Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 09/16/17

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: Three hours of kobudo practice, an hour long Arnis class, and then my monthly two-hour long kobudo class over in Dallas.  The hard work is paying off, I think.
Sunday:  Went to see "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" on the big screen. That movie really holds up.
Monday:  My day off.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked with one of my students to start learning the competition form, Anyo Lima, for a tournament in November.
Wednesday:   Attended class at Hidden Sword. We're gearing up to test our students in a month or so, so we worked on some review material
Thursday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed some form work and some knife basics.
Friday:   Nobody showed up for sparring night so I got in a little practice, and then I crashed early! Oh, and for Chiefs fans, it was Red Friday - every Friday is a "red friday" but this is actually a huge event in Kansas City before the Chiefs first home game of the season. Millions of dollars are raised for the local Ronald McDonald house by selling "Chiefs Kingdom" flags.  I have friends getting me this year's flag - the one in the picture is last year.

Red Friday: Redding it Up on Fridays since 1992


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

MondaySinawali: Getting the Most Out of It (Part 1)
TuesdaySinawali: Getting the Most Out of It (Part 2)
WednesdayFrom One Black Belt to Two
Thursday: For the Love of the Ropey-Whackstick
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Shoes or No Shoes?


And I wear mat shoes, so I have to take those off and get into my sandals before going, because wearing mat shoes in a bathroom is GROSS.

I am not very happy with what's been going on with content creators' videos getting de-monetized (or outright removed) by YouTube because they're not "advertiser friendly".  Here's one video they've done this with, and it's ridiculous that they have:

If you don't want to miss "Enter the Dojo" content - because who knows what YouTube will remove or find "unfriendly to advertisers" these days - make sure you have liked Master Ken on Facebook (page is HERE).

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


Today I have kobudo practice, I'm covering classes (my teacher and hubby are going to a demo out in Irving with GM Art Miraflor), and then wow, I think I will actually just do some chores and take a nap!

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, September 13, 2017

From One Black Belt to Two

In a couple of months, I will be testing for my 1st Degree Black Belt in the kobudo program I've been studying with for the past three years.

This represents the second time I am earning this rank, albeit in a different style.  The first time was when my teacher secret-tested and surprise promoted me in 2013 to Dayang Isa (equivalent rank in Presas Arnis to 1st Degree Black).

This will be my first formal black belt test where I know I'm being tested.

The idea of being 1st Degree Black in more than one organization and style seems a little bizarre to me.  Not because it can't be done, but because I'm the one doing it.

I am not so far removed from being white belt. I started at a late age and I remember thinking that black belt rank(s) were very far off in the future and nearly unattainable for me.

And now here I am, getting ready to earn my second black belt.

I know, I can't believe it.

I know that you can go online and "earn" black belts in various martial arts styles by "home study".  Most of these amount to earning the black belt rank by the hard work of the check clearing.  There's folks out there collecting black belt certificates like Pokemon.

Most of us aren't doing that, thogh.  Most of us, when we earn this rank in a different art or style than our base style, have to work hard to earn it.  I certainly didn't buy this rank.  If at our last practice class they think I just can't put in the work to cut it, they won't let me test.  If I choke on the test, I'll fail.

Of course, to be in the program, you have to be a high rank Brown Belt or a Black Belt in another style already, so you aren't starting over completely from scratch in the martial arts.  A lot of narrow add-on programs like my kobudo class are like that.  They don't take a lot of calendar time, in the scheme of things, but they're often designed to skip other kinds of basics that we've already learned in our "base" styles.

That means that while I have been in kobudo class for three years, it is built upon the study I've been doing for the last nine years.  Ditto my classmates, who are by now all black belts (many of them are 2nd and 3rd degree) in their empty hand styles.

This just goes to support, yet again, that black belt isn't and shouldn't and can't be some objective measure outside of "basic proficiency in this style or system".

In kobudo, that's certainly true for me.  I'm nowhere near an "expert" in what I've studied, not by a long shot.  I'm reaching a level where I'm not fumbling around with the basics associated to the weapon so I can really learn going forward.

I rarely drop my weapons and heck, I only hit myself very rarely.

I admit I haven't attempted the flips yet.
Trust me, that's an accomplishment.

Some of us believe that 1st Black should be more than just that sort measure - that it should represent some level of combat competency.  I have no argument with this, but if your measure is "being able to win a fight", I'd like to know what that looks like in weapons system, given we can't free spar with what we train with (my bo and tonfa and nunchaku are not training versions; they'll HURT YOU, and my sai might be steel instead of iron but you don't want to be hit with them, trust me).

I think we'd end up going through students really quickly.

We will also accept your maimed.

So have you earned more than one 1st Degree Black Belt (or equivalent) rank in more than one system? What were the circumstances?  How long did it take?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 09/09/17

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  My youngest daughter's birthday, so we did birthday activities all day long.
Sunday:  Did some chores and got in a little kobudo practice.
Monday:   Labor Day, a holiday in the United States.  I actually took the day off and took advantage of the downtime.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. Started reviewing what folks know so we can make sure we've covered the needed material for some tests in October or November.
Wednesday:   Attended class at Hidden Sword.  Hardly anybody in Arnis, so a classmate and I spent the time working hard on kobudo.
Thursday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. Worked on our forms.  Went home and watched my beloved Kansas City Chiefs pull an upset win against the Super Bowl champs in the NFL season opener.  Life is goooooood.
Friday:  Had a touch of illness, enough that I felt it best to stay home and recover (especially so that I could follow through on my plans for today).

We spar with padded sticks, but they can still raise a welt sometimes. 


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

Monday: No Post. It was a holiday, y'all.
Tuesday5 Ways to Tell if You're Watching a Demonstration (Versus an Actual Fight)
Wednesday4 Annoying Realities of Being a Weapons Based Martial Artist
Thursday: Pondering Green Belt
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Handling Rank When Changing Schools - Black Belt Edition


I'm a bit of an over-cautious helicopter-y type parent myself, but honestly, how can one learn to use anything safely if they never get the chance?

This video was posted over on Facebook.  It's REALLY NEAT.

Lots of neat videos from our friends at Enter the Dojo this week!

And finally... please, please do keep making this assumption.

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


I will be spending a couple of hours in kobudo practice this morning, then an hour of Arnis, then out to Dallas for kobudo class.  We'll see if I think I've improved (especially compared to my fellow students) with all of the extra practice I've been putting in!

Tomorrow, our family is going to go see "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" on the big screen.  Gonna be fun!

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, September 6, 2017

4 Annoying Realities of Being a Weapons Based Martial Artist

I love weapons, y'all.

No, really, I love 'em.  Doing empty hand stuff in martial arts is fine and dandy and fun, but it doesn't hold a candle to learning how to use weapons.

And my Sticks, and my knives, and my staffs, and my tonfa, and my nunchaku, and...

I realize I'm in an extreme minority here.  If martial artists are at most 5% of the adult population - and that's a generous estimate - we weapons-based people are probably at most a quarter of that group.  Most of us gravitate towards and use empty hand styles, and that's okay.

It's just not my personal preference.

As cool and fun as using weapons are - and it really, really is - there are some pretty big downsides.  Here's four annoying realities of being a weapons based martial artist.


There are very few of us in real life who know for sure that something will work with a weapon, and I don't think any of us want to be in that situation on purpose, because usually that means badly injuring or killing somebody.

Thus, blunted training weapons, safety equipment, and lack of intent all add up to a big question mark over what we do.

It's very, very difficult to pressure test weapons and honestly, most of us don't.  Most of us dance with weapons or hit inanimate objects not trying to hit us back.  Even those styles that do sparring with resistance, there's always rules for safety that mean that you don't REALLY know, for sure, if what you're doing would work in real life.

We do have "probably will work", but not "certainly will". It will always be a debate over whether such-and-such is useful, or not.


We have the same expenses that empty hand martial artists typically do - class fees and uniforms - but then we have a lot more.

Our weapons themselves are pricey, especially if we get training weapons that are meant to be durable and hold up against a beating and are not just dancing props.  But even dancing props are expensive.

Take my bo.  My 6 foot white oak bo cost $80.  Mine is a durable type of bo that can take a lot of hits against bo (and other weapons like sai and tonfa).  We've tried to find cheaper models but they get broken within a day's use.

I've seen the good bo break, live and in person, twice.  That's 80 bucks down the drain, just like that. If you hit stuff often in training, as we do, eventually your weapon(s) can and will break, and that's just the way it goes.

Heck, I've seen an expensive XMA type toothpick bo snap in half by merely grazing a training mat during practice.  That was also 80 bucks down the drain - yikes!

Another expense are the equipment you need to carry your equipment - cases and whatnot - and store your equipment (racks and shelves, chests, etc.)

I'm not even counting the armor that martial art sports like fencing and kendo have to invest in - that's also pricey, and has to be repaired and replaced from time to time with use.

It all add up, and quickly.


Toting around and storing weapons is a pain in the rear.

I'm lucky in that I have a car, and I don't have to try to tote this stuff long distances over public transportation (those of you who do, I'd love to hear how you do it).  But when the time came to buy a new car, I had to take into consideration that car's ability to tote around my martial arts gear.

Being able to fit my longer weapons in the car is not a trivial matter!

Additionally, we have lots of different gear bags for different uses, and before I go off somewhere, I have to check that what I need is in the bag.

Favorite pair of sticks? Check.  Backup pair if favorite pair gets broken?  Check.  Favorite training knife? Check.  Backup training knife for either sharing with others who don't have one or for double-knife drills?  Check.  Repair tape for sticks?  Check. Palmsticks? Check. Training bolo? Check.

Pictured: a fraction of what I own, and I had to carry most of this by myself.

That's just my arnis bag and I didn't include belt, mat shoes/socks, and first aid stuff I usually have in my bag.  Add in my kobudo stuff and it's a long checklist.

Then there's storage.  Long weapons like a naginata, a bo, and a jo shouldn't be stored standing up, as they'll warp over time.  You should store them laying flat.  Thus, I need a place to store them flat that's out of the way (I store mine along the back of a couch). Everything else needs a place to keep them dry and out of the way so I don't stub a toe on a tonfa or something (and yes, I've done that).

You empty hand folks have it so easy.  Even with your sparring gear.  Harrumph.


Maybe it's just me, but not only do a I have a main weapon I train with (a main bo, a main jo, a favorite pair of sticks, etc.) but I have to have a backup.

That's because things can break, especially when you hit things with them, so you end up making sure that you're prepared when you do.

After all, it would be a real bummer if you had to stop training while you wait for a replacement weapon to arrive, right?

I also find that weapons based training is kind of an addiction. There's always a better version of your weapon or protective gear that you're wanting to buy.  You spend time online lovingly saving links to shopping sites where you can buy some weapons goodies.  It's sorta like how some empty hand people get into gi addiction (the correct quantity of uniforms you need to own is "many") - we get into weapons addiction.

Nope.  Not enough swords.

So there you have it - it's expensive, inconvenient, kind of an addiction, and you never are completely sure what you do will work.

It's still the BEST THING EVER.

Tell me how you manage the inconveniences and expenses of your martial arts training. Any good tips for transport and storage?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 09/02/17

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, then we went out to Bridgeport for my teacher's monthly Arnis Instructor's course training.  Fun day.
Sunday:  Caught up on chores and watched Harvey news (I'm in North Texas but I have friends who were directly affected).
Monday:   Covered classes at Hidden Sword. We worked more on block check counter, then played with disarms.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. We did bag work - my intent is do to more of this than we've been doing, to help strengthen our students and to help correct poor form.
Wednesday:   My day off!
Thursday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis. We worked on self defense techniques.
Friday:  Worked on core principles in stick sparring - the hit and retract strike and the pull-through strike, and when to use either - and worked striking combos on the bag.  Then we sparred a bit.

No pics this week of me - here's Mr. Chick sparring two of our kid students.


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

MondayThe Weapon Is An Extension Of The Hand - Except It Totally Isn't
TuesdayMutts and Purebreds in the Martial Arts
WednesdayWe Can Be Heroes
Thursday: How Women Fight: Female on Female Violence
FridayFACE-OFF FRIDAY: Martial Arts Organizations' Control Over Members


I'm wearing mat shoes!  MAT SHOES!

Nice article of a kid using karate to fight off a potential abduction. Y'all, this stuff DOES work in real life for kids - we have too many examples of it to ignore this.  Karate Kid: Georgia boy fights off attempted kidnapper with martial arts

As everyone knows now, Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas hard.  Houston gets the most attention, but as of this writing, the city of Beaumont has no water at all, and there are smaller cities and towns all over the Texas Gulf Coast than need help.

Here's Master Ken's advice for helping out with Hurricane Harvey:

Our MAPA 12 event on 9/30 is also going to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims.  Here's the details over on Facebook:  MAPA 12

There was also a cyclone and massive flooding event in Asia, and here's more about that (if you can help them, please do also, thanks): Attention is on Harvey, but flooding has killed thousands across Asia

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


Today is Younger Daughter's birthday, AND it's a Holiday weekend, so I'll be doing stuff with her and catching up on all the chores that have accumulated for months that need doing.

I've been practicing sai (and general kobudo) a lot, and I've turned a corner where I don't suck as hard as I did.  Progress!=

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, September 1, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Martial Arts Organizations' Control Over Members


Today, let's talk about martial arts organizations, and how much control they could or should have over members within their ranks.

There are cases out there of organizations not only dictating what is taught to member students in the schools belonging to the group, but also controlling how much exposure to other martial arts content members receive.

That is, not only are members of the group forbidden to cross train or train outside the group if they wish to remain members, but other activities involving the martial arts are not allowed either. That might include anything from not allowing attendance/participation at an unsanctioned seminar or tournament to revoking membership of people who like or share non-organization martial arts content on social media.

The idea is that the group doesn't want ANY influence in their ranks outside of what the leadership says needs to be there.  Or sometimes, this sort of behavior is seen within the group's subculture as disloyalty to a teacher or system.

So what do you think about this sort of thing?  Is this something you'd support in a group you lead or belong to?