Monday, December 30, 2013

Modern Arnis: Now With Sticks!

I posted a video showing the Professor demonstrating block/check/counter with the empty hand on this post here.

And here comes the pain.
Here it is with sticks.  When you watch both videos in succession, the point about how weapons work translates to empty hand (and vice-versa) becomes very clear.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

What I'm going to do in 2014 in the Martial Arts

Let me make this clear - this is not a "New Years Resolution", as I find those kind of annoying (and people forget them rather quickly).  But here's what I want to accomplish in 2014.

I will refrain from cutting people.  Probably.
I will dramatically increase my skill in tapi-tapi and espada y daga, not only in smooth action but in overall body of knowledge.

I will decrease my pants size by two sizes - and get a new uniform as a result!

I will increase my upper body strength by a factor of two - that is, I will, by the end of the year, be able to lift twice as much weight as I can now and apply twice as much force.

I will attend at least two martial arts seminars.

I will improve my footwork - angle stepping, judging the appropriate distance, getting to the outside, with smooth, natural motion.

I will learn the Jo.

I will compete in one tournament.

I will continuously improve my teaching skills, including studying more about how to effectively communicate information to students.

What are your goals in 2014?  I'd love to know!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Modern Arnis: The Empty Hand

Most people, when they think of FMA's or Modern Arnis, they think of the stick or blade.

Rightfully so, as this is what we usually show to people who aren't familiar with us.  But, in fact, we have lots and lots of unarmed drills.

Look ma, no weapons!
Here's a great video of the Professor, Remy Presas, demonstrating block/check/counter with the empty hand, and a couple of applications.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Time to Shape Up

I'll be the first to admit I'm not in the best of shape.  Being in my mid-40's, running around with two kids, and having a relatively sedentary job doesn't help, even though I do Arnis three times a week.

Paperweight? - old me
The truth is, I started the martial arts originally to get into better shape.  You see, At the age of 38, I was surprised to discover I was going to get old.


It's true!  I didn't, in my heart, believe I would grow old.  I thought something would happen before I got that far.

In any case, I realized that old age was going to suck unless I took action, because I was weak, very over weight, and I smoked two packs a day.  I quit smoking, I addressed eating better, but then... I needed to take up a physical activity.

Most of us fall into two camps when it comes to things like this: self-directed, and other-directed.
  • Self-directed people can set a workout routine and just stick to it on their own schedule.  My husband is like this, as is many people I know.  They run, bike, work out at home, go to the gym, whatever, without any outside influence at all.
  • Other-directed people need to have outside influences keeping them motivated.  Things like fitness (and martial arts) classes, workout buddy arrangements, and physical trainers are what they need to keep going.  I fall into this camp - I need an appointment and someone else to help me be accountable.
My daughter had been in Tae Kwon Do since age five, and my husband had started it about six months earlier, so I took up PaSaRyu Tae Kwon Do in spring 2008.  I've been practicing martial arts ever since.

Me in my first gi and
first white belt
I've fallen in love with the martial arts so much that I've decided that I'd love to teach and have my own school some day.  But to do that, I think I need to dramatically improve myself physically.  I would like to be stronger, have better endurance, and honestly, "look" like a good martial arts teacher (I am, after all, a marketer by trade).

So I'm starting to work with a physical trainer in 2014 to get to a level I'm comfortable with and can learn to maintain in preparation to have our own school in five or ten years time.   I'll let you know how it goes.

What are your fitness goals, and what are you doing to address them?  Any tips?  Let me know!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kiaaa-HA!: Introduction

The martial arts can be a very no-nonsense business.  In fact, I think that most outsiders think of martial artists and our community as being very serious all the time.  I also think that we, as a community, cultivate that impression, with all of the serious business pictures we take of ourselves doing amazing martial artsy type things or standing with weapons ready and whatnot.

The truth is, what we do - and making fun of what we do - can be pretty darn funny.  In fact, I think I laugh as much in my art as I do outside of it, as what I do is just so darned fun.  And we have, as a subculture, lots of things that are easy targets for funny people to take on and parody.

There's a lot of great stuff out there making fun of the martial arts, and I plan to share it with you here under the "Kiaaa-HA!" tag.

For example, here's a meme that makes me laugh hard every time I see it:

That's "Overly Manly-Man".  Here's another one:

Oh, just one more.

There's some amazingly funny memes out there, and of course, videos and web sites, and I'll share as much as I can find. It's one of those things I love to curate and enjoy, as I think it fleshes us out as a culture and makes us far more approachable to newbies and outsiders.

Got any favorites?  I'd love to see them!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Why Study Weapons?

I've decided that my interests mainly lie in weapons, so I'm going to expand my study into the kobudo weapons, staring with the Jo.

I have lots of friends in the martial arts, and when I have expressed my interest to learn lots more about weapons, they have repeatedly asked me, "What happens when you're not armed?"

Let's set aside the whole "weapon is the extension of the hand" thing, where when you study weapons, you are studying the empty hand.  Yes, of course that is true, but that's not my point.

I'm always armed. 

I don't mean I carry a knife (I do - just a very small folder in my purse) or gun or anything like that ready for conflict at all times.  It's not practical in my life to do that.

I'm always armed, because there are almost always weapons around me.

Take, for example, a typical office.

Not pictured: Empty Soda Can Graveyard.
Looking at this picture, you don't see too much there to defend yourself, do you?  Well, look again:

Pictured: Arsenal.
Off the top of my head, the red circled objects are items I could pick up and use in a pinch to defend myself.

The glasses in particular draw my attention - recently in my neck of the woods, we had fugitive who escaped custody using broken glasses.
Grapevine police said Morales was able to take off his eye glasses, break off the frame, and use the sharp, broken end as a blade to attack the lone officer guarding him, 54-year-old Jaime Pardinas, stabbing Pardinas once in the chest and three times in the back before fleeing. Miami Prisoner Stabs Police Officer
So, yes, in that room above, I've got lots of options.

Take a moment, wherever you are reading this post right now, and look around you.  What weapons are handy?

A pen? A coffee cup? A laptop bag or briefcase?  A t-shirt or small throw blanket? A beer or soda bottle?

All of these, in a pinch, can be used, if you study and practice using them.

And that's why I want to keep studying weapons!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Enter the Stick Chick

Well, hello, there.

Me, making the obligatory
"Modern Arnis" pose.
I'm Jackie B., and I fight with sticks.

Okay, not really - I can fight with anything, I guess, as well as an empty hand, but the martial art I practice, Modern Arnis, is best known for using rattan sticks.

I didn't start studying any martial art until shortly before I turned 40 years old.  I started in a variant of Tae Kwon Do but quickly took up Modern Arnis and I have been studying it, off and on, for about five years. 

I took a short break when I was pregnant with my younger daughter and studied tai chi, and I have also studied, at times, RyuKyu Kempo, Kyusho-jitsu, and have had some exposure to Small Circle Jujitsu.

I study Arnis at Hidden Sword Martial Arts today, and as you can see by my picture, I'm now Dayang Isa (first degree Black Belt).  I was promoted in August 2013 (I'll tell that story another time), with my husband (he is Lakan Isa - the title is different if you are male or female).

I'm currently studying a version of Arnis that is mainly a blend between Remy. A Presas' Modern Arnis and Ernesto Presas' Kombatan.  I plan to start studying kobudo weapons in January 2013, starting with the Jo.

So, that's me - in the future, I plan to blog about the martial arts, Arnis, and related topics.  Hope you enjoy!