Friday, March 31, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Patches on Uniforms

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Today I'd like to get your take on uniform patches.

Some martial arts schools use patches for a variety of purposes. There will be a patch or patches for the school, the system, and/or the organization the school belongs to.  There will be flag patches of the country they are in, maybe even the state they are in (especially in Texas!), and the flag of the country in which their style or organization originates.  And they'll have achievement patches - a patch to recognize mastery in a specific sub-set of skills or system within their school, or other martial arts achievement, academic achievement, and patches representing participation in various events, like tournaments.

Other schools have few to no patches at all on their uniforms - if they have one, it's usually just the school/style patch on the chest, and rarely anything else.

There's good arguments to be made for either point of view (and many of us fall somewhere in the middle).  But I want to know what YOU think?

WHAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR PATCHES ON MARTIAL ARTS UNIFORMS?

Monday, March 27, 2017

It Is All The Same

Over the weekend I got to help my instructor as he taught a seminar on some basic techniques in our style, Presas Arnis.

The seminar attendees were all from empty hand styles - mostly our local Texas brand of tae kwon do and variants of karate.  If they did any weapons at all on a regular basis, they mostly did tournament-style performance weapons or they were learning the version of kobudo our organization teaches (and that I'm studying myself).

I love working with people completely unfamiliar with my style but are relatively experienced martial artists.  It's so fun being able to help them connect up what we do with what they do.

For example, we were working on a disarm.  The motion involved, once you got the stick in position, is nearly identical to what they know as a "scoop block".  This is what I'm referring to:

Gif from this video HERE.
It's not 100% identical, but it's close enough for them to understand the basics of how the disarm we were teaching them worked.  Once we oriented them into how this works, all the light bulbs went off in their heads, and you could see them making the connections, almost physically.

It's always so cool when that happens.

We who study Modern Arnis are quite familiar with our founder Remy Presas' statement that "It is all the same."  The longer I study, the more I see that it is true - that we have more in common across styles than differences.

Sure, you can't just pick up sticks and start doing karate with them (see THIS and THIS for more about why I think that's true).  But, there's no need to throw out everything you know when you pick up a weapon, either.

We make this point with experienced martial artists who start studying with us all the time that they don't have to abandon your "core" martial art in order to do our style, and do it well. In fact, there's plenty of times where you can insert things from your core style into what we do.

I mean, if you can kick somebody in the head, why wouldn't you do that after you've disarmed somebody?  Go for it!

I mean, if it's good enough for Billy Jack...
Those connections must be there when you cross train in other styles, right?  So I would like to know what you've spotted when you've cross trained?  What have you noticed?

Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 3/25/17

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 was in Houston all weekend, so that left me to keep the home fires burning.  Took younger daughter to Taekwondo class, and since my teacher had a seminar to teach, I covered Arnis at Hidden Sword.  We worked on Dos Manos and capturing the stick with padded sticks so we could hit each other with impunity.  Fun class!  Also got in sai practice.
Sunday:  Mr. Chick still out of town, so I did ALL THE CHORES.
Monday:   Skipped gym since Mr. Chick didn't get home until the wee hours (construction plus Spring Break traffic = VERY LONG DRIVE) and neither one of us got to bed until very late.  Fine tuned our demo in Arnis class at Hidden Sword.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked some on Anyo Isa.
Wednesday:  I think I got a milder version of this horrible flu thing going around, and I stayed home from school.  However, as we have our Demo this weekend, I made it to Hidden Sword and practiced.  It just about killed me, but I practiced!
Thursday:  Still sick, but started feeling well enough in the afternoon to go teach at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday:  Morning gym. Not 100% yet -  more like 80% - but it was a normal day.  Instead of stick sparring, we had one last practice at Hidden Sword before our demo.  We're ready to go.

Just a portion of the demo practice in slow motion.

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  On High Kicks
Wednesday:   Nuthin'.  I was sick, y'all!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Weapons in Real Life: Confronted with a Long Blunt Weapon
Thursday:  A Black Belt is a Black Belt is a Black Belt
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are Values Necessary?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Hey cool, The Stick Chick blog was included with VERY good company (including friends of the blog +Logen Lanka at Way Of Ninja and +Andrea Harkins at The Martial Arts Woman and +Ando Mierzwa at Sensei Ando) in Feedspot's Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs.  I follow most of the blogs listed (Reddit is a "blog"? Really?), so you should check 'em out: Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs & Websites Every Martial Artist Must Follow

There's a new issue of FMA Informative out.  Not only is this the premiere "news" organ of Filipino Martial Arts, but you might spot someone you know (*cough*) in there.  Download the current issue as well as back issues here: FMA Informative

Different groups do our forms in different ways.  This version of Modern Arnis' Anyo Isa by our friend +Traveling Lakan at Progressive Arnis Miami is really cool!





FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Today will be a long day over in Richardson with AKATO. I'm going early to observe their Black Belt test, then my teacher is teaching an Arnis seminar, then we have our demo (the one we've been working on for weeks).  Then we have our banquet - YAY TACOS!

Now that the demo is past us, focus at my teacher's school will be on the final preparations for our second batch of Presas Arnis black belts that are testing on April 22.  Given that Mr. Chick and I were the first batch, this is kind of a big deal!

Hope your week was fantabulous.  Yes, that's a word.

Probably.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

On High Kicks

Let me make a confession that in some circles in the martial arts would be considered shocking.

I don't like high kicks.

There.  I said it.  Happy?

It's not like I doubt the usefulness and effectiveness of high kicks.  I know there's some folks out there who do, and I don't count myself in their number.  There's too much evidence out there of high kicks working, and working well, to make that argument.

I don't like high kicks because I can't do high kicks.

Look, I have an excuse.  I sustained permanent knee damage as a teenager, when I was a runner.  So if you see me running today, my friend, you better start running too, because something BAD is coming.

Pretty much.
This causes me big time problems in martial arts.  Any move in a form where I have to get down on a knee, I can't do.  Or rather, I can, but I won't get up again any time soon.  I have to be very careful on takedowns that involve my knees, because it's easy to end up hurt and out of training.

When you have this sort of damage, it actually affects more joints than just the damaged ones.  I get knee aches in certain weather patterns, and it hurts from my hip to my ankle when I get those.

So, when I first started in the martial arts, I was in an style called PaSaRyu Taekwondo.  As everybody knows, most variants of TKD require high kicks and PaSaRyu is no exception.

Within a few months, I developed bursitis in both hips and ended up in physical therapy (because I'd fallen in love, you see, and I wasn't going to stop training) - in fact, I suffer from bursitis to this day.

I ended up leaving PaSaRyu after I was introduced to Arnis and I moved away.  After I ended up in Texas, I wound up in another version of TKD for about six months.  It was then that I realized that TKD is just not a style I can do long-term.

The main reason I quit studying taekwondo was the high kicks.  Between the bursitis in the hips and the damage in my knees, that stuff just hurts.

As a result, it's best for me to be in styles that don't ask me to try to kick high.  It can't be a part of my strategy in the martial arts. The amount of pain and damage I get in training it isn't worth the advantage I get from being able to do it well.

So no, you won't see ol' Stick Chickie kick somebody in the head.  Unless, of course, I'm on a ladder.



Do you like high kicks?  Are you good at it?  How has it affected your physical health?  Tell me all about YOUR kicks in the comments!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 03/18/17

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: We used our kobudo class to work on a demo we're preparing for AKATO in a couple of weeks.  I attended Arnis class, then I went to Dallas for my monthly kobudo class.  Worked on our other weapons for an hour of the class, and then we started a new weapon this month - the sai!
Sunday:  Caught up on chores we've left to the wayside while Mr. Chick trained with GM Art Miraflor of Miraflor Serrada Escrima.
Monday:   Morning gym. Arnis class was more demo practice.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  It's Spring Break here in Texas, and our classes are lightly attended,  We introduced defensive response #1 to our kids class, worked on block-check-counter and introduced the standard #1 disarm against a high forehand strike, the lever disarm.
Wednesday:  Morning gym. Finalized a big section of our demo.
Thursday:  Morning gym. Worked on off-curriculum material, basic espada y daga patterns, in the kids class, then continued on block-check-counter, the lever disarm, and other disarms off the high forehand strike.
Friday:  Morning gym. Worked on Defensive Response #1 with soft sticks (so they could "fail" on blocking without getting hit), worked on other double-stick material, then we sparred, mostly with double sticks.  Fun!




BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Women's Self Defense for the Win
Wednesday:   Oh Hai, Sai!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Exploring the "X"
Thursday:  Five Things I Absolutely Hate About Being A Martial Artist
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Do All Fights Go To The Ground?

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

+Prof. Dan Anderson published a TON of anyo (form) videos this week, and they're awesome!  We don't have a lot of empty hand anyos online, so it's a huge help for the rest of us as reference material.  You can find them on his YouTube channel (here).  Here's one of them, of Anyo Tatlo, aka "Form Three".



Save this link and read this article every time you don't "feel" like training.  Not Even Brain Cancer Can Stop Me From Competing at IBJJF

Not martial arts, but... often, when I describe my self defense strategy, I compare it to a cat taking on a big dog.  Watch this:



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Hubby is training in Houston all weekend long, so I'll be holding down the fort.  I am covering Arnis classes today, then I will be working on some form work and practicing sai (I work them almost every day since our last class, trying to get better at manipulating them).

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, March 15, 2017

Oh hai, Sai!

In kobudo, we've started the sai.

Now we're talking some SERIOUS weaponry, y'all.

If you don't know what sai are, they're the three-pronged weapon that you've seen Elektra from Marvel Comics (we won't mention the films she's appeared in as a character) or Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use.

I am a katana and an intelligent rat mentor away from being one of these guys.

The other weapons I've trained with in kobudo - bo, tonfa, nunchaku - are derived from everyday objects, and you can find analogues to all of those weapons in your daily life.

Sai are different, though.  These bad boys are weapons, and there's no analogue that I know of in regular everyday objects.

I actually ended up with two pair of sai.  I bought my steel pair years and years ago, but they're really small (almost too small for me, and that's saying something, as I am a small person).  I was given another pair of sai by a great friend, and they're black and a little bigger, and these are the sai I'm using in class.  They're a little longer and they're safer for blocking and whatnot than my original pair.

Golly, I have two pair of sai.  That's tragic.

Sai are not short swords with really big guards or tongs, mind you.  The middle portion - the blade or shaft (or monouchi) is round or octagonal.  The tip (or saki) is more rounded than pointy, even though it is pointy enough to stab someone with.  It's still (basically) a blunt weapon - there is no edge like a sword or knife.

Not that it can't and won't break the skin - it will.  But the key word is "break" (or "tear") versus "cut".  They're heavy enough that it shouldn't take a lot of force to do so, either.

The thing about sai is that they are substantial.  They're metal - mine are steel, not aluminum, and good traditional sai, I've been told, are iron.  The first thing we are learning is how to manipulate the sai and how to properly block with them (it's tricky, as the shaft is very thin and there is zero margin for error).

You drop these bad boys tip-down on the floor, especially a wood floor, and there will be a hole or divot in that floor.  Drop them on your foot... well, let's just say DON'T.

It's also important to learn how to change your grip so that you are not at risk of having your fingers smashed when the sai is used to block or trap using the tines (yoko).  This is the part I'm struggling with the most as I work on learning how to manipulate this weapon.

Yes, but... no.
I thought tonfa were heavy (and they are) but wow, sai take the cake.  It's not like I don't already have relatively strong wrists or forearms, given what I do.  Sai are taking me to a whole new level of training my arms.  My shoulders, my forearms, and my wrists are getting a hell of a workout, and I'm having to work very hard on not stabbing myself.

That'll help me in arnis, and I'm always happy about that.  Sai manipulation is a nice little workout.

But honestly, I don't know how I feel about the sai just yet.  With bo, it took me a while to enjoy the weapon (and now I do, even if it is not my favorite).  I was disappointed by tonfa but I'm good with them now, and nunchaku are a blast to learn and manipulate.

Sai though...

I'm finding the manipulation required a little complicated in a life and death situation - I don't understand the point of holding them where the shaft is against your forearm (what I'd call reverse grip) - why not shaft out, in "traditional" or "saber" grip?  It seems simpler and more flexible in application.

But I'm new to it, and I'm sure I am missing important things that make perfect sense once I train a little more.

I will be learning new material on sai in kobudo class, plus practicing everything else I've learned, for the rest of the year.  I may be looking at a black belt grading at the end of the year or the early part of next year.

So the sai represent me entering the home stretch to black belt.


Awwww yisssssss.

So no matter how I end up feeling about the sai, it is a huge milestone for me as I train in kobudo.  So I will work hard on learning how to use the sai, as hard as I did the other weapons I'm training in.

Have you trained in sai?  What was your experience?  Have any sai stories?  Let us know in the comments!




Monday, March 13, 2017

Women's Self Defense for the Win!

This story has been making the rounds in martial arts circles lately - check it out:

Survivor of Golden Gardens Assault Shares Her Story

and here:

Seattle Woman Uses Tactics She Learned from Self-Defense Class to Escape Brutal Sexual Assault

If you don't click though, here's a short synopsis:

Woman credits a two-hour women's self defense course with helping her survive an attack by a repeat offending rapist in a park bathroom.

The victim came out of it with bumps and bruises, but she's basically okay!

You should stand up right now and applaud too.

I'm sure you'll agree that this is fantastic news, and I am grateful that she was able to fight off her attacker and survive with so very little damage.  That awesome.

The fact that she says a very short women's self defense course helped her survive caught my attention, because there are some folks out there who think that short women's self defense courses are useless.  You know, they mean the basic two-to-four hour courses that lots of martial arts schools and teachers offer.

I would agree, to a point, that short self defense courses are woefully inadequate to cover all of the things a person would need to defend themselves in every situation (and they're terrible if you end up finding yourself in a fight).  I would also argue that a lot of martial arts classes and programs in general - and I'll include firearms courses too - are also inadequate to cover all situations, including many common ones.

Look, for women, statistically the danger we really face is from our loved ones and people we know, not from strangers in the street wanting to assault or fight us.  The vast majority of women's self defense courses fail to address this, but  honestly, I don't think we in the martial arts community, on average, are competent enough to address it.

Thus, most of our self defense courses focus on the typical "stranger tries to attack you" scenarios, which are actually becoming less common as crime rates overall have been plummeting for the last generation or so.  It still happens, all the time, but it's getting rarer.  Great news, but it goes to show that our focus in the martial arts is not jiving with what is actually happening in the real world for the average female victim of assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

But here's where I disagree that short women's self defense courses are "useless" (and never mind the fact that I have a real world example to back me up, as noted above).

A good women's self defense course will be more about situational awareness, about avoiding and evading people who wish us harm, and about getting out of a dangerous situation once someone has decided to attack.  This does not require years of training, although of course, it would be preferable if women of all ages would join us in our weird little obsession with acquiring bruises for funsies, obviously.

Short courses are very good at getting women to think about their own protection. To be aware when they are in places where it's easy to ambush (such as grocery store parking lots and you guessed it, public restrooms).  To trust their own instincts when things aren't "right", and to teach them not to talk themselves out of leaving a bad situation.  To help them spot where and when in their daily lives that things could go wrong, because the first part of learning how to defend one's self is to recognize that there's a dangerous situation in the first place.

The "martial arts" part of women's self defense courses are about escaping and getting free.  It isn't about staying engaged with a bad guy, it isn't about besting someone in a fight, and it certainly isn't about "winning" a fight.

In my opinion, actual fighting skills in short self defense courses should be relegated to a few easy-to-learn techniques to defend and then counter-attack vital areas (throat, eyes, groin, etc.) so they can get out of the grasp of a bad guy.  It should not require being incredibly fit or skills that it takes most of us years of practice to do well.

When I see women's self defense advertised using an image of an incredibly fit woman outfitted for kick boxing, and she's kicking higher than her head, I cringe, I really do.

I'm with Trey on this one.

Boxing and kickboxing Our "win" in self defense is survival.  We don't have to beat someone up or make them tap or kill someone to "win" when someone offers us harm.

This is a mindset MOST of us do not train in, in the martial arts.  We train to engage, we train to stay in, we train to control, we train to win.  The "survival", self-defense mindset is not what we generally practice.

We have this great example of a woman who was able to take what she learned from a two-hour self defense course and use it in real life against an honest-to-goodness bad guy.  Of course, she had some help from bystanders, but still...

She came out of it with some bruises.  That's it.  And the perp is captured.

Women's self defense FOR THE WIN!

One more thing - I really think there is an underserved market in short-course MEN'S self defense courses.  How MEN get into trouble, how MEN can get out without getting hurt (especially understanding social violence and how to de-escalate).  Men experience far more violence than women do, statistically, and I would love to see stuff like this get off the ground as well.

Who's with me?


Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 3/11/17

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:  Long and productive day training at the World Modern Arnis Alliance Texas camp.  Took some notes and learned a lot.
Sunday:  Last day of WMAA Camp.  I left this camp energized and feeling creative!
Monday:   Morning gym. My day off.  I certainly needed it!
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked with our Orange belts on Anyo Isa, as it's been a while since we practiced it. In Adult class, we worked on sinawali stuff.
Wednesday:  Morning gym. Attended class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. We are prepping our brown belts for testing next month, so we worked on the "classical" Modern Arnis takedowns to make sure they are ready.
Thursday:  Morning gym. Worked on rising elbows as strikes and as covers, then worked on Anyo Isa again.  I wanted them to have something to practice over Spring Break solo, as that starts next week and many of our students will be on vacation and out of class.  In adult class we worked on block+check+counter drills.
Friday:  Morning gym. Had the kids hit the bags a bit, then we worked on some stick sparring concepts out of block+check+counter, and did some sparring.

Why do most pictures of me involve me beating up on children?

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  The 3 Kinds of Camps and Seminars You'll Go To
Wednesday:   More on Why the Weapon is NOT Just an Extension of the Empty Hand
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Honorary Black Belts

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   THAT GUY: Seminar Edition
Thursday:  Five Things I Absolutely Hate About Being A Martial Artist

I gotta say, this week I had a lot of commentary from you nice folks who read this little blog o'mine, and I love it when you guys speak up.  Please, feel free to comment, even when you don't agree with something I've written.  I enjoy interaction with you guys!

OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Do you read "The Budo Bum" blog, by Peter Boylan?  He doesn't post often but when he does it's usually a good one.  Read his newest post here: Being Senior in Japan

Nice post (but they're all nice) over at +Kai Morgan's blog that has got me thinking (and nodding my head).  Check it out: Is your martial arts training one of the most valuable things you’ve ever invested in?

Interesting bo video posted over at +Martial Arts with Colman.





FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

It's kobudo weekend, so I get to go over to Dallas to class. We're starting sai this week, so it'll be a fun day.  We're also practicing at Hidden Sword for our Arnis demo we have coming up in a few weeks at the AKATO annual banquet today.

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, March 10, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Honorary Black Belts

IT'S FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

Recently, Keanu Reeves was awarded an Honorary Black Belt in Judo from Olympic Gold Medalist Tadahiro Nomura, for recognition of the use of Judo in "John Wick 2".

Some folks out in the world think this is a bad thing.  They believe that "honorary" rank in any martial art, especially black belt, cheapens the "real" black belts we earn by training for years and years.

Other people believe that hey, it's an honorary rank.  If Reeves doesn't claim to be a Judo Black Belt - and there is no indication that he does - they don't see the harm in such an award.  It is an award, like a trophy or plaque.  Recognizing helping popularize your martial art via films is just fine.


I want to know what YOU think.

ARE HONORARY BLACK BELT AWARDS A GOOD OR BAD THING?


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More on Why the Weapon is NOT Just an Extension of the Empty Hand

As you long-time readers of this blog know, I'm a weapons-oriented martial artist.

Oh, sure, we do empty hand stuff in my style, all the time.  And I've taken up study of Okinawan Karate to help fill in some of the gaps in my empty hand game.

But ultimately, I like weapons.  A lot.

There literally isn't a single weapon I don't have some interest in, to be honest. I get just as excited watching an expert work a Chinese gun (staff) as I do in watching a good HEMA fencing match as I do in watching nguni or jogo do pau matches as I do in watching someone who really knows how work Okinawan weapons like sai or kama.

Weapons are fun, weapons are practical for this short, dumpy, middle-aged woman, and weapons are just plain cool.

And all y'all know, if there's anybody who's "cool", it's me.

Don't you wish you were this cool?

I am always happy when my empty-hand friends take an interest and start to seriously study weapons.  If you're a primarily empty hand player, I encourage you to find a competent teacher and study the weapon(s) of your choice.  It opens up your game and adds dimensions to your understanding that you can't get if you only train empty hand.

Note I said "find a competent teacher".

There's plenty of empty hand folks out there who take the maxim "The Weapon is the Extension of the Hand" a little too literally and think they can start doing their art with a weapon in their hand and call it good.

I wrote about this problem some time ago.  After two years of studying kobudo (bo, tonfa, nunchaku and soon sai), and a year of jo study on top of all of my Arnis training (stick, short sword - machete or bolo - and knife for the most part), I know how similar but how very different weapons training can be from the empty hand (and from weapon to weapon, actually).

The thing is, when things go wrong in weapons, they can go very seriously wrong.  There are enough fail videos out there of people beaning themselves with nunchaku, or accidentally popping someone with a bo, or someone getting cut with a sword to prove that this is true.

This is why you need a competent teacher.  Someone who has studied a weapon seriously with experts and can help you learn whatever weapon you are interested in, and show you the little things that make a weapon work safely.

I can tell you, from experience, that those little things matter.  For example, an easy way to hit yourself with a weapon is to have a wide front stance like so very many of our empty hand arts use. I don't use that super-wide stance a lot but just being slightly too squared off once resulted in me hitting myself with my nunchaku right above my right ankle, on the bone.

I know better, and I did it.  And I do not want to do it again as it took a while to heal.

Hitting yourself - or hitting someone else when you don't mean to - sucks. It sucks when it's a bo, it really sucks with nunchaku, it sucks with sticks.  God forbid you do it with an edged weapon like a knife or a bolo or a katana.  You might end up like dude here:



So please, if you want to study weapons - and I encourage you to do it, because it's awesome - please, don't just copy what you see in a video online, or pick up a weapon and start swinging it around like you see people do in movies or on television.  What you see in movies and TV are weapons work designed to look cool and keep the fighters safe, not to be effective in the use of the weapon.

Take the trouble to find a good teacher, and learn from experts.  You'll be glad you did, and then you can be cool like me and keep all of your extremities intact.

Have you considered weapons study?  What are you interested in?  Let us know in the comments!


Monday, March 6, 2017

The 3 Kinds of Camps and Seminars You'll Go To

I spent the weekend at Datu +Tim Hartman's first annual World Modern Arnis Alliance Texas camp.

It was awesome.

I learned lots of stuff - not new stuff, really, it was more like better understanding and organization of things I already know well.  It was a comfortable camp mentally, which sparked a lot of creative thoughts about our art.  It was great.

In going to tons of seminars and camps for the last few years now, I've noticed that you generally get one of three experiences at a seminar or camp.environment.

THE BOMB

This kind of camp is where you end up getting a lot of what you know challenged or you get material way, way beyond what you already know.  It's like a bomb going off, where you have to work very hard, mentally and physically, to absorb what is being taught and to understand the point of view.

Then you start thinking about it in the context of what you already know, and you start wondering if you're on the right path... and if you are, how things should be changed to fit the information you've just assimilated.

Ultimately, you may or may not end up adopting whatever the "bomb" type seminar showed you, but it does, for a while, impact how you think about your own art.  I think that's a good thing - I think we need this sort of challenge once in a while.

I usually leave this sort of seminar physically tired but mentally completely fried.



THE COAST

This is the kind of seminar where you don't learn anything new.  You might think this sort of thing is a waste of your time, but really, here's something you can do if you find yourself coasting.

I like to use this sort of seminar to work on my instruction skills.  If I already know the content, I try my best to make sure I pair up with people who are very new to all of this (for them, this is a "Bomb" session, after all).  I am careful to try to show exactly what the teacher at the seminar is showing the way he or she is showing it.

It's my opportunity to hone my instructor skills and help a new person feel more welcomed into my art.



THE FINE TUNE

This camp is where you work on what you already know but in a way where you understand it better. It's comfortable, like coasting, but it's also a challenge and you learn a lot, like the bomb going off.  It's like rotating a famous sculpture to see a side you don't normally see, or reading an analysis of a favorite book that points out nuances you haven't noticed before.

This is a really important kind of seminar.  It's the kind of session where you move beyond the surface of what we're taught in the earlier stages of our training.

I usually leave this sort of camp energized and feeling creative.

Where did this material come from?  Oh yeah, sensei went to a seminar...



Are there other kinds of camps or seminars than what I've described?  Let me know in the comments!





Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 03/04/17

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

What have you been up to this week?

THE WEEK DAY-BY-DAY:

Saturday:  Kobudo and Arnis day. Nice, normal day.  Yay!
Sunday:  Hubby was training (again) so I stayed home and did chores (again).
Monday:   Morning gym. My day off.  Made dinner and chillaxed.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  As we just tested our kids, and a new session starts Thursday, we held a special topics class on pressure points.  Fun!
Wednesday:  Morning gym. Attended class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. We have a new student so I spent most of the class working with him, and a small portion teaching our "Dos Manos" drill to another student, where we also did the same drill as bo vs. stick.  VERY fun.
Thursday:  Morning gym. I didn't teach at Mid-Cities Arnis as Younger Daughter had a school event and I took her to it.
Friday:  Morning gym. I spent the evening at the first day of the World Modern Arnis Alliance Texas Camp.  SO AWESOME! Still time to come by this weekend if you're in the area (and you wanna, it's fantastic)!  1st Annual WMAA Texas Modern Arnis Camp March 3-5, 2017

Camp Selfie with +Dr. Tye W. Botting 

BLOGGY GOODNESS:

Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Making It Happen
Wednesday:   Myth and Memory in the Martial Arts


And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   An Unexpected Benefit of the Martial Arts
Thursday:  Four Hand
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Disability and Promotions


OTHER STUFF THAT I SAW/DID:

Looks like an interesting seminar - if you're in the area, you oughta go.


Interesting history of Goju-Ryu Karate posted over on Facebook this week.  Give it a read HERE.

I've obviously been going about this all wrong.



FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK:

My weekend is going to be spent at World Modern Arnis Camp, acquiring bruises and having fun learning.  I hope your weekend is as productive as mine!

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, March 1, 2017

Myth and Memory in the Martial Arts

There's a lot of tall tales in the martial arts.

We pad our stories of overcoming conflicts by making them seem bigger than they were.  Our founders grow bigger than life with stories told in each generation.  Our styles and organizations and lineages are chock full of these sorts of myths about those who came before us and the purpose behind what we do.

Take the one I was told when I started in the martial arts, in taekwondo.  I was told that flying side kicks were for knocking people off of a horse on a battlefield.  They were serious and believed this to be true.

Before you try to tell me it's true, you better have all of your references lined up, buckaroo, because I don't buy it.

Another tale often told in weapons circles - and I've heard or read this for more than one weapon - is that people would take a blunt, round weapon (like a bo, a jo, or a quarterstaff) and use it to flick things (dirt, rocks, sand, hot coals) into opponents coming in to attack.

I'd like to see the evidence for this being a standard thing, vs. something did in desperation with the blunt end of a pike or a broken weapon or something.   Having trained with many of these sorts of weapons now, I find it a little... iffy... as a tactic.  I'm not buying it, sorry.

From a certain point of view, it might look like people are telling deliberate lies.  And in a few cases, this is true - they are telling deliberate lies.  Some of us can't help but to edit stories to make our founders or our friends or ourselves look better or more important than we are, on purpose.

But in most cases, it's actually happening because memory is malleable.  Combine that with the effect of "the Telephone Game" and you end up with some really amazing, nearly unbelievable stories with grains of truth, coated in a big fuzzy ball of "alternate truth".  Read THIS for more insight on this effect.

The thing is, these distortions aren't usually deliberate lies at all. We believe them to be true, because our memory says they are true, and we trust our memory.  I mean, we have to trust our memory, right?

So the truth of it gets buried underneath a myth that builds up around it.  And the story, which in reality were probably far more mundane than we believe, take on the properties of Greek myth.

Zeus inventing the lunge punch for one-steps.

Modern Arnis is chock full of "Professor stories" about Remy Presas and things he did and said.  First generation direct students are full of them, as he was a colorful character. I'm sure there's lots of truth there, just as I am certain that in the retelling and in the time that's passed, certain parts are emphasized while others which are just as true are forgotten.  I think there's a lot of distortion in these stories that are told and passed around. Not on purpose, but just because that's how the human brain works, and how the retelling of stories also works.

As an aside, every student telling a "Professor" story almost always imitates his speaking style and accent the exact same way, so I know they are telling the truth as they remember it. It's actually kind of spooky.  When people who did not train with Professor at all - 2nd generation like I am - try to do the same thing recounting what a first generation student told them, they tend to do the accent wrong.  After all, it's an imitation of an imitation, right?

On the one hand, I think we'd all like to know the real truth of the stories we are told, and the details that have been lost to time. On the other hand, the story becomes something that binds us together, much like other kinds of myths and folk stories bind together tribes and families.

I think we need these myths to help us stick together in our styles and our organizations. After all, shared stories are one of the things that makes a culture, right?

So in a sense, it doesn't really matter if they're completely true.  They become larger than the truth, and more than just the recounting of something that happened.  The story is more important than the facts. They become part of the glue that binds us together.

We need these stories as much as we need the other things that bind us together.  Healthy skepticism about the truth of these stories is probably warranted, but don't discount their value, either.

So what are some stories you've been told in your style that have reached the level of myth?  Let us know in the comments!