Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Disruptions and Recombobulations

A little personal issue going on right now - found out a few weeks ago I have to move by the end of this month, and today is the day I'm actually moving (found our new place the day after we were told we have to move, so it's all good).  I'm moving less than a mile, so it's not too horrible.

This times ten thousand (or so it seems).
Image found here.

As a consequence, I haven't been able to train as much as I need or want to train.  Packing and the details surrounding the move - plus all of the academic end-of-year activities for my kids - has a higher priority at the moment.

In the middle of all this, I also got sick, too.

Yes, let's fire that up for the poor ol' Chickie.
Image found here.
So, there's consequences to this.

First - not only am I in an incredibly stressful period, but I don't really have much time to engage in the one thing I know for sure helps me cope with stress - doing the martial arts.

Second - my insomnia is back with a vengeance (I wrote about how the martial arts helps me with insomnia here).  My brain is running over all the variables in this move and it's hard to shut it all down at night.

Third - it's only a few weeks but I can feel that new bo form I just learned receding in my mind.  I do practice it mentally - visualizing each step - but I've gotten stuck about half way through and can't remember how to get past this one part.

That sucks.  Hard.

But life happens, and realistically, training disruptions like this do happen and will happen.

All we can do is cope with what we can't control, stay on top of what we can, and come out the other end.  Yes, I'm all discombobulated right now - but there's a recombobulation area on the other side...

This is a real thing at the Milwaukee Wisconsin airport.  I've actually seen it.
Image found here and read about it here.

My "Recombobulation area" consists of the next two days off work to organize the new house and then on Saturday it's the next gathering of the +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance.  After that, life resumes normally.

I desperately need some stick time, and a six-hour seminar will do nicely.

I also plan to ask my teacher to review the new bo kata with me before my next formal Kobudo session so I don't look like an idiot (well more than usual, anyway).

How do you cope with interruptions in training?  How do you get "recombobulated"?  I'd love to know!

(I won't be back online until tomorrow some time, so I'll be intermittently checking things on my phone - so be patient if I haven't responded - thanks!)


Monday, April 27, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Modern Arnis Empty Hand Drill

IT'S MOTION MONDAY!

Today's video features a really fun empty hand drill set from Russia.  Drills like this are really fun, especially when you get experienced enough to let them free-flow (versus "scripted" patterns).

You learn to spot different angles and directions of attack in a very fast-paced way, with lots of repetition.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

AWESOME Fight Scene - "Daredevil"

If you have Netflix, I'm sure you are watching the "Daredevil" series there (and if you're not - what is wrong with you?  Get on it - it's excellent)!

Image found here

I admire the fight choreography on this show very much as it's a refreshing departure from the heavily stylized fighting styles we've seen in other shows and in movies.

Fights in "Daredevil" are brutish, simple, incredibly violent and mostly in close range.  Weapons of convenience are used to very great effect.  Knives are shown for being the horrifically dangerous things they are.

Here's a scene that most people who've been watching rave about - and they're totally right.  The choreography and the camera work is superb (it looks like one long shot).  The fact that the participants get hurt and pause to catch their breath and as it goes on, the moves get sloppy... it's just a wonderful scene. Very well done.

Read an interview about how it was filmed here.  I totally agree that it reminded me of "Oldboy" - if you've seen that film, you know which scene I mean.

Enjoy!  If you can't see the video, click here.


Friday, April 24, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Visitors Making Corrections

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic was suggested by blog reader (and Twitter friend) Terry Crotinger.  Terry has suggested several good topics, so I'm grateful!  Thanks!

Here's the scenario:

You're visiting another school during a kids class which is rather large.

While the instructor is engaged, you observe a group of students engaging in unsafe behavior - let's say that they are doing something that could get them hurt while they play around.  The parents don't say anything and the instructor isn't seeing it.

Do you speak up?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Enough with Sensei Scumbag's Shenanigans!

This is a long one, but there's a lot to say on this topic.

Sensei Scumbag is up to his shenanigans again. Oh, not just one particular Sensei Scumbag - a  host of them, it seems.

Image found here.

The latest case - and it's just the latest case we know of - of a martial arts instructor abusing his position and sexually harassing his female students has come to light in Texas.  This time, it was a well-regarded teacher of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Read about it here: Prominent Houston BJJ Black Belt Instructor Steps Down

But this isn't new in the martial arts. Here's a few examples from just this year that went into criminal charges:

Here's a TKD instructor in Maryland.  Here's a "karate" instructor sentenced to prison for the same thing just this month. Here's another winner, already charged with sexual abuse of minor and is now charged with witness tampering. And one more, another from Texas.  And this was just the past few months with a cursory Google News search!

UPDATE: And ANOTHER, the day after this post originally published: Norman OK Jiu Jitsu Coach Charged with Attempted Rape, lewd acts

UPDATE:  One more, this time in Austin (Jan 2016): Lakeway martial arts teacher accused of sexually assaulting female student.  Article has some great tips on spotting what predators do to isolate their victims, so it's worth your time to read.

UPDATE: Another one, in Miami (Feb 2016): Miami Taekwondo Instructor Accused of Molesting Young Sisters

UPDATE: Another one (convicted), in Roakoke, VA area (April 2016): Vinton karate instructor guilty of indecent liberties with student

UPDATE:  Another one accused in Orlando, FL (June 2016). Karate instructor accused of sending nude photos to boy

UPDATE: Another one arrested in Renton, WA (Seattle) (Aug 2016):  Martial Arts Teacher Raped Student, Sent Others Videos

UPDATE: Another one in Rockford, IL (April 2017): Rockford man accused of molesting underage girls operates martial arts school

UPDATE: Another one, in my neck of the woods even (April 2017): Affidavit details McKinney martial arts teacher's repeated sexual assaults of student

Before we get too far into this, I want to say that I believe that women can be just as scumbaggy as men and I also believe that there are young men getting harassed (or worse) as well as young women. The recent examples just happened to be all men preying on young women in their care, with the notable exception of the update I added above in June 2016.

This is not a post to indict our industry, and I'm not claiming that it's more a problem in the martial arts than it is in any other endeavor. Bad guys take advantage of vulnerable people in all walks of life, all hobbies, all situations, and all sports.  Most of you reading this condemn this sort of thing, would never engage in this behavior, and wish you got to these guys first before the law did.

Because most of us are, in fact, good guys (and gals). The VAST majority of us are!

However, we need to face the facts that martial arts culture has some serious tendencies that make it easier for scumbags to operate than in other walks of life. Indeed, it may make it harder for us to spot and eliminate scumbags from our community.

Here's some aspects of our culture that I think makes this so:

INTIMACY AND TRUST

The nature of martial arts training requires allowing training partners into spaces you would never allow anyone other than a medical professional or a romantic partner to go in normal circumstances (see my post about trust here).  It is easy for some folks to interpret it incorrectly as something sexual when it isn't intended that way at all.  Heck, jokes abound on the internet on just that very thing.
This is the cleanest example I can find.
But the flip side of this, is that it's hard to prove it IS sexual when it is absolutely is intended as such.  Sensei Scumbag can hide behind "Oh, you're misinterpreting what I'm doing."  and make it YOUR fault. Or Blue Belt Scumbag cops an extra feel while rolling with you where he shouldn't, and you can't prove that's what it is (a deliberate gesture vs. a mistake).

Scumbags can very, very easily abuse the trust that's been built up in order to train properly, and it's hard for the rest of us to believe it to be what it is. We don't want to believe we have allowed a Scumbag in our midst and want to give the benefit of the doubt - that our trust, in this case, has been misplaced.

What can we do about it?

I want to quote what my friend +Sarah Carney said on my "Question of Trust" post, as it really rings true for me:

"We trained our volunteers to always ask their partners before they touched them, and to be encouraging without pressuring.  Like, it was 100% okay if someone just wanted to watch.  That's just where some people are at. We also trained the volunteers how to touch - not too hard, no surprises, keep it light-hearted.

We also slowly escalated the amount of trust we asked for. First it's just grabbing wrists. It's not until the end that we offered them the opportunity to have someone sit on top of them when they're lying on the ground.

We also let them choose their own groups, so they could be with their friends."

Cultivating a culture that has this level of respect in terms of intimacy is something we should strive for.  I also think that we should also encourage students to speak up - privately if necessary, and have several avenues for him or her to do so - if there is something that is making them uncomfortable.

We have to believe students and other martial artists when they say, "This feels sexual to me." and not ignore it or blow it off.

AUTHORITARIANISM AND SENSEI-WORSHIP

I think most of of us have a somewhat authoritarian culture due to necessity - the teacher has to have authority over the students in order for the students to learn. This authoritarianism is more rigid for some, and less for others, but it is still usually there in some way.  You find it to be pretty strong in arts stemming from Asia, especially Japan (Budo culture) and Korea.

This leads to a huge problem of when it comes to Sensei Scumbag.

The word of Sensei Scumbag is given the benefit of the doubt when it conflicts with a student's - much like a police officer's word has more weight versus those he's arrested or other witnesses. Students know this, so they think they have to have some serious examples of eggregious behavior before they'll be believed over Sensei Scumbag (and Scumbag knows this too - and counts on it).  So the student says nothing, or quietly drops out, leaving Sensei Scumbag free to keep on with his behavior.

And the truth is - I think the student is usually correct in this belief.  It is true that we will give much more credence to the word of person who's given years of his life to a martial art over some newbie who hasn't been on a mat more than a year or two.  Sensei Scumbag couldn't have done that - the student must have misinterpreted it, or maybe the student is angry at Sensei Scumbag and is making it up.

Heck, there are cases where Sensei Scumbag was caught, it became a criminal matter and was proven guilty in a court of law, and DID TIME, and people will still defend him and believe it couldn't be true because he was Sensei!

What can we do about it?

Authoritarianism is something we have to cope with - it's the nature of our culture.  But I think we need to do a better job of making sure that Sensei's word isn't law, and that contradicting him in other parts of life isn't taken as being rude or dishonorable.  We can't allow our students to believe that they can't speak up.

We have to accept that Sensei is just a guy like any other, and nothing magical about his title makes him some how better a person than anybody else and above reproach.

GROUP IDENTITY

Like many other organisations - sports and sororities/fraternities in particular come to mind - we tend to cultivate a group identity in how we train.  We use logos, emblems, colors, etiquette rules, and rituals, all intended to create a sense of belonging for each person involved in our martial arts training and to forge us into a group.
Group Identity when it's good.
Image found here.
This is a good thing and one of the more powerful things about our culture that attracts folks who may have a hard time "belonging" in other ways.  For some of us, the martial arts group we train with becomes our social circle, and heck, in many ways, a family.  Group identity is one of the ways we human beings survive - it is one of the most powerful emotions we feel.

The dark side of this dynamic is that it allows Sensei Scumbag to abuse students and the student will have a powerful incentive to keep his or her mouth shut - they do not want to lose their friends, family, and identity within the group.  Heck, they even don't want to lose the leadership and relationship with Sensei Scumbag (the version that doesn't abuse their trust, in any case)...
Group Identity when it's not so good.

We've seen this taken to extremes in famous cases of religious cults, haven't we?  We've seen it in several martial arts groups as well (here and here are some great examples).

This sense of group identity is incredibly powerful, so we don't want to believe that "one of us" is a Scumbag.  Something is either wrong with us, or with the student making the accusation, because our group leader can't be a scumbag, because by association - would that make US a scumbag too?

What can we do about it?

When a group's dynamic goes toxic, it can be incredibly destructive, as we've seen all throughout history.  But when it is positive, it is so incredibly powerful and emotionally uplifting and supportive, I don't think we can (or want) to eliminate that.

I think we just have to make sure our groups aren't insulated from those who will question what we do (that's another benefit of cross training and intra-school training groups) and we keep the idea that not being in the group doesn't make anybody lesser or unworthy at the forefront.

OUR VALUES MAKE US "IMMUNE"

Most of us teach some sort of "values" in our training.  Usually it's founded upon respect, honor, self-confidence, humility, persistence, and the like.

I think many of us think that this somehow immunizes us, as a culture, against scumbags.  If we just teach those values hard enough, often enough, or well enough, then scumbags can't get ever into position of leadership in the martial arts.


Well, the thing about scumbags is that they are very good liars. They can preach the values and pretend they follow them as long as it serves their purposes.  They also know that good people DO internalize and live those values, so it means that they can do what they want to us and we can't honorably retaliate if we follow those rules.

How many of those teachers above do you think talked about respect and honor in their classes?  I bet 100%.

What can we do about it?

We need to get rid of the notion that teaching moral and ethical values makes us immune. I'm not saying don't teach values and ethics, I'm saying let's not kid ourselves that it will remove scumbags from our midst or will fix them.  Laws and threats of jail time don't change scumbags either - your discussion about honor and humility on the mat isn't going to change them, either.

Here's two more suggestions I'd like to make in general.

1) Trust your instincts

This is no different than what we advise people to do in self-defense scenarios.  If it feels wrong or off - it is.  Don't doubt it.

This is especially true for women, as we tend to think we need to be 100% certain and be able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt in a court of law for us to do anything about this sort of thing (in order to avoid embarrassing the other person in case we are wrong).  You do not need certainty on the street.  You do not need it in the dojo either.

2) Don't Be Afraid To Speak Up For Others

If you spot behavior you think is questionable, say so!  Don't keep silent!  Yes, there may be a protocol to it, but for Pete's sake, SPEAK UP!

Image found here.

We have to do what we can to make it harder for Sensei Scumbag and his ilk to use our beloved martial arts for his disgusting purposes.  We aren't perfect, and Scumbags will still get through (they are very good liars, as I've noted).  But we can and should do more.

FURTHER READING AND BLOGGING ON THIS TOPIC:

Martial Arts Instructors and the Reality of Sex Offense

There's No Reason to Spend the Night at My House



Got any ideas for how we can do a better job?  I'd love to know your thoughts!


Monday, April 20, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Kombatan Sinawalis

IT'S MOTION MONDAY!

Today's video should be fun, especially for those of you who know play sinawalis but haven't seen some of the common ones taught in Kombatan.  My teacher has included all of these in our curriculum and I really enjoy them.

Note that Kombatan performs a very deep chamber (compared to some other styles) - I tend to chamber closer to this way versus a shallower chamber, mainly because, as you can see, as you speed up, the deeper chamber tends to naturally get shallower. This helps me avoid "windshield wiping" (keeping my hands out in front of me to be hit).

Enjoy!


If you can't see the video, click here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Form is a Form is a Form

In Kobudo class, we've just been taught Shuji no Kon Sho, which is an Okinawan bo form.  It's the second form we've been taught, after our organization's Bo Ichi.

Out of curiosity, I searched for other folks doing this form.

Wow, the variances are HUGE versus what I was just taught!  Here's just a few examples of this form:.


Click here if you can't see the video


Click here if you can't see the video.



Click here if you can't see the video.

+Martial Arts with Colman  also shared with me the version his group does, which I can't share with you here as embedding is disabled (but you can check it out here).

You can see that these are all the same basic form, but many of the little details are different - and these are three I picked relatively randomly.  None of these are identical to the version we have been taught in my class.  I don't have video of this - there isn't one online of someone doing it well, and I'm not about to upload a video of me screwing it up!

Hey, I just learned the basic moves - I'm haven't really even "learned" it yet.

A close approximation.

This got me thinking about forms.

In Modern Arnis, we have do forms, called anyos, We don't put the same emphasis on them that other martial arts styles do - in fact, some branches of our art don't bother with them at all.

We have tons of variance in how different groups do anyos, mainly because well, we don't necessarily require each of us to do it identically.  Our art is one that conforms itself to the player - so some of us do anyos in a more "hard" style, like karate or tae kwon do, but others do it in a "softer" style, like kung fu or tai chi.  That's why you can see five different people do "Anyo Isa" and you will see some very different interpretations - and that's okay by us.


The late Master Bob Quinn performing Baston Anyos 1-4.
This is the closest I've seen to how we do them in our school.
 Click here if you can't see the video.

But, I thought that the Japanese and Okinawan arts were far more conformist in this regard.  Yet, when you compare form to form you can see variances, some of them significant.

It just goes to show - no matter how we try, these changes are going to occur, naturally.  Maybe someone interprets bunkai differently than somebody else, so the move might change as a result.  Perhaps influences from other arts changes things. Perhaps, as I've written before (specifically here), it's a case of "The Telephone Game" changing things inadvertently.

As you guys know, I'm no fan of performance weapons (especially toothpick bo tricking), but even as someone learning "traditional" bo, I can't claim that the way I've been taught is indeed the most authentic or the most traditional.

I think we all have to be very careful when we start claiming our forms are "original" or "the most traditional".

What do you think?  If you're in a Japanese/Korean/Chinese (or other) art that uses forms, have you noticed these variances?  How do you cope with them?  Does it present a problem, or does anybody really care about these changes?  I'd love to know your experience!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Question of Trust

There's a lot of discussion in the martial arts world about how to get more people in self defense training, especially women.

The thing is, to study the martial arts, or to even attend a short self-defense course that has any physical component to it whatsoever, requires a whole lot of trust.

Asking potential students to allow people they don't know well to enter their personal space (much less lay hands on them in any way) is a really huge thing to ask - no wonder we often have such a difficult time convincing people that self defense training is a good idea!

Potential students don't know us personally, they don't know that we're good people who want to help them, and honestly, there have been enough horror stories and even criminal cases of instructors or fellow students taking advantage of students that it makes sense to be wary.

Pair up with this strangely dressed, somewhat angry looking guy I've never met before and let him grab me? TAKE MY MONEY!
Image by ajaywalia

I think this is somewhat of a blind spot for we experienced folks, mainly because we've developed a sense of trust in our training situations, even if it is with strangers.  There are rules - both written and unwritten - to martial arts culture that allows us to let down our guard and train.  But it's been a long time for most of us with experience to remember how incredibly strange and scary it at first.

In other situations, a person entering our personal space we do not know well is a threat (and rightly perceived as so).  When you think about it, it's pretty weird that we ask people to pair off with perfect strangers and allow said strangers to enter their personal space without even knowing their names - but we do this all the time.

We don't - and we shouldn't - give up "intimate" space lightly.  This is self-defense 101 in just about any other situation but martial arts training.

But at the same time, there's just no way to get around the fact that even rudimentary self defense training requires people you don't know well to invade your personal space.

So how do you do it?  How do you help new students in the martial arts or in self defense training develop the trust to train?

I'd love to get your thoughts!






Monday, April 13, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Bruce Chiu Modern Arnis Empty Hand v. Stick

IT'S MOTION MONDAY!

Today's video is an excerpt from an excellent instructional video by Bruce Chiu of Arnis International.  I've been lucky enough to study under Bruce and his student David Jones.

There's a wealth of empty hand v. stick material out there - this is some of the good stuff.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Handling Rank when Changing Schools

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic is about how ranks should be handled when one changes arts or schools in a similar art.


Consider this scenario:

A person who studied Karate has earned a Purple belt in their former school in another city.  Now they are entering a new Karate School with a different lineage, but is close enough that they do the same forms, have similar terms, etc.


I'm interested, in this specific situation...

How should this person's rank be handled in their new school?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

THAT GUY: The Full Cup

So you're working with the new guy on a technique.

The instructor has very carefully explained how it is to be performed, and you are trying to make sure you are following her instructions exactly.

As can often happen, you don't quite get the technique down on the first try.

The new guys says, "Here, here's how we do it", and proceeds to show a completely different technique, unrelated to what you are training.  You want to do it the way your instructor has coached you to do it, but your partner insists that this way - the way he already knows - is the better way.

Guess what - you've been paired with That Guy: The Full Cup.


I tried to come up with a metaphor using that spoon, but I got nuthin'.  Image found here.

The Full Cup is a guy who has lots of martial arts experience, but usually in another art or another school.  She spends a lot of time avoiding learning what your instructor has to offer, instead preferring to try to fit what he is being taught into the mold of what she has been taught before.

Whether it's the mechanics of a technique, a drill set, or a strategic choice, the Full Cup can't help himself but compare it to what he's already learned, and evaluate whether or not he will learn it based on that evaluation.

You'd think the Full Cup would just spend her time in her preferred art, and avoid cross training with other schools or arts.  I mean, she already knows everything she needs to know, right?  But nope, she'll strap on the white belt in your school, or pay to attend seminars, and do so without any intent to actually learn what is being taught.

*sigh*  He's right.  Dammit.

If you've trained for any amount of time, you've met The Full Cup - maybe you've even BEEN " The Full Cup"!  I'd love to hear your stories about it!





Monday, April 6, 2015

MOTION MONDAY: Guro Mike Pana - Filipino Boxing: Rolling Elbows

It's MOTION MONDAY!

Today's video features +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance instructor Guro Mike Pana of Bayani Warrior. This is an exerpt from one of his recent seminars, covering the use of rolling elbows in Filipino Boxing.

Enjoy!


Click here if you can't see the video.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Scaling the Martial Arts Cliff

I was thinking about my friend +Andrea Harkins post, "Why Women Fall Off the Martial Arts Cliff".  If you haven't read it, take a moment and do so - it's pretty important stuff.

My older daughter earned her 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do last year (read my parentbrag posts here and here).  She's in her early teens, and intends to be a "martial arts lifer".  Right now, she's added in training in fencing as part of her martial arts growth - and yes, I'm thrilled.  I think fencing is just downright cool.
Well, usually it's cool.

But as Andrea points out, there are going to be obstacles in her way, obstacles that might not be there for a guy with the same goals and of the same age.  There are TONS of young women in the martial arts (in many places, they're the majority these days), but I agree with Andrea - once you get into our age range - and I'm not much younger than Andrea -  the women are thin on the ground compared to the guys.

The truth is, once children enter the picture, women tend to be the ones who sacrifice and scale back their interests for the sake of the kids more often than men do.  I do not have this issue myself, but I know I am in the minority, speaking with friends who train and other women who pursue other hobbies as passionately as I do the martial arts.

For a martial arts lifer like Kidlet, if and when she settles down into family life, she's going to have to cope with this expectation.

I started the martial arts late - just shy of 40 - and kidlet was nearly eight years old when I began (and was in most of our classes - when she wasn't, she could easily amuse herself on the sidelines for an hour),  However - within the year... I became pregnant with our second child.

During my pregnancy, I gave up hard arts and for a time studied a bit of tai chi (and I still have an interest in it to this day), relatively casually.  My hubby trained in our garage from time to time with folks we'd met in the FMA's in the area, but did not attend a formal school. Once our second daughter was born, we took up training Arnis again, but only with each other, and only when our baby was napping upstairs.  When we had the opportunity to train independently (me in tai chi, him in Inosanto Kali), of course the other would take on watching the kids.

When we moved to Texas and sought formal training together again, it quickly became apparent to us, as we evaluated our options, that either 1) we would have to train at a rec center program because they are the only ones that offer child care for small children or 2) only one of us could train at a time.


I guess this would be Option 3?

We quickly ruled out Option 2, because we want to train together and the martial arts is just as important to me as it is to him. This is a key point - I love training as much as he does, and there was no assumption in our house that either one of us would give up something we love.

We ended up training at a rec center program, and we've been really happy with that ever since (and incredibly lucky that our art - which is relatively obscure - is being taught at a rec center in the first place).

The important part is this:  We made it a priority for both of us to train.

Here's what I think we can do to help women scale this "martial arts cliff"

1) We need to teach our daughters that they do not have to give up the martial arts when they become a mom. We have modeled this for Kidlet, and we will advise her to make this clear with any potential mate - that she's not going to stop training completely when children come into the picture.  Do not teach the expectation that when a woman becomes a mom, she is the one who sacrifices while the guy gets to keep training.

2) We need to teach our sons the exact same lesson.  I think it is not unusual for guys to really want their wives to participate in the martial arts, too, if it is their passion.  Make it easier for her to do so by making it a priority for both of you to train together, and even support her training without you sometimes.

Best two out of three - loser does dishes for a week!

3) Help parents solve child care issues.  This is a big one.  If you have a school, figure out a way to have inexpensive child care available.  Maybe a senior teenage student in another class can babysit.  Maybe some of the families associated to the school is willing to watch a little one during class.  If you want more couples and more adult women in class, solving this will remove a huge obstacle to training.

I want Kidlet (and our younger daughter) to be like Andrea some day, and for them to have a larger female peer group than Andrea and I have today.

What are some other ways we can help women keep training?  I'd love to hear from you!





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Best Laid Plans

This post is not what I'd planned for today.

I'd planned a funny April Fool's joke post, but circumstances proved that it wasn't going to be funny, and it might even be cruel.

So I pulled it.

I've been scrambling for an idea for today in its place, and honestly, every idea I came up with was either a cheap shot, completely unbelievable (none of you would have bought for a second that I've become the new Texas leader for Yellow Bamboo), or required way too much work to do in the time I have in order to make it work (I won't tip that one, because I may use it in the future).

No April Fool's post this year, sorry (and last year's post was so uber lame too... yikes that's bad).

I know, I'm so totally disappointed too.

Today is a great example of things not always working out the way we plan.

We martial artists are planners in our training.  We write "scripts" of how a violent conflict or a fight is supposed to go:

He does (x), I do (y), and then he does (z)...

We do this script-writing by necessity, in order to isolate techniques and responses.  Over time, we build combinations, and then, for many of us, we go to resistance training with sparring to test what we do, or other sorts of drills that are chaotic in nature so we learn how to spot and cope with a variety of incoming attacks and counter-attacks.

As I mentioned when I wrote about new students (here and here), people don't always follow the scripts we write in our heads.  I'm an Arnis player - I'm not going to respond to violent conflict the way a boxer or a BJJ player or a Wing Chun player would, much less an untrained person.

This is why we just have to cross train, even if it's just going to seminars outside of our own personal wheelhouse, if we are serious about self defense.  This is one good reason to work with the new students, to get a feel for what untrained people do.  We need to work with people who don't know - and won't follow - our scripts.

Paraphrasing Helmuth von Moltke: "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy."    In our training, we have to learn to be flexible, to fight the person in front of you, not the one in your head.

This is the deeper true meaning of this famous skit from "In Living Color" with Jim Carrey:


Click here if you can't see the video.

The students "weren't attacking the right way"!  It all went awry, because the so-called "master" couldn't work outside of the plan he had in his head.

Just as my plan today for this blog was sent awry at the last minute by an unforeseen circumstance, so can our own plans for surviving or winning a fight. 

How do you train to cope with the unexpected or when your plans go haywire?  I'd love to know!