" (without set-up or distracting strikes) - it's what they emphasize over at the DAV,   There are usually many different ways to do very similar disarms, so it was great to get Datu Dieter's perspective on things I already know.

Just like my teacher does, Datu demonstrated using all of these disarms with kobudo weapons.  Most of these weapons he either hasn't used in decades, or in the cases of kama, he hadn't ever handled IN HIS LIFE.  Mr. Chick was his partner during this part of the session, and he can testify that he did NOT "give" the disarms away at all.  Datu Dieter took them with whatever object he was handling.

Then we played the 6 count drill (aka sumbrada, or what I originally learned as "3-8-12").  We got going on the pattern, then we inserted abanicos and disarms.  SO FUN.

Me defending the "12" part of 3-8-12.

We ended our day working self defense concepts in the empty hand, most of which riffed off of the application of brush grab strike, trapping hands, and obstruction removal.

By the end of day two I was mentally and physically toast.

It was another great seminar, my last big one of this year, and a very high note to end on.

If you have the opportunity to train with Datu +Dieter Knüttel TAKE IT.  Sell blood, hock something, skip lunches, but DO IT.  You will not regret it.

At most seminars, I try to get a group picture of all the women in attendance:

Another great side-effect of this seminar is that we had a lot of connections made in hour Texas Modern Arnis community, and talks began that may end up doing great things for Modern Arnis players to train together in Texas.  Watch this space, and I'll update you on that more as things develop.

Here's our group pictures (from day 1, and from day 2).

I'm exhausted, Mr. Chick is exhausted, and I'm covered with bruises and hurting, so you know I had a great time!  Look for a better and more thorough (and less me-centric) article in FMA Informative about this seminar.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take some ibuprofen and take a nap!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/15/16

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:  My monthly sojourn over to Dallas to study karate (we're working on Pinan Nidan) and kobudo (nunchaku yay!).  The weather has finally turned from "OH MY GOD I'M GONNA DIE" hot to "It's a bit warm out here" so we trained outside.   I learned the end of Nunchaku Ichi and our 7 step drill, and I got to piss off a bunch of ants by hitting the bark off a tree with the ropey-whacksticks.
Sunday:  Trip prep continues.  Pet sitter came by and we finalized those plans.  WAY better value than boarding, y'all.
Monday:  My night off.  Made steaks (did not defrost - seared them in a pan frozen then baked at 275 for 20 minutes - DEEELICIOUS).
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on our self defense techniques for the Orange and Green belt levels.
Wednesday:  Went to Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  It was a special treat, as Datu +Dieter Knüttel is in town and we spent class working with him.  VERY FUN.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday: Due to conflicts, we canceled class.  That's ok, I spent the night cooking!


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  For the Love of the Ropey-Whackstick
Wednesday:  Hacking Forms
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?

HEY- not too late to respond to my Friday post - I really want to know where you like to get your martial arts information online, so let me know!

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  I'm Really a Black Belt!
Thursday:  Attack of the Brain Fart

I'm over on Quora, and I answered the question "What are the most overrated weapons of all time?"  It apparently struck a nerve and is the most popular thing I've written over there, so please, check it out (and are you surprised by my answer?):  MY ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION


I find ALL SORTS of good martial arts stuff that gets shared on the blog Facebook page. You can like it RIGHT HERE: The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook.

Very funny - and true - article over at Cracked. It isn't new, but it's new to me.  Check it out: 5 Signs That Someone Isn't Actually a Badass

I posted this week over on my Facebook page (huh, imagine that, I mentioned it again):


This weekend I'm at our Modern Arnis seminar with Datu +Dieter Knüttel.  I'm sure I'll acquire many bruises, learn many things, and have a ton of fun. This is my last major seminar (as far as I know) this year, so it's good to end the year on a very high note.

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!

Friday, October 14, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?


Today, instead of talking about something controversial, I'd like to get YOUR recommendations for the best martial arts communities that can be found online.

These could be Facebook groups or pages, Google+ Communities or pages or people, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts, Pinterest Boards, forums like Martial Talk or Martial Arts Planet or Bullshido, indepdendent blogs (such as yours truly), YouTube channels, Tumblr blogs, publications...

I'm looking for any place online where we can connect with each other, learn things, laugh about our culture, etc.

So hit me up...