Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Big Secret About Choosing a Martial Art Style

"Which martial arts style is the best?"

"Which style is better - Style A or Style B?"

"Which style should I study for my age/height/weight/gender/fitness level?"

"Which style is best for kids?"

Every martial artist reading this has either been asked these questions personally, or they've run across it in martial arts online forums and discussion groups.  This might be THE most common question asked by people considering martial arts training for themselves or someone they love.

Every martial artist has their own opinions about how to answer this question.

It's Arnis, of course.

Once we eliminate the silly stuff like Yellow Bamboo and super secret ninjer societies skulking around in public parks and whatnot, the possible answers come from we'd all consider relatively "legit" styles.

Y'know, basically different versions of Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Muay Thay, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido and Aikijitsu, weapons-based styles like Historical European Martial Arts and Arnis/Kali/Escrima and Japanese swordsmanship and fencing and such, Chinese martial arts like Tai Chi and Kung Fu, Kenpo or Kempo, and so on.

Many of us have some very strong opinions about style.  Whether it's traditional or modern, whether it's ground-heavy or not, whether it's combative or sport, weapons or no... some of us believe that there are absolutely "right" styles, and "wrong" styles, and will advise newbies accordingly.

But here's the thing.  Style isn't the most important consideration for beginners and newbies.  In fact, it doesn't really matter much at that stage of the game.

Yep, I'mma say it again, loud and clear:

What matters more than style, for a BEGINNER, is this:
  • Location and convenience of training schedule. If it's difficult to get there you'll end up quitting really quickly, so finding a time/place that is EASY for you to attend is the best choice.
  • The school/teacher's teaching method. Is it comfortable for you, do you enjoy how they teach, is it something that works for you? Do you like the "vibe" in the room?  There ARE different approaches, guys, and not all are regimented and hierarchical. 
  • What's available near you.  I do not recommend that newbies try distance learning for styles that just aren't available in their area (as someone who's move around a LOT I know this is a very real problem - I've struggled with it myself).  Sometimes you have to settle for something else when what you want to study isn't in your area.
  • The cost.  Can you afford this?  Cheap isn't always the best option (but sometimes there's some really good schools/teachers you can find teaching inexpensively or even free), but you can't ignore the expense as irrelevant.
  • Why are you training?  Is it for health, self defense, personal growth, personal challenge, etc.?  Be clear on this and choose the school that is delivering what you're seeking in the first place.  If you are not a competitive person, you might want to avoid that gym that has a bunch of trophies and plaques in the window, y'know?
NONE of this is dependent upon which style you end up studying.

I am of the firm opinion that ANY martial arts training, for a beginner, is not a waste of time.  It's hard for beginners to know what they really want out of the martial arts, so the bigger question is just TRAIN/NO TRAIN.

And I think you should train, even if it's at Joe Blow's Taekwondo and Pizza Party Palace to start.

Because here's the secret most people don't mention.

You can change styles once you learn more and get a better feel for what you really want.

I, myself, did that exact thing.

I started in a variant of Taekwondo and shortly after I began training I was introduced to Modern Arnis.  After a couple of moves cross-country, I settled down with my teacher in Presas Arnis and I did NOT pick up TKD again.  But not before I actually picked up a blue belt in two different variants of taekwondo.

Once I found Presas Arnis, I realized that I didn't want to do Taekwondo any more.  In fact, my primary interest in training ended up being in weapons in general, with Presas Arnis as my base.  I had NO IDEA when I first started that would be the case.

Not that I think taekwondo is bad! I certainly don't think that at all, as Older Daughter has a black belt in it, and I have many, many friends in that style, and heck, my teacher in Presas Arnis teaches it himself!

It just isn't for me, personally.

That time I spent in taekwondo was actually quite useful as I transitioned to full-time Presas Arnis. TKD still influences me to this day, eight years after I took my last formal class in the style.  It trained my mind, it gave me a foundation to understand other stuff I've studied since, and it showed me some principles that are absolutely applicable in Arnis.

So if you start off at Joe's, but then learn that hey, maybe you'd like to learn this aggressive hugging thing they're doing over at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu place across town, that time at Joe's is still useful.  You trained your brain to start thinking like a martial artist at Joe's and that's a good thing.

If you're a beginner, don't let the dizzying array of martial arts styles in the world bog you down.  If you follow my advice above, you'll get started, and THAT'S more important by a mile.

We won't even get into different variants of the same base style.

Then later, you can make other choices in which style(s) you're interested in if you like, and you'll be coming from your own educated viewpoint, rather than depending on the opinions of a bunch of strangers or people who aren't you to guide you.

Don't sweat it.  Just get on a mat and start training, and don't let style choice hold you back.

Martial artists, what advice do you have regarding style for newbies?  Did you start in one style and transition to another?  Let us know what you think!

Friday, August 10, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/10/18

Friday, Friday, Friday!

Great week this week - how was YOUR week?


Saturday we had some big fun at The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup.  We worked on policing techniques from Kombatan.

Later that day, we drove out to our friends from Kapatiran Mandirigma down in Spring Hill, KS.  They're from the Kombatan side of my martial arts family, and they showed us drills they do from their "Freestyle" drill.  We don't do things exactly the same, but it's close enough that Mr. Chick and I were able to keep up and not completely embarrass ourselves (or at least, our KM friends were nice enough not say so if we did!). Spring Hill is a haul for us but we'd like to make it down there every once in a while!

Sunday I went to the Kansas City Chiefs training camp.  If you martial arts guys are my tribe, Chiefs fans are my OTHER tribe. It was a blast!

Monday we went to karate class and I got in a whole lot of work with the nunchaku.  I was given fine-tuning to the form and while I certainly am a long way from perfecting it, I know it well enough now to work on all the little details.

Tuesday was election day here in my area, and I didn't get to vote because somehow the DMV screwed my registration up (Mr. Chick and Older Daughter were able to vote just fine)!  Arrgh!

Wednesday I would have trained, but it was my pre-birthday dinner from one of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City - Stroud's. OM NOM NOM NOM.

Thursday I celebrated my 50th birthday by attending a Kansas City Chiefs preseason game.  We tailgated all afternoon and it was Older Daughter's first NFL game.  We had SO MUCH FUN!

Me with the statue of Lamar Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and chief architect of the
 American Football League (he was also the guy who named the NFL championship game the Super Bowl).
He was also instrumental in the creation of Major League Soccer in the US.


Blog posts I wrote and shared via social media this week:

You can find and follow or like or whatever on MANY social media platforms! I'm on Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter


You empty hand people can take things a teeny bit too far...

Some great content from friends of this blog this week:

  • Brian Johns:

We were some busy bees this week, huh?

There's SO MUCH MORE on the Facebook page. If you're on Facebook, please do like and share it with your friends!


As far as I'm concerned, when you hit the 50th, you can celebrate for days on end.  So I plan to celebrate with ARNIS on Saturday morning at our meetup, some kobudo practice and probably a nap or five.

Be good, people!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Big Five-Oh

I turn fifty years old tomorrow, on Thursday.

That's right, I've inhabited this earth for half a century, fifty turns around the sun.

I started training about ten years ago just before I turned 40, because I was in the middle of a mid-life crisis, and if I didn't do something quick, aging was gonna suck, and suck hard.

Of course, I don't know what the consequences might have been if I hadn't started the martial arts. It's possible I'd have found some other way to try to keep my body moving and my mind busy and engaged, I guess.

But surely it wouldn't be as so darn fun as being a martial artist is.

It's hard to list all of the ways the martial arts has made my life better over the last ten years.  It's not just the personal benefits of mental, emotional, and physical health - although those are certainly important and not to be underestimated.

It's enriched my family, and as a whole, given us something to bond over other than just the normal family stuff.  It's given me close friends that I value so very much. It's given me a sense of belonging and purpose, of being part of a big tribe of weirdos that I fit in with.

Hey, training in the martial arts spurred me to write this blog, and via this blog, I've met a lot of really super-awesome people from all over the world, both online and in real life.

Back in my youth, the age of 50 was such a far-away and arcane thing, something that I didn't believe in my heart would happen to me.

Y'know, kind of like the black belt rank is to orange belts.

Of course now 50 doesn't seem that old.  In fact, in some ways, I still feel like I'm a newbie at life itself.

Just like I felt after I promoted to 1st Black a few years ago.

I'm always learning new stuff, not just in the martial arts but in other stuff I'm interested in doing, personally and professionally.  I don't see myself as being near "retirement age" because I don't intend to retire, really.  I'd rather be doing stuff that keeps me engaged and busy and keeps me connected with other people in my community.

In the martial arts, I still have a LONG way to go to get good in Arnis, much less other styles I study. And I still have to carve out the time to add a ground game into my skillset, which is a major goal I plan to address... eventually.

So, to close out this post, I'm posting this video (link in the comment on the image below) on my personal profile tomorrow, but you guys get to enjoy it a day early.  Tomorrow I plan to eat favorite foods and go to a Kansas City Chiefs pre-season football game, so you know it's gonna be a great day for the Chick.

Watch the skit HERE.

I hope YOUR 50th is as great as mine!

Friday, August 3, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 08/03/18

Friday already?  Wow!

I got in a little bit of good martial arts work this week. How about you?


Saturday we played some with the staff and walking cane as well as sticks at the The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup.  We played sumbrada - aka the "6 count drill" or "3-8-12" with the bo and cane, which is always really fun.

Sunday I stayed home and did chores I needed to do that had been backing up before Older Daughter and I hit the road for a short road trip.

Monday and Tuesday I saw a WHOLE LOT of Kansas as I took Older Daughter to orientation at Wichita State University.  WSU is a pretty fantastic campus, I have to say.  The dorm she'll live in is nicer than anywhere I've personally lived.  She made some new friends, and we got our ducks in a row for her to move down there for the school year in just a few weeks.  You may not realize this but WSU has an... interesting... mascot.  Google WuShock.

Wednesday I got to karate class and we worked on Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan, and I started learning Naihanchi Sandan. We were also introduced to the suburito (a heavy wooden training sword) and worked with it a while (and my arms are sore... again...).  This is what the suburito we were working with looks like (there's lots of different kinds):

Image found HERE, where you can buy one of these bad boys.

Thus begins my very, very early introduction to Japanese sword.


Blog posts I wrote and shared via social media this week:

Monday: Nuttin'. I was somewhere in Kansas at the time.
Tuesday: 3 Tips For Parents to Choose a Martial Art
Wednesday: THAT GUY: The Dandy

You can find the Stick Chick Blog on most social media platforms! I'm on Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter


The truth. This is the real consequence of training, y'all. AND aging.  Harrumph.

Yet more cool stuff from Coleman Fink again this week.  He is IN this video. Wow!

When I grow up, I wanna be Ninja Nan.

Finally, where was this advice 18 years ago, huh?

I got lots more martial artsy stuff over on the Facebook page. If you're on Facebook, please do like and share it with your friends!


"Normal" weekend planned, with The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup. Mr. Chick and I also plan to visit Kombatan friends down in Spring Hill, KS on Saturday, so yay!

Sunday... I'm going to Chiefs Training Camp.  YAY! 

Have a fun weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

THAT GUY: The Dandy

It's time to work takedowns, and you and your partner get ready to begin.

You realize your partner looks like someone who just competed in the Miss America contest.  Full makeup, lots of hair product, perfectly manicured and painted nails.  There's also a lot of jewelry - rings, earrings, necklace(s), ring(s), and maybe even an anklet.

Like this, but wearing gi.
So you get to work on the technique, but you get makeup smeared on your uniform, you get a cut from a nail, and you get annoyed looks whenever the hair gets messed up.  Oh, and your partner is also wearing enough perfume/body spray to supply the entire state of New Jersey with scents for a year, and you look forward to getting a nice lungful of fresh, perfume-free air.

You've been paired with THAT GUY: the Dandy.

Note that I was careful not to assign gender in the example above, because the Dandy can be any gender, just like all of the other THAT GUYs featured here.  I would add, outside of class, I think it's fine to be the Dandy, even if it's not my personal cup of tea.  Hey, whatever makes you happy is good by me.

But on the mat... yeah, the Dandy is NO FUN to work with.

The Dandy gets annoyed when they get too sweaty. The Dandy gets distracted checking themselves out in the mirror in class (partly to admire themselves, partly to check the state of their hair/makeup/jewelry). If it isn't makeup, the Dandy will ruin your gi with bronzer smears.

The Dandy practically jangles as they move around because of all the jewelry.  Which is really bad if the Dandy is studying ninjutsu. Just sayin'.

Looking good while training is more important to The Dandy than being good AT training.

Let me admit that I, personally, am a jewelry nut.  I LOVE jewelry, and off the mat I wear lots of jewelry most of the time (especially rings). But ON the mat, I take off anything that might hurt my partner or get me in trouble, like rings and earrings.

I learned that lesson the hard way when I got hit in the hand with a stick, and had to cut off my wedding ring as my fingers swelled.  Now I wear a silicone wedding ring.

The Dandy's nails in particular can be a huge problem. Nail cuts are always a risk even when we keep them trimmed but MAN, it's like working with someone with 20 little knives on their hands and feet. You're lucky if you don't get cut at least once or twice every time you work with the Dandy.

The Dandy leaves a scent cloud as they move around the room, so you can trace their path through the dojo.  You feel like you need a gas mask when you work closely with them and your eyes water from the cloud of chemicals.

If you spend any time the gym, you know exactly who I'm talking about, because yes, the Dandy will be the one admiring themselves as they work out.

From this really funny commercial by Planet Fitness 

Do you have any stories of training with the Dandy? Are YOU the Dandy or have Dandy-like tendencies?  Let us know in the comments!

To see all of the THAT GUY posts, click HERE.

Friday, July 27, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/27/18

It's FRIDAY!  Yay!

Struggles this week. Didn't get to train like I wanted to. The mind was willing, the body, not so much.

Hope yours was good!


Saturday was our (now) normal session of bangin' sticks at Happy Rock Park at the The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup.  Lots of fun playing with some cool concepts, even if my right arm/shoulder is still hinky from the epic day of nunchaku training from the prior week.  If you're in the KC area on a Saturday morning, come play with us!  It's free and fun!

Sunday I joined the Overland Park Shindo Muso Ryu Meetup. I have to take it easy with my right shoulder healing, but I did get some work in, and a little Arnis after (working mostly with my left hand, which is, after all, something I'm always trying to get better with).

Monday I attended karate and worked on Naihanchi Shodan and Naihanchi Nidan, then worked just one specific portion of the nunchaku form I'm working on - a pretty tricky catch that puts the weapon in reverse grip in one hand.  NOT EASY.

And then... the migraine swarm started, and I struggled with it for the rest of the week. Had a big one hit Wednesday just before karate class.  Ocular migraine, vertigo, fuzzy brain, fatigue... everything except pain.  In that state it would be a very, very bad idea for me to handle weapons.

So I took it easy. Nothing else for it.

So I didn't get as much work as I wanted this week.  Sigh.


Blog posts I wrote and shared via social media this week:

Monday: The Gift of Fear
Tuesday: Three is a Magic Number
Wednesday: The Big P

Connect with the Stick Chick Blog on your favorite social media platform! I'm on Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter



It's not real.  But damn, it still amuses me every time I run across it...

This list ISN'T EVEN COMPLETE, if you can believe it... 21 things women who train in martial arts are tired of hearing

This is SO COOL.

And finally... damn straight, it does.

As usual, other neat content, stories, and funny stuff can be found on the Facebook page. Join us!


Really hoping this migraine swarm disappears because I have stuff to do this weekend.  Plus, Mr. Chick will be gone all weekend attending this:

I'd tell all y'all to be good, but I know lots of you on a personal level, and I know it's a fruitless endeavor.

Train hard, train smart, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Big P

We martial artists know that training teaches us so much more than just using punching, kicking, grappling, and weapons to great effect on "bad guys". 

I'm talking about the values we incorporate into what we do.

Often, we're explicit about certain values, like taekwondo's tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit.  We have them on our web sites, in our student handbooks, on the wall of our training spaces, and it's something we refer to and talk about a lot, explicitly.

We also communicate values via proverbs, such as "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" or "fall down seven times, get up eight", or "a black belt is a white belt who never quit" and so forth.

Whether it's direct or it's indirect, every single one of us are absorbing these values as we train. We carry these values with us into other spheres of our lives - work, family, friends, faith, and other hobbies.

Lately, I've been learning and relearning a value that I think every one of you reading this can relate to. That value is PATIENCE.

Ah, patience, the Big P.  It's kicking my butt.

I gotta quit letting Patience sneak up behind me like that, for one.

I've been studying new things with new teachers lately, and I admit, I'm dismayed that I'm not catching on faster.

I want to be good at it, RIGHT NOW.

Of course, I know that's not a reasonable expectation.  If I were teaching me as a student, I'd tell me the exact same things my teachers are telling me.  I'm doing fine, I'm making good progress, be patient.

My brain knows this.  My body even knows this.

But my heart... my heart is yelling at me to STOP SUCKING AT THIS STUFF FASTER!

That's the theme of my life lately... being patient.

Frankly, I'm not the world's best when it comes to patience. I wanna do, NOW, and I really dislike having to wait.  I'm the Veruca Salt of the martial arts world, I guess.

I'm not a bad egg!  I'm not!

However, there is a way you can make the time you have to wait shorter.

The hack, as the kids say, to having to be patient is another big P: Practice.

It's not a matter of letting time pass. It's a matter of the repetitions and work you do to acquire the skill.  So if you want to be good faster, you spend more time training and you'll get faster quicker.  It really is that simple.

We like to say that earning a black belt in a given style takes so long - three years, five years, ten years, what have you.  Unless your style requires a certain minimum time-in-rank (as many do), you CAN do it faster, legitimately.  Those time frames assume a certain level of training, so many hours per week over the years.

Let me explain what I mean. Here's a hypothetical for you:

Let's say it takes 5 years to earn a black belt in a style.  Let's assume 10 hours of training a week (in class and home practice) and 50 weeks in the year. That makes you a dedicated martial artist, by the way. So, this person would earn black belt rank with 2,500 training hours.

If a person trains 20 hours a week, a super-dedicated person who is going WAY above and beyond in training, that person can get that same amount of training in half the time, 2-1/2 years.

I bet the super-dedicated person who earns the black belt rank in 2-1/2 years is no better or worse, all things being equal, than the dedicated person who did it in five.

They both have the same amount of training time.

Thus, if I want to stop being annoyed by having to be patience, the real solution is to practice, not whine about it here on the blog or get mad at myself for not catching on faster.

Practice beats patience.  And you can quote me on that one.

Do you struggle with patience?  How much do you practice?  Any advice for someone like me?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 20, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/20/18

Friday I'm in love... with the martial arts!

Yeah, I'm a huge dork. What can I say?

This week rocked hard, and I hope your week was awesome, too!


Saturday was a heck of a day.

First off, we played empty hand drills at The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup.  I mentioned I met another local FMA player in last week's round up. His name is Harley Weibling, and he came by to visit our meetup and he's a super-awesome guy. He hosts a class on Saturdays at Cave Spring Park at 10 am, so do check out his classes in the area, y'all.  He knows his stuff!

After the Meetup, I spent about 4 functional hours or so of working on my new nunchaku form with my new teachers and friends at Zensekai Karate Kobudo Rengokai's Kansas seminar.  There were folks there from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado and Florida (I feel like I'm missing a state so sorry if I have).  Yes, it was incredibly fun, but it totally wrecked my right arm (esp. my wrist), but hey, that's what you get when you do repetitive motion for hours and you're pushing a half-century, right?  No regrets on that - happy to have learned the form and now I have to perfect it.

Also, the head of the organization, Greg Lindquist (and our teacher) was promoted to Hanshi 10th Dan.  Congratulations, sir!

Because I destroyed myself on Saturday, on Sunday I did NOT go to the Shindo Ryu Meetup over in Overland Park.  Decided the wiser course is to rest and recover, so I did that instead.

Monday night we perfected our forms.  Well, got in more practice, anyway, because I have a loooonnngg way to go.  But still, having fun with it.

Wednesday I ended up going to bed at about 4 pm and slept so late I didn't go to Karate.  Hey, sometimes, you just gotta rest, and so I did.



Blog posts I wrote and shared via social media this week:

You can't escape the Stick Chick Blog on social media, so why not connect with me on Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter Facebook is always hoppin' with good stuff so please do join us there.


If you aren't sure who that might be... it might be YOU.

Nice primer on kobudo weapons from Karate by Jesse:

Hey, yours truly is a contributor to the "Martial Arts Woman" so hey, pick up a copy and enjoy not just my perspective on our weird little hobby, but the perspectives of 24 other women! Buy on Amazon HERE.

Datu Tim Hartman competed in a tournament and won first place in the Masters division with this nice interpretation of our stick form into a katana.

Saw some nice blog posts this week you should check out:

And finally... a wolf after my own heart:

I also ran across some... interesting... stories involving weapons of various kinds in some really weird situations, and those are on the Facebook page. Come check it out.


The weather changed this week and we're all feeling kinda sluggish in my house.  I have the Kansas City Presas Arnis and the Overland Park Shindo Ryu Meetup, so that should get me moving again.

Also Older Daughter spent a week or so with family and she comes home on Saturday.  I got a small taste of what it's going to be like with her going off to college next month.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Getting Old Sucks

Getting old sucks.

Yeah, sure, better than the alternative.

But still, it sucks.

The mind is willing, but the body says...

When I was young, and an athlete, I pushed myself pretty hard. I could do a lot of "work" for a long time (and needed to, because I am NOT a natural athlete). While there were consequences (I think by my count I sprained my ankle at least six times as a cheerleader and a track and field athlete), I do not remember feeling like I've been hit by a truck after a training session.

This was after hours of running up and down hills, of throwing 8 lb shotput and 2 lb discus, of being a part of human pyramids where I was one of the people at the base, with other girls standing on my hips and shoulders (both at the same time).  None of this is lightweight stuff.

I did this almost daily with serious physical consequences.

Over the weekend, I spent a few hours not wearing shoes on a wood surface, flailing around objects that don't weigh much, and by the end, I'm walking funny and I have sharp pain in my joints.  I had to cancel training planned for the next day because I didn't think I can manipulate a weapon without it flying out of my grasp and putting an eye out, much less walk all the way from my car to the training area (all of, oh, 50 yards) without needing to stop and rest a couple of times.

Physically, I'm wrecked.

This ain't fair, y'all.

I know, I know, who said life is fair, blah blah blah.  Granted.


I came to training late in life, and I started because I wanted my old age to suck less (because if I continued my chain-smoking sedentary ways, it was gonna be AWFULSAUCE).   So that's the kicker of all this.

If I didn't spent hours barefoot swinging objects (or doing forms empty hand, or banging sticks or whatever martial art thing I'm doing day to day), and paying for it with needing a day to recover from it sometimes, it would be WORSE.

I have plenty of friends in my age group that don't train or take regular exercise, that are basically me before I fell into martial arts.  They have all the ache and pains I do, but they didn't have all the fun we have when we train when they acquired those aches and pains. And of course, they aren't experiencing the mental and emotional benefits of training either.

So yeah, it could be worse.  Heck, my chronic conditions don't heap on an extra helping of pain like, say, rheumatoid arthritis does my friend Mike Mahaffey, or the pain many of you reading this have from old injuries or other conditions that make doing what we do difficult and painful.

But think of how bad it would be if we didn't train, right?


But still... getting old SUCKS!

Have you noticed extra pains or needing more recovery time from training hard as you've aged?  What tips would you have for the older martial artist to prevent injury and pain?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/13/18

It's Friday the 13th!  But it's your lucky day, because here's my roundup of my martial arts stuff for the week!

Fantastic training week this week, y'all.  Hope yours was just as awesome.


Hey, we finally have someone we don't know in The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup!  It was awesome meeting a new friend and training with him.  I sure hope that's a sign of great things to come for the group...

Sunday I made it to the  Overland Park Shindo Muso Ryu Meetup and got in some productive jo work.  After class, I worked with the group for about 45 minutes - I taught them single sinawali. Another FMA player has joined the group and we've made friends, and I hope to see him more soon.  Maybe we are sowing the seeds of a MAPA for the KC area?  That'd be awesome if we can make that happen.

At our karate class on Monday, we continued working on Naihanchi Shodan, and Naihanchi Nidan. If you know me, you know forms aren't my forte, but I'm making progress, I think.  On Wednesday, we started working with weapons for the first time. And guess which one I'm working on.

Go on, guess.

Give up?

AWWWW YISSSSSS!  Yes, I am a SUPER HAPPY CAMPER right now, lemme tell ya.

Mr. Chick started bo, so at our home practice on Thursday he started teaching me that, too.



Here's all the jibber-jabber I shared from the blog this week:

Looking for the Stick Chick Blog on social media? I totally got you covered on  Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter Come to the Facebook page in particular, as there's ALL SORTS of funny, challenging, and thought-provoking martial arts content there.


I didn't have a brother, but I do have a cousin who is a wrestler, and yep, he practiced on his sister, and my sister, and me....

Two posts this week on the important topic of sexual harassment and abuse in the martial arts. Cathy Chapaty writes When your sensei talks to you about sex, run, and Aesopian BJJ/FRC wrote Confronting the Problem of Sexual Harassment and Coercion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Both are really good and I highly recommend you read them and share them.

This video is making the rounds in martial arts circles and it's hilarious:

And finally...


Tomorrow we host our Presas Arnis Meetup, then we're spending the day at a day-long seminar by our Karate teacher.  Very excited for this, as we'll get to meet a lot more folks in our organization. And we'll get to train lots of weapons.

Be good and train well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Not Wrong, Just Different

I was working with a few new training friends, showing them some basics from Presas Arnis.

Also in attendance - much to my relief because he was a huge help - is another person who's very well versed in the FMA's, just in a different lineage.  "Lineage" in the Filipino Martial Arts is convoluted, complicated, and not as direct as it is in the Japanese, Korean, or Chinese martial arts, but for the sake of this post, we'll use that terminology.  I am from one lineage, and he's from a different one.

To our friends, though, he and I do the exact same thing.

He was helping me get the group going, and he coached them to do slightly different footwork than what we teach initially. I hadn't seen that way before (but upon reflection it totally makes sense and I think it's a good idea) but in the moment, I was afraid of confusing the newbies and I was uncomfortable with just rolling with what he was saying.

It wasn't that his way is wrong.  It's just different.

I regret now that in the moment, that I didn't adapt to his method, as it is actually a pretty good idea. I was still clinging to the way I was taught and the way I've been taught to teach it.

But we all do that, don't we?  When presented with an innovation or a different point of view on something we believe we know well in the martial arts that doesn't come directly from our teacher(s), we resist the change by instinct.

Generally speaking, the martial arts world is pretty conservative. We prefer to do things as our teacher taught them, and changing things is a big deal.

Partly out of loyalty to that teacher, partly because some of the cultures our styles come from are pretty conservative and change-resistant, and partly because it's uncomfortable to change something you've been spending years working on a specific way.

And sometimes it's political.  That is, my teacher/lineage is the real deal, and those other guys are posers or liars or misunderstanding the technique or whatever. Because if you do it different, you must be wrong, right?

I first heard the phrase "not wrong, different" from Datu Dieter Kn├╝ttel at a seminar of his I was attending.  He was showing a specific method of doing something but he noted that others do it a different way and talked about why his organization chooses to do it the way Datu was showing it.

My teacher has always been good about sending the same message.  You can do it differently, and here's why he chooses to do it this way. However, the succinct way Datu Dieter put it "Not wrong, just different" has always stuck with me since I heard him say it.

Not wrong, just different.  There's more than one valid way to solve a problem, and each has upsides and downsides.  Which one you go with depends on which way you think that the upsides greatly outweigh the downsides.

It's helped me develop an open mind, which is very helpful as I do cross train a lot, not only with different FMA styles, but completely different unrelated martial arts styles as well.  I think I do a good job of "emptying the cup" as hard as I can when I'm in someone else's domain and trying to learn how they want me to do it.

As you can see, though, by the story I told at the beginning of this post, as open minded and as flexible as I am, I still feel uncomfortable when things are different.  That's especially true when I am working with people who are closer to what I do and my teacher teaches.

I'm still skeptical of what the other guy is doing, trying to justify what I'm doing and why we do it OUR way.  I still have to be bludgeoned over the head to see a good idea and recognize it as such in the moment.

I have to keep saying to myself, "Not wrong, just different" and understand what the reason is behind the difference, and see if it makes sense to me. I have to respect the difference, even if it isn't something I'd do myself. 

I might find something that helps me (and my students) learn something I think is important, in a better way.

Do you agree or disagree with the idea that you can be different but not wrong? How do you "empty your cup"? How do you roll with it when presented with a different way? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 6, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 07/06/18

Hey, everybody, it's FRIDAY!

Busy, busy this week. How did yours go?


Saturday Mr. Chick and I trained Presas Arnis in at Happy Rock Park (we're hosting The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup, in case you or someone you know is in the area and wants to train).  I'm working on a project and we used this time to do some curriculum development.

Sunday I joined the Overland Park Shindo Muso Ryu Meetup and worked on jo a lot more.  It's very fun, and they're a great group of folks to train with. Jo is such an awesome weapon, y'all.

Monday, Mr. Chick and I attended Karate class.  We have been working on Naihanchi Shodan, and we learned the basic structure of Naihanchi Nidan.

Wednesday was Independence Day here in the USA, so there was no Karate class.  We hung out with friends and watched folks blow things up real good.  Very fun day.

Thursday night we went over to Leavenworth and met Arnis "relatives" (they play Luzviminda Arnis) at Sagasu Family Martial Arts.  We learned some of their stuff, and hung out and connected for a while.  While it's a little far for us to train there regularly, we definitely plan to connect with them as much as we can.

Here's a shot of me doing a drill we learned from Luzviminda Arnis at a Texas Modern Arnis Coalition gathering in Bryan, Texas, at Montoyas Shorin Kempo Karate Jitsu last year.  We actually worked on this stuff Thursday night, too!


The ramblings from the past and the fresh blog content for this week:

If you follow or like or whatever us on social media, you won't miss a thing! We're on  Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter The Stick Chick Blog on Facebook is the busiest channel, so please, if you're over there, give us a like and share it with your martial arts friends. It's far more than just "here's my blog" - I try to make that a fully operational martial arts humor and information page, so it's worth your time.


Can't judge a book by it's cover...

How did I miss this skit back in the day?  The Hollywood School of Self Defense is hilarious!

FMA legend Ron Saturno has lost his home and everything he owns in the fires out west. If you can contribute to this Gofundme to help him get back on his feet, please do: Fire Recovery for Guro Ron Saturno

Yes you CAN find time to train.  They did it in traffic!

LOTS more good stuff on my social media channels - especially Facebook (have I mentioned I have a Facebook page before? I have?  Huh, it doesn't seem like I have...)


My martial arts life is starting to gel in a good way, and I'm pretty pleased with that.  Meeting "family" last night was so awesome, and there's more "relatives" I plan to connect with here in KC.

This weekend it will be some Arnis and some Jo, as has become my wont.  Train hard and have fun, kids!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Not Quite Normal

July 4, 2018, marks the end of my first month in Kansas City.

The JC Nichols Memorial Fountain in Kansas City.  

The worst of the move is over, and while I have a few loose ends here and there, the house is put together into a livable state.  The armory is put together and I've figured out how to train at the new house, which is a distinct improvement over the old house.

Actually, even though it is substantially smaller, I like my new house WAY more than the house I just moved out of, overall.

I've started training with a new teacher in a branch of Okinawan Karate full-time and I'm training with another in a Japanese Jo system part-time.   Both of these are fun and interesting and informative and a fresh point of view.

When it comes to Arnis, though, right now, it's just me and Mr. Chick going to the park on Saturday mornings, working on what we want to work on in Presas Arnis.  I've started a Meetup (The Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup) to attract people who might want to try out my style, but while we've had a few bites, no takers yet.  My Jo instructor says this is normal for Meetup here in KC and that it will take time to get a few serious people to join us.

I have other plans in the works but I just can't execute them just yet.  If you're a long time reader of the blog, you know how much I just love having a plan but having to wait until I can actually do something about it.

My motto for 2018.
I've done what I can do but things are still... off.

Part of this is the adjustment to not training with my teacher of 8 years in Presas Arnis.  You get used to the routine, the point of view, and the relationship when you train with someone for the better part of a decade on a weekly basis.

He's still my teacher, guys, but I'll only see him at most a couple of times a year, and that's just...weird.

And I think that part of this is learning the martial arts culture and scene in a new city. The thing is, the city itself, I know well (and it hasn't changed much in 13 years, really).  But I was not a martial artist when I lived here before.  So it's not a matter of resuming my old life here. It's creating a new one in the ashes of the old one, y'know?

It's discombobulating.

Still, I'm training and that's good. The feeling that I should be running on all cylinders in such a short period of time is unreasonable, I know.

But still....

Any advice for me?  Do you hate waiting as much as I do?  Let me know in the comments!


Speaking of America, Happy Independence Day, United States of America!  If you've never read it, I suggest you take a moment and and read this:  Declaration of Independence Transcription at the National Archives

Friday, June 29, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 6/29/18

To quote a great modern poet, "It's Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down on Friday".

Another week of training and other martial arts goodness is in the books!

How was your week?


Saturday morning Mr. Chick and I were at the Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup.  We worked on a drill from Force Necessary and then related back to other drills we've learned.

My god, we're such martial arts GEEKS.

Sunday morning I "woke up" with a doozy of a migraine headache, so I ended up staying home and sleeping it off instead of going to the Jo meetup as planned.  Stoopid migraines.

Monday and Wednesday we worked on Naihanchi Shodan at our Karate class.  I've got the base framework of the moves down, now I have to spend a lot more time perfecting it. As I'm not super-great at forms, I expect I'll be working on this a looonnggg time.  Having fun with it, though - nice challenging work for my brain.

Again, no new pics of me training this week, so here's an old one from kobudo of me and my friend Tomas working on bo.


It sure is nice to be back in a routine again...

You can find the week's posts (and other martial arts goodness) at the Stick Chick Blog on social media: Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter Facebook in particular is hoppin' with martial arts stuff, so please, if you're on that channel, like the page and share it with your martial arts friends, please. Thanks!


Happens about half the time, actually. And of course, my answer is yes, yes I can.

Neat video featuring the founder of Kombatan, Ernesto Presas:

Y'know the old saying, "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight"?  Well, this dude brought a weed whacker to a machete fight.  Didn't turn out good for him: Man brings weed wacker to a machete fight in Buffalo

For years, I've expressed the opinion that the utility of the flying side kick in a fight was dubious at best.  And now I stand corrected: Video shows bystander taking out violent homeless man with impressive flying kick


My home is mostly together now and I'm pretty happy with the results.  Even figured out where the best place is to practice (although it's not as hot here as it was in Fort Worth, it's WAY more humid, and gosh, I'd forgotten how... special... that is.)

Gonna be a long summer, y'all.

Get to work, people! See you on social media and here on the blog next week!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

REVISED OPINION: Tonfa: Not a Huge Fan, No.

Waaaay back in the day, I wrote this post about how much I was looking forward to studying tonfa:

Why Tonfa ROCK!

To summarize, I had a fascination with that weapon since the early days of my training. Tonfa are rarely the kinds of weapons you see people tossing and catching and dancing with at performance martial arts competitions, usually to music.  So that alone drew me to them.

These are my tonfa.  Well, one pair of tonfa that I own.

I also thought that they'd be the easiest for an Arnis player to learn and get good with, as tonfa look similar to what we use in Arnis, especially if you don't insist on always gripping them using the handle (the "tsuka").

Long story short, I like practical, meaty weapons, and tonfa seemed to fit the bill.

I've trained with tonfa a few years now, and the result:

I am not a fan of tonfa.

Who knew?

Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I like weapons. No, I love weapons.  All cultures, all types.  I'm just nutty for them.  And I'd rather have a weapon I'm not wild about in a bad situation than not have one at all.

I'm just saying if I have a choice, tonfa is not what I'd choose over other weapons, such as bo, or jo, or nunchaku even, or a stick, or a machete, or a knife.  Especially if it's for realsies and life is on the line.  But if all I have are tonfa, by all means, I'll be happy to have them.

I'll TRY, anyway!

Here's the thing.

I think tonfa is possibly the easiest weapon for you empty hand punch kickers to pick up and use, immediately. Of the weapons I've personally studied, tonfa strikes me as the one that translates directly into things you guys learn empty hand.

Think your down block/strike, knife hands. inside-out or outside-in blocking/striking, upwards block/strike...

You can literally do these as you do empty hand with tonfa in your hand and you'd be good to go.  So, IMO, from that perspective, tonfa are a pretty good intro weapon for people with empty hand training and skills.  Unlike arnis, you can actually just do karate with tonfa and be a-okay for the most part.

It's when you start flipping them around that they're losing me.

Sure, it's not like the strikes, parries, blocks, etc. from the tonfa extended from the arm aren't useful and can work. They can and do.  But learning to do it well - timing, and angle in particular - is not easy, not at all. And you have to have a pair of tonfa well fitted to your hand, or you're going to get some spectacular friction burns on your hands (I speak from experience in this).

I see people doing extended tonfa strikes against incoming longer, heavier weapons and I don't think that'll work if the attacker is coming full power. I think there is a huge risk they'll go right through tonfa, even if you are extending properly so the force is being transmitted to your arm, and not the weapon (think windshield wipers if you want to know what a hard block against improperly held tonfa look like).

And if your hands get sweaty - and in a fight, they just might - it becomes even harder to do those extended motions.  They get stuck OR they spin too freely.  If you're sweaty, heck, you might as well just punch-kick with them against your forearms, like I mentioned above.

I just find all of that more work and effort than it's worth, is all.  I think you'd be better off with a weapon like a billy club or a stick.

I also think that I might like tonfa more as a single hand weapon vs. double.  Check this out:

Image found HERE.

That's a common Arnis disarm with a tonfa, and it works well (and I know it works well against a variety of weapons because we've played with it, so it's not just sticks).  And yeah, they're doing the flippy thing that I was railing against above, but note that it's not weapon-to-weapon, it's closing in and weapon-to-body, a different matter.

So maybe my beef isn't with the weapon itself, but how it's taught?


In any case, if I'm given my druthers, I'd prefer another weapon to tonfa.  At least for now.

Hey, my opinion changed before.  It could change again.

So do you like tonfa? Tell me why I'm wrong and I SHOULD change my mind!  Or if you agree with me, let me know why YOU'RE not a fan of tonfa!