Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review of The Kenpo Karate Compendium by Lee Wedlake

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book by Blue Snake Books for review purposes.

Title: The Kenpo Karate Compendium, The Forms and Sets of American Kenpo
Author: Lee Wedlake
Publisher: Blue Snake Books
Pages: 354
Cover Price: $24.95

  Again as I write this, I am not a kenpo person, nor have I had any real exposure to kenpo.  There was a kenpo class that came in after my class when I practiced in Gainesville, but that was long before I had enough martial arts knowledge to really see what was going on.  All of that being said, I really enjoyed most of this book.  Mr. Wedlake is a very humble writer who doesn't claim to know the "true" way of kenpo, but where there is debate of accuracy, he lends what evidence he has.  Several times he states that other schools do their kata differently, and as long as there is a specific reason why, that's okay.  He also talks about how Mr. Ed Parker changed the details of the kata throughout his lifetime.  As someone who is seeing that in my own system, I appreciate that honesty as well.


  This book covers three basic themes.  The first is a discussion of the history of Ed Parker, American Kenpo, and other people that use the term kenpo to describe who they are.  He is very inclusive in the aspect, in that if they can fit themselves on the family tree, then they are family.  He also starts to dispel some of the myths that are occurring in his own art as far as origin and continuation of curriculum.  In the second part, he goes over the finer points of how to practice kata.  Mr. Wedlake has a lot of background in kata competition and kata dissection, so he lends his expertise well to this section of the book.  The third section goes over, in detail, the kata associated with American Kenpo, including what ideas should be derived from each kata form.  He also discusses which goals should be tackled with each kata, an important fact that most people often forget when both doing/learning kata, and teaching them.


  I really liked the first two parts of this book.  I am personally starting to appreciate kata more and more as I go through my own martial learning.  Mr. Wedlake's take on kata was very honest and open.  He also dispenses many little pieces of wisdom that can apply to any martial art/artist even if kata doesn't apply to them at all.  I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from those first two parts.  I enjoyed the book so much, that when I saw Ed Parker's Secrets of Chinese Karate at the bookstore, I bought it.


  The third part of the book was not very useful to me.  As it goes over the kata specific to American Kenpo, and I am not a practitioner, it was not that useful.  However, the kata description section was very well written. I could follow the description of what the kata being described were supposed to be.  Mr. Wedlake also provides a sort of "code language" with which to describe the footwork of the kata, and with some interpretation, I could use this to figure out the transitions between the pictures provided.  Though one drawback is there are very few pictures, which in most martial arts books helps to further readers' understanding of kata and/or the author's meaning.  The author does state that if you want to see the pictures, look at the those in Ed Parker's Kenpo books, and refers you to them.


  Overall, If you are not a kenpo martial artist, I'd give this book 3 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  The book is very well written, and I not only enjoyed reading it, but I learned from it as well.  As I said above, the beginning sections can apply to any martial artist, even if you don't do kata in your art since they cover more of the history and philosophy of kenpo.  However, if you are a kenpo martial artist, then I would give this book a 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I interpreted that this book is intended to be an additional book in your collection after you have looked at and read the other referenced books.  If you have read some of the these books, or at least an intermediate level of experience with kenpo, then this would be a great book for you.  So I guess, I'll average it out to 3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars mainly based on how it applies to a select group of martial artists.  However, it you are in that group, then by all means add this book to your Kenpo library.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Episode XXI-Twas the Night Before Podcast

Episode XXI-Twas the Night Before Podcast

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Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: December 23rd, 2014


Intro:  Christmas in Sarajevo by Savatage

The Christmas Episode!
Request for listener emails
African Martial Arts

Interlude Music: Cult of Personality by Living Color

  Rise of the Legend
  Wong Fei HOng
  Jump Ashin!
  Roy Chow Hin Yeung
  Shadowless Kick
  Hung Gar
  Gordon Liu
    Challenge of the Masters
  Jackie Chan
    Drunken Masters
  Jet Li
    Once Upon a Time in China

  Tao Lung = Bruce Lee
  Chen Fu = Jackie Chan
  Ron Jones = Jim Kelly
  Ju Mao
  Hou Fang
  Brother Lu = Gordon Liu
  John Deux = Jean Claude VanDamme
  Chang Tai = Tony Jaa

  David Carradine
  Martial Arts History Museum
  Green Hornet
  Billy Jack
  Radames Pera
  Clyde Kusatsu
  Kam Yuen
  Douglas Wong
  James Lew
  Don "the Dragon" Wilson
  Cynthia Rothrock
  Art Comancho

Interlude Music: The Thing that Should Not Be by Metallica

Interview: Professor T.J. Deschi-Obi
  Donn F. Draeger
  Robert W. Smith
  Khoison Language Family
  Bill Richmond
  Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots
  "Scientifitized" It
  Haitian Machete Fighting
  Chevalier  de Saint-Georges
  Fighting for Honor
Interlude Music: The Way of Life by Dead Prez

This Week in Martial Arts: December 27th, 1926
Robert W. Smith
  Professor Cheng Man-Ching
  T. T. Liang
  Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts
  A Complete Guide to Judo
  Pa-Kua Eight Trigram Boxing
  Hsing-I: Chinese Internal Boxing
  Allen Pittman
Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

4.5 Ninja Stars for Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book by Tuttle Publishing for review purposes

Title: Krav Maga: Real World Solutions to Real World Violence
Author: Gershon Ben Keren
Publisher: Tuttle
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $17.95

  I have zero experience with Krav Maga, so I didn't quite know what to expect from this book.  I had some preconceived notions of what Krav Maga consists of, and to some extent, they proved true.  In others ways, I was pleasantly surprised at what it told me.


  The title is a pretty descriptive one.  The book goes through how to apply principles of Krav Maga Yashir to a variety of situations.  The book is broken down into 4 parts.  The introduction is just a little background about what Krav Maga is, where it came from, and about the author.  There will be an interview with him in a future podcast, so stay tuned. Part 1 describes and gives pictures of the basics of Krav Maga as a martial art including stances, hand positioning, the basic strikes, and blocks.  In their descriptions it also goes into the why of these basics.  Part 2 then takes these basics, and show them in application settings using the previously outlined principles of Krav Maga.  It shows them being employed against both empty hand and weapons.  Part 3 is called Unarmed Assaults and Dynamic Components of Violence.  It takes the same principles, and applies them in more middle of a fight scenarios, including headlocks, clinches, and other such grabbing situation.


    Let me start with the physical book.  When I got the book in the mail, I first noticed the paper.  There is a much higher quality to the paper.  It has a slight sheen to it, and a definite thickness that is noticeable.  I assume this is due to the pictures.  Now the pictures are a special feature all to themselves.  I loved the pictures.  The pictures are clear, in color, and action shots.  What I mean by action shots is that all the pictures were taken in the progress of doing the technique, not staged.  Which means they probably had to to the techniques a couple hundred times.  This does, however, give them a more realistic feel.  They were also taken in actual locations, not on the dojo mat.  They show situations at the a bar,,, being attacked while getting into your car.  As the subtitle says in real world situations.  In that way it reminds me of Shioda's book Dynamic Aikido.  They also show different people performing the techniques, different builds, different heights, and different sexes.  The color pictures are definitely a highlight of the book.  Can you think of the last martial arts book you read with color pictures?
  The techniques presented in the book are principle based, effective, and adaptable.  What I liked best about the techniques presented was that, even though it wasn't explicitly stated, they could be incorporated into your own martial arts training very easily.  Effective self-defense is free from style.  I found myself saying thinking that all the techniques looked familiar enough to my own jujutsu training, that I could very easily perform them with my slight variation.


  The only bad thing I can say about the book is that there isn't enough.  It covers a lot of material, and goes through the explanation of the material, but if feel more like an introduction.  At the end of the book, I wanted to keep reading.  Which I guess really isn't a bad thing.  Maybe that means there is a sequel coming, or that the editors/publishers wanted them to pare down the material.
  One thing that could be interpreted as a con, is the principle based techniques seem to repeat themselves.  I think that this would be an amateur mistake.  Being principle based, means that you can apply the same principle to multiple situations.


  I really liked this book.  It explained how to apply the principles of Krav Maga in a variety of ways, and in a variety of circumstances.   It can be used by new students of martial arts, or by an experineced martial artist to incorporate into their own training.  If you are interested in self defense I would highly recommend this book.  In fact, as a self defense book, I give it 4.5 (out of 5) ninja stars.  I really did enjoy this book.  The descriptions are very good, and you can follow along with the action very easily.  The "action" pictures alone make it worth the price of the book.  The material it covers is good, solid self defense. And again, you can easily find a way to incorporate this information into your own training.  If you call your martial art, self-defense based, then you should be able to recognize all the good information presented in this book.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can you make your martial art work?

    I have earned a nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Chendokan Aikido.  I have been doing martial arts for over 15 years.    I got my shodan after about 9 years of studying aikido (give or take, I don't remember exactly).  These statements may seem like bragging, but in fact its just the opposite.  I'm just now feeling that I have the basics down to the point where I can start to learn the actual applications.
    I was in class this morning, the first class I had attended in a while, and I got two pieces of wisdom that have completely changed my idea of my own martial arts.  The first one was part of a conversation, and I'm going to paraphrase here.

  Sensei: Do you know this technique?
  Me: I can make it work?

  Sensei: Why do you have to make it work?

  I stood there flabbergasted.  He was right and I didn't know what to say.  Techniques shouldn't be made to work, they should work or not work.  If I have to force it to work, then I don't know the technique, at least as well as I should.  Aikido is a martial art, and it will work in self defense situations.  After all the time I've put into this, I know the techniques on a physical, level, and maybe as a dojo technique.  Now how do I make sure the technique works when it needs to?  That's what I get to work on for the future.  What do I have to do to allow the technique to work, not make it work.

  The second remarkable line Sensei said to me (and the whole class) hit a cord, and I wanted to share it with everyone.  He said, "I know more about what NOT to do, than I'll ever know about what to do."  Once you learn the techniques of a martial arts system at a decently proficient level, say by about black belt, the rest is just polishing them so you know how to use them, and know when to use them.  By that, I mean when a certain technique is required, and when to abandon the technique as well.  I had learned this as "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilites, in the expert's mind there are few"  I had not ever fully understood that statement until Sensei's statement this morning.  So again, thank you to Sensei for adding to my world view.

Episode XX-The Good, The Bad, and the Podcast

Episode XX-The Good, The Bad, and the Podcast

Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: Wednesday November 26th, 2014


Intro:  Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

  Black Friday = Ninja Day
  (Ancient Assassins) 47 Ronin
  Ninja Turtles

Interlude Music: Clint Eastwood by Gorilaz

  Bonsian Ninjas Gather Under the Roof of Ninjutsu Samurai Club
    Ninja Olympics
    Scottish Games
    Caber Toss
    Nippon Era
    Sensei Darko Treykovic
    Power Rangers
  Vladamir Putin Earns Black Belt, 8th Dan in Kyokushin Karate
    9th Dan in Tae Kwon Do
  Rare Samurai Swords and Arms up for bid in online Christie's Auction 
  Soke Don Angier (10/9/2014
    James Williams
    Atlanta Knife Show
    Yanagi Ryu
    Don Angier on Youtube

Interlude Music: Man in Black by Johnny Cash

Ninja/Shinobi no mono kanji
Interview: Antony Cummins
  The Book of the Ninja
  True Path of the Ninja
  Iga and Koka Ninja Skills
  In Search of the Ninja
  The Illustrated Guide to Viking Martial Arts
  Ninja (Shinobi no Mono) Kanji
  Taihiki Scroll
  Shoniki Scroll
  Jonin = Great Ninja (Upper level ninja)
  Koga Ninja Clan
  Iga Ninja Clan
  Ninjas walking on water
  Ninja walking through walls
  Mizagumo = "Water Spider"
  Fuji Taseko
  Iga Ninja Museum
  Nakashima Sensei
  Storm Shadow
  James Bond 1st Ninja Reference in American Film (You Only Live Twice)
  Stephen K. Hayes
  Shogun TV Mini-series
  (Teenage Mutant Ninja) Turtles
  Sakura Killers
  13 Assassins
  Hagiwara Juzo
  Deadliest Warrior Viking vs. Ninja?
  Secret Traditions of the Shinobi
  Antony Cummins Youtube Channel
  Antony Cummins Facebook

Interlude Music: Shadow of the Wind by Black Sabbath

This Week in Martial Arts: November 25th, 1931, Shintaro Katsu's Birthday
  Tomisubura Wakiyama
  Akira Kurasawa
  Lone Wolf and Cub
  Blind Fury
  Rutger Hauer
Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Episode XIX-Do the Right Podcast Shownotes

Episode XIX-Do the Right Podcast Shownotes

Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: Thursday October 9th, 2014


Intro:  Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Return of Mariano
Our Groupie: Chris
Moses Powell Memorial Seminar
Aikido vs. Aikijujutsu
kote gaeshi
Shorin ryu karate
Kenpo karate
Irimi nage
Kokyu nage/Kokyu ho
"Clothesline otoshi"

Discussion Topic: The martial arts test
Why do martial arts have tests?
  Dan/Kyu system
  Jigoro Kano
  Black Dragon Jujutsu

Formal vs. Informal Testing

Getting rid of kata in testing
Black Belt class
The Black Belt club
"The secret ingredient is You."
First Aid
Meiji Restoration
Chen style Taiji
Subjectivity of Grading tests
Plinio's Rant on kata
Ukemi kata
Iain Abbernathy Podcast

Should Etiquette be tested?

Interlude Music: Perfect Strangers by Deep Purple

Vietnamese Hairdresser

This Week in Martial Arts: November 23rd, 1899
Maneuel dos Reis Machado "Mastre Bimba"
  Bimbe Angola

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

4 Ninja Stars for Shang Yun-Xiang Style Xingyiquan by Li Wen-Bin

Shang Yun-Xiang Style Xingyiquan by Li Wen-Bin

    Okay before I review this book two things to get off my chest.  First.  Although my interest in the internal Chinese martial arts is new, and I have been reading up on some of them, my experience with Xingyi consists of one class with Allen Carroll in Atlanta.  Second, for full disclosure purposes, I was given this book by the publisher, Blue Snake Books, for the purposes of reviewing it.  Phew, not that that's over, on to the review.

    Let me start off with this first impression of the book.  It is dense.  Even though there is 290 pages, each page seems to be filled to the brim with information.  After finishing it, I felt that I needed to read it again, just to get the second layer of information from it.  One of the things I particularly liked about this book was when it gave you the names it did so in the Chinese characters, the English lettering translation(what I would call romanji if this were Japanese), and then the English language translation. This was cool to me, as I can read a character or two (from studying Japanese) here and there, and it added to the depth that I was able to assimilate some of the information.


    The title of this book says a lot about what the content is.  This book covers one style Shang Yun-Xian, of the Chinese martial art Xingyiquan.  This does in no way distract from its value.  If fact the first part of the book is dedicated to telling you the differences between Shang style, and other styles of Xingyi.  The author, Mr. Li Wen-Bin, then went on to explain why these differences were in place, even siting the original art that Xingyi was derived from Xinyi.  Even though I'm not familiar enough with Xingyi, I appreciated the open discussion on his part.  Included in the first third of the book is a discussion on how and why Xingyi works, and why it is an internal art, as well as how it is linked to the ideas of traditional Chinese medicine.
  The second part of the book goes through the ideas of the key stance and what are called the five fists.  Again, the author explains, in terms of internal arts and traditional Chinese medicine, why Shang style teaches them in a different sequence than most Xingyi.  For those that don't know, there are five elements in Chinese ideology: Earth, Fire, Water, Metal, and Wood.  The reason for the difference has to do with the cycle of elements, how each if encouraged by a different element in the cycle, and how each element is linked to one of the five fists.  The book then, in very detailed description, goes through some of the Xingyi forms, in a way that can be easily interpreted from the combination of description and illustration.  Each form also includes a description of what the purpose of the form is, or rather, what should be learned/studied through that particular form.
    The third and last part of the book follows the pattern set in the second, but describes some of the weapons forms, including broadsword, jian sword, staff, and spear.  Again, with diligence, the forms could be done from just the description and illustration alone.


    There are many good points about this book.  Like I said earlier, this book is DENSE.  There is a lot of information and effort put into this book, and you can tell.  The tone doesn't convey the typical "why my style is better" mood, but rather, it reads more like an argumentative essay where the author says "here's what's different about my style, and here are my reasons why the differences are there."  There isn't any sense of condemnation or superiority, just a explanation of why, and I liked that .
    In the forms section, as I said, the pictures and description are very will done, which is hard to do.  Trying to show a system of movements in still photography is a skill all in itself, and this book does it well.  If you wanted to learn the form, you of course still need an instructor to critique you, but this book does a good job giving you the basic framework to build those critiques on.


    There is only one real complaint I have with this book, and it has more to do with me than the book.  This book is written for people who already have at least a decent background in Xingyi.  For example, several times it referred to "the classics of Xingyi" or the "songs of Xingyi," which I was not familiar with.  The author did explain somewhat what the information contained in them was, but i just didn't have that reference point in common with the author.


    Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5  Ninja Stars.  The book is well written, the illustrations and techniques are easy to follow, and I enjoyed the tone of the book.  I just think I wasn't part of the intended audience.  If I was a practitioner of Xingyi, or if I was starting out in Xingyi, this would be a great book.  I have a feeling that if I were to start studying Xingyi, then this would be a book I would read every couple of years, and gain new insights every time I read it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My martial inspiration for this week

Your Martial Thoughts Hosts: Mariano, Rick, Plinio, Jaredd and Tony
    I just got back from our system's annual seminar, a memorial to Dr. Moses Powell, my instructor's instructor.  Normally, I train in South Florida with my instructor, but because I've moved to Nashville, I haven't had the opportunity for a while now.  For about 2 months now, I haven't been able to train, and I didn't realize how much I really missed it.
    It started on the drive down there.  I picked up Mariano (see Episode XV of Martial Thoughts Podcast) on the way, and we started talking martial arts.  This started to get my martial mind back in order.  By the time Friday night came about, I was reved for the seminar.  Because of the time off, I was rusty.  I had expected this to happen.  My mind could remember what I was supposed to do, but my body wasn't quite up to it.  The mind-body coordination was off.  However, what surprised me was how quickly, the flow came back.  I really did think I was going to have to re-learn a lot.  I guess I've been doing it long enough that some of that information stuck.  Our theme for this year was something along the lines of taking aikido, and making it a practical self-defense art.  I don't know how successful we were at doing this, but there was a lot of tough practice, and hard falls.
  The next morning, the seminar started at 10:00.  Which means I had to get up relatively early to make it to the dojo by 9:00 (I needed A LOT of warm up time, even before the warm-ups).  I woke up excited to go again.  Excited, but sore.  I realized as I was entering the dojo, and putting on my backup gi (the first one was soaked through), that I was smiling.  I couldn't wait to get back on the mat.  We trained hard for about 4 hours, and then went out with friends, to do what? martial arts.  I then had to drive the 14 hour trip back home on Sunday, so that I could work on Monday.  This may have been the best answer for the seminar is a long time to think over everything I just was taught.  Digestion time.  It gave me time to unfold the origami of information I had just given.  I vowed to start going to martial arts again.  I realized how incomplete I was feeling without it.  And not just the physical part, though that is important, but the social/tribal part of martial arts as well.  I missed everything that is martial.
    I guess my take away for this week is that everyone should go to a seminar occasionally, even if it's not in your system.  Try them out, and see how inspiring they are to you.

    In the comments section, please tell me about your seminar experience, both good and bad.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Episode XVIII-The Nightmare Before Podcast Shownotes

Episode XVIII-The Nightmare Before Podcast

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Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: Wednesday October 22nd, 2014


Intro:  This is Halloween by Marilyn Manson

  Dr. Moses Powell Memorial Seminar

Interlude Music: Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden

Interview with: Noel Plaugher

  Qi Gong
  Shou Shu
  Moore's Family Shou Shu
  Standing Qi Gong
  Xing Yi Chuan
  Standing QiGong for Health and Martial Arts

Interlude Music: The Ripper by Judas Priest

This Week in Martial Arts: October 28th, 1860 = Birthday of Jigoro Kano
  Tenjin Shin'yo ryu
  Kito ryu
  Kodokan dojo

Contact Information
Twitter Account@martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

Outro Music: Vincent Price by Deep Purple

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are you a "Warrior"?

The Advertising of Martial Arts

The Ultimate Warrior?  Really?
    Martial arts have to be marketed.  I understand some extent.  My income and livelihood doesn't rely on martial arts, so I can afford to have a more superior attitude about trying to get new students.  However, I don't begrudge those that do.  At some point, it is my goal to open my own dojo.  At which point I'll have to join in on all the buzz word fun.  But for now, I want to poke fun at many of them.  Here's a list of buzz words that bug me (hah! buzz...bug), what I think they are trying to mean, and how they are often abused.  Open up any martial arts magazine, or the Yellow Pages (do we even have those any more?) and you'll see adds splattered with these words.


    This adjective is often used to describe martial arts in advertising.  I'm guessing, in order to distinguish them from "unrealistic" martial arts?  If its a realistic martial art, then I'm guessing they train you how to run away from 3 on 1 situations, or when both the guys attacking you have weapons.  Because from what research I've done, that's how realistic attacks happen.  It isn't going to be a civil one-on-one at the bar that we see in movies.  Its going to be a person, or often people, taking whatever advantage they think they can get.  They're not looking for competition, they're looking for a resource, or social standing.  (See anything by Wilder and Kane for the difference between social and asocial violence).  They should teach awareness, avoidance, Rory Miller's Monkey Dance, and the effects of adrenaline.  They should teach eye gouges in close combat, they should teach about the medical effects of having your intestines go septic from a knife wound after getting stabbed.  They should have a lawyer talk to you about the realities and costs of self-defense, and how to defend yourself legally.  That's realistic self-defense.
        What I think their point in calling an art realistic is that it is not a sport martial art.  If they are saying that they train you to not think in terms of rules, then maybe realistic has a place.  One of my favorite quotes is by, of all people, Mike Tyson "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth."  Most people that I've talked to who have had "real" encounters have said there isn't time to apply many techniques, and that quick and simple works the best.  Realistic could mean that: They have a limited number, highest chance of success, list of techniques that they train and practice with.  Then I guess realistic would apply.


    If you look at a martial art from a hoplogical position, every martial art is effective in a certain context.  They example I read was from knife techniques.  Filipino knife martial arts are great, and very different from Japanese tanto (knife) techniques.  As a generalization, the Filipino focus more of fast movements and quick attacks, where as the Japanese practice precision and reinforced power.  In the barrios of Manila, the Japanese tanto attacks would probably get you killed in a conflict situation.  However, if you took the Filipino art and put it against an armored samurai, they would suffer the same fate.  Would Filipino techniques and methodology work if you were in a Wisconsin winter where everyone has 3-5 layers of clothing on?  Just know what your context is for your martial arts effectiveness, and practice within the knowledge of those parameters, and they are all effective.
    When an advertisement says effective, I believe they are again comparing it to sport martial arts, or they are preying on our need to distinguish truth from lies.  Most of us traditional martial artists take it on faith that our techniques will work in realistic circumstances because we don't train them in realistic circumstances.  We can see how they would work, but never IF they would work.  That's a pretty big flaw in most training sessions.


    I put these two together, because they seem to argue directly against each other, and can be dealt with using the same logic.  From what I can understand, Traditional is supposed to mean that there is a lineage, and that the art is taught as it was for the last several hundred years.  It is usually steeped in the cultural aspect of the martial arts as well.  Modern means, they have gotten rid of all the cultural trappings of the martial art, and have cut away all that "useless" stuff.  They are most likely a hodgepodge martial arts system which takes "the best techniques of judo, karate, and kali, and blends them together" or something of that sort.  Sound familiar?  Both advertising motivations are great if that's what you're looking for.  Some people want a cultural aspect.  They want to use the martial arts as a doorway into the mysterious orient.  Some people don't care about the cultural part, and just want the highlights.  The modern tends to have the same motivational factor as "Effective."  Just because it blends different styles together doesn't mean it is in any way superior to the original system.  On the same note, just because it has been passed down for over 5 generations doesn't mean it is any more realistic or authentic.  Everyone who does a martial art changes the art for themselves.  Aikido is less than a century old, with many of the original students of O-Sensei still alive, and yet there are so many fractions that it is impossible to keep track of them.  Why?  Did the students break from tradition to form a modern version of aikido?  No, they just taught what they saw aikido is/was.


    Perhaps no word has been co-opted more than the term warrior.  There are two ways to look at this term.  One is in the strictest definition of someone who has gone to war for the purpose of eliminating another institution's soldiers and possibly civilians.  It is a a very grey area of the human psyche.  My father was in Vietnam, and I know people who have been in our modern middle eastern conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan).  They are warriors in that definition.  Someone who trains hard in martial arts back here in the states is not.
    I think the reason warrior is used in martial arts marketing so much is because of the romantic view of warriors.  Soldiers returning from the war, the conquering heroes, and such.  We even, as a society, respect the side effect traits of being a warrior, the discipline, the assertiveness, et. al.  Its just the actual traits of warriorship we don't like.
    In a broader sense, just as Japanese arts have a -jutsu and a -do version of martial arts for the purposes of developing warrior characteristics, we want the side effect traits of being a warrior, or the benefits of going through warrior training.  We want to have a "warrior mindset."  I understand what that is supposed to mean, but everyone I've talked to who's been in war situation doesn't want to be in a war mindset.  We hear the stories of people who are able to overcome unimaginable obstacles in times of war, and we want some of that.  And I do think we should encourage that ideal today, but there should be a different term than warrior, and I don't know what that should be.

    In conclusion, I understand their use in advertisement.  If you were a newbie looking for martial arts schools, how would you respond to an honest assessment of the arts?  "Are you looking for hard work, years of frustration, and little chance of financial reward?  Come sign up for aikido!"  I understand the use of these buzz words, but I think they get overused, and as such loose their meaning.  My wife in an English teacher and she keeps preaching to me about word economy.  If you describe this sandwich as being awesome, what words do you use to describe the birth of your first child?  I think that's what's happening in our martial arts advertising world.  So maybe we, as martial artists should practice some humility and economy when describing our beloved arts.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Episode XVII-Raiders of the Lost Podcast Shownotes

Episode XVII-Raiders of the Lost Podcast

Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: Thursday October 9th, 2014


Intro:  Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

  Indiana Jones
  Moses Powell Memorial Seminar
  Piranha Gear T-Shirt Contest Winner: Lando Moes
  Jackie Chan
  Drunken Master
Interlude Music: Barracuda by Heart

Interview with: Andrea Harkins of
  Warrior Radio
  Tang Soo Do
  Ronda Rousey
  Woman's Self-Defense vs. Self-Defense
  Sensei Ando (

Interlude Music: Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

This Week in Martial Arts: October 9th, 1932
  "Judo" Gene Lebell
    Roast of Gene LeBell by Chuck Norris and Bob Wahl
  Elvis (Presely)
  The Green Hornet
    Talks about Bruce Lee
  Rush Hour
    Jackie Chan
    Chris Tucker

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Enjoy your plateau

  1. 1.
    an area of relatively level high ground.
  2. 2.
    a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.

  1. 1.
    reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.

  Any time anyone is learning a new skill, whether its martial arts or learning to play guitar, or anything else that you can get immediate feedback on, there is always an initial burst of improvement.  They can very quickly tell that they are getting better.  They can can see, hear, feel the improvement.  That has to do with the fact that they had so little skill that ANY improvement is a big improvement.  In the dojo, this is what happens to newbies the first couple months.  They enjoy martial arts so much in that time.  Eventually they stop feeling like you are improving.  The new martial artist will practice and practice, and their skill doesn't seem to be getting any better.  They've reached their plateau.  This is usually when they leave because they feel something is wrong.  Either with them, or the instructor, or ... whatever.
The learning curve?
  This doesn't just happen with new martial artists.  It can happen with anyone.  Personally I hit a plateau after I'd been studying for about 10 years.  Sure I'd had little plateaus before, but with focus and extra practice, I got through them.  But this one was different.  It was more resistant, and it lasted for about a year.  I did what I normally did, and practiced harder, longer.  But I never say any improvements in my techniques.  And I was thinking about testing for my next belt, which made this extra worse than normal.
  I didn't know it at the time, but these plateaus are a natural part of the learning process.This is where the real detailed learning actually happens.  My body, without me knowing, was concentrating on learning the details, and building a sensation database.  The best part is it is usually followed by a huge leap in abilities.  And I actually experienced this.  One day, I was just moving better.  My timing was better, and my intuition for attacks were better.

  There are a some things you can do while plateauing.  

1. Stick with it.  

  There are going to be plateaus in any learning pattern.  How you deal with them is also part of the learning curve.  You will get through it, and you will be better for it.  Your skills are improving, but not necessarily as quickly as they were before..

2. Specify your practice

  Pick one thing you want to improve on, and no "martial arts" is not an answer.  The more specific the better.  Work on one particular technique. Or your footwork on one particular set of movements.  Or your hand position while punching.  Something like that.

3. Change your focus

  If you are having trouble with the physical aspect of martial arts at that moment, pick another aspect.  This may be a good time to learn more of the history or philosophy of your art.  I've yet to find a martial art that doesn't have a dozen or so books on it.  And libraries are great resources.  I check out the books from the library, read them, and then decide if they're worthy of being in my collection.

  So if you experience a plateau, be grateful for it.  Don't try to force your way through it.  Even though it is frustrating, it's part of the learning process.  The most important thing to remember is to not get frustrated and think that something is wrong.  Enjoy it.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Episode XVI-For a few Podcasts More

Episode XVI-For a few Podcasts More

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Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: Sunday September 7th, 2014


Intro:  Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

  Moses Powell Memorial Seminar
  Martial Arts Nation Podcast
  Samurai Archives Podcast

Interlude Music: After Dark by Tito & Tarantula

  Ann Osman
  One Fighting Championship (One FC)
  Ana Julaton

  Ip Man
  The King of Fighters
  Jackie Chan

  Guantam Budh Nagar
  Shaolin Monastery
  Shi Yongxin
  Bruce Lee
  Lipton Ice Tea (and Bruce Lee)
Interlude Music: Anybody Listening?  by Queensryche

Interview with: Chris West of Samurai Archives Podcast
  Samurai Archives Podcast
  Goju ryu karate  
  Tae Kwon Do
  Mr. Miyagi
  Okinawan Kempo
  Shogun by James Clavell
  Trevor Absolom
  Dr. Karl Friday
  Edo/Tokugawa Period
  Fujiwara no Tsumitomo
  (Akira) Kurasawa
  Seven Samurai
  Toshiro Mifune
  Ghost Dog
  Forest Witaker
  Heian Period
  Sengoku Period
  Oda Nobunaga
  The Last Samurai
  Heaven and Earth
  47 Ronin
  Takashi Mike
  13 Assassins
  When the Last Sword is Drawn
  The Seven Samurai
  Musashi Miyamoto
  Gonryu jima
  Motoki Masahiro
  Sasaki Kojiro
  Bushido the Soul of Japan
  Samurai Archives Podcast

Interlude Music: Brother by Alice in Chains

This Week in Martial Arts: September 9th, 1915
  塩田 剛三 Shioda Gōzō
  Yoshinkan aikido
Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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