Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Goodbye, Texas

In just a few days, I will no longer be a resident of the great state of Texas.  I'll be moving to my home state, Missouri, with the intention to live there for the rest of my life.

Ahh, Missouri, where summer is not 8 months long.

The reasons we chose to leave the Lone Star State boil down to basically a desire to go home. Texas offers just about anything you'd ever want, and the people here (at least in Dallas-Fort Worth) are generally really nice folks and a pleasure to live around.

But it's just not... home.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to leave Texas.  Mainly because my martial arts life here has been really, really great for me and my family.

First, I'm so grateful that fate or whatever allowed us to connect to my teacher Mark Lynn.  Mark is a fantastic teacher, someone who is always open minded and learning everywhere he can, and he passes that down to us. He is an underappreciated resource in North Texas, and we will miss training with him on a nearly-daily-basis big time.  If you're in the area, do make plans to train with him (Hidden Sword Martial Arts).

Mr. Chick and I in the very early days of training under Mark Lynn, about 2011 or so.

That paragraph seems inadequate given all Mark has taught and given us, but I just don't think the words exist in English that would capture how lucky we feel and how grateful we are.

I'm also grateful for all of the amazing people I've met and trained with here in North Texas.  A chance meeting brought us together to create the Metroplex Arnis Player's Alliance Through that I met dozens of awesome martial artists I get to train with on a semi-regular basis.  I won't list them all as I'm afraid of missing someone important, but if we've trained together at MAPA or other seminars here in North Texas - thank you.

The folks at MAPA 1.

I've also gotten to know people regionally, especially a lot of really awesome people down in Houston and up in Oklahoma.  We've started a Facebook page of Presas family arts players to keep in contact with folks (Tornado Alley Arnis Group) so if you live in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri and want to train in the Presas family styles, do join us!

In Houston, we've grown especially close to our friends at Clear Lake Modern Arnis. Ed Kwan and Ashley Sullivan, thank you so much for everything.  And Skip Todd, please keep making training weapons, because they are BEAUTIFUL!

A special shout-out to Keith Freeman (Freeman Martial Arts), who taught Mr. Chick Goju-shorei cane but is also training in my teacher's Arnis Instructor's program.  Keith is a really wonderful martial artist and if you're in the Keller, TX area, do check out his school.

Another special shout-out to our friends at TNT Self Defense - Abel Martinez, Karen Clarke, Steve Swinney and Peter Bell.  We've trained a LOT together and they are very influential on the martial artist I've become. Thank you.



Of course I have to mention AKATO, where I earned my kobudo 1st degree black belt.  They were so nice and accepting and tolerant of the weird student of Mark's who kept hanging around.  I am especially grateful to Judy Barnett, the woman who makes that organization function on a daily basis.  Thank you, m'am.

My studies in Texas have allowed me to train with internationally recognized martial arts instructors.  This is in no way a complete list, but I've been instructed by Datu Tim Hartman, Datu Dieter Kn├╝ttel, Master of Tapi-Tapi Chuck Gauss, Master of Tapi-Tapi Ken Smith, "Super" Dan Anderson, GM Shelley Millspaugh, Master Tye Botting... not to mention the camps I've attended in other states that exposed me to many leaders of the FMA's in the United States and the world.

I didn't train much directly under them, but Hock Hochheim and GM Art Miraflor have both been instrumental to my family's martial arts life.  Hock will always be a very important influence on us. Art's such a fantastic martial artist and all-around decent human being.  Thank you.

Finally, I have to do a special thank-you to my martial arts brother, Tomas Mendoza. He is the "other" adult Arnis black belt at Hidden Sword, and it's been my privilege to with him as we've both learned and grown.

The Hidden Sword Arnis black belts.
 L to R: Junior Black Belt Dylan Serralta, me, Mark Lynn, Kevin Bradbury and Tomas Mendoza.
One of my favorite pictures of all of us.

This post is woefully incomplete, but I have more packing to do, so I'd better get to it.

Oh, one more thing... thank YOU, readers of the Stick Chick Blog.  I started this blog in Texas, after all!

I'll see y'all in Missouri.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 5/26/18

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Here's what I did in the martial arts - training, reading, writing, etc. - this week.

How was your week?

TRAINING

On Sunday, I helped out at my teacher's monthly Arnis Instructor's course.  This has been a truly fun thing to do and I'll miss them!

Packing packing packing... oh yes, Arnis! Wednesday night.  We worked on a variety of drills from the "Kombatan side" of my teacher's blend of Presas Arnis - especially espada y daga, which is always fun!

I was given some amazing gifts this week - a polyethylene espada y daga set, and some gorgeous wood training weapons from our friend Skip Todd down in Houston.

Last instructor's class. **sniffles**

I've already been hitting stuff with these bad boys.  Whoo!

The picture doesn't do them justice. Thank you so much, Skip!

BLOGGERY

Just so's you know, with moving week coming, I'll be working on pre-programming up re-runs of old posts, and there WON'T be a Stick Chicktivity post next weekend.  I will catch up with all y'all with some fresh stuff once I get to Kansas City!


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OTHER MARTIAL ARTSY GOODNESS

Diemon Dave - the Hillbilly Ninja (I wrote about him here)  IS BACK!  Find him on Facebook HERE and HERE.  Video language is NSFW, warning.  But make time to watch them. You won't regret it.



Fascinating video on the Quarterstaff (posted at +Martial Arts by Coleman):


I have no words.




And I am so glad we get to wear shoes in Arnis much of the time.



LAST THOUGHTS:

I saw Deadpool 2 last weekend and I'm so happy.  Loved it.

Today my school hosts an awesome Kombatan seminar with GM Shelley Millspaugh of Kapitiran Mandirigma.  VERY excited for this one, folks!

If you're in the United States, it's a holiday weekend (Memorial Day is Monday).  Have a great one!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Questions from Quora: How do you defend yourself without feeling guilty about it?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

What's YOUR answer to today's Question from Quora?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 5/19/18

Here's what I did this week in the martial arts - training, writing, and the various stuff I stumbled across.

How was your week?

TRAINING

Saturday was my last kobudo class in Texas.  I wrote about it on the blog this week, but let me say again, I'm gonna miss those people.  I even got used to wearing the dreaded white gi!

Monday and Tuesday were packing.  Wednesday I dragged my carcass to Arnis class at Hidden Sword and I'm glad I did.  Life is necessarily interrupting things but carving out some time to just let my brain relax and just work on Arnis is always something that I really should do more often.

Light training week. Heavy moving work week.


BLOGGERY

Hey, I actually wrote some fresh stuff this week!

Thursday: We Are The Tribe

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OTHER MARTIAL ARTSY GOODNESS

We can't tell you the city where this was held, either.


This is literally me, with a pile of knives and other assorted tools, before I go to a place like my kid's school or the airport.




LAST THOUGHTS:

Tomorrow I help out at my teacher's monthly Instructor's course for the last time (at least for the near future).  I'm now on a long string of "last time I do stuff in Texas" now...

You KNOW you wanna come play with me, right?  Your opportunity is to join me at Hidden Sword's presentation of GM Shelley Millspaugh next weekend.  Details are HERE!

Also - all of you who have seen Deadpool 2... no spoilers, but I'd love to know what you think.  The first one is one of my favorite superhero movies of all time...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Questions from Quora: Is Dodging a thing in Escrima?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

What's YOUR answer to today's Question from Quora?


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kobudo: Moving On

I attended my last formal Kobudo class in Texas over the weekend.

Our class at our Green Belt test, 2015. I'm in the front row, 2nd from the right.

You might recall I tested for my 1st degree Black Belt last November, and now I'm in the "seniors" class. We've been studying kama, which is a relatively fun and easy weapon for someone who plays Arnis to pick up.

By the way, if you actually hit stuff with your wooden practice kama, be prepared for the blade to come loose or break off. Wood glue is your friend.

And if you aren't hitting stuff, why are you bothering to study a weapon?



We've talked about maybe finding a way for me to keep training with this group long-distance via Skype or something, but from a practical point of view, if I want to continue my studies, I have to find some new people to train with in Kansas City.

I've already started that process, as I've reached out to a few people with the plan to meet up and discuss things when I get settled.  I'm excited about the possibilities in front of me.

I remember how terrified I was of starting that class.  Worried about the etiquette, worried about fitting in as an Arnis player in a room full of taekwondo and karate black belts.

Of course, those worries were kind of silly.  Today, I'm a part of the group, and even though I'm moving away, I'll always be a part of the group.

I'm grateful to my teachers and to my classmates at AKATO.  I'm going to miss them a lot.

Our class at our Black Belt test, 2017.

Have you made a transition from one school to another?  What was that like? What were your fears that ended up to be unfounded or actually ended up to be true?  Let us know in the comments!



Saturday, May 12, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/12/18

Here's what I did this week in the martial arts - training, writing, and the various stuff I stumbled across.

How was your week?

TRAINING

By necessity, moving is starting to take up a LOT more of my time.  So I don't get to go to class as much as I'd like.

Saturday I covered classes at Hidden Sword - taekwondo, sparring class, and Arnis.  For my last time covering these classes, I did what I love to do (and the students seem to love too) - we hit the bags!

Wednesday I attended class at Hidden Sword and we worked on crossada/gunting drills with double sticks and then with the knife.

Thursday I took Younger Daughter to taekwondo.

No new pics of me training this week. I'm moving, mmmkay?


BLOGGERY

My brain is more in move mode than writing mode, so there wasn't a ton of fresh content this week, sorry y'all.  It's just gonna be that way for a while.


It's hard to avoid the Stick Chick Blog on social media! You can find us on  Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter. Come join us on your favorite social media channel!

OTHER MARTIAL ARTSY GOODNESS

Nice article on why adults should consider starting up martial arts training: Five brain-boosting reasons to take up martial arts – at any age

Joelle White posted a really great post that you oughta share with your students: Not Fair!

An interesting take on a machete/knife fight from Spain that's making the rounds (including some nice discussion on the blog's Facebook page): Is Reverse Grip Dangerous?

I'm sure this happens as much as our favorite "nunchaku hit to the head and/or crotch" videos that make the rounds.



LAST THOUGHTS:

Today I attend my last regular Kobudo class in-person.  I'm going to miss the people I've been training with there, big-time.

If you wanna train with yours truly in DFW before I head north, you just HAVE to join me at this AWESOME seminar with GM Shelley Millspaugh.  Deets right HERE.

Have a fantastic Mother's Day weekend!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Questions from Quora: Where can I find like-minded martial artists where I live?


Quora is a leading internet site where questions get asked and answered by people from all over the world!  As you can imagine, lots of questions get asked about the martial arts.  "Questions from Quora" shares a question I find interesting, and my answer to the question.

What's YOUR answer to today's Question from Quora?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/05/18

Another week is in the books! Here's what I did in the martial arts - training, writing, and the various stuff I stumbled across.

How was your week?

TRAINING

When I'm not sick, I get to have a normal week!

Saturday I trained like I usually do - Arnis and a little kobudo.

Sunday I spent five hours with "Super" Dan Anderson training in some classical drills from Modern Arnis.  I've been able to train with him many times, and he always provides an interesting insight into what we do and how he believes we can make it much better.  It was a really great day and I'm glad I got to go.

I took Monday off so I could get some work done that I didn't get done on Sunday for the move.  Tuesday I took younger daughter to taekwondo.  Wednesday was Arnis class at Hidden Sword, and we worked on a variety of things, including a fun and interesting little knife drill progression. Thursday is taekwondo day for younger daughter.

This is me working a drill at the seminar:






BLOGGERY

Here's the bloggery that went on today at the patented Stick Chick Blog post factory:


The Stick Chick Blog is all over the Internet! You can find us on  Google PlusFacebookMeWeTumblr, and Twitter. Come join us on your favorite social media channel!

OTHER MARTIAL ARTSY GOODNESS

Well, this ISN'T good.  Grand Master Jhoon Rhee of Taekwondo passed away this week.  I am not a TKD player but my daughter, my teacher, and many people I train with are in a direct lineage with their teachers back to Master Rhee.  He was greatly respected and will be sorely missed.  If you would like to contribute to a memorial fund, click HERE.

I know Arnis is this way for me...


And finally...




LAST THOUGHTS:

This is my last "normal" weekend before I move away. I'm actually covering some classes today, so I think I'm going to have them hit some bags.  Then the rest of the weekend I'll be packing stuff.

Have a fun week - train hard!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Adventures in Martial Arts Provincialism

Since I started training, I've moved long distance three times, and I'm gearing up for my fourth.

So I can tell you, for a fact, that martial arts in the United States is very, very provincial.

There is, sister, believe you me.

You see, in a place as big as the United States, it's pretty common to discover that unless you train a pretty major and popular style (think BJJ, Judo, the major variants of Karate, Kung Fu, Kempo and Taekwondo as examples), you may not find anyone training or teaching the particular strand of martial arts you've been training in the city you moved from.

You MIGHT find something similar, but then again... you might not.  Not only that, each of the styles I mentioned above have differing lineages and organizations and sometimes they don't always play nice.

When I moved from Mississippi to Las Vegas, there was literally NO ONE that we could find that taught any of the styles I'd started studying.  Oh, it doesn't mean they weren't there; we just couldn't find them. We found some distant relations, but exactly what we wanted to study was nowhere to be found.

When I moved to Texas, six months and dumb luck helped me find my teacher for Arnis, but I have yet to find anybody teaching the empty hand styles I started in Mississippi.

So here I am, gearing up to move again, and not only am I worrying about the move, establishing ourselves in our new home, looking for a job, etc., but I'm also having to do a lot of research and think hard about how and where I'm going to train.

When you're a martial arts lifer like I am, this is not a non-trivial problem.

You see, certain styles and organizations are dominant in one city where it might not exist in another.

Take Modern Arnis.  As far as I can find - and boy howdy, have I looked - Modern Arnis as I know it, in all of the major lineages, doesn't exist in Kansas City.

A close relative style of Modern Arnis, Kombatan, does exist there.

Now that's fine and dandy for me, as I actually train in Presas Arnis, a hybrid style that blends Modern Arnis and Kombatan (and a few other things to boot), so it's not hard for me to get with Kombatan people to train.

If I were a pure Modern Arnis player - and I wanted to remain that way - then I have to start my own group if I want to train it at all, and then travel on occasion to a Modern Arnis camp or seminar or private lessons to learn more from teachers.

Heck, as a Presas Arnis player, that is part of MY plan when I get settled, because I don't want to abandon the Modern Arnis side of what I do.

In other cities, I would have to switch to a different FMA style set as there aren't even any close relatives to Modern Arnis around at all.

Yep, that's almost exactly how I felt here in Fort Worth prior to finding my teacher

It's not just my style that has this problem.  I mentioned the "major variants" of well known and popular styles above. Take "karate". There are places where Shotokan dominates, places where Goju-ryu dominates, places where Wado-ryu dominates, and so on.

Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, it's big enough to have more variety, but even here, one variant of taekwondo - American Karate - dominates the others.

When you move, you not only have the issue of trying to find a place to train what you want (and you  may end up having to compromise and shift styles a bit) but also there's rank implications that can be a hassle.

Are you close enough to your new style that they'll recognize your rank? Or do you have to start over at white belt?  Or do you have to "test in" at whatever rank they think you are in their style?

Again, non-trivial considerations.

If you've only trained in one city, you might not realize that this provincialism is a thing.  If you move away to a different place, be prepared for this fact.  It might represent an opportunity to try something new as well as the need to shift your core style to something else.

So let's hear your stories about encountering provincialism in the martial arts. Have you ever moved to a new city and had to search for a place to train?  What was important to know when you did that?  What training advice would you give to someone moving away? Let us know in the comments!