Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kobudo: Getting Used to the Big Stick

So I had my second formal Kobudo class a few weeks ago.

I had to rush to it after rushing from a three hour Modern Arnis seminar to attend class, so by the end of that day, my arms were about ready to fall right off.

Pretty much.  Image found here.

Now that I'm past my fear of formality (see here and here), I've relaxed a little bit so class is a more enjoyable.

My classmates range from high-kyu red and brown belts from various TKD and Karate schools, all the way up third and fourth dan (and maybe higher) in their respective arts. I'm one of the lowest ranked people in the room, I think.  Not that I mind, really, although this group is way more rank-conscious than I'm used to in my daily martial arts life (again, my school is small and my instructor isn't terribly formal).

I get a little bit of a funny look from the others who don't know me, because my black belt is not like theirs. It has no embroidery with my name or rank or school, it's got a red edge, and I wear it on my right hip in the way we Modern Arnisadoras do. I may wear white in this class but darn it, I'm an Arnis black belt; it's how it's done!

Me all gussied up formal-like.
No, I have not taken one in my white gi yet.

Right now, we are working on a "seven step drill", which can be done solo or in pairs, and we started learning the first form, Bo Ichi.  When you do the "seven step drill" in pairs, you strike each others' weapons forcefully.  My bo is getting many nice dents in it, but is holding up well to the punishment.  That's Japanese white oak for you, guys - don't buy a cheap bo if you plan to hit stuff with it.

I have been working on the same stuff in my home school's kobudo class as well, so I get lots of practice and I'm keeping up with the class well. The only problem thus far are the minor variations from teacher to teacher - my teacher at home, and the individuals leading each "section" of formal class.

You see, that formal class is still very big - it will winnow down over time, either by people deciding to drop out, or people being invited to drop out - so for now, we tend to be divided into two groups, by gender, each of group of us working with a different instructor.  So variations are creeping in, and that part is a bit confusing.

I'll do it exactly that way, until I'm shown a completely different way.

I am bound and determined to do this as perfectly as I can, so that's a real problem to cope with.

I was kind of thrilled that I got picked out to help my bo instructor check some of my classmates on some things, things apparently I've picked up to her satisfaction.  I felt like teacher's pet a bit, which was nice, given I'm so self-conscious in this class so far.

I'm working hard on making sure I'm swinging this six foot piece of lumber with excellent control, so it's a real workout, and it puts a lot of stress on my right shoulder.  In fact, I suspect I might have some damage there, but between Kobudo and Arnis and the gym, it's not getting proper rest and healing.  The problem is, I can't stop any of those things, so I have to live with it.

We actually went outside (in February - even in north Texas, that's a pretty unusual thing) as it was nice and warm (actually kinda hot in the sun). I have to make sure I have athletic shoes when I go to class from now on, as they could decide to do that at any time.  I got bitten by an ant, which I understand is an issue out there - very much looking forward to the season where they're all over the place.

I wish.

We did some warming up with a bit of, well, twirling (from side to side).  It was fun, especially when you started switching sides and hands.  I see why people enjoy it for that aspect, and why they spend so much time with toothpick bo twirling.  Doing it with a six foot bo is a little more challenging but still fun.

I'm disliking bo less than I used to, but will I end up liking it over other weapons I'm learning or will learn?  Maybe.  I see why other people like it so much, and why it's so commonly taught versus the other weapons, as it seems like there is a lot of direct translation from the empty hand to bo that comes pretty easily to the mind.

If you've studied bo, I'd love to know your experience with the weapon, pros and cons!

Friday, February 27, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Must We Teach Self Defense Law?


Today's topic is about the law of self defense, and what we do when we teach the martial arts.

Each locality has rules regarding what can and can't be done in the name of self defense.  This can be very different from place to place - for example, between the states of Texas and New York in the United States.

This can be quite technical and tricky to navigate.

So, since we generally, as martial artists, teach self defense, I want to know your thoughts (if you do teach the legality, how you do it):


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GIFSET: 1975 Modern Arnis Demo

Back in November 2014, the Masters of Tapi-Tapi Facebook page posted archival footage of a Modern Arnis demonstration, understood to have been at the Long Beach Karate Invitational in October, 1975.

This footage is notable as most of us hadn't seen it before, and it also prominently features actor Dean Stockwell as one of the demo participants.

Yes, that Dean Stockwell.  The one in white.

There is another video, taken around the same time, showing various Modern Arnis techniques in a studio.

This video is fascinating, as it's a great look into the version of Modern Arnis Professor Remy Presas was teaching in the early-to-mid 1970's.  You can see a bit how things have evolved - and how things really haven't changed that much at all.

I decided to take some of the best parts of these videos and make them into .gif files, so that they're easier to share.  So, please, feel free to download them and use them in your own social media efforts.  Enjoy!

Double Sinawali

Single Sinawali

Empty hand vine with a trap and punyo strike to the head

Supported block, pass, and beat the hell out of the guy!

Dip the tip vine to the lock

Another vine with the empty hand

Dean Stockwell Redondo with Bolos

Dean Stockwell Reverse Redondo with Bolos

Two vs. 1 weapon sparring Professor vs. Stockwell

More sparring, Professor vs. Stockwell

Professor moves Stockwell around the floor easily!

Sparring two vs. 1, with punyo inserts and "pokes"

Two vs. One drill, with pokes

Prof takes one guy down, engages another

Disarm vs. #1 and #2 strikes

Classic block, under the arm throw to the ground with the cane

Disarm against overhand #12 strike

Another disarm (a favorite) vs. a #12 strike with follow-up

Nice disarm against a #2 strike, with knee

Blocking with counter-attacks, using arco/doublete/abanico strikes

More block with follow-up, with arco strikes

Disarm against a bolo to armbar and some funny business on the fingers

I am also sharing these via my Tumblr.

Finally, one more look at Dean Stockwell - I'd love to see if he plays with anybody today!

Image found HERE.

Monday, February 23, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Jeet Kune Do Nederland - Defense against a swing


Today I'm featuring Jeet Kune Do Nederland (Michael Lemette) and a really simple self defense technique against a swing.

I'm featuring this today, mainly because he and I are in different FMA lineages, but the strategy is still basically the same!

 This technique is nearly identical to what we call the #1 Combative Response (from Kombatan) that we teach our white belts.


Click here if you can't see the video.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

KIAAA-HA! Mr. Bean Snickers Kung Fu Commercials

Just a little bit of funny today.

I don't generally watch broadcast TV (and I don't have cable or satellite tv) so these ads are new to me.  I just had to include them on the blog, because they made me laugh out loud.  Enjoy.

 Click here if you can't see the video

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Myth of Realism

One of the debates we get into in the martial arts is how "real" our training is, and thus, how well it will translate to real life situations.

One way we measure this in how intensely we train, how "alive" we train.

Well, it's aliveish...

Some arts, such as BJJ, boxing, muay thai, and other competitive sport-like arts are well recognized for being "alive", with resisting opponents. Others will pad up and go full-bore as hard as possible, starting from day one.  Most folks agree that this sort of training is as realistic as it typically can get.

But it's not perfectly realistic.  Most people bring up the "rules" factor, but I don't think that is the problem.

The main missing component is intent.

The goal of winning a fight is different than the goal of seriously injuring or killing someone.

Unless you are a sociopath or a sadist, you won't ever attack training partners with intent - that is, with the commitment to cause serious injury or even death.  There is always going to be a part of you holding back, because you are a good person and don't actually want to hurt your training partner seriously.

Surprise Knife Defense Training!

I don't know about you, but I have no interest in training with sociopaths and sadists.

Even if we are not damaged in some way, it's not easy for many of us to replicate the thief, the rapist, the guy looking to mess somebody up - in our training environments.  We try, but in our hearts, we don't have the same mindset as a real bad guy.  We just don't.

So when we are talking about who trains "alive" and with "realism", we must always keep these two caveats in mind.  We can't perfectly replicate intent and the true bad guy mindset.

We do the best we can.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Same Language, Different Accent

I've been fortunate to live and work all over the United States, and one thing I've noticed is the little variations in word choice that makes a local accent what it is.  We all speak English, but it's the little things that makes an accent.

For example, I'd never heard of referring to an interstate highway as "The 22" until I spent time in southern California and Nevada - it's a thing of theirs that I haven't heard in other places I've been.  And there is of course, the well-known word choice of a soft drink being "soda", "pop" or a "Coke".

Image found here, along with lots of other cool info on American regional dialects and related topics.
It turns out that training with different groups within the same basic art has the same sort of differences as regional dialects.  Much of the language of the art is the same, only with different accents, both verbal and physical.

Recently I attended a seminar in which the instructor is of the Modern Arnis "family", but a different "branch" than the one I originally come from and generally train in.

Much of the content covered I was somewhat familiar with, however, it was done slightly differently than the way we do it.  Not enough to cause me too much trouble, but enough that I had to think about it a bit.

Sometimes it was a different terminology, sometimes, the rationale behind what we were doing was a little different...

But it was still the same language of Modern Arnis.

All of us descend from him, regardless.
Image found here.

I imagine different lineages of other martial arts must be similar - same kata (perhaps performed slightly differently), same sets of techniques (maybe with different names or applications)... but it's still the same martial art.  It's still the same language.

It got me thinking - at what point do these "regional" variations end up becoming a new martial art? Is this how different branches of martial arts split off in the first place?  Gradually, like languages change over time until they don't sound like the parent language at all (see English and German).

What do you think?

Monday, February 16, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Goju-Shorei Weapons System: Hook or Crook


Today's video features techniques from the Goju-Shorei weapons system.  Mr. Stick Chick is studying this system with Sensei Keith Freeman at Freeman Martial Arts.

The system features the walking cane, but also utilizes knife and fan (closed).


Click here if you can't see the video.

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Tapi Tapi with a Twist


Today I'm featuring a video from +Kempo Arnis.

Yes, this is a bit in demo mode (they are mostly in flow, so of course they both know what's happening) but what I enjoy about it is that it's showing how you can use Tapi-Tapi as a foundation to train inserting all sorts of things in flow, including kicks and throws.

It's a great example of how to take Tapi Tapi into the next level - and to make it your own.


Click here if you can't see the video.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why Do I Keep Training?

This post is part of the Martial Arts Blogger Network  project where all participants write a post on the same subject and we all post on the same day.  The subject is "What motivates me to continue practicing my martial art?" Links to the other blogs posting on this subject today can be found at the end of this post.  Also - there's a curse word in here, if your eyes are delicate, be warned (and why are you reading my blog anyway?)

I'm a middle aged, somewhat overweight woman living in as safe a place as anybody else in my country, which is pretty darn safe.  I'm pretty aware of my surroundings, I avoid bad places (especially by myself).   My personal risk is generally very, very low.

All things considered, I really don't have to train in the martial arts for my personal safety, or even for my health and fitness. There's lots of activities that will serve those purposes without me risking injury every time I do it.

Not acquired doing yoga.
So why do I do it?  

Let me tell you a story.

When she was about four years old, my older daughter and I spent the first really nice spring day of the year (after a cold and snowy winter) at Penguin Park.  She was one of the youngest kids there that day, and the older kids were being awesome by playing with her, and generally speaking, it was about as joyful a day as a four year old can have.

Waiting in line for the elephant slide, my angelic, blond-haired little bundle of sweetness looked at me, literally quivering delight as only a four-year-old can, and yelled, "MOM!  THIS IS SO FUCKING FUN!"

Mommy's Little Sailor.

Like my four-year-old on that long-ago spring day, that's pretty much what I feel like when I am training.

It's just so fucking fun.

What I do is incredibly, stunningly fun. You can't do what I do without cracking a smile, you just can't.

The empowerment  you feel when you get good enough to block a hard incoming strike...

The elation of being able to play tapi-tapi at speed...

The thrill of pulling off that lock or trap, or that disarm at speed when your partner doesn't expect it...

The pure joy of when you are able to pull off a technique against one of the biggest people in the room...

On the inside: "WHOO HOOO!!!"
Even though I get all the things I get from training - self confidence, friendships, peace of mind, help with life-long insomnia, exercise, something for my husband and I to do together...

All of those benefits are less important than the simple fun of it all.

That's what keeps me coming to class, going to seminars, and playing around in our home dojo.

That's why we want to make it our profession, some day.

Who wouldn't?

INDEED.  *insert evil cackle here*

 So why do you train?  Let me know in the comments - and check out these other bloggers on this very same topic!

Joelle White at A Beginner's Journey: What Motivates Me To Continue?
Brian Johns with Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts Centre: What Motivates to Keep Practicing Martial Arts?
Katy Garden at Mae-No-Sen: Love of Martial Arts
J Wilson at Martial Thoughts: What motivates you to take martial arts?

Friday, February 13, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Should Kids Be Taught Weapons?


Today's topic is about kids and weapons techniques.

For the purpose of this discussion, I'd like to exclude the flashy XMA performance type weapons.  I think most of us don't mind if kids are learning to dance with toothpick bo and aluminum kama. While theoretically dangerous, they're really just props.

 I'm talking about the stuff that can actually hurt or even kill someone, like real Kobudo weapons, sticks, and knives (of course, the training version, but still...).

Some folks reserve these things for older kids, if they teach them at all.

Some do not.

But I want to know what you think.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

GUEST POST: Cliff Tutor with the Jab

Today's post is the introductory post of a new guest poster, Cliff Tutor.  Cliff will be posting from time to time on a variety of martial arts topics.  You can contact him directly at  Cliff resides in the Memphis, TN area.  Welcome, Cliff!

Hi guys! Jackie has invited me here to try my hand at writing a blog, which I've never done by the way, and to give a little empty hand perspective.

So, my name is Cliff Tutor. I started martial arts back in 1989, though I was a martial arts junkie even before then.

I started out in Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwan Do and after a few years began Muay Thai at the same facility under master Sweeney. After about a year and a half of that, we moved and I began to take boxing classes and Greco Roman wrestling.  So far I had learned quite a bit, but I wanted more.

I had always had an interest in Kung Fu, perhaps from countless hours of chop-socky flicks, and so I began looking towards Chinese arts. I dabbled briefly with Long Fist, Northern Mantis, and Wing Chun, from a student of Augustine Fong. It was during this time that I discovered Jeet Kune Do. It was a style built for me,and I've been there ever since. That's been about 13 years now.  In the last year I've been incorporating crazy monkey defense into my JKD well as Brasilian Jiu Jitsu.

Overall, I'm a striker first. That's my specialty; it's what I love. As such I thought,what should my first blog post be? Well, if I were teaching a student, it would be the jab, so that's what I've chosen. The jab is the midst important hand strike.

There's a multitude of ways to work the jab, each with its own benefit and purpose.  There's the feeler jab, the safety jab, the double or triple jab, and the stiff jab, to name a few. 

A good jab requires that you be relaxed. Tense muscles slow action, and the jab should be your fastest strike. Its power comes from speed, proper mechanics and alignment.

A good jab should follow the same kinetic chain as any other punch, starting at the feet. However, there are times when it will not, but for good reason - usually for interception or timing purposes.

The jab generally should travel from the feet, through the hips, and shoulders, and should whip at the end, like cracking a whip. This snap is often the difference between a decent jab, and a great jab.

The jab should also travel and end at the center line. This protecting your center as you strike and, ideally, should strike your opponent at his center line.

So now that we've gone I've the basic mechanics, let's talk strategy and usage.

Right and wrong mechanics. Image found here.

The must common jab is the feeler jab. You see this all the time in boxing. Two guys enter the ring and the first two rounds, the majority of there punches will be jabs. It's used to determine and maintain distance, as well as speed and timing and reflexive natures of the opponent. You're "feeling them out".

Once this information is determined, the feeler jabs usage goes down and is replaced with other jabbing methods, such as the safety jab.

The safety jab can be a loose jab, or a stiff jab, depending on what your goals are.  It is used while on the move, to occupy the opponent and cover your movement.

Safety jab. Image found here.

The double and triple jabs, are just as their respective names imply - two or three strikes in succession.

These are used to find openings in an imminent with a strong defense, where one jab may not be effective and this is also used to disrupt a counter fighter. These are great tools for breaking rhythm, and I'm a firm believer in that if you aren't hitting, at least keep the other guy busy so he's not hitting.

As for the stiff jab - I chose this one last because it can be interspersed among the other methods. The mechanics are very similar to the mechanics of any other jab,  with just a little forward lean towards the opponent added to it just before impact. This adds more weight and momentum to the strike. This was a knock-out punch for Muhammad Ali.

Stiff jab. Image found here

By learning these different jabbing strategies,and by developing a good jab with good form, then you can easily begin to tie in other techniques,using the jab to setup, open or close a combo, and greatly improve your empty hand game.

I've had fun with this, and hope it was both enjoyable and informative for you.  I can't wait to hear some feedback. Thanks!

The opinions of guest posters are their own, and I don't always agree.  I prefer the jib-jab myself - the Stick Chick

Monday, February 9, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: GM Ernesto Presas Jr.


Video of GM Ernesto Presas Jr. of Kombatan has been making the rounds on Facebook lately, so I wanted to feature him today.

I like the way he moves, and how much energy and power and footwork he puts into the simplest sinawali.  This is how sinawali really should be done.

I hope he comes to the US some time so I can attend a seminar of his, because I think it'd be a lot fun!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Creature of Habit

This year, I'm going to a LOT of seminars, and I'm taking Kobudo once a month, too.

Thus far, in January, I attended one seminar (MAPA 4), one unit of PAC, and one Kobudo class.

Next week is Kobudo (and another seminar with Dr. Hume), and in just few weeks after that, I attend IMAF Winter Camp in Houston.

Once thing I've realized thus far: as much as I enjoy these seminars and the Kobudo class, I really miss my normal day-in, day-out training routine.

One unadvertised benefit of seminars: free hugs from strangers!

I am one of those people who like to think ahead, to anticipate what's coming next, so I can be prepared to cope with it.  This is being "future oriented", as opposed to "now" oriented or "past" oriented.  I wrote a bit about this here, noting the downside of suffering insomnia as a result.

I also prefer having a set routine of daily living.  This helps the future-oriented mind, as I only have to pay a lot of attention to things that are out of the ordinary process of living.  It gives me less to anticipate, so it helps calm the brain a bit.

I know it's a little weird, because Arnis in its purest form is not very routine at all. At the skill level I am at in Arnis, this anticipation is something I am working on developing, and I need to learn to deal with chaotic situations in martial applications. 

But man, I am such a creature of habit in my daily life.

My weekends have, for the most part, been far removed from my normal routine.  As a result, I'm having having more insomnia on non-training days.  I get to sleep ok, but I wake up a lot during the night, as my brain switches on and decides to think about the trip to Houston next month or how much we are going to do for Datu Dieter Kn├╝ttel's two-day camp we're hosting at the end of June.

My brain thinks it is critically important to think about a
social media plan for an event five months away at 3:30 am.

I've also been struggling with writing, so I apologize if new content hasn't been up to the standards I want to keep here.

While I am definitely having fun and learning new things in these seminars, I am looking forward to getting past early March, as the regular routine will hold until early May.  Maybe I can get some solid solid sleep, and maybe I can get past my writer's block.,,

Do you prefer routine?  What are some of the ways you cope with disruption (even for a great reason)?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THAT GUY: Seminar Edition

Today's post was written mostly by +Kevin Bradbury

Kevin at MAPA 4

As you know, I've been going to a lot of seminars this year.

Seminars usually involve going into a room full of strangers and learning new martial arts techniques from people you don't know and trust.   It is very easy to make a bad impression on your fellow seminar goers.

Here's some tips to make sure that you don't become THAT GUY that they all talk about after the seminar is over (and not in a good way).


You’re going to be touching others, being touched by others, grappled by others.  Bathe, wear clean clothes, and use deodorant.  And wash your hands after using the restroom.  No one wants to partner with the stinky guy.  If you’re unsure if you are the stinky guy, that means you are the stinky guy.


If you disagree with a technique the presenter shows, or you do it a different way, keep your mouth shut.  Just because it does not work for you or you do it differently does not mean it won’t work for others.  Have an open mind too.  Don’t be that guy who goes just looking for reasons to disagree.


Mix it up.  When it comes time to partner up and work on a technique, switch partners.  Working with a variety of people will help you get the most out the training opportunity the seminar presents.

Introduce yourself to people.  Seminars represent a great chance to expand your personal network.  Yes, literally walk up to a stranger, smile, and say, “Hi, My  name is Tim/Tina” and see where it goes from there (ED NOTE: Use Tim/Tina only if that is your actual name. Otherwise, that's really, really weird).  Yes, a few people will be stand-offish but most will be grateful  you  made the first move and will be happy to make your acquaintance.  I know, I know, we’re all a bunch of badass martial artists but we still want friends.


If it is another MA school, respect their rules about shoes on mats if they have them and don’t go dropping weapons on their nice new bamboo floors. Remember, you’re a guest in someone else’s house.


Temper your expectations.  Seminars in your style may have a different format than other styles.  There may be differences in length, more talking, less talking, more structured, less structured, etc.  Just because it is a different format than what you are used to means it is a bad format.

Do you have any tips for avoiding being "that guy" at a seminar? I'd love to know!

To see all of the THAT GUY posts, click HERE.