Monday, December 5, 2016

SHENANIGANS! No, Martial Arts Does Not Pose "Serious Danger" for Kids

This article popped up in my martial arts news feed recently:  Martial Arts Can Pose Serious Danger for Kids


Of course, being in the martial arts myself, I perked up my ears and read that bad boy.  I've only been studying about 8 years now, but I have seen exactly zero serious injuries to children in that time (and depending on what you mean by "serious" - exactly zero in adults too, and remember, I do a weapons art).

Not a concussion, not even a broken bone.  I've seen a couple of minor cuts, a couple of bruises, and a strained ankle or finger joint for kids - far from "serious injury" and only one of those required medical treatment.   I, myself, had a freak accident and tore a calf muscle and was on crutches for a month or so, and I think that's the most serious injury I have personally seen.


Turns out, the article is about the publication of a recent American Academy of Pediatricians study about the risks of martial arts injuries that will be published soon in Pediatrics.  The AAP News article the CBS report comes from can be read HERE.

Note that the author of the study did not headline it as "serious risk for kids".  Instead, it's titled "Good Moves: Martial arts can offer striking benefits but caution advised".

VERY different scenario than "Serious Danger"!

So what's up with that?

This report and study is aimed at doctors and nurses treating patients who are engaging in the martial arts.  The report assesses the risk of various kinds of martial arts - and it's in no way comprehensive, if you read the report - and advises doctors on the kinds of injuries that may happen and offers advice for the doctors and nurses to give their patients regarding martial arts as a physical activity.

Overall, the report speaks positively of kid participation in the martial arts.

There is ONE bullet point in the article that suggests that perhaps activity should be discouraged:
The nature of mixed martial arts confers a high risk of concussion and asphyxia. Therefore, youth and adolescent participation in this martial arts form should be discouraged. Providers also can educate communities about the increased susceptibility to injury if children imitate what they see from media exposure to mixed martial arts.
Oho.  Okay, so, it's really about mixed martial arts, and it's not written from actual data, because there isn't any.  They had to extrapolate the risk assessment from adult injuries.

Let me just state that one more time - no actual numbers to support that statement.

Yeah, I'm with you, kid.
Not only is the article incredibly misleading - at least going by its headline - but the study itself has some shenanigans going on, too, because it misses one critical fact:

The rules for kids in mixed martial arts styles is not the same ruleset as it is for adults, and even for adults, it can vary widely.

Generally speaking, we aren't having eight year old boys get on a mat and pound each other like McGregor and Diaz.  That's the main reason you don't have any pediatric data that's anywhere close to adult injury statistics. Because it doesn't exist.

The report also refers to "higher risk".  You have to understand that all physical activity - even the lowest contact solo sport that exists - carries risk of injury, even serious injury and death (read about one such tragic case here).  Yes, martial arts styles that have contact carries more risk than those that don't - but it doesn't therefore mean it's serious risk, or even very high, it's just more than non-contact.

An increase of 5% to 7% is an increase, but it's still very small at the higher number. I do not have the hard numbers - but the report doesn't either, so it's basically guessing, it's not actual science, and my guess is as good as theirs.

The writer of the CBS News piece took a single questionable statement in the AAP report, and then made it worse with a very misleading headline.

I don't have the numbers to support this, but I am willing to bet money that the injuries kids get in the martial arts are significantly fewer and less serious than injuries they receive in other sports, including soccer, gymnastics, running, cycling, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, and of course, American football.

We are, as a community, very aware of safety and do a lot to mitigate it, even in the most competitive styles we have - for adults and for kids, both.

I believe we aren't doing enough to address the risk of concussion - and I'd love to see more of us get comprehensive training there.  I'd also like to see a good, grounded-in-science study done of our safety equipment to see if it actually works as intended (we don't actually know if it does, we just believe it does).

So I call shenanigans on the CBS News article.  I also call shenanigans on the study authors for implying with nothing other than speculation that there's increased risk of serious injury in kids' mixed martial arts.

What do you think? I'd love to know - sound off in the comments!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/3/16

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:  A bit of practice at home, then slaying dragons.
Sunday:  Caught up on chores.
Monday:   My night off, so I made dinner.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on the mechanics of the front kick.
Wednesday:  Attended classes at Hidden Sword.  It was a rare weeknight that Mr. Chick and I attended the same class together, which is always fun.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on Anyo Isa and some physical fitness drills..
Friday: Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed the principle of angling (and why you do it vs. someone trying to hit you) and the physics of a strike and where you would prefer to be in the arc of the strike if you just HAVE to get hit.  Then we stick sparred - yay!

The family that beats on each other with sticks together, um, sticks together.  Me, Mr. Chick and Younger Daughter.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:   What's in Your Gear Bag?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:  Gold Medals (in Olympic Shenanigans)
Wednesday:  Kiaaa-HA! Grand Master Pete and Yung Kwang Gojo Soo Fu Do
Thursday: Planning for Failure
Friday:   FACE-OFF FRIDAY; Bruce Lee: Best Ever, or Overhyped?


It's always refreshing to see the study of martial arts talked about as a positive thing for everyone in places you don't expect.  The web site Crixio is actually a online lifestyle and arts magazine, but they have a really nice article on the benefits of acquiring bruises for fun there that I think is a great one to share in your martial arts school social media (if you have a school).  Check it out: PROTECT YOURSELF: WHY EVERYONE SHOULD TRY MARTIAL ARTS

I've been reading my Kindle version of this book.  Lots of great perspectives on the martial arts from women of all walks of life and styles. Yours truly is one of the contributors (I may have mentioned that before, righ?) and it makes a great gift for the martial artist in your life this holiday season.  Buy it here on Amazon.

"Enter the Dojo" was a really funny one this week (but they usually are):

I have some other stuff I ran across, but that'd be posted over on my Facebook page.  If you do Facebook, please, give the page a like, willya?  Thanks! The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook


This morning I have Arnis, then in the afternoon, Okinawan Karate and my monthly Kobudo class over in Dallas.  The weapons I have purchased HAVE ARRIVED (yay!) and I get to pick them up and take them home with me today.  I'm getting a new back-up bo (mine gets beaten on - a lot - so it's going to break eventually) and a naginata.

Tomorrow is our mostly-monthly gathering here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of our schools to study Modern Arnis and to work with our brown belts.  It's going to be four hours of fun (as always).

Yes, I saw that article about the risks of martial arts for kids.  I'm working on writing that up for a fresh post this week - stay tuned.

Man, this year has gone by fast.  I'm glad it's almost over.

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!

Monday, November 28, 2016

What's in Your Gear Bag?

I had to empty out my gear bag in order to sew on some new patches.  My gear bag is a repurposed softball/baseball bag, and it's perfect for Arnis gear.

I collect patches (sort of), and they end up on my gear bag instead of my uniform (I'm one of those people who thinks covering your gi in patches makes you look like a NASCAR driver... yeah, no thanks).  Each patch usually represents something or some place that's I've trained, or a group I have not trained with but admire, and in two cases, is not actually for martial arts at all. Here's one side of my bag:

The patches are, from left to right:
The other side, again, from left to right (skipping patches I've already mentioned):

  • Hidden Sword Martial Arts patch - you can't see it well here, but you'll see it in other photos.  It's the "old" logo of my teacher's school.
  • American Karate Tae Kwon Do (AKATO) organization patch - the logo of AKATO, an organization I am a member of, and where I study kobudo and other non-Arnis subjects
  • Kansas City Chiefs patch - best team on earth, win or lose
  • Arnis International patch - lead by Bruce Chiu, my original Modern Arnis organization and always in my heart
  • DAV patch - the patch representing the German Arnis Federation
  • Tipperary Ju Jitsu - I hope to visit them someday and train there!  Another "sister" school of my original teachers
The end of my bag has the logo of my teacher David Jones (Jones Protective Arts).  You can see it in the shot below (the long rectangular white patch).

I am always looking for cool patches of people, organizations, or places I admire for my bag.  I'm kind of a patch junkie, in fact, but hey, at least it's just on the gear bag, right?  My ambition is to cover up the bag maker logo with plenty o'patches.

Being a softball bag, my gear bag has a pocket where I can keep my sticks (and our kamagong bolo, when I'm carrying it around).  It can actually hold 5 pairs pretty easily, but I usually only carry two or three pairs of sticks at any given time.  Here you can see the Hidden Sword patch really clearly.

Like all gear bags, mine accumulates junk in it, and I have to clean it out on occasion. I did that recently, and here's what I consider my "essentials" for my gear bag:

Again, from left to right, sorta-clockwise-ish:
  • Rattan sticks.  Sometimes I'll have my bahi with me, or on rare occasion, my white waxwoods.
  • Two pairs of gloves  - the blue/white are light bag gloves.  The red pair I wear when I'm stick or weapon sparring, or if I'm feeding a LOT of disarms and I don't want my hands torn up.
  • Electrical tape - for impromptu stick repair.  This roll is red, of course.
  • Mat shoes and socks - in Arnis, I like to wear shoes, because I've seen a toe broken once when a disarm hit someone's foot.  No thanks to broken toes.  My shoes are actually just regular athletic shoes I got on sale at a discount store (no reason to spend tons of money on this stuff).
  • Palmstick (dulo-dulo).  Made by my friend Jeff Hornung, it's made of cocobolo wood and it feels so heavenly in the hand!
  • Training knives - one single sided, one double sided
  • Nunchaku - I usually have the kobudo weapon I'm currently studying in my bag with me.  If I took this picture six months ago, those would have been a pair of tonfa instead.
  • First Aid baggie - band-aids, antacids, paper tape, and odds and ends for the bumps and bruises and cuts we get when we're doing what we do.
  • Rolled up magazine - used to demonstrate the principle of improvised weapons.
  • My belt, the Modern Arnis style black belt with the red edge.  My belt is plain with no embroidery, and I like it that way.
I have a little pocket in the bag with a little cash in it and some business cards for MCA and for MAPA.

My bag will also, sometimes, have an extra pair of pants and a t-shirt, to change into after training if we're going out to eat.  Or I'll have my gi jacket folded up in there, or I'll shove my tonfa in there if I'm going to kobudo or I'm practicing away from home.  I'll have an extra pair of socks if I know I'm going to be working hard and sweating hard and I want to have fresh, dry feet.

So that's what I carry with me day in, day out, as I go to or teach classes or seminars or whatever.  I'll tote my bo with me as needed (even my stick bag isn't big enough for that bad boy).

So what do YOU keep in your gear bag?  Do you have a patch addiction like I do?  What's essential to keep with you as you train?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 11/26/16

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:  Attended the AKATO Black Belt class.  Before it, I met with our nunchaku instructor to catch up on the new form, Nunchaku Ni.  I also got a new pair of nunchaku (sized to me) but I left without the pile o'weapons, as they didn't arrive in time (I have to wait TWO WEEKS - forever!  How will I survive?).  The class was introduction to chi sau, and I had a blast!
Sunday:  Worked on Nunchaku Ni, a quick run-through of both the bo and tonfa material too.
Monday:   My night off, so I made dinner.  Wooo.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on kicks, mainly the proper mechanics of kicking as we do it.
Wednesday:  Twas the night before Thanksgiving, so we were cooking up stuff....
Thursday:  Thanksgiving Day.  Worked hard on the meal, ate too much, and played video games.
Friday: I had to work!  Arrggh!

This is from a couple of weeks ago - I don't actually have any pictures of me training this week!


I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  THAT GUY: The Exceptionally Bad Uke
Wednesday:  What I'm Grateful For in 2016

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Productive Playtime
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What is a McDojo?


I posted this on my Facebook page (which you can like and share with your friends who enjoy martial arts stuff HERE).  Given we worked chi sau this week, it really applies (not saying I necessarily have skill, but that's sort of one of the things you learn in that drill):

AWESOME blog post and video from Ikazuchi Dojo with Aikido players cross-training with an FMA player.  What is especially interesting, for me, is that it illustrates why cross-training is so important.  A martial arts style becomes a way to look at the world, and these Aikidoka are working on broadening their worldview (see how the FMA guy gets them with angles they don't expect).   Read and see the video here - you won't be disappointed, very illuminating and good stuff!  Death by Disarm

Our friend +Andrea Harkins  was signing copies of her book for shipment this week.  Did I mention I contributed to it?  You can go here and get it on Amazon, especially if you're a Kindle-type person like me.


Holy moly, a rare weekend where I have zero appointments.  I think this is the first time this year.

No martial arts classes, no seminars, nothing.

I plan to spend the weekend writing, making a video for my friend +Joelle White on a point in Arnis, getting a lot of practice in, doing necessary chores, and honestly, taking a break.  I run hard most of the time, so it'll be nice to just relax a bit.

AAANNNNDD we might have recently gotten the special edition of this game, soooooo...

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, November 23, 2016

What I'm Grateful For in 2016

It's Thanksgiving time here in the United States.  It's a time where many of us reflect on our lives and the things, people, and events we appreciate having around us.  We try to spend time with the people who are important to us if we possibly can and make a feast that we can enjoy with them before the winter arrives.  It's a reflective period that is one of my favorite times of the year - in fact, Thanksgiving, and the ritual surrounding it, is my very most favorite holiday of all.

2016 is generally considered a rough year overall, due to the celebrities we've lost (David Bowie!  Prince!  Alan Rickman!), the acrimonious election we've just gone through  in the US (and it's not over by a long shot), and there just seems to be a general sense that 2016 has been bad.

It seems to me that stepping back and reflecting on the good things around us is a fine way to salvage a tough year.

So here's what I'm grateful for:

2016 saw my family in good health, generally happy, and overall financially stable.  While there were some temporary problems and non-fatal-but-incredibly-annoying medical issues to cope with, we are ending the year in pretty great shape (and with a new family member even -  Daphne, the shelter cat we adopted over the summer). Given I've had years in the not too distant past where this was not the case, especially financially, I'm especially thankful for this.

2016 was a very good year for my personal martial arts growth.  I felt like I made a lot of progress in my understanding of my core art, Arnis, as well as really starting to really "get" kobudo weapons.  Given that I've attended a ton of seminars this year (and I've expanded my horizons with some training in Okinawan Karate and exposure to other miscellaneous things) I would hope that would be the case!

Me working Bo at my kobudo brown belt test, July

I made a lot of new friends (and connected with old ones) in the martial arts in 2016.  I got some new regular training partners, including getting to know some friends down in Houston that we will be training with on a more regular basis in 2017.  I'm especially grateful for everyone who taught me, trained with me, or learned from me in 2016.

2016 was a great year for the Stick Chick Blog.  Views and readership slowly continue to grow, there were a lot of great comments from lots of neat and interesting people, and I connected with lots of awesome people in our community.  I'm planning big changes for this blog in the very near future, and I hope you all will stick with me when that happens.  I'm trying my best to make this place a fun, interesting, and worthwhile place for you to visit, and I would appreciate any feedback you have to offer to make it better!

2016, as it turns out, is really a year of transition for me, as I expect many changes in 2017.  There will be changes in this blog, in my pursuit of more growth and development professionally, in my martial arts life, and who knows what else?

So tell us what YOU'RE grateful for in 2016.  If you're not in the US (or Canada, where they had their version of this holiday last month), and you don't have this tradition, well, heck, join in on the fun!  Have some friends and family over soon, have a meal, and celebrate all that is good in your life!