Monday, October 31, 2016

Getting Dirty (with Disarms)

One thing we in the Filipino Martial Arts are really big on, generally speaking, is being able to disarm an armed opponent.

There are literally dozens of disarming methods - everything from smash the guy's hand to wrapping them up to levers and wedges to fancy set-ups and locks.  We disarm knives, and sticks, and what have you.

Datu Dieter Knüttel disarms Mr. Chick using our "standard" #2 disarm, vs. a backhand, with sai

Most of the time, when you see us working disarms, you see the mechanic of whatever disarm we are working on in isolation.  That is, you typically see an uke strike, and then someone doing a disarm technique. There are no set up strikes, they typically aren't moving around much, and there's no resistance.

Given you rarely see disarms with setups or resistance online, you might think that's how we believe that disarms "work", and then think to yourself, "Wait if I do (x), that disarm won't work."

And you'd be right, much of the time!

Many of our disarms are ridiculously easy to counter or make ineffective.   Indeed, sometimes your partner inadvertently "defeats" a disarm while you are trying to learn one. They'll turn a shoulder, they'll step to an angle that defeats the disarm, they'll "death-grip" the stick... all of a sudden your fancy-pants disarm isn't worth the effort to learn.

Heck,  +Brian Johns just put out a video showing some nice counters to our standard #1 disarm (versus a high forehand).

Easy peasy, right?

So does that mean learning disarms is a waste of time? Heck no!  As I said above - I've pulled them off in stick sparring successfully against a resisting opponent who didn't give it to me.  I've actually pulled off the exact disarm Brian is showing above,

So how did I do it?

I did what my teacher +Mark Lynn calls doing a "dirty" as opposed to a "clean" or "naked" disarm, which is what you typically see in videos online.

Being "dirty" in a disarm means you have to soften up the opponent.  Hit them in the face or the hand or the leg, or make them think of something other than countering that disarm you are trying to pull off.  My teacher emphasizes this point to us and I have found this to be true when I'm training with resistance in sparring.

To illustrate the point, let's talk about using an entry with a strike to help you make a disarm work.

Here I am demonstrating the abaniko corto entry with a disarm.

Suddenly, abaniko!

I am able to pull this off on my partner because the abaniko strike (the second "move" you see me do in this technique, a fan strike to his head) is enough to distract him for a split second, so I can wrap him up and disarm him.

There are tons of ways my partner can counter what I'm doing here.  After all, there is always a counter (and that's what I will spend the rest of my life in Modern Arnis figuring out - counters to the counters to the counters), and no technique is perfect or foolproof.

In fact, one of my favorite counters to this exact technique is for the uke to step and grab his own stick in his left hand (after I've wrapped him up) and hit me with it.  I will do this nearly automatically if you don't step correctly (off to the side, vs. right in front of me) or soften me up to prevent it, because it's that easy.

I won't get that opportunity to counter you if you hit me in the face, though!

My point is, being "dirty" in your disarms will help increase your odds of pulling off that fancy disarm.  I have found my teacher's emphasis on this point helping me when I train against resistance.

I think learning the disarm techniques "naked" or "clean" - and being able to pull them off - is important, and I'd never skip that part.  Spending time working the details of disarming technique is how you make them work. 

But after, learning the setups and "dirtying up" your disarm is, in my opinion, how you'll make them work versus resisting opponents more reliably over time.

What methods do you use to help prevent counters to your disarms?  How do you set up an opponent with "dirty" techniques to do what you do?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/22/16

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:  The first day of the two-day seminar with Datu +Dieter Knüttel.  Arnis-y nerdy goodness for the Chick, as not only did we learn some neat striking patterns that lead to espada y daga, and some tapi-tapi stuff, but also a sinawali pattern (and y'all know how I LOVE THAT STUFF!!)
Sunday:  Day 2 of Datu Dieter.  Again, nerdy goodness, especially the part that riffed off of one of my favorite drills, the "6 Count Drill" (or "box drill"), that many of us know as a sumbrada or "3-8-12" by inserting abanicos and disarms in the drill.  YAY!  It was 12 hours of training in toto and I enjoyed all of it!
Monday:   I had to stay home, meet the pet sitter, find all of our travel documents, and started gathering stuff for packing.
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on Anyo Isa.
Wednesday:  Skipped Arnis to work on last-minute trip stuff.  There are LOTS OF DETAILS, sheesh.
Thursday:  Hubby covered Mid-Cities while I continued working on the trip at home.

So happy there's a disarm a'comin!


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  And the Beatings Ensue (with Datu Dieter)
Wednesday:  4 Myths About the Martial Arts (Non-Martial Artists and Newbies Believe)

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Peace and the Martial Arts
Thursday:  The Politics of Fighting
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Should We Ban Head-Shots in Sparring?


The trip has dominated EVERYTHING.  Ugh.  So how about this - will YOU share stuff you saw in the comments so I can check it out?  THANKS!


Today I fly off to the coast and tomorrow I'll be boarding a boat for exotic locales.  I'll lose internet while I'm on my trip - I won't get back in internet range until Friday night.

I am a bit annoyed I can't take any martial arts equipment on the boat with me, but we'll make do.

I'm re-running content from the blog y'all seemed to like all week long, starting tomorrow, so please, keep an eye on the preferred Stick Chick Blog channel of your choice -  Facebook, Google Plus (here or hereTwitter, or even Tumblr - for "best of" blog content all the way through October 30!  I'll try to get a fresh post out on Halloween.

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, October 19, 2016

4 Myths About the Martial Arts (Non-Martial Artists and Newbies Believe)

Depictions of martial arts and martial artists are everywhere in our culture.

Television, books, comics, video games, movies, even music.

Oh, you know I couldn't mention "martial arts" and "music" without posting that song, right?


How we are portrayed - the reality vs. the fantasy of it - has changed over time, of course, but today, there are some pretty common misconceptions about the martial arts going around and are believed by outsiders and newbies.


This might be the most commonly believed myth about the martial arts. That holding the rank of black belt makes one an expert in the martial arts.

Hoo boy, this one is FALSE.  I am a black belt, guys.  And no, I'm far, far from an expert in my art.  I have a looonnnggg way to go before that happens, if ever.

Inside the martial arts community, we'll say, "Black belt is the first step of the journey", which is true - it represents "mastery" of our basics in most arts.  It does NOT represent understanding an entire system.

Not far from the truth.

But we do a very poor job in communicating this outside of our community.  

Heck, we do a poor job INSIDE our community, in some quarters.  How many fraudulent grand masters and "sokes" have earned a legitimate 1st degree black belt in a legit martial arts system and then went on to found their own "styles", thinking they knew all they needed to know in their base art?  I can think of two off the top of my head.

I think another reason this myth persists is because we focus on that rank for children to achieve in the martial arts.  We've created "Black Belt Clubs" and we use the rank of black belt as some sort of ideal state of martial arts achievement.  In some schools, we even treat black belts very differently than non-black belts (they enter the mat differently, deference is given to them, etc.).

This reinforces this myth.

A related myth is that a black belt is an unbeatable expert fighter, but I think this one is dying slowly as combat sports have become more popular (most of those fighters typically hold black belt rank in a style or two). I think this myth is more often than not reinforced by some bad marketing on our part more than anything else these days.


This is a common question asked by people contemplating studying with us.

"Which is the best martial art style?"

The answer is, outside of a very few notable examples of terrible martial art styles - such as Yellow Bamboo - there is no such thing.

The truth is that each martial art style represents a strategy, and nothing more than that.  Which martial art is "best" is a completely subjective thing, based upon what strategy you prefer, your personal strengths and weaknesses, what you want to achieve in that style... there are so many variables based on the individual that it's almost a meaningless question.

I tend to prefer weapons study over empty hand.  This is because I am a short, dumpy middle aged woman and I need every advantage I can find in conflict.  Others are different, and can choose differently.  I studied tae kwon do for a time, and decided it isn't for me.  It doesn't mean TKD is a bad martial art - far from it - it just means it didn't suit me, personally.  I've recommended people to TKD schools more than once that I thought were good!

This is why every time this question is asked, most of us answer, "Try out the schools near you and see which one you enjoy the most".


There seems to be this persistent belief out there, by newbies and people training by themselves without a teacher, that they can come up with the perfect, unbeatable technique and that's all they'll need.

No.  There is no such thing as an unbeatable technique.

The truth is, there's always upsides and downsides to everything we do.  Some things have greater odds of success than others.  Everything - and I mean everything - can be countered. 

What we do is that we understand what the weaknesses and odds are, and we learn to cope with failure when it happens (as it will).  The kicker is that, even within a single style, some techniques work great for some of us (better odds) while the same technique will be epic fail for others!

There's many reinforcements in pop culture for this myth, including:
  • A desire to be a martial arts "master" quickly (if you only focus on one thing, you don't have to work on anything else)
  • The "Mortal Kombat" video game series (and games like those)
  • The Crane kick scene from Karate Kid
Effective if the opponent leads with his face.


This one is the hardest to overcome with newbies and outsiders, because they don't want to believe this is true.

What you see portrayed of martial arts - empty hand fighting and weapons fighting - in the media is, outside of specific and rare examples, always artificial in some way.

Fights on TV and Movies? Always choreographed and staged for safety and dramatic effect. It looks cool because it's entertainment. Believe me, if I hit you in the face with a metal bar - even in the weak strike Oliver Queen delivers here - you won't just go "arrrgh!" and come back to train more any time soon.

Weapons in video games?  They're there for game mechanics, not reality.  If reality were important, a steel katana wouldn't weigh 10 pounds in Skyrim (real katanas only weigh a few pounds, guys) and you couldn't hit a guy 20 times with one and lose a fight.

UFC fights?  There are things they can't do and rules they must follow.

Dog Brothers?  They wear safety equipment.

In regular daily training, we have these rules that we follow, usually for safety, and thus, aren't 100% representative of what reality might be.  It's impossible to simulate reality perfectly in training.

The desire to get as real as you possibly can is admirable but carries many risks and usually most of us want to be able to train more frequently than every six weeks or so (average healing time).

Heck, the consequences of punching, kicking, and hitting people (empty hand, with weapons, and including use of firearms) are rarely shown accurately.  Fights go on WAY longer than they really should, usually because they have their own little internal story line to follow so that we can enjoy the fight.

Fights in popular culture are as real as Hogwart's.

So those are four myths that non-martial artists and newbies believe.  Did I miss any?  Do you disagree with my list?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 17, 2016

And the Beatings Ensue (with Datu Dieter)

I just completed my last big seminar of my year - a two-day, twelve-hour Modern Arnis training session with the awesome Datu +Dieter Knüttel.

This was my third seminar with Datu Dieter (once last year, and during his sessions at the Modern Arnis Unity Camp over the summer).  I never fail to have two things happen to me when we see him:  I learn a lot of fundamental little details that makes me a better Modern Arnis player, and I spend much of the seminar laughing and having fun.

That's what Datu Dieter's seminars are like - they're super interesting brain-candy and you have tons of fun while you are working really hard both physically and mentally.

On day one, we worked on some fun drills working classical strikes that really hammered home the mechanic of using the hips in striking.   We worked on some espada y daga drills, which is always interesting because of the study in changing range from weapon to weapon.


We worked on tapi-tapi concepts (which got me thinking really hard), and then we worked on a sinawali pattern where you toss and catch the stick.  I love sinawali patterns, y'all, and this one was REALLY hard.


Pictured - the one time it didn't bounce off my fingers and fly across the room
Day two we worked on disarms, which is always fun. We worked on the little details of the mechanics of various common disarms.  With proper technique, disarms can be done "naked" (without set-up or distracting strikes) - it's what they emphasize over at the DAV,   There are usually many different ways to do very similar disarms, so it was great to get Datu Dieter's perspective on things I already know.

Just like my teacher does, Datu demonstrated using all of these disarms with kobudo weapons.  Most of these weapons he either hasn't used in decades, or in the cases of kama, he hadn't ever handled IN HIS LIFE.  Mr. Chick was his partner during this part of the session, and he can testify that he did NOT "give" the disarms away at all.  Datu Dieter took them with whatever object he was handling.

Then we played the 6 count drill (aka sumbrada, or what I originally learned as "3-8-12").  We got going on the pattern, then we inserted abanicos and disarms.  SO FUN.

Me defending the "12" part of 3-8-12.

We ended our day working self defense concepts in the empty hand, most of which riffed off of the application of brush grab strike, trapping hands, and obstruction removal.

By the end of day two I was mentally and physically toast.

It was another great seminar, my last big one of this year, and a very high note to end on.

If you have the opportunity to train with Datu +Dieter Knüttel TAKE IT.  Sell blood, hock something, skip lunches, but DO IT.  You will not regret it.

At most seminars, I try to get a group picture of all the women in attendance:

Another great side-effect of this seminar is that we had a lot of connections made in hour Texas Modern Arnis community, and talks began that may end up doing great things for Modern Arnis players to train together in Texas.  Watch this space, and I'll update you on that more as things develop.

Here's our group pictures (from day 1, and from day 2).

I'm exhausted, Mr. Chick is exhausted, and I'm covered with bruises and hurting, so you know I had a great time!  Look for a better and more thorough (and less me-centric) article in FMA Informative about this seminar.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take some ibuprofen and take a nap!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/15/16

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:  My monthly sojourn over to Dallas to study karate (we're working on Pinan Nidan) and kobudo (nunchaku yay!).  The weather has finally turned from "OH MY GOD I'M GONNA DIE" hot to "It's a bit warm out here" so we trained outside.   I learned the end of Nunchaku Ichi and our 7 step drill, and I got to piss off a bunch of ants by hitting the bark off a tree with the ropey-whacksticks.
Sunday:  Trip prep continues.  Pet sitter came by and we finalized those plans.  WAY better value than boarding, y'all.
Monday:  My night off.  Made steaks (did not defrost - seared them in a pan frozen then baked at 275 for 20 minutes - DEEELICIOUS).
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on our self defense techniques for the Orange and Green belt levels.
Wednesday:  Went to Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  It was a special treat, as Datu +Dieter Knüttel is in town and we spent class working with him.  VERY FUN.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday: Due to conflicts, we canceled class.  That's ok, I spent the night cooking!


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  For the Love of the Ropey-Whackstick
Wednesday:  Hacking Forms
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?

HEY- not too late to respond to my Friday post - I really want to know where you like to get your martial arts information online, so let me know!

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  I'm Really a Black Belt!
Thursday:  Attack of the Brain Fart

I'm over on Quora, and I answered the question "What are the most overrated weapons of all time?"  It apparently struck a nerve and is the most popular thing I've written over there, so please, check it out (and are you surprised by my answer?):  MY ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION


I find ALL SORTS of good martial arts stuff that gets shared on the blog Facebook page. You can like it RIGHT HERE: The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook.

Very funny - and true - article over at Cracked. It isn't new, but it's new to me.  Check it out: 5 Signs That Someone Isn't Actually a Badass

I posted this week over on my Facebook page (huh, imagine that, I mentioned it again):


This weekend I'm at our Modern Arnis seminar with Datu +Dieter Knüttel.  I'm sure I'll acquire many bruises, learn many things, and have a ton of fun. This is my last major seminar (as far as I know) this year, so it's good to end the year on a very high note.

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, October 14, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?


Today, instead of talking about something controversial, I'd like to get YOUR recommendations for the best martial arts communities that can be found online.

These could be Facebook groups or pages, Google+ Communities or pages or people, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts, Pinterest Boards, forums like Martial Talk or Martial Arts Planet or Bullshido, indepdendent blogs (such as yours truly), YouTube channels, Tumblr blogs, publications...

I'm looking for any place online where we can connect with each other, learn things, laugh about our culture, etc.

So hit me up...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hacking Forms

I'm not a huge fan of forms.

Oh, I agree that they are useful and necessary, especially in traditional weapons arts, as much as it is not my very most favorite thing to do.

Me teaching empty hand Anyo Isa, form one.

I spend a lot of time learning and performing forms.

Think about it - between working on and teaching anyos in Arnis, learning and practicing the kata I have to learn in kobudo, and the kata I'm working on in Karate (currently, Pinan Nidan)... my martial arts life is often very forms-heavy.

However, I think some of us emphasize forms a little too much.  They don't move beyond the basics of the form itself - they do the forms in the air, but they don't apply what is found there into realistic situations or against resisting opponents.  This is incredibly common in weapons forms - they are often done as if the people doing them have never actually hit anything with the weapon in their lives.

There's no point to forms, other than dancing or performance, if you don't move beyond movements in the air to application.

Some of us don't even bother with forms, and that's okay, too.

However, there's a trick with forms that I think is really useful and challenging that you miss out on if you don't do any forms at all.  Again, this depends on you using forms as a foundation to practice real techniques intended to be used on real people.

As y'all know, I'm in the middle of working on the basics of learning nunchaku.  The other day at Arnis, we were talking about this, and how it relates to what I've learned in Arnis.

Somehow, we got into discussing doing one of our baston (or sword) anyos with nunchaku.  It started with our first form, Baston Anyo Isa, but then I thought about our fourth form, Anyo Apat...

And the wheels started turning.

Here's Anyo Apat.  To skip ahead directly to the form, go to 1:20 in the video.

Okay, so... imagine this form done with nunchaku.  How do I have to change the form (and the goal for me is to do so as little as possible)?  How do the movements change?  What about footwork?

It's an interesting intellectual challenge, and it's one that I think I'm going to play with once I get a little breathing room in my schedule.

Baston Anyo Apat is not a nunchaku form.  It's not even a stick form, really (although there is a stick interpretation of it).  But it could be.  It can be espada y daga (sword/stick and knife), for that matter, or even empty hand.  But how much would it change if I converted it using tonfa?  What about bo? Would it look like Baston Anyo Apat?

I don't know - I haven't tried it.  Yet.

This hack of forms gives you a lot more material in a single form than you might imagine.

Take the empty hand karate form I'm learning, Pinan Nidan.  This is very similar to what I'm working on.

Now put a knife in the right hand, in saber (traditional) grip.  How does this form change?  Now try reverse (or "icepick") grip - how does THAT change things?

What if my imaginary opponent(s) in this form are armed with a knife?  What about a more powerful weapon than what you have?

What if you put the knife in your weak hand?


Now what happens if I convert it to, say, tonfa?  Or Bo?

Think about a form you know.  It doesn't matter which it is, and it doesn't matter if it's for weapons or not.

If it is a weapon form - convert it to a very different weapon (say, from bo to nunchaku).  Or to empty hand.  Or if it's primarily on the "right", move it to the "left" in mirror image.

If it's empty hand, convert it to a weapon.  Now try a different weapon.  Try it in your strong hand (usually the right),and try it in the weak hand (usually the left).

Try this against unarmed and armed opponents.

What works?  What doesn't?  What has to change?  How can you keep within the constraints of the form?  Or does it not work at all?

You see? There's a lot more material there than you might think!

How do you "hack" forms to make them useful to you?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 10, 2016

For the Love of the Ropey-Whackstick

My friend on Tumblr, Graciejits, came up with the term "ropey-whacksticks" for nunchaku, and honestly, it's the most accurate description that exists.

"Numchucks", "Nunchucks" and "Chux" annoy me, but "ropey-whacksticks" is the BEST NAME EVER.


Lawd help me, I think the nunchaku have become my second favorite kobudo weapon.

Me and you both, man.
My favorite, so far, even though I'm not great at it, is the jo.   

In weapons sparring (we use ActionFlex), I have found the jo to be the most useful of the weapons against longer weapons (bo) and shorter weapons (nunchaku, sticks, swords, etc.).  Combine that with the size being most similar to long improvised weapons you might have around the house - like a broom handle - the jo is an incredibly versatile and practical weapon to study.

Nunchaku may not be as practical as the jo (or sticks for that matter). 

"May not be"... actually, it totally isn't practical as studying other weapons are or can be.  Nunchaku are great for base study of flexible weapons - but I wouldn't use one of those if I have something else available, so honestly, it's a very, very long shot I'd ever use what I'm learning in a real life situation.

But that's true of most of martial arts study, isn't it?

Professional bouncers, bodyguards, security, and law enforcement exceptions to the general rule, of course.

I now understand the fascination so many people have with them, though.

When you relax and really understand the weapon, it's fun to chamber up and get that nunchaku flyin' around.  When I'm practicing my strikes or working on a form, and I can really let a strike go, the WHOOOSH!  sound the nunchaku makes makes me smile.

The risk of getting hit by your own weapon is very great.   As the joke goes, "How do you beat a guy if you have nunchaku?  Give him the weapon and let him beat himself!"

I've smacked myself in the back and arms more times than I can count (hard enough to hurt and leave a bruise). I've jammed my fingertips more than once in trying to catch a handle.  I've hit the back of my own weapon hand in a rebound.  I am a veteran of getting hit in the hands, knuckles, and fingertips with weapons and this is a whole 'nother experience on ways to get hit.

I haven't hit myself in the leg, knee, face, or head yet.  Note the word YET, as I'm sure it's going to happen.  After all, I've only learned one form, one striking pattern set, and one 7-step drill.

Pictured: My future.

We've determined that my nunchaku are too big for me, and I'm switching them out for a shorter pair in November, which will be very helpful, as I end up having to choke up on the handle when I really shouldn't.  That's one way dangerous rebounds happen - check out dude's grip on the gif above as an example of too much choking up on the weapon.

Some folks have very long chains/cords or handles for tricking.  I'm not interested in that - I'm interested in hitting stuff and trapping stuff and actually using the weapon for putting on the hurt.  It's critical my weapon is sized appropriately for me.

Speaking of hitting stuff, our last class was outside and we practiced hitting bo with various strikes (helloooo rebound!), and then we hit trees.  I was making the bark FLY off the tree I was striking, and in the process, I riled up a whole bunch of angry ants! I was happy that I didn't get any rebound on my strikes due to doing a good job of committing to the strike and pulling through (and holding the handle properly at the end).

As I noted when I started studying them, nunchaku are a lot like what we do in Arnis. The striking patterns, some of the footwork - heck, you could consider stick exchange in flow (from hand to hand) a very similar skill to what we do with nunchaku.

I am surprised to find I like nunchaku as much as I do.  I'm really enjoying this segment of our kobudo training, and I'm looking forward to studying this weapon more and in-depth.

Finally, here's a quick video of me practicing our striking pattern.  I don't think you can hear the weapon WHOOOSH, but trust me, it happens!

Do you enjoy the Ropey-Whacksticks?  Or are you like I was, and dislike them due to the amount of shenanigans that goes on with this weapon?  Are you afraid of them?  Let us know in the comments!

UPDATE: I've hit myself twice now.  Once in the bone just above my right ankle, thanks to a bad stance. Another in a miscue in a turn in a form and whacked myself in the shin.  AND YES IT HURTS.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/08/16

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:  I won't call it a "normal" day any more, I guess, as having a day of Arnis, practice, and then kobudo at Hidden Sword has become the exception, not the rule!  But.. yeah, normal day.
Sunday:  We're getting ready for a big trip at the end of the week, so I spend this entire day working our checklists and shopping for some of our last minute needs.  Plus, hubby and I going super-ketogenic for the weeks prior to the trip, so I spent a lot of time prepping veggies.
Monday:  My night off.  I cooked low carb food. :)
Tuesday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Wednesday:  Went to class at Hidden Sword.  Worked on our Defensive Responses and actually got in a little bit of nunchaku work too.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday:  Worked on sinawali at Mid-Cities Arnis, then stick sparring.

Me working nunchaku striking patterns.
Want to see the whole thing?  Click here.


I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  REAL LIFE FIGHTS: Showdown at the 7-11
Wednesday:  GUEST POST: Book Review: Self Defense Against a Dog Attack by Loren Christensen

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:   Pain and Joy
Thursday:  A Question of Trust
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are Forms Obsolete?

(If you have a good idea for a Face-Off Friday topic, let me know!)

I am moving my blog content on Facebook from my personal profile to a page for the Stick Chick Blog.  The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook.

There's stuff I post on the Stick Chick Blog on Facebook you won't see in other channels, so please, like it and share it with your friends.  Thanks!


NEXT WEEKEND! Datu +Dieter Knüttel is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth - my teacher is hosting him in Roanoke, TX!  If you can possibly make it - YOU WANT TO.  Datu Dieter is AMAZING and I highly recommend that you see him if you can (so why not in Texas?).

By the way, he was promoted to 10th Degree last weekend at the East Meets West camp in Germany.  There's a Facebook event right HERE.
I posted this on Facebook this week.  It's literally why I ended up starting martial arts in the first place!

It's been a while since I saw a martial arts comedy video that wasn't "Enter the Dojo" and that made me laugh out loud.  AND HERE IT IS - genius!

Speaking of Master Ken, I am impressed with how well these episodes are planned and produced.


Today I go study Okinawan Karate and Kobudo.  I sorta wish this was a weekly class, instead of monthly, even if I have to drive about an hour one-way to go to class.  I like the people I train with, I love the material, and it's fun to geek out with those folks.  Ah well, once a month will have to do.

Sunday is my last free day to put our stuff in order for our trip.  Yes, this trip is stressing me out - so much to plan for and prepare!  It's a cruise, so I'll be without internet for about five days, and honestly, out of pocket for about a week all-told.

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, October 5, 2016

GUEST POST: Book Review: Self Defense Against a Dog Attack by Loren Christensen

Please welcome today's guest poster, Kevin Bradbury of The Martial Learner blog.

My sister was in the 3rd grade when she was bitten by the neighbor’s dog and now she is now in her late 40’s and her arm still bears the scars.  It was a mid-size dog that she had played with before and it had never bitten anyone before.  The 4th of July was near and likely the dog was on edge due to people in the neighborhood shooting off fireworks.   She was fortunate in that the dog just bit and released once rather than hanging on and shaking its head or biting multiple times.  

Dogs have been on my mind recently due to local news stories like:

Dallas to crack down on loose dogs after Army veteran's death in pit bull attack

Woman Bit More Than 40 Times By Loose Dogs

Police Arrest Owner Of Bulldog After Boy Viciously Attacked

Since our school’s martial arts programs are very much self-defense oriented, I decided I needed to look more into self-defense vs dog attacks.  While there are no shortage of YouTube videos on defense against dog attacks, I wasn’t sure how to judge the credibility of those videos so I decided to see what was available in books.  Once I started browsing Amazon my mind was quickly made up when I saw Loren Christensen had written a book on the subject:

Self-Defense Against A Dog Attack

defense against dogs.jpg

Complete transparency here, I am a fan of Loren Christensen’s writing.  Multiple books of his adorn our bookcase.  For those not familiar with him, he is one of the most prolific and respected martial arts and law enforcement writers in America.  I will read some of the other books available on this topic, but there’s no question for me - Christensen’s book would come first.

I was around 12 years old when 2 Great Danes came after me at the bus stop.  It was winter in Missouri and I was bundled up.  Being winter, it was still kinda dark when I went out to the bus stop at the street corner diagonal from my house.  There was a church on that corner and houses on all the adjacent corners.

I didn’t spot the dogs in the dark until too late and they had spotted me.  I knew better than to run so I started backing away slowly towards the house on the corner directly opposite my house, since it was the closest.

The dogs charged.

I made it into the yard of the house by the time the dogs got to me.  I turned my back and walked slowly towards the front door of the hours.  Instinctively I pulled my hands up into the sleeves of my winter coat.

One dog had ahold of the cuff of my jacket’s right sleeve.  The other kept jumping up against my back raking his large nails down the nylon.  I kept inching closer to the door.  Just as I made it to the door the rear dog stood on his hind legs placing his front paws on my shoulders, standing he was taller than me.  He then started gnawing at the back of my neck.  It was cold that morning and I had my collar zipped all the way up so his teeth were not getting to my skin.  I reached the door and frantically rang the doorbell.  The owner opened the door a crack and I asked if I could come in.  He opened the door a bit more and I slipped through.  He slammed the door shut with the dogs still outside.

The homeowner called animal control but by the time they arrived the dogs had disappeared. Likely back to the yard they had escaped from.

According to each day, about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for dog bite injury.

I know this blog is not going to go over well with some dog-lovers I know.  I have friends and family who are fans of some of the breed more associated with dog attacks like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, etc.  They will be the first to come to the defense of a particular breed and will say things like “ there’s no such thing as a bad dog, only bad owners”.  I respect their love for animals but loving an animal is no guarantee a dog won’t ever bite.  Christensen’s book echoes my own sentiment:

There’s no such thing as a dog that won’t bite. Including yours.

Self-Defense Against A Dog Attack isn’t just some random martial artist writing about dogs, Christensen was a military dog handler.and former police officer.  He gives real life examples of his own encounters with dogs including the time he was bitten.  The book goes into detail on the different ways dogs bite and the alarming amount of damage they can do.

I really liked how the defenses he presents not only take into account the type of attack but also the risks involved in any one defense technique.  The photos are done with an actual dog so you can see exactly what is being explained.

Techniques include not only how to defend yourself against a dog but also how to help someone else who is under attack.  This would be especially important for parents and for dog owners who whose dogs are around children.  According to the book 80% of dog bites happen in the owner’s presence or on the owner’s property.

The book also provides advice on:

  • Use of chemical agents
  • Verbal commands
  • Defense on the ground
  • Dogs chasing joggers and cyclists
  • Defending against multiple dogs
  • The breeds most likely to bite
  • Signs a dog might bite
  • The legal liabilities of the owner

If you are a dog-lover, this book is going to hard for you to read.  The offensive techniques suggested are going to be upsetting to you.  I would encourage you to read with an open mind and weigh how you feel about dogs with the statistics on dog attacks.  The idea of deliberately blinding an attacking dog may horrify you but hopefully not as much as the idea of dog biting a toddler’s face.  For those of you inclined to let your dogs run around unleashed, hopefully it’ll cause you to reconsider that behavior for the sake of those around you and for your own legal liability.

I don’t hate dogs. The first dog I remember having was a very large Labrador mix and he was never anything but loving to my sister and I (though many of the neighborhood kids were afraid of him).  We were devastated when he died.  We had other dogs after that and I have a dog today (which has snapped at my youngest child on several occasions).  But I do not trust other people’s dogs, especially around my kids.  It’s nothing personal.  Your dog may be a big baby with you but it is an animal, no matter how much we want to project human traits on it, it still has the potential to bite.  You may think you can control your dog but even Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, gets bitten.

So my recommendation to all my students and their parents is to go buy Self-Defense Against A Dog Attack Kindle Edition by Loren W. Christensen, read it, and talk about it with the people in your life.  Maybe even gift it to someone you know with a dog inclined to bite or to someone who may not understand your caution around their dogs.

Self-defense is not just a collection of martial arts techniques.  It’s awareness and an understanding of how we can try avoid ending up in the position of needing those martial arts techniques to begin with.

+Kevin Bradbury  is an instructor at Mid-Cities Arnis and an assistant instructor at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  Mr. Bradbury holds Lakan Isa (Black Belt) in Presas Arnis, Black Belt in Pacific Archipelago Combatives, and Black Belt in Goju-Shorei weapons system.  Mr. Bradbury is a certified Knife Combatives under Hock Hochheim and publisher of the The Martial Learner blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Real Life Fights: Showdown at the 7-11

Here's another one of those real life fight videos where you can learn a few things.

Unlike a lot of videos like this, it's not exceptionally violent or scary and doesn't involve weapons. No blood either.  And no shovels or scooters, more's the pity.

There's lots to learn, though.

Things to note about this fight:


We can't hear what is being said (there is no audio to this video).  But, going by the body language alone, this is definitely a mutual combat situation.

The White Shirt guy may be the aggressor here, but the 7-11 Employee (red/black shirt) does nothing to defuse this situation.  He stays close to the guy who initiates violence.  He does not put up his hands in a supplication gesture - the "Hey man, I don't want to fight" position, what we call "the Fence".

7-11 guy's body language is engaged and ready to fight.  He remains in this very enclosed space within arm's reach.  His eyes never leave White Shirt. It looks like there is room to leave where it does not require him turning is back or passing closer to White Shirt if he goes to his left, but he doesn't take it.  It looks like a clear path to his right, too, but he never even tries to move out of the way.

7-11 guy is just as ready to fight as White Shirt is.

If I were 7-11 guy's boss, he'd have a hard time arguing that this was self defense to me before I wrote him up or fired him.  This isn't self defense.


A sucker punch is one that comes with no warning, out of nowhere (typically when a person isn't looking), and if you know what to look for, you can see the "tell" when the punch is coming.

The first clear warning is when you see these gestures:

White Shirt is using the pointing and the fake attack (when he puffs up his chest and steps closer, then steps back again) to warn 7-11 guy that he is escalating the situation and that 7-11 guy should back down.  These gestures are of a person working up to do violence.  If 7-11 guy had backed off - created space, for example - the fight may have de-escalated and never happened.

7-11 guy either does not know what those gestures mean, or he deliberately ignores them.  I am going with the second theory, as again, I don't see him doing anything to stop this conflict whatsoever.  He says planted and in the guy's space and continues to engage him verbally from what we can see here.

There is another clear gesture right before White Shirt delivers the classic haymaker.  Did you spot it?

Here it is:

Left hand goes up, come back down, he removes eye contact and looks to his strong side hand and licks his lips.  There is a right coming, and very quickly.  This gesture is "Fine, you want me to punch you?  I am willing and able to punch you.  Here it comes."  This is a classic gesture and if you watch a lot of real life fights, very common.

And then the punch comes does.  It's a classic low chamber right hand punch, what we lovingly call "the caveman" punch.

7-11 Guy has not removed his eyes from White Shirt, so he sees it coming.


We've shared this video with our adult students because it is a classic example of what we call Defensive Response #1 - same side block and strike.

Me teaching Defensive Response #1

We advise our students to fence, to keep the hands up, because it's faster and it mimics a submission gesture that will either hopefully help deescalate the situation, or it will look to witnesses that you were NOT trying to actually fight.

From the fence, Defensive Response #1 is easy-peasy and hard to mess up. It's white belt material for us, a bread-and-butter technique.

7-11 guy does not have the advantage of the fence and it still works:

Same side block with the left hand, counter attack with the right (and note the dude uses his left to latch on and help deliver the counter-attack).

He didn't need any fancy kicks or parries or anything like that.  All he needed was the timing of the block and the intent of counter attack to win this one.


White Shirt is a big man.  I would suspect he's been in fights in his life, but not a whole bunch of them.  There reason why is that the man seems to have zero plan what to do after his first punch.  He probably thought that would be enough to win versus the smaller 7-11 guy.

He was completely wrong.

I suspect 7-11 guy has fought a lot more often, and may even have a bit of training (the timing of his block suggests to me some training, but I could be wrong of course).  When he counter attacks, White Shirt is completely overwhelmed by it and does down almost immediately to the floor, where he lies there and continues to take a beating.

White Shirt guy also does nothing to protect himself against counter-attack, obviously thinking that his one shot will do the trick.  White Shirt has probably depended on his size in to carry him through violent situations and never considered that a smaller guy might be able to actually fight and beat him.


7-11 guy "wins" this fight because once violence is initiated, he keeps fighting until he believes the threat is eliminated.

His attitude is that he is not going to get beat up by White Shirt, and his commitment to his defense is obvious.  He keeps punching - and White Shirt is damn lucky that 7-11 guy did not choose to use kicks - until White Shirt is out.

Whereas White Shirt isn't seriously committed to fighting.  He wants to assault 7-11 guy and not have resistance, sure, but the second he meets resistance,  he lays down pretty quickly and does not use all of the weapons available to him to fight back.

All things being equal, White Shirt is at an advantage, physically, in this fight.  He's bigger and heavier and has a longer reach.  That advantage is completely negated because he does not believe he has to fight past the first punch or two. 7-11 guy, being smaller, correctly perceives his disadvantage and uses his attitude and willingness to defend himself to overcome his physical limitations.

As the saying goes, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

So what do you think? What else can be learned from this fight? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 10/01/16

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:  4 Hours of Arnis-y goodness.  We get together once a month to train and study Modern Arnis to prepare our brown belts for promotion to black next year.
Sunday:  I got sick, so I stayed home instead of inflicting my nasty head cold on our ADE Self Defense students.  Once nice thing about having a martial arts family - Older Daughter stepped in to help in absence!
Monday:  Head cold raging hard.  Went to bed early.
Tuesday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis, didn't touch anybody because of the head cold, came home, passed out.
Wednesday:  Day 3 of the stupid head cold.  Stayed home. passed out.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  FINALLY started feeling a little better.
Friday:  Rank testing at Mid-Cities Arnis.  They did great!


I had a theme going this week, kinda...

I posted these posts of original content this week:
Monday:  THAT GUY: The Dilettante 
Wednesday:  THAT GUY: The Scaredy-Cat

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  THAT GUY: The Philosopher
Thursday:  THAT GUY: Bad Hygiene Guy
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Is Teaching the Martial Arts for Profit Okay, or Bad?

(If you have a good idea for a Face-Off Friday topic, let me know!)

I am moving my blog content on Facebook from my personal profile to a page for the Stick Chick Blog.  The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook.

There's stuff I post on the Stick Chick Blog on Facebook you won't see in other channels, so please, like it and share it with your friends.  Thanks!


 Datu +Dieter Knüttel is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth - my teacher is hosting him in Roanoke, TX!  If you can possibly make it - YOU WANT TO.  Datu Dieter is AMAZING and I highly recommend that you see him if you can (so why not in Texas?).

By the way, he was promoted to 10th Degree last weekend at the East Meets West camp in Germany.  There's a Facebook event right HERE.
I posted this on Facebook this week.

Master Ken is funny because it's true.  Oh, so true - and is it just me, or is his advice actually more practical than it seems at first blush?


"Normal" week - Arnis in the morning, kobudo in the afternoon.  And GASP!  I have Sunday off.  I have a trip to prepare for, so most of the day will involve that.  But still - WOW, I'm not running 110 miles an hour!

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!