Monday, April 24, 2017

And Now There Are Four

Over the weekend, our school held our first formal black belt testing for our Presas Arnis program (Juniors and Adults).

Not that we promoted our first black belts.  That was Mr. Chick and myself, in 2013.  But we were not formally tested.  We were tested in secret - that is, we had no idea we were being tested - and surprise promoted, and that was totally cool and fun.

But our new batch of black belts got to actually TEST-test this time around, with a formal board, and everything.  We also had students going for mid-level ranks (blue and green).  Our school is kind of laid back and informal, and this was one of the biggest, most formal events we've put on.  So it's a really big deal for us in a number of ways.

The board, in front, and the people testing, in the back.

The test took about 2-1/2 hours, and included selections of what our folks have to know.  It's impossible to cover everything our guys have to know in a single test, to be honest - well, unless we want it to last days.  I know some schools do that, but for us, it's not necessary.  We earn our ranks on the mats anyway, and this is more like a demo or a graduation ceremony than a "test" anyway.

Just a couple of highlights from the test:
  • Tomas, our adult testing for Lakan, lost one of his sticks in the two-stick defense portion of the test and he just switched to single stick techniques without stopping. That was awesome.
  • Guest board members asked really challenging questions (Thanks Guro +Abel Mann Martinez and Guro +David Beck), put our guys to the test (thanks, GM Art!), and challenged our guys to shred a stick using rompida (and our adult was successful really quickly - our junior guy just isn't strong enough yet but if we'd let him go longer I bet he would have, as his technique was sound - thanks, Guro Kwan!)
Here's a few photos. Our adult green belt, testing for blue, is a private student of our teacher's, and we don't get to see him in the bigger group very often, so it was great to see him working out with the rest of us.

Working double-stick feeding patterns
Going for a disarm
Can't have a blog post without a shot of me beating up children.
Stick Anyo Dalawa (Stick Form Two)

Near the end, Mr. Chick and I had to do presentations about what we've learned since we were promoted to black ourselves, as part of our promotion to 2nd Black.  Mr. Chick talked about how drills are templates and how he understands how they work in training. My presentation was about how my Arnis is not the art with in my art - it IS my art - and how it prepared me for kobudo, and how my kobudo studies have informed my Arnis.  I then used my big pile o'kobudo weapons to demonstrate by using them in various ways with techniques I learned in Arnis.

I used much of what you see here - and no, this isn't even close to the entirety of what I own.  I might have a problem.

The test went really well, everyone was happy, and we have two new Lakan Isa (Black Belt 1st Degree) in our ranks.  Mr. Chick and I were promoted to Lakan/Dayang Dalawa (Black Belt 2nd Degree), and now our school has four black belts (three adult, one junior) under our instructor.

Dylan (Jr. Lakan Isa), me, Mark Lynn, Mr. Chick, and Tomas (Lakan Isa)
It's been fun being a part of developing our two Lakans to their new rank.  I was there when they both started, and I've watched each of them grow.  Both of them have their own special strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoy being paired with each of them for different reasons.

No, I don't like to be paired with Dylan just because I like beating up kids - which I totally do, of course - but he's really sharp and that kid can flow, y'all!

It was a successful day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.  And now there are four black belts under our teacher in our style, and I am in good company.  I know they'll continue to work hard, and learn, and grow.

Tell me about a black belt promotion you've been a part of, or attended.  Any funny or amazing stories? Let us know in the comments!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 04/22/17

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:  Practiced a little in the morning, then went out to Bridgeport to help out at my teacher's "HSMA Modern Arnis Instructor's Course" session.  Very long and fun day!
Sunday:  Easter.  Did a little bit of festivities then both myself and Older Daughter got sick, so we went to bed and stayed there most of the day.  Boooo.
Monday:   Hubby has done something BAD to his knee over the weekend, so gym is light this week. Went to class at Hidden Sword.  Last week before testing, so we reviewed Anyos and a few other things.
Tuesday:   Morning gym.  Mr. Chick taught class while I went with Older Daughter to an event at school.
Wednesday:  Class at Hidden Sword. Worked on last-minute things for my 10 minute presentation for our test this weekend.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed Anyos a little bit, then we worked on the "wooden man" drill for Brush Grab Strike.
Friday:  Morning gym. Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Stick sparring - we worked on translating things we do in sinawali to using double-sticks in stick sparring.


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Training the Trainers
Wednesday:  The Big Test
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What Other Style(s) Would You Study (if you could)?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Martial Arts Ruins Everything
Wednesday: Injury: Just Train


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Hey, cool, +Larry McDonnell was featured in his local newspaper.  Way to go, Larry! One in a Million: Man with dwarfism has passion for martial arts

+Ando Mierzwa has a neat video (below) and excuse me, sir, but the correct answer to "Which is the best style of martial arts" is "MINE!"



Great read on Bartitsu and jiu-jitsu and the Suffragette movement - read it: The Martial Art that (sort of) Won British Women the Right to Vote

This is making the rounds in the martial arts world online, and for good reason:


Details were finalized and we have a new seminar that Mid-Cities Arnis will host (in partnership with Hidden Sword Martial Arts).  It's on Mother's Day and I can't think of a better present for mom!  Here's the event details over on Facebook:  STICK and STEEL Seminar with GM Art Miraflor and Professor Dan Anderson



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today's the big testing day!  I will be going to Roanoke early for last minute practice, then the test is at 1 pm.  I know our guys are gonna do great!  I'm doing a presentation for my 2nd degree about how Arnis and my Kobudo training blend (and how Arnis gives me the ability to use other weapons).

Hope your week was as productive as mine was.

Oh, by the way, If you haven't done it already, would you please like this blog's page on Facebook if you're there (and encourage other people to do it too)?  You can find it right here:  The Stick Chick Blog

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, April 21, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What Other Style(s) Would You Study (if you could)?

It's FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today's question is a little different.

Many of us, after having studied a while, branch out to explore other styles other than our original or home style.  Sometimes these styles are closely related to what we already do, and sometimes, it's a completely different point of view.

Either way, most of us end up cross training in something else, if we end up studying long enough.

But, there's only so many hours in a day, right?  At least for me, there's far, far more I'm interested in, in the martial arts world, than I can feasibly study in my lifetime.  I can have friends who do them, I can watch video or see photos of people doing them, I can read about it, but due to circumstances of location and schedule, I just can't fit them in to my martial arts training.

I need a time machine and three copies of myself to study all that I'm really interested in.

So today's FACE-OFF FRIDAY is related to that, and I'm actually going to give you my own answer this time around (in the comments).

So let us know...

WHAT OTHER MARTIAL ARTS STYLE(S) WOULD YOU STUDY IF YOU COULD?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Big Test

This weekend marks a milestone in the history of our Arnis program at my teacher's school, Hidden Sword Martial Arts.

This weekend we are testing for promotion our second batch of first degree black belts, or as we call it, Lakan Isa (both candidates are male - female black belts are called Dayang).   One of our candidates is also the first Junior black belt in our program.  We're also testing some lower rank folks for various ranks, but these two are the "big" ones of the test.

This is, of course, a big deal in our school.

Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.

Our program is relatively small, but we're one of the few full-time Presas Arnis schools around, and this is only the second time we've gotten students to the point where they're ready to be promoted to black belt.  So yep, really big deal.

Mr. Chick and I were our program's first black belts. We were promoted via secret test and surprise promotion in August 2013.  So for this test, we're on the board but we're also the candidates' main partners on the test.  I expect to be locked, tossed to the ground, and pretend beaten up for about three hours.

My kind of day!

Like many schools, rank at Hidden Sword is earned on the mat, not in a test.  The only way to fail is to give up or quit in the middle of it.  I have lots of confidence in everyone testing that they'll get through this just fine - in fact, they may be better prepared for the next rank than we were three and a half years ago.

If you've read this blog a while, you know that I'm sort of ambivalent about rank and rank testing. While I see the value of such things, I think we put way too much emphasis on it than we need to sometimes.  I'm not wild about special privileges in a school based on rank, for example.

What's important are the skills you're acquiring, not the rank you're earning.

That being said, the jump to black usually represents a big step forward in a person's training.  What's expected of you on the mat changes.  The responsibility you have in your school changes. And if you've been promoted correctly - at the right time and stage of your training - your ability to learn accelerates, because you're mastered the basics and you don't have to think so hard any more.

That certainly was the case for me, even if I was sort of shell-shocked for a few months after we were promoted.  I'm a very, very different kind of player now than I was then, not only due to the influences I've gotten cross-training (especially in kobudo), but to the deeper understanding of our style itself.

Of course, the opportunity to train with some of the top people around didn't hurt.

I fully expect this weekend's test to go off without a hitch.  The folks testing are as ready as they can be.  It's going to be awesome.



As an aside, Mr. Chick and I are also testing, for 2nd degree black (Lakan/Dayang Dalawa).  Wish us luck.

Tell us about any big milestones in your school you've been a part of, or about a big important rank test you've taken.  Any funny testing stories?  Let us know in the comments!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Training the Trainers

My teacher, Mark Lynn, has started a program where he is working with empty-hand martial arts instructors and their students on material that they can then turn around and teach in their own schools.

It's a classic, Modern Arnis-y, "art within your art" approach.

He's been doing this a few months now, but this session was the first time I could go and help.  Usually I've had to cover our classes at Hidden Sword that are held at the same time, because Mr. Chick was booked.

Well, lucky me, Mr. Chick was available this time around to cover classes, so I got to go out to Bridgeport, TX and assist with the third session my teacher has offered.

Lemme tell ya, I just LOVE this sort of thing.  That is, when we get to work with experienced martial artists as they are introduced to our style.

I mean, I love working with newbies regardless, but experienced martial artists present a different challenge than completely inexperienced newbies do.  I just relish that particular challenge.

I stood in as my teacher's main demonstration partner.  We worked on our defensive responses #1 (same side block-and-strike), #2 (cross body block-and-strike) and #3 (double block and strike) in our double-stick material.  We then introduced the 12 Angles of attack, supported blocking, and counter-attacking in single stick.

The #9 strike. Via the NTKA Karate Martial Arts Facebook page.

The class had some folks who had attended all three sessions, and some who had only attended one or were brand-new.  I took this group - the least experienced - and continued drilling them on our defensive responses, while my teacher worked with the rest of the group on the single stick material.

When you are teaching you are always trying to find ways to help students relate to the things you want them to learn.  With experienced empty hand players, I usually go back to motions they already know, such as down block = low backhand strike to the knee, aka our #8 strike, or the idea that you don't stop the stick before it reaches the target like you don't stop a punch before it hits the target, and so on.

It's so cool when the penny drops and the lightbulb goes on, it really is.  Aha! It's all the same!  Just as the found of Modern Arnis, Remy Presas, was known for saying all the time.

Like this.
What is different about this class, versus a typical seminar, is that this is aimed at people who will teach what we're showing them to other people.

This means we have to correct (usually) small things here and there, but we also have to show them those small things and teach them how to correct it in people they are teaching.  So we correct them and we teach them to correct others, simultaneously.

It's challenging, and as an instructor, it really makes you think really, really hard, which is always good.  So not only am I teaching others, but I'm learning too.


It was a great session for all of us, and I left physically tired and mentally stimulated.  A great day!

Tell us about your experience learning to teach others.  How did it affect your ability to understand what you do?  Any cool stories? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 04/15/17

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:

Saturday:  Mr. Chick woke up puking up everything he'd eaten for the last two years, so I took Younger Daughter to our city Easter Egg Hunt in the morning, then I went to Kobudo in the afternoon.  After running through the bo, tonfa, and nunchaku, we worked on sai most of the session.
Sunday:  Mr. Chick weakly recovered enough to attend a session with Hock Hochheim, so I spent my day in chores.
Monday:   Morning gym.  Went to Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  We're counting down to our black belt test so we're working hard on various stuff we'll cover on the test.
Tuesday:   Morning gym.  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis, working on stuff like anyos, and block check counter, and sinawali inserts, and whatnot.  Jacked up my left knee a little bit so I had to take it easy.
Wednesday:  Skipped the gym and slept in (again - knee was not feeling super great).  Class at Hidden Sword.  Worked on the Anyos - especially Anyo Apat (so grateful I don't have to do the bane of my Arnis Anyo existence, Anyo Lima!), and then block check counter stuff.
Thursday:  Morning gym.  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on teaching the kids Empty Hand Tapi-Tapi (we are working hard on the brush-grab-strike concept) and in the adult class we worked on interrupting sinawali flow and what might come next.
Friday:  Morning gym. Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  It's Friday, so we baked pies. Juuuussstt kidding, we did stick fighting like we always do.

Also on Friday, April 14, Grand Master Jack Hogan of Hogan Karate International died after a long and hard fought battle with cancer.  My martial arts career was heavily influenced by students of Jack Hogan's, and he will be sorely missed.

Bruce Chiu, myself, Jack Hogan and Mr. Chick in January 2009

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Magic and the Martial Arts
Wednesday:  3 Tips For Parents to Choose a Martial Art

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   What's in Your Gear Bag?
Wednesday: Why Study Double Sticks at All?
Friday:  Instructors and Students Dating


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

This post is not actually NEW-new, but I just saw it this week.  This very blog was included with other very fine blogs, including +Joelle White, in this list of Martial Arts Bloggers to Follow.  Neat!

I think everyone knows about the United Airlines fiasco that's been headline news all week.  Lots of martial arts schools have been jumping on that badwagon ("United Defense").  Here's Master Ken doing it:



New post at The Martial Learner: Are Your Social Skills Killing Your Martial Skills?

Details were finalized and we have a new seminar that Mid-Cities Arnis will host (in partnership with Hidden Sword Martial Arts).  It's on Mother's Day and I can't think of a better present for mom!  Here's the event details over on Facebook:  STICK and STEEL Seminar with GM Art Miraflor and Professor Dan Anderson



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

I will be spending my day working on Arnis and kobudo, and later, we're going out to Bridgeport, TX to help my teacher instruct a session on Arnis for empty-hand instructors looking to learn what we do as add-on programs in their own schools.  It'll be a long and fun day.

Happy Easter, everyone!

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, April 12, 2017

3 Tips For Parents to Choose a Martial Art

So you want your kid to try martial arts, but you don't have any clue of how to begin.

Well, my friend, your pal the Stick Chick is here to help you out.  Not only am I martial artist myself, but I run a martial arts program as an instructor as well as having two martial arts kids myself.

This post is more of a set of quick bullet points on choosing a martial arts school for your child. I wrote about this topic before, in A Parent's Guide to the Martial Arts, and please do read that one as it's a longer post and I go into a lot more detail.



So here's a few tips:

PROXIMITY, SCHEDULE AND PRICE

Honestly, it's most practical to choose a school close to your home.  With busy schedules and tight budgets, it's a practical and important consideration.  I can tell you from experience the most common reason I've seen parents drop out of our school is conflict with schedules and the difficulty, sometimes, of getting their kid to class around other activities.

Don't forget to include other sports or activities your child is interested in (such as baseball season or theater or band) in your consideration.  It is common for kids in sports and the martial arts to have to take a break during a season for a sport.  Understand that if you have to take that time off, it will delay you kid's progress in the martial arts (not a bad thing, necessarily, it's just a fact).  It may be possible to arrange training on a different schedule with the school (usually via private lessons), so don't forget to ask about that if you know a conflict will arise.

Most martial arts schools near you will have their class schedule posted online or you can get a handout at the school itself.

As for price... the most expensive school in your area is not necessarily the right one for your child.  The cheapest one is not always the best deal.  Decide what is "average" in your area (it can vary WIDELY from place to place) and when discussing the price, makes sure all the fees are disclosed up front.  Some common fees include testing and "belt" fees, uniform fees, and equipment fees.  Know what is optional and what is required to be purchased for study.

This is... bad.

Most martial arts schools have a trial period.  It's not always obvious if a school is a poor fit until you've been in it for a few weeks, so use that trial period well.

As for contracts - some schools use them, some don't.  I prefer shorter contracts, and beware any school that promises if you sign a long-term contact (several years) right now, they'll guarantee your kid will reach black belt in a given period of time. That's shady.

Unless you live in a very small town or in a very rural place, there is more than one martial arts school around, and comparison shop them ALL so you get an idea of what's available in your area.  Don't just sign up with the first school you visit.

BE SURE WHY YOU WANT YOU CHILD IN THE MARTIAL ARTS

The benefits of the martial arts for kids are varied.  Some of the benefits include learning personal discipline, getting good exercise, working on good hand/eye coordination (which carries over to other sports), improving social skills, building positive self-esteem, learning moral and ethical values, and bully prevention.

Not every school covers all of those topics, so it's important to decide what is important to you so you know what to ask about and look for in a school.  This is entirely subjective, and ignore what people say you should want for your child.  You know your kid.

You can determine if the school meets your needs by asking outright, by talking to other parents at the school, and by observing classes.

If the martial arts school isn't willing to give you references for other parents or allow you to observe classes, that's a huge red flag and I would cross that school off of my consideration list.

By the way, kids really can't learn the skills asked of them until they are about six years old, on average (some kids can learn younger, and some aren't ready until older - that's why I said "average").  Martial arts classes for kids as young as three exist, but think of them more like martial arts movement classes, versus actual "martial arts" classes.

Little kids can't focus very long, so usually those classes aimed at "Little Dragons", the three-to-five year old set, are about 1/2 hour long.  For older kids who are still pretty young (six-nine or so), class times are usually 45 minutes to an hour.

THE STYLE DOESN'T MATTER THAT MUCH

No, really, it doesn't, not for kids.  Every martial artist will insist that the style he studies is the BEST EVER and all of the rest are just a waste of time and money.  Unless those people are studying Arnis, well, they're completely wrong.

For a kid, the style and its "effectiveness on the street" isn't the most important consideration.  For a kid, being a combat effective street badass isn't really what you're looking for (and if you are... well... good luck with that).

No matter the style, it's easy to transition at an older age (if the kid continues to study - many don't) to the styles that are more self-defense and fighting oriented.

So don't overthink the style too much or worry about whether or not it's kung fu or jiu jitsu or karate.  Do the kids doing the style on the mat look like they're working hard and having fun?  Awesome, that's what's important for a child.

I truly believe that martial arts study is good for almost every child on earth.  Heck, while your kid is trying it out, why don't you try it too? All of the benefits that are there for kids are there for parents, and many schools have a family class where kids and parents can study together.

I hope this helps, and I invite experienced martial artists and instructors to chime in on this post and include their tips.

Have fun on the mats!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Magic and the Martial Arts

Recently, I was training in Arnis with my friend +Dr. Tye W. Botting who is very, very highly trained in kung fu (among other arts).

I joked to him about him using his "magic kung fu" powers in Arnis training.  Another friend, +Abel Mann Martinez overheard this, and added the words "BS" to the end of my statement.

It's been an ongoing joke ever since.

The thing is, my other friend heard me say "BS", when I didn't say it, and didn't mean that at all.

I meant "magic" in the sense of Arthur C. Clarke's third law:


I admire kung fu - or rather, the kung fu players I know and have trained with.  I am very impressed with how they move, and I envy it a bit (only so many hours in a day, folks), and I don't understand how they do it.

Because I don't understand it, that makes what they do magic to a bumpkin like me.

Regarding claims of "real" magic in the martial arts - things that happen that are supernatural in nature... well, color me a skeptic.  I've never been impressed with the idea of ghosts, or magical creatures, I don't believe that psychics are real, that you can make anything move with nothing but your mind, or in levitation.

Long story short, well, I'm a big X-Files fan, and I always identified with SCULLY, even if in the context of the show she was often wrong.

BECAUSE THEY DON'T EXIST. 
In some corners of our martial arts world, the idea that training can give you supernatural, magic powers is very, very attractive and some of us capitalize on that idea. That we can train hard, and somehow, become special not just by our skill set, but by acquisition of actual magic powers that regular people can't and won't ever have.

This idea is supported in our popular culture.  Ninjas and mystical monks and the like... heck, isn't that what "Iron Fist" (the Netflix show) is (sort of) about?  How his martial arts training gave him a special magic power?

In the real world, we have the famous case of James Hydrick - who ended up being much, much worse than a simple fraud, even if he was a legit martial artist by all accounts.  He claimed that his training gave him magic powers. Below is the video of James Randi exposing his so-called magic powers learned from the martial arts as the fraud it was.


Read more about Hydrick HERE.

Hydrick is the extreme, though.  Most of the time, things that seem supernatural have perfectly mundane explanations and most of us don't pretend any differently.  Take breaking, which is a learned skill, and there's nothing supernatural or magical about it.  Take pressure points, which are at this time poorly understood in a western, scientific sense (and it's difficult to verify) but certainly seems to me to have some validity based on personal experience.

So I treat any claims of any supernatural abilities in the martial arts world with a huge grain of salt (especially if they are coming from people who claim to have trained with mysterious ninjas as a child), due to my skeptical nature and view of the world.

At the same time, though, I admit there are things in the marital arts world that are completely legit, but I don't understand how it works.  It seems like magic to me, even if it isn't.

So what do you find "magical" in the martial arts world?  Have you seen things that you can't explain?  Are supernatural abilities possible to obtain, or are you a skeptic like me?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 04/08/17

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:  Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance 11th gathering over in Richardson. As always, it was awesomesauce.  Also got in a little sai practice, which is good.
Sunday:  Chores, chores, chores.
Monday:   Morning gym.  My day off, so I cooked a little.  Yay!
Tuesday:   Morning gym.  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  In family class, we worked on the jab and the cross and the jab/cross combo.  In adult class, we worked on chaining together different sinawali patterns, and how there's more in sinawali than meets the eye.
Wednesday:  Skipped the gym and slept in.  Class at Hidden Sword.  We're in the home stretch to promoting our brown belts to black, so we worked on some material they're going to have to know.
Thursday:  Morning gym.  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  In family class, we worked on kicks. In adult class, we worked on interruptions of single sinawali.
Friday:  Morning gym. Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  AW YISS, FRIDAY NIGHT STICK FIGHTS!

The consequences of being dumb enough to grab his wrist.


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  The Blind Spot (with Weapons)
Wednesday:  A Tale of Two Shootinjgs
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Ranks, Certification, and Teaching

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Daredevil Season 2: Awesome Fight Scenes and a Problem
Wednesday: We are the Nerds of Violence

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Super neat video shared by +Martial Arts with Colman:


Check out this new martial arts blog focused on HOW we learn the martial arts: The Martial Learner


FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Mr. Chick is under the weather, so I will be taking Younger Daughter to an Easter Egg Hunt, and then later today I have my once-a-month class over in Dallas for kobudo.  It's really nice weather here, so we'll probably be training outside.

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, April 7, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Ranks, Certification, and Teaching

It's FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today I'm interested in how your martial arts organization handles how their members become teachers.

Some styles have a very formal system to develop students into instructors.  You must reach (x) rank, you have to have so-much time instructing under the guidance of another instructor, you must go to such-and-such instructor course.   The idea is that there is/should be a certain level of quality control in those instructing in the art/style/organization.

Others are more informal, and don't have a specific process.  A person can teach when his or her instructor says they can, or, they just break off on their own and just start doing it.

So what do you think?   How does your school handle it?  Let us know...

HOW ARE INSTRUCTORS CERTIFIED IN YOUR MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL, IF THEY ARE AT ALL?


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Tale of Two Shootings

I was going to do this as a "FACE-OFF FRIDAY" topic, but since I usually don't give you my opinion on those - and I definitely have opinions here - let's do this as a regular blog post, shall we?



Here in the United States, we recently had two well publicized incidents where a property owner shot and killed people illegally trespassing on their property.

OKLAHOMA

The first one happened in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.  Long story short, three teenage boys broke into a home, which was occupied by the homeowner at the time.  The boys were there to burglarize the place, and of the three, two were armed (one with a knife, one with brass knuckles).  The homeowner killed all three burglars with an AR-15 rifle.  Later, the getaway driver - and accused "ringleader" of the burglary ring - was arrested and charged with murder.

News links and details here:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oklahoma-man-uses-ar-15-kill-three-teen-home-intruders-n739541

http://fox8.com/2017/03/30/oklahoma-911-caller-three-people-broke-into-my-house-i-shot-two/

In this case, the news is that the homeowner will not be charged with a crime.  The "big news" has been that a relative of one of the burglars is complaining that this was "not a fair fight". Read more about that here: Family member of teen burglary suspect killed in Wagoner County break-in speaks out

WASHINGTON

This happened in Mason County, Washington.  A man came home to his property, where there is a home and another building that is a business.  He found a naked man showering in his business building.  He left that building, went to his house, retrieved a firearm, and shot and killed the man in the shower at the business building.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/homeowner-arrested-fatally-shooting-intruder-found-shower-police/story?id=46536513

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/04/washington-state-man-arrested-after-killing-intruder-in-shower-police-say.html

The homeowner has been arrested and charged with murder.

So, here's my two cents on these cases, and I'm looking for your opinions, too.  Of course, all we have to go on are media reports, so important details may be missing from each incident.

In the Oklahoma case, I think the authorities did the right thing in not charging the homeowner with a crime.  The burglars were armed when entering the home, which suggests to me that they were planning for some trouble (especially the brass knuckles, which are illegal in most places here).  There were three of them to his one.  The grandfather's claim about a "fair fight" - as if the victim in this case had some sort of moral, ethical or legal duty to give the burglars a "fair chance" (risking his own life in the process, being severely outnumbered) is ridiculous.

In Washington, I think the authorities did the right thing in arresting the owner of the property and charging him with murder.  This is a very different situation.  First off, the intruder was not in the man's home, he was obviously not in any way armed, and was not threatening the owner of the property.  Second, the man had the time to leave the place where the bad guy was, safely, go to another nearby location, retrieve his firearm, re-enter the place where the intruder was, and shoot the man.  He could (and should) have left the building, went to his home, secured it, and called the police to deal with the intruder.

I'm interested in what you think about both of these situations.  Do you disagree with the actions of the authorities in either situation?  Why, or why not?

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Blind Spot (with Weapons)

I get sent a lot of videos of people working with martial arts weapons.

Some are awesome - and please do continue to tag me or send me videos that are really good, thanks. Some are really, really horrible (and yes, I like them too, just like one of those "so bad it's good" movies).  And most are somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

One thing that is kinda common, especially with knife defense videos being produced by people who are primarily in empty hand striking arts (such as taekwondo, karate, kempo), is a failure to attack and/or control the weapon hand or arm.

Oh, they'll "block" it - they'll use a standard block against the weapon hand and move in to attack the body.  Fundamentally, I think that's a sound strategy.  The idea is to incapacitate the attacker with a head or torso strike (that is, he'll forget about using his arms/legs).

BUT.

Let's talk about that block.  Often, we're talking about blocks that look like this:

Image found HERE

Your typical empty hand block - with a fist or an open palm hand - will not stop that knife.  I know, because we practice this, and I promise you, if it worked, my teacher could easily stop me because he's big and strong and I'm smallish middle aged woman.  It'd be a piece of cake.

He can't.  At least, not reliably, and not without my ability to re-attack almost immediately.

So why do so many empty hand guys, when they put a knife in their hands, act like this sort of block will incapacitate the knife hand?

I think that a lot of people in the empty hand striking and kicking arts having a blind spot when it comes to arms and legs.

You see, when you are empty hand and striking or kicking, you don't have to control the arm or hand once you've intercepted it and gotten it out of the way.  You deflect it somehow, then you move in to attack the torso or head, or you move in for a lock or take-down, or what have you.  The risk of that arm being a problem for you is relatively small.

It's not important to monitor and control an empty hand attack, or rather, it's not as important as the counter attack to the center mass and head.

In sparring, especially point sparring, it's also not important to do much more than block empty hand strikes and kicks.  You earn points, typically, by attacking the head and torso.  You get no points for attacking the arm.

So, you train to attack the head and the torso.  The arm and hand is more of a obstacle to get past versus a target in its own right.

You develop a blind spot when it comes to the weapon hand.  There's no feedback or reward or risk in your training methodology to address it.

Of course, as an Arnis player, I see the arm and weapon hand as something that I have to deal with and control.  I can try "defanging the snake" (where we attack the arm in order to destroy its ability to attack) or at very least, my block of that arm better include me grabbing onto and trying to manipulate or trap or pin the arm so it can't do me any more damage.

That's because my assumption is always that there's a weapon there, and it's probably a knife, and I do not want the hand with the knife free and able to cut me.



Of course, there's problems with our strategy, too.  It's not easy to capture a weapon hand of someone seriously trying to hurt you, especially if it's a low poking stab.  Trying to smash or slash a small, fast moving target like an arm or a hand is difficult and must be trained a LOT to get good at it.

All of those objections are absolutely true.  That's why you train to attack/control the weapon hand and then ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE on the other parts of the body to make the bad guy stop.

Take the block in the gif above. This will work vs. a knife BUT - you can't just block and counter-strike as shown in this (very basic) technique.  That's because the weapon hand is not controlled in any way, and can easily retract and attack again.  The block deflected but did not actually stop the weapon from being re-deployed.

So, what I would do, in that block, is to upper block (or strike, whatever you want to call it), then open my hand and grip the attacking arm, then parry it down and of the way for a counter attack.

In fact, there is a move in our very empty hand Modern Arnis first form - Anyo Isa - where we do exactly that.

See the whole form HERE

There you go.

This post isn't a knock on empty hand striking and kicking arts, I promise.  Because while I was thinking about this blind spot, I then started thinking about the blind spots in my own style, and wondering where they are and how I need to address it.

We all have blind spots!

The trick is to figure out where they are, right?

So what blind spots are you spotting in your training or in online videos?  What assumptions do you make that you think should be challenged?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 4/1/17

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:  Secret training at the ninjer base over in Dallas.  I'd tell you more, but I'd have to kill you.
Sunday:  Practiced sai. Who knew you could actually throw them through drywall?  It's way easier than it was with the tonfa.  Used it to spear ninjers coming in the garage.  Handy!
Monday:   Morning gym.  Deadlifted 500 pounds repeatedly - man, my arms are tired.  My "night off" from martial arts, so I roasted a goose for dinner, but it went uneaten as I had to use it as an improvised weapons against yet another ninjer attack.
Tuesday:   Morning gym.  Ran the equivalent of a marathon, and nobody was even chasing me (ninjers slept in, apparently).  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis, where we worked on using flying side kicks against ninjers on horses.  The rec center was really, really pissed about how the horses scratched up the floor, and we won't even get into the stink-eye the cleaning folks gave us on our way out.
Wednesday:  Skipped the gym and slept in. Allergy season is in full swing here, so instead of going to class at Hidden Sword, I ended up going to bed early in an allergy med coma.  Ninjer free day.
Thursday:  Morning gym.  Leg day, so I practiced kicking truck tires across the gym. Later at Mid-Cities Arnis we worked on knife disarms with live blades (thanks, ninjers!), then we practiced our emergency first-aid against really deep cuts.
Friday:  Morning gym. Did a thousand pushups on my pinkies.  I'm getting stronger, yay!  At Mid-Cities Arnis, as usual on Fridays, we stick spar against the ubiquitous ninjers. Being smacked repeatedly in the face with bahi sticks really stings, lemme tell ya!  Ha!

Actual footage of our Friday Nights.  Ninjers not shown.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Fifteen Ways to KILL A NINJER WITH A STICK (you won't believe number seven!)
Friday:  FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Training Naked?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   7 Ways to Keep Your Life Ninjer-Free (I love number three!)
Wednesday: The Perils of Ninjer Attacks: Three Strategies
Thursday:  Ninjer Secrets of Arnis REVEALED!


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

It was a busy week, indeed (did I mention there were ninjers?)  So I don't have much to share with you, other than the stuff over on my Facebook page (it's HERE, by the way - won't you please like and share it?  PLEASE?!?!?!)

This is INCREDIBLY not safe for work and I'm not kidding. It's DEADPOOL. I shouldn't have to say it.  You are warned, and it is AWESOME.




FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today is MAPA 11 and if you're in the area, you should evade the ninjers, come on by, and challenge me to a death match, will ya?

By the way, one of the things I listed in my week o' stuff I did is true. Can you guess which?  Nope, not the goose thing.

Hope your week is full of deadly goodness and completely 100% ninjer free.

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!