Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moving and the Martial Arts

My friend +Andrea Harkins recently announced she's making a big move, from Florida to Arizona.  As a result, she has to succession plan for her martial arts program (and it looks like she's got that well under control).

But she's going to have a big problem in her new city. Where is she going to train, and with whom?

I know this problem very, very well.  You see, I moved twice cross-country in about 18 months during the Great Recession, due to layoffs.  Each move required a lot of trial and error and searching to find people to train with.  It's a huge problem, y'all.

Another huge problem - no standard boxes for your martial arts equipment.

For some of us, it may be easier to find a place to train in a new city. You may train in a very popular style (taekwondo, BJJ, Shotokan Karate, etc.) so it's easy to find a school.  Or you might be like me and train in a relatively obscure style where it's hard to find a teacher or a person to train with.

In fact, when I moved to Texas, I found my teacher through pure luck. After a few months of studying a style that was fine but just wasn't what we wanted to do, we'd decided to commute to Memphis (about an 8 hour drive) and train our original teacher once a quarter since we couldn't find anyone teaching what we wanted to learn nearby (and the cost was about the same).

On literally our last weekend in that school, my teacher walked in the door and I was introduced to him.  I started training with him the following week, in November 2010.  I train with him still, years and years later.  As far as I know, he is the only person within 30 minutes teaching any variant of Modern Arnis.

I met him by CHANCEIf I'd been there an hour later, or earlier, or if I hadn't had to come bring Older Daughter in for her class on that day... I would never have met my teacher, probably.

The weird twist my story is that I'd reached out to my current teacher on the internet via Martial Talk (I didn't know his real name as he used a pseudonym on MT) a few months earlier but got no reply. He just didn't know how to get his private messages there, so we didn't connect then.  After we met him, I told my original teacher about the encounter, and he said, "Oh yeah!  I know him! I forgot he was there! I used to live two doors down from him!"

TWO.  DOORS.  DOWN. About a mile from where I was living, even!
That is a true story, y'all.
I wish Andrea the best of luck in her training in her new city. I hope she's as lucky with it as I was.

So what does this have to do with you, my friend?


What do I mean by this?

Most of us are always looking for training partners, even if we aren't teaching.  If we are teaching, we want to find all the students we can find, right?  It is the rare martial artist that ISN'T looking for these things.

So be easy to find online.  It's going to be the first method people in the modern world use to find places to train.

Make sure if you have a physical location that you have claimed it on Google Maps and you've filled in all the contact information, including web site and/or email.

HAVE a web site and/or email.  You don't have to have a private domain, you can set up a free site on a site like Wix or Weebly or Blogger or Wordpress, even if you're just looking for training partners or you're offering private lessons. Put some good pictures on there, and use all the important keywords, including:
  • Martial Arts
  • Your style, and the larger "term" for it (for example, if you're doing a kind of karate, make sure you use the term KARATE as well as the "real" name of what you teach)
  • Your city, including nearby cities or towns that it's easy to commute from to train, usually within about 20 minutes travel.
Set up a social media channel - whichever one is easiest for you (Facebook and Instagram seem to be the most popular) - and keep it updated and active. It sucks to find a social media account for a martial arts school and not seeing updates for months or years, and you're not sure if they're around or not!

List yourself on dojo directory web sties.  A big one in North America is but there are others, including mobile apps.

If your style has some web sites or directories aimed at your specific community or organization - BE THERE, with correct contact information.

If there are places for people to send inquiries - check them often and respond to them quickly.

Every method I mentioned above is free. FREE! It only requires a little effort on your part.  It isn't terribly hard.  So get on it.

It is very possible, Mr. Obscure-Style-Guy-That-Can't-Find-Students-or-Training*Partners, that there are lots of people looking for you around you, but can't FIND you. 

I was one of those students. Andrea might be one of those students.  And believe me, you don't want to miss out on dedicated, hard-core martial arts students like us.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 01/28/17


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 I attended a bo seminar by Sensei Dean Chapman. We worked on some basic drills that are more like Arnis drills than old-school one-steps.  I got some nice pointers on striking that I thought was really helpful.

Monday night I attended Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  We worked on Anyos (forms) and empty hand applications from those forms.

Tuesday younger kid was sick, so we stayed home. Wednesday I needed to stay home to pack for our out-of-town trip.

Thursday Older Daughter and I drove to one of the two universities she's considering attending in the fall. It was a great trip, and this school is not far from my family, so I was able to see my mom, my uncle and aunt, and my cousin and her husband.  FANTASTIC trip.  If you're ever driving I-44 in Missouri, stop by Uranus in St. Robert (Uranus isn't a town -it's a destination).

BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK (New or re-shared to social media):

Monday: Punching Up
Tuesday: Dancing With the Martial Arts
Wednesday: BOOK REVIEW Modern Arnis: History & Practice (Mag Aaral)
Thursday: The Question of Authority

HELP THE CHICKIE OUT: I have goal for 2018 to get the Stick Chick Blog Facebook pages to 1000 likes.  So please, if you're on Facebook, like the page, will ya (link is RIGHT HERE)?  Share it with your friends who like the martial arts too?  Pretty please?


I remember, very clearly, being a newbie and watching people play tapi-tapi and thinking I'd never be able to do that.

My teacher wrote on HIS blog about my kobudo black belt test.  Read his perspective HERE.

Andrea Harkins wrote a couple of pieces this week I thought were interesting.  First is this one, The Plight of the Martial Arts Woman, and then due to some big news for her, 6 Ways to Conquer Unexpected Change.  As 2018 is going to be chock full of change for the Stick Chick (although most of mine is planned) I could relate!

+Brian Johns announced he's moving his classes and schedule this week on his school blog: Moving On.  If you or someone you know is near the Harmony Martial Arts Center check his classes out!

And there's a new video at Enter the Dojo:


I got back into town last night, so I'm just CHILLAXING today.  It was a looonnngg trip.

This week is going to be stupid busy.  Not only do I have normal martial arts classes and Older Daughter's driver's license test, but next weekend I have three events:

Friday night: TUSK Tomahawk Seminar with +Datu HartmanTUSK Seminar

Saturday and Sunday: WMAA Texas Camp: WMMA 2nd Annual Texas Camp

And we're co-hosting Dr. +Dr. Tye W. Botting Sunday night: Dr. Tye Botting: Knife Intersections- Kung Fu and Arnis. I understand there's some sort of NFL game on, but since it's offseason for us Chiefs fans... I'll train instead.

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, January 24, 2018

BOOK REVIEW Modern Arnis: History & Practice (Mag Aaral)

I think I've mentioned before that when it comes to Modern Arnis, I'm a second generation student.

That is, I train with people who often trained directly with the founder of the style, Remy A.Presas, but I never got the chance before he passed away.  This includes my teacher but I've also been lucky enough to train with lots of others, many of whom hold high rank in the style and run some of our bigger organizations.

The new book Modern Arnis: History & Practice is a fantastic book for second generation people like me.

"Mag Aaral" is a pseudonym for the writers/editors of the book.

The first few chapters are about the history of the FMA's and origins of Modern Arnis. Some of this I knew, some of it I didn't, and that alone made the book worthwhile by me.  As a Presas Arnis player, I also appreciated the shout-out Remy A. Presas' brothers - Ernesto Presas and Roberto Presas - got in the book.

The middle section is instructional.  It covers some key features of Modern Arnis - weapon choices, the 12 Angles of Attack, and various drills and concepts.  There are illustrations to help you follow along if you don't know all of these things.

The final section consists of a lot of different first generation students' recollections of Remy Presas and their training experience.  Some of the people in this section I know, and some I don't, but all of it was really interesting and helped me understand Professor and Modern Arnis a little better.

Any serious student of Modern Arnis will benefit from this book, but second (and third and so on) generation in particular will find it helpful, mainly for the history and the memoirs. 

Many of us are in one organization or another, and for a variety of reasons (locale and honestly, politics), we don't get a lot of contact with Professor's direct students outside of our direct lineage.  So we miss out on a lot of stories and personal experiences of people who we don't get to see. This book will help cover some of those gaps and enrich second gen's perception and understanding of the style.

The Stick Chick recommends this book for anyone interested in the history and practice of Modern Arnis and its founder, Remy Presas. It needs to be in the library of all Modern Arnis players, for sure!

In case you missed the link to Amazon above, here it is again: Modern Arnis: History & Practice on Amazon

Saturday, January 20, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 01/20/18

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?


Well, the week started off great.

Saturday, we tested some of our Hidden Sword Arnis students for new ranks on Saturday.  As we have a new crop of kid white belts (and a visitor), I actually didn't participate in the test. I took the newbies and we worked on hitting bags for an hour.  Kids usually really love being able to go to town hitting bags with sticks, lemme tell ya!

In the afternoon I attended my first AKATO kobudo class as a "senior" student. We have started working on kama.  Interesting weapon, and the two other Arnis players in the room and I kept making connections back to Arnis concepts as we learned some new drills.  Not sure if I'll love kama, but I definitely like them better than sai!

Monday was Arnis class at Hidden Sword.  We worked with the students on some of the weak spots of their test (mainly, block check counter play).

Then the cruds came.  I started getting sick on Tuesday, and for the most part, I spent the rest of the week in a Nyquil coma.  This thing going around suuuuuccccckkkss.

It was so bad, I didn't do much on the blog this week (I was barely online, even).  Assuming I am now over the super-sicks, the new post I was going to make for last week will be this week.  Sorry y'all.

I reposted a couple of old posts early in the week, though, and you can find them on my Stick Chick blog page (hint hint see below) or on any of my normal channels (Google Plus, Tumblr, Twitter).

HELP THE CHICKIE OUT: I have goal for 2018 to get the Stick Chick Blog Facebook pages to 1000 likes.  So please, if you're on Facebook, like the page, will ya (link is RIGHT HERE)?  Share it with your friends who like the martial arts too?  Pretty please?


Not "most", but I probably do have a higher percentage than lots of folks.

Master Ken has a new video you say?  I AM ALL OVER IT.

When I did tae kwon do, and I was given this exact advice on how to handle a knife, this LITERALLY is what I thought would happen.  So... yeah.


Today I'm attending a bo seminar by Sensei Dean Chapman. I am so grateful I am not too sick to go (I'm not 100% but I'm at, ohhh...78%... and that's good enough).  Always up for learning as much as I can about weapons.

Hope you have a great weekend, everybody!

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!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 01/13/18

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 teacher and I drove about 3 hours to Shawnee, Oklahoma to help our friends at Arnis OK get started with a new Arnis program in the new year with a demo/seminar.  The seminar was awesome (wrote about it on the blog below).

If you didn't know. +Century Martial Arts is headquartered in suburban Oklahoma City, and we stopped their showroom by to exchange some uniforms. Your pal the Stick Chick could go BROKE in that joint (why, no, I do not have "enough" weapons and uniforms and training equipment, why do you ask?), but I steeled myself and left having not purchased anything, for which Mr. Chick is eternally grateful.

My beloved Kansas City Chiefs played in the NFL playoffs on Saturday, which I did not witness due to the seminar, and I am glad I did not. We don't need to talk about it. *sigh*

Mr. Chick and I covered Arnis classes at Hidden Sword this week as our teacher had a commitment for the week, so we worked on various things that our three students who will be testing today (Saturday) need to know.  On Monday, we a lot of block check counter and single stick/empty hand disarms.  On Wednesday we reviewed anyos and worked on double-stick responses and disarms.

I also took Younger Daughter to tae kwon do classes on Tuesday/Thursday as usual.

Okay, now HIT ME! 


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

MondayThe State of the (Filipino) Martial Arts Industry - My Two Cents
TuesdayFamily Ties
Wednesday2018 is Gonna ROCK
Thursday: Getting Dirty (with Disarms)
FridayMartial Arts Wish: A Martial Arts Do-Over

HELP THE CHICKIE OUT: I have goal for 2018 to get the Stick Chick Blog Facebook pages to 1000 likes.  So please, if you're on Facebook, like the page, will ya (link is RIGHT HERE)?  Share it with your friends who like the martial arts too?  Pretty please?


Lots this week to make up for the diddly squat from last week.  I think FINALLY we have 2018 up and running.

The first weekend in February is going to be busy here in Dallas-Fort Worth.  Datu +Tim Hartman is in town. He will have his TUSK (Tomahawk) seminar on Friday, Feb. 2 (Event HERE), the WMAA Texas Camp on Sat/Sun (event HERE). Then, on the evening of 2/4, we are going to a kung fu/arnis knife intersections (event HERE). I will be at all of this! See you there!

But when you are a weapon WITH A WEAPON...

There's a sale on Bruce Chiu's DVD's (find it HERE).  I have trained with him, and he's my original Grand Master (and I still consider him a teacher) so you get a thumbs up from Chickie for this stuff if you want to see Bruce's take on the core Modern Arnis material.

Where do I sign up for tickets?

Welcome to my life.

We didn't get the snow/ice in Fort Worth like we were predicted we might get, but for those of you in places that have an actual winter...


Today I begin attending the AKATO Kobudo program in the advanced black belt class. We're starting with Kama. This part of the program is very different as there is no actual timeline or progression to higher ranks now.  I'm just going to learn what I can learn, which is always fun, is it not?

Hope you have a great weekend, everybody!

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, January 12, 2018

Martial Arts Wish: A Martial Arts Do-Over

I've captured a martial arts Genie who specializes in wishes in the martial arts.  His name is Jeffrey.

Jeffrey the Genie.

Anyhoo, Jeffrey can grant you a single wish, but only within the paramenters I set. So think hard before you make your wish for Jeffrey to grant.

Your wish is the answer to this question:

If you could go back in time and change one thing about your martial arts career, what would it be?

It could be changing a decision you made, choosing to start training in a style that's different than one you chose when you had the chance... heck, it could be going back in time and training with someone famous, or in a specific cultures...

Of course, one answer to this could be, "I wouldn't change a thing."

I'll give you my answer to this question:

I would start training a lot younger in my life, preferably my early teens.  Having started in early middle age, I know I'll never be as good as I might have been. 

So what's YOUR answer to today's Wish question?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Family Ties

Long time readers of the blog know that I study "Presas Arnis" as my primary martial arts style.

This is a hybrid of two styles - Modern Arnis, and Kombatan.  There are other blends out there using the same name "Presas Arnis", but they aren't exactly the same as what my teacher teaches.

This means that outside of my teacher's school, there's few people out there that use the same curriculum my teacher uses.

He started to remedy this by offering an Arnis Instructor Program to martial arts instructors locally who want to learn and teach his version of Presas Arnis in their own schools and programs.  Usually these folks are learning our style as an add-on to their base arts (karate, tae kwon do, whatever).  But we do have participants who are looking to do a full-time program much like what I've been studying a little over seven years now.  They're independent but they'e using the Presas Arnis curriculum my teacher devised.

The first of these Presas Arnis training groups opened its doors this month in Shawnee, Oklahoma (check them out HERE on Facebook) and my teacher was invited to do an inaugural seminar/demo up there to potential students.  I tagged along to help out.

It was a fun day, and it got Arnis OK off to a good start.  But that wasn't the coolest part of the trip.

The coolest part of the trip is that some of our Kombatan "relatives" at the Tulsa Arnis Club (a couple of hours away from Shawnee) heard about it and showed up to support the cause. 

Not only is this a super neat thing for them to do (they don't really know us at all), the guys who came were so helpful, and open minded, and just good folks to train with.

It was awesome.

The connection with the guys from the Tulsa Arnis Club was made when my teacher and I attended the Ernesto Presas Legacy Camp in Colorado last summer.  So while I learned lots at that camp, you can see that the primary, ongoing benefit is the relationships we made there, and now it's paying off in getting Arnis OK off the ground.

Not that the guys from Tulsa will do what Arnis OK does, mind you. They'e got their own deal that overlaps some with what we do. But now our friends in Shawnee have a place in our larger related style family they didn't have before. And through that connection, so do we down here in Texas.

It's like discovering your 2nd cousin and his family lives a street over from you, and now you're thinking of getting together to have a barbecue.

It's yet another example of how going to seminars and camps pays off.  It's not what you learn at those camps - although that's a primary reason to go.

It's the relationships you make.

My teacher went to an Iain Abernathy seminar in suburban Kansas City a few years ago, connected with +Abel Mann Martinez, and long story short, that's how the Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance was born.  The Texas Modern Arnis Coalition (a loose group of folks getting together to train a couple of times a year in Texas) was formed in the wake of a seminar our school hosted with Datu +Dieter Kn├╝ttel.

And now we're already thinking about how to train more often with the Tulsa Arnis Club, and there's even the possibility of roping in folks who are interested in training from Kansas, too.

Who knows what this will become, if anything, at this point. It's early days, and it's hard to say right now.  But the potential... the potential is HUGE.

Blurry selfie of me & my friends at Arnis OK and the Tulsa Arnis Club.

My martial arts family ties are getting stronger, on what I think of as "both sides" of my martial arts family. I have more people to train with and to learn from.

It's going to make me a better martial artist, over time.

If you get the opportunity to get out of your home dojo and train with martial arts "relatives", you should take it.  You never know when you'll meet the right person or people, and your training possibilities will change and grow.

Forge those family ties. Grow your lineage tree.  Make the relationships with other people who get this weird little hobby of ours like you do.

Have you had an experience like this?  How did you grow your martial arts connections? What does your martial arts family tree look like?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 01/06/18

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?


So glad the holiday season is over, so regular training can fire back up.  I enjoy the holidays but I get antsy during this time of year.  Yeah, I can and do train on my own, usually, but this year's holiday season was particularly hectic so not much martial arts stuff got done.

Took Younger Daughter to Hidden Sword's tae kwon do classes on Tuesday and Thursday.  Mr. Chick is starting to come along on Tuesdays, so I got in a lot of track walking that day as we talked about future plans.

Wednesday Arnis started back up. With the (temporary) shuttering of Mid-Cities Arnis, one of our adult students joined Hidden Sword's classes.  It was a big class and I was happy to see our student in class in Roanoke.  We worked on entries from single sinawali, which leads into Modern Arnis tapi-tapi play.

Look for a book review on the blog soon!


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

Monday: Nuttin'.
TuesdayHelpful Tips for Newbies (to the Filipino Martial Arts)
Wednesday2018 is Gonna ROCK
Thursday: What's My Motivation?
FridayMartial Arts Wish: Resurrect Any Martial Artist


Welcome to my world.


Isn't it nice to get re-combobulated after the holidays?

I'm driving to Shawnee, Oklahoma today to help my teacher Mark Lynn with a seminar/demo at a new Presas Arnis group forming there under him (Arnis OK - if you are in the Oklahoma City area please do check them out!).  On our trip, we have to stop by Century Martial Arts, which is kinda neat.

And my Chiefs are playing this afternoon, so I will not witness the game.  GO CHIEFS!

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, January 5, 2018

Martial Arts Wish: Resurrect Any Martial Artist

I own a genie.

No, really, I do!

His name is Jeffrey. Jeffrey the Genie.  Genies actually have specialties, and Jeffrey's is related to the martial arts.  Darn good thing I ran across Jeffrey the Martial Arts Genie, versus one that specializes in theremin playing or stamp collecting or whatever, right?

I'm making Jeffrey available to the Stick Chick Blog readers every once in a while to grant a single wish.  Today is one of those occasions.

Your wish is your answer to this question:

If you could bring any dead martial artist back to life, in their prime, for 24 hours, to train with you, who would it be?

It could be someone famous, or someone who is special to you.  It can be a teacher, a training partner, or even a student.  It can be anyone.

Let me know who you want to bring back to life in the comments, and WHY you choose them to be wish-resurrected.

I'll give you my answer to this question:

I choose Remy Presas, the founder of Modern Arnis. I'm a second-generation Modern Arnis player and I would love to have the wonderful experience so many in the first generation had with him.  There's also a list of questions a mile long about the style I'd love to ask him.

So who are you bringing back to life for 24 hours?  Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 is Gonna ROCK

I'm not one of those people who gets to the end of the year and decides that the immediate preceding year was horrible by default.

While I am certainly as cynical and distrustful as the next guy, I make the deliberate decision to focus on the good versus allowing the bad to overwhelm me. I just can't live my life in doom and gloom.

Last week I rounded up a productive and personally important 2017.   The coming year promises to be as busy as ever, and I anticipate that it will be an important year of growth.

In fact, there's some pretty huge changes happening for the Stick Chick family on the way.  Some of this I can't share with you right now.  But here's what I can talk about...


Our rec center program is on hiatus this month, as we are transitioning leadership of the program from ourselves to our teacher, Mark Lynn.  It doesn't mean we will completely disappear - far from it.  It's just that we anticipate so many things that require our attention and time that something had to give.  MCA was that thing.

We ran the program for three years, and I know our teacher will make it even better.

The beatings of the children will continue.


I'm already getting booked up with definite plans through the end of May! I'll be helping out my teacher in his Instructor's program, Ill be attending the monthly black belt class at Kobudo (we start Kama this month), we already have plans to host at least two Grand Masters in their brands of Arnis in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Longer-term plans are harder to discern but there are two out of town Arnis events I have my eye on.  If the stars align properly and my non-martial arts plans work out, I'll attend at least one of those.

With the transition of MCA, I will actually be able to spend more time with my teacher again, which is good for my personal growth in Presas Arnis, which is, after all, my core style and the one I love the most.  I really want to work on getting better at Arnis, and having more of my teacher's attention will help me!

Me working with the Juniors Arnis class at Hidden Sword. 

There will be a MAPA and at least one TMAC (Texas Modern Arnis Coalition) gathering.  I've proposed a date for TMAC in Houston at the end of March, but we'll see if that's when it happens.


Mr. Chick experimented with his own blog, the Martial Learner, and has decided to shutter it in favor of moving the content to the Stick Chick blog.  The theme of these posts are related to how we learn and teach the martial arts, so I hope you enjoy the new series in 2018.

Other than that, the plan is to maintain the new posting schedule of fresh content at least three times a week.   My Friday plans have not worked out well, so I'll try a few other things to see if you guys like it better.

Tentative plans to convert the blog to quill-written diary format have been abandoned. Sorry about that.

If you have ideas for what should be on the Stick Chick blog, let me know. I want to know what you think.  And if you like what I do here, please do comment - both positively and negatively. Share the blog with your martial arts friends, and please, follow me on my social media channels, especially Facebook.

As I mentioned above, I have big changes coming that I can't talk about in detail now, but they will necessarily change the course of my training in the martial arts, long-term.  As a person who loves to think ahead and make plans, I'll be having a LOT of fun on that score.

So what big plans do YOU have in the martial arts for 2018?  Let us know in the comments!