Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Goals - FINAL UPDATE

Well, I made a bunch of goals in 2014 (see here for the original post, and here for the update) and now it's time to assess how I did.

I know, I know.

1) 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 don't know if my skill has dramatically improved in tapi-tapi, but I do think I've improved.  Espada y daga was hardly worked on, and I don't know if I'll spend significant time there any time soon, as my mind right now is mostly in the stick being a stick, versus a blade.

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

I finally made some progress in December!  First, I started on a strict regimen of low carbing (Atkins program) and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (which makes it very difficult to lose weight) and I'm now on hormone therapy for that.

I've lost about sixteen pounds overall since I last weighed myself in August. with almost all of that coming in December, and I've lost several inches where it counts.

No new uniform yet, unless the white gi I have in my closet is problematic (I need that for Kobudo starting in January).  My eldest daughter has a habit of taking my gi jackets and messing them up.


3) 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 originally wrote this thinking I was weaker than I really was.  I made satisfactory progress on my upper body strength (and crazy good progress on my lower body strength).  So, I'll call this achieved.

I'm a *little* better than this.
4) I will attend at least two martial arts seminars.

Done and done twice over.  I attended MAPA 1,  MAPA 2, and MAPA 3, and "Double Impact" in August.

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

I think I have improved here, but nowhere near where I want to be.  But I don't know that I'll ever be where I want to be - there is always someone much better than I am.

6) I will learn the Jo.

I studied it, I don't know if I learned it.  I do like that weapon, though.  I think it's practical.

7) I will compete in one tournament

I ended up skipping it.  I don't know if I'll ever compete again - it's really not my bag.

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

Of all my goals, I think I made the most progress here.  I think I'm better at explaining things than I used to be.

Welcome to the club.

I added two more goals in July - learning Goju-Shorei weapons system and seeking out a Tai Chi teacher.  I ended up dropping Goju-Shorei (my hubby is still in it and progressing) as I was simply trying to do too much at one time.  Ditto the Tai Chi teacher - just didn't get to it.

So, did you have any goals in 2014?  How did you do?

Monday, December 29, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Minute with Datu Tim Hartman (Baston Anyo #5)

Happy Motion Monday!

Today is the fifth - and last - baston anyo of Modern Arnis.

Well, actually, it's the first four strung together into one big anyo!

At our school Hidden Sword Martial Arts we modified this form slightly to make what we call our "Competition Form".

As with the other anyos, Datu Tim shows his WMAA version, and other schools and organizations may do it differently, even if we all share the same basic foundation.  This variance is normal.

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Roundup: My Five Faves and my pick for Best of TROY-KWON-DO

Okay, so I counted down the Top 10 Posts of 2014 by views, but I thought I'd share with you five posts that I am really proud of writing in 2014.  You might have missed some when they were originally published, and if you'd be so kind, take a moment and check them out, and let me know what you think.

These are in no particular order, and there's lots of others I'm very proud of, but I narrowed it down to these five.

FIGHT LIKE A GIRL

I wrote this in response to frustration with well-meaning martial artists who use language that consistently imply that anything associated with the female gender is lesser, or undesirable, or weak and not worthy.

This happens all the time in the martial arts, not with any malicious intent for the most part, but generally through a lack of actually thinking about it.

Given that I find the martial arts community as a whole supportive and welcoming for me as a woman, it's the one thing I would love to change to make it even more welcoming for women everywhere.


CONFESSIONS OF A MARTIAL ARTS SNOB

This post sums up how I honestly, really feel about the martial arts and Modern Arnis.  It is as unadulterated and as unfiltered as it gets without me including tons of swear words.

It's basically the one post I'd want to read if somebody else wrote it.  I think it has the right imagery to get across the point I was trying to make.  It has the tone and the mix of humor and seriousness that I'd ideally like to have on this blog.



Plus, well, I'm still a raging snob.  I bet you are too!


IN DEFENSE OF PERFORMANCE MARTIAL ARTS

I'm proud of this one mainly because I am notorious for making fun of "bo spinners" and "sword catchers", and I think I did a really good job in making the case in favor of such stuff being fine and dandy in the martial arts world.


I meant every word I wrote, even if it not the way I do the martial arts myself.  I still believe it has place.

And yes, I will be ready and willing to defend professional wrestling and the WWE for being the amazing display of athleticism and martial arts performance every day of the week.  Those guys are badasses to the first degree.


HOW NOT TO SUCK WITH STICKS: FMA BASICS FOR NON-FMA PEOPLE

Of all of my nerdy Modern Arnis posts, I think this one is the one that's not only the best written, but also the one that's the most generally helpful.


This single post, if it's the only one that ever lives on over time, makes this blog worth doing, if it helps someone do an FMA technique properly.

If you share anything from this blog, please, share this one post.


I'M A LARPER (AND I'M OKAY)

I think we all know that we martial artists have a little bit of Live Action Role Play in each of us, even if we are afraid to actually admit it.


I think making a declaration that it's perfectly fine to embrace the LARP is the kind of stand I want to make here on this blog - let's not pretend we are anything other than what we are.  Let's embrace it and enjoy it, because it's fun.

This post is a favorite with me because of the discussion it generated in the comments, both where embraced the LARP, or denied the LARP.  Either way, I think it generated some of the better discussion we've had thus far on the blog, and that's why it made this list.


Here's my pick for the best of TROY-KWON-DO in 2014:

TROY-KWON-DO: MARTIAL ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY FOR PARENTS

Troy's tips for taking decent pictures with your smart phone are really, really well done.  I take lots (and lots and lots) of pictures in our Arnis classes, as well as of my daughter, and his tips have really helped me improve the shots I'm getting.


Troy is a great contributor to this blog, but this one post stands out as being really, really great.

Well, there you go, MY favorite posts in 2014.  Did I  miss one you liked?  Did I pick one that stunk up the joint?  I really want to know!



Saturday, December 27, 2014

TOP 10 POSTS OF 2014 COUNTDOWN! Number 1 Post of 2014

We've finally arrived at NUMBER 1!

The top post of 2014 on this blog is also one of the most important.

#1: SPECIAL SHENANIGANS CROSS-POST: RALPH HALL- FRAUD, PEDOPHILE AND SEXUAL PREDATOR

It was my privilege to help get the word out about scumbag Ralph Hall in Reno, NV, in concert with Don Roley at Colorado Springs Ninjutsu, and to help connect him with Michael Kirk at Stolen Valor.

Read the post here to get the full details.

You may recall that Mr. Hall is a man who claims high rank in the Bujinkan (he has none and in fact forged certificates, which you can see on the links to Martial Arts Planet in the post), to be an ex-Ranger and combat veteran (he isn't and never was), and was released from prison in Georgia in 2013 after serving five years for inappropriate sexual contact with a minor (one of his teenage students).

FAKE.
As a result of these efforts, Mr. Hall was picked up for probation violations and is currently sitting in the Washoe County Jail.  It has been confirmed that he is indeed making the same claims he was prior to his term of incarceration (especially trying to impress people with his combat veteran status) and he is actively seeking to connect to the martial arts community in Reno and teach again.

FRAUD.  He was never a Ranger.

If my cross post can help prevent another family's tragedy, or keep one more person being suckered in by his lies, I will sleep well at night knowing I helped in a small way.


So that's it - the #1 post of 2014!  Were you surprised by how the posts were ranked?  Did a favorite of yours not make it into the top 10?  Did you find this whole exercise kinda silly?  I'd love to know - sound off in the comments!


Friday, December 26, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Traditional Weapons vs. Demo "XMA"-Style Weapons

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Weapons - be it bo, nunchaku, sai, or sword, there's the traditional version, and the flashy "demo" version influenced by the "XMA" performance-type weapons commonly seen today at tournaments.

For some of us, learning weapons in a traditional way with traditional applications is an end unto itself, and worthwhile.

For others, being able to "wow" spectators with weapons skill is the way to go, and thus, flashy "performance" kata and techniques that are chosen for how they look (often set to music) to an audience, versus combative effectiveness as traditionally studied.

What do you think?

TRADITIONAL WEAPONS OR DEMO "XMA"-STYLE WEAPONS?

Monday, December 22, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Minute with Datu Tim Hartman (Baston Anyo #4)

Happy Motion Monday!

Today is the fourth baston anyo of Modern Arnis, Anyo Apat.

This is by +Datu Hartman  at the WMAA as part of "The Modern Arnis Minute" series.

It was difficult to learn (for me, but I'm not always the brightest bulb on the tree) but it is my favorite of the baston anyos.  As with most of the Modern Arnis anyos, you can see their roots in blade (vs. blunt).

One note - Datu Tim shows two versions here - the "original" version (which is very, very similar to the way we do it at our school), and his own WMAA version.  Different players and different organizations may do the anyos slightly differently from one another, and this is normal, as there is no single right, standard way.

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

TOP 10 POSTS OF 2014 COUNTDOWN! Numbers 5 and 4

Continuing on with our Top 10 Posts of 2014 by views (see Numbers 10 and 9 here and Numbers 8, 7 and 6 here).

These two posts contains of one my personal favorite posts, and one that completely confused me when it fell into the top 10 posts.

#5: FACE-OFF FRIDAY:  Should Belt Ranks Exist?

Face-Off Friday posts are when I pose a question on a generally controversial topic within the martial arts for readers to hash out.  I rarely (if ever) state my own position, because I want to get a nice discussion going, and not my own opinion skew it one way or another.

Some day, I'll change this image to them hitting each other.
I recently starting sharing FOF posts to the Martial Artists Group on LinkedIn.  For some reason, this one post really resonated with this community, and I think that's what drove all of the views to this post.

Read the post here (and feel free to chime in).

#4: SHENANIGANS: Miss USA, Feminism and Rape Culture

I might have been a little... annoyed... when I wrote this post.  Mainly because as a female martial artist, as the mother of a female martial artist (and hopefully another one in 2015), and as someone who teaches female martial artists, I found the idea that even suggesting that women learn how to protect themselves somehow promotes rape culture to be utterly outrageous.

I like a Miss USA who can kick your butt.
I still think it's outrageous, and I'm glad I made this post and this stand for the good guys.  You can read my rant here.

We still have three more to go of the Top 10 Posts of 2014 - can you guess which they are?


Friday, December 19, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Is Teaching the Martial Arts for Profit Okay, or Bad?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Some folks believe that teaching the martial arts for a profit - or even a full-time living - is wrong, as the profit motive forces people to water down their arts in order to keep customers.

Others have no problem with teaching the martial arts for a living or for profit, as many of us dream of being able pursue teaching and learning the martial arts as a full-time endeavor.

But what do you think?


IS IT OKAY TO TEACH MARTIAL ARTS FOR A PROFIT (OR A FULL-TIME LIVING)?

Monday, December 15, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Minute with Datu Tim Hartman (Baston Anyo #3)


Happy Motion Monday!

Today we're featuring the third of the baston anyos (or stick/sword forms) of Arnis.

This is by +Datu Hartman  at the WMAA as part of "The Modern Arnis Minute" series.

This form is pretty short (not as short as the last one), and much like Dalawa, it's very clearly a blade form.

One note - Datu Tim shows two versions here - the "original" version (which is very, very similar to the way we do it at our school), and his own WMAA version.  Different players and different organizations may do the anyos slightly differently from one another, and this is normal, as there is no single right, standard way.

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

TOP 10 POSTS OF 2014 COUNTDOWN! Intro and Numbers 10 and 9

Over the past year, we published 173 posts here on the Stick Chick Blog.

WE DO IT ALL FOR YOU!  *sob*

As a part of the blog's year-end wrap up, let's count down the top 10 posts by views during that time. Views correlates strongly with shares, so these are also the posts most likely to have been shared over that period of time.

Note:  The most popular posts by category (by far) are "Shenanigans" posts which feature fakes and frauds in the martial arts, in case you were wondering. Yes, I am saddened you guys aren't reading and sharing the heck out of my really nerdy modern arnis technique posts.

#10: Shenanigans! Thomas Daw and the MFMA

Oh, Tommy Daw.  I wrote about him way back in February.  He's a fake Grand Master in a bunch of made-up arts, an online belt mill victim and perpetrator.  He sells his training via eBay and is not worth the relatively cheap cost for buying his courses.

This guy.
Tommy seems to have disappeared lately, but I'm sure he'll pop up again eventually.  He does that.  Read the post here.

#9: Five Things I Absolutely Hate About Being a Martial Artist

I wrote this post inspired by +Andrea Harkins' post on her blog, "5 Things I Absolutely Hate About the Martial Arts".  It's rare that you can read a post that resonates so quickly (I read Andrea's post, wrote this one, and posted it literally the next day).

I have nearly memorized this movie.
I'm still having trouble watching the fight scenes, especially now that there's more FMA influence in TV shows like "Arrow".  Read the post here.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the countdown coming soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Instructors and Students Dating

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today, I'd like to know what you think about instructors and teachers dating.

I do not mean children or teenagers - this is for adults, or rather, if done outside of the dojo, the relationship would be perfectly fine and legal and proper.

I know several couples who met, dated, and married having met in the martial arts.  And often, one of the people in that couple was the instructor.

But some folks think that the teacher/student relationship is one in which the teacher has more power in the relationship than is healthy, and can be used to negatively influence the student into doing things he or she might not want to do.  Also, should the relationship be known, it could be interpreted that the student dating the instructor doesn't have to work as hard as other students to excel or advance in rank.

In other educational environments, like colleges and universities, this relationship is frowned upon for those very reasons.

What do you think?

SHOULD INSTRUCTORS BE ALLOWED TO DATE STUDENTS?

Monday, December 8, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Minute with Datu Tim Hartman (Baston Anyo #2)

Happy Motion Monday!

Today we're featuring the second of the baston anyos (or stick/sword forms) of Arnis.

This is by +Datu Hartman at the WMAA as part of "The Modern Arnis Minute" series.


This form is pretty short, the shortest of all, but it has some basic movements that translate very well to the blade (as you can see).

One note - Datu Tim shows two versions here - the "original" version (which is very, very similar to the way we do it at our school), and his own WMAA version.  Different players and different organizations may do the anyos slightly differently from one another, and this is normal, as there is no single right, standard way.

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The One Year Anniversary of The Stick Chick Blog

One year ago today, on a Friday, I published the very first post here on the Stick Chick Blog: Enter the Stick Chick.

I'll think of a funny caption eventually.
When I began this blog, the basic structure of the theme of the blog, and what I'd post when, was generally what it is today.  That is, Wednesday tends to be for posts that are of broader scope and applicable to the wider martial arts world, and weekend posts (Saturday) are typically more personal in nature.

But the blog has changed big-time over the past year as well versus what I originally envisioned.

When I began this blog, I decided that views would be my main measure of success and I hoped for 10,000 views by the end of the year.  Instead, it  passed the 10,000 views milestone in July, and now it's over 32,000 and climbing.

W00T!!  (That's more like it...)

For the blog's design, I changed from a dark background/white text to white background/black text, as it's much, much easier to read.

I originally planned on two posts a week.  Today, this blog publishes fresh content six days a week, usually, and sometimes seven.

I did not imagine having a regular guest poster in Troy Seeling's "TROY-KWON-DO" series... heck, I started this blog before I even met Troy, and he's a great guy and I'm glad to have him as a contributor here.

I've cross posted three times with other blogs, something I had no idea that I'd do.

But the one thing I had no idea would happen, the best thing hat happened, that I've met so many interesting, knowledgeable, and incredibly nice people, and I've learned that generally speaking, the martial arts world is chock full of folks who are willing and able to pass along what they know, often for free, out of the joy of sharing what we all do.

I've also met some really wonderful other martial arts bloggers - so many good ones (check them out here and I'll be adding more soon) are out there that are worth your time to check out.

I hope this blog has contributed in some way to your martial arts life, too - shared something new, made you laugh, made you think I'm an idiot...

Tomorrow starts the second year of the Stick Chick Blog.  Through the end of the year, I plan to review the first year - share what I think are the best posts, count down the top ten posts by views, and ask you to pick the worst of "Shenanigans".

In 2015, I will seek to continue to give you the best content I can think of, create, or find.

I'll just keep tumblin' for ya.
If you have a favorite post (look at my Pinterest page to easily see every post I've made here), I'd love to know.  If there was a post you thought was particularly awful, I want to know that too.

So, in closing, I'd like to say thank you for reading this blog.  Thank you for commenting and for sharing.  Whether you agree or disagree with what I write here, I'm glad when you share your point of view here. It's always enlightening, and it expands my horizons, and I am very grateful for that.

Thank you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Shoes or No Shoes?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today, related to the question about uniforms, let's talk about footwear.

Some arts require one to be barefoot during training, others allow or even encourage shoes.

For the purpose of this discussion, let's skip the issue about street shoes on clean mats - let's assume any shoes on mats are mat shoes only (never worn outside).

I usually don't take a strong position on Face-Off Friday, but I'll state here that I am a shoe-wearer and a huge believer in wearing shoes, mainly because I have seen a toe broken when a disarm hit a bare foot.

But what do you think?

IS TRAINING BAREFOOT BETTER OR WORSE THAN TRAINING IN SHOES?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In Defense of Violence

I recently read Marc MacYoung's book "In the Name of Self Defense: What it Costs, When It's Worth It". While the Kindle edition has some formatting and a few editing issues, it's still worth every penny.

It had a profound effect on my thinking, and it's not done yet - I have to let it percolate a while, re-read it, and let it sit some more.  It challenged some cherished notions and I have to look all that over.

I had the same experience with Rory Miller's book "Meditations on Violence" (in fact, I'm due a re-read of that one, to keep it fresh in my mind).

One thing Mr. MacYoung points out about violence is that our modern society does a very, very poor job in educating our members about what violence is, and how it is used, for both good and bad purposes.

At least in the US, the message modern society sends is pretty clear.  Except in some very limited circumstances (like sports, police officers, and military in specific cases):

VIOLENCE IS BAD!

We've gone so far as to say that violence is always bad, even in legitimate self defense. A kid who defends himself against the violence of a bully with violence is subject to the same punishment as the aggressor in most of our schools, and it's gone so far as to have any object that conceivably resembles a weapon (but isn't) is grounds for suspension or even expulsion.

Image found here, with story.  Another version of news story here
I won't go into the depth of what is and is not self defense here - that's what Mr. MacYoung goes into in depth in the book and I'm not yet competent to discuss the subject the way it needs to be discussed. Let's just assume it is legit self defense we're talking about here.

This message - that violence is always bad for regular people - has serious negative consequences for our society.

First, it basically trains good people to become full-time victims of the sociopaths in our society who don't care about its rules and will use verbal and physical violence to get what they want and hurt other people.

I don't think we want a society where the bullies run free, do we?

Pretty sure we do not.
I don't want a society where the verbal and physical bullies are in charge, and I think most of you reading this would agree. I also know there are some of us who relish in victimhood - they believe this gives them a special moral trump card to play somehow - but that is not the vast majority of us and honestly, I do not understand that mindset and probably never will.

Second, it ignores the fact that we humans, as a species, use social violence to enforce societal rules in order to live together.  This goes from a pointed look from Mom when a kid steps out of line (because of what lies behind the look), yelling at people to get them to behave a certain way, all the way up to sending in a SWAT team to arrest an armed murder suspect holed up in a building.  All of this is "violence", and usually appropriate uses of violence.

Because these uses of violence help keep us in line with the written (and unwritten) rules of a society.  Failure to comply with these societal rules - without the warnings of violence - may result in injury or death.

Don't believe me?  What do you think happens when a guy refuses to pay his taxes and refuses to come along without resistance when the police come to take him to jail? 

Nope.  Guess again.
By teaching that ALL violence is bad for most of us in most situations, and knowing that we as a species use it all the time, we omit teaching the appropriate use of violence.  We do not teach how to scale violence to the appropriate situation.  We do not teach how to recognize the types of violence being offered to us all the time, and how to cope with it, and  how to know if it is likely to carry serious consequences, or not.

It becomes a game of guessing what is dangerous, and what is not - and that's how you get people shooting folks running away from conflict in the back in "self defense".

Third, thinking this way, we ignore the very real positive - or just - use of violence, to protect others against unjust violence.  This is tricky, and the rules vary widely, but this is used in our society from protecting someone smaller from getting beat up by someone bigger or stronger all the way up to waging a war to end a genocide or to overthrow an oppressive government.

Most of us would agree that this is an appropriate use of violence, even if we disagree on the details of when it is appropriately used.  Violence has absolutely solved many problems in human history.


Here's one.

So, I believe, instead of pretending that violence is bad, I would prefer to live in a world that acknowledges the positive benefits of violence and conflict as well as the negatives.

If you are a martial artist, this is what you are doing and what you are teaching others.  The idea that violence can be a force for good or positive things.  The knowledge of how to recognize violence and respond appropriately (every violent situation does not call for lethal response, y'know...) is our stock and trade.

Violence, like any other tool, can be used for both bad and good purposes.  To claim that all violence is bad is to claim that humanity, as violent as we are, is bad.  I don't believe that, and I hope you agree with me.

UPDATE JULY 2016: I ran across this blog post over at the Huffington Post, which attempts to make the argument that even self defense is bad if you read the US Constitution the way the blogger does. A Revision on the Bill of Rights, Part III.  Needless to say, I disagree with his base conclusion and his interpretation of the US Constitution.

What do you think?  I'd love to know!


Monday, December 1, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Minute with Datu Tim Hartman (Baston Anyo #1)

Happy Motion Monday!

This month I want to share with you some awesome content being put out there by +Datu Hartman at the WMAA.

It's called "The Modern Arnis Minute".  As of this writing, there are sixteen of these, but I understand that Datu Tim may publish more in the future (I certainly hope so!).  You really should subscribe to his channel!

While we certainly aren't known for it, both Modern Arnis and Kombatan have forms (anyos), both with weapons and empty handed.

Here's the first anyo, Baston Anyo Isa (#1).  One note - Datu Tim shows two versions here - the "original" version (which is very, very similar to the way we do it at our school), and his own WMAA version.  Different players and different organizations may do the anyos slightly differently from one another, and this is normal, as there is no single right, standard way.

Enjoy!



If you can't see the video, click here.


Friday, November 28, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: GI/Uniforms vs. No Gi

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today let's talk what we wear when we train.

I'd like to exempt arts like Judo and HEMA from this discussion, as their uniforms are quite necessary to avoid tearing up normal clothes and in HEMA's case, for protection.

However, for the rest of us - are uniforms (typically Asian-derived - gi/dobok/kimono) necessary?

Some would say it is, to enforce group identity and respect for the history of the art.   Some of us prefer this "traditional" aspect of traditional martial arts, and would also argue that it saves your regular clothes from wear and tear (as martial arts uniforms are made for punishment).

Others would say that one should train in what one is most likely to be wearing in self defense situations - and nobody walks around in a gi in real life (not even in Japan).  Also, some folks think that the trappings of a gi are an anachronism and really isn't applicable in the modern world.

What do you think?

IS A GI/DOBOK OR UNIFORM NECESSARY, OR NOT?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Five Things I'm Thankful For (in the Martial Arts) - 2014

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  It's a major holiday, and honestly, it's my favorite.  I love the idea of spending a day making an amazing dinner and being with family and friends in celebration of everything you have to be grateful for in your lives.

Ready to carve the turkey!

So, in the spirit of this, here's Five Things I'm Thankful For (in the Martial Arts).

My Teachers

I have been incredibly lucky in that I have had a succession of great teachers.  I have moved a lot (see my martial arts biography here)  and in each move since we left our original teachers in Mississippi, we've found teachers who contributed something irreplaceable to my development and growth as a martial artist.

Modern Arnis

I can't get enough of what we do, truly.  Hardly a week goes by that I don't learn a new thing - a nuance, a principle, a new way to think about a technique.  That is the beauty of my art - there's always a challenge to overcome, a problem to solve, and a way to make it work.  I love it to pieces.

My Training Partners

Besides my husband and primary training partner, I've been very lucky to have trained with some awesome people as peers, and continue to do so to this day.  Male and female, young, and not so young, each person you train with bring something new and interesting to the table.  My peers are awesome people that I really love playing with.

My Students

I'm an Assistant Instructor, and I get to help my teacher with kids and adults, sharing and passing along our art.  Each student has taught me a valuable lesson, and I am a better martial artist as a result of working with our students.

The Openness of the Martial Arts Community

In general, if a new person wants to learn a martial art, he or she would be hard-pressed to find a community near them that wouldn't welcome them with open arms.   We have a place for everyone, no matter the age, skill, background... if you are serious and want to learn, we'll be glad to see you and help you along your way.

So this year, those are my five things I'm grateful for in the martial arts.

I'm also grateful for you - those of you who read and comment and share the posts on this blog.  Thank you so much!

Now if you'll excuse me - there's a turkey that needs some eatin'.

NO MERCY, BIRD.


What are YOU thankful for in the Martial Arts?  I'd love to know!  Share it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MARTIAL ARTS BOOK CLUB: Road Edition

This is going to be a pretty short post today.

As you read this, I am on my way to my mom's house for the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. Yes, you will see fresh and awesome posts from me throughout the holiday, but I'll be intermittent in responding to stuff, because my mom lives in a very rural area with not-so-great internet.


So I have about 10 hours on the road ahead of me.

This.  Over and Over and Over and Over and Over...

Road trips like this are a great way to catch on your reading.  While I do have some fiction, I plan on reading:


I read it a long time ago but I need a refresher.  I've been thinking about what we teach as self defense, what we teach as "combatives", and what is actually legal to do.

The other book (I'm a fast reader) is:


It's a similar theme, and it comes recommended to me by +Brian Johns at +Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts Centre.

You reading anything new lately?  Got any recommendations?  I'd love to know!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TROY-KWON-DO: Why?

Over the years our reasons for doing martial arts changes.  I think it is extremely important to make sure you always know why you are doing them, or else you may burn out.

This may sound simple at first -  “because I want to” - but as you begin to spend significant amount of time in your martial art you will find that you have moments when you feel like you are going to class simply through the motions. Having been in Tae Kwon Do since I was 6 years old or so, my reasons have definitely changed for being on the mat. Sometimes I failed to adjust and dropped out for a while.

My awesome Uncle (sans gi) using me as a support
 beam for stretching before a run along the Trinity River.
When I was first starting as a child my reasons were simple. I thought it would be awesome to be like my Uncle, who I saw wearing his gi from time to time. Add in some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the iconic belt system and you've got all the motivation I would ever need. The “why” was the fantasy of martial arts. It was cool and I wanted to be a part of it. I eventually dropped out for baseball. I wanted to be with my friends and they were all in baseball, so go figure. I was about 10 or 11 at that time.

My mother stuck with Tae Kwon Do (we started around the same time) and eventually opened our school in 2003 (10 years after we started together). I found my way back to martial arts when I was about 14. After I aged out of youth baseball I sat around and did nothing but TV and video games all Summer for a couple years. I had put on a lot of weight. My best friend was the starting QB of the school football team, so when I went to swimming parties with him I felt horribly self-conscious. All the girls there were cheerleaders and all the guys were football ripped. I may be exaggerating, but it was enough pressure to draw me back into martial arts for fitness. Getting in shape was now my motivator.



I dropped out again after my red/black belt test when I was about 19 or 20. I had started college and played in a band, having then developed an addiction to cigarettes – as well as a crappy lifestyle in general. I stuck around the school and attended our fitness classes, but was out of Tae Kwon Do again.

During college, there was a lot of on-and-off at this point and I started to develop an interest in boxing. My motivator this time was testosterone. I felt the need to prove to myself that I am “game” and eventually kicked the cigarette habit when I started training with a 3-time WBC world champion (Boxing).

Right out of college my training picked up immensely. I was talked into preparing for my Black Belt test and in that year I had taken a complete hold on my Tae Kwon Do training again. This eventually combined training for the black belt test, boxing, running, and Jiu Jitsu. I was probably spending 3-4 hours a day on martial arts. My motivator this time was the Black Belt test and being an active part of our school. I had always helped out at the school, but never to that level. I felt a need to be a part of things, my family was my motivator.

My fiance’ and I at the latest Half Marathon

After the Black Belt test (2012) I stuck around full-time and helped teach. As much as I love teaching, it started to wear me down when other things started to come up. I bought a house earlier this year and am getting married in less than a month. These important life events obviously cut into training time. With less free time, teaching was the first thing to go. As selfish as it may sound, I have to have some mat time to myself in order to stay motivated. I really miss having the time to train 3-4 hours a day, but I don’t predict that will happen again until the dust settles.

I plan to get back into it full-swing after the wedding. My “why” is my family. My Mother, Brother and Father are becoming greater martial artists every single day and it hurts me that I am not a part of it completely right now.

I guess the point of this article is to remind you that sometimes the “why” gets lost when we step on the mat. If you are unable to answer the question of “why” then it is a good sign that burn-out is setting in. If you happen to find yourself in this situation, I suggest looking for something new to keep you on the mat. Compete in tournaments / competitions, attend seminars, take part in demos, try to test for your next rank… really anything that gives you a clear-cut goal to focus towards.



Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.




Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. My motivator for training right now is to be a short, fat version of "Xena, Warrior Princess."  -The Stick Chick

Monday, November 24, 2014

MOTION MONDAY: Dulo Dulo

Happy Motion Monday!

Today's featured video is short, but oh-so-sweet, indeed.

It's a drill featuring the use of the dulo dulo (or pasak), aka the palm stick.

I believe that the palm stick is one of the more practical weapons that person in the modern world can carry.  It's not usually seen as something too threatening, but in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, can be a very effective tool for self defense.

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Bigger Stick - thoughts on the Jo

I've mentioned that I study jo, but I haven't really written about it much.

I am going to switch over to participating in a Kobudo class that starts with bo, so my jo study time will be greatly reduced.  In that program, they do include the jo (yes, many people think that Kobudo weapons only refer to Okinawan weapons) but that's about two years or so away in their program.

So before I pick up a even bigger stick, I'd like to discuss briefly what I've learned and what I like about with the jo.

The beginning of Jo Form 3.
First, I think that the jo is a good compromise between the weight and speed of a short weapon and the advantage of reach with a long weapon.  As a short person, longer weapons can be difficult to manipulate, but the jo is pretty easy.  Even using it one-handed (which is not the way it's typically done but there are times where it might be useful) isn't not that hard to manipulate.

If you've never handled one, the jo we have been working with are about an inch (24mm) in diameter and made of Japanese White Oak, which has a very dense grain.  In our class, we do hit stuff, such as other jo and bo and bokken (all of which are also very hard woods), and this material and diameter holds up really well.

The length - about 50 inches (1.27 m) - not only make it practical, I think it is a better analogue of weapons of convenience - such as broom/mop handles - that you'd find in real life.

Second, the way my instructor teaches jo, the interpretation is that you are facing a katana (versus another jo, or some other weapon), at least, initially.  So, the advantage here is that I'm learning jo but I'm also learning a few things about the katana.  Not enough to wield one effectively, but enough to understand some of the basics about how the katana works, as weapon.

The Jo's length is designed to be long enough to beat the reach of a katana's blade (which is about 23-1/2 inches or 60 cm at a minimum).  The story of this can be found here, and is similar to the story my teacher tells in class, as he was told by his teacher.  I can't verify the accuracy of that story, but I can't deny in practical application vs. a bokken, which we have done in practice, it does work, even at a good speed.

Stepping off the line after a thrust with a rising strike.

Thus, the way we hold the jo is that we hold it at one end to maximize the length of the weapon, and use a grip much like you'd use on a katana.

Not once in any form or any application have I spun it around holding the middle of the jo or tossed it and caught it, mainly because we are actually practicing it versus a weapon, not to look cool.  If you make a mistake with jo vs. katana, you're probably dead.

One thing I like about the way I am learning jo is the simplicity of the footwork.  We don't have fancy stances - it's pretty much front stance, bladed (aka "fencing" stance), and back stance.  We step off the line when it makes sense to do so.  We use our hips, especially with thrusting strikes, to generate power.

The very beginning of the thrust.  My back hand
will stop at my hip and I will "telescope' the jo
forward, using my right hip to add power.
I'm not practiced enough to be able to spot the downsides to the jo, other than the obvious (wooden weapon vs. sharp steel leave little room for error, I think).  As I learn Okinawan weapons, I'm sure I'll spot some, and I'll write about that at a future date.

I'll keep practicing what I've learned in jo, because I really do enjoy this weapon very much.  I simply can't deny the huge advantage in reach vs. the shorter weapons I usually play with.

Here is a short snippet of video of me doing the last part of Jo  Form 3 and all of Jo Form 4 (the two are frequently combined because they are so short) so you can point and laugh at how much I suck at it.  In my defense, I prefer hitting stuff over forms, but my ambition is to teach this some day, so I have a lot of work to do before I get good enough to teach it.



When I start in January, I will have to wear a white gi - HORRORS! - but I will still wear my Arnis belt the way it's supposed to be worn, dagnabbit!

Have you studied jo or another weapon of similar size?  What did you think, both good and bad?  I'd love to know!



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Attack of the Brain Fart

My hubby and I have been working on a long-term project at home, where we categorize and record every technique and drill we can remember that we've ever learned.

We've been focusing on disarms - yes, there's a bunch of 'em - but for some reason, we just completely forgot the original disarm we learned, empty hand versus stick, vs. a #1 (high forehand to the head) strike.

We can literally think of at least a dozen ways to disarm vs. that strike.  We know force to force, lever disarms, wraps, snaking, palis-palis (go with the force), with empty hand and stick.

But... not the first one we learned, back in the early days of our training.

It's just... gone.

Yeah.
Part of this, I think, is because as we've gained in experience and skill, we've come to favor certain techniques over others. Another part is just the sheer quantity of what we've experienced has "blotted out" others (until I get reminded by somebody else that I actually already learned that).

And part of it is just a plain old brain fart.

Surely, when you've been training a while, you've had this happen to you, right?

I knew that disarm, I knew it well, at one point in my life.

But now, crickets.
'Sup?

Frustrating.

I'd like to hear true tales or your epic brain farts and critical points where you mind went completely blank!


Friday, November 21, 2014

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Should Belt Ranks Exist?

IT'S FACE -OFF FRIDAY!

Most martial arts in the world today have belt ranks of some sort.  Some would say, as a result, that this has cheapened the value of what we teach - that we teach "to the rank" versus teaching the art.  Others would say that ranks are a necessary innovation in the modern world to measure progress.

What do you think?



ARE BELT RANKS NECESSARY AT ALL?