Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Punching Up

I earned my 1st Degree Black Belt in 2013.

Many people earn this rank and quit. Heck, that might be the majority of us who reach that rank. Some of us stick and keep training.

Some very few of us, though, earn this rank, leave our systems, and then go on to "found" our own martial arts styles, and stop training with anyone outside of the people they convince to study under them.

Dude. I know.

It is said that "Black Belt is only the beginning", and my own personal experience proves this to be true.  Since earning my Dayang Isa rank, I've had the opportunity to train with some of the most experienced people around, not only in the Filipino Martial Arts (much less my own art, Modern Arnis or Presas Arnis), but in other styles, from a variety of backgrounds.

I know for a fact that I am a far better Dayang Isa now than I was in 2013.  Not just because of the time I've spent training and teaching others, but also because of my continued exposure to these very skilled, highly ranked martial artists.

I've spent a lot of time "punching up" - getting my ass handed to me sometimes, but working with the best I can find to work with, people who have forgotten more than I'll ever know.

THAT'S why I've improved over time.  I like to say, "I suck less" than I used to, because it's true, if I'm honest with myself (note - it's not that I don't still suck, it's just I suck a lot less than I did, which is progress!)

I am always impressed by long-term martial artists who strap on white belts and keep learning. Some of our biggest names and most experienced people do it.  It's inspirational to me, and it proves to me that the best of who we are and what we do are always learning and growing.  These truly great martial artists move outside of their comfort zones,and recognize that there are others who have things to offer and teach.

This eternal student mindset is, to me, how one becomes a true "Grand Master" in the modern martial arts.

If you never spend your time working with people better than you are, who can challenge you, who question you, who can beat you, well, that's how you end up with things like this:


It goes from martial arts training into cultish self-delusion over time.

That's why I will always seek out martial artists better than I am to train with.  It's the best way to learn and grow over time.  It's how I can be sure I'm the best martial artist I can be.  I don't want to reach a point where I think I know it all (because I think that's impossible, and thus, has to be a self-delusion).

It's like sharpening a knife.  You can't do it on a soft surface, one the knife can cut through easily.  You have to sharpen that knife against a hard, unyielding surface, one tougher than the material of the knife.

I plan to be as sharp a knife I can be.



How do you seek out other martial artists - how do you "punch up" - to learn and grow?  Do you know people who avoid doing so?  Tell us your stories in the comments below!

Monday, August 29, 2016

MAPA 10: Good Vibrations

Our school hosted the Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance 10th Gathering recently.

The original idea of MAPA was to bring together as many people as we could interested in the Filipino Martial Arts (and closely related arts when possible) at a Gathering, share different things that we know, learn new stuff or perspectives on what we already know, and to have fun.  We have no ranks and no politics.  We rotate instructors and locations.  We keep the cost minimal in order to be  accessible to as many people as possible.



Having fun - and creating relationships between us - is perhaps most important of these goals.

I've enjoyed each MAPA.  Every one we have has a different flavor.  This one had a fantastic vibe and at the end, everyone was really pleased at the material presented and the fellowship we all shared.  If we'd ended the series here, we would have ended it on a very high note, indeed, because this MAPA lived - really lived - all of the goals we set out to achieve.

The four instructors (in order of presentation at MAPA 10):

Art Miraflor:  Cabales Serrada Escrima, on loan to Texas for a couple of years from Stockton, California, to our benefit and their loss.  Master Art taught various knife techniques.

Image by Mark Lynn

Jason Gutierrez: Force Necessary, one of the top guys under Hock Hoccheim who always has amazing material.  Guro Jason taught stick grappling.

Image by Mark Lynn

Jackie Bradbury: Presas Arnis, yours truly. I taught translating sinawali patterns into boxing drills.

Image by Mark Lynn

Lacelles McCarthy II: Senkotiros Arnis, who drove up from Temple - 2 hours or so to participate when our original Senkotiros instructor, Kimberly Davis, got invited to judge at the Taekwondo Junior Team Trials at the Olympic Training Center (so understandably, she had to bow out).  Tuhon Lacelles taught striking principles and drills from Senkotiros.



Yes, I was drafted into the teaching rotation this time around.  I was the lowest ranked person teaching, but I riffed on material that +Datu Hartman showed at the Modern Arnis Unity Camp so my session went really well.  You can't go wrong when you share what you learned from someone who knows their stuff.

When writing about MAPA, I've used the term "family" a lot - and this MAPA probably felt more like that more than any other.  Having Master Miraflor and Tuhon McCarthy in the rotation with arts that are a very different lineage brought that home.  What they taught was from a different perspective but it was still... arnis.  Still in the family, familiar enough for us to understand and enjoy.

That is the beauty of the FMA's, after all - thousands (literally) of lineages and points of view, and yet, it's all close enough to each other that it's not too difficult for all of us to join in and learn.  The material was never out of reach for any of us (including our kid students).

Add in MAPA's style and rank agnostic point of view, and MAPA gatherings are ALWAYS a good time full of friendship, fun, and learning.

MAPA will be going to a twice-a-year cycle, so the next one will probably be in the Spring of 2017.

If you're on Facebook, like the MAPA page, and please, come on out to MAPA 11.  It doesn't matter how experienced you are or what lineage you're from (if any) in the Filipino Martial Arts.  All we ask is that you come with an open mind, ready to play and to make friends!






Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/27/16

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  I rested, for the most part, still recovering from the stupid migraine.  I was weak as a kitten.
Sunday:  Finally got some energy back and I caught up on chores and things.  I wore out easily.
Monday:  My "day off" - hubby went to Arnis and I stayed home and made dinner!
Tuesday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Wednesday:  Went to Arnis at Hidden Sword. Worked on the material I'm teaching at MAPA 10 with our junior Brown Belt.  Brain candy!
Thursday:  Taught Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  Nunchaku - The Big Surprise
Wednesday:  Gold Medals (In Olympic Shenanigans)
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: When Do You "Fire" a Student?

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:   How Cheering Made Me a Better Martial Artist
Thursday:  Exploring the "X"

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


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

ENTER THE DOJO IS RETURNING!!  Season 4 starts this week!  Happy dance!!



GET ON THIS!  New movie - "Fighting Sticks of Arnis" available!  You can order a download or a DVD.  ORDER HERE - and below is the trailer.  It's awesome to see people I know - and have actually trained with - in this amazing movie!



If you were curious about what I was talking about in my blog post on the Olympics - the Online Dojo - here's the details.

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

So I'm teaching at MAPA 10 today.  This MAPA has 3 big guns... and me.  I'm a little nervous but I'm excited about the material.  If you're in the DFW area, hope to see you there!

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, August 26, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: When Do You "Fire" a Student?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today I'm interested in your experience and opinion about when it's acceptable for a martial arts school or instructor to ask a student to leave the school.

I'm sure none of us want to be in this situation but it definitely happens from time to time.

There could be many reasons why this may happen:

  • A student refuses to follow established school rules for safety
  • A student is harassing or bullying other students
  • A student consistently interrupts class so much that it's difficult for all of the students to learn
  • A parent of a student is disruptive to the school's operations

I've never been faced with this situation, but I'm sure many of you have.  So I want to know what you think:

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO "FIRE" A STUDENT FROM A MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gold Medals (In Olympic Shenanigans)

Well, the 2016 Olympics are now over.

Martial sports - fencing, shooting, wrestling, tae kwon do, boxing, judo, archery, javelin - had lots of interesting things happen and lots of drama and fantastic stories.

Yes, more Kayla Harrison. 

One story, though, I found particularly interesting.  Not because of the incident itself, but the reaction to it in some quarters of our martial arts world.

I'm talking about the robbery of Belgian Judo Bronze Medalist Dirk Van Tichelt on Copacabana Beach.

Now, if Mr. Van Tichelt had been, say, a swimmer, nobody would have batted an eye.  The universal reaction would have been "How terrible!  Criminals suck!  Glad that guy is ok!"

Well, mostly.

Some of us, though, took this incident as an opportunity.

First off, I saw far too many people saying, "See?  Olympic Judo sucks and is useless!"


No, being one of the best judo players on the Earth did not make a huge difference when Mr. Van Tichelt was partying with friends and was confronted by someone who wished his to take things that didn't belong to him that night on the beach.

It doesn't mean anything about Judo.

Additionally, it feels an awful lot like blaming Mr. Van Tichelt for the incident when people say this sort of thing.

The man survived a very dangerous situation and came out of it alive and with no more than a black eye.  That's how you "win" in self defense, people.

It is always risky when faced with this situation, and your goal is to survive it to tell the tale.  Not stand over a robber's body like a superhero.  I don't care what art you do, how skilled you are, how much time you have in training.

Second, I also saw that a certain mostly online ninja dojo used this incident as advertising for their services.

I find capitalizing on things like this incredibly distasteful anyway (as usually when it's done, it's ham-fisted and insensitive), but in this particular instance, it's hilarious.

This same group has people posting videos of themselves skulking around in all-black ninja outfits in broad daylight in suburban parks. Yes, a guy in a ninja outfit sneaking around trees and bridges while there's people picnicking and playing frisbee and walking dogs on a nice sunny summer day.

Their claim is that ONLINE NINJA TRAINING is better for self defense than OLYMPIC JUDO.



And that's all I have to say about that.

In any case, I am happy that Mr. Van Tichelt is okay, and that he's going home with a Bronze Medal in a badass martial sport.

Any claims that Judo is useless in self defense is shenanigans, in my opinion.

As always, let us know what YOU think in the comments!



Monday, August 22, 2016

Nunchaku - the Big Surprise

I had my first training session with nunchaku recently.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that this is the weapon in my kobudo class I was least looking forward to.

First off - there is a lot of nonsense and shenanigans out there with this weapon.  Not only are nunchaku often featured in "martial arts fail" videos, but even "good" nunchaku is mostly just dances with weapons.  You never actually see them HIT ANYTHING - and y'all know how much I love weapon arts that dance around in the air, right?



Just...

Dammit.

Secondly, I actually respect nunchaku as a dangerous weapon to face (and to wield).  Remember, it was against nunchaku that I jammed my fingers (read about how fun that was here).

So I was a little nervous starting my first class in nunchaku.  I didn't want to do it poorly, and I was definitely aware of the risk of knocking myself right out, as our nunchaku are white oak bound with cord - so they will hurt when I hit myself.

 A lot.

Class started, and they lectured us on the correct name for the weapon.  It's "nunchaku", not "numchucks",   Now, hear this being said in a Texas accent.

Nummm-chucks. Kinda fun to say, isn't it? BUT DON'T.  They are noon-chah-koo.  Got it?

At the start of class, our teacher said, "At this point, it's a better strategy, if you have nunchaku and your opponent does not, to hand THEM the weapon, as it's more likely that they'll hurt themselves than hurt you."  I believe him.

We started with some basic exercises to get used to the weapon.  One major point is that we hold the weapon at the END of the handle, not "choked up" next to the cord (or chain).  Now that I have learned this, I see it in 97% of every nunchaku video I see on the internet; this "choking up" to make the weapon go faster in the air.

Next, we were shown that we strike through ("lobtik" in the terminology we use in Arnis) the target, vs. hitting and stopping. That's how you get rebound and how you end up hitting yourself in the head.

The neat thing is that these exercises, once we got used to catching the moving handle in our hands, were literally identical to classical strikes found in Arnis.

I'm talking about specifically arco, banda y banda, and ocho-ocho.

HEY! I know this stuff already!  It's... ARNIS!

WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS RIGHT?!??!
Then we learned our first striking pattern.  It is similar to our tonfa pattern, and I picked it up pretty quickly.  By the end of class, I was having fun and I wasn't worried or nervous at all.

Now I have to practice hard because we are learning our first nunchaku form, Nunchaku Ichi, next class.

I admit, I'm much more upbeat and positive than I was about nunchaku before this first class.  I may even actually... like nunchaku a little bit.

A... tad.

Just so's you get an idea of what we're learning really looks like, this is the closest thing I can find online.  Enjoy.



Tell us about a time you were nervous about something new in the martial arts and how it turned out.  Or tell us your nunchaku stories - let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/20/16

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  Morning Arnis, then nunchaku!  I will be writing about that this week.  Long story short, I liked it!  I really liked it!
Sunday:  Celebrated my birthday (it was earlier in the week but I was busy!).  Saw "Star Trek: Beyond". We really enjoyed it.  Best of the three "new" Star Trek films by far.  Started feeling... off... Sunday night.
Monday:  Day 1 of the Migraine Attack from HELL.  Woke up feeling sick-ish, tried to write, headache came on - and by "headache" I mean HOLY CRAP SOMEBODY IS STABBING MUH BRAINS!!! plus nausea and dizziness.  I went to bed.  Not that it helped much.
Tuesday:  Day 2 of Migraine Attack from HELL.  Went to the hospital as I just couldn't take it any more.  They gave me a migraine "cocktail" of meds and I got to sleep for the first time in over a day.  That was nice.
Wednesday:  Day 3 of Migraine Attack from HELL.   At home, resting, nauseated, but no headache, so that was good.  Improvement.  Not enough to, y'know, live my life.
Thursday:  Day 4 of Migraine Attack from HELL.  Went to doc for anti-nausea meds because I was still staggering around the house and feeling pukey.
Friday:  Day 5 of Migraine Attack from HELL! I had recovered enough to drive and go to work. I wasn't terribly productive but I was present.  Still a bit dizzy and having trouble concentrating but I made it through the day.  Came home and went right to bed.

Y'know those photos where a pretty woman in perfect makeup is sorta holding her head and frowning and they say that's a migraine?


Muh migraine is so ouchy!

NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE.

It's more like this(where your head is the remote), but with extra helpings of weakness, aches, dizziness and nausea (LOTS of nausea).  The hammering never stops.



I couldn't think, I couldn't write, I couldn't drive, I couldn't walk. I couldn't eat. I didn't eat for a long time.  It was difficult to drink liquids.  There was no sleeping - you'd pass out for a short time but it wasn't SLEEP sleep.  Lights on or off, it didn't change anything at all.  Noise didn't matter.  There is no way to lay where you get relief - there is no relief. It was just nonstop excruciating pain - I described it to the doctor as wearing a pain helmet I couldn't take off.

So, I had a fun week.  I'm seeing a neurologist on Monday and we'll see how it goes.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

I posted this post of original content this week:

Nuthin'. I posted not a single damn thing - no reblogs, no fresh content, nothing.  It was the first time that's happened since I began the blog.  I actually tried to write Monday morning when the attack came on full bore and I will be finishing that post and posting it this week.  But I did nothing but suffer all week long.

Yeah, I'm still pissed off about the whole thing.

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


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

I saw, for the most part, the inside of my eyelids.  It looked like this:





Restful, ain't it?

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

I had planned to help out at a charity tournament today.  Instead I am taking it easy and resting because I need to recover from this migraine. I actually mentally feel somewhat normal - which is a huge relief, as I've been fuzzy headed and kind of confused during this whole episode.  But I'm completely wiped out.  I am hoping that tomorrow I'll feel well enough to practice nunchaku (and the rest of my kobudo stuff) and finish preparations for what I'm going to teach at MAPA 10 next Saturday.

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, August 13, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/13/16

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  Morning Arnis at Mid-Cities Arnis, then afternoon Kobudo.  This was our last "free" session before we start learning nunchaku, so we've been playing with the bo using concepts from sumbrada (also sometimes known as the 6 count drill or 3-8-12/3-8-5-5-12 to some folks).
Sunday:  Our monthly "Arnis BB" gathering with Mid-Cities Arnis, Hidden Sword, and TNT Self Defense.  We spent much of the day working on concepts around driving and the flow, working tapi-tapi.  We also worked a little bit on Baston Anyo Lima and empty hand Anyo Tatlo.
Monday:  My day off.  I finally got enough rest to feel like I wasn't completely wiped out mentally!  Yay!
Tuesday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Wednesday:  Rare night where Mr Chick and I attended a weeknight Arnis class together at Hidden Sword!
Thursday:  Everybody's on vacation - and school starts in a little over a week - so we had no students for class.  A rare night home.
Friday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked on sinawali boxing concepts and stick sparring!



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  GUEST POST: Black Belt Isn't Everything
Wednesday:  The Stick Chick Goes to Camp
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are the Olympics Good for the Martial Arts?

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:   Brutal Self-Honesty: A Two Sided Coin
Thursday:  Let's Talk Sticks

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


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

It's the Olympics!  In the martial arts/sports world, we've seen shooting, fencing, and judo.  Boxing has just started up, and we have wrestling and tae kwon do to come.  I wish they had a martial arts/sports only feed out there, y'know?

I'm still over the moon over this one.  Kayla Harrison Successfully Defends Gold Medal


Olympics time always has lots of great stories of amazing athletes from around the world.  Kayla Harrison's is one of the more compelling ones I've ever heard.  I look forward to seeing what she does next.

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

This afternoon is the AKATO Kobudo class over in Dallas.  We're starting nunchaku. I will probably look like this:

Found at AC Spahn's Web site here.

Lawd help me.

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, August 12, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are the Olympics Good for Martial Arts?

It's FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today I am curious as to what you think about the effect the Olympics has on the martial arts.

Specifically, I am thinking about the Asian martial arts of Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and the addition of Karate in 2020.

This would, of course, include martial sports such as shooting, fencing, boxing, and wrestling too, but I'd like to keep our attention on the Asian-derived martial arts.

On the one hand, the exposure these arts get in major media can't be a bad thing.   Tae Kwon Do is ubiquitous in the United States, and the advertising they get from the Olympics has to be helpful in that regard.  Judo is less so, but it's a highly respected martial art and sport.

On the other hand, some folks argue that Olympic style rule sets harm the actual martial application of the martial art in question - that the sport version overwhelms the traditional application of the martial art.

I do know that my Karateka friends are heavily divided on the question of inclusion in the Games.

But I want to know what YOU think:

ARE THE OLYMPICS GOOD FOR THE MARTIAL ARTS?


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Stick Chick Goes to Camp

Recently I attended the Modern Arnis Unity Camp, hosted by Bill Barker at Progressive Tactics School of Martial Arts.

Photo  Credit: Paul Della Mora

As it turns out, the camp was being held in the town my sister lives in - literally just a couple of miles away from her house.  As my oldest daughter turned 16 this year, my sister decided to sell us her old Prius for her to drive (and it was a surprise present for the Kidlet).

Since this Camp was perfectly timed for the birthday surprise (her birthday is in early July) we flew up, I attended Camp and she hung out with her aunt, and we drove the "new" car back to Texas.

The Camp featured some of the bigger names in Modern Arnis, including Datu +Tim Hartman, Datu +Dieter Kn├╝ttel,  +Prof. Dan Anderson, Master +Rich Parsons, and Sensei Jaye Spiro.   Guest instructors were Guro +Dr. Tye W. Botting and Guro Enoch Carlton (see a video of him teaching here).

A very high powered lineup, folks, and one that didn't disappoint.

I won't go into all of the material taught at the camp in detail here - it was all classical and individual takes on what we do in Modern Arnis (as well as showing some Balintawak, an FMA that has a lot of influence on Modern Arnis). Some of it was brand new to me (as I am actually a Presas Arnis player, not pure Modern Arnis) and some of it was well known to me and it was great to get a fresh take on things I thought I already knew.

This is the second true "camp" I've ever attended (the first was IMAF Camp in Houston last year) and the one the greatest distance from where I live.  I would have won the award for "longest distance" if Datu Dieter hadn't brought three of his guys from Germany! Speaking of which, if you get a chance to go meet the folks from the DAV - do it!  They're very skilled and really wonderful people!

What is interesting is the various takes that people have on the material given their own strengths, weaknesses, interests, and backgrounds.  It gives you a bigger, broader picture of Modern Arnis and what it can be (versus what anybody insists it must be).  At events like this, you gain a greater appreciation for what Modern Arnis is and how it truly is an art and system that conforms itself to the player, versus forcing the player to conform to the art.

It was two and a half days of learning and playing, and honestly, a lot of the value of these camps isn't only in the material taught, but the connections you make in the larger Modern Arnis family.  New relationships are formed, new friendships are made, and my martial arts world is now bigger and richer.

Speaking of the "family"...

I've mentioned before that I am a "second generation" student - I never actually met or trained with Remy Presas (nor his brother Ernesto Presas, so that makes me a a double 2nd generation person, I suppose).

Even though Mid-Cities Arnis is now affiliated directly with one Modern Arnis organization (the World Modern Arnis Alliance), it is my belief that it's important to train with all of the organizations and independents (like my teacher) out there who did train directly under Professor as much as I can within my relatively limited resources.

That means that I will do what I can to support all of us who are out there trying to promote the art.  I believe is important to do so if Modern Arnis is to pass on to my generation, and the generations after me.

I honestly wish that all of us felt that way, but that's not the world I live in.

Ah well.

It was nice to train with all of those wonderful teachers, and to meet new friends.  I will definitely be going back to southern Michigan as soon as possible (heck, I do have a place to stay... )

Here's some more pics of me at Camp - photo credit belongs to Paul Della Mora (thanks, Paul!).

The WMAA crew with the Camp Instructors
Playing with Volker from the DAV
Me and Professor Dan Anderson working on Stick Sparring concepts
See? I can do FORMS (this was working on Anyo Dalawa, empty hand form two)
I'm coming to get you, Brendan!!
I love, love LOVE meeting my sisters in Modern Arnis! Hi Deidra!
Oh look at me, all formal and pretty and junk!

Tell me about a time you traveled to attend a martial arts seminar or camp.  What's the biggest value from these events you seem to get?  Any funny stories?  Let me know in the comments!!

Monday, August 8, 2016

GUEST POST: Black Belt Isn't Everything

Please welcome today's guest poster, Kevin Bradbury.

We just received the latest issue of MA Success magazine from Century (Sept 2016 issue) and I read something that really bothered me in their Inspiration Ovation column by Karen Eden.

In the column she writes about the rank of red belt, in her system, the rank right before black.

I understand her goal was to talk about staying motivated at a point when a lot of people drop out but some of her statements struck me as self-righteous and condescending.

For example, she talks about how when meeting someone who says they made it to brown or red belt:

“...in my mind’s eye, I immediately sum them up: they are the quitters.”

People have lots of reasons why they may stop martial arts training.  My wife, daughter, and I all had our training interrupted twice by job changes and interstate moves.  Being in the Presas lineage of Filipino Martial Arts, it was doubly hard for my wife and I to find the right teacher to continue our training with, and that took us a year and a half and a move cross-country to accomplish.

People stop training for reasons related to health, career, and family.  I would not apply the derogatory term of “quitter” to them.  Maybe they reached the point where they felt like they had gotten out of martial arts training what had set out to and did not feel the need to pass some instructor’s arbitrary and subjective finish line.

After all, black belt is not necessarily the perfect and only measure of martial arts progress.  Neither is it the end-goal of our training.

She continues to state:

“I would honestly be more impressed if you told me you had a Gucci belt than if you told me you had a red belt from 20 years ago.  For me, having “no belt” is more impressive than someone who quit at the rank of red belt.”

Seriously?  I applaud anyone who has given their time and money to have studied a martial art  at some point in their life.  Good on them!  I’d like to draw them back in, not insult them with an arrogant attitude of superiority.  Would it have been ok if they quit after they hit black belt?  Is there any rank at which she feels they are not beneath her for having stopped?  Or any reason?

 Not all students who enter martial arts training are lifers.  That’s OK!  

If we want others to embrace the martial arts more we need to drop the exclusiveness.  People come and go in our schools.  None of us are entitled to our students time and money.  We should be grateful to be in the position of getting to touch so many people’s lives in a positive way, for however long they choose to stay with us.

Look, if you’re at the point of being a martial arts instructor- martial arts is your thing.  It is a big and important thing in your life.  I get that completely - my life and my family's lives revolve around the martial arts (my wife, myself, and both daughters are involved in the martial arts in one way or another).  Much of our free time and money is spent on this hobby.

I understand, though, if someone else chooses differently.

Not everyone is going to have the same level of commitment to everything, and that's okay.  I’m willing to bet the column’s author quit something at some point in her life that others felt was very important but didn't appeal to her.  That’s okay, too.  I don’t think that makes her weak of character.

Later in the column she goes on to acknowledge that life gets in the way sometimes and if you are really not committed you’ll get not get past red belt.  She also talks about the support that her instructor gave her that helped her through the tough times and that she tries to show support and understanding to her students to help them through the tough parts.  But based on the earlier words in the column that compassion vanishes once the person decides that something else in their life is more important.

She ends with:

“Nothing impresses an instructor more than a good black belt.”

We all know not all black belts are created equal and rank of any kind often means someone put in the time and money.  Rank of any level is hardly an indicator of skill.  We value it because it is an indicator of our effort and commitment, but that's not the only measure of worth in the martial arts.

 I cannot impose my level of effort and commitment on every person who expresses an interest in learning our art.  All I can do is embrace them, encourage them and try my best to help them get out of it everything they need to get out of it and hope that they derive from it some of the same pleasure and satisfaction I do.  And they’re done when they’re done.

Then they are former students who I will always welcome back and not deride them as “quitters”.


+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 currently studying for his Instructor certification in Knife Combatives from Hock Hochheim.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Stick Chicktivity - 08/06/16

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  Day 2 of Modern Arnis Unity Camp.  I will be writing about this camp this week, so stay tuned.
Sunday:   Day 3 of Modern Arnis Unity Camp - MUH BRAIN NO MORE WORK GUD.  Then we hit the road to drive back to Fort Worth from Detroit.  We made it to just outside St. Louis, MO by about midnight!
Monday:  Got up, went up in the St. Louis Gateway Arch (a GREAT value - do it if you ever possibly can, because it's a bucket list item in my opinion). At lunch, drove to Springfield, MO and went through Fantastic Caverns (if you like caves, you gotta see this one!) , then we drove through the ghost town of Picher, OK (yes, the big piles of waste are still there and they are HUGE), until we ended up crashing for the night in Claremore, OK, just outside of Tulsa.
Tuesday:  Got up and went to the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK.  It's a really neat little attraction and was staffed by volunteers. If you are in the area, go by and donate to it - it's a cool piece of Americana that I am glad we got to visit.  Then we drove home and arrived back in Texas late Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday:   I worked and I passed out early - I was WHOOPED!
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We have a new student so I worked on some of our zero level material (blocking concepts, single sinawali, and the 12 angles of attack).
Friday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Our new student got to stick spar for the first time, and he did great!

Attendees at the Modern Arnis Unity Camp.  Image by Paul Della Mora.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Another light week of posting,  Things will return to normal this week.

I posted this post of original content this week:
Wednesday:  Scumbag Brain Strikes Again

I re-shared these posts:
Thursday:   How Do We Teach What We Do
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Independent, or Organization?

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


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

I saw much of the American Midwest this week!  We drove from Detroit to Fort Worth, going through seven states - Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.  I am always amazed by how much of this land is still relatively wild, even in the long-settled Midwest states.
Me, Older Daughter, and my sister at the Gateway Arch, a true miracle of modern engineering.

I'll admit - driving through Missouri made me a bit homesick for the place.  I grew up in St. Louis and lived a very long time in Kansas City.

Nice post by Peter Boylan over at The Budo Bum about cross training (and why some folk who claim it's "traditional" in Japanese martial arts are full of it):  Teachers Who Can't Share

A video with some nice points about self defense and the reality of knife attacks by Active Self Protection:





If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today is a normal training day - Arnis in the morning, Kobudo in the afternoon.  We have a 2 hour break in between classes, and I plan to use that to go over my camp notes and get some stuff recorded for my future reference - and to pick what I will be teaching at MAPA 10 (yep, I'll be a first-time MAPA instructor this time around!).

Tomorrow is our monthly gathering of four hours of training to prep our Brown belts for their test next year.  This time it's in Roanoke and hosted by my teacher.  It is going to be a fun day!

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, August 3, 2016

Scumbag Brain Strikes Again

It's Day 3 of Modern Arnis Unity Camp.

It's our last session, covering some interesting material involving knife defenses.  Our instructor, Jaye Spiro, demonstrates a technique, and we pair up.

This is classical stuff.  I recognize some of it, but the approach is somewhat new to me (as most of my knife work tends to come to me via +Hock Hochheim's material).

I look at my partner and...

My brain stops working.

Oh, it's still keeping me alive, of course, but my brain decides that the input limit has now been reached.  It's decided I'm going to look stupidly at my partner and refuse to allow my hands and feet move the way I want them to move. It's locked up, like a car engine without oil.

Me: "Come on, brain, let's do this technique"

Brain:


Me: "Wait, what?  It's the last session, and you know some of this already. It should be easy!  Let's do this."

Brain: "Naaaaaah.  Don't wanna."

Me:  "Look, you, I'm in charge, and I want to do this."

Brain: "Don't care.  Look, after the ropes course, and a couple of days of all this information coming in for hours and hours, I'm just done.  We've been working hard nonstop and we haven't slept enough."

Me: "It's just one more session!  After this, we're done, we can take pictures, hug people, exchange contact information, and start the drive back home."

Brain: "Nope.  I think I want you to look like a complete idiot for the last session of this camp.  You are going to fumble around for the rest of today.  You're going to stand still with your mouth slightly open and stare at things.  In fact, this is how we're going to operate for the rest of today:"



Me: "Thanks a lot, brain."

Brain:  "I'll make you a deal. I'll start remembering all this stuff you've learned in the middle of the night tonight while you're trying to get some sleep on day 1 of a 1200 mile, 3-day drive across the country.  I'll wake you up so you can listen to the loud hotel air conditioning while I do it."

Me; "Gee, thanks."

Brain:  "No problem.  It's what I do."

Tell us about a time in training when your martial arts brain decided to be a scumbag and freeze up!