Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review of Verbal Judo

    In order to practice what would actually be self defense, you have to incorporate more than just the physical techniques that are taught in many dojo that proclaim self defense.  Verbal defense should be a major part of any self defense course.  It may be realistically, more important than the physical part that we normally call self defense.
    As many martial arts that say they teach self defense only concentrate on the physical part, I took it upon myself to do some self education on the verbal aspect of self defense.  That was the the reason I decided to pick up Verbal Judo by George J. Thompson, and Jerry B. Jenkins (from the Library, seriously, look into inter-library loans).  I had heard that this was a classic in that field, so I decided to check it out (ha, ha, ha!).  The version I read was the one from the picture, the updated edition.
    First, the book is very well written.  It is enjoyable to read, and you can feel the authenticity and authority of the author(s).  It says its written by two people, but there is really only one voice in the writing.  They very succinctly lay out the steps, ideas, and procedures for applying their Verbal Judo techniques.  The authors also give personal experience to support how their methods work, and walk you along with them on how they developed the techniques in the first place.  Their layout and description are great, and as far as I can tell, their advice is sound.  Altogether, it makes it an enjoyable book, very readable.
    My criticism of the book is where the author is coming from.  The book is written for people in authority positions to get others to come along with their plans.  The original idea seems to be based on police cooperation techniques, and then how to apply the same ideas to other authority positions like supervisors, managers, or teachers.  This is extremely useful, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  I was looking for more of a verbal self defense book.  The ideas and procedures can be applied to self defense situations, but their examples are all from the authority position.
    Overall, the book is well written, useful, and precise in its demonstration of their techniques.  It just wasn't what I was looking for in particular.  I still learned a lot, and can apply almost all the techniques in self defense situations.  As such, I'm going to give it 4.5 Ninja Stars.  I would easily recommend it, as a starting point, for anyone looking for verbal self defense.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Martial Way to Turn a Weakness into a Strength

"Our Strength grows out of our Weakness."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

    This is one of those pet peeves of mine.  It irks me whenever I hear this advise.  Its not that I dislike the saying, its just that for years this has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by pop culture.  This has been further regurgitated by the self-help marketplace.  Go ahead type it into Google and see what comes up.  Mostly self-help stuff.
    The pop culture idea usually shows up something like this.  There are two characters that are going to face off.  One is a physically superior specimen.  The other is not.  In fact, the second guy is usually a physically inferior creature who, however, is smart and/or clever.  The smart character then feels defeated before the conflict starts.  He then hears the sage advise of "Make your weakness a strength" and he comes up with some clever way to turn his physical weakness into an weird, creative, but preposterous advantageous outcome.  Sound familiar?   It should, its been repeated lots of times in lots of different ways.
Flexibility Training
    This is a cop-out way to interpret the advise.  The original intention of the advice has much more to do with hard work.  And for whatever reason, our culture values creativity over hard work.  I would imagine that its because hard work is HARD.  Being creative supersedes hard work in our cultural stories.  The original idea applies directly to martial arts and martial artists.
    Make a list of all the skill that are necessary to master your martial art.  Physical, character,
social, whatever.  Then put them in order of what your strongest skill is all the way down to what you are weakest in.  Maybe, you kicks are strong, but you're not very flexible.  Or, your timing is great, but you lack power in your counter punches.  Whatever the case maybe.  Now, take your weakest aspects.  Work on them.  Work on them until they become your strongest aspect.  If you're inflexible,
Bruce Lee strength training
work on your stretching.  If you lack power in you punches, do exercises to get stronger.  See what we just did?  We made your weaknesses into your strength.  How?  By working hard to make it no longer a weakness.  Then re-evaluate you skills.  Look at what you're weakest skill is, and repeat forever.  Not as attractive, or concise as the common version is it?  But as martial artist who are constantly seeking to make our skills better, this is what we have to do.  Honestly look at our skills and work on what we're weak at, turning them into our strongest characteristics.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Episode XI-There's No Crying in Podcast Shownotes

Episode XI-There's No Crying in Podcasts

 Martial Thoughts Episode XI-There's No Crying in Podcasts

Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: 5/16/2014


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

  New Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
  Interview with Dr. Philip Chenique of Atemi ryu Jujutsu, Chendokan Aikido

This Week in Martial Arts: 
  May 26th, 1910 = Imre "Imi" Lichtenfield's Birthday
  Krav Maga
  Bratislava, Slovakia
  Israeli Defense Force

Discussion Topic: What is the Value of Sport Martial Arts
  South Beach
  Turkish Wrestling
  Fight of Flight (Freeze)
  Mike Tyson
  Lizard People-Barack Obama
  Tea Party
  (Gichin) Funakoshi
  Karate-Do: My Way of Life
  Tomiki Aikido
  Kyokushin Karate
  Indiana Jones (and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull)  (Trailer)
  Rory Miller (Joint Lock Video Preview)

  Don't Call Me Sir
    Sidney Poitier
    "They Call me Mr. Tibs"
    Rusty Kanokogi
    Aha's Take on Me
    IOC, International Olympic Comitee
    1988 Summer Olympics Judo Results
    Quentin Tarantino
    Coney Island
    Kayla Harrison
    Ron Burgundy
  New York State Senate Legalizes Professional Mixed Martial Arts
    Dana White
  Martial Arts Teacher Confronts Burglar in Home
  Learn Kung Fu from your Android 8.1 Tablet
    Kung Fu-Ba Ji Quan Available for Download
    Jiin Feng Mobile Games
    Motion Capture
    Aikido 3D
    Kano (Gigoro)
    Ueshiba (Morihei) O-Sensei

Interlude Music: Dr Feelgood by Motley Crue

Interview with Dr. Philip Chenique
  Atemi ryu Jujutsu
  James Bond Goldfinger (Trailer)  
  Karate (Shotokan)
  Richard Adams
  Dr (Moses) Powell
  Barry Deutsh
  Florendo Visitacion-Master Vee
  Eddie Remy Presas
  Roger Velasquez
  Bushido of Miami
  Saotome Sensei
  Tekenouchi Koga ryu Atemi jujutsu
  Prince Takenouchi
  Koga Japan
  Kung Fu
  Sticky Hands
  Bruce Lee 
    Enter the Dragon
  Steven Seagal
  Satome Sensei's Book 

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Martial Arts Categories Part II

    Last week in part I,  I started discussing my own way to break down martial arts based on four main categories of goals of the martial art.  I presented this diagram last week, but I didn't discuss it.  It is a version of a four circle Venn diagram, which presents many different ways of overlapping the four main goals of martial arts.  Today, I'm going to talk about the overlap areas, what they would describe, and as much as my limited experience allows, give examples of martial arts that fit these in between categories.  By the way, I'm sorry my examples are Japanese, but that is where most of my experience lies.  If you have any other examples, from other cultures, please write them in the comments.  Also, I understand that all classification system are by definition, artificial systems, but they are none-the-less useful in breaking things up smaller bits of being able to think of things.  I have a fellow instructor who keeps telling me that aikido and jujutsu are the same thing.  I tell him, yes the movements may have almost no difference, but what the movements want to accomplish are different.

 Each of these letter designations are based on the overlap areas of the Venn diagram

A: Civilian/Sport

This category of martial art is one that blends a civilian self-defense art with some sporting aspects.  Kyokushin karate is the first one that jumps to mind on this one.  Though taught as a self-defense, they do have a competition aspect, with its own specific rules.   Brazilian Jujutsu, I think, has become this type of art.  Much of the training revolves around the "game" aspect of their art.

B: Military/Civilian

Police and other LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) have to bridge the gap between civilian and military.  They are required to remain in dangerous situations, whereas civilians self-defense says you should extract yourself from that same dangerous situation.  However, they cannot eliminate the threat, and in fact, must protect their assailant as much as feasibly possible.  So you can see the predicament for their martial arts.  They have to be brutally effective, reliable, and do the least amount of damage as possible.

C: Sport/Self-Development

These types of arts may have lost much of their martial aspects, but they origin lies in some martial history.  Kendo would be an example of this.  Although its main goal is self-development, it does so through the sporting aspect.  Many other arts fall into this combination of goals.  Sport Tae Kwon Do is like this.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this combination of goals.  What is wrong is to propose that these skills will transfer to self-defense or military situations.  Many good personal traits can be developed through these martial arts.

D: Military/Civilian/Sport

Some types of Filipino martial arts could belong to this category.  I mention them because I have seen schools that teach the knife aspect (military), and then change it over to empty hand (civilian) and then wear some protective gear and spar with it (sport).  I cannot say with certainty of any specific styles or schools that do all three in equal parts, simply because this is not my strength of knowledge, so if you do, please add a comment to tell me and the readers about it.

E: Civilian/Sport/Self-Development

Judo was developed by Kano Sensei as a way to build human character and spirit. It was done so by taking some of the battlefield techniques of the samurai past and adapting them for civilian situations.  However, Judo competitions were and still are a major part of this art.  Judo has enjoyed worldwide success because of that and has even become an Olympic event.

F: Military/Civilian/Sport/Self-Development

This should be the "ultimate" martial art right?  It does everything that is part of martial arts.  I can't think of an example of this, as any school that does everything would have the Jack-of-all-Trades problem.  They can do a little bit of everything, but not one aspect well enough.  

G: Military/Sport

I not sure about this category.  This category, even more so than D: military/civilian/sport, seems counter intuitive.  I think this would be weapons arts that practice with military uses in mind, but also have a side competition side to them.  I know there must be examples of this, I just wouldn't know what they are.  If anyone thinks they can give an example of a specific art that fits this section, please tell us about it in the comments.

H: Military/Sport/Self-Development

Battodo is a Japanese sword art of of drawing and cutting.  The cuts are often practiced against rolled tatami mats.  There is still the military application of this art, even if it is historical, yet they have cutting competitions, so there is a sporting aspect.  However, because of the lack of opportunity of use, one of the main purposes of these arts are in self-development.

I: Military/Civilian/Self-Development

 Some jujutsu schools that bridge the gap between "jutsu" and "do" would fit in this category.  They may still have some of the lethal or dangerous techniques in their system, but they also teach for a modern approach to self-defense, and as a result, they either directly or indirectly teach self-development.  As weird as it may seem, a real ninjutsu system should have all three of these goals in mind.  They should train to remove a threat when needed, they should train in true self-defense (awareness, avoidance, and then removal of yourself from the situation), and they should teach self control, and willpower as part of the system. 

J: Civilian/Self-Development

Aikido is a great example of this category.  Some of the more traditional forms of Taiji also seem to fall here.  This is a martial art that can be used as a self-defense aspect, again if taught in the correct self-defense format, but its main form of focus seems to be to try and make better people.  That seems to be the main goal of Ueshiba.  He wanted to use the training in this form of self-defense to make people better.  And I think it worked a little too well.  Much of the civilian self-defense aspects are taken out some school's teachings, and they only really focus on the self-development parts.  This is a shame, and I believe contrary to the methods of Ueshiba.

K:  Military/Self-Development

Most of the arts in this category, as I see it, are going to be historical weapons applications.  Most of the schools of kenjutsu will fall into this category.  They still have killing or disabling techniques, but again, because of the lack of everyday usefulness, the focus tends to be more of the self-development side of things.


    Many arts don't fit into any single category, they tend to straddle the lines between two or three of the categories.  The danger in these is trying to pretend that an art belongs to one category, say the self- defense category, when it doesn't train that way.  This can be dangerous in that it breeds ill-founded self-confidence in a situation where their art isn't as proficient.  This goes across all boards.  Aikido wasn't designed to work in a combat sport situation, and many of the military aspects have been taken out as well, leaving it as either a civilian or self-development part of the

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Martial Arts Categories Part I

This post ended up being a lot longer than I initially intended, so I broke it up into two posts.  Here is part I.  Next week I'll post part II

   In the first episode (Episode I: The Phantom Podcast) of our podcast, we jumped into the deep end and tried to define what "martial arts" means.  We talked for about 40 minutes, and in the end, I think we made some headway, but still didn't define the term very well, at least in any way that would include everything that is "martial arts."  Everyone on the episode had different lines drawn in the sand for what was and was not a martial art.  I've been trying to think of an answer to that question since the recording.  I think what we have to do is devise categories of activities that all fall under the umbrella of the term martial arts.  The categories I made are based on the goal of the art, so what I'm going to do is tell you about the goals, give you some examples, and let you sort out how your own art fits in there.  Next time, I'll write about the cross-goal martial arts. 

Civilian/Self Defense Martial Art

Goal: Safety, protection, and survival, of you and your loved ones.
    I have to admit, I borrowed the use of the term from Iain Abernathy.  When he uses it, he's describing practical karate, but I think the term applies to other arts as well.  If you are really practicing self defense, then there is a whole host of things that need to trained BESIDES the physical part.   In fact, if you get to the point of a physical altercation, most of your self defense has failed already.  Awareness should be your first line defense.  Avoidance your second.  De-escalation your third.  When it does get to the point of physical altercation, then your goal should be to do what you can to get out of the situation and run.  Not as romantic as our vision of what a martial artist is, but much more practical.  Legal concerns, as it is citizens performing the art, should be a part of the training as well. 
    Also, the art itself is designed to be used against unskilled opponent, in a non-fighting situation.  These arts are not meant to be used in a ring, cage, or octagon.  The demands of these situations are very different from self defense situations.  Aikido fits directly into this category.  When older arts "were modified" from the battlefield arts of the past, they became civilian arts.  And they should have been.  They have become antiquated for battle arts, but with modification, they can still retain their usefulness in self defense situations.

Military Martial Martial Art

Goal: Eliminate the Enemy
    Military members have completely different requirements of martial proficiency.  Their allowances for injuring, or even killing someone else are very different than civilian or even Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) martial arts.  Granted, right now, our (US at least) military seems to be acting more as a police force than a military force and as such their martial requirements are closer to the LEOs... but that's a different subject altogether.
    Many of us practice, what is Japanese is called koryu or old military art. It was designed to be used in life or death battlefield situations where you killed your opponent by any means necessary.  All koryu would also fall into this Military category, maybe even a sub-category called historical military.  This is not to say that the skills learned cannot be applied to self-defense situation, but they do have a different purpose.  If a civilian were to use these skills the way they were intended in a civilian situation, and "eliminate" the threat, they would have a whole world of legal issues to deal with.

Sport Martial Art

Goal: A test of athletic, martial skills in an artificial setting
    Sport martial arts include things like Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, or MMA.  Their goal is to be able to win competitions.  This means that they are effective in limited settings of no-weapon, single skilled opponent situations.  I've found that usually the physical attributes of sports martial artists are usually higher than those of other martial artists.  This is because they usually have a specific date that they know a fight is going to happen. Again, not to say that the skills cannot be transferable to other goals, but that is not the focus of their training.

Self-Development Martial Art

Goal: Self-Development
    Its been known for a while that warriors of times past, through their martial training, had to learn of philosophy, personal responsibility, and develop mental strength.  Warriors are powerful, enviable people, not only for their physical prowess, but the other aspects that are developed through training.  Now, with personal safety a smaller concern than any time in human history, the self defense, or killing aspects is not as important as it was in the past.  Many martial artists realized they could still maintain the mental and physical benefits while eliminating the more violent aspects of the arts.  Karate, as it was taught in the Okinawan school system, fits this description. 


    Notice, the doctrines, strategies, and tactics (See Episode IX-Good, Bad, I'm the Guy with the Podcast)  are not mentioned in this discussion, only the goal of the martial art.  Each specific style of martial art can blend different aspects of these goals together.  Each of the four categories has its own drawbacks and benefits for what they impart, and what benefits the practitioner derives from their art. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Win a copy of the Art of War

    Martial Thoughts Podcast is having our first contest.  I have a brand new, hardback copy of the Art of War as translated and commented on by John Minford.  I happen to have an extra copy, and I figured I'd give this one away.  The only thing you have to do is suggest a subtitle for our tenth episode of the Martial Thoughts Podcast.
    When I was putting up the episodes, I had to name them.  So in my infinite wisdom I called it, Episode I: The Phantom Podcast.  The Episode II, I had to follow suit, until I ran out of Star Wars titles to use.  Below is a list of the Episode subtitles we've used.  Tweet me (@martialthoughts) what you think Episode X should be Titled.  If we choose yours, I'll contact you and get a mailing address and you get the book!  Simple right.  Any suggestion will be accepted, as long as its in good taste, and it follows the "Podcast" pattern.  I know there are enough fun ideas amongst the martial artists I talk to online, so submit away.  You have until Episode X hits the air the day after Star Wars Day (May the 4th Be with you).  That day would of course be...Revenge of the 5th!

Good Luck!

What we've used so far

Episode I: The Phantom Podcast
Episode II: The Podcast Wars
Episode III: Revenge of the Podcast
Episode IV: A New Podcast
Episode V: The Podcast Strikes Back
Episode VI: The Return of the Podcast
Episode VII: Disney hasn't given us a name for this Podcast
Episode VIII: In Space, no one can hear you Podcast
Episode IX: Good...Bad...I'm the Guy with the Podcast
Episode X: ???