Monday, February 20, 2017

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

I've always liked action movies, even before I became a martial artist.  So I'd be interested in "John Wick: Chapter 2" no matter what. 

Indeed he is.
Now that I'm a martial artist, though, I have an extra appreciation for action films and the work (and the storylines) created within fight choreography.  Not so great fight choreography can ruin something for me (*cough* Arrow *cough*) and excellent choreography can make a film much better than it would otherwise be.

I enjoyed "John Wick" (the first movie). I found it to be simplistic and stylish (which is what you want in an action flick), and the fight choreography was intense and seamless.  As action movies go, it was beautiful.

So I had to see the sequel in the theater.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is more of what I liked in the first film, kicked up a notch (as a good sequel will do).

I'm not going to go into the believability of the world this movie builds.  I mean, there are huge fight sequences in public or public-ish places that I really want to know how they covered up that it happened at all, especially given one is an art museum in New York.  The logistics of the body count alone, not to mention the damage to public places and (probably) famous works of art... 

It'd be headline news immediately, and given the scale, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for parts of the city of New York to be on lockdown (like Boston was in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings).

I won't even get into the bulletproof suit thing... what, only a couple of people know this exists?

BUT we don't go to action movies to obsess over the plot holes, do we? 

Nossir, you and I, we go to see the fighting. And boy howdy, they did a great job in "John  Wick: Chapter 2".

The fight choreography in this film is heavily based on judo and jiu-jitsu, which is a refreshing change from most fight choreography we usually see.  These things come in waves, after all, where all action movies start looking like one another in the fight scenes until a film comes along to shake it up.  I have a feeling in the wake of this movie, we'll have a new wave of judo-influenced fight scenes.

Here's some behind-the-scenes training he did for this movie:

And I think everybody saw THIS video of Reeves at the gun range. I defy you to find an actor who works harder at making fight scenes look great.  He's up there with Robert Downey, Jr.  

And now I'm sitting here hoping for an old-school buddy action comedy starring Reeves and Downey.  WHO'S WITH ME?

Ahem, back to "John Wick: Chapter 2".

I think most people will think about the Catacombs fight and the fight at the museum (the mirror fight is COOL and here's an article about it you should read HERE).   The knife fight between Reeves and Common on a subway is very well done and might be the best of the bunch.  It had a few moves in it that I know Mr. Chick has been studying about in the knife course he took last year so there's an element of realism that I really appreciated.

You are going to see a TON of judo and jiu-jitsu in this movie, which is a refreshing take on action choreography.  You know how it goes, a movie will draw from a certain style, and that style becomes dominant in movies and TV until another movie comes along with a new style.

I think we're going to see a lot more judo in fight scenes going forward in other movies.

So, all in all, "John Wick: Chapter 2" is a really entertaining action movie with some GREAT action choreography.  I'm looking forward to the third film and hopefully the wrap-up of this saga on a high note.

Have you seen "John Wick: Chapter 2"?  What did you think?  Loved it?  Hated it?  Meh?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 2/18/17

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?


Saturday:  My monthly kobudo class over in Dallas.  We worked bo and learned our nunchaku one-steps, and worked on riffing off of what we learned.  This was our last full nunchaku class; we are starting sai next month!
Sunday:  Taught ADE Women's Self Defense. Always a good day when I do that. Ocular migraine in the middle of class was fun.
Monday:   My day off.  Made dinner.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We are prepping our white belts for their yellow belt test, so we worked on their stick work. Fought off another ocular migraine during the day.
Wednesday:  Attended class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. I got thrown around a bit with take-downs, which is always fun.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on front stances, kicks, and jabs, for the most part.  Earlier in the day I had yet another ocular migraine so I went to the doc for consultation and advice.  Changed my meds a bit.
Friday:  Friday night stick sparring as usual.  Migraine came full-on with painful symptoms (first time that's happened since they started up last week) at the end of class; luckily I had emergency meds and was able to go to bed and sleep it off.  It sucked but it could have been worse.

Before the PAAAIINNN.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  The Martial Science
Wednesday:   How do YOU Teach Discipline and Respect?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Doing It Together
Thursday:  Why Do I Keep Training?
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are Rec Center Programs Legit?


Someday I will visit Arnis Village and Grand Master Rodel Dagooc.

This is coming up in just a few weeks - and I'll be there.  Hope you can join us if you're in the area:  1st Annual WMAA Texas Modern Arnis Camp March 3-5, 2017


Today I'm covering Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts while my teacher teaches an Arnis instructor program he's started up, aimed at karate/tae kwon do/kung fu instructors interested in adding our art to their programs.  When I'm in charge at Hidden Sword, the students know we're going to do one of two things - nerd out or hit the bags.

I'm thinking we're hitting the bags today!

 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 15, 2017

How do YOU Teach Discipline and Respect?

Like many martial arts schools here in the United States, we have a kid's program, and it's usually much bigger than our adult classes.

I wish.

Martial arts study only appeals to a tiny fraction of adults, and the reason kids - and really, their parents - want to take martial arts is very different than what adults want out of taking classes.

Adults students are concerned about health benefits, personal safety, and personal growth. If they can have fun doing it, that'd be great.

For a kid's program, though, it's different.  Sure, physical fitness is always top of mind, and learning self defense is important, and we always try to have something fun going on. But we have to take a lot of other things into account, including:

  • Morals and Values
  • Personal discipline
  • Respecting others, adults, themselves
When you run a kid's program, you can't skip any of those elements.  And you have to keep in mind that the parents are as much a part of what you are doing as the kids are.

Thus, by necessity, kids classes lend themselves to a certain level of formality and structure that isn't usually necessary in an adult class.  Our classes at Mid-Cities Arnis are a little less authoritarian and hierarchical than other programs, but we still have these elements in place.

One thing parents want from us is that reinforcement of discipline and respect, and we must deliver on those in our classes.

I'll admit, I find that difficult on a personal level.  I'm really not much of an authoritarian by nature.  It takes a lot of energy on my part to keep on top of the issues around respect and discipline necessary for our classes.

I find it exhausting.

So help me out here.

I'm interested in the tools and techniques you use, if you teach kids, to teach discipline, morals and values, and respect as a part of your martial arts classes.

What do you emphasize?

What habits and rules do you have in your school - a process of bowing, how people are directed to speak to one another, and the like - to reinforce discipline and respect?

How are students expected to "live" the values you teach in your school? 

What are the positive and negative reinforcement techniques you use in your school to teach discipline and respect?

Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Martial Science

Some of us like to call what we do "martial science" versus martial arts.

I think this is an interesting idea, especially if the style in question is actually following the scientific method in its development and things constantly get challenged and verified by other people to test the validity of the solution to whatever martial arts problem is being discussed.

By ArchonMagnus - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Of course, much of the time, people calling what they do "martial science" don't use the scientific method to develop their style.  They are using it as a marketing gimmick to make their style seem more legitimate than others.  They don't undergo the rigorous process shown above at all, and they definitely don't seek out skeptical people to verify what they do as effective.

But that doesn't negate the idea of using the scientific method as an approach to developing a martial arts style.  This would, of course, apply mostly to modern "living" styles, versus classical styles that are as much about preservation of the source material as they are fighting or self defense.

If you're aiming to develop a modern, effective fighting method, why NOT use the scientific method to do it?

Of course, some of us do use a rudimentary scientific method to try to figure out what works.  But we don't do the whole process (especially in the testing part) and thus, it can't really be called using "scientific" per se.

It would be especially interesting if we had a standard process by which other groups could verify or disprove the "test results".  That'd help weed out a lot of iffy claims, wouldn't it?

Of course, we'd need a good, formal testing methodology.  We couldn't say, as many white belts do, "Yes, that's fine against (x) but what if I did (y)?" and then invalidate whatever technique is being examined.  That'd be moving the goalposts and changes the problem you're trying to solve in the first place.

I think it'd look a lot like this.

It would be neat the know that something works because it's been rigorously (and skeptically) tested, not because charismatic Grand Master so-in-so says it does.

So what do you think?  Should martial arts be more "martial science", using the scientific method as a way to develop techniques?  Or is what we do more than just what's "effective"?  Would you consider a martial "science" more or less legitimate than a martial "art"? I'd love to know what you think!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity 2/11/17

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?


Saturday:  Kobudo and Arnis at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  Kind of a low-key day, even if I was having a bit of back spasms.
Sunday:  A day where I wasn't booked up to my gills with stuff!  Caught up on chores and shopping.
Monday:   My day off.  Made dinner.
Tuesday:   Migraine threatened to come on but I beat that bad boy back and was able to teach class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We covered the jab in our family class and worked the Abanico strike in the adult class. BOOSH.
Wednesday:  Attended class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on our self defenses in the kids class, and a variety of things - including the dos manos drill - in the adult class.
Friday:  Migraine tried to sneak up on me again, but I was all, "NOPE!  YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Friday night review and stick-sparring!  Great way to end our week!

Ok, kids, FIGHT TO THE DEATH!  Juuuuuusssst kidding.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  The Question of Authority
Wednesday:  GUEST POST: On Forms by Dr. Tye Botting

I absolutely love it when I get a guest poster, and this week's was a good 'un, so make sure you read it.  I hope to be able to bring you more guest posts from Tye Botting in the near future!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Pumching Up
Thursday:  A Team of One
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: When do you "Fire" a Student?


Friend of the blog +Joelle White answered a question I posed on my post "The Question of Authority" this week on her blog, A Beginner's Journey. Check it out:  A Little Bit of Authority

This is making the rounds for VERY GOOD REASON.  Because it is HILARIOUS.

+Logen Lanka made this nice entry on his blog, Way of Ninja, that you should check out: How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt (or Truly Master Martial Arts)?

This is coming up in just a few weeks - and I'll be there.  Hope you can join us if you're in the area:  1st Annual WMAA Texas Modern Arnis Camp March 3-5, 2017


Today is the day I spend in Dallas, where I get to study some Okinawan Karate and go to my two-hour formal Kobudo class.  Tomorrow I help teach ADE Women's Self Defense, which we offer every few months.  So, a busy weekend (as usual).

 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!