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.