Saturday, January 31, 2015

Today is MAPA 4!

Today I'm attending +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance 's fourth gathering!

New Sinawali pattern?  Yes please!

To read my thoughts about the previous gatherings:

Thoughts from MAPA: The True Value of Cross Training

Thoughts from MAPA 2: We Are Family

Thoughts from MAPA 3: The Student is the Teacher is the Student

If you aren't familiar with the idea, here in the Dallas-Fort Worth TX area, we have worked hard to gather FMA (and related) players from all sorts of styles and background together to learn, network, and share ideas.  We try to keep the cost low as we are trying to grow awareness of the Filipino Martial Arts in general, so we want it to be very accessible.  The plan is to have a MAPA gathering each quarter.

We leave the politics and the "my art is better than yours" nonsense outside the doors - we are all there to share and learn together with open minds.

The format is usually three or four instructors (these rotate from gathering to gathering) and we move it all over town so we can reach a broad audience.  As we grow, we are meeting and including more variety in FMA's, so each MAPA is gathering is unique.

Today's is being hosted by Guru Bruce Jenkins of Moroland Martial Arts, a new instructor to our rotation.  We'll also get some good stuff from another new instructor Guro Mike Pana of  the Bayani Warrior Group.  Plus, Guro Abel Martinez and my teacher, Guro Mark Lynn, will fill out the instructor set.

That's me and Guro Abel doing Sinawali at the top of this post.

I'll post pictures and post-MAPA thoughts, as usual.

Mr. Stick Chick (right) practices disarms at MAPA 3.

To keep up on the doings of MAPA, please like the Facebook page or add us to your circles here on Google Plus at +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance.


Friday, January 30, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Independent, or Organization?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic involves whether or not it's important for a martial artist - especially a martial arts teacher - to belong to an organization or not.

Many reasons to belong to an organization is that such groups offer additional training and group discounts, they can offer a sense of quality control over the material, and they can provide reciprocity in rank from school to school.

However, being independent means that you avoid organization fees, you can craft your curriculum to suit yourself, and you don't have anybody to answer to in regards to what you do and how you do it, and no need to pay attention to the politics that sometimes infects organizations.

So what do you think?

WHICH IS BETTER: INDEPENDENCE, OR ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIP?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ranks, Belts, and Shenanigans

This post is about the shenanigans surrounding the whole idea of ranks and belts.

It's unfortunate, because the concept of ranks and belts is a great one for honest students and honest people.  Within a system - and only within a system - it can work quite well, to help everyone understand what each student and teacher can and can't do within that system (generally speaking).

Wearing belts or some other indication of mastery of material - which is all rank really is supposed to be anyway - is an easy and convenient way for students to avoid asking a novice for help on an advanced technique in class, for example.  Or in large classes, it's easier for an instructor to group people of a similar skill level together for training.

The biggest strength, of course, of a ranking system that uses belts (or patches or whatever)  is that it is a visible measure of progress, and especially for children, that extra incentive they sometimes need to stay committed to studying the martial arts.

This is a well known phenomenon within loyalty marketing - people like to "game" things, and if there is another level to reach, people have more incentive to do what it takes to get to that next level.

The downside is that rank is, essentially, utterly meaningless outside of a given organization, and it's an easy-peasy way for a fraud to strap on a black belt (or other high ranking colored belt like some systems use), put a million stripes on it, and claim the same rank as someone who has studied decades and is actually skilled.

As you long-time readers of this blog know, I really, really dislike that sort of thing.

It is utterly, completely disrespectful - in fact, downright contemptuous - of people who work hard and train hard, over years, to acquire the rank in the art(s) they study.  I'm just a lowly stick-swinger, but I have been blessed to have studied under, trained with, and known many highly skilled martial artists who have dedicated thousands of hours and years of their lives to training.

I really respect people who put in the work.

But there's just some folks out there that just can't and won't dedicate that time, so they just gotta take a short cut, and once you take one, why not take another and another and another...

This is conservative compared to some.
Instead of the time and money and work investment to earn the skill, they order whatever belt they want online, mock up fake or home-made certificates, strap on that belt with as many stripes as possible, and call themselves 10th Dan Soke Grand Master Sensei in seven different made-up (or even real) martial arts.

Nobody would know the difference. Well, except for one glaringly obvious thing.

Their skills.

'Nuff Said.

Real martial artists will spot them a mile away, and we don't have to be Grand Master rank with years and years of experience to do it.  Put up just a little bit of video, and we'll see that they don't have the skills they claim, and thus, their ranks are bogus.  We don't have to study their martial art, or take their fake online courses, or even meet them in real life.

Their skills will tell the tale.  Every single time.

Part of me wishes that ranks and belts were not so useful, because I'd really like to put an end to this rank and belt chasing so many of us seem so very invested in doing.  I'd definitely love to kill the short cut for the frauds to start claiming they are as good as those who devote their lives to the study of the martial arts.

Of course, the fakes and frauds of the world would find some other short cut to claiming mastery and Uber Guro-Professor Doctor Grand Mastership, wouldn't they?

Ah well.  You guys can keep adding stripes and stars and what-have-you to your self-awarded black belts.  We certainly can't stop you from doing it, except to point out the absurdity of what you do.

You'll go viral in social media, and we'll all be entertained.






Monday, January 26, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Abel Martinez Box Drill 3-8-12


Happy Motion Monday!

Today's Motion Monday is a video of Abel Martinez teaching the "3-8-12" box drill.

Abel is one of the instructors at MAPA 4  this coming Saturday (January 31).  I'm honored to know and train (at MAPA) with him personally, and he's a very skilled martial artist.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stick Exchange: One Advantage of the Blunt Weapon

I've been thinking about the new "Fix It Friday" post by +Brian Johns at +Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Here, Master Brian is talking about one of my favorite little skills that we have in Arnis - a stick exchange from one hand to the other, here, done off of a punyo entry to the face.

I practice this technique a lot in a variety of ways, because I have found that its easy to short-circuit someone when you are "suddenly" left handed.  It's a great way to disrupt what your partner was planning to do (although of course there's counters to this, and experienced players will just adjust).

I have used this successfully many times, especially against people taller than me, because the punyo entry can "hide" the exchange until it's too late.

Many people rarely, if ever, train with the weak hand.  In Modern Arnis - perhaps because our founder was left-handed - our training is ambidextrous.  We can use our weak hand nearly as well as our strong hand.

These guys know what I'm saying.

So, in thinking about the punyo entry stick exchange that Master Brian talks about above, I was thinking about the obvious - how it's impossible to do this with a blade.

I know, I'm Captain Obvious, but bear with me.

We can, of course, do the punyo entry with a blade, but not the exchange - you can't change weapon hands this way, at least, not very easily!

In my opinion, this is a huge advantage - disrupting the plans of your opponent with a smooth surprise stick exchange is gold.  I've done it successfully many times in free-flow tapi tapi play.

In stick sparring (using soft "action flex" sticks), I often find myself using a "Dos Manos" (two hands on the stick) block, then changing hands to counter attack (which sucks with these sticks as they have a "handle" - I only do this if they are wearing head gear when using these sticks).

So, I think I'm going to be playing with this a little more, practicing inside-to-outside and outside-to-inside punyo entries leading to stick exchange, with both hands.

Four ways to do punyo entry to stick exchange.
Top Left: Right hand outside to inside
Top Right: Left hand outside to inside
Bottom Left: Left hand inside to outside
Bottom Right: Right hand inside to outside
One cool thing is that the inside-to-outside punyo entries are a lot like deflection wing blocks, so you are also practicing doing a stick exchange using a wing block, too.  I have also used to great success - wing block, exchange, and whip that backhand right back out - POW!

So, if you do the punyo entry stick exchange, do it like Master Brian says, and treat it like a blunt weapon (because it is).

I'm sure other weapons arts have similar techniques - if so, I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 23, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: BRUCE LEE: Best Ever or Overhyped?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic involves the most famous martial artist and action actor of the last fifty years.

Of course, I mean Bruce Lee.

For some, Bruce Lee is the end-all and be-all of the martial arts.  They will claim he was the single greatest martial artist of the 20th century, and possibly of all-time.

Others will claim that Bruce Lee was primarily an actor, and that his martial arts accomplishments are overblown because of his fame.

But what do you think?

BRUCE LEE: BEST EVER OR OVERHYPED?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stick Tricks

The Filipino Martial Arts seem to be getting a little more popular.

It's not unusual for friends to send me"stick" videos from a variety of martial artists with a background in other martial arts - almost all of which are empty hand arts.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Either they're videos like the above - which is terrible, by the way - or these "stick" videos are people doing various sinawali patterns.

More often, though, they're not awful - not great (as they obviously haven't read my posts about sinawali here and here), but not awful.

Unlike the video above, most of these videos are just people doing sinawali - the basic weaving pattern that most FMA's use in one way or another.  They'll be single sinawali, "x" or "ocho ocho" sinawali, or one of the double sinawali variants - all common, all basic.

They won't be labeled as "sinawali", but that's what it is.  Clearly.

It's a pet peeve of mine - calling it "Stick Fighting Drill" or whatever other than the actual name of it, mainly because it makes it sound like something they invented, versus something that is a very common drill in the Filipino Martial Arts.


Click here if you can't see the video.

Small children can do sinawali - it's a basic, basic introductory drill, ok?  And these kids are doing a great job at it, too.

I'm finding this "stick video" label most often applied to people who are well versed in an empty hand art but have added FMA to their curriculum.  Some of these guys are legit, and some, well, not so much.

There's lots and lots of people out there claiming to have trained "under" various teachers and systems in the Filipino Martial Arts.  Sometimes, this is true - they either studied at a school, or attended many seminars and camps resulting in hundreds of hours of training.

Other times... they went to a four-hour seminar or two, or one two day camp, and now they claim to teach Filipino Martial Arts.  They claim they are "under", say, Guro Inosanto, because they went to a seminar and learned a sinawali.

Look, if a teacher wouldn't know your name or face if presented with it, you did not "train" under that person.  End of story.

Watch out for this if you're looking to study the Filipino Martial Arts.  It's a stick trick, and not the good kind.

This is the good kind. Click here if you can't see the video.

If you don't know the FMA's, it's hard for you to know what is quality, and what isn't - you don't know what's missing from what they are showing you.

Here's some ways to weed out the stick trickers from the real deal FMA players.

Make sure they aren't teaching you what I've come to call "Seminar Arnis" - a few sinawali performed without chambering, targeting, out of range, and without moving an inch.  If they don't know more than this, they haven't really trained in an FMA.

Look for basic violations of best practice - I wrote about some of those here.  The first video above is a great example of bad stick play, as both players are constantly twirling their sticks gripped in the forefinger and thumb, like drumsticks and that's an easy disarm.  You can clearly see in the twirling in the third video - the demo set to music - their hands are closed on the stick.

Do they name, clearly, the lineage of their FMA? If they call it "escrima", ask which one.  If they can't tell you, that's a huge red flag.  It's like saying "I teach karate" and then refusing to name which variant.

Did they make up their own "stick fighting" system?  If they claim to be teaching "stick fighting", ask where they've done it versus non-compliant opponents.  If they never have... yeeeeaaahhh. Red flag.

Do they just do their normal martial art with a rattan stick or a knife or kerambit in their hand?   You're not going to learn a Filipino Martial Art from this person.  You're going to learn their empty hand art holding a weapon.

You know who you are.

As the Filipino Martial Arts proliferate, this sort of thing is bound to happen, so I hope I've helped you avoid wasting your time.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Monday, January 19, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Doblete Striking with GM Rene Tongson

Happy Motion Monday!

Doublete is a really fun and useful technique to have in your toolbox.  Today's video with GM Rene Tongson demonstrates this technique.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Road to Hell (or Jail)

As I've mentioned before, I've been reading a lot about the legalities of self defense.  In fact, I just finished - and highly recommend - "The Law of Self Defense" by Andrew Branca.  This book is aimed for at the person who uses firearms for self defense, but it's still very useful for all of us who train in the martial arts and live in the United States.

It's just as important to spend time here as in the training hall.

I am unaware of similar books for other countries, but if you know of one, please do recommend it in the comments. I'd like to compile a reference list to keep here on the blog for everybody's future reference.

I believe it's important to understand the legalities and ethics of what we do.  My art, originally developed in a very different cultural and legal context than my own, has to be somewhat modified in practice (at least in its self defense applications) to fit the legal environment in which I live.

I believe it's my obligation, as a teacher, to understand this, and to make sure that my students are well versed in this information too.  I'd be negligent if I do not understand and teach this information.

But too many of us do not teach this.  In fact, many of us teach or condone attitudes and techniques that will get one sent to jail for a very, very long time.

Self defense is only that in a legal sense in very limited, specific situations.  If you claim to teach self defense, you better understand and communicate what those are in the area in which you live and teach.  Outside of those specific circumstances, what you are doing could be assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, or outright murder!

Not a lot of space for one-steps here.

To my knowledge, there are no exceptions if you are a veteran or an off duty police officer or a short old woman like me.   You don't get to escalate to lethal force at the first hint of trouble. You do not get to "finish" a prone opponent on the ground. You do not get to use a weapon automatically against just anybody in any circumstance. If there is an opportunity to escape or disengage, you should take it.

"I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six" is a dangerous attitude, said by somebody who's never been through a criminal system that is absolutely wanting to convict you - that's how they justify their existence!  I hope you have the hundreds of thousands of dollars it may take to keep your butt out of jail, the several years of free time to have the legal system have its way with you, and oh, yes, the temerity to find a new job because your old one is gone.

Thanks, Sensei!
The rules for self defense are not the same as the rules of combat or the rules that police officers must operate by (guess what - you do NOT have the same latitude police officers do in the law).  Yet so many of us teach exactly that!

Luckily, most of us will not actually be in a violent, life-or-death conflict in our normal, daily lives (and the chance of that happening to us is decreasing every year, for the most part), so we'll never put it to the test.

I think you can open yourself to that risk of fighting for your life outside of prison - start saving your pennies now! - or, you can educate yourself on the reality of self defense, and train accordingly, based on the law where you live.

It is an incredible risk, as a teacher, to allow your students to go into the world with the capability to do great harm to others but without this basic knowledge.

Speaking for myself, I will not allow students I am responsible for to go out into the world without this information. They may still get in trouble but it won't be because they were ignorant of the law.

Are you teaching this information in your program?  If not, why not?  If so, what have you learned about teaching it?  I'd love to know!
.




Friday, January 16, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Who Would Win This Fight?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic is probably the single more important Face-Off Friday topic ever.

It involves two of the toughest martial artists that we've ever witnessed in modern times.

One is 11th Dan in his own art, incorporating the very best of all matial arts and the worst of none, creating the single most street lethal system known to humankind.

The other is an ex-Special Forces Vietnam veteran and leads a successful traditional Karate school well known for its brutality, toughness, aliveness, and willingness to do what it takes to win.

So,  let's pit the two of them against each other.

WHO WOULD WIN THIS FIGHT?

MASTER KEN
OR 

SENSEI JOHN KREESE




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Roots and Branches

Over the weekend, we started a new study course with +W. Hock Hochheim Combatives - Pacific Archipelago Combat.  We will be taking this every other month for ten sessions.

Volcano not included.
 Image from Hock's site linked above.

My teacher studied with Hock for many years, and much of what he teaches today stems from what we learned in the first PAC seminar.  It was an amazing opportunity to work directly with one of the major influences on my teacher (and thus, me).  I missed the opportunity to train directly with Professor Remy Presas and GMM Roberto Presas, which will always be something I'll regret.

I've said before that I'm grateful that my art is modern - the basic facts of how my art developed are recent enough that it's well understood by most of us.  I have heard many stories of both Presas Brothers, from people who knew and studied with them.

But over time, many of these stories are going to be lost - are already lost, even, as some of the first generation students forget or pass on.  There will be some important leaders in the development of my art that will pass away to obscurity.  Some techniques that were once foundation techniques will be forgotten.

My art will change, maybe so much so that it won't even be recognizable as being the same as what the founders intended.

This is normal - most of our arts and lore of what we do has changed, because that's the nature of things.  Regular people - and that's what our founders were, regular people, with flaws - become lionized into becoming larger than life legends.

My art is not alone in this - your art, too, will have the same thing happen to it, as we get further and further away from the origin.

I get to work with the roots and immediate branches of my art - yours may be over a century removed, thus, you're working in the branches only, as the roots are far, far below where you are on the tree of your art.
Can you spot my branch?

But it's all the same tree.  I don't know that we have to worry so much about authenticity and how the founder intended things to be, as our modern context makes it really difficult to imagine it.  Time, politics, and omission makes it very difficult to understand, sometimes, the origins of what we do.

And that's okay, because the tree - it keeps growing.  That's the most important thing, isn't it?


Monday, January 12, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Ernesto Presas Jr. - Chambering and Double-Tap

Happy Motion Monday!

Today's Motion Monday is a video of Ernesto Presas Junior from a seminar he did a few years ago.  It's about chambering - or rather, where to chamber for self defense.  Some really good points are made.  Plus, he demonstrates "Combative Response #3", aka "double tap", that we teach in our program.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Update: The Intimidation Factor

Just a quick update on yesterday's post.

Well, like most things, the fear of  a thing is worse than the actual thing.

Yeah, basically.

I got to the Aerobics Center where they train (and that place is about the nicest place I've ever trained in - it's amazing).  Ran into a few friends that I've met either via my daughter's participation in this organization (my daughter is very popular, as she's known as "the girl who smiles" when she fights), so that made me feel a little better.

I jokingly told my friends to take a picture of me wearing a white gi, as it doesn't happen often.

We got into class - and it's a big class, over 30 people.  We are supposed to line up by age and rank, and we didn't quite get it right, but nobody worried over it too much.

I must say, they did a great job in explaining the etiquette - which is, after all, more based in safety than anything else,  They spent enough time there that it really helped me get over the fear of the unknown.

So we learned the traditional grip on the bo, how to hold it, how to move it from side to side and bow with it, basic movements, and finally, a seven count drill that is pretty cool.

One lesson I learned - we all learned - is that this class requires the good Japanese white oak bo.  None of this spinning-behind-the-back trick stuff was going to happen.

We were having our grips "checked" by the instructors hitting our bo with some force. One classmate's bo apparently was a cheapie, because after a couple of strikes, the tip broke off and flew across the room like a missile.

It looked a lot like this.

It was a sharp, deadly missile, that tip, and we're all grateful it didn't hit anybody.  His bo became a spear and useless for class.  I bet that was 40 bucks or so down the drain!

After class, friends introduced me to some of their students I hadn't met yet, and to a person, not a single person had any idea what Filipino Martial Arts or Modern Arnis is.  That tells me we have a LOT of work to do (it's another reason I'm so glad that we have +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance gatherings - it's gotta help with this in the long run!).

So, class was actually pretty nice, and while I still don't think it'll ever be my favorite, I am a lot more comfy swinging a 6 foot stick around than I was.   I enjoyed class, and I'm looking forward to the next one.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Intimidation Factor

Today, I start my first class in formal, somewhat JMA-traditional Kobdudo class.

I'll admit, I'm a little intimidated.  But probably not for the reasons you might expect.

Nope, not the white gi.  Mostly.

I'm all good with weapons, even if Bo isn't my favorite in the world, so the prospect of learning it and even getting a hit here or there with it doesn't overly concern me.

Honestly, it's the etiquette of it all.

My school - heck, my art as I have known it - isn't the world's most formal, and it's not bound by a whole lot of rules regarding proper behavior. We bow in and out.  Kids are required to call adults "Mister" or "Miss" (it's the South, y'all) and their first or last name, whatever the adult prefers.

But really, that's about it.

It seems to me, the FMA's in general  aren't as wrapped up in such things, not like Korean or Japanese (and to a much lesser extent Chinese) martial arts generally are (I have no experience with Indonesian or other arts, that's why I can't compare them). We just don't have a lot of "must line up a certain way, must enter the room a certain way..." tradition.

My teacher is a pretty laid back, humble, and informal guy as well, so you can imagine how utterly informal things are.

But man, this Kobudo class is formal compared to my daily martial arts life.  And that is just plain intimidating for me.

Once, I started at a very traditional JMA school that has so many rules regarding etiquette, I couldn't remember them all.  This is no indictment on that school - the teacher is amazing, the art is solid.  But as class time approached, I became MORE stressed, versus less.

You stepped on the mat in the wrong order!  YOU DIE NOW!

One major reason I do the martial arts is the alleviation of stress, so I only stayed there the one month.

So, yeah, in thinking about going to class today, that's what I'm worried about.

Etiquette.

Do any of you out there struggle with this like I do?  I'd love to know...

UPDATE:  How did the class turn out?  Read about it HERE.

Friday, January 9, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Do All Fights Go to the Ground?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today, let's talk about a claim many ground-oriented and grappling martial artists make about real life fights.

They will claim that all - or virtually all - violence conflicts end up in grappling on the ground. Thus, you need to study grappling as a major part of your martial arts strategy.

Others, of course, will completely disagree with that assessment.

But what do you think?

DO ALL FIGHTS GO TO THE GROUND?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How To Get More Women In Your Martial Arts School

This is a topic that comes up a lot:  How can we attract more female students?  How do we retain them?
GET 'EM IN A GI, PRONTO!
Image found here.

Here's my thoughts on the subject.

1) WHY WOMEN TAKE THE MARTIAL ARTS - AND HOW YOU SHOULD SPEAK TO THEM

Contrary to what you may believe, the reasons women take the marital arts are as varied and complex as the reasons men do.  These include:
  • Physical fitness
  • Self Defense
  • Self Confidence
  • Discipline
  • Mental fitness
  • Fun
  • Challenge of competition
  • Overcoming bullies when young
  • Fantasies of being a ninja or action hero, just like in the movies

I've noticed, however, a preponderance of marketing in the martial arts aimed at women primarily focusing on two of these reasons:
  1. Self Defense (more specifically, rape prevention)
  2. Physical Fitness
I have seen far too many fliers, ads, etc. aimed at starting up women's martial arts courses (or the six week self defense courses many of us run) that are almost always using the message "Don't get raped by studying with us".  Often it's a woman in a poorly lit parking lot being menaced by some shady guy in a hoodie.

Now, there's a lot of problems with that message, but mainly it's just poor marketing tactics. Scaring your customers into your door probably is only going to work for a very small population.  By focusing there (and only there), you are ignoring the larger audience that might be interested for all of the reasons I listed above and are turned off by the "You'll get raped if you don't study with us" message.


To be fair, hanging out here at 2 am alone is probably unwise,
 even if you do know kung fu.

Image found here.

Instead of trying to scare your customers, why not use imagery of real-looking, average women using your real martial art to actually use self defense against a generic big scary dude in a well lit area.  Let your audience fill the blank in their own minds ("self defense against rape" "self defense against scary ex-boyfriend" "self defense against Mean Sheila, the neighborhood bully, who lives next door.")

As for physical fitness.. this is true more often than not for fitness training in general, and I find it annoying.  It almost always features a very beautiful, incredibly physically fit young woman in a tank bra and very short shorts (or skintight pants) kicking or punching a bag.

Why not use a normal looking woman, maybe in your school's t-shirt and shorts (not short-shorts - regular shorts that go no higher than mid-thigh) or gi pants, doing the same thing?  Here's a crazy thought - include at least one image of a woman over 40!

So, I recommend that you think about the other reasons women train that I listed above, and show regular women doing that stuff, along with testimonials from current students in your marketing materials and in the conversation you have with potential students.

Please feel free to emphasize the fun aspect, ok?  We all know it's a huge amount of fun!  It's okay to tell people that!

Martial arts is WAY more fun than this.
Image found here.

2) THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL INTIMACY OF THE MARTIAL ARTS

First off, none of us like it when our personal space is invaded by strangers. Allowing strangers you don't know very well into your personal space to touch you in intimate ways is incredibly intimidating for many women, even if they want to learn a martial art (it's also intimidating for men, but I don't think as bad as it is for women, as men spend more time culturally in contact sports than women generally do).

Howdy stranger!
 Let me put your arm between my legs.

This is a huge hurdle, because there has to be a level of trust that this touching and invasion of space will not be sexualized.  I imagine this is probably the worst for the grappling arts.

Make sure your club doesn't have any pinups or sexualized imagery of men or women, does not allow sexual jokes or horseplay or language, does not allow displays of affection such as kissing and whatnot even with couples on the floor and any inappropriate non-martial arts touching is completely unacceptable. Avoid all of that in your social media channels and advertising too (and they'll find it, believe me).

I can hear men saying, "What, we can't have fun in the dojo?"  Well, that's not fun for lots of women (including me), and if you want all those things, you won't have many women in your dojo! I certainly won't train with you.

Working on making sure your club is one in which women can trust that their personal space won't be inappropriately violated is a HUGE thing you can do, not just to attract, but to retain female students. If you're not sure if it's right or not, ask for assessments from women who are not your friends/family/students and don't have any incentive to tell you what you want to hear.

It takes a lot of work to establish that trust with new students.  Think about your training progression and curriculum and make sure you have that in mind when starting new students.

3) THE FEAR OF INJURY

To outsiders, martial arts training consists of beating the hell out of each other on a regular basis.  While this is true for a few arts I can think of, most of us train using modern methods and we do not seek to actually hurt each other in training.  Getting hurt is far less frequent than most people think.

Most people don't want to get hurt!

The idea of having to basically survive Fight Club versus bigger, stronger, far more skilled people weekly in order to train is completely unappealing to most people!

So talk about safely training, show how control in sparring works, demonstrate safety equipment.  Emphasize your school is not about getting hurt - don't avoid the fact that we do get hurt, but talk about all the things we do to mitigate it.

Well, at least my "karate chop" will be awesome.
As I've written before, the fear of injury is worse than the reality of it, but it's very hard to help newbies past the fear.  Make sure you have in place good reactions and coping mechanism when injury DOES happen in your school, including making sure things like band-aids, wraps, and ice packs are readily available.

For Pete's sake, do not have a "suck it up buttercup" attitude to injury. It's dumb.

By the way - you should know that it's not unusual for me to get asked when I go to my doctor or dentist covered in bruises (not unusual for me) for them to ask if things are okay at home and if I need help.  Yep, they're guessing that I might be a victim of domestic abuse (and I'm glad they do this for the women that DO need help). I find it incredibly annoying, personally, and I can see it as a deal-breaker for other women.

4) DON'T SEND THE MESSAGE FEMALE = LESSER, EVER!

I've written about this before, but I want to reiterate - remove any reference female stuff being lesser, weak or unworthy.

5) PRACTICAL HURDLES TO WOMEN TRAINING

CHILD CARE: This applies to single parents of all genders, but given that the more common situation is single mom with kids at home...  See what you can do to help with child care during class. Maybe you can start a "coop" babysitting service with other people in your club to mind Junior while Mom or Dad is on the floor training, turning an office or spare room into toy room or something.  This was a major obstacle for my husband and I when our youngest was little, and it absolutely influenced our decision on where to train.

FEMININE HYGIENE: It is very possible - especially for you poor souls who have to train in white gis on a regular basis - for our periods to start unexpectedly or for it to be heavier than we are prepared for, so we'll soil our pants as a result.  This is INCREDIBLY embarrassing!  Make sure your club has tampons and pads freely available, and heck, if you can have a couple of old spare pants available, that'd be going above and beyond (or at least advise your students to buy and pack an extra pair of gi pants in their bag).

REGULAR HYGIENE: Make sure your club is strong on cleanliness - on the mats, in the bathrooms, and personally.  Do not tolerate stinky dirty gis, feet, or students!

Like most of you, I would love to see more women training in the martial arts.  I know that it can be a very empowering and supportive environment (it totally has been for me, anyway).

Did I miss anything?  I'd love to know your thoughts!

Monday, January 5, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Dan Anderson ""Defanging the Snake"

Happy Motion Monday!

Today's Motion Monday is a video of "Defanging the Snake" by +Prof. Dan Anderson.  He's a huge influence on my teacher (he refers to his reference material all the time, especially for anyos) and as you can see, he's a very skilled player.

Enjoy!

Click here if you can't see the video.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

KIAAA-HA! Knife Hand Instructor Course

Training has been slow, so I don't have any deep insights for you today.

Instead, watch this.  Watch it all the way to the end.



Click here if you can't see the video.

Well done.  Bravo, sir, bravo.


Friday, January 2, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: CROSS TRAINING vs. SINGLE SYSTEM TRAINING

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic involves learning many styles versus spending all or most of your training in a single style.

Some would claim that cross training is necessary as there is no such thing as a "complete" style and that to get in decent ground work, throws, striking and kicking, locks, etc., you need to train in a variety of styles.

Others would claim that being a "jack of all trades" makes you a master of none - that spending your time getting into the deep understanding of a single style and being able to execute its strategy without thinking is the better way to go.

So what do you think?


Is cross training necessary, or is it better to study a single style only?


Thursday, January 1, 2015

My 2015 Plans and Goals

THIS IS NOT A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION.

NOT RESOLUTIONS!
Okay, so last year, I made up some goals for the year, and I periodically tracked them. Some I achieved, some I did not.

So here's my 2015 goals and plans.

1) Increase seminar attendance

I get to do this to complete strangers!

Yes, I go to every MAPA Gathering (there will be four this year) but this year I need to get to at least one Modern Arnis seminar with people I have not trained a ton with before, and I'd like to get to at least one Small Circle Jujitsu seminar.  So theoretically, that's a goal of six seminars at a minimum this year.

2) Back to Basics

Sumbrada, sumbrada, sumbrada.

I need to spend more time practicing basics and smooth motion in everything I do.  To that end, I will add one practice a week on such things.


3) Meet My Weight Loss Goal

They'll be stuck with just calling me ugly.
As I've noted, I had some underlying health issues that impeded my ability to lose weight.  I have that addressed now, and I'm on an eating plan that works for me on many levels, so I'm going to stick to it.  By the end of the year, I will meet my goal and will have lost four dress sizes.


4) Continue At the Gym

I have no pics of me working out.  I'll remedy that someday.

The reason I work out is not weight loss - that's what diet is about - it's to increase my strength.  When I hit you, you will know you got hit!   I am investigating a different weight training regimen that only requires twice a week workouts (versus the three I do now) and I'll try it out and see how it goes.  In any case, I'll continue to be a regular at the gym.

5) Start Kobudo


No pics of me with Bo either - YET.

This month is my first class in a two-and-a-half year program to earn a black belt in Kobudo with A-KATO.  The program includes the bo, tonfa, nunchaku and sai.  The first weapon is Bo.  I am hoping I can learn to love it as much as so many people I know do (it's just so darn big, and I am so darn short).

Compared to last year, this doesn't seem like a lot, but I think I was overly ambitious last year.

For this blog, I hope to reach 65,000 views for the year.  I will keep up the ambitious posting schedule, and I'd like to find additional guest bloggers - if you or someone you know have a hot martial arts topic they'd like to publish here, please do contact me!  Thanks!

So what are your goals and plans for the year?  I'd love to know!