Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 3/25/17

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  Mr. Chick was in Houston all weekend, so that left me to keep the home fires burning.  Took younger daughter to Taekwondo class, and since my teacher had a seminar to teach, I covered Arnis at Hidden Sword.  We worked on Dos Manos and capturing the stick with padded sticks so we could hit each other with impunity.  Fun class!  Also got in sai practice.
Sunday:  Mr. Chick still out of town, so I did ALL THE CHORES.
Monday:   Skipped gym since Mr. Chick didn't get home until the wee hours (construction plus Spring Break traffic = VERY LONG DRIVE) and neither one of us got to bed until very late.  Fine tuned our demo in Arnis class at Hidden Sword.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked some on Anyo Isa.
Wednesday:  I think I got a milder version of this horrible flu thing going around, and I stayed home from school.  However, as we have our Demo this weekend, I made it to Hidden Sword and practiced.  It just about killed me, but I practiced!
Thursday:  Still sick, but started feeling well enough in the afternoon to go teach at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday:  Morning gym. Not 100% yet -  more like 80% - but it was a normal day.  Instead of stick sparring, we had one last practice at Hidden Sword before our demo.  We're ready to go.

Just a portion of the demo practice in slow motion.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  On High Kicks
Wednesday:   Nuthin'.  I was sick, y'all!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Weapons in Real Life: Confronted with a Long Blunt Weapon
Thursday:  A Black Belt is a Black Belt is a Black Belt
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are Values Necessary?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Hey cool, The Stick Chick blog was included with VERY good company (including friends of the blog +Logen Lanka at Way Of Ninja and +Andrea Harkins at The Martial Arts Woman and +Ando Mierzwa at Sensei Ando) in Feedspot's Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs.  I follow most of the blogs listed (Reddit is a "blog"? Really?), so you should check 'em out: Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs & Websites Every Martial Artist Must Follow

There's a new issue of FMA Informative out.  Not only is this the premiere "news" organ of Filipino Martial Arts, but you might spot someone you know (*cough*) in there.  Download the current issue as well as back issues here: FMA Informative

Different groups do our forms in different ways.  This version of Modern Arnis' Anyo Isa by our friend +Traveling Lakan at Progressive Arnis Miami is really cool!





FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today will be a long day over in Richardson with AKATO. I'm going early to observe their Black Belt test, then my teacher is teaching an Arnis seminar, then we have our demo (the one we've been working on for weeks).  Then we have our banquet - YAY TACOS!

Now that the demo is past us, focus at my teacher's school will be on the final preparations for our second batch of Presas Arnis black belts that are testing on April 22.  Given that Mr. Chick and I were the first batch, this is kind of a big deal!

Hope your week was fantabulous.  Yes, that's a word.

Probably.

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, March 20, 2017

On High Kicks

Let me make a confession that in some circles in the martial arts would be considered shocking.

I don't like high kicks.

There.  I said it.  Happy?

It's not like I doubt the usefulness and effectiveness of high kicks.  I know there's some folks out there who do, and I don't count myself in their number.  There's too much evidence out there of high kicks working, and working well, to make that argument.

I don't like high kicks because I can't do high kicks.

Look, I have an excuse.  I sustained permanent knee damage as a teenager, when I was a runner.  So if you see me running today, my friend, you better start running too, because something BAD is coming.

Pretty much.
This causes me big time problems in martial arts.  Any move in a form where I have to get down on a knee, I can't do.  Or rather, I can, but I won't get up again any time soon.  I have to be very careful on takedowns that involve my knees, because it's easy to end up hurt and out of training.

When you have this sort of damage, it actually affects more joints than just the damaged ones.  I get knee aches in certain weather patterns, and it hurts from my hip to my ankle when I get those.

So, when I first started in the martial arts, I was in an style called PaSaRyu Taekwondo.  As everybody knows, most variants of TKD require high kicks and PaSaRyu is no exception.

Within a few months, I developed bursitis in both hips and ended up in physical therapy (because I'd fallen in love, you see, and I wasn't going to stop training) - in fact, I suffer from bursitis to this day.

I ended up leaving PaSaRyu after I was introduced to Arnis and I moved away.  After I ended up in Texas, I wound up in another version of TKD for about six months.  It was then that I realized that TKD is just not a style I can do long-term.

The main reason I quit studying taekwondo was the high kicks.  Between the bursitis in the hips and the damage in my knees, that stuff just hurts.

As a result, it's best for me to be in styles that don't ask me to try to kick high.  It can't be a part of my strategy in the martial arts. The amount of pain and damage I get in training it isn't worth the advantage I get from being able to do it well.

So no, you won't see ol' Stick Chickie kick somebody in the head.  Unless, of course, I'm on a ladder.



Do you like high kicks?  Are you good at it?  How has it affected your physical health?  Tell me all about YOUR kicks in the comments!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 03/18/17

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday: We used our kobudo class to work on a demo we're preparing for AKATO in a couple of weeks.  I attended Arnis class, then I went to Dallas for my monthly kobudo class.  Worked on our other weapons for an hour of the class, and then we started a new weapon this month - the sai!
Sunday:  Caught up on chores we've left to the wayside while Mr. Chick trained with GM Art Miraflor of Miraflor Serrada Escrima.
Monday:   Morning gym. Arnis class was more demo practice.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  It's Spring Break here in Texas, and our classes are lightly attended,  We introduced defensive response #1 to our kids class, worked on block-check-counter and introduced the standard #1 disarm against a high forehand strike, the lever disarm.
Wednesday:  Morning gym. Finalized a big section of our demo.
Thursday:  Morning gym. Worked on off-curriculum material, basic espada y daga patterns, in the kids class, then continued on block-check-counter, the lever disarm, and other disarms off the high forehand strike.
Friday:  Morning gym. Worked on Defensive Response #1 with soft sticks (so they could "fail" on blocking without getting hit), worked on other double-stick material, then we sparred, mostly with double sticks.  Fun!




BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Women's Self Defense for the Win
Wednesday:   Oh Hai, Sai!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Exploring the "X"
Thursday:  Five Things I Absolutely Hate About Being A Martial Artist
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Do All Fights Go To The Ground?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

+Prof. Dan Anderson published a TON of anyo (form) videos this week, and they're awesome!  We don't have a lot of empty hand anyos online, so it's a huge help for the rest of us as reference material.  You can find them on his YouTube channel (here).  Here's one of them, of Anyo Tatlo, aka "Form Three".



Save this link and read this article every time you don't "feel" like training.  Not Even Brain Cancer Can Stop Me From Competing at IBJJF

Not martial arts, but... often, when I describe my self defense strategy, I compare it to a cat taking on a big dog.  Watch this:



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Hubby is training in Houston all weekend long, so I'll be holding down the fort.  I am covering Arnis classes today, then I will be working on some form work and practicing sai (I work them almost every day since our last class, trying to get better at manipulating them).

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, March 15, 2017

Oh hai, Sai!

In kobudo, we've started the sai.

Now we're talking some SERIOUS weaponry, y'all.

If you don't know what sai are, they're the three-pronged weapon that you've seen Elektra from Marvel Comics (we won't mention the films she's appeared in as a character) or Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use.

I am a katana and an intelligent rat mentor away from being one of these guys.

The other weapons I've trained with in kobudo - bo, tonfa, nunchaku - are derived from everyday objects, and you can find analogues to all of those weapons in your daily life.

Sai are different, though.  These bad boys are weapons, and there's no analogue that I know of in regular everyday objects.

I actually ended up with two pair of sai.  I bought my steel pair years and years ago, but they're really small (almost too small for me, and that's saying something, as I am a small person).  I was given another pair of sai by a great friend, and they're black and a little bigger, and these are the sai I'm using in class.  They're a little longer and they're safer for blocking and whatnot than my original pair.

Golly, I have two pair of sai.  That's tragic.

Sai are not short swords with really big guards or tongs, mind you.  The middle portion - the blade or shaft (or monouchi) is round or octagonal.  The tip (or saki) is more rounded than pointy, even though it is pointy enough to stab someone with.  It's still (basically) a blunt weapon - there is no edge like a sword or knife.

Not that it can't and won't break the skin - it will.  But the key word is "break" (or "tear") versus "cut".  They're heavy enough that it shouldn't take a lot of force to do so, either.

The thing about sai is that they are substantial.  They're metal - mine are steel, not aluminum, and good traditional sai, I've been told, are iron.  The first thing we are learning is how to manipulate the sai and how to properly block with them (it's tricky, as the shaft is very thin and there is zero margin for error).

You drop these bad boys tip-down on the floor, especially a wood floor, and there will be a hole or divot in that floor.  Drop them on your foot... well, let's just say DON'T.

It's also important to learn how to change your grip so that you are not at risk of having your fingers smashed when the sai is used to block or trap using the tines (yoko).  This is the part I'm struggling with the most as I work on learning how to manipulate this weapon.

Yes, but... no.
I thought tonfa were heavy (and they are) but wow, sai take the cake.  It's not like I don't already have relatively strong wrists or forearms, given what I do.  Sai are taking me to a whole new level of training my arms.  My shoulders, my forearms, and my wrists are getting a hell of a workout, and I'm having to work very hard on not stabbing myself.

That'll help me in arnis, and I'm always happy about that.  Sai manipulation is a nice little workout.

But honestly, I don't know how I feel about the sai just yet.  With bo, it took me a while to enjoy the weapon (and now I do, even if it is not my favorite).  I was disappointed by tonfa but I'm good with them now, and nunchaku are a blast to learn and manipulate.

Sai though...

I'm finding the manipulation required a little complicated in a life and death situation - I don't understand the point of holding them where the shaft is against your forearm (what I'd call reverse grip) - why not shaft out, in "traditional" or "saber" grip?  It seems simpler and more flexible in application.

But I'm new to it, and I'm sure I am missing important things that make perfect sense once I train a little more.

I will be learning new material on sai in kobudo class, plus practicing everything else I've learned, for the rest of the year.  I may be looking at a black belt grading at the end of the year or the early part of next year.

So the sai represent me entering the home stretch to black belt.


Awwww yisssssss.

So no matter how I end up feeling about the sai, it is a huge milestone for me as I train in kobudo.  So I will work hard on learning how to use the sai, as hard as I did the other weapons I'm training in.

Have you trained in sai?  What was your experience?  Have any sai stories?  Let us know in the comments!




Monday, March 13, 2017

Women's Self Defense for the Win!

This story has been making the rounds in martial arts circles lately - check it out:

Survivor of Golden Gardens Assault Shares Her Story

and here:

Seattle Woman Uses Tactics She Learned from Self-Defense Class to Escape Brutal Sexual Assault

If you don't click though, here's a short synopsis:

Woman credits a two-hour women's self defense course with helping her survive an attack by a repeat offending rapist in a park bathroom.

The victim came out of it with bumps and bruises, but she's basically okay!

You should stand up right now and applaud too.

I'm sure you'll agree that this is fantastic news, and I am grateful that she was able to fight off her attacker and survive with so very little damage.  That awesome.

The fact that she says a very short women's self defense course helped her survive caught my attention, because there are some folks out there who think that short women's self defense courses are useless.  You know, they mean the basic two-to-four hour courses that lots of martial arts schools and teachers offer.

I would agree, to a point, that short self defense courses are woefully inadequate to cover all of the things a person would need to defend themselves in every situation (and they're terrible if you end up finding yourself in a fight).  I would also argue that a lot of martial arts classes and programs in general - and I'll include firearms courses too - are also inadequate to cover all situations, including many common ones.

Look, for women, statistically the danger we really face is from our loved ones and people we know, not from strangers in the street wanting to assault or fight us.  The vast majority of women's self defense courses fail to address this, but  honestly, I don't think we in the martial arts community, on average, are competent enough to address it.

Thus, most of our self defense courses focus on the typical "stranger tries to attack you" scenarios, which are actually becoming less common as crime rates overall have been plummeting for the last generation or so.  It still happens, all the time, but it's getting rarer.  Great news, but it goes to show that our focus in the martial arts is not jiving with what is actually happening in the real world for the average female victim of assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

But here's where I disagree that short women's self defense courses are "useless" (and never mind the fact that I have a real world example to back me up, as noted above).

A good women's self defense course will be more about situational awareness, about avoiding and evading people who wish us harm, and about getting out of a dangerous situation once someone has decided to attack.  This does not require years of training, although of course, it would be preferable if women of all ages would join us in our weird little obsession with acquiring bruises for funsies, obviously.

Short courses are very good at getting women to think about their own protection. To be aware when they are in places where it's easy to ambush (such as grocery store parking lots and you guessed it, public restrooms).  To trust their own instincts when things aren't "right", and to teach them not to talk themselves out of leaving a bad situation.  To help them spot where and when in their daily lives that things could go wrong, because the first part of learning how to defend one's self is to recognize that there's a dangerous situation in the first place.

The "martial arts" part of women's self defense courses are about escaping and getting free.  It isn't about staying engaged with a bad guy, it isn't about besting someone in a fight, and it certainly isn't about "winning" a fight.

In my opinion, actual fighting skills in short self defense courses should be relegated to a few easy-to-learn techniques to defend and then counter-attack vital areas (throat, eyes, groin, etc.) so they can get out of the grasp of a bad guy.  It should not require being incredibly fit or skills that it takes most of us years of practice to do well.

When I see women's self defense advertised using an image of an incredibly fit woman outfitted for kick boxing, and she's kicking higher than her head, I cringe, I really do.

I'm with Trey on this one.

Boxing and kickboxing Our "win" in self defense is survival.  We don't have to beat someone up or make them tap or kill someone to "win" when someone offers us harm.

This is a mindset MOST of us do not train in, in the martial arts.  We train to engage, we train to stay in, we train to control, we train to win.  The "survival", self-defense mindset is not what we generally practice.

We have this great example of a woman who was able to take what she learned from a two-hour self defense course and use it in real life against an honest-to-goodness bad guy.  Of course, she had some help from bystanders, but still...

She came out of it with some bruises.  That's it.  And the perp is captured.

Women's self defense FOR THE WIN!

One more thing - I really think there is an underserved market in short-course MEN'S self defense courses.  How MEN get into trouble, how MEN can get out without getting hurt (especially understanding social violence and how to de-escalate).  Men experience far more violence than women do, statistically, and I would love to see stuff like this get off the ground as well.

Who's with me?