Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Year in Stick Chicktivity 2017



2017 was a banner year for the Stick Chick in the martial arts.  Here's an overview of what I did, month by month.  I'll just cover the "big" stuff, not the daily ins-and-outs of acquiring bruises for funsies.

JANUARY

January started off right as we knuckled down to prepare our black belt candidates for their test later in the year. I attended the monthly Kobudo program class, and  I attended a Texas Modern Arnis Coalition (TMAC) gathering in Houston. We also got to go to the Johnson Space Center while we were there, which was really fun.

New blog posts made in this month can be found HERE

Me at TMAC in Houston, with Sal Todaro teaching.

FEBRUARY

Outside of all the normal stuff - teaching at Mid-Cities Arnis, attending Presas Arnis classes at Hidden Sword, and Kobudo - it was a light month. We had a women's self defense session at Mid-Cities Arnis, but this was one of the few months I wasn't running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

New blog posts made in this month can be found HERE

Teaching sinawali is SERIOUS BIZNASS.

MARCH

Started the month off right by attending the World Modern Arnis Alliance first-ever Texas camp here in town, with Datu Tim Hartman, which was awesome.   Hidden Sword was a participant at our AKATO seminar and we put on a demo, which is a first for us.

New blog posts made in the month can be found HERE.

Me beating on children, as is my wont.

APRIL

We started the month with MAPA11!  Later that month, we held our school's first ever FORMAL Presas Arnis Black Belt Test (remember, Mr. Chick and I were secretly tested and promoted).  We promoted two people to Lakan Isa (one adult, one junior) and Mr. Chick and I were promoted to our 2nd degree black belt ranks (Lakan Dalawa and Dayang Dalawa). 

New blog posts in this month can be found HERE.

Hidden Sword's Black Belts (center is our instructor, Mark Lynn)

MAY

Super busy, as we hosted the Stick & Steel Seminar with GM Art Miraflor and Professor Dan Anderson (which ROCKED). Then I attended a Paiho form (White Crane Kung Fu) and Eku seminar by Shihan Dean Chapman down in Waco. We taught another women's self defense session, and I helped out with my teacher's Arnis Instructor's program.  I remember this month as being CRAZY!

New blog posts for this month can be found HERE.

Dan Anderson using me as uke, which was a real honor, by the way.  I love it when I get picked!

JUNE

HUGE month.  The beginning of summer is always busy when you have kids and family in, right? We competed at the Monica Lopez tournament (yours truly took 3rd).  We taught women's self defense, but the big event was my teacher and I attending the Ernesto Presas Legacy Camp in Colorado.  I got to meet TONS of amazing people, learned so very much, and the ramifications of the friendships made there are still being played out.  Great camp!

New posts on the blog can be found HERE.

Attendees and Instructors at the Ernesto Presas Legacy Camp. I think I'm the only female in this picture (really).

JULY

Went to Lawton, OK with my friends at Shotokan Karate of Lawton to teach them Anyos (and for them to intro me to sparring) to start off the month.  Then, I got to attend a fantaboulous two-day seminar by Rich Parsons in Balintawak, which ROCKED!

New blog posts from this month can be found HERE.

Rich explains that I can't just punch people in the face all willy-nilly like.  Spoilsport.

AUGUST

My student competed at a tournament (I volunteered as a ring judge this time around) and did really well.  We taught another women's self defense session.  And I did get to see some of that neat-o eclipse.  A good month, a little less hectic than normal, but I do recall that it was in August that I knuckled down and started nearly-daily kobudo practice, which really paid off in the end.  And oh, I turned - gulp - 49 years old. Gaaah.

New blog posts from the month can be found HERE.
Me & other ring judges from the tournament.

SEPTEMBER

Not as hectic as summer was!  As y'all may remember, Texas was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Although I was far from any problems up here in Fort Worth, lots of my martial arts friends were affected by the storm. Thus, we dedicated funds from MAPA 12 to Harvey Relief, and we ended up donating $605.00 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.  A great seminar!

New blog posts from this month can be found HERE.
The badasses of MAPA 12.

OCTOBER

Relatively normal month, except we got to go down to Bryant, Texas (and dang, it was hot!) for our second TMAC (Texas Modern Arnis Coalition) gathering.  So fun!  I love TMAC!  Practiced my rear off in kobudo, though!

New posts from this month can be found HERE.
I can hit with a big stick, too!

NOVEMBER

My original Arnis/Ryukyu Kempo teacher from Memphis (David Jones) came in to town and we got to train with him for a night and it was great.  I miss him so much! Oh, and I might have finally earned my shodan rank in Kobudo after three years.  I also got to go on a trip to my home town and see lots of friends from days gone by.  A pretty awesome month overall.

Posts from this month can be found HERE.
I'm in the front row, third from the right. And I haven't worn my white gi since.

DECEMBER

Like most years, December was a relatively light month training-wise, but it was still busy.  I got my new nunchaku I bought myself for my black belt present. We promoted our green belts to blue belts at Mid-Cities Arnis. I helped my teacher examine and promote participants in his Presas Arnis Instructor's course (and saw some really sharp people in the bargain).  Taught the last women's self defense course of the year.  Went to Trinity Treetops Adventure Park (which was a blast). 

New posts from this month can be found HERE.

Our new Blue Belts at Mid-Cities Arnis.

2017 wasn't as busy as 2016 was, but it was still a year of some pretty important milestones for me, personally.  When you write a post like this, and you look at the calendar, and at all the pictures and Facebook events and social media posts, you realize just how much this little weird hobby of ours can take up so much of your time and your life.  2017 marked my 9th anniversary in the martial arts, and I had no idea, back then, how important this would be to me in the future.  No idea at all!

I recommend that you take the time to review YOUR year in the martial arts, note all that you did, what you didn't, celebrate your accomplishments, and make some new and cool goals to achieve next year.

I'm very happy and excited about the people I met and trained with and the new connections and relationships I made. That's one of the biggest gifts we in the martial arts community get, and I don't think we celebrate it enough.

To all of you who taught me, trained with me, learned from me, communicated with me, shared my blog content or interacted with me online... thank you.

2018 is going to be a big year of changes for yours truly (and my family, as my oldest daughter is graduating from high school). Some of the coming changes I can't share yet, but when I can, I will.  I'll still be doing Presas Arnis, and Kobudo (I start the kama class in January), and I've already got a schedule of seminars I'll be attending up up through the first half of the year that I know of (and I'm sure I'll get booked for lots more, as that's just how I roll, y'all).

I hope your 2017 was fantastic, and your 2018 is even better.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/23/17

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: Helped my teacher with the testing and promotion of his HSMA Presas Arnis Instructors course.  He promoted three basic instructors and two non-instructor candidates to Yellow Belt/Green Stripe (equivalent to a green belt in a lot of other systems).
Sunday:  Spent the day doing holiday decoration and shopping.
Monday:  Last Presas Arnis class of 2017.  We worked on tapi-tapi concepts.  Fun!
Tuesday:   Attended Mr. Chick's company Christmas party.
Wednesday:   Saw "Star Wars: The Last Jedi".  I was entertained, so I enjoyed it.  This was also the first day of the Yule season so we started off with a piece of Yule cake shared in our family, and a nice drink of mead.  YUM!
Thursday:   Took younger daughter to Hidden Sword for tae kwon do class.  It was HER last class of 2017.
Friday:  No classes at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Mr. Chick's parents arrived for the holidays from Virginia.

My teacher showing Mr. Chick a lock from one of the interrupts in tapi-tapi.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the new posts or reshared older posts I sent out this week:

Monday5 Gift Suggestions for Martial Artists (for Cheapskates)
TuesdayTHAT GUY: The Fanboy
WednesdayWhy Martial Arts Helps Us Brain Gooder
Thursday: A Question of Trust
FridayQuestions from Quora: I Want To Study Martial Arts But I'm Afraid of Head Injuries

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Remember Vernon Vanzile? The convicted sex offender teaching MMA out of his home in New York (link about him HERE). Whelp, guess who's behind bars! Read about it HERE.  That's at least one bad dude no longer teaching martial arts, for the time being!

A good friend of mine wrote this, and I know lots of folks in it, and I've ordered my own copy, and you should too.  Order it HERE.


Fantastic demo of Okinawan weapons posted by +Martial Arts with Colman.


So how did that guy get so good at the martial arts?



GGM Ernesto Presas of Kombatan in a demo.  Look at him work!


And finally...



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Christmas is Monday! If you celebrate it, I hope yours is amazing.  If you are in the countries that celebrate Boxing Day, I'm jealous.  Not much training this week, with family in town, so I won't be around much.  Hope you have a fantastic week!

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 22, 2017

Questions from Quora: I Want To Study Martial Arts But I'm Afraid of Head Injuries


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

Got a martial arts question you want me to answer?  Send me an "Ask to Answer" on Quora, and I just might!

Read Jackie Bradbury's answer to I feel conflicted. I want to do martial arts again but afraid of head injuries. What do I do? on Quora

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Why the Martial Arts Helps Us Brain Gooder

If you train long enough, you come to realize that the primary value of training in the martial arts isn't physical.

It's mental.

Me playing tapi-tapi, but I'm not this fast.

Yes, yes, what we do requires a certain level of physical skill.  Being physically fit and developing physical traits, such as moving smoothly, having good balance, being limber, etc. are at the heart of the martial arts.

But honestly, it doesn't take THAT long to get good at those physical traits.  If we even want to get technical, if we go with the strictest "martial" sense, heck, it doesn't really take very long to learn how to be effective in a combat situation.  Generations of men going into the military services have proved this.

So why bother training beyond what is strictly necessary to win a fight or survive a violent encounter with a bad guy?  Especially if you don't have a job that requires being put in situations where violence is likely (like law enforcement or security)?

Isn't there an upper limit to how well a person can punch or kick, or to the utility of learning to use tools that don't resemble anything you'd have around you in real life (like sai)?

Because after a certain point, what we do moves beyond physical skills and into the realm of training the mind.

You learn to understand larger concepts, you learn how to think a little bit ahead versus an opponent, you have enough experience to connect all these things together.  With enough experience, you learn how to spot the holes in your game and in the game of other people, and how to cover for the weaknesses in yourself, or exploit the weakness in others.

That's a mental thing, not a physical thing.

Hey, I just came up with another way to KICK YOUR ASS!

Now, having only started in 2008, I don't claim that I have the same level of understanding or vision or mental acuity of someone with decades training.  I certainly don't.   But I do understand enough to recognize what's happening, and to spot it in other people.

Let's take speed.

Ever seen someone who is fast in sparring?  I mean REALLY fast? Part of that is physical, but you know that the foundation of really and truly being fast is the mental game. He or she has trained enough that they know what to do in certain situations.  They already have a plan and execute it without having to think hard about it. That's what being fast REALLY is.

How does this help us off the mat?

I absolutely believe that training into old age helps a person keep mentally sharp and engaged in the world, which contributes to our quality of life.

I also think that training helps me better anticipate things in my work and my home life.  I'm a marketing analyst, and being good at learning to spot weaknesses and flaws, and to think and plan ahead helps me be better at what I do.

This is part of what we're talking about when we say that black belt rank is just the beginning of training in the martial arts.  It's not about the physical, it's the mental, and you're never, ever done training that.

It's why martial arts training can last the rest of your life, and maybe make your later years better and healthier than they might have been.

Have you noticed martial arts training affecting your thinking in your career or other parts of your life? How?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/15/17

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:


This week I didn't actually train much in the martial arts.  I spent much of it sick with that crud that's going around (the one with the sore throat).  So I'll only talk about the two days of note here instead of a list of the days I spent miserably sick at home.

On Saturday the Stick Chick family went to Trinity Adventure Park, one of my favorite things to do that doesn't involve hitting people and/or things.

My youngest conquered all the courses that she was allowed to try (and did one twice). What makes that so amazing is that she backed out of shorter and easier course on our cruise last year, and we were afraid that her fear of heights would be too much for her to overcome.

Instead, she decided she wanted to conquer her fear and became a fan of rope courses/zip lining like the rest of her family. She loves zip lining, which is really amazing given her fear of heights. My brave girl!  Here's a selfie of us from the course:



As for me, I got to get on the highest, most difficult course (the black course).  YES it was hard, especially for a stubby middle aged woman like me. I made it all the way through the course, including the element at the end where you jump off a platform and the rope catches you and takes you down (which is one of the scarier things I've ever done).  Here's the video of that courtesy Mr. Chick (I didn't land on my feet but I was kinda shagged out after the difficulty of the course):


Friday was Hidden Sword's annual Christmas Party and we had a blast like usual.  I ran the kids' games (dodgeball and sword fighting) and they all seemed to have fun.  Hidden Sword has one more week of classes then it goes dark for a couple of weeks during the holidays.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

I didn't have much fresh content for ya'll this week as I was sick as a dog. Tell you what, you can see what I posted on my Facebook page or on my Google Plus profile

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

+Hock Hochheim posted a commentary about knife grips, specifically calling out one he calls the "cancer grip".  What do you think about his point of view?  Stupid Grips on Knives

I missed the martial arts weapons at the disco era, apparently.  Alternately, is this a still from a follow-up to Miami Connection?



If you didn't catch +Joelle White's new blog post... here you go. At Last!

If you run across cool martial arts stuff you think I should see, please do post them in the comments!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today, I'm helping my teacher test the students in his Arnis Instructor's Course out in Bridgeport, TX. I'm looking forward to it!


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 15, 2017

Questions from Quora: What is your favorite martial art or group of martial arts?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

Got a martial arts question you want me to answer?  Send me an "Ask to Answer" on Quora, and I just might!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/09/17

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:  A little bit of kobudo practice with my new nunchaku, then Arnis class.
Sunday:  Taught ADE Women's Self Defense. Good thing I was busy because my Chiefs lost AGAIN. (sigh)
Monday:  My day off.
Tuesday:   Took younger daughter to tae kwon do class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.
Wednesday:   Attended Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  On our "break" (over the holidays) we often have a project for the senior students to do.  We have one this year and my teacher and I worked on things related to this project.  This was also the 4 year anniversary of the Stick Chick Blog!  Yay!
Thursday:   Took younger daughter to Hidden Sword for tae kwon do class.
Friday:  Things are winding down at Mid-Cities Arnis for the holiday season as well, and we didn't have class.

There's no new pic of me this week, so here's one from Jacob's Cave, one of the show caverns we went to on our trip to Missouri a few weeks ago.  This is a stalagtite that fell while they were making the cave safe to show.  If you think I was considering how it might be weaponized... well... you'd be right.



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the new posts or reshared older posts I sent out this week:

MondayWhat is "Wrong" in the Martial Arts?
TuesdaySHENANIGANS! No, Martial Arts Does Not Pose "Serious Danger" for Kids
WednesdayFour Years and Counting
Thursday: Martial Arts and Injury: the Real Risks (and Why We Love It)
FridayQuestions from Quora: What Are Your Best Self-Affirming Moments in Martial Arts?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Master Ken is infecting the younger generation now...



Slay bells ring, are you listening...


If you can help out this friend of Matt Page, creator of "Master Ken" and "Enter the Dojo", please do...


Excerpts of the "Arrow" TV show, which features a lot of FMA in their fight choreography.  I will sometimes complain about it but at the same time, it's great that such obvious FMA stuff is on a tv show these days.


If you run across cool martial arts stuff you think I should see, please do post them in the comments!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today, I'm NOT doing martial arts much - in fact, I won't all weekend long!

Today our family will go to Trinity Forest Adventure and do rope courses and zip lining.  Long time readers of the blog might recall Mr. Chick and I spent a wedding anniversary celebration (At the End of the Rope) in 2015 and that I love - LOVE - courses like this.

Tomorrow, I'm decking the halls.  Not in the martial arts sense like above, but we're going through all of our holiday decorations and making the Stick Chick house festive for the Yule 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!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Questions from Quora: What Are Your Best Self-Affirming Moments in Martial Arts?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

Got a martial arts question you want me to answer?  Send me an "Ask to Answer" on Quora, and I just might!

Put your answer to this week's Question from Quora in the comments!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Four Years and Counting...



My very first post on this blog was on December 6, 2013 - four years ago today.

It wasn't a very notable post.  And indeed, most of the posts I here in those first few months were... well... questionable at best.  Some of them I'm proud of, others... well, not so much.

It's kind of like four years ago I slapped on a white belt and stepped into the martial arts blogging dojo. Today, I'm far from a black belt, but hey, I might be a decent... purple belt, maybe?

I'm no Dwight Schrute,though.

I started all this as a way to learn how to blog, and how to use social media. I'm a marketer by trade, but more in the analytics and direct marketing space, and I wanted to teach myself modern marketing tools, some of which you can read about in my blog post here.

I've had a regular contributor (Troy Seeling) and other periodic guest posters.  In 2018 content from another blog (the Martial Learner) written by Mr. Chick, will be making its debut here as that blog is "moving in" to the Stick Chick blog.

I re-run old content here on the blog often, so I get to look at how this blog and I, myself, as a martial artist, have changed.

Regarding the blog, well, the format of the blog is different than when I started.  I used to have a schedule of themed posts and now I (generally) don't.  I think I'm a better writer than when I started. I think the blog is a little old-school in terms of design but I think it's more readable that way, so I've stepped back from a plan to modernize it.

In the martial arts, besides rank changes (promoted to Dayang Dalawa, 2nd Degree Black, this year, as well as earning my AKATO Kobudo black belt), writing this blog has helped me connect with tons of martial artists all over the world.  I've learned how big and varied our martial arts community really is. I've seen some hilarious things, sometimes intentional (Thanks, Master Ken!) and sometimes not so much.

I've met and trained with people I "met" through this blog. Some of you have become regular online friends, and that might actually be the best part of this whole experience.

Get in here, you...

Putting yourself out there for criticism isn't easy. Note there's not a lot of video of me just yet because I do suck - less than I used to, but still...

For the most part, my experience with most of you has been really positive and fun, and I'm grateful for that.

So thank you, dear reader.  Thanks for reading, for liking and plussing and hearting and sharing on social media.  Thanks for commenting sometimes (PLEASE DO comment, whether or not you agree with me.  I want to hear from you).

Lots of big changes are coming for me, personally, in 2018, and I hope you'll stick around while that happens.

Please do like this blog's page on Facebook - found here - and share that with your friends there.  I post content that doesn't make the blog there often.   I have a great audience on Google Plus, so shout-out to my friends there.  I'm also on Tumblr, and on Twitter, and I even collect all of the posts I make here on a board on Pinterest.

I always appreciate your feedback, and if you have any, ping me via the social media channel of your choice, or heck, you can leave a comment here on the blog.

Thanks, everyone!


Monday, December 4, 2017

What is "Wrong" in the Martial Arts?

There's a few videos floating around the internet of a specific martial arts organization out there that makes the rounds of the online martial arts world every now and then.

It's videos from the World Martial Arts Association in New York (I will call them WMAA-NY as I belong to a WMAA myself - the World Modern Arnis Alliance, which is also, funnily enough, headquartered in NY- and I don't want there to be confusion here). They do a version of Tae Kwon Do called Chung Do Kwan.  Here's one of their videos I saved down long ago, if you haven't seen what they do:



Most folks don't think about what they're seeing here other than to comment about how "wrong' it is, and to point and laugh. I admit, that's my initial reaction too.

But I have been wondering WHY this group does kata this way.  There HAS to be a reason.  People don't do stuff for no reason. These are presumably intelligent people who possess the internet and television and have seen the most organizations that do the forms they do DON'T do it that way.

I know there's a reason; I just couldn't think of one that made any sense.  Until this week, when a friend told me that he has spoken to folks from this group,  

Here's why they do this: they do kata this fast because real fights happen at a fast speed.  So they're trying to make their forms "realistic" to fighting.


While I don't agree with the execution of what they're doing (especially since I've seen their "sparring" videos), that does explain why, and now it makes more sense. 

It's common to look at martial artists doing things a certain way and declare them as "wrong".  Wrong, in the martial arts, really does depend on your point of view and your strategic choices.  When we say "wrong", we mean it's wrong based on the strategic choices we, ourselves, have made and we disagree with the choice other people have made.

Take chambering.  Lots of eastern martial arts styles chamber punches either at the hip or along the rib cage.  Like so:



To the guy on the left, the guy on the right is "doing it wrong". But is he?

Well, maybe, if he's doing the same style in the same lineage.  But if he isn't, it's just a different strategic choice being made, not doing it "wrong".

And if we were to ask combat fighters, like boxers or the folks in Muay Thai, they'd all say that's no place to put that hand at all.  It's really "wrong" to them, coming from their point of view.

In Arnis, the hand that I'm not currently using to use a one-handed weapon with is called "the live hand". We typically keep it in the general region of the center of our chest, ready to deploy to grab, or to hit, or to manipulate the weapon. It's where we "chamber" it, if you will.

Like so:

See where my left hand is?
I've been studying nunchaku videos a lot lately and I've noticed that some groups are chambering the empty hand where they might chamber a punch in their forms (like one of the two dudes above)  There are plenty of Okinawan nunchaku videos that do chamber like I do, but plenty who chamber at the hip/ribs.

To me, this is "wrong".

BUT... is it really "wrong"?

On the one hand, it just might be a habit carried over from their empty hand training. On the other hand, that might be a deliberate choice to chamber that way, but I just don't know the rationale.

To put it another way, it might be "wrong", or it might be a choice that I don't understand or I just plain disagree with, based on my training and the strategic choices I make based on my training and what my teachers advise me to do, based on their superior experience.

Getting back to our friends at the WMAA-NY above, it seems to me like they took a reasonable idea about training, and then went extreme with it.  This happens when an idea takes hold and nobody questions the execution and don't pressure test it.

This is not an uncommon occurrence in the martial arts world, by the way.  Weapons forms are the perfect example. They've evolved from forms that teach you to fight with whatever weapon you're working with, to performance and dancing with a prop with little to no practical value. Because it's very difficult to test weapons, you end up with bo spinners and katana tossers and rainbow-taped kama dancing.  I've defended this sort of thing even though it's 100% NOT something I agree with (here), mainly because I do recognize that it IS a talent related to the martial arts, even if it's not fighting per se.

Exhibit A.

The WMAA-NY guys are an outlier, sure.  But it's not like they don't know what they are doing and they don't have a good reason for doing what they do.  We can disagree with it, and we can argue that the execution isn't helping them with their primary concern (being able to adjust to the speed of a ral fight), but it doesn't make them delusional, as many of us have claimed they are.

I think they're "wrong", but I understand now why they might not see it that way.

Was there a time when you thought something in the martial arts was "wrong", but then later understood the strategic choice being made and changed your mind (or at least, granted it was a valid point of view)?  If you cross-train, do you sometimes struggle with conflicting strategic choices?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 12/02/17

This time I'm going to round up TWO WEEKS worth of stuff.

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 11/18:  Spent the morning getting in last minute practice for kobudo (and brain farted on everything as I was a bundle of nerves) as I helped cover tae kwon do and Arnis classes at Hidden Sword.  As is my wont, when I cover Arnis on a Saturday, we hit the bags (and everybody has fun with it).  Later that day, I tested for Black Belt in the AKATO Kobudo program.  Read the details below (Kobudo: Black Belt Edition).
Sunday 11/19:  First day of my week-long vacation to Missouri.  We drove to Noel, MO and toured Bluff Dweller Cave, which was amazingly beautiful and our tour guide was awesome. Spent the night in Springfield.  I missed the Chiefs game while I was in the cave and I'm not sorry about it!
Monday 11/20:  Drove through Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks region - which is GORGEOUS - and went to the Bridal Cave and Jacob's Cave. Missouri's natural beauty shines in these caves and in this region. Made it to Kansas City, MO that evening.
Tuesday 11/21:   Spent the day showing my kids my collegiate Alma Mater, Park University (and drove past old homes and haunts), saw Thor: Ragnarok (loved it), and spent the evening with some of my closest and longest-term friends that I have on this earth.  Really fun day.
Wednesday 11/22:  Had lunch with a bunch of friends from college, then drove out to Topeka to spend time with relatives.
Thursday 11/23:   Thanksgiving in the US.  A great friend from college hosted us for the dinner, then we drove down to the Plaza to attend the Plaza Lights ceremony, which is a huge holiday tradition in Kansas City.
Friday 11/24:  More touring of old haunts in Kansas City, then spent the evening with close friends.
Saturday 11/25: Drove back to Texas, with a detour through Wichita, KS, to take a peek at a university Older Daughter is considering.
Sunday 11/26: Chores, laundry, rest.  It was a long week and a half and this was the first day I wasn't running hard.  There was a Chiefs game as well, but we won't discuss that.
Monday 11/27: My day off!
Tuesday 11/28: Took Younger Daughter to tae kwon do at Hidden Sword.
Wednesday 11/29: Attended Arnis class at Hidden Sword.
Thursday 11/30: Took Younger Daughter to tae kwon do at Hidden Sword.
Friday 12/1: Mid-Cities Arnis had to cancel classes due to holiday events at our rec center.  So I started to watch "Punisher" on Netflix.  Enjoying it thus far, and hey, it's way better than "Iron Fist", which admittedly isn't that difficult of an achievement.  Oh, and these bad boys arrived:



The cord is a little short (have to get that adjusted) but they work great.  I'll be writing more about them in the near future.


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Not a lot of bloggery happened while I was out of town. But here's everything I posted in the last two weeks:

Tuesday 11/21: Kobudo: Shodan Edition
Monday 11/27: The Flake Factor
Tuesday 11/28: Why I'm Against Online Dojos
Wednesday 11/29: Into the Great Wide Open
Thursday 11/30: THAT GUY: The Exceptionally Bad Uke
Friday 12/1: Questions from Quora: Which Martial Art To Learn in a Fight to the Death?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Let me start off this round-up of other goings on in the martial arts world with a post I don't want to have to share, as I'm sad to report that there has been another convicted sex offender found teaching the martial arts, including kids, and he really shouldn't be.  Friend of this blog Don Roley broke this news yesterday and please do read and share in our community so we can make sure that Vernon Van Zile is not using our hobby to recruit more victims:  Vernon Van Zile - Sex Offender

Let me just make a "YEAH THAT!" shout-out to +Joelle White's blog post this week: Gender and Age

True love and Arnis.  I met the groom in this video and this is awesome.


Y'all know I *love* this stuff.


"Nobody walks around with a stick in their hand".


Been here, done this.





If you run across cool martial arts stuff you think I should see, please do post them in the comments!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today is a super-normal Saturday.  Kobudo in the morning (what, did you think I wouldn't keep at it?  I have NEW NUNCHAKU to play with, hellloooo) and then Arnis. Tomorrow we teach the last women's self defense seminar for rhe year at Mid-Cities Arnis.

Goodness, I don't know what to do with myself on a "normal" weekend these days!

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 1, 2017

Questions from Quora: Which Martial Art To Learn in a Fight to the Death?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

Got a martial arts question you want me to answer?  Send me an "Ask to Answer" on Quora, and I just might!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Into the Great Wide Open

2017 was a big year for me in the martial arts.

I was promoted to Dayang Dalawa (2nd Degree Black) in Presas Arnis by my teacher in the spring, and Shodan (1st Degree Black) in Kobudo in November.

The next ranks in those styles are not clearly defined in terms of time it takes or what is even required to demonstrate for those ranks. In any case, even if they were, it'd be years and years before the next rank promotion.

This means that for the foreseeable future I don't have any concrete goals related to rank progression in the martial arts.

I'm in the camp of "rank isn't terribly important" and "why we study has nothing to rank" point of view, to be sure.  The point of all this work isn't some certificate and the ability to claim such-and-such rank.

Me, I'm very interested in becoming the deadliest little old lady around.

Like this, but with knives.

But still, it's weird to not have a concrete goal in front of me.  There hasn't been a time where I wasn't working towards a specific goal in the martial arts.  I've been working towards one rank or another ever since I started training in 2008.

My martial arts future has no agenda, no requirements, and is completely up to me.

On the one hand, it's so weird.  I am a future-oriented planning kind of person who likes to have goals to work toward.  I get antsy when I can't plan ahead.

On the other hand, it's kinda neat to have a period where I can just study what I'm interested in just because I want to.  I do have some non-martial arts stuff that will be dominating my attention in 2018 coming up and it's nice to have the ability to deal with those things without it interfering with my martial arts progress.

For the time being, I'll just keep studying and learning Presas Arnis, my core style and the one I like best. I'll attend the kobudo "seniors" class to learn kama and jo.  I have made some contacts that I'm hoping can do some on-the-side teaching of nunchaku because I want to explore that further.

Additionally, I will wear a white gi only when absolutely necessary.

When the opportunity to train in other stuff comes up, I'll take it, because why shouldn't I?

It's kinda scary, but it's also really exhilarating.

Have you been at a point in your martial arts training where you didn't have any concrete goals in front of you?  How did you stay motivated to keep at it?  Let us know in the comments!





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kobudo: Shodan Edition

On Saturday, November 18, 2017,  I took my Kobudo Black Belt test (for Shodan) from the American Karate Tae Kwon Do Organization's kobudo program.

Spoiler alert: I passed.



My first class was in January, 2015, so I'm a couple of months shy of the program taking three calendar years.  Weapons covered in this session were bo (6 foot staff), tonfa, nunchaku, and sai.  Looking at our first test for Green, nine women and fifteen men tested.  At our black belt exam, eight women and seven men tested.

I've been knuckling down and practicing pretty hard, and I knew as long as I didn't absolutely quit, I would pass this test.  But, as always, about 24 hours before test time, I got pre-test jitters.  I slept poorly that night, I was having trouble remembering things in kobudo practice that morning, and the closer I got to the time to go a huge rock built up in my gut.

On the drive over, timed to arrive 45 min before the test started, I hit a really bad traffic jam due to two big, terrible accidents.  That scared the bejeezus out of me - I can't be late to my test, after all - but I got through it fast enough to arrive 1/2 hour before test time,  which was plenty.

Just as we prepped to go into the room, all of my nerves went away and I felt calm and confident and ready to go.  This is normal for me - freaking out for a day until time to go and then everything becomes smooth sailing.

I won't detail everything we did here.  We did our forms. We did our blocking drills, striking drills, and two-man drills.  We hit the "BOB" bag with our weapons (although we were cautioned not to stab him with sai).

Hitting BOB with sai, bo, tonfa and nunchaku

I didn't hiccup on anything, so that was pretty nice.  I think I absolutely rocked nunchaku - easy to do since it's my favorite of the four weapons we covered and the most arnis-y.  I did drop my sai during warmups (they told us to stop, and I did, automatically, and the sai flew out of my hand thanks to sweaty palms and inertia) but that was my biggest blunder overall.

I did get a tonfa burn on my right thumb, and then sometime during two-man drills and the "BOB" striking drills I strained the daylights out of that same thumb. Thankfully the test was almost over and I no longer had to manage the finer points of sai manipulation!

On two-man drills I was lucky enough to be paired with my friend Jessica, my favorite person to pair with in the room (she's competent and knows what we're doing, and we're of similar height so we don't have any weird targeting issues to deal with).  She must have made me look good, because the feedback on my test from the instructors is that I did really well on the two man drills (which they expected of me, apparently).

Upon receiving my rank certificate, I was told, "Good job, killer".

KILLER.

Aww yiss.

L to R: Sensei Mike Proctor, "Killer", Sensei Keith Yates

Our main instructor during nunchaku/sai, Aaron Barnett, was also promoted to 3rd Dan in Kobudo at this test. Congratulations to him!

So what now?

We move on to the Seniors class in January, which is less pressured as there's no set time or schedule for testing anything at all.  Basically, it's a great time to just learn and nerd out on weapons.

Just the thing for the Stick Chick, friends.

We're going to study kama next - sticks with KNIVES on them? YES PLEASE! although we will only use all-wood practice weapons.  Nope, no aluminum rainbow tape wrapped dancey-dance pseudo-kama for yours truly.

I'll take a short break to rest and heal, but I'll be back practicing in December, even if I'm not going to get tested on anything. I don't want to forget what I learned, but I think I'll spend a lot more time on nunchaku because, well, I can. I'm also planning on trying to find someone to teach me more nunchaku, as I plan to try to get very, very good at it.

So there you go.  My first step in the long journey to understanding and using ALL THE WEAPONS is complete.

Here's some more pictures from the test:

The second move of our "Bo Ichi" form

Part of our "Tonfa Ichi" form

Nunchaku Ichi.

Sai Ichi

Two man drill.  Nunchaku vs. Bo.

Nine women entered, eight women leave.

Receiving my rank certificate

The Hidden Sword Martial Arts crew. Kimberly was complimented on having the best technique on the test.
Yeah, well... I could take her!

The Shodan Class of Group 10 of the AKATO kobudo program and our instructors