Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/31/16

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:  Christmas Eve.  Went to see Rogue One.  Liked it!
Sunday:  Christmas Day!  Nice day of food and family.  Our big family gift is a four-pack of passes to Trinity Forest Adventure Park - and all y'all know how much I love that place!!
Monday:   Hidden Sword is closed, so I made dinner and we didn't do much.
Tuesday:   Students are on vacation so no classes at MCA.
Wednesday:  Hidden Sword still closed.  Made dinner, played Skyrim.
Thursday:  Students are on vacation, so no classes at MCA.
Friday: Open Mat at Mid-Cities Arnis for stick sparring.  I notice that when I look at pictures of me stick sparring, more often than not, I'm smiling. It's because it's SO DARN FUN!


No fresh content this week, just a few reruns.  I find it's very hard to write when I'm not actively in class!  Don't worry, things will return to normal this week (and I'm glad the holiday season is over - I don't like having my routine disrupted).


Hey, this blog was included with a BUNCH of really awesome blogs I admire (and follow myself) on this  top 20 list of Martial Arts blogs from Feedspot.  It's an honor to be included!  Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs & Websites Every Martial Artist Must Follow

I posed this on Facebook this week (I have mentioned the page over there, right)?


New year, new goals - I'll be talking about that on this blog this week, and some big changes for yours truly in some areas (including the blog itself, which I've been planning for some time).  I'm working on my seminar schedule, including going out of town - out of STATE - to train at least twice, maybe more, depending on the costs involved.

Monday things get back to normal-ish, training wise, and I'm planning a long day of kobudo and maybe some Okinawan Karate practice.

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!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/24/16

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:  Christmas party at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. I ended up managing most of the games, including the soft weapons sparring fun.  Great day!
Sunday:  First day of the holiday "season" where I am not running like a maniac every weekend.  Practiced a bit, but it was a quiet day, where we basically did most of our stocking up for the next two weeks.
Monday:   Hidden Sword is on holiday, so I stayed home.  Make our Yule Log cake we're doing this season (picture below).  The idea is that instead of burning a wood log in our fireplace for 12 days, we made a cake and we are sharing one piece a night for 12 nights!
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  First night of Yule.
Wednesday:  All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth - literally.  Spent the morning at the dentist getting new crowns for my front two teeth.  Spent the day on painkillers and went to bed early!
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday: Everyone no-showed at MCA (not surprised but since we did not officially close, we were up there for a while).  Came home and again went to bed early.

Our Yule Log Cake.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:   5 Gift Suggestions for the Martial Artist (for Cheapskates)
Wednesday:  That Guy: The Fanboy

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   We had no internet for most of 24 hours, so no re-share!
Thursday:  I Am The Passenger (and Navigator, too)
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: "Going Dark" for the Holidays in Martial Arts Schools


I had to update my recent post calling shenanigans on a CBS News report that the American Academy of Pediatrics claims that "Martial Arts poses "serious risk" for children" when another reporter at the local paper in Louisville picked up the story and made it WORSE.  I really hope all y'all will share my post in your martial arts feeds to overcome the nonsense being spread by people who are terrible at their jobs.  Read the update at the end of this post:  SHENANIGANS! No, Martial Arts Does Not Pose "Serious Danger" for Kids

I tell you what, seeing how wrong they've gotten this story, my skepticism about media reports on anything regarding health issues has risen dramatically.

+Brian Johns posted a fun new video this week showing stuff I absolutely love to play with.  Check it out.


Head's up - free event at our school, Mid-Cities Arnis, on Friday, 12/30, if you're in the area.  We're having a stick sparring open mat.  We use Actionflex sticks, short rounds, and it's just for fun.  Come play with us - the Facebook event with the details can be found HERE.  Come meet me and try it out - no experience is necessary!

Today we are going to go see the new Star Wars movie, then bake cookies, and Santa comes tonight.  Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and we plan to eat a nice meal together and relax.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

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, December 21, 2016

THAT GUY: The Fanboy

You're in a martial arts class, and the instructor is demonstrating a technique.

When she's done, she asks if there are any questions.

One guy raises his hand, and notes that what the instructor is teaching looks just like a move in a fight scene from "Enter the Dragon".

For some people, this is a documentary.
After agreeing with him that it might resemble something he's seen in a movie, the teacher asks the class to pair up and work on the technique.  As luck would have it, you're paired up with the guy who made the movie comment.  As you are training, he says, "I think I've also see this in Naruto.  That means that if I do this..." and he leaps to the side and does a move the instructor has not shown "... it can be beat. There's no point to learning this technique."

Congratulations.  You've been paired up with THAT GUY: The Fanboy.

Some variants of The Fanboy I've already talked about (such as The Philosopher), and to some extent we're all Fanboys if we do martial arts.  Most of us have, in one way or another, been inspired by martial arts entertainment to do what we do.  And yes, we can get really nerdy about it sometimes.

Yes, I'm taking about YOU.

The Fanboy or Fangirl takes that to a whole 'nother level.

The Fangirl will take the things she sees in martial arts entertainment as seriously as she takes what she's told in martial arts class.  If she's seen somebody do the technique differently in a movie or an anime or on television, she'll prefer THAT version to what she's being taught.

The Fanboy will constantly ask about things he sees in fight scenes and try to apply them in real life. To him, "proper" fighting is what he sees in entertainment.  He doesn't realize - and doesn't really care - that those scenes are very carefully choreographed to look a certain way on film and to protect the people involved in the scene from serious injury if at all possible.  Movie fights have a storyline of their own, carefully told for the audience (and it's a pretty neat thing in its own right, regardless of real-world use).

Fanboyism is really hard to cure.  A Fangirl can't tell the difference between a real fight and what she sees on film and isn't interested in learning the difference unless it's proved on a mat, sometimes risking minor injury to learn the lesson the hard way.

One side effect of Fanboyism is that he or she will quickly get bored with the long hard work of acquiring basic skills and the "vision" that we develop over time and experience.  As we all know, usually, it's kind of boring and repetitive (if you look at it in a certain way). In movies, they usually skip over that part (or they Matrix the skills into the protagonist, so they don't have to do any boring hard work to become Kung Fu Masters, right?).  When they realize how much work it takes to get good at what they do... well... that isn't what they signed up for.

This is what they signed up for.  It's covered in week 2, right?

One of two things happen - either they are cured of the fanboyism and they continue training (not allowing their enjoyment of martial arts media to trump their actual martial arts training), or, they drop out and decide to LARP instead.

Either way, for a while, a Fanboy is an interesting cat to have on the mat and in our online communities.

Tell us about your encounters with Fangirls.  Are YOU a Fanboy, and did you stick with training?  How were you cured (if you were)?  Let us know in the comments!

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

5 Gift Suggestions for the Martial Artist (for Cheapskates)

It's that time of year, and you're trying to think of that perfect gift to give that martial artist in your life.  But after looking at the cost of gis, weapons, and gear bags, you're thinking to yourself, "Man, I sure wish they'd pick up a cheaper hobby!"

Well, the Stick Chick is here to help you out.  Just call me your personal martial arts-related Santa's Little Helper.


Doing what we do, we get muscle aches and strains on a regular basis.  So you could look into getting some Dit Da Jow (My friend Dale Dugas makes it and ships worldwide - and he makes other herbal remedies as well, so check out his store HERE).    You might find Tiger Balm in your local store (many martial artists I know swear by it), and there's new muscle rubs with lidocaine that also work well.


There's two kinds of tape that are generally helpful.

For all martial artists, regular ol' medical tape (like THIS) comes in handy to help bind up minor wounds, to tape together hurt fingers (especially for our grappling friends), and the like.  These rolls come in various sizes, so get a variety pack.

For Arnis/Escrima/Kali players, we use tape - electrical, hockey, and duct tape - to repair our sticks.  A few rolls is always appreciated (and in a pinch, if we run out of medical tape... we have extra!).

And if the babysitter falls through when it's time to go to that seminar... (image found HERE)


This is especially helpful with white gis.  Put together a bag of white vinegar and baking soda, and if you can find some, Oxiclean (if it's available where you live. If not, here's a suggestion on how to make a homemade version).

I don't wear a white gi on a regular basis, but I need this stuff for my red and black gis as well, so most of us will appreciate a gi washing kit!


That image above is a joke, but I've been tempted at times, lemme tell ya.  There's been times we wanted to go to a seminar - Mr. Chick and I together - but we couldn't because we just couldn't find a babysitter at at reasonable price (and it is not feasible to take a little one with you to these things, trust me).  This is especially true if it was an out-of-town seminar.  So either just one goes, or we have to skip it.

If you want to help out that martial arts couple in your life - giving them the gift of taking the kids for the day, or for the weekend, would be a HUGE gift indeed.


Sometimes you get to training, and you get so busy, you just don't have the time/energy to get something to eat.    So you could put together an "emergency kit" of snacks - packs of nuts, dried fruit that keeps, beef jerkey etc (you know your martial artist and what they like), put them in a nice compact kit, and wrap that baby for Christmas day (hey, make several!).

Believe me, having healthy snacks on hand helps us avoid making eating decisions we might... regret... later.

Hope that list helps, and I'll be waiting for my packs of tape to arrive in the mail from all of you... right?


What other ideas for gift giving to martial artists on the cheap can YOU think of?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/17/16

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:  Classes were changed at the last minute, so I ended up staying home.  I did get in a bit of kobudo practice (empty handed - I reviewed by bo and tonfa matieral).
Sunday:  Got caught up on chores, got in a bit of practice (again, empty handed but nunchaku this time - I don't have much space at home to practice so I get what I can get, y'know?)
Monday:   My night off.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  .
Wednesday:  Attended class at Hidden Sword.  This is the last regular class of the year - and we covered details of the abanico strike and abainco corto, so it ended on a high note with something I love to practice.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday: Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We focused on defense, working the "Dos Manos" blocking method, and we played "fight through the forest" with soft sticks and empty handed, moving backwards defending against an attack thorough various obstacles in your way.  Very fun!


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:   Martial Arts and Injury: the Real Risks (and Why We Love It)
Thursday:  Why Stick Sparring ROCKS!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Of Meat and Tools
Wednesday:  Risk Management
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Fighting, or Self Defense?


I shared this quote on my Facebook Page this week (and I shared a bunch of other stuff you'll only see there, so why not give it a like if you do that Facebook thang?):

I think I may have shared this video before, but I'll share it again because it's GM Rodel Dagooc, and he's always worth your time to watch.


It's the holidays, and formal training is slowing down.  Mr. Chick has a tradition of calculating how much training/teaching time he had in the martial arts.  I decided to do the same thing, and here's the result, reviewing my calendar:

In 2016 I had approximately 400 hours of martial arts "activity" - attending classes, teaching classes, and attending seminars and camps.  I have no way to calculate practice time so I'll go with the "formal" number I can account for.

Busy year!

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!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Stick Sparring ROCKS!

Every Friday night at our school, Mid-Cities Arnis, we stick spar.

Lots of FMA schools stick spar, of course, and there's a variety of ways to do it.

We don't think we'll ever get into a stick fight, so what we are looking to do is practice certain ideas against resisting opponents, stress the importance of protecting the head, and then use certain constraints (only certain targets are valid, fighting in a small space, etc.) to problem solve in an artificially stressful environment.  We require kids to wear helmets but generally speaking the adults wear a minimum of safety equipment (eye protection is the most common).

And of course, just let loose, blow off some steam and have some fun, because man, stick sparring is FUN.

We use ActionFlex sticks and a minimum of protective equipment so that we get proper feedback without risking injury.

But of course, that's not the only method.

You have the more traditional version of stick sparring, usually with tournament rules, where the participants wear armor and use rattan sticks. 

You have Dog Brothers, which has far fewer rules and goes for more realism (and thus, they risk a lot more in terms of injury):

And some of us go to extreme levels of realism and resistance with rattan and no protection at all.

We don't stick grapple (mainly because we train in hard floors and have no mats) but it's definitely something that I think people should try if they can.  I say this because we do end up "locked up" sometimes, and the logical way to get out of it is to go to the ground.

Or there's other ways to cope with it, too.
No matter which version you do, though, stick sparring will definitely teach you a few things, such as:
  • A respect for what you can and what you can't pull off when someone doesn't let you (disarms are WAY HARDER than you think they are, and I've only pulled off certain ones with any consistency whatsoever),
  • Understanding of why stick fights typically happen at long range, and how shorter ranges changes your options (and your risks).
  • When working single stick, how to get the empty (alive) hand working for you and how important that hand really is.
  • The need to protect the head (even ActionFlex hurts when you get hit in the head/face at speed) and other vulnerable areas (I can tell you, with a stick, and I've been hit in the hand with white waxwood and rattan, A LOT, don't automatically count on a hand shot disarming or disabling your opponent).
No matter what, though, you can't completely recreate the situation where someone is actively trying to hurt you very badly.  That is, someone who isn't a "good sport" as we usually are in sparring.  That missing intent is always going to be a gap in our training.

Wearing lots of protection (hockey gloves, full helmets) also means you take hits you wouldn't take otherwise.  We use ActionFlex to try to compensate for this problem but it's still a padded stick and we don't actually get 100% perfect "feedback" in our method, either.

As the saying goes, "Perfect is the Enemy of the Good", so it's okay if it's not perfect, as long as you are aware of the problem.  I think sparring, even the relatively light version that we do, is better than not sparring at all (or rather, working against someone resisting you is needed as a part of comprehensive training).

And as I mentioned above... it's SUPER FUN, and that's why it ROCKS!

Beating on children is a blast!

So give it a try, if you train in sticks.  You won't regret it.

Have you ever stick sparred?  What do you think you get from it?  Is sparring or working against resisting opponents important to you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Martial Arts and Injury: the Real Risks (and Why We Love It)

I wrote a reaction to the claim that martial arts involves risk of serious injury (tl;dr version - NOPE!), but I want to make sure that I haven't given you the impression that I underestimate or dismiss the very real risks of what we do.

Indeed, there is very high risk of minor injury, and for many of our styles, risk for long-term joint damage in what we do.

Heck, one way I like to describe what we martial artists do is "acquiring bruises for fun".

I can't think of a more accurate way to describe our hobby.  In the reality of what we do, most of us aren't going to be getting into badass duels or even regular run-of-the-mill fights.  The most dangerous thing we face is actually on the mat, and we pay good money for the privilege of doing it.

Thanks!  Do you take credit cards?

Mr. Chick just spent his weekend training the last unit of a knife combatives certification course, and he's COVERED in bruises as a result.  Another friend in the martial arts - an Arnis player like yours truly - had a little... problem with blocking recently and got a goose egg on her noggin.

It's just a hazard of what we do.

Generally speaking, serious injury is rare in the martial arts.  Oh, sure, we get sprains and strains, we tear muscles on occasion, and possibly, the most serious injury we get are repetitive damage to joints.

I know too many tae kwon do specialists who have had or need surgery to repair hip, knee, and ankle damage, for example. Heck, I, myself, in my short time in TKD, developed bursitis in my hips and as a result I do not kick high any more.

I described in that other post the time I tore a calf muscle while training.  While it could have happened any time - it was just bad luck that I had a muscle spasm just as I stepped off my right foot - it did happen while playing sumbrada.  I screamed a very bad word and I dropped like a rock, and ended up on crutches for four weeks and used a walking cane for two after that.

Like this, but with f-bombs.
Minor injuries are just part of the life of a martial artist, and heck, it's not uncommon for us to compare injuries and to tell horror stories about getting hurt.

Semi-imaginary conversation:

Grappler Guy: "Oh, you tore your calf muscle, huh?  Well I was grappling with this guy one time and I dislocated a toe and I had to pop it back in right there on the mat!"

Me: "Oh, you dislocated your toe, huh?  Well, I was soft stick sparring and I got hit on the fingertips with some ActionFlex nunchaku and it jammed both fingers so bad I couldn't wear my wedding ring for six months!"

Grappler Guy: "Oh, you jammed your fingers, huh?  WELCOME TO MY TUESDAY!"

Yes, you've had this conversation, you know you have - the details are different but one-upping each other with injury horror stories is part of the fun of being in our community!

Getting hurt is something we avoid but when we do, we wear it like a badge of honor and a point of pride.  We got hurt, and we came back to training, because that's what we do.  It proves how tough we are, how committed we are, and it's one of the things that bonds us together with our training partners and our entire community.

Sane people don't use minor injuries in this way.  Sane people get hurt and stop doing whatever it was that got them hurt.

Yes, we're crazy people.

But all y'all are my kind of crazy.

Yes, that hurt.  It was awesome.

Here's your invitation to share your martial arts injury stories.  Do you have any funny stories surrounding a minor injury?  What's the worst injury you've gotten training (and yet, you didn't let that stop you)? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/10/16

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:  Busy day!  Attended my monthly Okianwan Karate class and then the two-hour official kobudo class.  By the end of the day, I was awful tired of standing in bare feet on wood floors, lemme tell ya.
Sunday:  Our monthly four-hour Texas Modern Arnis Alliance training session to prep our brown belts for testing next year.  We played a lot of tapi-tapi and it was GOOD.
Monday:   My night off.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Had a fun muscle spasm in my shoulder (yay), and I think I've caught a mild version of the crud that seems to be going around this week.  HOORAY.
Wednesday:  Decided to stay home due to the crud.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  They are stripping the gym floors at our rec center, and due to being moved around, we ar in a tiny room about the size of my living room for the next few weeks.  Oh, and I stayed up late watching my beloved Kansas City Chiefs win a football game!
Friday: Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Luckily there are no other classes on Friday so we're in our normal classroom.  Which is great, because stick-sparring in the small room would have been more difficult.

Have you ever noticed how many pictures there are of me beating on children with weapons?


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:   SHENANIGANS! No, Martial Arts Does Not Pose "Serious Danger" for Kids
Wednesday:  2016 Goals Update: Glad It's Almost Over (But Not for the Reasons You Think)
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Unionization in Professional Combat Sports?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Muscle Memory (Override)
Thursday:  A Plea to the Martial Arts Community about Active Shooter Training


I brought home my pile o'weapons from kobudo class, including my new naginata, my new backup bo, and the sai I'm borrowing.  Here's a shot of them with the other weapons I had with me (my regular bo, my tonfa, my nunchaku).  My two training knives, my three pairs of arnis sticks, and my dulo were in my bag and not included in the shot.

I... might have a problem.. The problem of NOT ENOUGH WEAPONS.

I just saw this this morning, so it will be going into my social media channels later this week.  GREAT blog post from +Wim Demeere breaking down a situation where police confront a teenager with a knife:  Teenager shot by police at Reno high school: Lessons to learn.  My two cents on this is that people who don't train VASTLY underrate how incredibly dangerous a knife really is (thanks to having firearms around, and honestly, I think thanks to video games) and they also do not have a great grasp on how difficult it is to disarm somebody with a knife safely (for the defender as well as the attacker).

In case you aren't following them, +Century Martial Arts has upped its content game lately on social media, and you really should add them to your circles/like them, etc.  Not only is it good information, but if you have a martial arts blog it's GREAT stuff to share to your own audience.

If you're not on Facebook you probably haven't seen this - it's a recruitment video for the Fort Worth Police Department (I live in a suburb of Fort Worth).  And now I kinda regret I'm too old and fat and gimpy for that sort of work, because I'd like to work with people who do this sort of thing.

Our friend +Joelle White posted this on Facebook... have I mentioned that I might have contributed to the book and you can buy it here on Amazon?  Joelle blogs HERE and you really should check out her blog.


"Normal" day today - Arnis is the morning, kobudo in the afternoon.  I plan to get in some intense kobudo practice while younger daughter is in tae kwon do (I have about a two-hour break in between Arnis and Kobudo,and typically, I practice on my own during that time).

Mr. Chick is at the last Hock Knife session for the year today and tomorrow.  So tomorrow it'll be chore day, especially since the Chiefs have already won this week and I don't have football as a distraction.

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, December 9, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Unionization in Professional Combat Sports?


There have been efforts lately in the professional mixed martial arts community to create associations or what is essentially a union among the fighters.

These efforts include the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete Association (read more here) and the Professional Fighter's Association (read more here).  The former is not calling itself a union and is being formed by fighters.  The latter is definitely a traditional unionization effort led by non-fighters, for the most part.

Ignore, for a moment, the chances of success or failure of these efforts to get off the ground - let's presume that's not an issue.

Do you think a union will benefit the fighters in the mixed martial arts?  What are some of the downsides of unionizing for the fighters, or for the sport?  Do you support a fighter's association over a traditional union (or the other way around)?

I want to know what you think:


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 Goals Update: Glad It's Almost Over (But Not for the Reasons You Think)

Oh, 2016.

I know it's fashionable to say that 2016 was a terrible year, and maybe if you look at it some ways, it certainly was.  We lost some pretty beloved entertainers, and well, there was that whole election thing...

But for me, personally, 2016 was a banner year in the martial arts.  Not only did I get to study with some of the top guys in my art, I was able to be a part of a new training group that trains monthly in Arnis (and this has certainly helped my personal growth) and I've connected with other folks in my style across the United States.

GREAT year in the martial arts for yours truly, y'all.

So, back in January, I set a bunch of goals for myself, which you can read HERE.  Here's how I did with that:

1) Arnis - become proficient at playing tapi-tapi

Well, I certainly played a lot of tapi-tapi this year, and I also studied a lot of aspects of tapi-tapi.  I don't know if I'm "proficient", but I certainly took the actions it would take to become so.

I'm going to call this one a WIN.

Tomas and I playing tapi-tapi in July.

2) Growing the Empty Hand

I took some concrete action in this regard in 2016 - studying Ryukyu Kempo and starting up Okinawan Karate.  I stated in my goals last year I would do this - and I certainly did.  I go to Okinawan Karate class - and this is just for fun, mind, no rank involved - once a month.  WIN.

3) Exercise is not optional

Weeeelllll.... yes it is, apparently.

Something had to give, this is it.  I have attempted, at times, to get into a body-weight routine here at home, and it has epic failed.


Better than what I accomplished this year, lemme tell ya.

4) Grow Mid-Cities Arnis to 20 Students

We tried a number of things to achieve this goal, and it didn't happen.  FAIL.

5) Blog Goals

I set a goal of 68k views in 2016.  I blew this one away, big-time.  I think I'll hit 90K views for 2016 by the end of the year, which will be sweet.  I averaged 248 views a day, versus a goal of 186.  WIN.

So, even though I have some big fails, overall, 2016 was a WIN year for me in the martial arts. I did lots of things not on my goal list - I attended a number of seminars from top leaders (Including +Datu Hartman and Datu +Dieter Kn├╝ttel) in my art, I earned my Brown Belt in Kobudo over the summer... heck, I even traveled to Michigan in July for the Modern Arnis Unity Camp.

I made a lot of new friends in the martial arts world, got to train with all sorts of really interesting people, and got to learn all sorts of amazing things.  So from that perspective - 2016 rocked.

So why am I glad it's over?  Honestly... because I could use a break!  There's usually a lull around Christmas and New Year's of about a week and a half, classes-wise, and I'm grateful, as I would like to take a nap or three and not have to be somewhere every single day, you know?

I'm kidding.  I don't eat spray cheese, yuck.

So how was YOUR year in the martial arts?  Did you achieve your goals?  What are you still working on?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, December 5, 2016

SHENANIGANS! No, Martial Arts Does Not Pose "Serious Danger" for Kids

This article popped up in my martial arts news feed recently:  Martial Arts Can Pose Serious Danger for Kids


Of course, being in the martial arts myself, I perked up my ears and read that bad boy.  I've only been studying about 8 years now, but I have seen exactly zero serious injuries to children in that time (and depending on what you mean by "serious" - exactly zero in adults too, and remember, I do a weapons art).

Not a concussion, not even a broken bone.  I've seen a couple of minor cuts, a couple of bruises, and a strained ankle or finger joint for kids - far from "serious injury" and only one of those required medical treatment.   I, myself, had a freak accident and tore a calf muscle and was on crutches for a month or so, and I think that's the most serious injury I have personally seen.


Turns out, the article is about the publication of a recent American Academy of Pediatricians study about the risks of martial arts injuries that will be published soon in Pediatrics.  The AAP News article the CBS report comes from can be read HERE.

Note that the author of the study did not headline it as "serious risk for kids".  Instead, it's titled "Good Moves: Martial arts can offer striking benefits but caution advised".

VERY different scenario than "Serious Danger"!

So what's up with that?

This report and study is aimed at doctors and nurses treating patients who are engaging in the martial arts.  The report assesses the risk of various kinds of martial arts - and it's in no way comprehensive, if you read the report - and advises doctors on the kinds of injuries that may happen and offers advice for the doctors and nurses to give their patients regarding martial arts as a physical activity.

Overall, the report speaks positively of kid participation in the martial arts.

There is ONE bullet point in the article that suggests that perhaps activity should be discouraged:
The nature of mixed martial arts confers a high risk of concussion and asphyxia. Therefore, youth and adolescent participation in this martial arts form should be discouraged. Providers also can educate communities about the increased susceptibility to injury if children imitate what they see from media exposure to mixed martial arts.
Oho.  Okay, so, it's really about mixed martial arts, and it's not written from actual data, because there isn't any.  They had to extrapolate the risk assessment from adult injuries.

Let me just state that one more time - no actual numbers to support that statement.

Yeah, I'm with you, kid.
Not only is the article incredibly misleading - at least going by its headline - but the study itself has some shenanigans going on, too, because it misses one critical fact:

The rules for kids in mixed martial arts styles is not the same ruleset as it is for adults, and even for adults, it can vary widely.

Generally speaking, we aren't having eight year old boys get on a mat and pound each other like McGregor and Diaz.  That's the main reason you don't have any pediatric data that's anywhere close to adult injury statistics. Because it doesn't exist.

The report also refers to "higher risk".  You have to understand that all physical activity - even the lowest contact solo sport that exists - carries risk of injury, even serious injury and death (read about one such tragic case here).  Yes, martial arts styles that have contact carries more risk than those that don't - but it doesn't therefore mean it's serious risk, or even very high, it's just more than non-contact.

An increase of 5% to 7% is an increase, but it's still very small at the higher number. I do not have the hard numbers - but the report doesn't either, so it's basically guessing, it's not actual science, and my guess is as good as theirs.

The writer of the CBS News piece took a single questionable statement in the AAP report, and then made it worse with a very misleading headline.

I don't have the numbers to support this, but I am willing to bet money that the injuries kids get in the martial arts are significantly fewer and less serious than injuries they receive in other sports, including soccer, gymnastics, running, cycling, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, and of course, American football.

We are, as a community, very aware of safety and do a lot to mitigate it, even in the most competitive styles we have - for adults and for kids, both.

I believe we aren't doing enough to address the risk of concussion - and I'd love to see more of us get comprehensive training there.  I'd also like to see a good, grounded-in-science study done of our safety equipment to see if it actually works as intended (we don't actually know if it does, we just believe it does).

So I call shenanigans on the CBS News article.  I also call shenanigans on the study authors for implying with nothing other than speculation that there's increased risk of serious injury in kids' mixed martial arts.

UPDATE 12/20/16:


This AAP news brief has also been picked up by the Courier-Journal out of Louisville, KY, with a WORSE headline, if you can believe it, than the CBS News headline above that prompted this whole post in the first place.  "Concussions up in martial arts, report says" .  Not only did it NOT say that, nobody quoted in the article did either!  RIDICULOUS!  SHENANIGANS!!

What do you think? I'd love to know - sound off in the comments!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/3/16

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:  A bit of practice at home, then slaying dragons.
Sunday:  Caught up on chores.
Monday:   My night off, so I made dinner.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on the mechanics of the front kick.
Wednesday:  Attended classes at Hidden Sword.  It was a rare weeknight that Mr. Chick and I attended the same class together, which is always fun.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on Anyo Isa and some physical fitness drills..
Friday: Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed the principle of angling (and why you do it vs. someone trying to hit you) and the physics of a strike and where you would prefer to be in the arc of the strike if you just HAVE to get hit.  Then we stick sparred - yay!

The family that beats on each other with sticks together, um, sticks together.  Me, Mr. Chick and Younger Daughter.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:   What's in Your Gear Bag?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:  Gold Medals (in Olympic Shenanigans)
Wednesday:  Kiaaa-HA! Grand Master Pete and Yung Kwang Gojo Soo Fu Do
Thursday: Planning for Failure
Friday:   FACE-OFF FRIDAY; Bruce Lee: Best Ever, or Overhyped?


It's always refreshing to see the study of martial arts talked about as a positive thing for everyone in places you don't expect.  The web site Crixio is actually a online lifestyle and arts magazine, but they have a really nice article on the benefits of acquiring bruises for fun there that I think is a great one to share in your martial arts school social media (if you have a school).  Check it out: PROTECT YOURSELF: WHY EVERYONE SHOULD TRY MARTIAL ARTS

I've been reading my Kindle version of this book.  Lots of great perspectives on the martial arts from women of all walks of life and styles. Yours truly is one of the contributors (I may have mentioned that before, righ?) and it makes a great gift for the martial artist in your life this holiday season.  Buy it here on Amazon.

"Enter the Dojo" was a really funny one this week (but they usually are):

I have some other stuff I ran across, but that'd be posted over on my Facebook page.  If you do Facebook, please, give the page a like, willya?  Thanks! The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook


This morning I have Arnis, then in the afternoon, Okinawan Karate and my monthly Kobudo class over in Dallas.  The weapons I have purchased HAVE ARRIVED (yay!) and I get to pick them up and take them home with me today.  I'm getting a new back-up bo (mine gets beaten on - a lot - so it's going to break eventually) and a naginata.

Tomorrow is our mostly-monthly gathering here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of our schools to study Modern Arnis and to work with our brown belts.  It's going to be four hours of fun (as always).

Yes, I saw that article about the risks of martial arts for kids.  I'm working on writing that up for a fresh post this week - stay tuned.

Man, this year has gone by fast.  I'm glad it's almost over.

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!

Monday, November 28, 2016

What's in Your Gear Bag?

I had to empty out my gear bag in order to sew on some new patches.  My gear bag is a repurposed softball/baseball bag, and it's perfect for Arnis gear.

I collect patches (sort of), and they end up on my gear bag instead of my uniform (I'm one of those people who thinks covering your gi in patches makes you look like a NASCAR driver... yeah, no thanks).  Each patch usually represents something or some place that's I've trained, or a group I have not trained with but admire, and in two cases, is not actually for martial arts at all. Here's one side of my bag:

The patches are, from left to right:
The other side, again, from left to right (skipping patches I've already mentioned):

  • Hidden Sword Martial Arts patch - you can't see it well here, but you'll see it in other photos.  It's the "old" logo of my teacher's school.
  • American Karate Tae Kwon Do (AKATO) organization patch - the logo of AKATO, an organization I am a member of, and where I study kobudo and other non-Arnis subjects
  • Kansas City Chiefs patch - best team on earth, win or lose
  • Arnis International patch - lead by Bruce Chiu, my original Modern Arnis organization and always in my heart
  • DAV patch - the patch representing the German Arnis Federation
  • Tipperary Ju Jitsu - I hope to visit them someday and train there!  Another "sister" school of my original teachers
The end of my bag has the logo of my teacher David Jones (Jones Protective Arts).  You can see it in the shot below (the long rectangular white patch).

I am always looking for cool patches of people, organizations, or places I admire for my bag.  I'm kind of a patch junkie, in fact, but hey, at least it's just on the gear bag, right?  My ambition is to cover up the bag maker logo with plenty o'patches.

Being a softball bag, my gear bag has a pocket where I can keep my sticks (and our kamagong bolo, when I'm carrying it around).  It can actually hold 5 pairs pretty easily, but I usually only carry two or three pairs of sticks at any given time.  Here you can see the Hidden Sword patch really clearly.

Like all gear bags, mine accumulates junk in it, and I have to clean it out on occasion. I did that recently, and here's what I consider my "essentials" for my gear bag:

Again, from left to right, sorta-clockwise-ish:
  • Rattan sticks.  Sometimes I'll have my bahi with me, or on rare occasion, my white waxwoods.
  • Two pairs of gloves  - the blue/white are light bag gloves.  The red pair I wear when I'm stick or weapon sparring, or if I'm feeding a LOT of disarms and I don't want my hands torn up.
  • Electrical tape - for impromptu stick repair.  This roll is red, of course.
  • Mat shoes and socks - in Arnis, I like to wear shoes, because I've seen a toe broken once when a disarm hit someone's foot.  No thanks to broken toes.  My shoes are actually just regular athletic shoes I got on sale at a discount store (no reason to spend tons of money on this stuff).
  • Palmstick (dulo-dulo).  Made by my friend Jeff Hornung, it's made of cocobolo wood and it feels so heavenly in the hand!
  • Training knives - one single sided, one double sided
  • Nunchaku - I usually have the kobudo weapon I'm currently studying in my bag with me.  If I took this picture six months ago, those would have been a pair of tonfa instead.
  • First Aid baggie - band-aids, antacids, paper tape, and odds and ends for the bumps and bruises and cuts we get when we're doing what we do.
  • Rolled up magazine - used to demonstrate the principle of improvised weapons.
  • My belt, the Modern Arnis style black belt with the red edge.  My belt is plain with no embroidery, and I like it that way.
I have a little pocket in the bag with a little cash in it and some business cards for MCA and for MAPA.

My bag will also, sometimes, have an extra pair of pants and a t-shirt, to change into after training if we're going out to eat.  Or I'll have my gi jacket folded up in there, or I'll shove my tonfa in there if I'm going to kobudo or I'm practicing away from home.  I'll have an extra pair of socks if I know I'm going to be working hard and sweating hard and I want to have fresh, dry feet.

So that's what I carry with me day in, day out, as I go to or teach classes or seminars or whatever.  I'll tote my bo with me as needed (even my stick bag isn't big enough for that bad boy).

So what do YOU keep in your gear bag?  Do you have a patch addiction like I do?  What's essential to keep with you as you train?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 11/26/16

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 the AKATO Black Belt class.  Before it, I met with our nunchaku instructor to catch up on the new form, Nunchaku Ni.  I also got a new pair of nunchaku (sized to me) but I left without the pile o'weapons, as they didn't arrive in time (I have to wait TWO WEEKS - forever!  How will I survive?).  The class was introduction to chi sau, and I had a blast!
Sunday:  Worked on Nunchaku Ni, a quick run-through of both the bo and tonfa material too.
Monday:   My night off, so I made dinner.  Wooo.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on kicks, mainly the proper mechanics of kicking as we do it.
Wednesday:  Twas the night before Thanksgiving, so we were cooking up stuff....
Thursday:  Thanksgiving Day.  Worked hard on the meal, ate too much, and played video games.
Friday: I had to work!  Arrggh!

This is from a couple of weeks ago - I don't actually have any pictures of me training this week!


I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  THAT GUY: The Exceptionally Bad Uke
Wednesday:  What I'm Grateful For in 2016

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Productive Playtime
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What is a McDojo?


I posted this on my Facebook page (which you can like and share with your friends who enjoy martial arts stuff HERE).  Given we worked chi sau this week, it really applies (not saying I necessarily have skill, but that's sort of one of the things you learn in that drill):

AWESOME blog post and video from Ikazuchi Dojo with Aikido players cross-training with an FMA player.  What is especially interesting, for me, is that it illustrates why cross-training is so important.  A martial arts style becomes a way to look at the world, and these Aikidoka are working on broadening their worldview (see how the FMA guy gets them with angles they don't expect).   Read and see the video here - you won't be disappointed, very illuminating and good stuff!  Death by Disarm

Our friend +Andrea Harkins  was signing copies of her book for shipment this week.  Did I mention I contributed to it?  You can go here and get it on Amazon, especially if you're a Kindle-type person like me.


Holy moly, a rare weekend where I have zero appointments.  I think this is the first time this year.

No martial arts classes, no seminars, nothing.

I plan to spend the weekend writing, making a video for my friend +Joelle White on a point in Arnis, getting a lot of practice in, doing necessary chores, and honestly, taking a break.  I run hard most of the time, so it'll be nice to just relax a bit.

AAANNNNDD we might have recently gotten the special edition of this game, soooooo...

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 23, 2016

What I'm Grateful For in 2016

It's Thanksgiving time here in the United States.  It's a time where many of us reflect on our lives and the things, people, and events we appreciate having around us.  We try to spend time with the people who are important to us if we possibly can and make a feast that we can enjoy with them before the winter arrives.  It's a reflective period that is one of my favorite times of the year - in fact, Thanksgiving, and the ritual surrounding it, is my very most favorite holiday of all.

2016 is generally considered a rough year overall, due to the celebrities we've lost (David Bowie!  Prince!  Alan Rickman!), the acrimonious election we've just gone through  in the US (and it's not over by a long shot), and there just seems to be a general sense that 2016 has been bad.

It seems to me that stepping back and reflecting on the good things around us is a fine way to salvage a tough year.

So here's what I'm grateful for:

2016 saw my family in good health, generally happy, and overall financially stable.  While there were some temporary problems and non-fatal-but-incredibly-annoying medical issues to cope with, we are ending the year in pretty great shape (and with a new family member even -  Daphne, the shelter cat we adopted over the summer). Given I've had years in the not too distant past where this was not the case, especially financially, I'm especially thankful for this.

2016 was a very good year for my personal martial arts growth.  I felt like I made a lot of progress in my understanding of my core art, Arnis, as well as really starting to really "get" kobudo weapons.  Given that I've attended a ton of seminars this year (and I've expanded my horizons with some training in Okinawan Karate and exposure to other miscellaneous things) I would hope that would be the case!

Me working Bo at my kobudo brown belt test, July

I made a lot of new friends (and connected with old ones) in the martial arts in 2016.  I got some new regular training partners, including getting to know some friends down in Houston that we will be training with on a more regular basis in 2017.  I'm especially grateful for everyone who taught me, trained with me, or learned from me in 2016.

2016 was a great year for the Stick Chick Blog.  Views and readership slowly continue to grow, there were a lot of great comments from lots of neat and interesting people, and I connected with lots of awesome people in our community.  I'm planning big changes for this blog in the very near future, and I hope you all will stick with me when that happens.  I'm trying my best to make this place a fun, interesting, and worthwhile place for you to visit, and I would appreciate any feedback you have to offer to make it better!

2016, as it turns out, is really a year of transition for me, as I expect many changes in 2017.  There will be changes in this blog, in my pursuit of more growth and development professionally, in my martial arts life, and who knows what else?

So tell us what YOU'RE grateful for in 2016.  If you're not in the US (or Canada, where they had their version of this holiday last month), and you don't have this tradition, well, heck, join in on the fun!  Have some friends and family over soon, have a meal, and celebrate all that is good in your life!