Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 06/24/17

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:  Due to scheduling conflicts, classes at Hidden Sword ended up being canceled!  So Mr. Chick and I went and saw "Wonder Woman".  LOVED IT.
Sunday:  Family chores, and I got some sai practice in, which is very good, because I need it, because I suck at it.
Monday:   Class at Hidden Sword. More Kombatan material as my teacher and I were prepping for our camp trip.
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on our defensive responses.
Wednesday:   Class at Hidden Sword.  More Kombatan-y goodness!  Earlier in the day I had a new migraine symptom - a vertginous migraine, which is a really intense vertigo session where I was pretty sure I was having a stroke AND I was going to fall down and hit my head.  So I had to go to the neurologist to get it checked out.  It's just another kind of migraine, yay me, I'm getting to collect them all, like Pokemon, but FAR LESS FUN.
Thursday:   Because I did NOT take emergency meds the day before, the classic headache type migraine struck and I ended up having to stay home to sleep it off.  That was fun, but I did wake up after without the headache, which is good, because I had to finish packing for the trip.
Friday:  Got up at 3:30 am for my flight to Denver.  Flew to Denver, met up with my teacher and +Datu Hartman, ate, chatted, then we connected with the other camp goers, had dinner, and then trained for five hours (5-10 pm). Met some amazing people and my brain is buzzing, and not because of migraines this time, but because of some really neat ideas being presented.

Yes, I am the only female in this picture.  Spotting me is kinda like finding Waldo.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondayFamily Ties
Tuesday3 Reasons Filipino Martial Arts ROCK (for Women)
WednesdayCriminals Gonna Crime
Thursday: The Value of Slow
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Who Would Win This Fight?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

TWO videos from Master Ken at "Enter the Dojo" this week?  YES PLEASE.




I've started trying to find classic martial arts cartoons and posting them on my Facebook Page (please do like and share that page, PLEASE, I'M BEGGING YOU).  Here's the one I posted this week:



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:

I'm posting this from enemy territory (hey, I'm a Kansas City Chiefs fan y'know) in Denver, Colorado.  I have two more days before me of fantastic training at this camp.  Lots of people are here, and it's wonderful to meet and learn from some amazing martial artists.  This "side" of my martial arts "family "ROCKS!

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Family Ties

All of us have two sides of a family - a Mom's side, and a Dad's side.

For me, I spent most of my childhood interacting with my Mom's side of my family.  I spent my teen years in the same city my Mom grew up in (St. Louis) and I was around my grandmother, my aunt and uncle, my cousins, my cousins-once-removed, and a large extended family that I have in that city.  I was pretty close to them and knew them very well.

My Dad's family is centered about two and a half hour's drive south of there (around Sikeston, MO).  I spent a few weeks each summer there in my childhood, but I didn't get to see them daily like I did my Mom's family.  While I knew them, I didn't know them as well as my relatives in St. Louis.

So what does that have to do with the martial arts?

Just like I have two sides of my family, so I have two "sides" to the style of martial arts I practice. 

While I use the term "Modern Arnis" a lot, and it is definitely a huge part of what I do, it's not what I actually do.  What I actually do is Presas Arnis - a blend of Modern Arnis (Remy Presas) and Kombatan (Ernesto Presas).

Me helping teach one of the "combative responses" my teacher got from Kombatan 

Just as I did with my family in St. Louis, I spend a lot of my time outside of my home school in Arnis around the Modern Arnis "side" of my art, the "Remy" side of the family.  I've been to more camps and seminars in Modern Arnis than I can possibly recall at the moment.  They're like my "Mom's side" of my martial arts family.  I know many Modern Arnis players, and I know them (and the art) pretty well.

Now I'm getting a chance to see the "other" side of my family, the Kombatan side - my "Dad's side" of my martial arts family.

This weekend I'm traveling to Denver, Colorado to attend the GGM Ernesto Presas Legacy Gathering.  This is the first time I've gotten to meet and train with Kombatan players who were not also Presas Arnis people like myself.  My teacher, +Datu Hartman and Datu +Dieter Knüttel all trained and ranked with GGM Ernesto Presas, but I've never gotten to train with people who were "pure" Kombatan players.

I know bits and pieces, this and that, of things that Kombatan players do, things my teacher has blended into his curriculum.  I also have a few - a very few - "Grand Master Ernesto" stories.  Going to this camp lets me get learn more, go deeper, and connect with Kombatan in its original context, versus the blend I have been learning for years.

For me, going to this camp is like going to a family reunion where you get to hang out with all the great aunts and uncles and cousins you didn't know you have, getting family stories you hadn't heard before.

My teacher is also attending the camp, and +Datu Hartman is one of the instructors, but other than that, most of the other names associated to this camp I know mainly by reputation or by interacting with them online.  It's going to be a new experience for me.

I'm pretty excited.  I'm planning how to pack my gear and I'm worrying about what happens should my checked bag NOT make it to Colorado with me.  I hate checking bags but they won't let me put my training weapons in my carry-on.

Can't imagine why.



Have you ever gotten to train with "sides" to of your martial arts "family" you don't get to see often?  What what it like?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My week in Stick Chicktivity - 06/17/17

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:  Kobudo and Arnis day.  It's that time of the month where I go over to Dallas for my two-hour kobudo class.  I kinda stunk up on the joint but we're getting close to the end of the sai material and to the point where we'll be practicing all we've learned over the past few years.
Sunday:  Taught ADE Women's Self Defense and spent some time with my youngest and my inlaws - they left town on Monday for a long trip and I won't see any of them for a long time.
Monday:   Caught up on chores.
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis. We're working on new curriculum stuff with our recently promoted students in our family class, and we played sinawali in our adult class.
Wednesday:   Migraine started, so I stayed home and slept.  Day 1 of three days of "fun", ugh.
Thursday:   Class as Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked on anyos in family class, and worked on basics with a new student in Adult class.  Migraine continues at a low-level of annoyance.
Friday:  Migraine finally requires more nap time.  Stayed home and took it!


No new pictures of me this week, so here's one from about a month ago in our women's self defense.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondaySensei Scumbag Strikes Again?
TuesdayThey Are Not "Chucks", Got It?
WednesdayKobudo Update: On the Home Stretch
Thursday: Let's Talk About Chambering
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Religion and the Martial Arts

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

The answer, Hannah Hillam, is ALL THE THINGS.


Nice video by +Ando Mierzwa (and +Jesse Enkamp) - entertaining and informative!



I ran across a rumor over on Tumblr that YouTube is shadowbanning martial arts content.  I'd like to hear from you martial arts YouTubers if you think this is true, or not.

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:

Thank goodness I have a relatively sedate weekend planned.  Arnis, then kobudo practice.  I am going to a camp next week in Colorado, so it's best to rest up and hopefully beat back this dumb migraine that has been plaguing me all 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, June 16, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Religion and the Martial Arts

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's topic is pretty controversial in some quarters.

Let's talk about mixing religious faith and martial arts training.

For some of us, we openly mix religion and the martial arts. Either it's a faith system that is "native" to the martial art being practiced (usually from the East, so we're talking about a number of religious traditions depending on the source - could be Buddhism, Shintoism, or a host of others), or another faith, such as Christianity or Islam, has "replaced" those points of view but is still pretty openly a part of the training.  To train in the group, you usually also "train" in the religious practice.  We also have organizations around faith and martial arts training, such as Karate for Christ International and the Muslim Martial Arts Society, to name two.

Then you have the other side of the equation, where most, if not all, expressions of religious faith in training is discouraged or simply not allowed.  Heck, we even have some folks arguing that martial arts training is incompatible with practicing the faith at all.  Here's an article discussing this:  Should a Christian Practice Martial Arts?

So I want to know what you think about mixing religion and the martial arts.  It is important to you?  What are the pros and cons?


IS COMBINING MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING AND RELIGIOUS FAITH A GOOD THING?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kobudo Update: On the Home Stretch

It's been a while since I wrote a kobudo update.

The last update was "Oh Hai, Sai!" back in March.  We'd started learning the sai, and now I'm three months into it.

Honestly, thus far, I think sai might be my least favorite of the four weapons in this program.

Nah. Not even.

They require a lot of finicky manipulation and there's too much room for error when you use them to block in reverse grip along your arm.  I will say that the manipulation thing (from what I'd call "saber" grip to "reverse" grip and back) has got me thinking about how to do that with other weapons, so that's good, I guess.  Working with sai is also very good exercise for the wrist and forearms, so that's a plus, I guess.

At this point, I think it'd take a very long time of study before I'd choose to use them in a fight or study more than I really need to.



We're wrapping up the material we have to learn with sai, and then we'll spend some months in review, before we test for black belt in this program towards the end of the year.  So I'll be spending most of my free time practicing, practicing, practicing with bo, tonfa, nunchaku, and sai.

As of right now, here's how I'd rank the weapons I've studied in this program.  Jo doesn't count, as I studied jo under my teacher before I started this program, and I'll probably be studying it again in the black belt class next year.

  1. Nunchaku
  2. Bo
  3. Tonfa
  4. Sai
Me playing with my favorite!

Yes, I ended up liking nunchaku best of the four weapons.  Oh, not because they're practical, or I'd pick them in a fight to save my life, but because they're just so darn fun and easy to use (for an Arnis person).  I definitely get the attraction so many people have for the weapon.  I will be playing with them a lot, for fun, going forward.

I was always rather ambivalent about the bo.  Remember, the bo I study with is a 6 foot Japanese White Oak Bo, not one of those flippy-flippy, toss-and-catchy, spin-a-roonie so-called "bo" that are basically four foot dancing props.  Mine is one that you do not want to get hit with.

Given it was our first weapon, and the one I've studied longest in this program, I now kind of like the bo.  The reach and power of this weapon is substantial, and I see how it would translate pretty quickly from a dueling weapon to a battlefield weapon (put a metal tip on it, and you have yourself a pike or halberd, my friend).

I thought I'd like tonfa the most, but it was most disappointing.  I do not understand why empty hand people don't start with tonfa, as basically, all you have to do is punch or block with tonfa (with a minor adjustment here or there) as you do in empty hand and they work relatively well.  Tonfa can also be manipulated much like double sticks are in Arnis. But they're short and they're bulky.  I'll use tonfa in the future, but it's not because I'm having tons of fun with them.

And then there's sai.  I stated above why I don't like them much.  I get why other people do, but I don't know if I'll be converted to a fan, or not.  We'll see with further study.  It's possible I'll discover that they're the most awesome weapons ever.

If I get to include the jo in my list above, it actually is the real number one weapon of the Okinawan/Japanese weapons I've studied.  I think it's the best compromise of length, weight, and speed.  We have Actionflex versions of many of these weapons and I am usually most successful with the jo. As two-handed duelling weapons go, it's hard to beat.

My next few months will be hard work as I work towards earning my black belt in this kobudo program.  As I've repeatedly stated, I think that black belt is in no way mastery of anything more than the very basics, and that will definitely be true should I be promoted.  I don't think I'm an expert in any of these, by a long shot.  That's going to take a lot more practice.

But I'm getting there!

So what's your favorite weapon?  Let us know in the comments!


Monday, June 12, 2017

Sensei Scumbag Strikes Again?

So this news story hit late last week:

Lopez brothers, Olympic taekwondo royalty, hit with sex abuse allegations

Of course, an accusation is not proof.  Let's all keep that in mind.

BUT.

But if these allegations are true, we have yet another case of Sensei Scumbag.

Goddammit.

The Lopez family are often called "The First Family of Taekwondo" in the United States. Their performance on the mat has brought prestige and awards to my country.  So of course, because of that celebrity, and the fact that the Rio Olympics were going on, they were left in place while the investigation was ongoing, even if that meant there were other victims at risk while this was going on.

My friend Cathy Chapaty (author of "No Pouting in the Dojo", and she blogs at Searching for Grasshopper at the moment, but also read No Pouting at the Dojang and Big Budo World) wrote this epic post on Facebook about this situation, and you really should give it a read:


I can't agree more with what Cathy has to say there. 

What particularly galls me about this situation is the fact it took so long for police to be involved (who are, after all, the correct authorities to do investigations of this kind).  Honestly, though, after thinking about it, I shouldn't be terribly surprised.

Our relatively hierarchical and authoritarian martial arts culture, and our belief that somehow, martial arts training immunizes us against bad buys taking advantage of us (and our students) in the places where we have to have the most trust, makes us particularly vulnerable to this sort of thing.

Our recruitment of children and young people, often marketing the martial arts as something that empowers shy kids, or vulnerable kids, or people needing self confidence.  Combine those two, and predators have a very happy hunting ground.

Hey, you don't have to take my word for it.  There's so many examples of martial arts teachers getting caught, arrested, and convicted of abusing their students that I literally can't keep up with it on my "Sensei Scumbag" post.  Click through my link above and take a peek at the ones I have been able to add to that post - I know I've missed bunches of others.

This is a problem.  A huge problem.  And I submit that we are not equipped to cope with it, as a subculture.  We're not willing to believe that we allow people in authority, or we have people who are superior athletes or coaches, who are also willing to prey on people we're supposed to be protecting.  We obviously don't do a good enough job in making sure that the environment where a predator can take advantage of our students doesn't develop (no alone time, better chaperoning on training/tournament trips. making sure that social media/texting is appropriate, etc.).

I'll admit, though, I don't think this is unique to us, and I don't have a great solution for it, either. The fact that these asshats are using something I love so much to abuse people makes me literally sick, and there is nothing I'd like more than to hunt them down and ruin a perfectly good stick.  But that's not a great solution either.

Like this (the stick broke early).

By the way, if you don't like that I have this gut reaction, well, too bad.  I think that scumbags in positions of trust who abuse the people depending on them are members of the lowest order of human being and this is what violence is for.

But here is something I'd like to see done, in the case of celebrities and people who are Olympic gold medalists and tournament winners and whatnot.

I think when the allegations are proved true, their names and accomplishments should be struck from our rolls.  Their awards should be removed, recognition of their ranks removed, their records expunged, and they should, in our circles, become nonpersons.  We should only acknowledge them for the criminals they are, and note how it came to happen, as lessons to the rest of us.  And they should never be allowed in our ranks again.

Yes, I do think people can be rehabilitated and "do their time" after crimes.  But that being said, these people should never, ever be placed in a position of trust in our world again.  You get one chance, you blow it, you should never be welcomed back.  The risk to potential victims is not worth whatever this individual can bring to the table.  I don't care how good of a teacher they are, how great a martial artist they are.  They're gone, forever.

So if the latest, maybe most famous Sensei Scumbag story is true... those medals they've won cease to exist as far as I'm concerned.  They have never brought honor to my country, only shame.

It's the least we can do.

So what do YOU think we can do?  What are your thoughts about this latest situation?  Let me know in the comments/



Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 06/10/17

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:  Tournament day!  Students from Mid-Cities Arnis and Hidden Sword Martial Arts competed in the Monica Lopez Charity Tournament.  Our schools did really well - one of my MCA students took third in weapons, and I took third in black belt weapons.
Sunday:  My inlaws are in town, so we spent the day with them.
Monday:   Caught up on chores.
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Introduced our students to the new sinawali patterns they are to know for their next ranks. We had a new student start in the adult class, so I spent my time working with her.
Wednesday:   Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. Since we are going to a Kombatan camp in a few weeks, my teacher decided to review some high-level Kombatan material;  stuff he's never taught in our classes before. I got to see some completely new drills - yay!
Thursday:   Went to urgent care with an earache - I have ear infections in both ears (booo) but I have meds that are helping me now (yay). Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. We had a new parent in our Family class so I worked with her.  In adult class I taught our new student single sinawali.
Friday:  Stick sparring class!  Our new family class student sparred for the first time. Fun night!

Team Mid-Cities Arnis after our tournament.  Great job girls!


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondayThree Reasons Tournaments are Great (for Non-Competitive People)
TuesdayThanks to the Martial Arts Widow(er)
Wednesday4 Myths About the Martial Arts (Non-Martial Artists and Newbies Believe)
Thursday: Finding My Place
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Alive Training

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Marc MacYoung has been updating and adding content to his No Nonsense Self Defense blog.  You really should spend some time over there if you're interested in the topic of self defense. No Nonsense Self Defense

My teacher posted videos of the new drill - called the Freestyle Pattern - that I mentioned above (Wednesday),  He's learning it with a friend from GGM Ernesto Presas in 2002.  There's a few more on his YouTube channel:




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 go over to Dallas to train in kobudo.  Tomorrow we teach another session of Women's Self Defense.  I'm also hoping to squeeze in a viewing of "Wonder Woman".

Busy week, busy weekend!

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Monday, June 5, 2017

4 Reasons Tournaments are Great (for Non-Competitive People)

I'm not a tournament sort of person.

Oh sure, I've competed in tournaments - three, now - and I've placed in two out of the three.  That's not too shabby considering that forms and tournaments really just isn't my thing (and I didn't start competing in tournaments at all until I was black belt rank, which shows you I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer).

Every time somebody walks up to the ring with a katana.  *sigh*

It's not that I mind competitiveness - I actually thrive on it, personally, being an outgoing, sporty kind of person (that's right, I'm sporty AND  huge raging nerd - you can be both, y'know).  I think it can get out of hand for some people, sure, but there's nothing wrong with healthy competitiveness.

I just don't feel the need to compete on a personal level in the martial arts.  That's partially because of my style, but also... well, nobody IS me, and it's difficult to find other stubby middle aged dumpy people to compare myself to in the martial arts world.  So I'm sorta "meh" on martial arts competition in general.

BUT.

I think there's a lot of benefits that a good tournament can bring for non-competitive people (I'm surrounded by those, so I know y'all quite well).

Mind you, I think these benefits mostly hold for smaller tournaments, not the huge city-wide open tournaments featuring screaming people and parents getting into fistfights with each other and judges over the scoring and with spectators yelling mean things at the competitors.

Those suck

Nope, let's talk about the organizational tournaments, style tournaments, smaller local martial arts organization open tournaments, that sort of thing.  These things typically have four to six rings at most.  Here's some reasons those of you out there who aren't terribly competitive might want to participate in martial arts tournaments.

CONNECT WITH THE LARGER MARTIAL ARTS COMMUNITY

What I do is pretty exotic to these karate and taekwondo people I usually see at local tournaments.  What's cool is that by attending these things and showing what we do, we get more interest in my style (which is, for most people, an add-on to their base style).  People will ask me questions, they'll want to pick up a thing or two (and I'll refer them to my teacher, usually, as he has a program to do just that sort of thing), they will seem pleased that they now have a connection and a resource for this stuff if they want it.

The most common reaction, though.

It puts my school and style in context with a larger local group, and we make a lot of friendships as a result.  It's nice to have friends in other schools and styles for a variety of reasons.  It makes our martial arts experience richer.

FINE TUNING YOUR OWN GAME

It sucks to work really hard for a tournament, go, and not win anything.  It double-sucks when you're a kid.  If you're not the competitive sort, you have to wonder, well, heck, what's the point, then?

Preparation for a tournament gives you an extra incentive to fine-tune your material.  To really get your stances perfect, your motions crisp, or your flow smooth and powerful.  Competition acts as the whetstone to the knife of your kata, weapons, or sparring skills.  The pressure of preparation and competition helps you get motivated to do that fine work.

BONDING WITH YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS

There's nothing better then getting out of a ring after competing than having friends and fellow students make nice supportive comments.  It really makes you feel like part of a group.

Additionally, it's fun to be on the sidelines, cheering your fellow students on.

Either way, you create closer friendships and relationships with your fellow students, which makes your training that much better.  One aspect of martial arts training that we never really talk about are the friendships we make, especially within our own schools.  Participation in tournaments helps those friendships along.



LEARNING FROM WATCHING OTHER COMPETITORS

Sitting on the sidelines at a competition allows you to watch and see a lot of great stuff from people working hard to be very good at what they do.  It's difficult to find another environment where there's so much hard work and excellence in such a small place.

So while you're waiting, there's no reason you can't get some good ideas from your fellow competitors to improve your own game, right?

So there you go, four reasons why non-competitive people should try a martial arts tournament.  Do you have any advice for tournaments?  Why should people participate?  Let me know in the comments!





Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 06/03/17

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:  I helped Mr. Chick with a private student's lesson, then I covered my teacher's TKD classes, then I helped out at my teacher's monthly Arnis Instructor's class.
Sunday:  Took a day off.  First one in, like a month, where I wasn't doing martial arts or chores.
Monday:   Memorial Day.  Another day off of rest.
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We promoted our Yellow Belts to Orange and our Orange Belts to Green. In Adult class, we worked on disarms.
Wednesday:   Last big practice before the tournament this weekend for my jo form.
Thursday:   Spent the day in bed sick (I didn't even get a Throwback Thursday post up) but I was feeling okay enough to go to classes that night. Family class - it was a special topics class (on base disruptions).  Adult class I spent working with a student who is competing in the upcoming tournament while Mr. Chick worked on some drills with the adult students.
Friday:  Still feeling a bit under the weather, but not enough to stay home. Stick sparring and our last practice before the tournament on Saturday..




BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondayRest or Work: It's All Training
Tuesday (rerun): We Are Poor Judges (of Ourselves)
WednesdayConversion Therapy
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Is Point Sparring Useless?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

New Post by my friend +Kai Morgan:  Are “spiritually meaningful” martial arts better than combat arts?

VERY COOL post about an old Japanese martial arts manual for women: Martial Arts for Women: Century-Old Book Details Moves

And this neat video, called "The most important concept in martial arts you've probably never heard of!":



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 tournament day!  Myself, two of my students at Mid-Cities Arnis, and a bunch of students from Hidden Sword will be competing today.  No matter how things turn out, I'm super-proud of them all!

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, May 31, 2017

Conversion Therapy

I've been spending my personal martial arts time in a project.

On the spur of the moment in my 2nd Degree test about a month ago, I converted our first form, Baston Anyo Isa, into the jo.  This was part of my demonstration that Arnis prepares a person to work with just about any weapon (using the Okinawan/Japanese kobudo weapons), if you are flexible and creative.  Here is a video of that conversion, which I came up with literally about an hour before this video was recorded.


I decided to continue with the theme of converting our forms into the jo when I had students who wanted to compete at a local (Arnis friendly) charity tournament.  If they were going to work hard to compete, I would, too.

It's our first competition as a school, and I didn't want my kids to go alone, y'know?

Thus, I've been working on making Baston Anyo Lima into jo for the last few weeks. 

This is Baston Anyo Lima, performed by myself in 2013.




Baston Anyo Lima is designed to be performed with a one-handed sword or stick, usually no more than 71-81 cm (28-32 inches).  The jo is a 1.5 meter (5 foot long) blunt two-handed weapon.

These things are not super similar to one another, as weapons go.  Short one-handed blade to longer two-handed blunt.  It is important to try to keep to the spirit of the form in its original weapon - the stances, moving back and forth, the angles of attack and defense - while also making sure what you're doing with the different weapon actually makes sense.

It's important, in my opinion, to make sure what I was doing isn't moving from the realm of things you could or would actually do with the weapon, to becoming "dances with sticks".

You long-time readers of this blog know what I think about "dances with sticks".



This meant I had to really think through and apply what I learned a long time ago with the jo (in 2014).  I did the conversion, getting help from my teacher when I got stuck, and now I have a workable jo version of Baston Anyo Lima.

I have no idea if it'll do well at competition or not.  Honestly, it's not the point of the project anyway.  It'd be nice to win something at competition, sure.  I am totally down for winning things.

But it's more important for me to understand how to convert one form template to another, using a weapon that is really different than the one the form was originally designed for.  This makes me think really hard about both weapons involved.

After this competition, I plan to work on Baston Anyo Lima again, this time converting it into nunchaku.  The intent is that I will use it for competition in November, but also, it's just another brain-candy, nerdy little project.

Y'all know how I love that stuff.

I'll let you know how the competition turns out - and I will (probably) have video of it, so you can see the form.

Tell me about personal projects you've worked on in the martial arts that weren't strictly required for your studies.  Have you worked on editing or converting forms from one thing to another?  Let me know in the comments!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Rest or Work - It's All Training

For about a month, I did something martial arts related almost every single day.

I practiced, or I was in my teacher's class, or I was teaching a class, or I was in a seminar.  The only "breaks" I got were a couple of evenings where I had to do all of the chores that piled up because I was training or teaching martial arts.  In the middle of this, I strained my thumbs, so I was training injured the entire time, which is also very exhausting.

I'm beat.

Beat?  MARTIAL ARTS? HA!!!1!!
The thing is, we understand the value of working hard, of training, of practicing, of keeping moving in the martial arts.  I harp on it in classes (and I bet you do, too).  We also have a culture where we keep training even through injury if we possibly can (we might make a few concessions to modifying what we do - and I've written that I support this idea here: Injury: Just Train).

So running hard for a month gets nobody's sympathy in the martial arts world.

BUT.

At the end of that month, I took two days off.  I practiced my footwork for about 15 minutes each day, and that's it.  I barely left my house and I spent the time sleeping and playing games and watching television and reading and doing a few minor chores.

On day 2 of my "rest days", I noticed that the brain fog I've been sort of living with is lifting a bit.  It's easier to write.  It's easier to think.  And some things I've been working on and with in the last month of so are now "clicking" in my mind as I sit here and think about them.  And my hands feel a lot better, better than they have since I first injured them.

I made progress by barely lifting a finger!

It turns out that resting - and maybe this is really super-true for an older martial artist like yours truly - is training, too!

In my opinion, if you're doing anything that helps you improve in the martial arts, it's training.  So if my brain fog is gone, my body is healing well, and I'm understanding a few things a little better just by thinking about them... yep, that qualifies as training!

The thing is, sitting around and doing (essentially) nothing feels wrong.  I should be practicing my form for tournament.  I should be reviewing the forms I learned in a seminar recently.  I should be doing bigger chores.  I should be writing more for the blog, programming social media stuff, etc.

I have things to do.  But I'm not going to do them today.

Today, I'm going to rest.  Today, I'm training!

Do you schedule "rest" as part of your training regimen?  Or do you just run hard all the time?  Let me know in the comments!






Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/27/17

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:  I got up early and drove down to Waco to learn a White Crane form (Paiho) and an Eku Form (Tsuken Sunakake Eku).  Fun day, good folks to train with, and it was worth the drive!
Sunday:  Taught our four-hour women's self defense course.
Monday:   Mr. Chick's injury continues, so I stayed home and did chores/went to the store.
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We are working on review for our next rank text next week.  In adult classes, we worked on our Dos
Manos drills, and talked about practical self defense applications.
Wednesday:   An hour of Baston Anyo Lima for the Jo.  Thumbs are healing, so it wasn't too bad this time!
Thursday:   More review in Family class at Mid-Cities Arnis, and using Dos Manos striking techniques in our Adult class.
Friday:  Stick sparring and our tournament form classes.  Someone pulled a fire alarm about 45 minutes into stick sparring, so we ended that class working on forms on the lawn of the rec center.  We were back inside by 7, so we worked on our tournament forms.



That's the Eku form.  If you look closely, you can see me in the background, talking to the Seminar teacher, Shihan Dean Chapman.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Stretch

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   The Dilemma of the Modern Martial Artist
Wednesday: Living the (Martial Arts) Life
Thursday:   Scumbag Brain Strikes Again
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Another "Enter the Dojo" video you say?  YES PLEASE.


And MORE new video from Datu +Dieter Knüttel? This is a great week!


Are you reading FMA Informative?  If you want to keep up on the doings in the Filipino Martial Arts world, you HAVE to!  It's free and you can check it out at the link: FMA Informative


FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

This morning I help Mr. Chick with a private class, then I cover Taekwondo classes for my teacher, then I drive out to Bridgeport to help out at my teacher's Arnis Instructor's course.

And then tomorrow and Monday, I have... NOTHING PLANNED. I think I am going to spend two days in my jammies taking naps, given how crazy busy I've been for the past month or so, right?  Okay, okay, I'll practice my jo form, as well as sai, of course, but... you get the idea.

It's Memorial Day on Monday in the United States.  Let's remember those who served and gave their all for our nation.

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Stretch

I recently attended a seminar where I learned two forms.  The main reason I attended was to learn a form (Tsuken Sunakake Eku) using the Okinawan weapon that looks like a boat oar - the Eku.

Before we learned that form, though, we were taught a White Crane empty-hand Kung Fu form he called Paiho.

Now, I didn't have to learn this form.  This was the first form taught in this seminar, and I could have come for the second half to learn the Eku form.  This seminar was about an hour and a half's drive from my house on a Saturday morning, mind you, and I would not have minded being able to sleep in a little bit.  I run hard most of the time, and a couple of extra hours of sleep time would have been nice.

Basically.
Nope, I drug my carcass outta bed, drove down there for the early part of the seminar, and learned the form.

Well, I tried, anyway.  I can't say I've LEARNED-learned it, but I know the basic moves and can do them solo, if it's still pretty clumsy and ugly.  A real White Crane stylist would probably cringe if they saw me do this form.  I cringe at myself when I do this form. 

I have zero background in any of the Chinese martial arts, mind you (unless you want to count some tai chi in the park when I lived in Las Vegas, but that wasn't much and I don't really count it).  I also don't see myself being able to take up study of any of them in the near future (although it is on my bucket list).

Additionally, I'm not a huge fan of forms in general. I know some of us love doing them, but I'm ambivalent about them. I see the usefulness and the need, but man, I'd much rather be working on drills, if I get a vote.  It's just not my "thing" in the martial arts.

So why did I bother?

I am a big believer in trying new things in the martial arts when I get the chance.  Not because I want to do what everybody else does, or incorporate what other styles do into what I do, necessarily. 

I know some of us out there will do this.  They collect a bit of this, and a bit of that (via seminars and short-term attendance at various schools) and mush it all together into a hybrid style they call their own.


Yeah, no, that's not what I'm after. I have no interest in crating my own "style" and I'm not necessarily going to incorporate everything that I've I learned that isn't in my core style into what I do (and thinking I could, or should, based on a two hour form class is kind of silly anyway).

I worked hard on learning a form from a style I may never actually study or incorporate because I like to stretch my mind, and I like trying to understand a different point of view so I can look at what I do with a critical and more educated eye.  I believe in getting out of your comfort zone, too, as I think that's necessary in order to learn and grow.

It was hard work, trying to move as the form demands, and doing things the way they wanted me to do it, even in a single, relatively short form.  My brain was buzzing and I immediately started connecting what I was being taught to what I already know and do - what's different, what's similar, and why that might be.



I've added another little tool to my toolbox, and that's always a good thing!

If you get a chance to spend some time learning something that's way, way out of your style's system, I think you should do it from time to time.  Again, not to necessarily do what they do, but to examine what YOU do, and see it from a fresh angle.  It's really fun and totally worth your time.

When did you step outside of your comfort zone and study something that's way outside of your normal style?  In your system or style, is this sort of thing encouraged, or discouraged?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/20/17

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:  I covered classes at Hidden Sword, so I managed the taekwondo class (with the help of senior brown belts). They have a second class that's usually a sparring class, so it was a WEAPONS sparring class!  Then during Arnis, Mr. Chick worked with some student while I worked with others on kobudo.  Busy day.
Sunday:  Mother's Day - and I got to spend it at a seminar! Thanks to GM Art Miraflor and +Prof. Dan Anderson for a fantastic day!
Monday:   With Mr. Chick out with an injury and as busy as we were over the weekend, did necessary chores as I knew I'd be super-busy all week!
Tuesday:   Class at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on our kicks and elbows in family class, and in adult class, we worked some bag drills with sticks.
Wednesday:   Finalized Baston Anyo Lima with the Jo. I think it's pretty good, if I don't say so myself!
Thursday:   Reviewed Anyos and worked on Defensive Response #1 in family class.  Adult class was lightly attended so we ended early.
Friday:  Stick sparring and our tournament form classes.  Went well, and my kids are nearly ready!

Prof Dan Anderson, left, and me, right, working as his uke for the session. Very fun and an honor!


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Of Blunt and Blade
Wednesday: Who Has Two Thumbs and is Injured Again?
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Does Lineage Matter?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   The Purple Knuckles Club
Thursday:   Injury: The Nature of the Beast

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Datu +Dieter Knüttel posted this video, and it's awesome.


Friend of this blog, Renato Fonseca, reposted a blog of mine (with his own well-taken thoughts) on his blog, in Portuguese!  Check it out here: 5 Dicas (+1) para Novatos em Artes Marciais com mais de 40 anos


Fantastic video about the physics of fencing:






FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today I'm driving to Waco (about an hour and a half or so) to a seminar on White Crane Kung Fu and the Okinawan Eku (that's the boat paddle looking weapon).  It's gonna be VERY FUN.  Tomorrow we teach Women's Self Defense.

So yep, it's another weekend with yours truly moving a mile a minute in ten different directions!

Hope your week was awesome!

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, May 19, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Does Lineage Matter?

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

One thing we in the martial arts talk a lot about is lineage.

That is, who our teachers were, who their teachers were, and the connections we have to influential or important martial artists and martial arts teachers.

This is a lot like how people will look into their own genealogy and try to trace their families back to someone famous or important, isn't it?

On the one hand, having a documented unbroken line of teachers to a "big name" in the martial arts implies that a person's studies are legitimate, trustworthy, and true.  It definitely has more cachet in our world that just studying from Joe Blow, who's a good fighter but doesn't have a lineage to speak of.  For example, your teacher being a direct student of Bruce Lee's is pretty impressive, isn't it?

On the other hand, though, it doesn't mean they can use what they've learned in any effective way.  It's sort of like claiming that a person's grandfather being a famous warrior makes the grandchild a famous warrior too, without having gone to war.  There are plenty of good teachers out there, teaching useful things in the martial arts, without having any kind of lineage to speak of.

I want to know what you think about this:

DOES MARTIAL ARTS LINEAGE MATTER?


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who Has Two Thumbs and Is Injured Again?

Well, I'm injured again.

I know, dude. I feel the same way.

Fortunately, it's not the "have to go to a doctor, get a lot of drugs and physical therapy, or gawd forbid surgery" kind of injury.  It's not as problematic as when I got my fingers jammed last year, or when I tore a calf muscle.

It's the "very minor, take an anti-inflammatory, and keep training because it's not like you're INJURED-injured" kind of injury.  You feel a little stupid if you complain about it because it's so minor.

You see, I've strained both thumbs. 


I had a minor strain in the right one a few weeks ago.  It was annoying but not too bad, until I went to kobudo class and hit a BOB with the bo.  After a few strikes, my grip in my right hand gave, and to not lose the weapon, I strained my LEFT thumb maintaining control of it.

I finished class (heck, even worked on sai, which is a little hard on the wrist and thumbs) and it didn't feel great that day, but the next morning, both thumbs were throbbing with pain.  I took it easy a few days, but I had to teach class, and I'm working on a jo form for a tournament coming up, and it's not like I can NOT stick spar in those classes, can I?

Of course not.

As a result, both thumbs keep getting re-strained and I spend periods of time with my hands wrapped in ice packs.

That's always a dilemma for us, isn't it?  How to deal with minor injuries like strains and bruises and whatnot.  The "smart" thing to do would be to stop doing anything that taxes my thumbs and let it heal.  I wouldn't swing a stick and I wouldn't practice with my kobudo weapons.

Heh, yeah.  That's gonna happen.



Sure, I've reduced my activity as much as I can.  I've worked drills and techniques that don't require me to manipulate weapons when it's feasible to do so.

But it's not like I'm not going to skip that four-hour Arnis seminar we hosted over the weekend.  Or that I won't practice - and I must with the weapon sometimes - for that tournament coming up in a few weeks.  Or that I'll skip that Eku seminar this coming weekend that only comes up once in a blue moon.  And I can't not practice sai - I'm not good at it, I don't like it much, but I must master it for my class.

It doesn't help that I'm middle aged, and it takes me longer to heal than it might have if I were younger.

That's the way it goes, when you do what we do.

So tell me how you cope with those little annoying injuries you pick up when you train. Do you train right through it, accepting it will take longer to heal?  Or do you take a break like smart people might?  Let me know in the comments!





Monday, May 15, 2017

Of Blunt and Blade

I study Presas Arnis, which is a blend of Modern Arnis and Kombatan.  Like a lot of FMA players, I spend a lot of time with a stick in my hand.

Often, I am thinking of the stick as a blunt weapon - as a stick - versus a blade.  This is a modern thing in the FMA's, and far from traditional (hence "Modern" Arnis).  Traditionally, and in many FMA styles today, the stick is always a blade, and never a blunt weapon.

Where I live, blunt weapons of this length (or longer) - think the baseball bat - are more commonly found. When we do an edged weapon, we tend to focus on the knife, versus longer blades, as that's more likely to be something I'd have on me, or I might face, versus, say, a machete.

You cannot do this with a blade.  Oh, you could, I suppose, but not very long!

On one level, we need to train for the culture we live in, and that's my personal situation. However, if I don't spend time studying the blade as well, I won't get the deeper meaning of what we do in the Filipino Martial Arts.

It's a blade culture in the Philippines. It is not unusual for people to have short and/or long blades on them for a variety of reasons, depending on where you are. This is not unique to the Philippines, mind you - lots of other blade cultures out there around the world (and even in some places in the United States).

Filipino martial arts are a living, breathing set of martial traditions.  Our teachers, and their teachers one generation back, used these techniques for real, either in World War 2 or other more recent conflicts, either in the streets or in battle.  This is not theoretical stuff we're talking about, it's not sparring, it's not from manuals, it's not something being taught by people who are many generations removed from using blades in life-or-death situations.

I attended a seminar recently that focused on the stick as a blade (from +Prof. Dan Anderson and Grand Master Art Miraflor) that really brought home the huge HUGE differences between blunt and blade.

When the stick is a blunt weapon, you aim to smash things. You can trap and lock and grapple. You can grab and use any part of the stick (and have both hands on the stick, anywhere).  Speed and power are important.  A conflict might last longer than a second or two, and the risk of fatality, while there, is a little less of a problem.

Not so the blade.

Your targets vary, the effects are different, the risks are very different.  How you block, how you must move... very different.  You have edge awareness, not only due to needing to cut or avoiding being cut, but also to avoid blocking with your edge so you won't nick - or break- your blade.  Fatality is a huge risk (and you're always aware of it).

I can totally do with with a stick.  Just sayin'.

This is why you really need to seek out teachers who understand these differences if you want to study weapons seriously.  These little differences are not always obvious.  I've studied Arnis for nine years, and in that seminar I attended I learned stuff I didn't realize and I wouldn't have realized on my own without having it pointed out to me.

That's why you'll see serious weapons-based martial artists cringe when we see empty hand folks pick up a katana and start using it like a bo, or they pick up a knife and just start punching with it and defending against it as if it were an empty hand or a blunt weapon.

I am grateful that I can train with people who are so very skilled and knowledgeable in the blade and in blunt weapons. I may never use or face a blade... but I'm better prepared if I do.

What differences have you noticed between an edged weapon and a blunt weapon, if you study them?  If you study blunt weapons, do you have an interest in edged weapons?  Or if you study edges, how about blunt weapons?  Let me know in the comments! 


Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/13/17

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:  Morning practice and Arnis class, and then in the afternoon I went to my monthly kobudo class.  We worked all of the weapons we've learned - we hit BOB with the bo, worked our forms, and then spent half the class on Sai.  Strained the heck out of my thumbs.
Sunday:  Quiet day for a change. Cleaned out my now-dead car to get ready for donation, as that's all it's worth now.  Other chores, too.
Monday:   Happened to stumble across a used car that we fell in love with at a great price, so we skipped class Monday night and bought it (a 2000 Hyundai Tiberon). It's actually a model Mr. Chick has always wanted and instead of shopping for weeks, we went without a replacement car for just a few days.
Tuesday:  Worked on striking and kicking mechanic basics with the family class, then we worked on Sinawali in the adult class.
Wednesday:   Worked very hard on the final version of my converted Baston Anyo Lima (competition form) into Jo.  Remember how I strained my thumbs rover the weekend?  Yeah, this didn't help.  Both hands are toast.
Thursday:  Worked on our self defense techniques in family class, and worked on hubad-lubad with our new student in our Adult class.
Friday:  Worked with our Orange belts on reviewing their self-defense techniques, then I spent the rest of the night perfecting Baston Anyo Isa with our students prepping for a tournament in June.  They are coming along really well!



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  They Ain't Lyin' - 1st Degree Black Belt REALLY IS the First Step
Wednesday: The World's Worst (and Best) Martial Artist - is YOU

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   The Alternating Hand
Thursday:   In Defense of Sport Martial Arts
Friday:   FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Change One Perception Of Your Martial Art?


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Fantastic read from Marc MacYoung.  Long and worth your time.  Also has some very useful links in the post. Go read it:  Child Safety

And here's a great read about the reality of "gun fights" police officers have with suspects who ended up killing them: 25 GUNFIGHTING STATS LEARNED FROM CONVICTED COP KILLERS

Two reminders about the effectiveness of empty-hand techniques against bears.




So yeah, kids, your fancy-pants unarmed art might be great in the streets, but you got problems in the woods!

I posted a lot of non-bloggy stuff over on my Facebook blog page.  You should like it, and tell your friends to like it, too.  It's what all the cool kids are doing. The Stick Chick Blog.  If you're like all the cool kids, you can head on over to Tumblr and follow me there (and there's stuff I post there you won't see anywhere else - it's worth a follow for the weapons images alone) The Stick Chick on Tumblr

TOMORROW I'm going to have me one heck of a Mother's Day!  W00t!  If you or someone you know are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we'd love to see you!  STICK and STEEL Seminar with GM Art Miraflor and Professor Dan Anderson



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today I'm covering classes at Hidden Sword because my teacher is going to a sparring seminar and other events around +Prof. Dan Anderson (he's testing for 10th Dan today).  Because of my thumbs, I am taking it SUPER EASY as much as possible so I can fully participate in tomorrow's seminar (and a new seminar I just signed up for, next week down in Waco learning Eku).

You don't realize how much you really use your thumbs for, well, everything, until they are really, really hurty.

Hope your martial arts week was awesome, and have a great weekend.

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!