Wednesday, August 30, 2017

We Can Be Heroes

As you know, the Texas Gulf Coast (and soon, Louisiana too, looks like) has been hit with a massive natural disaster in the form of Hurricane Harvey.

They are calling it the largest flooding event in US history.  11 million people have been affected so far (and you can't keep up with the numbers as it's still rising). Harvey is still sitting there in the Gulf Coast, like a really bad house guest who won't take the hint to LEAVE ALREADY.  Lives have been lost - a miraculous few, compared to how many are at risk - and more will be lost in the days to come.

The property damage and disruption to our economy is going to be a big problem for years to come.

Personally, I'm well out of any risk area - Texas is, after all, BIG, and I'm in North Texas - but I have friends and training partners down there in the middle of it all.

Via Al Garza on Facebook.  Al Garza's Premier Martial Arts in League City, TX  8/28/17

Lots of people have stepped up and done heroic things in the wake of this storm, but it's not over, not by a long shot.

We have dedicated our +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance 12th Gathering, set for Saturday, September 30, as a Harvey benefit seminar.  All proceeds - every dime - will go to Harvey relief organizations.

The Facebook event can be found HERE.  If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and ever wanted to try Filipino Martial Arts, this is be BEST event ever to get your toes in the water.  Plus you get to benefit a great cause.

I want to issue a challenge to each of you.

I challenge your martial arts school, organization or training group to hold a Harvey benefit for relief efforts.

Hold a kick-a-thon, donate proceeds from a class or seminar, heck, host a blood drive, volunteer at a local shelter if you can... whatever you can do, do it.

Our world seems to be full of conflict, and hate, and division.  Let's counter that with doing something good.  This is a better use of our time than sniping at each other over the issues of the day, or obsessing over misinformation on Twitter, or what have you.

If you like, I've whipped up a little logo for your event if you want to use it, completely free of charge and you don't even have to give me credit.


The important thing is to raise CASH for relief groups.  They can use the money to get the right things for the right people in the middle of the affected areas.

Here's a good reference of groups you can consider donating to:  How to get (and offer) help after Hurricane Harvey

We can be heroes, just by doing what we love, for a really great cause.  And thanks in advance for your help.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/26/17

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:  Two hours of koboudo, an hour of Arnis, then I helped out the taekwondo "side" of Hidden Sword Martial Arts by sitting on their testing board in the afternoon.  Long and productive day.
Sunday:  Taught ADE Women's Self Defense.  Really fun group this time around!
Monday:   Solar eclipse here in the US.  We had about 75% occlusion where I live. It was really cool. Attended class at Hidden Sword. I'm covering classes on this Monday so I worked them through our Defensive Responses and Block Check Counter.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Wednesday:   My day off!
Thursday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed where our adult White Belt is and what we have to perfect for her promotion within the month.
Friday:  Stick sparring.  Fun!



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondayKnives Suck
TuesdayReal Life Fights: "Scooter Boy" - Lessons Learned
Wednesday4 Lessons in the Martial Arts (I Keep Relearning)
Thursday: Risk Management
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: How Long to Black Belt?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Shared this on my Facebook page this week, from our friends at Bayani Warrior:

Especially if they are children.
THREE videos from Master Ken? In a single week?  Get the paper towels, because our cups runneth over.




Before we had Ameri-do-te... another way to attack the groin.



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:

Two hours of kobudo this morning, then I'm going out to Bridgeport to help my teacher teach his monthly Arnis Instructors course.  Gonna be a long day.

As I type, Texas is getting hammered by Hurricane Harvey. I'm way, way, WAY out of harm's way, but I have friends down there who are.  Please keep us in your thoughts, and if and when the time comes, donate to the charity of your choice helping folks down there out. It's going to be a doozy, y'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, August 23, 2017

4 Lessons in the Martial Arts (I Keep Re-Learning)

By now, I'm not exactly a martial arts noobie.

I started in April 2008, and except for a period when I was pregnant with my younger daughter (I still did a bit of tai chi during that time, though) I've been training pretty continuously since that time.

So you'd think, by now, I'd have internalized certain core lessons that I've literally been being told by my teachers since 2008.

You'd think.

Here are 4 lessons I keep relearning in the martial arts:

SLOW DOWN

I think most of us do this sometimes.  We are working on a kata or a drill, and we just cruise through it as fast as we can, thinking that doing it fast is doing it well.

But you and I both know that fast doesn't equal good, or powerful, or even correct.  It only demonstrates that you know the sequence of motions well enough to not have to think hard about them.

My new spirit animal.

I would argue that you're completely missing the point if you speed through what you're doing.  We're supposed to be thinking about what we're doing while we practice.  We're supposed to think about our stances, our transitions, our targeting, our hip rotation, our blocking, or whatever it is we're working on that's contained WITHIN the form or drill we're practicing.

If we aren't going slowly enough to think about it, I don't think we're getting all we can get from a drill or a form.


SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST

Related to the above, working to the point where things are not discrete motions in space, but a series of motions intended to be continuous and related to one another.

It's a scatter plot vs. a line graph.

Be like the right side, not the left.

The way to make the transition happen is to slow down and work on being smooth.  If you can do this, speed and power comes naturally.  Smooth motion and correct technique makes one powerful, not just being strong and using muscles in itself.

This is super important if you're a stubby little middle aged woman like yours truly.  I will never be able to defend against bigger and stronger people if I don't slow down and learn the proper technique that helps me overcome lack of pure strength.

This is a lesson I've been re-learning over and over and over again as I study kobudo weapons.

RELAX

Long story short, tense and bunched up muscles are slow muscles.

But also, relaxation isn't just about the body.  It's about the mind.

Don't let all the worries that are going through your head - I'll never understand this thing, I don't like what I'm doing right now, ugh I'm so bad at this why do I bother, why won't my body move the way I want it to... and so on and so on...

Let it go.  Relax.

Maybe not THAT relaxed.

I've been struggling with learning sai.  But when I realized how tense I am - both physically and mentally - when I'm working with sai and decided to relax... I made a ton of progress.  I still suck with sai but far less than I did before I made that decision, and it's not just the practice I've been getting in.

I'm not letting my mind and body tense up when I'm practicing, and it's making a big difference.

PRACTICE OVERCOMES LACK OF TALENT

I'm not a gifted athlete, not by any stretch of the imagination.  And I'll never be.  I'm not born that way.

But by putting in the time in practice, I can overcome that lack of talent to a certain degree.

This is important to realize when you're in a class and you see talented natural athletes around you picking up everything way faster than you do, and you feel discouraged seeing how good they are and how bad you are.

I'm going to improve, over time, by practicing.  My road is longer than a natural athlete's, but it still leads to the same place.

So what lessons are you re-learning over and over again in the martial arts?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/19/17

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 martial arts classes at Hidden Sword while my teacher spent the day teaching  Arnis at a Karate camp.  The taekwondo kids got to play taekwondo obstacle course, and for the sparring and Arnis classes, we did weapons sparring.  Later I went to kobudo class, where we did review, and I was horrible.
Sunday:  Chores and stuff.  Downtime.
Monday:   Attended class at Hidden Sword. Worked on disarms, which is always fun.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Wednesday:   My day off.
Thursday:   Met the teacher at younger daughter's school, then off to Mid-Cities Arnis to teach. We worked on kicks.
Friday:  It's the weekend before our school starts, and attendance is light.  Friday is our optional night and we didn't have any students attend. That's okay, we had dinner with our friend Robert Harland - he's a aikido player and talked to us about college.

Being a feeder. My knife hand is down on purpose as part of the drill.


BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

MondayThe Road to Hell (or Jail)
TuesdayStyle Strategy, and Shenanigans
WednesdayIt Is All The Same
Thursday: The Gift of the Difficult Student
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Best Martial Arts Communities Online?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Kobudo practice, usually.



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:

Normal day of kobudo practice out the wazoo, and Arnis.  Hoping I can make some progress with sai as I am still terrible.  Just terrible.

On a brighter note, older daughter got accepted to her first college this week (one in her top five) and so it's been a nice week.  Kids starts school back up next week, and I hope everyone in North America enjoys the eclipse as much as they're able to (we will get about 75% coverage here).

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 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 IS ALL THE SAME.



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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

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.



BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

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!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

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?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

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.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

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

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

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!

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

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

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

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:

SHOULD MARTIAL ARTS EXPERIENCE BE ON A PROFESSIONAL RESUME/C.V.?




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!