Monday, November 30, 2015

THAT GUY: Bad Hygiene Guy

So it's time to pair up in class.

Unfortunately, you weren't fast enough to find a partner, and you get paired up with Bad Hygiene Guy.

It does, it really really does.
You already know who he or she is.  That's why, in every class, you work so hard to get paired with anybody but your school's BHG.  You'll happily take the King of the Dojo or Power Man or the Full Cup or Overly Macho Guy or the Philosopher ANY DAY OF THE WEEK versus being paired with Bad Hygiene Guy.

BHG can be the nicest, sweetest and most skilled partner on the floor, but...
  • Her gi may be stained and smells like stale sweat.
  • His breath smells like he ate something well past it expiration date right before class
  • Her hair is unwashed and greasy to the touch.
  • He doesn't wear antiperspirant or deodorant so as soon as you get into a headlock...
  • She takes off her socks and you can smell it from across the room
  • His feet are actually dirty, even if they don't smell
  • She never bothers to trim her fingernails or toenails (long toenails are EVIL when you train without shoes)
  • This is typically only applicable to female BHG... they don't wash their faces before class and like to wear tons of makeup off the mat, therefore if you get them pinned to you, you get to wear their  makeup on your skin or your clothes
It makes your training experience, as their partner, downright miserable.

I've heard of people doing this deliberately as a fighting strategy, mainly in the arts that are more combative and/or in grappling.  I say if you're doing this on purpose, then don't be surprised when nobody wants to train with you. It's hard to train and get better at your art if you can't get a partner because you smell like something died wrapped in your shirt or you repeatedly cut your partners with your nails and everybody knows it (and everybody does know it).

And we don't mean "funny ha-ha"
Sometimes it's not a matter of smell, it's a matter of dirt.  Dirty feet, dirty uniforms, dirty clothes, dirty skin.

I understand that some of us don't have the facilities necessary to be minty-fresh and clean for class.  Usually that involves people coming from a job or task that requires getting dirty straight to training. 

But for Pete's sake, wash off in the bathroom, carry a change of clothes and some deodorant/antiperspirant in your bag, and hell, even pack some of those sanitary or baby wipes to get the grime off before you ask someone else to train with you!

Bad Hygiene Guy, at the root of it, has zero understanding of how his or her personal cleanliness affects others.  BHG is just not thinking of the other people in the room they train with.  BHG might just be one of those absent minded people who literally don't realize that it's a problem, or they're just self-centered and don't care that much about it at all.

Either way, Bad Hygiene Guy is dojo poison.  If there is a BHG in the room, the instructors are obligated to address it, otherwise, they will lose the other students and only have BHG to train with.

And nobody wants that.

Tell us about your experiences with Bad Hygiene Guy.  Have you ever had to tell someone you train with to clean up their act - literally?  Let us know in the comments!

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 11/28/15

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  Attended an AMAZINGLY FUN seminar on panantukan and balintawak by +Datu Hartman.  So useful, so fun, a lot of cool little connections going on in my brain.
Sunday:  Chores and wow, I was sore from the day before!
Monday:  Attended Arnis class.  We worked on punyo entries used in tapi-tapi.  It was fun playing with the various methods - right on right, right on left, inside, outside, and how you get there.
Tuesday: MCA class.  It was a special topics class - that is, not normal curriculum material.  We focused on the panantukan material Datu Tim showed me on Saturday. I think we had a lot of fun!
Wednesday:  Pre-Thanksgiving prep night.  Watched "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace".  Grimaced at some of the sword work, but the fight between Qai Gon Jinn and Darth Maul is still awesome.
Thursday: Thanksgiving holiday.  Yes, I ate.  A lot.  Watched "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith".  Glad that's over, but just like in "Phantom Menace", I think there's some excellent fight choreography, and you can see each major guy has a different "style".  The last movie is the best of the prequels, except I find it very irritating that Kick Butt Leader Padme Amadala has been turned into a simpering weakling sitting on couches worrying about "Ani" for most of the film (just because she's pregnant doesn't make her suddenly weak and dumb, does it? Apparently it does, according to George Lucas). And don't get me started on an otherwise perfectly healthy woman suddenly dying of a broken heart.
Friday: Worked, watched "Star Wars: A New Hope". Ahhh, that's better.  It really does stand up far better than I thought it would - I haven't seen it in a few years.  Even with Lucas' "special edition" tweaks (and those effects he left alone), it's still a good looking and entertaining film.


I posted these posts of original content this week:

Monday:  Giving Thanks: My Teachers
Wednesday: Giving Thanks: Founders and Leaders
Tuesday: Giving Thanks: Students
Thursday: Giving Thanks: Friends and Family
Friday: Giving Thanks: Blogging

I am one grateful gal.  Thanks, ya'll.

Mid-Cities Arnis has a value of the week. This week was Loyalty - you can read about it here.


Nice video on use of the back hand gunting here:

If you're on Facebook, you often see ads or get approached to buy knives. There is a scammer taking people's money for inferior quality merchandise.  Please read my friend Don Roley's blog about it here: Buyer Beware!

FMA Informative is THE journal of the FMA's the USA.  You can read the issues online, or find old digital versions of FMA Digest (good stuff, people) at the bottom of the page.  You really should check them out HERE.

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


Today we get to have a "normal" Saturday of martial arts - Arnis class at Hidden Sword in the morning, and Kobudo in the afternoon. It seems like it's been a month since that happened - oh wait, it HAS!  Seminars, holidays and other things interrupt the schedule, and December will be just as bad.  I can't wait to get to "normal" in January.

We'll probably watch the best Star Wars film - "The Empire Strikes Back" - tonight, and then end tomorrow with "Return of the Jedi".  I am not looking forward to those Ewoks.

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Giving Thanks: Blogging

My week of giving thanks ends with thanking you - the person reading this.

When you write a blog - and this post makes my 332nd post - you're not always sure if your readers are going to react, much less whether or not they'll like what you write.  It's tossing your work out into the void, and seeing what resonates (if anything).

So when someone comments on a post, much less shares it, it's always a thrill.  I want you to know how much I love and appreciate it when you, the reader, does something like that.  Taking the time to like or share or comment is always, ALWAYS appreciated.

There are three people I want to thank by name who are particularly supportive.

+Brian Johns is the only regular blogger I know who practices the same (basic) art I do.  Brian and I have become friends through this endeavor, and I love having someone who not only speaks my martial arts language, but also speaks the language of blogging and marketing to talk to about this stuff (and other stuff too).    He's a great guy to bounce ideas off of, a wonderful sounding board for ideas on what to I write here and how to promote it, and I get to get really geeky on Arnis topics too geeky for the blog.  Thank you for your friendship, Brian, and I am so very happy to have been a small part of the success and growth of your own blog at Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts Centre.

+Joelle White is my #1 commenter.  She always has an interesting take on what I write here.  She's been supportive since the early days of this blog, and if I get a chance to get up to her neck of the woods, well, heck, Joelle, I'll even bring my white gi and take off my shoes.  Joelle is a busy woman, training nearly daily, and when she gets a chance, she writes at her blog A Beginner's Journey.  Thanks for all of your support, Joelle.

+Andrea Harkins is not only a martial artist and blogger, but she's a big-time writer and life coach too.  Andrea's blog has inspired many a post by yours truly, and she's kindly allowed me to contribute to the book she is currently writing.  Andrea blogs at A Martial Arts Woman.  Thank you, Andrea.

There are lots of others who are always helping, liking, commenting, and sharing the blog, but it's too many to mention and I don't want to slight anybody.  I hope you all know how much I appreciate your own work and your support of this blog.

Without readers and commenters, a blog is just an online personal journal.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it's cool that I've been able to make my personal martial arts world bigger thanks to all of you. I've learned a lot from all of you.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks: Friends and Family

Today I want to give thanks for the friends I've made in the martial arts, and my family's support of this crazy little hobby I've taken up.

I want to recognize our training partner Tomas Mendoza.  Tomas is a few ranks behind us at our teacher's school, and my primary training partner outside of my husband.  I love working with Tomas - he has a very precise and organized approach to the martial arts, and he's always up to learn and grow.  He's going to be a hell of a great black belt.  Thanks Tomas!

I want to thank the parents of the kid students at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  I want to specifically recognize the Serralta family.  You guys do so much to support the school, and I'm very grateful for all you do.

I want to thank the people I get to train with often here in at MAPA events here Dallas-Fort Worth (and Texas - not forgetting my friends down in College Station who make the drive on occasion).  They are too numerous to list here, but I wanted to let all of you know that I love seeing you, training with you, and appreciate what each of you have taught me.  Any time I get to hang out with you is something I look forward to.

Now let's talk about my family.  I've bragged on my immediate family (our house is NOT the one you want to break into, people) but I just wanted to thank them for supporting me, personally.  They are always the first to point out when I do well and to help me when I'm struggling.  It's awesome to know they have my back.

They are also very patient with this martial arts blogging hobby of mine, too!

My extended family (mom, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law...) may not understand why I've become so enamored of the martial arts, but they've all been 100% supportive.  Thank you, guys.

So tell me about the friends you've made in martial arts, or how your family supports your participation in this weird little hobby.

(And Happy Thanksgiving in America!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks: Students

Today I want to express my gratitude for my students.

I strong considered teaching as a profession at one point in my life.  Although I took another path for my full-time day job,  I still love the process of teaching and the connection it gives you with other people.

Students are the best teachers, and I have been taught by some incredibly awesome people.  Whether it was me showing someone how to do a sinawali pattern, or teaching someone a form or technique, or where I am today, helping lead our own school, helping out at a seminar... each interaction with a student is my opportunity to learn and grow in my art and as a human being.

I love the students who struggle to learn my art.  These are the people who are not naturally gifted physically, who aren't especially well coordinated, and who have to work three times as hard to "get" it.  These students have taught me so much about my art and what we do that I couldn't have learned any other way.

I love the students who come to my art naturally.  It is a joy to watch someone catch on quickly and be able to "play" in a short period of time.  They make what we do really fun.

I like working with kids.  Watching the gears turn and the lights go on as they master something is the best thing ever.  When one of them make a connection, such as spotting all the ways we do brush-grab-strike, you feel like jumping up and down in joy.

I like working with experienced adults.  Making the connection between what they already know to what they are learning is always a fun and educational experience.  They always have something to teach me, and that's a great way to learn about the wider martial arts world.

I like working with inexperienced adults.  This group is most like me - I did start late in life after all.  I admire the bravery it takes to take up the martial arts later in life. It's a real pleasure to help people most like me down this path.

I am so very thankful for every single person I've taught.  I've learned something from each of them, and it helps make me the martial artist I am.  Thank you, students.

So how has the process of teaching affected your life?  Tell me some of your favorite student stories. I have my favorite story written here - The Gift of the Difficult Student.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Giving Thanks: Founders and Leaders

Today I want to give thanks for the founders of my art (Presas Family Arnis systems), and the leadership that have affected me, personally, in my martial arts journey.  While founders and leaders in other arts have certainly influenced me - most notably Wally Jay and Jack Hogan - I am a full-time Arnis person, so I'm going to focus on that aspect of my training here.

First, the founders of the two systems that make up what my teacher has taught me - Remy A. Presas (Modern Arnis) and Ernesto Presas (Kombatan).

I am grateful that they did the training and research they did, that they created the arts they created, that they worked hard on recruiting students and training them to spread our version of the Filipino Martial Arts to the world.  I love what I do, and I don't know that without them, I'd be in the martial arts as deeply as I am.

Next, I want to thank the leaders who have influenced me, personally, in the martial arts. I've either trained with or attended seminar by each of the people I'm going to list.  This list is in no way a comprehensive list of the people who lead our arts, just the people who've influenced me directly but are not my direct teachers (I thanked them yesterday).  These are listed in chronological order of my training with them.

First, I want to give thanks to Bruce Chiu.  He is the man who teaches my original Arnis teacher, David Jones, and I've attended many seminars with Bruce.  He is the earliest influence on what I do, and much of what he teaches remains with me to this day.  If you ever get a chance to train with him, take it - you won't regret it!  Thank you, Bruce!

Next, I want to mention the folks at IMAF (International Modern Arnis Federation): Master Ken Smith, Master Chuck Gauss, Master Earl Tullis, Dr. Michael Hume, and my good friend Darren Dailey.  I've had a lot of interaction with these folks over the past year, and each of them had something cool to show or teach me that have influenced how I think about Arnis.  I am glad to know them and look forward to training with them again in the future.  Gentlemen, I am grateful to all of you for what you all do, and thank you for working with me.

I want to also recognize and thank a man I've only trained with once - Tye Bottling.  I regularly train with his senior student, Abel Martinez (and man, I'm so glad I met Abel - he's a fantastic martial artist and so very fun to play with!), and I finally got to meet him at an IMAF camp early in the year.  Tye, I loved partnering with you that single session at camp, and thanks for having lunch with me that day.  I really admire you and what you are doing, and you are in my thoughts often.

Another man I only got to train with once, but has his own organization and my husband trains with regularly, is Hock Hochheim. Hock organizes and simplifies the material so it's easy to learn and remember, and that innovation is important to how my teacher and my husband (and thus how I) teach.  Thank you, Hock.

I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to meet and train with Datu Dieter Kn├╝ttel this year.  Datu Dieter is just plain cool, and I love the way he and his organization think about, organize, and train in Modern Arnis.  It's logical and smart and I love to see that in my art.  Datu Dieter energized how we think about training and I am looking forward to another opportunity to train with him. Danke sehr, Datu Dieter!

Professor Dan Anderson has been a huge influence on my teacher Mark Lynn, and I finally got to train with him in September.  I love how Dan uses superior body mechanics to overcome pure physical strength - it definitely helps me (a short middle aged woman) overcome the disadvantage I have against taller, stronger people.  I was glad to meet him, train with him, and talk with him while he visited.  Thank you, Super Dan!

Datu Tim Hartman is someone who is incredibly smart and passionate about spreading the Filipino Martial Arts.  Datu Tim probably travels more than anyone I've ever met, and his contribution to the spread of our art can't be understated.  I like how he thinks about the art. Datu Tim cares, he works hard, he's always learning and growing, and that benefits not only me, but all of us.  Thank you, Datu Tim!

As I said, this no way a list of the important people in my art, just those who have touched me, directly, in one way or another.  I'm grateful for all of them.

Who are the leaders and founders in your martial arts life you're grateful for?  I want to know!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Giving Thanks: My Teachers

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States.  This week, I am going to write about all the things I'm grateful for in the martial arts.

Today I want to write about my teachers - the people who shaped me, one-on-one, into the martial artist I am today.

I have studied with many people in my relatively short martial arts life.  I've moved a lot, and it was sometimes hard to settle into an art or school when that was going on.  Every school and teacher I spent time with gave me something important, but I want to focus on my primary teachers, the ones I studied with for more than a month or two.  This will be in chronological order.

My first teacher, in the art of PaSaRyu Tae Kwon Do, was John Wade in Southaven, MS.  Mr. Wade is one of those upbeat, enthusiastic people that you typically like immediately.  It was at his school that I reluctantly first stepped on a mat and discovered, to my chagrin, that I'd finally found my life's calling at the age of 39.  I am grateful he provided me with that opportunity and the support to get going in the martial arts.

At John's school, the primary teacher is Darrell Kellner.  Darrell is really the one who taught me PaSaRyu, and it was under him that I learned how a class should be run, especially keeping physical fitness front and center. Darrell is a kind, generous and supportive teacher, and while I don't get to see him very often, I'm grateful when I do.  He's definitely a huge influence on me and someone we consider a friend.

It was also at John's school that I met David Jones, the man who changed my martial arts life.  It was David who introduced us to Modern Arnis (as well as Ryukyu Kempo and Kyusho).  David is a highly accomplished martial artist, and continues to act as a mentor and teacher to us to this day.

We moved away from Memphis, otherwise we'd still be studying with David and Darrell.

I only spent a few months in his school, but I am grateful for Christopher Folmar of American Defensive Arts Academy in Keller, TX (as well as his instructor, Oliver Martinez).  Sensei Folmar is an excellent martial artist and taught me how a well-run martial arts school operates.  He possibly has the single most successful rec center martial arts program in the world (it's huge) and he opened my eyes as to how it can be done, and done well.

When you see me refer to "my teacher" here on this blog, I am taking about Mark Lynn.  Mark took us under his wing and made us the martial artists we are today.  Mark is the consummate student, always approaching things with an open mind, always learning, always growing.  He has always helped us grow in any direction we wanted to, including supporting our getting Mid-Cities Arnis off the ground.  I was incredibly lucky when we met Mark (by chance!) and I'm very grateful we get to study with him every week.  If you ever get a chance to study with Mark, take it.

Finally, I want to express gratitude for my Kobudo teachers - my primary instructor has been Sensei Vivica McNeil, but also Sensei Michael Proctor and Sensei Keith Yates.  I'm really enjoying what I'm learning there, and I appreciate the perspective I'm getting from more traditional martial artists.

So now, dear readers, I want to know about the teachers YOU are grateful for.  Who in your martial arts life has made you who you are?   Tell us all about it!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Week in Stick Chicktivity 11/21/15

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y artsy goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  Taught ADE Self Defense class.  This  class focuses on awareness, avoidance, and escape (versus fighting).  I enjoy teaching this class - we are working on a new format for the new year, though, as we've done it enough times that we think we can improve it.
Sunday:  Caught up on chores, but I did play with my tonfa a bit.
Monday:  Attended Arnis class.  Very fun class, played some hubud-lubud.
Tuesday: Disaster struck!  Tuesday afternoon I had severe back spasms start up.  Stayed home on a heating pad.  I am so grateful that there are two of us teaching at MCA.  If it were just me I would have still taught class but it would have been bad news.
Wednesday:  Back issues continued.  I was miserable.
Thursday: Finally went to a doc. Got meds. Helped some.  Stayed home from MCA class.
Friday: Feeling a little better.  I did attend MCA Class but I was very careful about moving around - I have a seminar today and I want to be able to participate 100%.


I posted these posts of original content this week:

Monday:  Ronda's Loss is a Win for Women in Combat Sports (and the Martial Arts)
Wednesday: Dancing with the Martial Arts  

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday: In Defense of Performance Martial Arts 
Thursday: THAT GUY: The Philosopher
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Earning Rank Online

I also write for our school's blog.  This week's value was Respect for Others, and I wrote about it here.  I also reworked an old Stick Chick blog post and posted it:  When Mat Time is Family Time


Well, I didn't see much, as I was laying down on a heating pad for much of the week.  Coincidentally, +Ando Mierzwa posted about Back Pain in the Martial Arts so I'm thinking I need to blame him for my miserable week (just kidding, Ando).

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


Today is my last seminar of the year - with the awesome +Datu Hartman.  Info about it is here and if you're in the area, you don't want to miss this seminar!

Glad to see Datu Tim, but I'm sad to miss Kobudo class, though.  It's the first time I've done that (and something I try very hard to avoid, as it's only once a month with the group over in Dallas).

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dancing With the Martial Arts

Lots of martial arts performance videos making the rounds lately.  This one, in particular has been all over my news feed and private messaged to me several times on Facebook, usually captioned with something like "Little Samurai" or "Little Girl Sword Expert" or some such.

As someone who is working very hard on learning traditional weapons, as in "how to actually use them", it's really, really hard sometimes to see this sort of thing being called "martial arts weapons training" or the people doing this as "weapons experts".

Take this:

And this:

And this (the video is labeled "tomahawk" but those are kama - well, sorta):

And this:

All are very skilled.  I'm not doubting that for a moment - there is real skill and talent there.  However, they're not skilled in using a martial arts weapon. They're skilled in dancing with a prop.

Before I go too far here, I want to state up front that I'm not saying these people can't have skill in using a real weapon - they certainly may.  They just aren't displaying it here.

Folks, I've defended "Performance" martial arts here on this very blog (here) and I still stand by that post.  I promise, I get the value of it in the wider martial arts world.  But this kind of thing has become THE standard of what  "weapons" are in the martial arts, and is often held up as examples of people who are "tough" or "experts" in weapons.

No.  Just... no.

Look, take this bo tricking move here:

Yes, it's Taylor Lautner.  That one.
And take this baton twirling move here:

It's the same basic thing, but at least with the baton twirler, we don't get all the yelling and scowling (and honestly, she's pretty damn graceful and has a nice flow compared to Taylor up there).

Here's the deal: I was in flag corps (yep, with the band) my senior year in high school (before that, I was a cheerleader, staring in 2nd grade all the way through high school, off and on).

No, really I was!
See? Stylin' for 1985.
This was back in the day of these really long fiberglass poles that made your hands go numb because they shed fibers that would get in your skin.  We were thrilled when the school bought the aluminum poles that year (although we used both types of poles, as the fiberglass were longer than the aluminum). 

I did much of the tricking you see in these "bo" videos, albeit slower (longer heavier pole with one flag dragging it down even more makes it slower), usually in concert with marching to a medley of hit Broadway theme songs in formation with a bunch of other people in awful polyester uniforms in the blazing hot sun or freezing cold or rain, often on a wet and muddy field that sucked my shoes off while I was marching.

Not that I'm bitter.

I was in dance classes for much of my childhood, too.  There I was introduced to baton twirling and I tried a little bit of it, but it wasn't my thing (I can do a couple of basic moves I learned back then today).  I learned enough to know how difficult it can be and to respect the skill.

Yup, that's me. Sequins and spandex?  Check.
I know this stuff.  I've done this stuff.  I can argue that my cheerleading, dance, and flag corps experience helps me in the martial arts - and I believe it did (I wrote about that HERE).   But that doesn't mean that I had proficiency in use of a martial arts weapon before I started training.  I know that isn't true.

Martial artists doing weapons performance are demonstrating nice hand/eye coordination and physical fitness.   It is not using a weapon as anything more than a prop.  When you do this, you're not a weapons expert.  You're a dancer or majorette or a tricker.

Not. A. Martial. Arts. Weapons. Expert.

Apparently, people have a hard time determining the difference between martial arts dance performance and actual weapons expertise.  So I've created a checklist so that folks can tell which one they are looking at.
  • Would look perfectly fine if the person were wearing spandex, sequins and/or glitter vs. wearing a martial arts uniform?
  • If they were to actually hit something hard with the "weapon", will said weapon bend or break immediately?
  • Is the weapon at any time tossed high in the air and caught (one handed or both)?
  • Is the weapon tossed and caught behind the back?
  • Is the weapon exchanged from hand to hand behind the back while being spun or twirled?
  • Are they using a two-handed weapon (a bo, a jo, a Japanese sword) with only one hand for a significant portion the routine, um, I mean, "kata"?
  • Do they do a lot of high kicks and flips while holding a very long weapon?
  • If they are using a"bo", are their elbows held high and away from the body for most of the form?
  • If they call it a "bo" or a "bo staff", is it shorter than 5 feet?
  • Is the weapon silver, gold, shiny, glittery, or covered in reflective or rainbow tape?
  • Are they screaming?  A lot?  I mean, really screaming
  • Do they scream at long pauses in the routine, generally while posing with the weapon?
  • If they are using an edged weapon (sword, kama), do they ever grab. grip or twirl it where the edge is in contact with the skin
  • Do they spin the weapon on their palms, around the neck, around the wrist/arm, or around the legs/knees/ankles at any point?
  • Do they pass the weapon between the legs?
If you answered "yes" to two or more of these, most likely you are looking at a performance, people.

It's not a demonstration of martial arts weapons expertise.

If you want to see experts, there's plenty out there and it's not hard to find.  For example, +Martial Arts with Colman often posts some excellent quality weapons videos. But I'm going to close this with an awesome video of a young girl who is learning Japanese weapons - sword and naginata - PROPERLY.  This video was posted on Facebook by Jim Alvarez (here) and I am grateful to him for posting it.

See?  Real-deal weapons training is amazing and beautiful, and kids can do it too. This is awesomesauce and this girl is being trained very well.

Enjoy martial arts performance for what it is, and please, stop claiming it's what it is NOT.  Let's give real weapons training and experts out there the honor they are due, as well as enjoying the martial arts performance folks, too.

I'd rather watch a martial arts performance than "Dancing with the Stars" any day!  Every video I've shared in this post is something I respect and I enjoy watching.

There's room for both actual weapons training and performance, but let's make sure we understand which is which!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ronda's Loss is a Win for Women in Combat Sports (and the Martial Arts)

Everybody's talking about it - Holly Holm's knock-out of Ronda Rousey in UFC 193.

It was the primary topic in my social media (outside of the tragedies in Paris and Beirut) in the aftermath of the fight.  I don't want to break down why Holm beat Rousey.  Lots of people are doing that - my feed is full of such things right now.

But here's one nice breakdown I thought was interesting, from Dan Djurdjevic.  Note that he has a link to the full fight there.  The image below is from that post, and I just had to link it here.

Wow.  Nice work by the new champ.

Here's what I'm excited about - how AWESOME is it that a women's fight is THE talk of the martial arts world?  There were other fights on the card but this is the only thing on peoples' minds.

Rhonda Rousey's contribution to the world of women's sports, women's combat sports, and women in the martial arts can't be understated.  Her incredible streak of wins in the UFC, most of which lasted a minute or less, is the stuff of legend.  Others have trailblazed the path before her, but it was Rousey that made women's combat sports as acceptable to follow for male fans as well as female fans.

This fight was the top of the card, the biggest draw, the #1 anticipated fight of the night, maybe even of the year.  A women's fight!

Without Rousey, that wouldn't have happened. She is the right combination of skill, charisma, and timing to take women's combat sports to a higher level of awareness and fandom in the general population.

Now that she's lost, it's hard to dismiss Rousey as a fluke fighter only facing a division full of weak opponents.  It's hard to claim that only Rousey is a the only female fighter worth watching and following.  Holm broke open the gates when she knocked out Rousey, and she did it with skill and strategy.

Holm's win is not just for the UFC Bantamweight championship, it's for every woman who wants to work hard and rise in the combat sports. It also gives a huge push to the idea of women in the martial arts in general - that we can, with work and dedication, be very good fighters worth taking seriously.

It's a great day for women's combat sports overall.

Congratulations to Ms. Holm, and thank you, Ms. Rousey!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Week in Stick Chicktivity 11/14/15

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y artsy goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  MAPA 7.  I wrote about it on here on the blog (see below).
Sunday:  Caught up on chores that have gone without any attention for the better part of a couple of weeks.  I was nearly out of groceries!
Monday:  Attended Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  Our purple belts are working on sumbrada, so that's what I worked on, too.  I do love sumbrada!
Tuesday: Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We played a lot of hubud-lubud and introduced the "two bone block" (in conjunction with our Combative Response #2, the cross-body block and strike combo used in double stick as well as empty hand material).  We also talked about why blocking an incoming weapon with an open hand is a bad idea.
Wednesday:  Hubby's night at Arnis class.
Thursday: Worked on the 12 angles with "witik" (hit and retract) and "lobtik" (pull through) motions.  Then worked strikes - punches, palm heels, and a few others - on Bob 2.0.
Friday:  Review and stick sparring night at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Did some sinawali with the soft sticks - it's a great way to correct some bad habits (such as demonstrating why it's important to chamber and not leave your hands out in the middle to get them smacked!).

Bob and Bob 2.0.  Bob 2.0 ROCKS.

I posted these posts of original content this week:

Monday: Thoughts from MAPA 7: Same Picture, Different Angle
WednesdayWhy We Should Be Glad Rumblr Was a Hoax

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Kiaaa-HA! Mr. Bean Snickers Commerical
ThursdayKiaaa-HA! Kung Fury
Friday:  Face-Off Friday: Are Forms Obsolete?

I also write for our school's blog.  This week's value was Discipline-Practice, and I wrote about it here.  I also wrote up a MAPA report from our school's point of view, and you can read that here.


The Stick Chick Blog officially passed 100,000 total views on Friday.  Yes, I know what the counter says, but I had some weird spikes in traffic over the summer that were about 5K "bad" views (no way I got 2000 views in less than 10 minutes, right)?  That was a milestone I was really hoping to reach this year, and I did, so thank you, dear readers!

My blog post I'm Really a Black Belt! inspired this nice post over at the Budo Bum blog. I'm often inspired by all of the awesome martial arts bloggers out there, and I'm happy that my blog inspired his post.

Neat video of Esgrima Criolla, from Argentina In Spanish with English subtitles.

Here's an article from the National Football League about how martial arts training has become essential in today's NFL.  This is a great support article when you make the claim that martial arts training helps athletes in other sports (because it does).  Mixing in martial arts to improve on-field performance

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


Today we are teaching a four-hour Women's Self Defense class.  This class is very basic and is more focused on situational awareness, some very basic escapes, and listening to your instincts when they tell you that there is something wrong here.

I'm ready for Thanksgiving, but not for Christmas.  Are we sure we can't shove in another month in between those?

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why We Should Be Glad Rumblr Was a Hoax

You guys have probably heard about this app - it's certainly made the rounds over the last few days.

RUMBLR - the "Tinder for Fighting"

Screen Shot via the NY Daily News (link no longer available)

This started showing up in my Tumblr and Facebook feeds a few days ago.

People in martial arts circles started to get excited when this app appeared in our consciousness.  An app to set up real-life fight clubs?  To find ways to meet and square off against strangers?  Lots of people in our community thought it was a great idea.

First off, before we get too far, you guys should know that Rumblr was a complete fake.  You can read confirmation of it being a hoax here and here.  Turns out, Rumblr was basically a slam on the martial arts community (or at least, parts of it).  Eh, that's okay, we can handle that.

But we fell for it. It was a sensation online in martial arts circles.

People really were excited about it.  I, myself, signed up for it as a curiosity and yes, it existed sorta, but with just a few fake profiles.   It would not surprise me if, given that excitement, somebody actually tries to create this for real someday.

God, I hope not.

Because it's an AWFUL idea.


 Here's why:

1) Legal issues

Let's be grown ups for a minute, and realize that fighting outside of some pretty specific circumstances defined in law is blatantly illegal.  Those circumstances are usually in spaces like boxing gyms, dojos, sanctioned fighting events (like martial arts tournaments) and the like.

Most videos you see of people fighting online in real life are videos recording illegal activity.

Next, imagine what will happen when a skinny 18 year old untrained wannabe with big mouth and delusions of grandeur meets up with a strong, trained martial artist and gets his ass handed to him, maybe gets injured.

The lawyers would be positively SALIVATING at the prospect of Rumblr existing, people.  It was a lawyer's dream come true.

Wait, an app that helps people engage in violence with strangers? Great Idea! - Joe Blow, Attorney at Law

2) It wasn't going to be patronized by martial artists

Rumblr was martial arts/fighting fanboy bait.  It would have been populated by the same guys who think extreme back yard wrestling is a good idea.

Honest-to-goodness martial artists, with training, weren't going to put up with having to sort through the fanboys very long, and would have jumped ship very quickly.  There's just no way to keep those people out.

3) It was too dangerous for real life use

People on this app weren't going to be vetted in any way.  It's one thing to use Tinder to meet up for coffee, it's another to meet up for violence.

People willing to inflict violence on other people outside of having established proscribed rules are often sociopaths.  Who's to say they wouldn't kill their opponent, or bring buddies to help out in case they started losing a fight, or pull a hidden weapon?

In my opinion, that was far too much risk for normal people who enjoy fighting to take on.

In conclusion, I'm damn glad Rumblr is a hoax, because I could see a lot of people getting hurt and sued really quickly, and I'm not a fan of either of those things.

Do I think such a thing could be developed?  Theoretically, yes.  But it'd have to be vetted somehow, and it'd have to be in a sanctioned arena with rules to reduce the risk of injury and death, and there'd have to be a screening process of some sort.

Kinda like what we have today - with tournaments, martial arts schools, training gyms, etc. - but online... sure.  I can see that.

Rumblr was a very bad idea and I'm damn glad it was a hoax.

What do you think?  Tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thoughts from MAPA 7: Same Picture, Different Angle

MAPA 7 was a blast!   To read about prior MAPA events, click here.

Our school got to host it for the first time.  Usually the hosts are a part of the instructor rotation, but we decided to forgo that tradition (we're the newest school there, and we didn't feel like we had anything new to show them yet), so we had Bruce Jenkins of Moroland Martial Arts, David Beck of Beck Martial Arts, Abel Martinez of TNT Self Defense, and my teacher, Mark Lynn of Hidden Sword Martial Arts.

I'm not going to detail everything that was covered here.   Guru Bruce showed standard Modern Arnis disarms and some variants for follow ups, including traps.  Guro David showed redondo (or redonda), and how to apply it in empty hand.  Guro Abel worked on obstruction removal and follow-ups, including some nice chokes.  And my teacher covered one of my favorite topics, sumbrada (or shadow drills - some organizations call this the 6 count drill or 3-8-12).

The cool thing that occurred to me this time, is that each topic was very well known to me but each teacher had a different take on it what I already know. It makes what I already know deeper and more complete than it was before.

Take redondo. It was one of the first things I learned in the Filipino Martial Arts.  This is me, doing it on "four corners":

I have been doing this a long time, and while it's not difficult, it looks impressive, doesn't it?

We have another drill, off of single sinawali, nick-named "the pokey drill", where you insert a poke (for the Modern Arnis crowd, the #6 or #7 strike) and the other person defends against it. There's lots of variations of the "pokey drill".

But it never occurred to me in a million years to do redondo vs. that poke.

That's what David showed, and it was one of those moments... you know what I mean...

The whole seminar was like that.  Take something I know, and do something that didn't occur to me to do.

This is why MAPA is so awesome. Even if most of us come from the same common "ancestor" (mostly Remy Presas), each of us has a different take based on when we or our teacher studied with Professor, or the other arts we study and have incorporated into our Arnis.

It makes the picture more detailed, as it's coming from a different angle.

Speaking of pictures, here's some of me from the seminar.

Risking getting conked on the noggin is fun!

My teacher and I, working on a variant of sumbrada

One of my students getting coached on how to hurt me better

Me getting revenge on one of the coaches (Guru Bruce)

Aw hells naw, you did NOT poke that stick at me!

Guro David shows a wrist lock bonus on an arm drag.

Helping my student in sumbrada
 The next MAPA - MAPA 8 - will be in the winter (January or February most likely).  I'm not sure where it will be or who's hosting yet, but I'll keep you updated.

Seriously, if you are in the DFW area, even if you've never picked up a stick in your life, you're welcome to come to MAPA.  It's inexpensive as far as seminars go - $25 guys - and it's a great intro into the Filipino Martial Arts if you're brand new to it.

Oh, and that coaching that my student got above?


Tell me about a moment where you got a new perspective on something you know well, or about any cool seminar story you might have.  I want to know!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Week in Stick Chicktivity 11/07/15

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y artsy goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  Halloween.  No classes today at Hidden Sword due to a tournament.  However, my fellow Arnis students competed, and I'm proud of them! Oh - and my 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Sunday:  Celebrated my anniversary by going to an Adventure Park (post about it below), getting a massage and going out for Japanese Steak House.  Mmm.
Monday:  We were some hurtin' puppies after the park the day before, so I took it easy. Went and saw The Last Witch Hunter at the movie theater.  It was okay - I regret paying movie-theater prices to see it.
Tuesday: Mid-Cities Arnis class.  We started a new "Unit" of material - introduced Combative Response #2 and worked on block+check.
Wednesday:  Stubbed my toe and cut it pretty good, and it was hard to walk!  Stayed home to nurse my (relatively dumb) wound.
Thursday: MCA class.  Kept working on the same new material.  I spent half the class with my hurt toe propped up.
Friday: Review night at Mid-Cities Arnis and stick sparring.  We played some new sparring games including making one side fight ONLY defensively using "Dos Manos" (two hands) method, and we also used a (nearly) empty stick bag in place of a stick in this drill.  Very fun.  I actually wore shoes for about half the class, so the toe is better (finally)!


I posted these posts of original content this week:

WednesdayThis Weekend is MAPA 7
Friday: At the End of the Rope

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Pain and Joy
Thursday: Why Study Double Sticks At All?  (Revised edition - new stuff!)

I also write for our school's blog.  This week's value was Courage, and I wrote about it here.


The Mountain vs. the Viper in real life?  Things like this make me feel even more Hobbit sized than normal.

Hock Hochheim wrote up a nice discussion on various "interesting" knife grips that's worth your time to read: Terrible, Terrible Mistaken Knife Grips

+Eric Primm has an fantastic series on footwork on his blog (read it, folks, good stuff).  Here's the latest:  Footwork Friday: Combining Move Up the Circle

Not martial arts related...  I can't wait for January.  I'm a massive X-Files fan, and this has got me hyperventilating in (geeky) joy:

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


Today we host MAPA 7 - I'll write up a follow up on Monday.

Is anybody else stunned that it's November already?  It seems like we just got past July 4!

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Friday, November 6, 2015

At the End of the Rope

This post is not about the martial arts, exactly.

For my 25th Anniversary celebration, Mr. Chick and I decided we wanted to do the aerial obstical course with zip lines at Trinity Forest Aerial Adventures.

We saw forest AND trees.

Years ago, I did a (somewhat) similar activity in college, but it was more of a trust-building and team building exercise, and it wasn't high up in the air.  We were up for something different, and challenging, and boy, did we get it.

Before you go, there is a waiver and other paperwork you have to fill out (just like a martial arts class) that warns you that it's a dangerous activity and you risk injury, up to and including death.

Sign me up!

The temps were in the high 50's Fahrenheit, and it was raining at a pretty good clip. It wasn't severe weather, just a steady rain, but it wasn't too bad once you got into the trees.

When you arrive, they fit you with a harness and issue you a helmet and leather gloves.  Mr. Chick had a hard time finding gloves to fit (his hands are too large) and the "extra small" gloves were a little big on me.  Attached to the harness is a trolley (for zip lines) and a safety harness, which you use to attach to the safety lines throughout the course.  The neat thing about this contraption is that you use keys to lock in, and you can't remove yourself from any of the lines without first attaching it to another safety line.  So you're "always attached".

Our safety gear, is sexy, no?

They train you at first on how to use the safety equipment and how to stay "always attached", then they run you through a short course on the ground (including a short zip line) to get used to using the equipment.

Getting coached on how to do this without that "death" thing happening
You work a progression of courses - the beginner course (Yellow), two lower intermediate courses (Green), one upper intermediate course (Blue - there are actually two Blue courses but one was closed waiting certification) and one advanced course (Black).  Each course as you move up the difficulty scale increases the height as well as the difficulty.

We made it all the way through Blue, but we ran out of time before we got to the Black course.

The Yellow course was (relatively) pretty easy, but each Green course had some"elements" that were really, really hard.  Blue was very difficult.  I still wish we'd tackled the Black course, but hey - I'll get it next time!

Platform where all courses begin

Me crossing a rope bridge
The ladder to hell, aka, the Blue course
Pausing between elements
Bridges over the swamp
The upper levels are the Black course

It took us 2-1/2 hours to get through the courses we tackled, and by the end of it, you're really tired and sore (and yeah, it was worse the next day).

At one point, there is an element where I sort of fell and caught myself, and worked my way back up to discover I was on the "wrong" side of the rope (my safety line was tangled up and couldn't move forward).  I had to work my way back to the point where I fell and then correct myself to come through the "correct" side of the rope to get to the platform.

Even though I was perfectly safe, and I could have called for help, it definitely had a bit of a pucker factor and I felt the adrenaline dump of fear, lemme tell ya!

The thing about courses like this is if you can get through it, you feel very physically competent.  I felt strong and capable of being able to do anything, and that alone made the expense worth every penny.

So what did this teach me in the martial arts?  I learned that all the values we teach our kids in the martial arts - courage and persistence in particular - are totally useful in other areas of life.  I learned that my physical competence in the martial arts seemed to translate well to this activity.

I learned that if I could possibly do it on a daily basis as a supplement to training, I'd be SO HAPPY (this is WAY more fun than a gym, guys).

You should look in your area for something like this, and if you can possibly swing it, do it!  You won't regret it!

Happy Stick people in the Trees
Have you done a physical challenge course like this?  What did you learn?  Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Weekend is MAPA 7!

Mid-Cities Arnis gets to host its first MAPA Gathering, MAPA 7, this weekend - November 7, 2015, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

It will be held at NRH Centre in North Richland Hills, TX.  Address (and more about Mid-Cities Arnis) can be found on the MCA web site here.

It's exciting, because this is the first time our school has been able to host.  Usually the host school is included in the teacher line-up, but we deferred to the more experienced teachers in the group and are just providing the facility to train in this time around.

If you're local to Dallas-Fort Worth, and are interested in the Filipino Martial Arts, MAPA 7 is a great place to meet other FMA players in DFW.  We have players of all ages - including some kids - and all skill levels, from beginners to 30 year veterans.  Everyone is welcome to come and train!

For information about the past MAPA Gatherings:

MAPA 1 - The True Value of Cross Training

MAPA 2 - We Are Family

MAPA 3 - The Student is the Teacher is the Student

MAPA 4 - An Empty Hand

MAPA 5 - Trailblazing

MAPA 6 - Bigger Than It Looks

The MAPA concept has been working really well here in DFW, and if you're interested in getting the same thing going in your area, reach out and I'll tell you how we got it going (and how we keep it going)!