Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Too Sick, Too Tired

I came down with a cold or something on Monday and honestly, I haven't been able to do much other than work, come home, and lay in bed.

This throws a wrench into my training and teaching schedule, which is probably what annoys me more than anything else.  It's hard to even mentally practice, as my brain is not operating properly.

Well, that, and the blinding headache. And the lack of energy. And the cough.  And the achiness. And being so damn cold (and then so damn hot and then so damn cold)...



I'm grateful that my husband and I run Mid-Cities Arnis together.  I don't want to get my students sick with what I have, after all.

But so many of us don't have that choice.  My teacher runs our school by himself, for example, and when he had a pretty bad illness a few weeks ago, he had no choice but to shut down classes for a week and a half.  It's not always easy to find another skilled person to cover your classes, either.

So I want to know your thoughts on this.

If you're a student - how would you want a teacher to handle his or her classes when they are sick?  Should they still hold classes if they're sick (assuming it's something not, y'know, serious, but just a run of the mill cold or something)?  Should they cancel?  How do you feel about that as a student?

If you teach - how do you handle being sick and running your classes?

I eagerly await your comments.

*sniffles*  *cough*

Monday, September 28, 2015

Martial Arts Ruins Everything

A (mostly) true story.

On Saturdays, I spend most of my day at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  We have Arnis in the morning, and after that, if I'm not covering classes, I usually have some time to chat with the other parents, read and/or write before Kobudo class in the afternoon.

My oldest daughter was in the process of warming up a tae kwon do class, and my teacher, +Mark Lynn and I were talking to one of the TKD parents.

She's been working through reading the entirety of The Wheel of Time series and often has whichever volume she's on (there are fourteen) to read while her son is in class.  She's now on the last book.

I read all sorts of fantasy and science fiction (surprise), but I gave up on this series somewhere around book 6.  The books are the size of bricks (really, they could easily be weaponized), it has a huge cast of characters that it's hard to keep track of, it has a very complex magic system, a really convoluted world history, and there were pages and pages where nothing actually happened, the plot moves at a glacial pace, and I swear, if there's one more mention of that chick tugging on her braid as if it's significant to anything at all I was gonna have to start punching somebody...



Anyway.

Here's the cover of the book:

Image Found Here.
Mark comments that the artist obviously has never held or used a sword in his life, because if he had, he would not have painted this picture of this guy holding that sword that way.

I look at the image, and agree with Mark.

Mark notes the edge is up against the underside of the arm, and if that's supposed to be a block, that's not only going to not work, but you're going to cut your own arm with your own sword.  Also, that grip sucks because that block is going to pop the sword out of the weakest part of his hand if he holds it that way.

I then say that I hate it when people use long swords in reverse grip - it usually leads to "Conan the Barbarian" style twirling, and you guys know how I feel about that.

STOP.  IT.

Then, after finding out the character lost a hand, I note that holding it in reverse grip is especially dumb, because if you've ever tried to go from reverse to standard grip (there's a reason why it's standard grip, people) one handed, it's really hard to do with a short weapon. It's almost impossible to do it with a long weapon.

Then Mark notes that maybe that's where the XMA-style sword tossing comes into play, as that's the only reasonable way to switch to standard grip - he has to toss it in the air and catch it in proper grip.

And note that dude has more than one weapon hitched at his hip. If dude has to get to that (presumably) magic sword he's holding in a hurry, he's got a lot of risk of grabbing another weapon by mistake.

Yeah, we riffed on all this for about fifteen minutes.  All of this from one silly painting on a fantasy book that neither of us have even read, painted by a guy who made the image the way he did because it looks cool and that's all.

Martial arts ruins everything, man.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

MY WEEK IN STICK CHICKIVITY - 9/26/15

Another week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous martial artsy goodness.

What have you been up to this week?

TRAINING AND TEACHING:

Saturday: Covered classes at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  Did a lot of bag work (Arnis and TKD classes), a little stick fighting, and then myself and the three other students from Hidden Sword practiced bo for an hour in preparation for our test in October.
Sunday:  I attended a fantastic seminar with Dan Anderson.  I'm planning on writing about it this week.
Monday: Attended class at Hidden Sword.  Reviewed green belt testing material with a student (who did very well) and then practiced some of what we learned at the seminar.  Practiced bo.
Tuesday:  I had an urgent non-life-threatening medical issue with my youngest, so I didn't get to teach class.  Practiced bo.
Wednesday:  My day to stay home with kids while hubby went to Arnis class.  I practiced bo for an hour.
Thursday:  Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked on palis-palis (empty hand and with a stick), a bit of striking, and Combative Response #1.  Ran through bo quickly.
Friday: Review night at MCA. Also did a bit of stick fighting at the end of class - they're loving it!  Ran through one set of all of my bo material.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

I posted two new posts of original content this week:

Monday:  In Search of the Professor
Wednesday: The Value of Slow

By the way, today's post is the 300th post I've published on my blog.

I re-shared three posts:
Tuesday: KIAAA-HA!  The Saga of Diemon Dave
Thursday: Productive Playtime
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Instructors Dating Students

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

My friend Jay Penfil shared some awesome videos about the use of tonfa.  Given I'm starting the study of tonfa in a few months, I really find it very useful - nary a twirl to be seen.  Here's just one, but there's a bunch more worth your time on their YouTube channel, found here: Michigan Martial Arts Project



A post of mine from this blog that I repurposed for Mid-Cities Arnis was published in the latest issue of FMA Informative Newspaper.  Also there's a great article about MAPA 6, several items from +Brian Johns at +Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts, an article from +Eric Primm and much much more!  You can download the issue (in .pdf form) here.  It was cool to be included!

Brian VanCise posted the documentary "Warrior Arts of the Philippines" on his blog, here.  It's really good stuff, you should definitely watch it!

STUFF THAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW:

We're teaching a very basic Women's Self Defense seminar tomorrow at NRH Centre.  This session is mostly focused on situational awareness and basic escapes.

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, September 23, 2015

The Value of Slow

I attended a wonderful seminar with Dan Anderson over the weekend.

I plan to write more about that in detail a little later (I'm waiting on pictures), but there was one concept that really stood out to me that has been on my mind since.

Most of us know the idea "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" right?   Martial artists and shooters say it as a mantra - it's one of the first major concepts I was taught, back in the day.

I don't think this is original with him, but I'll go with it.

The disarms we were shown over the weekend were done very slowly.  They worked 100% by pure technique, not muscle or speed.  Not only that, when my partner did it to me - and I was working with a kid - and I did my best to resist, he was still able to get the disarm without the help of muscle or speed.

Even at slow speed, with proper technique, it worked like a charm.  Not only that - usually, when working disarms, they typically have some element of pain involved, and after a while, your hands get torn up.   Not this weekend - I barely got a single bruise and my hands and wrists didn't hurt at all!

It got me thinking about the nature of slow training.  That is, proper technique should work slowly, if it's proper technique.  It doesn't mean that speed and strength play no part - many core blocks we teach need to have speed as a force multiplier in order to work properly (specifically, one-handed blocks that aren't supported in any way). 

These people are on to something...
Speed and strength certainly play a part in the martial arts, and is something that we train, of course.  However, over time, our ability to have speed and strength work for us going to diminish as we age. Heck, I started martial arts in early middle age, so I never had strength and speed as an advantage.

We are left with proper technique to sustain us and to make it work.

This is how old masters -and I have GM Rodel Dagooc and Guro Dan Inosanto specifically in mind - are able to still kick your butt.  It's not how strong they are, or really, how fast they are.  It's proper technique, and a lifetime of practice.

I'm going to start looking at what I do, and how I do it, and start including in my practice slow movement to check the technique.

If I can't do it slow, I can't do it fast.

And if it fails when I'm doing it slow, then I need to re-examine the technique. Maybe I didn't understand it properly, or maybe I need to change the angle to make it work for me (that's not uncommon)... whatever needs to be fixed, I should fix it.

I challenge you to try it, too, and see what you learn.



Monday, September 21, 2015

In Search of the Professor

Most of you know that my Filipino Martial Arts heritage - my lineage - is through the Presas Brothers, Remy Presas and Ernesto Presas.

Most of it is really through "the Professor", Remy Presas.

Professor Remy Presas

My teacher, +Mark Lynn, attended several camps and seminars and received his first degree Black Belt from Professor.  My original teacher in Modern Arnis, David Jones, is a student of Bruce Chiu, and I've had the pleasure of training directly with him several times.

Bruce Chiu, Mark Lynn, me, Kevin Bradbury, David Jones

I've attended seminars by a lot of other students of the Professor - Chuck Gauss, Ken Smith, Dieter Knüttel, Dan Anderson, Tim Hartman, Michael Hume and Hock Hochheim to name just a few, plus, at these seminars and camps I've been going to, there's plenty of others who trained under Professor while he still lived (Abel Martinez, Tye Botting, and John Bain immediately come to mind).  I've met (either online or in person) many, many others, including guys like +Brian Johns.

Chuck Gauss and I

I'm a second generation student of Professor's.  That is, I never got to train with Professor directly, because I started training long after he was gone.

I have all these first generation students to train with, plus the numerous videos and books Professor left behind.  I can "hear" his voice in my mind, either via these videos, or via the stories each of these first generation students love to tell. Invariably, they will adopt his accent when quoting Professor, and to a man, it's an identical accent.  Each of these has a "Professor" story of uniquely their own.  But they also tell other stories that I think, in some ways, have become part of Professor's legacy and legend.

Dan Anderson and I
This is how I, as second generation, can "know" the Professor - the videos, the books, and the people Professor left behind.  Of all of these, it is the people that matter most.

I think I'll always be a "lesser" Modern Arnis player in many ways, because I don't have any stories of Professor that belong to me.  I have the stories I've been told, but no direct experience. This is an accident of history and nothing that I could possibly fix without a time machine, but it's just the truth of it.

Kevin Bradbury, Dieter Knüttel, and I

My stories, the stories I'll pass along to students who come after me, won't be of Professor the way the first generation tells them. Many of these stories that the first generation has will pass away as the first generation hasn't completely recorded these stories so that we second (and third and fourth and so on) generation students will lose them. As we get further away from the living breathing reality of Professor Remy Presas, he will grow in legend, more of a myth than a real person.

He will be like Kano, or Funakoshi, or Ueshiba, or Choi.

Those of us who didn't train with Professor will always be in search of the reality of who he was, and why he was so influential, and what made him such an amazing martial artist and founder of our art.

Me, Tim Hartman, and Abel Martinez

The Professor lives on in his students, and that's why it's so important that the first generation pass on what they've learned.  Each of them, I've noticed, have different ideas and perspectives about the material and I've been told that was perfectly okay by Professor.  It makes sense, given how Modern Arnis was popularized in the west, that this should be so.

People like me in the Second Generation will also innovate.  It's just how things go, as we make the art our own.  It's what Professor himself did, with what he was taught.

That's how Modern Arnis will live, in all of its variants and incarnations.

So we'll have a Third Generation, Fourth Generation, and so on.

The Professor lives on in us.




Saturday, September 19, 2015

MY WEEK IN STICK CHICKIVITY - 9/19/15

I'm going to start documenting what I'm up to each week on Saturdays. It's STICK CHICKIVITY!

I'd like to know what YOU'VE been doing too - tell me what's up in the comments below!

TRAINING AND TEACHING:
  • Saturday: Arnis class at Hidden Sword. Helped work on tapi-tapi and reviewed various advancedsinawali patterns.  In the afternoon,I attended the once-a-month Kobudo class with AKATO.
  • Sunday: Bo review (including the bo sumbrada) and hung out with my friend +Mike Reis 
  • Monday: Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  Worked on tapi-tapi patterns and then worked out the new version of "Anyo Lima". Practiced bo.
  • Tuesday: Taught MCA Class.  Worked single sinawali (stick and empty hand) and hubud-lubud. Practiced bo.
  • Wednesday: My day to shuttle kidlet to Fencing and watch children so hubby can go to Arnis class. Practiced bo.
  • Thursday: Taught MCA Class.  Worked on 12 angles (corrections), single sinawali, and introduced empty hand strikes.
  • Friday: Taught MCA Class.  Our first stick fighting session - everybody loved it! Practiced bo.  Hubby & daugther attended a karate workshop from Dan Anderson in Bridgeport.  I stayed home with younger daughter.
Some of our kids Arnis players reviewing the 12  Angles of Attack

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Posted three new posts of original content:

You probably don't like this gif as much as I do.


Re-shared two "In Case You Missed It"/"Throw Back Thursday" posts:


YES! I can beat up children!  MY ART IS AWESOME!

I write the posts for the Mid-Cities Arnis blog.  This week's "values" post was on HONESTY.  You can read it here.

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Bamboo Spirit started a new video series on teaching Modern Arnis to kids - check out the new series, "Make It Stick!"

This video from Master Ken RULES.



Found out Rifftrax is going to take on one of my favorite martial arts films - MIAMI CONNECTION - in October.  Details here.

My friend Don Roley wrote a neat blog explaining the concept of ki (chi).  As an FMA player, the concept is a little foreign to me, but less so now that Don has explained it.

My friend +Joelle White wrote a nice post about what marital arts programs in recreation/community centers need from the centers.  As both Hidden Sword and MCA are rec center programs, it resonated with me!  Read it here.

STUFF THAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW:

Today I'm covering our Hidden Sword classes with my older daughter while our teacher ushers Dan Anderson around town at various events celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Allen Steen's first Karate Association.  Tomorrow (Sunday 9/20) I'll be attending an Arnis seminar with Dan Anderson - if you're reading this on Saturday and you're in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it's not too late to come on by (details here).  Hubby will be attending Pacific Archipelago Combatives with Hock Hockheim all weekend long.

So how was YOUR week?  Got anything cool coming up soon?  I want to know!

Friday, September 18, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Too Young to Start the Martial Arts?

It's FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic is a little different.

Let's talk about starting the martial arts in the modern world.  In some cultures - notably the Shaolin Temple China - people start pretty young, as young as two-three years of age.  There are also some schools out there offering a "Little Dragons" or "Little Ninjas" program as young as that age too.

I think more common, though, at least in the West, is about five to seven years old as the youngest age to start the martial arts.

So, under normal circumstances, I want to know what YOU think:

WHAT'S THE YOUNGEST AGE A PERSON SHOULD START STUDYING MARTIAL ARTS?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

True To Form: A (re)Look at Anyo Lima

The association my teacher +Mark Lynn  (and I) belong to has their annual tournament coming up in October.

This is pretty much the only tournament we attend, outside of a single charity tournament in the spring.  For us, it's THE tournament of the year.

It's also the only tournament I've actually seriously competed in.  Of course, like an idiot, I waited for my very first martial arts tournament ever until I'm a black belt in competing in the adult division.

Nobody ever accused me of being smart.

I won 2nd place, so... nyah.
In any case, we came up with our own version of  Anyo Lima for this tournament a couple of years ago.  Generally speaking, Anyo Lima basically the four stick anyos (anyo is our term for kata or form) stitched together into one long form (thus, Anyo Lima, or Form Five).  In our "competition" version, we removed Anyo Dalawa (Form Two) and only had a small piece of Anyo Tatlo (Form Three) to add in some classical strikes that are more flashy and representative of what we do.

After all, we are the only Arnis players in the tournament, and our goal is not to win, but to show off who we are and what we do, in a format the people attending are familiar with.  I fully expect NOT to win anything, as the people watching don't quite get what they're seeing.

So, here's the video of me performing that form in my first tournament in 2013.  It's okay.

Click here if you can't see the video

We have a young purple belt at Hidden Sword who wants to do the full Competition Anyo Lima this year at this tournament.  So he's asked me to teach it to him.  I started with teaching him the "back end" of this form, Anyo Apat (Form Four).  It's the most complex of the four weapons anyos.

But I've never been very happy with the middle bit.

I mentioned this to my teacher, and last night we came up with a whole new middle part (between Anyo Isa - Form One - and Anyo Apat), that incorporates Anyo Dalawa a little better than the above version does.  It also has more classical strikes (especially abanico, but also umbrella and wing blocks) and we do a hand change - right to left, then back again.

I'm really grooving on the new version.  It's a huge improvement over what you see above.

And then we started talking about wishing we could incorporate some of the neat Espada y Daga drills from Kombatan somehow.  Here's what I'm talking about - something from one of the drills seen here:

Click here if you can't see the video

We talked it over, and eventually, we found a place at the end of the form for some of this material that looks "correct" - that is, not out of place or as a flashy add-on with no purpose, and is perfectly applicable with sword only.

I think that's a really neat modification. I remarked that it's too bad our student is going to do the form, because I was mighty tempted to try it myself at tournament. I wouldn't want to do the same form he is doing as a purple belt - it'd be weird, right?

So then my teacher challenges me:

Reinterpret the entire form into Espada y Daga.



I had no intention of trying to compete this year up until last night, but... the idea of doing the new version of Anyo Lima as Espada y Daga has be very, very intrigued.

So I've been mentally piecing it together in preparation for the reinterpretation.  I'll admit, my geek brain is working overtime, so long-term readers of this blog know I'm really, really excited about it.

I don't know if I'll actually compete - for a lot of reasons the date of the competition is difficult for me to attend - but it's more likely now than it was two days ago.

So, yeah, maybe, just maybe, I'll be doing our revised Anyo Lima in Esapda y Daga at a tournament at the end of October. I'll let you know.  And I'll put together a video of it when we finally get it all together and polished.

In the mean time, here's a basic look at what is "traditionally" Anyo Lima.

Click here if you can't see the video.

And the WMAA version from Datu Tim Hartman (the form starts at 3:09 into the video):


Click here if you can't see the video

Have you adjusted or re-examined forms you do specifically for competition? What kinds of edits did you make?  I'd love to get your thoughts!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Bo: Sticking With It

This weekend we had "pre-test" and review for our Kobudo rank test with the bo coming up next month.  In parts I did really well.  In other parts, well... not so much.

Nope, still not me in a white gi.

As I wrote before, I've been practicing a lot more, and yes, I do think I'm seeing results.

Before I started studying bo, I actively disliked the weapon.  It's very big (six feet), it's unwieldy, it requires (for the most part) both hands, and honestly, there aren't a ton of analogues to the bo in the real world.  Mostly farming implements, and I'm personally not much of a farmer.

To one of you getting ready to object - I use a six foot bo.  Your broom handles and what not are more analogous to the jo, not the bo I use.  And if you are using one of those four to five foot toothpick bo... I've personally witnessed one of those breaking by scraping the tip on a carpet, so no, I don't consider those useful in terms of actually using a weapon in self defense terms.

My interest in weapons is actual use, even if it's not terribly practical, versus performance.

But after studying bo for nine months now, I feel a little differently.

If you said, "Pick a non-firearms weapon to defend yourself", no, bo would not be my first choice.  But if you handed me a bo and told me that's what I have to use to defend myself, I can and I feel pretty good about my chances.

So here's how my pre-test went.

First, we did our "seven count" drill, the very first thing we've learned.  We need to know this both right and left handed.

Well, several times, in the middle of it I "switched hands" for no good reason - I'd get turned around and end up starting on the right, and ending on the left.


The thing is, I knew it was happening, I just couldn't fix it!  I did it at least three times before I was able to get it corrected.  Usually this drill is done in pairs - it wasn't this time - and if we had been in pairs, I know I wouldn't have made this mistake at all.

Next we did our kata.  Here, I'm going to say I did pretty darn well.  I was fluid, my footwork was good, my grip was good, and my targeting was good, and I had no hitches or pauses to think about what I was doing.  I know these forms.

I did have one minor slip-up in the middle of one kata (I was thinking slightly ahead and forgot momentarily where I was in the form), but I corrected it pretty fast and without stopping. If you'd watched me and didn't know the form, you'd never have guessed I screwed up.  Our instructors noted that two of us in my group did screw up the form, but only one of us "showed it" (made a face about it) - and that one wasn't me.


Finally, it was our one-steps.  We have four of these, two of which we just learned last month.

I blanked.  Utterly.

These are partner drills, and my partner also was having trouble.  In fact, the entire class was struggling with this part of what we needed to know, so at least it wasn't just me stinking up the joint.

So, we spent the last part of the class working on these one-steps.  I got a lot of clarification on some points that were confusing me a bit, and now I feel much stronger on this portion of what I'm supposed to know.

As an aside,  one of the students at Hidden Sword has been testing out a bo for the organization that is far less expensive than the bo from our normal supplier for the last couple of months.  While getting our stuff together in the parking lot, we noticed a hairline crack in her bo going almost all the way around the shaft of the bo about five inches from the tip.  Luckily we caught it, and she used a different bo in class.

BUT... during our one steps, a different student's bo broke and yep, the tip flew across the room.   This was (presumably) one of our more expensive white oak bo. It's now a white oak spear.

So it just goes to show - you can buy high quality weapons and you'll still end up with breaks, if you are actually using them and not just dancing around in the air with them.

So that's how the bo is going.  We have our first test the second week of October, and while of course I'm nervous about it, I think my program of practicing is paying off. 

I do find myself "geeking out" about applications of various parts of the forms and one steps and what not (for example, my instructor +Mark Lynn and I had a long conversation about one of our one-steps where we debated stepping back vs. stepping off on an angle, and that was kinda fun).

So let's geek out on the bo - or other weapons if you like, I'm all for that - in the comments.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How Women Fight: Female on Female Violence

Most self defense courses for women focus on male-on-female violence.

To be complete, however, I'd like to see female-on-female violence more deeply integrated into our self-defense training (as well as female-on-male violence, but that's another topic I'll look at another time).  Specifically, how women initiate fighting and how to cope with it.

WHY women fight are often very different than why males do, although the common factors, such as the perp being among the victim's intimates and friends, still seem to hold true.  Here's a couple of interesting looks at the reasons behind female-on-female violence.

BITCHSLAP: A COLUMN ABOUT WOMEN AND FIGHTING

Why Women Often Fight Each Other

And here's an older study on the topic: A Case–Control Study of Female-to-Female Nonintimate Violence in an Urban Area

But let's look at how the conflict happens and unfolds by watching three different real-life fight videos.  Most of these videos are age-restricted.


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.


Here's what stands out to me:

Women will spend a lot of time "monkey dancing" verbally.

I think that's because that's how we "jockey" for dominance in society.  We don't typically do it physically; we do it verbally and through our relationships.  It takes us a long time to work up to physical violence.

Therefore, verbal de-escalation techniques seem to be something that would be of real value when dealing with this scenario.  Getting the fight to end - as it's already begun when the argument starts - to end without violence would seem to be a worthy goal.

After all, the easiest fight to win is the one you don't get into, right?

You can see this long verbal monkey dance happen in the famous "Shovel Girl" fight as well, by the way.

It's not always easy to see when the first strike will come

Most of these women keep within close range, verbally fighting, with their hands down (generally).  This is kind of a confusing posture, as it does not seem to indicate physical attack is imminent.

The actual strike - a push or a grab - seems to come without much warning.  Given that women are not typically socialized to fighting and violence, I think this is pretty important to know.  When you look at male-on-male real life fights, there seems to be a bit more warning.  I think it's because males in our society are "trained" (not necessarily formally but within our cultural rules) to fight based on certain rules of behavior (a so-called "fair fight"), whereas women are not.

The hair grab comes early

Getting grabbed by the hair is going to happen when women fight women.  Women seem to go for this early and use it as a "handle" to hold the other person in place to punch/kick them repeatedly.

There are a few "staged" fights with women fighting women out there, and one thing I've noticed is that when they aren't seriously fighting, there is FAR less hair grabs, or even none at all.  When women mean it, they will grab the hair if they can.

Coping with a hair grab seems to be priority one - after de-escalation, evasion, or escape, of course - of women-on-women violence and fighting.  This would have to include being pulled to the ground and kept there via hair grab in practice.

After all, where the head goes, the body follows - and you can see that truism in each of these fights.

Not seen so much here, but another factor for women to be aware of is grabs to long dangling earrings and necklaces.  It would be an obvious easy target in a fight if you're wearing big earrings.

Also - the head lock and hair grab are often combined.  So defense against a head lock is one thing that needs to be practiced too.

The hair grab goes to the ground

Quickly, the pair of fighters go to the ground, usually in relation to the hair grab (one pulls the other down, the other pulls the hair puller down with her, as it's hard to keep your feet if you won't let go of the other person).

This makes ground defense - and getting up again - critical business.  Once you are down, not only does the other person mount and hold you down with the hair grab as a handle to keep inflicting damage, but it leaves you very vulnerable to others joining in on the beating.

Strikes tend to be slaps to the head

While you do see a few closed-hand strikes, most strikes are open-handed.  Perhaps this is a way to try to unconsciously mitigate the damage you're doing - or maybe it's just because closed hand punches to the head HURT and you find that out very fast if you aren't a trained fighter.

You also see very few strikes to the torso - it's almost completely relegated to the head.  Even when they kick, when they can get it, they go for the head or upper body (which is incredibly dangerous for the other person, and is an escalation to potentially deadly force).

Once the fight happens, it's hard to break up

Women don't have a way of "honorable" fighting that men typically do, at least, not in the culture I live in.  Men can fight, disengage, and go away with honor.  Women typically can't. Thus, it's a lot harder, once the violence begins, to find the "honorable" way out for both participants.

This means that physical altercations between women go on a lot longer than they otherwise could/should.  This means if you find yourself in this fight, it's best to get out of it as quickly as possible (but that's true of all violent conflict, I think).

Final Thoughts

What you see here are three instances of mutual combat - fights - versus pure self-defense scenarios.  I would submit that a good training in verbal self defense, and in de-escalation, could have prevented the violence in all three of the fights seen here.

Once commonality between the three videos seen here are that they take place in group settings, and much of the time, those around them are encouraging the participants to escalate the violence.  This is common in all fights; but it's interesting to watch how that unfolds.

Additionally, in today's world, people will whip out the cell phones and hit record for the chance at YouTube glory versus trying to calm down a potentially lethal situation.  While this is helpful for people who study violence - lots of examples of it that I could choose from for this blog post, even with some pretty narrow search parameters  - I'm dismayed at what it might mean for our society (or parts of it) as a whole.  It's honestly a bit depressing that people do this, and even more post it for entertainment (versus educational) purposes.

So what did you see/learn from the videos above?  I'd like to know YOU thoughts about how female violence happens and how to survive it from a self-defense point of view.





Monday, September 7, 2015

The Gift of Fear

Fear is one of the most powerful human emotions we have.



Fear underlies almost everything we do.  Think about it - our political choices, our religious choices, our choice of where we live, heck, the rules that govern our daily living... more often than not, there's a thread of fear underlying all of it.

Of course, fear is a major emotion that drives people to the study of the martial arts.  One could argue it's THE main emotion behind the reasons people stepping on the mat.
  • Fear of being preyed on by bad guys.
  • Fear of losing a fight.
  • Fear of being bullied.
We spend a lot of time trying to overcome fear.

We deny it exists, we pretend like we don't feel it, we act like it's something that isn't a part of us and isn't useful to us - that is is our enemy.  Because we know that fear has its down side - that fear can paralyze us or make us think or act poorly.

Mmmmmmmmm... Muad'Dib.
I don't think that fear is our enemy.  Fear is our friend.

Fear is what's kept us around as a species.  Fear helps us pay attention to danger - not only in the immediate sense, but in the proactive sense.  Without fear, we may not have survived at all.

It is our fear that causes us to study self defense, even if we have never been in a violent situation personally. It is fear that helps us imagine that scenario before it happens so we can train and be prepared.

Without fear, we can't have acts of courage, either.  As we know, courage requires one to do something regardless of how afraid we really are - and courage is one of the most admirable values we have.

So I reject the Jedi notion that fear is something to be avoided or suppressed.


Hey shorty! Suck it, you can.

Fear is our friend - it is our gift.  It is one of the things that keeps us aware, proactive, and training.  It keeps us paying attention to our surroundings so we can anticipate, evade, and defend against attack.

Instead of denying our fear, we should accept it and harness it.  Accepting and understanding our fear helps us avoid the downsides of the feeling - it can help us not freeze in the face of danger, help us listen to our fear to clue us in to danger (that good old "gut feeling" that something is wrong), it can drive us to action.

Fear can help us make good decisions, decisions that are pro-survival,

Denying our fear often leads us to ignore the signals that something bad is getting ready to happen, and by the time we realize it, it may be too late.  Denying fear is to become a victim of it when push comes to shove.  Denying fear is to deny the need for what we do, as martial artists - and we do need it.

For example, we train with aluminum training blades when we train vs. the knife.  Let me tell you, what we affectionately call "the pucker factor" - that fear deep in your gut - goes up dramatically when training with an aluminum blade that looks very realistic.  Intellectually you know it's not going to hurt you (much) but the image of something shiny and possibly sharp coming at you at speed makes you MOVE!

That "pucker factor" is instinctual fear, and that fear helps me train more effectively.

How do you harness your fear?  I'd love to know your thoughts!


Friday, September 4, 2015

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Kids in Combat Sports

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

A rather sensational article made the rounds about child participation in Mixed Martial Arts.

It's from the Daily Mail, so consider the source, but here's the article:

Inside the World of Child Cage Fighting

Some good points are made here, even if the article is incredibly biased and not completely well informed.

Besides MMA, we have kids participating in boxing and Muay Thai, too, and even some of our traditional martial arts have some relatively rough sparring going on.

The risk of concussion is high in many of these combat sports (at least, higher than in other martial arts styles, even if it's less risky than, say American Football), and given what we've been learning about the long-term consequences of concussion, some might suggest that we need to stop letting kids participate in any activity with a risk of concussion, including combat sports.

But I want to know what you think.

Should kids be allowed to participate in combat sports?


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thoughts from MAPA 6: Bigger Than It Looks

So over the weekend, I attended MAPA 6 in Mesquite, TX.

The nicest people who do the meanest things.

As usual, we had a format of four hours, four instructors.  When the instructors weren't instructing, they were in the group learning like the rest of us (and that's one of the cooler things about MAPA, if you ask me).

First up, David Beck showed some disarms and locks straight out of Modern Arnis' empty hand Anyo Isa (Form 1).

Yes, that's the so-called "x-block".
You put your left foot in...

This is a very painful lock.

I know it's painful from EXPERIENCE.
(Yes, that's me on the ground)

It was fun to work through David's riffs on various points for disarms and locks.

Next, Bruce Jenkins shows us various basic locks he teaches as part of his Moroland Arnis system.

Bruce's uke is probably glad to be his friend, rather than an enemy!
Locks move in to throws...

Ouch!
Me working on the finer points of bringing the pain...

Next Jason Gutierrez of Hock Hochheim's Force Necessary, showed some really cool defense against the knife, including ground work.

Suddenly - EAT BOOT, BAD GUY!
The tables get turned on the bad guy

Kevin, it's not a good idea to attack Jason this way.  JUST SAYING.

Ha, getting put into painful locks is FUN!

Finally, Darren Dailey of the Dallas Modern Arnis Club taught some two sticks vs. one stick material.  I really enjoy this type of material, so it was a great way to end the day.

Darren's going to do something very mean to Bob.
Surprise stick to the teeth in three... two... one...

Getting out of the way of his sticks...

Even our junior Arnis players go to MAPA

So why did I title this post "bigger than it looks"? 

Arnis is a much, much bigger world than it seems to be to outsiders.  You might be surprised that we spend lots of time at MAPA events on empty hand techniques (because there's almost always some of it at a MAPA event).  You also might be surprised to see work on the ground, yet there it was.

Most of us who play Arnis play other systems too, and thus, bits and pieces from here and there get integrated and "Arnisified" into our system (and that's okay by us).

"Art within your Art" indeed - it makes our Arnis world big, and it gets bigger all the time.

MAPA 7 will be some time in early November - I can't wait!