Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/23/16

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:  Morning Arnis class at Hidden Sword, then the high level belts worked out on our own (while youngest daughter was in tae kwon do class), then kobudo class, where we worked on some of the FMA concepts - specifically sumbrada - with the bo.  Fun and intellectual day.
Sunday:  A rare Sunday where I didn't have to be somewhere.  I caught up on chores and rested, mostly, as I've been running really hard lately.
Monday:  My "night off".  I made dinner!
Tuesday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Our new students were promoted to white band and we worked on Dos Manos concepts and single sinawali.
Wednesday:   Attended Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  I got to work with our senior brown belts on tapi-tapi. Some new things occurred to me I hadn't thought of before, and that's always fun.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. More sinawali, plus we worked on hubud-lubud.
Friday:  Review night and stick sparring.  This time we free sparred, with the hand as the primary target (for our new students).  It's our version of light point sparring, but it's more difficult than you'd think!

Teaching chambering in single sinawali.  Here I am "windshield wiping"  and talking about why that's useless.


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  The Dilemma of the Modern Martial Artist
Wednesday:  The Tides of Change

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Ranks, Belts and Shenanigans
Thursday:  Style, Strategy and Shenanigans
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Earning Rank Online

(If you have a good idea for a Face-Off Friday topic, let me know!)

Additionally, we published this image at Mid-Cities Arnis this week. It's part of an ongoing campaign we are working on.  Keep an eye out at our Facebook page for more stuff like this, featuring BOB, from Mid-Cities Arnis.


It's San Diego Comic-Con week, and lots of trailers are coming out that I'm really excited about.

Y'all all know how much I love "Daredevil" (I wrote about it HERE and HERE), and I haven't written about it, but I also love "Jessica Jones".  I will definitely be bingeing through these bad boys when they come out.

 I love it when we martial artists show our funny side.

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!


This weekend is busy - it's a "normal" Saturday, but tonight I'm going to a local small business networking gathering to promote Mid-Cities Arnis and tomorrow we teach ADE Women's Self Defense.

Then Tuesday, I fly out to Detroit, Michigan to spend some time with my sister (my older daughter is coming with us).  One thing we're planning on doing is The Adventure Park - I love ropes courses and zip lining!  Then, starting Friday, I attend the Modern Arnis Unity Camp.  It's a heck of an instructor line-up and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Here on the blog and online, I will not be around as much as I usually am. I'm planning on running a series on fighting by my friend Kirby Barker on Wednesday and Friday of next week, and on the Monday after that.  Enjoy Kirby's wisdom, as the man knows his business.

So it's a very busy week with lots to do, and while I will get writing done (and I have some projects I'm working on for Mid-Cities Arnis) it just won't get posted until I'm back in the Lone Star State.

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, July 20, 2016

The Tides of Change

We've had our martial arts school going for a full year now.

We've learned a lot and now we are starting to re-think our initial plans and how we would like to move forward with what we are teaching.  It's wise to do this every so often, to make sure that you are balancing teaching what you want to teach with the feedback you've gotten from students and others.

Maybe it's time for change.

Or not.  Maybe.

I like the basic syllabus of our current program. While it needs some tweaks, I still feel the basic structure is correct for teaching Presas Arnis.

But, we are finding that we have several different audiences where we are, and our limited time and space does not give us the ability to serve all of them well.  This is probably the biggest constraint on a Rec Center program - the inability to diversity enough to attract everyone you'd like to serve to with what you can offer.

I'm not talking about "watering down" my art.  I am talking about offering what we do and understand with a different emphasis for different groups.

This is no different than a stand-alone school teaching their art in a traditional way, but also offering classes that emphasize fitness and a good workout. Or offering a kids version of the art vs. an adult version.

For example, when you teach Filipino Martial Arts - the weapons-heavy version I study - you limit yourself only to people who aren't too afraid of weapons or will actually enjoy them.  I can tell you based on what I've been told and my own personal experience that this audience is extremely small compared to the audience interested in empty hand martial arts.

Weapons scare people.  They are afraid of getting hurt, they are afraid of hurting others, and most people don't see themselves, generally, as people who would use a weapon on another person in an up-close and personal way. 

It's not how I am or feel, but that's just the truth of it.  Most folks aren't like me.

We have lots of empty hand material though, and we could design a program that is much heavier in that aspect vs. the traditional way we've done it.  It's something to consider.

Another thing is that there are two basic adult audiences.

One group is interested in and wants the old fashioned martial arts experience, including rank belts, uniforms and tests. I am in this group for the most part myself, and I suspect many of you reading this are, too.

There is another group that wants to study violence but isn't interested in the trappings of a martial art and doesn't care about ranks or any of that stuff.  Krav Maga is one of those martial arts that appeals to this group, as well as all the "combatives" type martial arts programs out there.

We've been trying to appeal to the former, but maybe we should redesign our adults program to appeal to the latter, as they seem like the bigger group of adult students coming through our door.  I'm not talking about a new martial art, by the way - it's actually something that exists within what we already know, given our teacher's relationship - and now Mr. Chick's relationship - with +W. Hock Hochheim Combatives.

Plus we have some ideas for our women's self defense program, and I have an idea for a new program that's like a self defense course but for a very different audience and with different goals (and I'm not ready to talk about that one yet).

Those are some of the things we're thinking about on our one-year anniversary as a program.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but I'm pretty sure we're going to change some stuff as we approach our Fall "session".

How do things change in your martial arts school?  If you have your own school, do you reconsider what you do or teach?  Do you experiment?  As a student, how do you handle changes like this?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Dilemma of the Modern Martial Artist

There's a tendency to decry modern martial arts training as soft in some quarters.

That is, modern martial artists wouldn't be able to cut it in the old school blood-n-guts training that our teachers and their teachers endured back thirty or forty or fifty years ago.  That modern martial artists are too weak to train without air conditioning or heat. That they aren't willing to work hard, and that they can't or won't take a hit, and are afraid of injury.  Modern martial artists are, to some, weaklings.

You know who you are.

In some ways, I think this is true.  I think there is a tendency in some martial arts schools not to ask a lot of their students physically. The focus on kids in martial arts schools has sanitized much of what we do.

But there are a certain number of assumptions behind that desire to train the way I just described that I don't think really apply.

Take myself.

No, I really don't want to train in an garage or park.  I live in Texas. Summer begins in late March and ends some time around the end of November (yes, I've worn shorts to our Thanksgiving table).  I can and do train that way once in a while, sure.  But every time I train?  Well, I'd rather be coated in sweat because I'm working hard, not because my body is fighting off heat stroke.

No, I don't want to be constantly recovering from injury.  I'm in my late 40's and it takes me a lot longer to heal than it does younger people.  So no, I am not willing to go all-out and get beat up on a regular basis just to prove that I can or that I'm tough.  I'd train maybe twice a month if that happened, and I don't want to be off the mat that long.

No, I don't want to train injured and risk temporary problems becoming permanent.  Part of that culture was to do so, and the people who did that ended up paying for that for the rest of their lives in surgeries or pain or lack of mobility as they aged.

No, I don't want to have to spend a lot of my time explaining my injuries.  As a woman, I always have to do so.  Injuries on women - bruises in particular - are often assumed to be the result of domestic violence.  Add that to having a professional job... and it looks weird. It's probably okay if you're a cop, or a firefighter or something, but people in, say, financial planning, or banking, or accounting, or sales, or even computer jobs  aren't expected to walk around limping, with cuts and a black eye on a weekly basis.

"Let's review your investment portfolio."

No, I'm not training to be a fighter.  I train for a lot of reasons, but fighting isn't one of them.  So nope, maybe I can't take being in fights.  Great, because I do not plan to get into any.  My plan is to avoid fighting whenever possible, and if I have to engage in violence, do so and get out as fast as I can.

This is the dilemma of the modern martial artist.  On the one hand, we want to be as tough as those who came before us and a part of each of us would like to believe we could cut it in those kinds of schools.  On the other hand, modern martial arts training means training in relative comfort so we can focus on what we're learning vs. fighting our environment (we're not in boot camp, y'all).  We benefit from modern sports science and medicine.  And I bet we'll be able to train actively into an older age than many who came before us.

I don't live in the world as it existed fifty or a hundred (or a thousand) years ago. I can't predict the future, either, so I train for my own environment, one that I will probably remain in (modern American suburban life). I'm not a soldier and I'm unlikely to be one.  I do not have a profession where I will need my martial arts skills on a regular basis, such as being a police officer, military, or other such professions.

I'm a modern martial artist living in modern times in an advanced country.  I train in air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, although I don't know why Texans bother with heat, personally, as I wear a hoodie as my "winter coat" most of that season.  I train with clean bathrooms available, and mats that aren't likely to give me an infection, and equipment that isn't dirty or improvised.  I have the option to train where I don't have to be a "fighter".  I am not required to get beaten in order to learn.  I have the benefit of modern medicine and sports science to assist me in my training, and therefore, I am stronger and in better shape than someone exactly like me fifty years ago, all things being equal.

I bet, though, that they wouldn't turn down sports drinks and air conditioning.
Doing all of this doesn't make me soft or weak or lesser than those who came before me, it just makes me lucky enough to live in a time and place where those things are common and we have all the options available to us to train how we wish.

Those old-school dojos do exist - garage dojos are common and if you look hard (they don't tend to be well represented online, go figure) you can find them.  My teacher came up in one (and it still exists) and he started out teaching in his garage before he got the opportunity to teach in a Rec Center.  Heck, if you want to train like that, you can start your own group, if you like.  It doesn't cost much to find a park or to empty your garage and create a training group on Meetup.

I do believe that not asking much of your students is cheating them, and that there is a middle ground between dancing on a mat with no contact and getting beatings until you learn how to block. 

Physical fitness and risk is part of what we do, and we can't and shouldn't try to make what we do perfectly safe.  Perfect safety means no negative feedback and no pressure testing, and that's bad. We should get a good workout - whatever that means for your art, as it can vary - in our classes.  That's a given.

But you don't have to prove how tough you are by training in primitive conditions and getting beat up every other day, either.

Do you think modern martial artists are too soft compared to the folks training forty years ago or so?  Or are you okay with living in modern times and training like it?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/16/16

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:  Arnis class at Hidden Sword in the morning.  In the afternoon, I went to Kobudo class and took my Brown Belt test.
Sunday:  Drove out to Stephenville for our monthly 3-ish hour Modern Arnis training session (we're prepping our Brown Belts to test next year).  This time we covered the classical "ground work" from Modern Arnis, and then we worked on Anyo Tatlo.  Great training session with some great people!
Monday:  In the morning, had an MRI. It was basically like being in a long tube that was being attacked by robots for about 20 minutes.  That night, I attended class at Hidden Sword.  We have a large group of new students, so I spent my time there working with them, hitting the bags with what are essentially classical strikes.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  I got to work with our "experienced" students on Dos Manos techniques, which are some of my favorites in this level of material.  Yay!
Wednesday:    My day off.  I cooked food, enough for a few lunches going forward (hey, important when you are a low-carber!).
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. More "Dos Manos" material, plus hitting the bags.
Friday:  Mid-Cities Arnis class again - we reviewed the week's material, then we stick sparred.  We worked our "Dos Manos" material in the sparring drills, including using these techniques using a standard back pack.

Working "Dos Manos" using the backpack


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  Kobudo: Testing the Big Stick and Two Smaller Ones
Wednesday: The Most Important Martial Arts Value of All
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Fighting, or Self Defense?

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:   Filipino Martial Artists: The MacGuyvers of the Martial Arts World
Thursday: Why We Stick Spar

(If you have a good idea for a Face-Off Friday topic, let me know!)


Marc MacYoung hits it out of the park again.  A Plea Before the Bullets Start Flying and About Your Personal Safety.

This video is making the rounds.  I know next to nothing about hanbojutsu, and I found it really interesing.

As you can tell, this was a crazy busy week - I am sure I missed a lot of cool or interesting stuff in the martial arts world.  So I'm asking YOU to share the cool stuff I missed in the comments, ok?

Here's a pic of me this week that did not make it into my post about my Kobudo test that really should have.

And here's a pic of the crew of Modern Arnis players who are getting together here in DFW monthly to work on Modern Arnis. The purpose is for all of us to understand the different ways our schools do things, and to prepare our Brown belts for their Black test some time next year.

This place has no air conditioning  In Texas.  In July... but it actually wasn't too bad with fans.

It's been a rough week in the world, maybe not rougher than most, but pretty rough.  Between events in Dallas last week, and then this week in Nice, France, and in Ankara... well, I dunno about you guys, but I am grateful for the hobby I have. It won't save me in any of these situations - except for the training in trying to be aware of your surroundings - but I feel stronger and less... helpless... in the face of it all (even if the reality is that I'm as helpless as anybody else).

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!


Back to "normal" today.  We get to play a bit in our Hidden Sword kobudo class as our new weapon doesn't start until next month.  I'm looking forward to it!

Hubby attends +Hock Hochheim's Knife Course tomorrow - it's at our place, so if you're in the DFW Area, COME ON BY. Older Daughter is going to go... and  I might actually stop by for a short visit myself!

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, July 15, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Fighting, or Self Defense?


Let's consider the difference between self defense, and fighting.

Fighting, generally, involves one or more person engaged in mutual combat.  The classical fight is where two people square up, with their dukes up, and start hitting or grappling with each other.  The key difference in a fight is that none of the parties involved attempt to disengage.

Self defense, however, is where a person has to fend off violence that's been offered to them, generally in an immediate way, without it being mutually agreed upon.  There is, generally, an attacker and a defender.  The key to telling if it's self defense is if the violence that happens is not a situation where both parties agree to fight.

So I'm curious which scenario - fight or self defense - you typically train in your school.  Is it usually mutual combat (like sparring)?  Or is it more like self defense (attack, defend, and then control the attacker or escape the situation?)

Let us know in the comments!