Thursday, December 26, 2013

Didn't get what you wanted this Christmas?

I just finished the Martial Thoughts Amazon store.  You can click on the link, or you can use the link on the side of the webpage.  Either way, it will take you to our aStore which features the books I review, the books of author's we interview, and the movies we discuss in the podcast.  Everytime you do, it helps us out a little, and we can get more books to review.  So in the end it helps you too.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Martial Thoughts Episode II-pt. 2 Show Notes

Episode II-pt. 2 Show Notes

Besides iTunes, you can directly download us here from podcastgarden.

Introduction Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifrin

News: This Week in Martial Arts
Story One
  Matt Fiddes
  Michael Jackson
  Uri Geller
  The Amazing (James) Randi
  Ed Parker
  Elvis Presley
  (Steven) Seagal
  (Lyoto) Machida
  (Anderson) Silva
  Bruce Lee
  Kareem Abdul-Jabar
  David Lee Roth
  Montley Crue "Too Young to Fall in Love"
  Roxanne Pallet
  Peter Andre
  Jessica White
  Tito Jackson
  Daniel Lloyd
News Story 2
  Black Dragon Martial Arts Association
  Tactical Hapkido/Universal Tae Kwon Do Alliance
  Black Dragon Special Forces
  Ron van Clief
News Story 3
  Chris "Dark Guardian" Pollak
  Guardian Angels
  (Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtles
  Will I Am
  Robert Earl Kieth
  Alex Castro
  Stand Your Ground Law
  Trayvon (Martin)
  Keanu Reeves
  Tiger Chen
  The Matrix
  Ali Khan
  The Raid
  Pencak Silat

Top 5 Martial Arts Movies that are so Bad, they're Good
  Jaredd's List
    The Medalion
    With a Bullet
    Jim Kata
    Karate Kid
    Ninja Master
    American Ninja (1-4)
    Phoenix Force
    Silent Death
    The Octogon
    The Last Ninja
    Mega Force
    The Crow
    Side Kicks
    Kung Fu
    Rapid Fire

People Mentioned
  Chuck Norris
  Bruce Lee
  Jean-Claude Van Damme
  (Rudy) Ray Moore
  Michael Dudikoff
  Margret Cho
  Lee van Clief
  Sho Kosugi
  Sony Chiba
  James Bond
  Shaw Brothers
  Run Run Shaw
  Jackie Chan
  Chuck Norris Jeans
  Grizzly Adams
  Guy on a Buffalo (Youtube)
  Dolph Lundgrin
  Brandon Lee

Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Monday, December 23, 2013

Martial Thoughts Episode II-pt 1 Show Notes

  See I told you we'd figure this out.  The only problem is that we are apparently very talkative.  As the episode was about 2 hours long, we broke it up into two one-hour segments.  The first half is our discussion topic.  The second half is Martial Arts News and our Top 5: Best, Worst Martial Arts movies.

Besides iTunes, you can download it directly from here.

Episode II pt. 1 Show Notes

Introduction Music-Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifrin

Discussion-What is Ki? 
  Ki (japanese)/Chi (Chinese)
  Internal Energy
  Shaolin Monks
  Fight Science
  Stan Lee's Superhuman
  Dr. Moses Powell
  Mr. Miyagi
  Amazing (James) Randi
  Ancient Aliens
True Tales of Martial Arts
  Swine Flu
  Doc (Philip Chenique)
  Kubi tori
  Kote gaeshi
  Blockbuster Video Stores
  Pink Panther + Kato
  The Unfettered Mind
  "The Master is envious  of the Amateur's Confidence"
Closing Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We're on iTunes!

  Faster than an RSS feed, more powerful than a XML file, it's Martial Thoughts Podcast-Episode I: Introduction from iTunes.  Download it, subscribe, and give us reviews.  Show notes for Episode I are listed here.

Bruce Lee was Wrong...and Right

Or: Why martial arts have styles

The man had style...
    Bruce Lee was an innovator in martial arts.  One of his important philosophical additions to the martial arts world was his idea of formlessness; that styles are a bad thing.  His idea, and I'm paraphrasing, states that styles are artificial contraptions that bind you into a way of thinking; lock you into a way of moving.  His idea was that the human body can only move so many ways, and be effective.  And in many senses he's right.  The laws of physics and anatomy dictate how many martial movements will be be best accomplished, so yes the artifact that is a style will create limitations.  I get what he was saying.  Especially considering how he grew up with the Wing Chun/Choy La Fut rooftop fights, where the style was the motivating factor of these fights.  However, there are many good reasons why these styles exist, have existed and will continue to exist.

The style exists as a learning model.
  The nebulous idea of human interpersonal, physical conflict is vast.  For anyone trying to start off on that path, there is far too much to learn, so the prospect looks daunting and there is no place to start.  It is the paradox of choice idea.  Because there is so much to learn, beginners don't know where to start.  A good system will provide a pathway.  It will say, "here are the basics, once you become proficient in these, then here are the next set of principles, and then the next", and so on.  And then when you've made it through the curiculum, you get to start over and look at the old stuff with a new mind and body.  Every system is different in how it emphasizes or shows the aspects of combat, but every complete martial art should end up covering all the same principles and ideas.  The limitations are a purposeful part of the system of learning.  It is only once you've gotten the idea of how the principles work can you decide to leave some aspects behind, or concentrate on them. 

Someone once told me there's no kicking in aikido...

  Overall, the Mr. Lee's idea was right.  At some point in your training you should get a nagging feeling that there is more.  When I say eventually, I'm talking about after going through the curriculum and have a very good experiential knowledge of the principles, theories, tactics, and techniques of your art. Now you can gain an appreciation of the limitations of the system.  In terms of self-defense, you should never limit yourself to anything.  The answer to self-defense is "whatever it takes."  For example, aikido does have strikes in the system, they are often hidden, and not taught that way, but if you know how, and where, to look they are there.  However, I've never seen kicking included in any aikido school.  Kicking has its place in martial arts.  Every tactic in martial arts is like a tool in your toolbox.  A hammer is really great at pounding in nails, but it sucks at screwing in screws.  You need a different tool for that.  Kicking is kind of like that.  It is great is great in long range, not so great in clinching.  Some tools can be made to serve other purposes.  You could use a wrench to pound in nails, but it really isn't designed for it.  Martial tactics again work the same way.  The overall idea is, keep as many tools in your toolbox as possible.  When you need the right tool, it'll be there.  Some styles naturally have a limitation of use of certain tactics (limited tools).  Study the limitations, but don't become entrenched in the dogma of the system to where you don't know the other tactics.  When you need to use a tactic, use it.  Even if it is not "very aikido to kick."

P. S. The opening line of this section has a second part to it.  I read this one statement (I have no idea where), that said "Someone once told me there's no kicking in aikido... so I kicked him again." I

Friday, December 13, 2013

Martial Thoughts Episode I


You can download it directly here from podcastgarden.

WARNING: Explicit Lyrics!!  This is an entertainment show not intended for minors, or those easily offended.

Martial Thoughts: Episode I-Definition of Martial Arts Show Notes

Introduction Music
  Theme from “Enter the Dragon” by Lalo Schifrin
Introduction Section
  Martial Arts Mentioned
    Chendokan Aikido
    Sogetsu ryu Kenjutsu
    Aikikai Aikido
    Jun Rhee’s Tae Kwon Do
    Shaolin Kung Fu
    Fuju Pow-Tiger Claw
    Sanuces ryu Jujutsu
    Atemi Arnis Kuntao
    Shotokan Karate
    Doctor Philip Chenique
    Doctor Moses Powell
    Wolf's Rain

Defining Martial Arts
    Bruce Lee
    Penceck Silat
    Martial Sport
    European Martial Arts
    Native American Martial Arts
    Buckskin Gi
    Jeet Kun Do
    Rex Kwon Do
    Krav Maga
    Shaolin Temple

Top 5 Samurai Movies
  Jaredd’s List
1.     Seven Samurai
2.     Yojimbo
3.     The Hidden Blade
5.     The Last Samurai

  Rick’s List
    1.-3. The SamuraiTrilogy
    4. ShinsengumiSeries (2004)
        (Afro Samurai)

  Tony’s List 
1.     47 Ronin
2.     Yojimbo
3.     Seven Samurai
4.     Shogun (TV series)
5.     Samurai 7(Anime)
6.     Bleach (Anime)
(Black Samurai)
  Plinio’s List
1.     Seven Samurai
2.     Sword of Doom
3.     Kagemusha
4.     Shogun Assassin
5.     Samurai Jack

    Toshiro Mifune
    Akira Kurasawa
    Clint Eastwood
    Oda Nobunaga
    Jim Kelly

  Misoula Missouri Boys and Girls Club
      Dog Pound Fight Team

    New Hampshire Martial Artists Kick Breast Cancer
      Fusion Training Center or Exeter, New Hampshire, KI

  Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)
    Kane Kosugi
  Ninja (2009)
  Diggin DaDownloads at the Atemicast network
  Cinema Abyss at the Atemicast network

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the not too distant future...

COMING SOON TO AN iTUNES NEAR YOU (and eventually other podcast sharing utensils as well)

  My friends (you'll meet them) and I have been working hard to start up a martial arts podcast.  We're going to call it the "Martial Thoughts Podcast."  It is going to be a collection of discussion topics, interviews, and movie/book reviews all geared towards martial arts and martial artists.
  Our Goal is to talk about martial arts and martial ideas in an open format so that we can learn new things about different martial philosophies and practices.  We want it to be like talking to your friends at the dojo over an adult beverage of choice. Our interviews have been going well, and we're always looking for new subject material.  So if you know someone, doesn't have to be famous, that would be a good martial arts interview, let us know (  We're hoping that after we get going, we'll have listener feedback.  We want the show to be as interactive as possible.  At some point in the future, we even want to have live Google+ Hangout chats with listeners as we record the episode.

We have a couple of episodes recorded, and are now working on getting them online.  They should be up in a week or so, right before the holidays.  (Merry Christmas?)  Once they are officially online, I'll let everyone know, and then you can tell your friends about it, and we can grow large and slowly take over the podcasting world (Mu ha ha!).  Or you can just enjoy them and give us some feedback.

What is a "Complete" Martial Art?

O-Sensei striking
    There are many different martial arts, and they all can have different purposes; sport, self-defense, self improvement, historical reproduction, exercise, or whatever else you want to make up as a category.  A martial art usually works on several of those ideas at the same time, but to be a called a complete martial art?  You art should have several different application categories.  Even if the art you practice doesn't have one or more of these aspects, or concentrates to the exclusion of other aspects, you yourself can supplement you training with...more training.  Again I train in a Japanese based art, so the terminology I'm using is such.  I'm sure that Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and every other art have their own terms for the same categories.  It is only through my own ignorance that I am not using them.  I'm also going to use my own arts of Aikido and Jujutsu to demonstrate some of these categories.

Putin doing Judo (looks like striking...)
  Whether it is punching, kicking, elbow strikes, or eye gouges, there has to be some percussive techniques in martial art.  In aikido, O-Sensei is often quoted as saying "70% of aikido is atemi."1  In aikido and jujutsu we use the strike as a distraction for the real technique, or as a quick pain to give a brief second of time to perform a lock or throw.  Some arts have come to specialize in the percussive parts of the art, or practice the striking as a sport aspect.  Tae Kwon Do goes to an extreme in this and specializes in the kicking aspect of striking, again for the sport aspect.

Tai Sabaki/Whole Body Movements
  Whole body movement encompasses a couple of different ideas, all lumped under one heading.  The general idea is body movement in relation to the opponent, often to get out of the way of an attack.  It includes cutting angles, getting to the dead side, and moving your body of the line of attack.  These are mainly represented in Jujutsu and Aikido by irimi and tenkan.

Nage Waza/Throwing Techniques
   The basic idea of nage waza is putting someone on the ground, while you remain standing.  Aikido and Jujutsu heavily emphasize the throwing aspect of martial arts.  Using balance and pivot points can supplement the force of gravity to create a powerful downward force to injure.  Different throws also specifically throw the opponent so they either land awkwardly, or the cannot absorb the impact very well.  Some arts may concentrate more on sweeps than say arm or hip throws, but they all fit the basic idea.
Kansetsu waza/Joint locking Techniques
  Joint locks are another necessary part of a martial art.  Aikido and jujutsu often uses joint locks to lead to throws.   Because strength is not a defining factor, this is one of the ways that smaller people can use martial arts on larger people.  There are basically two categories of join locks, based on the joint that is being manipulated.  Large joint locks, and small joint locks.  Large joint are things like the shoulder or elbow.  Small joints are things like wrists, fingers, or ankles.  These are generally controlling techniques, however, with additional pressure, they can be used to break people as well.  This covers a lot of grappling techniques, both ground grappling and standing grappling.

  These maybe something specific to throwing arts, but as a personal opinion, something like this should be in every martial art.  Ukemi is almost a whole art in itself.  It is the art of safely receiving a technique.  This will often be how to safely fall from a throw.  I think this should be in the list because of all the things I've learned in martial arts, falling is the one I use the most often.  Being able to fall and not injure yourself is an important life skill in general.

  I know not all martial arts have a weapons program in their curricula, but I think this should be part of anyone's knowledge who wants to call themselves a martial artist.  I've already written on why the study of weapons is an important.  But suffice to say, it should be part of your studies, in my opinion.

1 Aikido Groundfighting: Grappling and Submission Techniques by Walther G. Von Krenner, Damon Apodaka, and Ken Jerimiah

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How long does it take to get a black belt?

Belts for Sale?
      If you've taught martial arts at all you've probably heard that questions.  I have.  I hate that question.  There is no good answer for it.  It isn't what the person wants to know anyway.  Depending on my mood at the time I answer it in a couple of ways.  Neither of these answers are mine, I've borrowed them from other, wiser people.

    Answer 1: "If you pay me $12.00, I'll go to the back and get you one now."  I always say this one with a smile.

    Answer 2: "How long does it take to catch a fish?"  This is my answer if I'm feeling particularly philosophical.

Mastery by Robert Greene, worth the read
    Part of the problem is the question itself is flawed.  The black belt itself doesn't mean anything.  But, it is supposed to represent a certain skill level.  The real question they want know is how much time should it take to master this skill.  Again, the question itself has problems.  The term master is a misused title... but that's a subject for another column.  I've recently read a book called Mastery by Robert Greene.  A great book as an overall subject, but if you read it with a martial arts perspective it becomes extremely relevant to us martial artists.  What Mr. Greene discovered by looking historically and contemporarily is that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated study to master any skill.  This usually works out to about 10 years of apprenticeship.  What was funny to me was he described an idea that is present in the Japanese language, that we're missing in English called Shu-ha-ri.  What was unusual was that the skill didn't seem to matter.  The time frame was about the same.  I know different system have different definitions of what a shodan rank means, but this should give you an idea. If you practice 3-4 hours a week (52 weeks in a year), it will take about 64 years to master the skill.  This means you have to practice at home.  Or at least be thinking of martial arts problems and philosophies while off the mat.  If you spend about 20 hours a week doing martial arts related things, now this brings mastery down to about 10 years.  That's a scary thought. He uses the example of "natural" prodigies like Mozart.  He had mastered his skill by the time he was in his late teens.  However, he started his mindful practice at age 4.  I know I've been doing martial arts for about 15 years, and I feel I'm just starting to get my own feel for it, as opposed to imitation. If you're interested, check out the book.  It's a good read, and easily plays into martial arts.

So now I have a new answer for this question.  "10,000 hours of mindful practice."

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Many Weapons Do You Have?

Not mine, but I love the 300 sword at the bottom.
    I recently moved and had to pack up all my stuff.  This is always a good chance to take inventory of all the things you've collected.  And man, I collect way too much stuff.  What struck me as kind of disturbing, was putting all of my weapons in one place to move them.  I've collected a lot of weapons and had them scattered all over my house.  There wasn't really a room, save maybe the bathroom, where I wasn't within a couple steps of a weapon.  Granted, a lot of them were training weapons, but they could definitely be used in home-defense situations.  This got my thinking.

    Besides my actual weapons, what improvised weapons could I use?  I started off by sitting on my couch, and thinking what is within hands reach if I had to.  My first thought... my remote.  Anything a little longer than your fist, that you can hold in your hand can be used like a yawara!  Looking at it like that, my house if FULL of weapons.  Imagine being hit in the temple with a hammer fist with a Matchbox car sticking out the bottom!  Or between the ribs.. or...anywhere.  And because I have a two year old, there are little cars stuck everywhere.

    Second I went to my bathroom.  I had said this was the only room in my house without a weapon.  I found out through moving, that a toilet plunger hurts when its dropped on your foot.  It works like a club.  There, I weaponized the bathroom.  Almost everything can become an improvised weapon when it needs to be.  Roll up a magazine and fold it in half.  There now you have a club.  I've even seen someone stab through a watermelon with a rolled up newspaper.

    My point is, everything can be a weapon.  You just have to think about them that way.  As humans we tend to think in terms of categories.  It's hardwired into us.  We place items into categories of use.  Go for a minute and look into a tool box.  Most of them are filled to the brim with improvisable weapons.  Just change your perception.  For your own safety do it now, before the adrenalin starts to flow and you can't think.  Walk around your place, or office, or where ever you spend a large amount of time, and find all the weapons you can.  You'll be amazed how many there are.

Anyone got a good story of improvised weapons use?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wanted: Martial Arts Instructor

Indiana Jones teaching
    All of us have practice being students.  We've all gone through a formal system where we were taught.  Many of the people reading this have gone through state-sponsored education systems, i.e. school.  In the US we have 13 years of mandatory public education.  Then, on top of that we have College level education.  Usually for 4 years (or more...).  This means by the time we're "adults", we have between 13 and 17 years of practice being a student.  Some people may not be the best students, by choice, but if they wanted  to, they know the skills necessary to be a successful student.  Then we also have martial arts classes, which reinforces the student identity even more.  At some point when we're ready, we test, and hopefully we earn our shodan.  In many systems, that means "congratulations, now you can teach!"  Okay awesome... how do I do that? 
Ip Man and his student Bruce Lee
    Teaching is as much an art as martial arts are.  The difference is, most of us have very little training in it.   I've never seen a martial arts system that includes learning to teach as part of their shodan curriculum.  I happen to be, in my day-job, a mild mannered high school teacher.  Even then, I've never been instructed on how to teach.  It's a kind of learn as you go method (I wasn't an education major).  It took me about 5 years to feel completely comfortable with the ability to stand in front of a class and teach them whatever I needed to.  In martial arts, once I got my shodan, our dojo has everyone student teach a little before any classes are thrown their way.  Our head instructor half teaches classes with our shodan for a while, until he feels they are comfortable.  Everyone will end up teaching their own way, just like everyone's martial art will be done their own way.    That being said, teaching is a very rewarding opportunity.  Everyone who teaches learns more than as a student.  Below are some ideas of things to look out for, both good and bad, that may improve your teaching.  In the end remember, your teaching isn't about you.  It's about improving your student's understanding.

Class Size
    Class size may play the biggest role in how you teach.  If you are in front of a class with only a couple of students, then the interaction will be more personal.  You will be able to deal with the individual's needs.  What does Bob need to work on to become a better at Kung Fu?  Maybe he's quicker at learning forms, but needs a longer time with learning and seeing applications.  Mary may be better at applying the form, but needs to work on her conditioning.  With small class size, you can split your time between both of these extremes.  In larger classes, there are too many people to fully gain individual instruction.  A good teacher will tend to teach to the middle ground in this situation.  They will work with ideas and concepts that everyone needs practice with.

Different Learning Styles
    Everyone learns differently.  There are three basic forms of learning modalities: Visual, Auditory, and Tactile (Kinesthetic).  Everyone has a smattering of each of them, but generally leans towards one or the other.  Visual learners, learn by seeing something, shapes, pictures, etc.  They will often benefit from seeing things at different angles.  They will use visual clues to learn something.  Auditory uses sound, including explanation of techniques.  Kinesthetic learners, learn through feel and touch.  They often like to have the techniques done to them.  Personally I know I'm a very visual learner (hence the drawings in my journal), but I also need to feel a technique before I can understand it.  Be aware of the different learning models when teaching, and try to include all aspects of learning.  Some students may respond to one method over another.

   Modeling is a method of teaching by demonstrating.  This is the most common method of instruction in martial arts.  The instructor demonstrates a technique, or principle, and then the student follows their example.  The amount of explanation depends mainly on the system.  From what I've heard, in the old school Japanese systems, the instructor would demonstrate the technique a couple of times, and without any explanation, tell the students to go practice.  When the students got the techniques I believe they were able to internalize them a lot more than we do today.  I think our western brains require us to intellectualize something before we can do it.  We have to have explanations.  If you teach, try it both ways, and find your own happy balance between explanation and intuitively learning the technique.
Teaching means you learn more.

Teach what you know
    One of the biggest pitfalls of instruction is ego.  It is OK to not know everything.  One of the weirdest situations I've ever encountered was a fellow high school science teacher.  When he didn't know an answer, he was so scared of looking foolish or ignorant in front of students that he'd make answers up.  Many times he was dead wrong with his answers.  When a student would try to, politely mind you, call his answer wrong, he'd have to back-peddle, and flub his response, which made him look more foolish.  It is much wiser to say "You know I'm not sure, let's find out."  Students will have more respect if you don't know an answer, but can point them in the direction to find it.
  As part of this idea, don't go beyond yourself.  Don't try to instruct a subject you don't understand, that you haven't internallized.  You can teach a form, but unless your sure of yourself, don't try to reach beyond your understanding and teach the applications of the form, your students will know.  Remember they have a lot of practice being students.

There are lots of other hints that people can give to newly minted instructors.  There are whole fields of psychology dedicated to the methods of how the human brain learns.  These are just a few pointers.  Because I've met many great martial artists, who cannot teach what they know effectively and that means their information is trapped.  It cannot reproduce itself in the next generation.  And that is a real problem for their art.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Right, Wrong, and Respect in Martial Arts

"Sonkei" Respect
This was cut and pasted from the link below.  I didn't make this up.

"So where I train BJJ some aikido guys roll on the mats when we arent there. I left my gi there so i went to pick it up while Aikido was having a class, because the doors would be open then. You hafto cross over the mat to get to the locker room. I quietly entered the building, took my shoes off and proceeded to cross along the very edge of the mat against the wall where nobody was. About 3 steps in I was yelled at by one of the students, "BOW WHEN YOU GET ON THE MAT!". I did not want to be disrespectful but I also wasnt gonna bow to a picture of some guy on the wall so i simply turned and said "No dude" and kept walking. On my way back I was confronted by the instructor, a 7th dan black belt. He questioned me briefly, asked why i was there and why i didnt bow etc. It seemed like he wanted to fight me. I could tell he wanted me to back down so he could look tough with all his students watching but he seemed like a bitch so i just kept moving closer and staring back as he tried to stare me down. After a couple seconds of that he went back to his class and i left.

My question is, had it come down to a fight, could I guy with 2 years bjj experience and a strength advantage beat a 7th dan black belt in aikido?"

Brazilian Jiu Jutsu
Wow, where to start?
First off, this is one side of the story, so I'll take everything with a grain of salt.
    I think people that behave like this, is what can gives MMA people a bad reputation in the minds of traditional martial artists.  That being said, I know many MMA guys, BJJ practitioners, and other such martial artists who do not present this lack of respect for other arts.This guy shows no respect any other arts, or other martial ideas other than his.  "some aikido guys roll on the mat when we arent there."  This shows that the writer is ignorant of what aikido is doing, or what it is all about, and has no desire to learn what it is.  I don't like watching baseball or basketball, but I respect the skills and effort that goes into mastering it.

I'm guessing this was the "some guy" on the wall
    The author does try to intercede as quietly and unobtrusively as possible when the other class is on the mat.  He takes off his shoes and stays out of the way.  So maybe there is some general respect for the mat.  Then some aikidoka yells at him (at least I'm guessing that's why it is in caps). 
    This is where communication breaks down, and ego starts to get in the way.  The aikidoka wanted to enforce their ideas onto a newcomer.  I understand that for some schools, discipline and tradition are important, but explaining the importance usually works better than just yelling them at people.  Especially Americans (I'm guessing he's American by the bad grammar).  This is an old idea.  When General Washington brought over Hessian officers to train the fledgling American army, they were aghast that Americans wanted to know why they doing everything, not just accepting the drills.  The author then further works from a point of ego by flippantly disregarding the aikidoka's rather loud request.  He shows his ignorance and lack of respect by referring to the picture of O-Sensei as "some guy on the wall." Although he's not wrong in not wanting to bow to someone he doesn't know, this goes back to the general lack of respect.  If you were in a different part of the world, and they asked you to take your hat off in a church out of respect, I think most people would do it out of basic respect.

    When the author came back, he was confronted by the class's Sensei.  Who, according to the author wanted to fight him.  But the aikido sensei kept backing up/down.  It could be the author was right, and the Sensei had an egotistical need to appear tough before his students, or it could be that he was asking why he was being disrespectful.  Either way, they both ended the conflict correctly.  You'd be surprised how just walking can disrupt a conflict.  Also, backing down when the conflict is unneccesary is also a good strategy.

    Then the final kicker, the ultimate question "Who would win a fight?"  I have never seen a fight that wasn't about ego.  A fight doesn't have self-defense aspects to it.  A fight is about defending face, trying to prove something to someone.  This is not where martial arts lives.  MMA is the ultimate expression of a fight.  It seems to me, at the levels of competition I've seen, to be mostly about ego, money, and fame.  All three things associated with martial arts right?  There are some people I've talked to who practice other martial arts, and use the fight as a pure testing ground, but they seem to be the exception. 
To be honest, I think the BJJ guy, with his superior physical conditioning would have won a fight for that reason alone.  But so would an NFL linebacker whose never taken a martial arts class in his life.  The physical aspect has a lot to do with it.  But that's a subject for its own column.

    The end result is both parties, the BJJ guy and the aikidoka did things that were both right and wrong behaviors.  In the end there was too much ego involved, and a lack of respect by both sides.  Smaller egos and increased respect are supposed to be part of the goals of martial arts, so unless they both used this as a growing experience, they both failed as martial artists.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspiring Seminar!

Dr. Powell at 1965 World's Fair
    This past weekend, I attended our system's annual seminar, The Moses Powell Memorial Seminar.  The goal of this seminar is to show the same things we all know, but in a different way, or different application.  There were three days of hard working out, and each one had a different aspect.  Thursday we worked on what we call the "20 Movements" of aikido.  You know, ikkyu, nikkyu, sankyu, etc. through the familiar locks, pins, and throws.  The difference, was doing them from the ground.  Our system's goal is to not be on the ground, as it is a vulnerable place, but to be able to get off the ground.  I (pardon the pun) was floored by these applications.  I've been doing this for over a dozen years, and I've never seen these applications.  I also ways feel so humbled by these seminars.   
Dr. Powell and Master Vee
    The second day, we worked with another instructor whose main art is Wing Chun.  We learned, and quickly practiced some basic Wing Chun blocks.  Then, for the next hour and a half, we were shown ways that these blocks can be used in Jujutsu/aikido.  Again, such simple things applied differently can change the whole way I look at certain techniques.  I both hate it and love it when that happens.  It's good to know that no matter how long I do this activity, that there will always be a larger world out there that what I know.

    Now, time to get back on the mat.