Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kenpo Self Defense vs New self defense

One of the cool things about Lavallees is that the karate curriculum keeps moving forward.

When I started as a white belt, we learned kenpo (kempo? KC said that I appear to need some help with my written karate vocabulary. This is a great example. I need to make some time....) self-defense.

This was apparently a little more intricate than what we're moving to which is more direct. And it's more related to MMA too which of course, means that it's trendy. Which I'm in favor of. We're all fascinated by MMA these days.

For instance, we initially learned that if you are grabbed by the lapels, you lock their hands to your chest with one hand. Then, you strike upwards on their arms with your arms (breaking elbows), put that arm above their hands (still pinned to your chest) and knock them down while hitting their face with that elbow in the same move. As you pull back, you backhand the face too.

In the new approach, you still lock their hands to your chest but then, step in and upper cut to the throat, jaw, or nose. Then, without while still pinning their hands to your chest (and controlling them), you elbow across the face, grip the back of their neck and pull them into some knee strikes (face, leg, groin, body, face). In this method, you never release control and you get more quickly to disabling strikes. Partially, it's that I'm now learning advanced moves but also, this is a change of system.

I particularly like it that KC took the time to contrast the systems and explain the change. It's so much more interesting to know the derivation of the different moves and how to categorize them.
....sure which I had a view but it's getting a little ridiculous how often I'm pulling out my camera after class and asking people to demo for me.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Karate across the pond: “karate-do” vs “karate-jutsu”.

I'm driving for 3 hours on Thursday and back on Friday (Orlando for FETC).

I'd like to enjoy the drive so I've been hoping to understand how to download and listen to podcasts. Sadly, my newly repaired ipod still won't get recognized by the computer.

But, in preparing, I looked and round and listened to a podcast (online) from Iain Abernethy, a martial artist from across the pond. Let's start with the obvious. Great accent, hard work for us yanks to follow.

When I was in London (for 5 years before moving to Flordia), I would often turn to my colleagues during a meeting and ask them about an accent (actually, we would usually do this during a tea break or in the loo). My friends could tell me alot about someone based on the accent. eg - Upper crust pretensions, fancy schools, but not to the manor-born. Or, north country, school up there, notice the short sleeves and friendly attitude. Or, Scotsman thru and thru. He's not buying, let's not waste any time.

I was amazed and intrigued by the accent recognition game. I never made much progress in being able to recognize them myself. All this by way of saying that despite his conspicuous accent, I can't place him regionally or otherwise although I'm sure that I should be able to since it sounds very familiar (my only success in recognition was occassionally I could recognize an accent as identical to someone else's which effectively gave me the basics).

Iain's podcast was on “karate-do” vs “karate-jutsu”. He starts with:

The term “karate-do” has become associated with ineffective karate that makes little or no attempt to train in a realistic way....In contrast.... the practitioners of “karate-jutsu” are often viewed as dangerous psychotics who revel in violence and are base individuals unable to appreciate the higher aspects of the martial arts...

He ends by saying that they are two halves of the same coin which I find very diplomatic. Perhaps too diplomatic. I'm curious in more of a "take" as in: to fight without the -do-training in patience and displine, is too dangerous and likely to lead to problems....Schools on the -jutsu side tend to foster....(this is an example, not a viewpoint)

It's definitely worth a listen especially if you like their use of a more interesting vocabulary than is in common-usage Stateside. Also, the discussion somewhat parallels the Great Kata debate. Do we use the -do and -jutsu terms in this country?

Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

Monday, January 21, 2008

Woman age 53, with black belt in martial arts, tackles burglary suspect

A burglar chose the wrong house when he went into Margo Foster's .

Margo Foster is a marathoner with a black belt in karate. She earned her black belts at Lavallees East Coast Karate School.

I just heard her interviewed on 97.7 by Those Two Women in the Morning. See the Sun Sentinel article too.

On Friday morning, the 53-year-old Lighthouse Point resident returned home from tennis to find an intruder in her bedroom. Wearing her tennis skirt, she chased the 24 year old out of her house and down the street to get her property back.

She chased him seven blocks and when he began to climb a 6-foot fence, she "grabbed him by the neck, ripped him off the fence.. threw him to the ground, and put my knee to his chest."

We struggled for a few minutes before the burglar dropped the bag and started running again.

... I love this part....

"Go ahead and run," she yelled. "You're not going to get away from me. I've been running for 40 years." After she caught him and he was locked-up, she said: "I outran the kid. He had no cardiovascular system."

Gregory St. Germain, age 24, was arrested by Lighthouse Point police and charged with burglary to an occupied dwelling, battery, possession of stolen property and grand theft. Police said Foster recovered all of her property.

The police point out that criminals often carry guns. You are not advised to try this at home. And not to try and take advantage of Margo Foster.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Role Models

Total Karate posts about Hero Worship. Steve's thinking of being a role model without it becoming a trap, a "ego's prison":

The martial arts are full of masters, grand masters, great and holy grand masters..... How silly!... Putting all your energy into propping up some fake or ego maniac is holding back your own energy....

I'll take this in two directions in the future.
1. There is always a tension between fulfilling a role (boss, leader, father, etc) for others and being totally yourself.
2. Role models, hero worship. celebrity- and sports-crazy culture. Can we deal with the reality of people without becoming too cynical to still find inspiration in watching others?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Training, Blogging, & Puzzles - It's the struggle

I just read a Jiu-Jitsuer's discussion of why cheat codes wreck video games: Why we do this: part duex . I'd summarize Steve's article as: "It's not about the destination. It's about the journey." It's also how I would summarize almost everything of value. Nitor Ergo Sum.

I went platinum as the producer of a Playstation game a decade ago. It was a cute 3D platformer. While we were developing the game, I kept trying to get the team to deal with the question of "What is fun?" Why do people spend a hundred hours steering a little digital character through a make-believe world? I would take people to a nearby park to watch kids go down the slide, over and over and ask: "why are they doing that? Why is that fun?" We watch them swing back and forth, over and over. And climb. I was considering the nature of play and fun. I listened to the sounds that the kids made. I watched what play equipment the kids ignored. And we built a game with lots of fun noises and moves which felt good. It sold 4 million copies.

When my children were small, I would entertain them on the plane for hours by wrapping their beenie baby up inside the plane puke bags. I'd put one bag inside another bag. Inside another bag. Then I'd wrap the bags inside a page of an old newspaper. Then another puke bag. The kids loved unwrapping layer and after layer and finding their stuffed animal inside. And we did it for hours. Same game. Same prize. Just kept adding more puke bags.

In the same vein, there's jigsaw puzzles. Take many hundreds of pieces and drop them on the table. Then carefully sort and join them together over a period of days or week. Fun Fun. And have you noticed all those people who do the crossword puzzle every day? Fifteen minutes of intense mental work so that they can fill in a few hundred little letter boxes on a piece of paper before throwing it away.

My point is this. It's not the destination, it's not just the journey (which can be passive), it's the struggle that we enjoy. To coin a phrase: Nitor Ergo Sum. To be alive, you need to make an effort. Maybe, the more you struggle, the more alive you are.

I think there is some truth in this. I don't think it's the whole truth. (Confused yet?)But here's the point. I've been searching to understand why I'm working hard at training and at learning to blog. In both cases, I've recently outgrown my previous reasons. Before, I was trying to get a black belt and to blog enough to keep track of the kata and amuse my team-mates as we got our blackbelt. Now, I need to find my new reasons. Or the real underlying reasons. And today, I visualized the reason. I like the struggle.... to write..... to run a business.... you fill in the blank. What do you like to struggle to do?

As I said last week, I found a thought that I like: Any activity can become a personal discipline...The activity is really a vehicle....

It's the struggle which has meaning. No it's not playing a video game, hitting a tennis ball across a net, or filling in a crossword puzzle. For me these days, its the martial arts and blogging. With no cheat codes. And a 50 year old body to lug around and a busy schedule to fit it all into.

All part of the game. And the struggle.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Found a thought - and blog - that I like

I was looking today for more blogs that I like and I found this:

Karate was not originally a method for self development/improvement - it was purely for combat. But that doesn't mean karate cannot be such a system. The art has had things added to it over the last 100 years or so - ex gi, coloured belts,.... Any activity can become a personal discipline...The activity is really a vehicle for inner training by focusing the mind and taming the ego. Paraphrased from Personal Discipline

This was the first time I've heard this thought articulated. But it's a thought that I've had in the back of my mind for a long time. I'm going to think about this. And keep reading his blog.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Warriors Collide III

Warriors Collide 3 was a total blast. While Warriors Collide 2 was my intro to attending live fights, Warriors Collide 3 was a much bigger deal for was the first time I saw people that I know step into the ring.
First of all, there was the anticipation. In my classes at the dojo, we were all checking with our 19 year old instructor (Stephanie) to see if she felt ready for her debut in the ring. She seemed really excited and a little nervous. I was terribly nervous (anxious, terrified etc) for her and also excited. Check out the Sun Sentinel's interview of the Hammer Gym crowd which does a good job of showing the excitement of training for a fight. ."Warriors Collide" Sun Sentinal Story on HAMMER GYM'S FIGHTERS!*

Secondly, as I said, I knew some people fighting. One of my instructors...Stephanie was in the ring. My next article will cover her and sensei Hewitt (also from Lavallees USA).

There were two fights that particularly interested me which I've found on YouTube. Both were girls fighting. Somehow, they were cooler than the guys fighting. That's not just my personal evaluation, the noise-o-meter in the auditorium showed that they were the crowd's favorite.

Nicole D'Aiguillion of Hammer Gym vs Jenn Goodall of Ghost Fighter

Trish Cicero of Lavallees vs Tara Moore of Griffonrawl