Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Self Defense: The Risk of Weapons

The reality of weapons training is that we are introducing an element where the risk of serous injury and/or death dramatically increases versus an unarmed fight.

This is why "assault with a 'deadly' weapon" is a more serious charge than simple "assault", right?

There's tons to be said regarding the legality of the use of weapons in self defense, and I recommend you check out Andrew Branca's excellent The Law of Self Defense and Marc MacYoung's "In the Name of Self Defense" to learn more about those issues.

This post is not about the legality of self defense - it's about the moral and ethical concerns.

When we think of lethal weapons, of course, a firearm is what first comes to mind.

In the heat of a violent situation, the use of a firearm theoretically has a high probability of lethal results.   After all, in firearms training, we learn to never to point the weapon at anything we aren't willing to shoot or kill. 

When I was originally trained for self defense with firearms (long before I took up the martial arts), I learned to "double tap" and aim for the center (the heart, lungs, etc.) and the head.  I was trained to assume that I had to completely neutralize the threat, and that could mean to the death of the other person.

Whatever is in front of this firearm,
assume it is going to die.

Before we go further, I'm completely supportive of firearms training and I agree very much with Robert Heinlein when he wrote, "An armed society is a polite society."  You may disagree, or you may live in a culture where gun ownership is prohibited or severely restricted. But in the United States, especially where I live, it is highly likely that when I'm in a public place that there is at least one person licensed to carry a gun around me most of the time, and I'm comfortable with that.

This post isn't about debating the merits of firearm ownership, though, so let's consider other weapons.

Knife training is common, especially in my art, but then you have to consider the use of all of the other weapons we train with in the martial arts.  Here's a list at Wikipedia, but you also have to consider weapons of convenience, like glass bottles, brooms, chairs, statuary, scooters, and shovels.

As the maxim goes, you fight the way you train.  Many of us are engaged in self-defense training that includes an element of lethal counter-force, but especially when you train with weapons.

I think I've made it abundantly clear I advocate weapons training.  As passionate I am about this subject, there's something you really have to take into consideration before you train to use weapons.

My question to you is this:  Are you sure you are willing to kill someone?   In all circumstances, no matter what?

We always envision some nebulous evil person who's coming to kill and plunder with evil intent when we train self defense.  But is that the threat we are always going to encounter, or is even the most likely thing we will encounter?
  • How about just some drunk father of two small children who's gotten out of control at the bar?
  • What about a mentally ill person who is having trouble with their medication and has turned violent?
  • What about your teenage son or daughter who's high on drugs?
  • What about the person who just temporarily lost complete control of their temper and starts swinging a chair?
Is lethal force is called for in any of the situations above?  Is getting too drunk one night or having your medications go wrong or punching someone out of the blue grounds for execution?

Is this woman asking to be killed if she
takes a swing at somebody?
Let's say that the person involved is indeed a bad guy intent on harm. Are you certain you have the emotional, moral, and mental fortitude to take a human life, even if it's the life of someone who's not a good person?

I first really thought through where I stood on the matter when I read Rory Miller's Meditations on Violence for the second time.  My reading of that book made me examine my own mind and what I am willing to do in order to defend myself.  I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and what I'm really training for when I do martial arts.

I suspect it took the second reading of "Meditations on Violence" for this one point to really become clear to me, as I was much further along in my training and I understood what I was doing better than I did when I first began (which is when I first read the book).
  • Every time I train to hit someone with a heavy object to the temple, I'm training to deliver a potentially killing blow.
  • Every time I train to cut a vital artery, I'm training to kill.
  • Every time I train to break a neck, I'm training to (potentially) kill - a neck break is not an automatic death sentence but the risk is high.
With that understanding, I accept the risk I'm assuming of causing permanent injury, or even death, to another person.   It's not something I seek, but given I am a middle aged small woman, I believe it is necessary for me to use weapons as an option in self-defense.

So, in your training, I urge you to take the time to reflect upon this, make up your mind where you stand, and train accordingly. If, like me, you are unwilling to kill unless absolutely necessary, adjust your self defense training and plans accordingly.

Because taking a life is serious business, and nothing to ever take lightly.  Ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TROY-KWON-DO: 10 Characteristics of a Good Instructor

From the Stick Chick: Welcome to our regular Tuesday feature, "Troy-Kwon-Do", featuring thoughts on the martial arts, fitness, and other topics from guest contributor Troy Seeling.

Once you have earned the title of “Instructor”, it is time to give back to the Martial Arts. By this point you should know your art and be able to demonstrate it well. What you teach is not the topic of this post – how you carry out the instruction is.
There's lot of great things to learn if you STICK with it - The Stick Chick
Good instruction comes from anywhere. In the above picture, this is my brother and I training with Roger Agbulos and Tim McFatridge at Roger’s Lameco Astig Seminar. We have never done stick combat before, and it was a wonderful learning opportunity.

Every situation is unique, but the role of Instructor is the same – no matter the style. Here is a checklist of the characteristics of a good instructor.

1) Be humble. If you are in a situation that allows you to demonstrate your “superiority” to a student, you must resist the urge to do so. There is a difference between instruction and just showing that you know more stuff than them. Your achievements, rank and confidence should be enough to command respect, if not, YOU need work. Ask yourself this, “Am I demonstrating this technique to help the student, or my own image?” Nothing is worse than a low self-esteem instructor that potentially injures a student to cure their own “little-man syndrome”.

2) Be confident. I do not want to learn from anyone who does not appear to have a firm grasp of whatever it is they are teaching. Know your stuff and be able to translate it into instruction clearly. If you are not confident in yourself, I won’t be confident in you either. This includes actually being able to perform what you are asking the student to do. Get down in the trenches with the students, do the exercises with them – don’t be a “helicopter” instructor. And above all, practice your material – don’t just preach it!

Breaking bricks at Larry Field's breaking seminar.  Up to this point I
 had never even thought of breaking this much concrete at once!
3) Be proactive, not reactive. This is the #1 most common instructor flaw I have seen to date. It is easy to yell and punish when a student does something incorrectly. Use positive reinforcement whenever possible. If a student feels good when they perform something right, they will try their hearts out for you. If the only recognition they receive is you yelling at their mistakes, then they will focus only on the mistakes. It is true that sometimes negative reinforcement is necessary – but use it only when you absolutely have to.

4) Don’t be a “Slack Belt”. Ugh… there are so many of these it is crazy. You worked so hard to get to the level of instructor, why stop there? Now that you know your art, why not see how far you can take it? Try for your next rank, compete, cross-train… do whatever you can to be the best you can be. So many people see the black belt as the goal - these people do not deserve to be called an instructor.

5) Speaking of goals… find a goal. Up to this point you have been told what to do. You have been giving requirements and clear steps belt-by-belt. Now as an instructor, you must set your own goals. If you decide to “rest on your laurels”, take our your belt and write“Slack Belt” across it.
Me and my BJJ coach Braden Masters after I earned my first stripe (on my way to blue belt).
 Braden is now a Black Belt in BJJ and one of the best coaches I have ever had the privilege to learn from.

6) Be a leader. People love to be around others that motivate them. If they see passion coming from you, you can bet they will follow you. This means bringing your A-Game to every class. A clear mind, kind heart and a willful attitude are all that it takes to progress. Leave anything negative at the door. People are watching you, make sure you’re leaving a good impression each and every day. Actions speak louder than words.

7) Be a Black Belt. The black belt is simply a piece of cloth; it has no meaning on its own. You must carry yourself as a Black Belt should. You should inspire others, treat them kindly, and never use your authority for ill purposes. If your goal is to hurt someone, take yourself out to the back alley with the rest of the trash. Martial Arts have plenty of wonderful things to offer, make sure you exhibit each of these things to the best of your ability.

8) Spread the word. You have many great things to offer and plenty of people could use your help to get fit, to gain confidence, to have something positive in their life. You have a responsibility to Martial Arts to give to others what Martial Arts has given to you.

9) Get noticed. This never hurts! Many people will base your credibility off of first impressions or even their own interpretation of your art. Giving people something to measure you by as a first impression will make them much more likely to trust your instruction in the early stages. Think of this like a college degree. Many people work in fields that have nothing to do with their degree, yet employers like seeing that you can clearly set a goal and achieve it. This can come in the form of trophies from competitions, or a public demo. The easier it is for students to see the quality of your “work” up front, the easier it is for them to open themselves up to your instruction.

10) Keep an open mind. In the end we are all students. If you ever start thinking your art is superior to others (or even that YOU are superior to others) you need to check yourself. This is very hard to do at times because you have developed an emotional connection to all of your hard work. Even a new student can teach you something and never be afraid to try something different. MMA started as a competition to see which martial art is superior. Take a look at it now – to even have a chance in the octagon you have to be well rounded in many styles of martial arts, from stand-up to ground and everything in between.

The greatest of instructors. This is the owner and Head Instructor or our school,
North Texas Karate Academy. She is also my Mom. The majority of my martial arts experience
 and the values and respect I try my best to carry were forged on the mat under our feet.

There are many other qualities that make an instructor “good”. These are what I consider to be the “passive qualities” that sometimes get pushed to the side when they become inconvenient. Our primary reason for being on the mat is self-improvement. Don’t forget the things that really matter.

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

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree.  Also, I do not apologize for the stick pun above.  -The Stick Chick

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Black Belt Aftermath

Not a parentbrag post, I promise.

Last Saturday, my oldest daughter officially earned her Black Belt.

I don't have as many profound thoughts about this as I thought I might.  Mostly, we were tired and glad the stress of it was over.  It was a solid test, she did very well, and we're very proud of her.

I think this is because it's a little too soon to have any real insight.  While the rite of passage of black belt is extremely important,  especially for someone who intends to study for a lifetime, I think it takes a while for a newly minted black belt to feel like one.

This was definitely true for Mr. Chick and I, when we were surprise promoted (after being secretly tested for hours and never suspecting it was a test) to black belt last year.  We didn't feel like we were black belts (I still feel this way, sometimes).  Kidlet feels the same way.

It occurred to me - what should it feel like, exactly?

So today, I want your feedback - please let me know in the comments below:

  1. What does black belt mean to you?
  2. What was your test and first year like?
  3. What advice do you have for a newly minted black belt?
  4. What do you wish you'd known as a new black belt that you know now?
  5. What does being a black belt "feel like" to you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Anshu Christa Jacobson of Budo Ryu Ninjutsu Dojo

This is an open letter to Anshu Christa Jacobson of the Budo Ryu Ninjutsu Dojo.

Can we talk, female martial artist to female martial artist?

Like you, I'm a mom (I have two daughters), and I'm a martial artist, and heck, although I'm in Texas now, Kansas City is my adopted home town (Missouri side), so we have that in common, too.

In some ways, I admire you.  You choose to live your true self in the face of what is usually a pretty hostile society for transgender people, more so in the very conservative martial arts world.  I also admire the fact that you choose to do so in a pretty conservative place - Kansas City KS is not exactly known for being on the leading edge of progressive thought.  

So, on that score, anybody who criticizes you based on your gender gets a bitch slap from yours truly.

I have a lot of practice bitch-slapping.
I'm also cool with the mixture of Wicca with your martial arts.  Many martial artists mix religion and the martial arts, from eastern religions to western - this is a long tradition.  I'm not particularly religious, and honestly, it's something that would drive me out of a martial arts school if it was too heavy handed, but that's my personal preference. I don't think it's any different than the plethora of Christian martial arts schools and organizations out there.

But let's talk about the mix of your two businesses - your Budo Ryu Ninjustsu Dojo and your escort service.

Separated, I have no problem with either... well, I do have a problem with some of what you teach in your Dojo, as I have watched many of your videos and frankly, I find some of what you teach suspect, putting it kindly.  I also fundamentally disagree that anyone can learn the martial arts in any effective way via online instruction only.  That is another post for another time.

But I don't have any problem with the idea of your Dojo - if you want to do ninja stuff in Wyandotte County Lake Park, be my guest, have at it.

I also believe if you wish to engage in an adult business, that's your prerogative.  I believe such things should be completely legal among consenting adults.  I hope my children would not choose sex work for a profession  and I bet you agree with me. As moms, it's just not in the top ten of things we would want for our children. I don't believe that sex work is inherently sinful, and I don't believe that sexuality is evil.

But I have to say - it makes me extremely uncomfortable that you deliberately mix the two together.

Your Facebook Page Header

You know, or you should know, that it's not always easy being a woman in the martial arts.  It is not an uncommon experience for many women to be repeatedly propositioned by male peers when training.  It's not unusual for female martial artists to be sexualized versus respected for their martial arts skills, especially outside the dojo.

I think most women would agree that when we are in the dojo, we are there to train, not date or meet guys, and definitely not to get groped (as sometimes happens - it's rare but it happens).  We want to be honored and respected for our skills and hard work and knowledge, not for how pretty we are, or how nice our boobs are, or how sexually desirable we may be for the men training with us.

While the dojo is typically more woman-friendly than many environments in my experience, it's still a problem and many women regularly cope with it in their training.

As someone who asserts leadership in the martial arts and promotes herself as such across multiple social media channels, you are a role model for not only your own students but others - for all students of the martial arts.  By mixing pornographic and/or sexualized images of yourself in your social media channels with your martial arts stuff, you are basically saying, as a leader, that this is how it should be - that this is what women in the martial arts are.

You are saying that women in the martial arts should cater to this image of the woman warrior who's always ready and willing to serve a man sexually.  That young men in the martial arts can and should expect this from the women they train with.

Look, there's all sorts of fantasy martial arts girl pinups out there in our culture, ranging from big-boobed scantily clad super heroines (Power Girl, anybody?) to nearly naked ninja and barbarian women swinging swords.  That's clearly fantasy and make-believe and nobody except the most immature of us believes that has any basis in reality.

We shouldn't have it on the walls of the real-life, actual martial arts school or training  hall.  That's what you do when you mix your sex work with your martial arts - you put up the role model of what a woman in the martial arts should be (the fantasy version) in a place that should be far removed from fantasy.

I don't know about you, but when I put on my gi and step on the mat (wherever it may be), I mean it.  I'm not a woman or a sex object when I'm doing martial arts -  I'm someone who can and will inflict bodily harm upon another person, and I am not kidding, one iota.

Women are a very small minority in the martial arts world, so this issue becomes amplified even more as a result.

To illustrate the problem, I found this image at a vanilla stock photo site, Getty Images.  It's a shot of a pretty woman in heels and lingerie brandishing weapons.

This is obviously a fantasy shot, maybe even from a movie or tv show.  However, what you and I do is supposed to be serious business - not fantasy, not television or movies, but real life martial arts.  Is this the sort of  image we want to put out there as serious martial artists? Really?  Is this how someone should dress when training?

How different is that image above (except maybe being a little less explicit) from what you do in your social media channels with your own images?

One of your own images, Anshu.
Look, I know that ideally, this shouldn't be an issue.  But we don't live in an ideal world.  By mixing images of blow jobs with martial arts manuals, you say, as a leader, that this is what all of us should do and aspire to do - women to serve men in this way, and men to expect it.

You can't Google search your name without the escort service Twitter feed coming up in top results.  Image searching yields the same problem.  Looking at your Twitter feed for your escort service, you regularly cross promote martial arts training with messages about how much you enjoy different sexual positions.  Even in your martial arts oriented channels, you advertise your escort business (to a lesser extent) and you regularly post shots that are sexual in nature (but thank goodness, aren't usually as explicit).
From the KCGeisha Twitter feed. Ninja mask added by me.
I have seen the claim made that you don't do this when you train - that your escort business has zero cross over with your dojo.  Let's grant, for a moment, that it's completely true. If this is true - why do you advertise as if there is crossover? If people are getting the impression that you do indeed include escort and adult entertainment with ninjutsu - how do you think they get that impression?  Perhaps it's by looking what you, yourself, advertise in your own websites and social media channels?

There is no coherent way to separate the two "sides" of you in the way you portray yourself publicly.  None. You, yourself, have tagged both channels with keywords for both businesses, so it's impossible to escape one if you're looking for the other.

As a result - I don't care how skilled you ever become, you will never, ever be taken seriously in the wider martial arts world.  You will always be seen as a dilettante and a parody of a leader in the martial arts.   That's a shame, because you could be more, if you choose to be more.

So, how can you turn this around?  Well, I have a couple of suggestions that might help.

Stop cross promotion of your two businesses across your brand channels.  Stop using "Anshu" on your escort service channels (that seems to be a huge keyword) and remove any references to your martial art by name there.  Keep the two worlds separate. It's not like we can't see/find both "brands" if we want to, and it's not like you're HIDING it, just put up a wall between the two in your marketing

If you do this, it will make it harder for you to send the message to young men and women that female martial artists are to be considered sex objects first and foremost.  That is the message you're sending, and I'm not entirely sure that's what you intend to say at all.  But intent or no, that's the message coming out.  It will also eliminate the idea that you include the escort business with the dojo, and they will become truly separate entities.

In my opinion, this is one huge contributing factor as to why you don't get much respect in the larger martial arts world.  People have a very hard time looking past the cheesecake and pornography to consider your skill.  You can say, "Well, that's their problem" and on one level, you are right.  But it's also your problem, because if you wish to be taken seriously by people you consider your peers, you're undermining yourself by sexualizing your martial arts image.

One last note - there's another reason people don't take you seriously, and that is that you use your Dojo channel for your video log about daily life. I know the purpose, but honestly, it doesn't support the idea of your being a serious martial arts leader.  It makes you look frivolous and silly, and in the martial arts world, nobody respects someone who comes off that way in a leadership position, male or female.

I hope you'll read what I've written here with an open mind. I've written it with sincerity and honesty, and I think it would be a good thing for all women (and transgender people, for that matter) in the martial arts if you heed my advice, if you are the leader you say you are, that you seem to want to be.

Thanks for reading.

WARNING:  Any comments on this post that are transphobic or slurs towards Ms. Jacobson's art or profession will be removed.  Keep to the facts and be respectful.

Update 10/10/15: In case you were wondering, I've never had a substantive response to this post.  The most that's happened is that I was blocked from her @kcgeisha Twitter account.  When I have viewed the account recently, it has not changed in content, although I understand at one point she scaled back on the porn business.  I do know she continues to advertise and act as a prostitute and escort in the Kansas City area.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FIGHT MEETS FLIGHT: Cross training and Martial Arts – The Half Marathon (Pt. 5)

From the Stick Chick: Today's guest post is the fifth in a five part series on cross training and the martial arts that will be appearing on Tuesdays (so mark your calendars). Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 is here. Enjoy!

I hope that the majority of Martial Artists have already found what suits them when it comes to staying fit. I hope that beginning Martial Artists plan to add more into their routine as they progress. Everybody is different and therefore what works for every person will be different. A common link that every Martial Artist has regardless of style is the correlation between hard work and results.

Enjoying your exercise and goal setting is what keeps you getting better. Nothing saps your progress worse than burnout – you need to change it up once in a while to stay fresh. I started running because I hated it. I thought that that was a good enough sign that it needed improvement.

I signed up for the half marathon having never run further than 4 miles and in 16 weeks I just stuck to a training routine and made it. Now I love it. I love the feeling of challenging your body to push its limits.

If you haven’t already found an exercise outside of Martial Arts, I STRONGLY encourage you to do so. No matter what it is, it will have an amazing impact on your Martial Arts performance and keep you safe from over-use injuries. We owe it to ourselves to keep our greatest weapon (our body) in tip top shape.

Grand Master Pat Burleson and I after he taught
 a seminar at our school - what an honor!
Black Belt Test Routine

Here is a general overview of the training routine I used to get in shape for a Black Belt Test. I started this program 6 months out. I didn’t add the running into this mix until 2 months in. There were no “off weeks” during this program – I tried to never miss a session unless absolutely necessary. A month before the test I kicked the running up to every day, including Friday. I started to “taper” the final 2 weeks, backing off intensity to help recover – but never completely stopped.

  • Monday –Run 2-4 miles, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do
  • Tuesday – Run 2 miles, 1 hour cross training, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do, 1 hour Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (at least 20 minutes of Rolling – aka “BJJ sparring”)
  • Wednesday – Run 2-4 miles, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do (sometimes staying late to practice with testing group)
  • Thursday – Run 2 miles, 1 hour cross training, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do
  • Friday – First 3 months – Off day, then 1 hour Paulie Ayala’s Boxing Gym for next 2 months
  • Saturday – 1 hour Tae Kwon Do (sparring only), 45 mins Yoga
  • Sunday – 2 hours Tae Kwon Do Black Belt test training with testing group (forms, cardio, sparring) or Rest.

Find a friend to excercise with - it's more
fun and they motivate you to push harder!
Half Marathon Training Schedule

Here is the Half Marathon training schedule (courtesy of I want to add that on weeks 12, 13, and 14 Saturdays I ran the full 13.1 instead of the mileage listed. I though going the whole distance would be a good idea.

Hit those weights hard! (Not literally - the Stick Chick)
Strength and Conditioning with Weights

Here is my recommended schedule for losing weight/strengthening quickly. This plan focuses on building individual muscle groups and is the hardest of the plans to integrate with Martial Arts. To sustain this workout plan you will need to be extremely diligent on your diet, stretching/warm-up and even do some “shock therapy” (steam room to pool, hot bath to cold shower type of stuff). Make sure you space the weight training as far as you can in the day from Martial Arts. For me, I did the weights at 6:00 A.M before work and started Tae Kwon Do/aerobics at 6:00P.M. All lifts were low rep high weight, pushing hard to find a weight that could be done at least 4 reps, but no more than 6. Use free weights as cable machines are much less effective and do not build any of your stabilizer muscles. Search “MaxOT” in google to find the specific weight routines – I have outlined it roughly below. I would sometimes practice my material very lightly on non-TKD days. Take an “off-week” every 8 weeks.

  • Monday – Weights (Legs and Core), 1 hour TKD
  • Tuesday  – Weights (Biceps / Forearms), 1 hour aerobics
  • Wednesday  – Weights (Back), 1 hour TKD
  • Thursday  – Weights (Shoulders), 1 hour aerobics
  • Friday  – Weights (Chest and Triceps)
  • Saturday  – 1 hour TKD Sparring
  • Sunday – Off

Your results are a direct reflection of the
effort your put in training.
Martial Arts Based Program

Here is my recommended schedule for a “Martial Arts centric” exercise plan. This plan is great if you are looking to build muscle memory and sharpen your specific techniques while getting a hard workout. This is not to be considered a complete “cross training” plan as it is using your Martial Arts movements. I would add something else in this mix non-Martial Arts related. The hardest part of this plan is accountability; most of these exercises require discipline to not get lazy. Find a motivated partner who will help you push yourself. This plan leaves plenty of room for your Martial Arts schedule and your own cross-training routine. Be sure to dedicate one day a week to recovery.

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 1 hour intense mit and bag work rotation. Finish 6-8 rounds, then move to sprint sessions. If you don’t have room for sprints, do another high intensity anaerobic exercise for 30 second intervals. Once gassed, do core exercises like ab planks. I find this part to be very rewarding. While you are physical exhausted, having the discipline to hold yourself in a plank is wonderful for strengthening the mind. It also gives you time to reflect on your workout. Before - Stretch and warmup for 10 mins. After - Cooldown and stretch for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday/Thursday – 1 hour Cardio of any kind
  • Saturday – None
  • Sunday – None

I hope these different plans give you some ideas to help with your current program. I have had a ton of fun exploring cross-training with distance running and if you have the time, I highly recommend trying it for yourself. Whatever it is you decide to do, don’t underestimate the benefits of doing something other than your primary martial art. You will be surprised by how much your skills improve.

But remember! We all have one thing in common and that is we love Martial Arts. NONE of the activities mentioned will ever be a substitute for quality mat time.

Since each exercise plan I have listed is very generalized, please feel free to email me at for more detailed info on any of the exercise plans. Thank you for reading!

 “To build true confidence, through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart and strength in the body. To keep friendships with one another and to build and strong and happy community. Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop, might for right!” – Student Creed, Jhoon Rhee

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Stick Chick Blog hits 10,000 views! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

The first post on this blog - Enter The Stick Chick - was made on December 06, 2013.

This week (to be specific, today, July 21, 2014), this blog surpassed 10,000 views.

I really appreciate all of you who read this blog, make comments here and in other channels, like Google Plus, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook.  If you do like something I post, please do share it, I'd appreciate it very much.

I have enjoyed making new friends and getting into some awesome discussions with some amazing people from a variety of martial arts backgrounds.  I'm looking forward to making more such connections as the blog grows.  I'm finding the process of writing about the martial arts has actually helped my progress in many unsuspected ways, and I've been introduced to new ideas, arts, and channels by so many amazing and smart people I've met as a result.

I'd love to get your feedback on what I do well and what I don't do well - constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated. I'm always looking for martial arts humor, shenanigans, and other topics to write about, so please do share such things with me!

Troy Seeling's "Fight Meets Flight" series concluded this week, but I'm happy to announce he will be a regular contributor to the blog going forward on Tuesdays.  If you don't have a blog, and are interested in contributing here, I'd love to talk to you.  I'd specifically like to add someone to contribute regularly on firearms topics (safety and the law, training, firearm choices, self defense, etc.).

I made one promise recently to a martial artist that I know in real life that I now can fulfill.  He'd be the male Red Belt (now a Black Belt) getting tossed to the mat the image below.

Here you go, Bryce.

Missing - the loud "OOPMH!" sound he makes as he gets thrown.

Thanks again, everyone!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Little Black Belt

NOTE: This post was first published in July, 2014.

Look, this is one huge parentbrag post about my kid, so if you want to skip it, I understand.  Also feel free to tell me how awesome my kid is in the comments - I won't stop you.

Assuming nothing really weird happens (alien abduction, natural disaster, the Rapture), today is the day my daughter will be given her black belt in American Karate (for those of you outside of Texas, this is actually Tae Kwon Do - yes, it's confusing).  She's already earned it, but the test is the demonstration where she proves it to a board that she has.

Up until the middle of last week, Kidlet was doing okay, stress-wise.  Then she looked at the calendar, saw she had about ten days to go, and my house went from one of calm and routine and relative quiet to Freakout City.

Pretty much what my house is like.
Now, Kidlet has been preparing a long time for this day, and she's been diligently training at home daily like every good Black Belt candidate does - she takes the martial arts quite seriously and probably will be a "lifer" in the martial arts.  Our garage is a home martial arts workout space, so she has plenty of opportunity, especially now that she's on summer break from school.

Part of the requirements of her test is that she has to prepare a resumé, and I thought I'd share with you some of what we put together, with stuff that didn't make it into what she's turning in today.

Kidlet just turned fourteen, and she's been training since she was five.  We've moved around a lot, so she's ended up training at many different schools, but mostly different variants of Tae Kwon Do (my word, there are a lot of them).

At her first school (also where Mr. Chick and I started the martial arts), Kidlet initially started in their gymnastics program.  One day, nobody but us showed up for the gymnastics class, so the Master asked Kidlet if she'd like to stay and try the martial arts class (it is an art called PaSaRyu Tae Kwon Do). Kidlet said yes, and the rest is history.

Kidlet, Age 6
Funny story about the image above, which did NOT go on her formal resumé.  This was at Kidlet's test for Camo belt (hush, you - Master thought that kids would enjoy camo more than regular plain ol' green. As silly as it is - he was right). 

During this (XMA-version) nunchaku pattern, Kidlet lost her grip and the nunchaku sailed straight up in the air and bonked another kid in the head.  Luckily, these were cheapo foam nunchaku and nobody was injured.  It was actually the biggest flub she's ever made on a test.

She got better - this is in competition.  She won.
Given that today she plans to do nunchaku (real Okinawan style this time made of White Oak) on her test... I'm pretty sure she's going to keep her grip today.

After a couple of years, we ended up moving away, and she landed in a Kung Fu school at first. She was excited, as she got to learn some Chinese Iron Fan forms.

She was a FAN of Kung Fu.  Ha!
This school possibly had one of the most knowledgeable teachers she's ever been with.  Unfortunately, he was also pretty flaky (not uncommon in the martial arts, I'm afraid) and constantly showed up to class late, or had issues of one kind or another.  We moved her to another school shortly after he showed "The Last Dragon" in class.

So we changed schools again, to an art that bills itself as "American Karate" but is not actually Tae Kwon Do (confused yet?) but is is a hybridized art based on Kempo. Nice man, and Kate was enjoying the classes very much.  She started as a white belt (seen below) but moved up very fast as she was assessed in skill and allowed to jump rank.

Don't get mad, get kicky.
And then we had to move again - we were only in Las Vegas a year - and we ended up in Texas.

We ended up at a very well run school at a community center nearby.  Remember the flaky master in Las Vegas?  The master here is his polar opposite. This is our first contact with "American Karate" being Tae Kwon Do.   All three of us started in this school together as white belts, and we tested together to establish rank.  Kidlet got Purple, we got Blue (one rank below her).

The family that kicks ass together, stays together.
The school is very successful, well run, and very big.  In some ways, for us, too big.  After Mr. Chick and I left to go to our current teacher to study Arnis full time, a few months later, Kidlet tried one of the American Karate classes (related but different lineage) that my teacher offers, and she decided to switch and joined us at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  It's smaller and she gets more individualized attention.

Again, she started as a white belt, but then she tested for Purple to establish rank at the new school... and the board granted her 3rd Brown instead, which is the next rank up!  It was a complete surprise!

I've mentioned that Kidlet takes this stuff very seriously.  She has been working with the lower rank belts classes on Saturdays as an assistant instructor.  She refers to these students as her "chicks".  When she thinks they performed better in competitions than they are awarded, she takes it personally, and is outraged on their behalf (she does not enjoy tournaments much now, but she attends to support the school and her "chicks").

"Miss Kidlet" teaching students.
Here we are to today.  I will be posting a full recap of the test and photos in a follow-up post shortly.

You've seen this picture before if you've read this blog for a while, but... while she's an amazing young woman and an accomplished young martial artist that I am incredibly proud (and grateful) to have, in my mind's eye, she will always look like this:

Thanks for reading, and Kidlet can always use your positive good vibes sent her way today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Real Life Fights: "Scooter Boy" - Lessons Learned

Here's another real life fight that can have many lessons for all of us.

This time, the environmental weapon used is a scooter, but it's only used once.  This fight is very interesting because the participants change.

A kid's scooter.  Yep.
Here's the video:

There are a number of lessons here.

1:  This is a heat of the moment fight

Unlike "Shovel Girl", this is not an arranged confrontation.  This happens spontaneously.  Obviously, the guy with the phone was completely unprepared for confrontation.

2:  Sometimes the "monkey dance" is subtle and short

To see what I mean by "monkey dance", see this post by Rory Miller (he's the one who coined the term, I think... or at least, that's where I first learned it).   It's very common for there to be very obvious signs leading up to a fight.  Words, body posture, coming into range and puffing up the chest are some clues.

In this case, it was subtle.  Watch:

See, red shirt's puffing up his chest, his hands are down, and he shifts an object held in his right hand to his left in preparation for a right handed strike.  But not many other clues here that he's ready to start a physical fight.  Then he says, "Oh yeah?" and attacks.  Obviously, phone guy did not expect this.

So, if someone is confronting you, you need to take it as something that could escalate quickly, and treat it as such.   It's not always going to be a long, drawn out warning before violence happens.

3: Fights Can Spread

Note that others - presumably friends of the combatants - start fighting also.

This is a classic scenario where friends start jumping in to protect the initial combatants.  So, you can easily find violence coming your way, even if you aren't initially involved.

One question you need to ask yourself - if either of the initial combatants are your friend, do you get involved, or not?  Will that escalate the situation?

4: Weapons can come from anywhere

Initially, the person who introduces the weapon - in this case, the scooter - isn't initially involved.  But as you can see in this clip, he starts circling, looking for his opportunity to use what he has already converted to a weapon.

Red shirt sees it, but by then, it's too late.  Scooters like this are metal and can weigh, depending on the construction, between twenty to forty pounds.  The purple shirt kid launches the scooter with a ton of force.

Red shirt appears to get struck in the head by the handle, where the main body of the scooter hits his abdomen.  That could be a very serious injury.  Of course, if he'd been hit with the base of the scooter, it could have killed him.

If purple shirt had closed in and hit red shirt with the scooter vs. throwing it, he may have been able to deliver multiple strikes to the head.

In any case, use of this improvised weapon could have easily resulted in the death of red shirt guy. Was it purple shirt's intent to kill? Probably not - he's probably never even thought about it. 

5: Combatants can change.

After the scooter strike, red shirt gets stuck on the ground getting it by several people, none of which are the original combatant, phone guy!  Presumably it's his friends, but for all we know, they could be complete strangers.

Then, a woman - perhaps red shirt's mom? - tries to get the fighters off of red shirt, and she then gets involved in the fight herself.

And then a melee erupts, basically ending the video.  We don't know what happens later.

People can get emotionally, and then physically, involved in fights at a moment's notice. They don't have to be the initial aggressor.

6: Like many fights, this one goes to the ground

If you are not trained to go to the ground, you have to get up quickly, or you're going to be at a huge disadvantage.  You must train this - don't assume you can do it if you don't train it - and you should train against people trying to prevent your getting to your feet, because as you can see, it's not easy.

7: Ground fighting can leave you vulnerable even if trained

As you can see here, other players start kicking the people on the ground.

This is the one thing people are warned about with ground fighting, and as you can see, it happens here.  I believe that this is why you don't want to stay on the ground very long if you can avoid it.

8: Pull up your damn pants

Several times in the video, because of fashion, kids' pants get pulled down to basically bind their legs together, and they can't get up and out of the situation.

Don't let fashion impede your ability to protect yourself.  As pretty as those very high heels are - try running in them (it's literally a test I have of shoes before I buy them).  Don't let your pants impede your ability to move (and run away).

9:  Nobody tries to diffuse the fight

Observers actually participate and escalate the violence, rather than trying to calm it down.

I don't advocate getting in-between violent people (that's what the woman does, but she FIGHTS instead of trying to cool down the situation).  I think many fighters expect this to happen, so they can save face ("I didn't lose the fight - my friends pulled me off before I could kill that guy").

At one point, the woman starts to shut it down when she pins one guy to the ground, but then she hits the kid, and the fight restarts.

Don't depend on other people to cool down the fight.

What other lessons do you get from this fight?  Do you use videos like this as a teaching tool in your classes?  I'd love to know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

FIGHT MEETS FLIGHT: Cross training and Martial Arts – The Half Marathon (Pt. 4)

From the Stick Chick: Today's guest post is the fourth in a five part series on cross training and the martial arts that will be appearing on Tuesdays (so mark your calendars). Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here.  Enjoy!

So how did this all pan out? What effect does distance running have on a Martial Arts program? Is it worth it? Before jotting down my personal experiences and opinions I did some digging. I read through some magazine articles and did the classic Google search, looking for something that would either confirm or deny my own findings.
These people would tell you running is a good thing!
What I found was rather interesting – it was a split decision between my initial thoughts before I started. Would it help my cardio, or make techniques harder to perform? There are those who say “do it” and those who say “if you want to get better at your sport, do your sport more.” One thing was certain, there was definitely a counter argument no matter what someone said and no one has seemed to figure a “Golden Rule” when it comes to cross training and martial arts.

Here’s a Golden Rule for you – find an exercise that you enjoy progressing in as much as Martial Arts. I disliked running at first, but the feeling of turning it into an enjoyable activity was way more rewarding than sticking to a familiar exercise.

Here is my conclusion based on this experience. I am sure there are plenty of people with very valid points against my opinions – and I would love to hear them. (Ed Note - Comment here on the blog and Troy will see it - The Stick Chick)

I highly recommend dedicating the bulk of your time to martial arts fitness. It takes years of technique, conditioning and discipline to get it right through repetition. I just wanted to clarify that no amount of cross-training can teach you these proper techniques; it is a supplement, not your main exercise. You should not seek cross training at all until you have at least learned the basics and allowed your body to develop muscle memory.

Then you have over-use injuries. I will not get into them in detail but here’s a quick rundown.  Overuse injuries come from doing the same exercise over-and-over again with no change up. Cross training allows you to develop different muscles and keeps you going strong. So if you’re lifting weights, you are helping your Martial Arts training by building support muscles used in your techniques. Train for longevity!

Lifting weights is a great way to build your anaerobic strength. Remember to be explosive!

Now that that is said here is how running can fit into your program.

First and foremost is cardio conditioning. I have heard this everywhere: “Martial artists perform in bursts like sprinting, therefore anaerobic exercise is more important that aerobic exercise.” Half true… at the end of a hard sparring round why are you breathing hard? Your body is trying to replace the oxygen required by your body at an accelerated rate due to hard work. Guess what? That’s aerobic recovery.

Don’t get me wrong, training at anaerobic levels is very important too, but your aerobic conditioning will always be required for recovery. It’s all about intensity. Just because running isn't as aggressive as HIIT, doesn't mean you don’t push yourself every time you hit the pavement.

I have never recovered as quickly in between rounds as when I have had a strong running regimen, nothing else has gotten my heart rate down faster during rest. My heart/lungs are stronger having run for over 2-3 hours at a time. My recovery has sped up immensely. This did not come as a detriment to my techniques either – I felt a little rusty, but I didn’t feel tired any faster than usual during a round. I should point out that throwing the techniques didn’t get any easier, that comes from other forms of exercise like intense bag work. So you get tired from techniques about the same, but you get back up to speed during rest almost instantly.

Another argument that I have heard is that it is inefficient. “Why would I want to run for 2 hours when I can do some HIIT exercises and get more applicable benefits?” I disagree with this argument. Like I said, anaerobic exercise is KEY for your burst strength, but in the end you gas if you lack cardio conditioning. No way around it. If you want to last long you have to train long – and that means having the willpower to push through the “this sucks” feeling. If you never train to go past 30 second bursts, then after 30 awesome seconds you are in trouble.
Whatever it is that you do for exercise – don’t train to be a “bottle-rocket"!

Second, your ring movement is effortless. Given that you are on the move for hours at a time during running, I expected my leg muscles would have built up in that regard. Movement is critical, if not the THE MOST IMPORTANT thing during a bout. Kicks were not any easier though and wore my legs out as if nothing had changed. Ring movement –greatly improved, techniques – little to no change.

Third (the greatest benefit IMO), is the mental strength improvement. During long distances you get to know your limits very well. Then after you get to know them, you exceed them. Running forces you to trust your body more than your mind, allowing you to keep moving even if you are convinced you are too tired to continue. This is very hard to train during a HIIT round – the intensity is simply too high to continue for a long time without risk of injury. Each step in running is a simple challenge and you learn that one-by-one they are not so bad. This allows you to trust your body when in “deep” to push harder. The more you practice this type of training, the better you are at gauging when to step it up during a round without the fear of gassing. You think in steps, not miles and keep your outlook positive. You learn to control the “tired” feeling and understand your body’s true limit. Running is strengthening for your mind too.

One step at a time.

Fourth is of course, weight loss/general conditioning. Distance running burns an insane amount of calories/fat and builds the core of your body. Without the ability to control your body well, your techniques are useless. Side note – it also forced me to watch my food, water, sleep and stretching routines very closely as they are critical to making the distance. Read Post 3 for what happened when I didn't eat before the race.

It’s amazing the difference eating right can make.

I will be posting my running schedule and recommendations for a cross-training routine in my next post, hopefully it will inspire you to try something a little different in your program!

Part 5 of this series here.

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