Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It Really Is All the Same

We have a popular maxim in my style, a quote from the founder of Modern Arnis, Remy Presas.

He said, "It is all the same."

The meaning of this is that what we do and learn in my style isn't actually terribly unique in the martial arts world.  Much of what we do can be seen in other seemingly unrelated styles like taekwondo, karate, and kung fu.

Given that Modern Arnis is often taught as an "add-on" style to other arts, it's very useful to build upon that idea when teaching new students.  We can relate certain things to what they already know, such as our low backhand strike - a #8 strike - is a down block in karate.  Or that the motion the hand makes for Abanico Corto ( resembles what my taekwondo friends call an "inside outside block".

Here's a video my friend +Brian Johns made about Abanico Corto, so you can see the motion:

It's a convenient shortcut to get people with martial arts training up and running in Modern Arnis quickly.

What we don't talk enough about, in my opinion, is that this is a two-way street. That Arnis study helps me understand and relate to what I'm learning in other styles quickly.

Take kobudo.

I'm in the home stretch for my black belt in my Kobudo group - we're just reviewing and perfecting material now - and I'll be honest with you, it's a difficult struggle sometimes.  I'm working hard with sai and it's not an easy weapon to learn, by a long shot.

I'm not the only one struggling in my class; I think all of us are having trouble.  In class the other day, our teacher said that we had to learn to "flow" with the weapon.

Flow.  It's a concept that's fundamental in Modern Arnis.  The idea that you relax, you move smoothly and with confidence, that power and speed come with good technique.  Being able to flow means you can react to whatever is presented to you, quickly.

To get better at sai - to get better in kobudo in general - I need to flow.  Just as I've learned to flow in Modern Arnis.  I need to practice more to achieve it, but I know what flow feels and looks like.  I learned it with a stick in my hand.

Thus, I asked myself what "flow" looks like in sai.  I relaxed, I slowed down, and I tried to move smoothly.

Sai got easier when I focused on the flow. Actually, all of my kobudo forms and practice are getting better thanks to applying what I know about flow to what I'm doing.


It just goes to show how much insight Remy Presas really had into the martial arts in general.  And it also shows how much we really are alike, even with seemingly very different martial arts styles.

Look for the connections and the similarities when you cross-train, and see what you discover.

It's all the same.

Did you discover some similarities when cross training from style to style?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/12/17

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?


Saturday:  Hearts for Honduras Martial Arts tournament.  I had one student competing from Mid-Cities Arnis, and we had several from Hidden Sword.  I was chosen to head judge - for the first time - the under-black weapons division competition, and I ended up as head judge for that ring all day (except for sparring, which I am not qualified to do).  I tried my best to be fair and nobody yelled at me, so hey, that was good. My MCA student took third place, and all of the Hidden Sword kids came home with medals!  A great day!
Sunday:  Chores and stuff.  Downtime.
Monday:   Attended class at Hidden Sword.  We worked on Espada y Daga, always fun.
Tuesday:   Migraines have returned - stayed home and went to bed early.
Wednesday:   Turned 49.  Had a non-migraine window, thank goodness, and we went to Brasilian steakhouse to celebrate!
Thursday:   Migraines most of the day but not too bad, so I taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We worked on stances in Family Class and I worked with our short-term women's self defense student in adult class.
Friday:  Migraines again hard, which meant infusion time.  Stayed home and slept it off.


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

MondayLessons from Block Check Counter
TuesdayAging and the Martial Arts
WednesdayThe Midpoint
Thursday: You're Never Too Old to Start the Martial Arts
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Too Young to Start the Martial Arts?


I actually do have my eye on a practice sword...

Friend of this blog +Joelle White wrote a SUPER FANTASTIC post you gotta read: 8 Reasons Why Mom Should Practice a Martial Art

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


I'm covering classes at Hidden Sword all day while my teacher teaches Arnis at karate camp today.  So we'll be doing fitness games in the taekwondo class, weapons sparring in the sparring class, and in Arnis, I plan on hitting the bags (assuming nobody's in our room!).  Then later I go to my monthly Kobudo class over in Dallas - I've been practicing but I think I'm still stinking up the joint. :(

Migraines were tough this week, but emergency meds and then going in for an infusion was the right thing to do. Hopefully that'll stop it in its tracks.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Midpoint

So it's my birthday.

I started this martial arts journey late in life - a few months before my 40th birthday.  It was one of the actions I took when I was coping with a really big mid-life crisis. At the time, I was at the end of a year-long process of quitting smoking, eating better, and trying to get healthier.  At that time, my stepfather underwent serious health issues that could have been alleviated, even at his relatively late age, if he'd decided to change his ways.

He made a different decision than I did, and we lost him in 2013.

Here I am, healthier in many ways than I was back then.  I'm experiencing all of the problems of aging - harder to lose weight, longer to recover from injury, and aches and pains constantly.  I definitely have health issues too, but overall, probably far less than I would have.

Some people believe that each decision we make creates a new "universe".  That is, there's a timeline out there where I didn't change my ways.  There's a chain-smoking, probably even fatter than I am right now, out of shape couch potato version of yours truly out there.

Not completely accurate - old me wouldn't be caught dead chugging Bud Light. Gross.

Yikes, as much as I struggle with health issues now, I'm super-glad I'm not that version of me.  That would suck.

I believe, thanks to martial arts, that however long I have left to me, they're going to be better years than they would have been.  This is not just due to the health side of things, even if that was my primary motivation to get started in all this.

It's also how martial arts study has affected my relationships.

I've written how my husband and I study together, and how awesome it is.  It's something our whole family does, and it's given us something we can all relate to and connect over.  My house is one of the few on earth where one of us comes home with a new martial arts thing and nobody challenges anybody over the cost of it or how necessary it is to own whatever that thing is.

Of course the martial arts thing is necessary to own. And it was a bargain too.

I've also made tons and tons of friends in the martial arts over time - teachers and training partners, and I've connected with people here on my blog, too, and that's been really neat.  I have friends all over the world I wouldn't have had otherwise, and that is really important to me.

I might have more time behind me than ahead of me in my life, but it's going to be quality time, thanks to the martial arts.

Not many middle-aged women spend their free time like this!

Why did you start training, and how has training positively affected your life?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/05/17

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?


Saturday:  Kobudo and Arnis.  Another "normal" day,. two weekends in a row. Yay!
Sunday:  Mr. Chick was training with Hock all weekend, so I was the homebody doing chores.  Got a lot done!
Monday:   Our household struggled all week with allergies (Texas is ground zero for it) so we stayed home, hopped up on Sudafed and Benadry.
Tuesday:   Stayed home with Younger Daughter while Mr. Chick covered classes.
Wednesday:   Everybody is still sick at my house, so one more day of rest.
Thursday:   Classes at Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked on stances with our new white belt, and in adult class, we have a short-term student studying our Women's Self Defense curriculum, so I worked with her..
Friday:  Stick sparring night at Mid-Cities Arnis and our last practice for a tournament coming up.


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

MondayAttack of the Brain Fart
TuesdayThe Myth of Realism
WednesdayBalancing the (Martial Arts) Force
Thursday: I'm a LARPer (and I'm Okay)
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Martial Arts Experience on a Resume


This is true for all martial arts weapons.

Hey, training weapons are still weapons.  Wizard of Id 7/31/17

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


Today we have a tournament in Jacksboro, TX, about an hour away. My teacher's school, Hidden Sword, will have competitors, and I have a student from Mid-Cities Arnis competing.  Me, I'm going to judge this time around.  Wish us luck!

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Martial Arts Experience on a Resume


Let's assume, for a moment, that you aren't applying for a martial arts oriented job, and that you have work experience or a profession that is not martial arts related.

This blog post made the rounds recently:

Why Martial Arts Is On My Résumé And Should Be On Yours

I want to know what you think about this idea. I've actually seen this brought up before, and here's some discussion about it HERE and HERE.  I think a case can be made either way.

So what do you think:


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Balancing the (Martial Arts) Force

I know this comes as breaking news to you regular readers of the blog, but I'm a huge nerd.

I know, right?

So, I was watching "Rogue One" and I got to thinking about this whole "bringing balance to the force" thing in the Star Wars mythos.  Dark side being "bad", light side being "good", and the idea that Anakin Skywalker was supposed to bring "balance" to the force.  I won't nerd out on you too much here (and you Star Wars supernerds out there would end up blowing me out of the water if I did), but I was just wondering...

What does that mean?  "Balance" to the Force?

Well, it's like values and philosophy in the martial arts.

It's a martial arts blog, y'all, you knew I was gonna go there.

Anyway, to my mind, everything we value in the martial arts needs to be balanced.

For example:

Too little courage, and you'll never learn anything new or grow.  Too much courage, and you'll put yourself into situations that are way beyond your abilities to cope with.

Too much humility, and you'll never trust your own skills.  Too little humility, and you'll trust your skills when they aren't good enough to serve you well.

Get what I mean?  More often than not, it's finding a balance between extremes. 

See, if this were a bell curve, you want to stick to the middle, versus being out at the ends.

Wait, is she still using Star Wars as a metaphor, or is she moving to math now?

I think we've all seen situations where someone takes an idea and pushes it to an extreme.  Sometimes the net result is positive, such as when someone becomes a top athlete (although anyone at that level will tell you that there are sacrifices that they make that the rest of us might not want to make).

And sometimes, it's negative. The videos that go around the martial arts online community every few months of the super-fast taekwondo guys from New York is a great example.  That group, while sort of funny to us on the outside, is relatively benign.  It's just an idea taken to an extreme, in a situation where it's not challenged.

Just a snippet. This is real and not sped up.

But sometimes, going to the extreme is downright dangerous.  Believing that their martial art gives them powers, or that their teacher is perfect, or that their school or style is unbeatable.  Believing that martial arts skill grants you authority over other parts of peoples' lives.  This is where we get into cults, into situations where abuse can happen, and where our judgement is impaired.

That's why balance in the martial arts is important.  Be confident, but not overly so.  Become the best at what you do, understanding that there is no such thing as "unbeatable". Trust your teachers, but don't be afraid to use a little healthy skepticism about what you're taught also.

Balance, people.

Tell us about a time you went to the extreme and what you learned, positive or negative.  What's your approach to being balanced?  Do you think that going to an extreme is a good thing?  Let us know in the comments!