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Saw this link over at Ross Enamait's blog.  A 1950's book on Indian Physical Culture.  What's old is new and all that.  There are only so many ways to move and train the human body, whether it's fitness or combatives.  It always comes down to 2 things:  First ya gotta learn it, then ya gotta do it (a lot). 

 
Kyuzo Mifune Judo Clip - Amazing balance and body control shown by Sensei Mifune.  Well worth the 6 minutes.  “The greatest judo technician ever, after Kano”?  You decide.  Dude floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

The  Best Exercise There is, Hands Down - I totally agree with Mark Sisson on this account. When in doubt, DO SOMETHING.    As Alfred Adler said: “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

More on Sucker Punches -   How do you defend against this?  Other than being hyper
 vigilant, what could stop this kind of attack. You walk out of a store with your
girlfriend/spouse take a few steps and some dude walking behind you just punches
you in the head?  Crazy.

You Have The Right To Stay Out of Jail- Interesting infographic.  Now I’m a strong
believer in law & order and a friend of LEOs, but I’ve been told by several in the profession that the appropriate answer any time an Officer asks “Can I search your car?” or “Can I come in?” is “NO”.  Once you’ve given them permission, all sorts of bad things can happen that you’ve just given up your rights to prevent.    

Here’s a hypothetical example.  Let’s say you are a Concealed Carry Permit holder in the Commonwealth of PA.   And you inadvertently leave a firearm in your vehicle, but then cross state lines into one of our neighboring  States that don’t provide reciprocity
(ex. Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland) or may have legislated
onerous regs (magazine capacity limits, hollow point bans etc.).  You are pulled over for speeding, during which the Officer asks to search your car.  You, thinking that you
have nothing to hide and want to be helpful, say “Sure”. They find the firearm with an “illegal” high capacity magazine and hollow points, and you my friend, are hosed. 
Why risk it?  Just say “NO”, while being polite and non-suspicious/nervous.  (Of course there’s always the case where you knowingly carry concealed in a jurisdiction or state where you aren’t “officially” licensed and come into contact with law enforcement. 
That can lead to a pretty high pucker factor.)

 
The Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of “The Daily Collegian” (Penn State’s student newspaper) featured a front page article titled “Police, university officials discuss reaction plan to school shooting”.  Some assorted thoughts follow.

When responding to an “active shooting”, the article says that “The officers follow three steps.  Their first preference is to force the shooter to surrender.  If that fails, they are trained to barricade and incapacitate the threat.”  Keep in mind that ~ 43% of active shooting events are over BEFORE the police arrive.  The cold, hard facts are that YOU are responsible for YOU.  The police aren’t going to magically appear to save you.  Chances are very strong that they won’t arrive in time.  So what’s your plan to survive?

I’ve discussed previously Penn State’s “5 outs” program.  In this article they refer to a “SAFE” acronym, which stands for

S – Search for a safe place

A – Alert authorities

F – Find a place to hide

E – End the threat

My opinion is that this may be an adequate response if you have no other options and can’t reach any kind of exit.  But a better response is to get the heck out of the building as quickly as you can.  The “duck and hide” mentality is a nanny-state response that wants to enforce helplessness on people and reduce their willingness and ability to take care of themselves.  How much better would it be if individuals had both the means and ability to protect themselves (and others) at all times?

Another consideration is the type of attack.  Is it a solo shooter, such as a disgruntled student/co-worker/mentally ill person?  Or is it a coordinated terrorist attack (some LE and counter-terrorist specialists feel that schools are being studied as targets due to the emotional response guaranteed to transpire from such an event.  Farfetched?  Spend some time studying the terrorist attack at Beslan where 334 hostages were killed, 186 of them children.)  

Terrorists know that the standard protocol is to barricade the building.  That’s exactly what they’re looking for so that they can ensure maximum media coverage for the final carnage.  It’s not like they’re waiting to have their demands met or have a point to their “negotiations”.   Similar considerations for a mall scenario, such as those that have happened overseas (ex. Kenya, Mumbai).  It never ends well for the folks that have made the choice to hide inside and wait to be rescued. 

So what’s the right response?  That’s up to you.  Be informed, be intelligent, and be prepared.  Take personal accountability for the safety of you and your family. 

 
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I’m not one for New Years resolutions.  I’m more inclined to have goals and measure/work on them in a continuing fashion.   But there is something to be said for having regular triggers that remind (force) you to periodically stop and assess.  So at or around Christmas/New Years, I stop and look back to see how I’m doing compared to a year ago in at least the 5 F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, & Finance.  I like the 5 F’s because they’re easy to remember and cover all the important categories. 

Have I made any progress on the spiritual front?  (How you measure that is up to you).  Have I tried to improve or expand my relationships with Family/Friends?  Am I more or less Fit/Fat?   Do I have less debt or more savings?  If the answers aren’t what you wanted to hear, what are you going to do about it?  This points the way towards your goals/resolutions for 2014. 

And when setting goals, I like the recent tips in the Paleoista Blog “Your Resolutions Don’t Have to Be All or Nothing”.  We follow progression in training, why wouldn’t we follow progression in goal setting?  Several small steps are usually much easier to follow, possibly accomplish, and help develop the habits towards long term success. 

I also liked the approach over at Mark’s Daily Apple, “11 Questions to Ask Yourself at the Start of a New Year.  Some of these are more internal reflections (ex. “What kind of criticism have you received lately?”) but the others are directly health related (ex. “What were your biggest failings or mistakes this past year – healthwise – that were preventable or avoidable?”).  Again, this line of questioning can give insight into the kinds of things that you can work towards in your 5F categories.

Finally, I always appreciate what’s going on over at Martin Rooney’s Training for Warriors.  His “How to make 2014 your best year yet” post that discusses your “New Year’s Promise” is outstanding.  I especially like his quote “It doesn’t matter if you know what to do if you can’t do what you know.”   I would add to that “if you don’t do what you know.”  Most of us already know that we need to eat better or exercise more, we just don’t do it.  Shame on us.

So, there you have it.  A pretty broad selection of ideas and suggestions on how to set some reasonable goals to make your life better in 2014.  You should do something about it.  If not, then just grab a handful of Twinkies and a 2L bottle of Diet Coke and go sit on the couch and be a sloth like 98% of the rest of the planet.  It’s up to you. 


 
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An interesting document found HERE, that outlines the
  requirements and certifications of a fencing master from the Philippines tested in Mexico City in 1730.  Some things to think about, in no particular order:

 a) Interesting that the practical exam included single sword, sword and dagger, sword and shield, halberd, and pike.  The halberd and pike were largely used for ceremonial purposes even at that time, but the first three contain movement patterns that are still valuable with modern weapon systems.  
 
b) The movement and universality of weapons training systems.  Here’s a system that was based in Spain, travelled to the Philippines, then to Mexico City, and from there, who knows?  We know that there were fencing schools in 19th Century New Orleans, with both French and Spanish influence (no surprise given the history).  Not unlikely that some practitioners came up from Mexico as well.  So now you have systems that came to the Gulf Coast from both the East and the West.  How much did this influence the development and use of the Bowie platform?  

c) Interesting that the master is classified as “trigueno” or of mixed race.  The document mentions the possibilities of transmission of Spanish martial concepts to the Filipinos, but I also wonder about transmission of indigenous concepts the other direction as well?  
 
Disclaimer - Of course this document was found on the Internet, and since the Internet is often populated with complete crap, it’s possible that it’s not historically accurate. 
But the base site (
www.hroarr.com) seems pretty credible.


 
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Whether you think it’s an increasing or decreasing trend is not important, the fact is that the “Knockout” game exists and LE has been aware of it prior to the recent rash of publicity.  And as Dan Djurdjevic points out in this article, the worst effects may not necessarily be caused by the punch, but by the victim striking his/her head on the ground/curb.  As I’ve mentioned previously, the most common cause of death in a street fight is hitting your head on the ground.  
 
I recommend you read the entire Djurdjevic article and also watch the video (because they provide insight to the environmental/social conditions that led to the outcomes).  He has some interesting comments on how these scenarios are different from a“relatively safe” MMA bout.

In general, two important concepts to keep in mind:

1) Awareness -  As we say in karate, “the eye must see all sides; the ear must listen in all directions.”  Don’t walk, jog, or drive with your hoodie up, your ear buds screaming, texting your BFFs about how great the hot yoga class was and how you’re looking forward to
that guava and quinoa smoothie.  Pay Attention! Get your eyes up and use them.  Look around (yes, even behind you) and far ahead. If something doesn’t look/feel right, trust your instinct and get out of Dodge as fast as you can.  
 
Now I have to confess that I also need to continually practice this.  As recently as a week ago, while attending a local high school event, my good friend TB ghosted up on me in
the lobby full of people as I was waiting for the show to begin and rightly chastised me for my lack of situational awareness (never even saw him coming).  Of course this was in a
school where it’s always safe, so not to worry, right?  Good thing I had several “accessories” on my person that could have aided in my protection if necessary, but point being, I let someone get close enough to sucker punch me without even noticing him.   Bad, bad, bad.

2) Preparedness -  Being prepared doesn’t just mean having the skills necessary to
protect yourself as well as supplemental training with weapons if desired.  It means being prepared to run if necessary. Are you physically fit enough to run more than a dozen feet?   How about 100 yds?  Could you climb over a wall if necessary?  General physical preparedness goes a long way.   You don’t have to be a studly CrossFit games kind of guy/gal, but at least be able to move and manipulate your body thru space enough to save your life if necessary.  And if you have a family, do you have enough skills and are you in enough shape to defend them?  If not you, then who will?  
 
Being prepared also means being prepared not to go to stupid places with stupid people who do stupid things.  Crowded bars with drunken people, “bad” sections of town, walking down alleys alone late at night?   Prepare yourself with some common sense.  If you watched the video you could see how that crowd kind of morphed thru the parking lot, people taking videos with their cell phones, following the chaos. Nothing beneficial was going to happen, and although everyone wants to rubberneck and watch the train wreck, all those cues should be the first sign to beat feet and boogie home. 
 
All for now


 
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I read an interesting article in the latest “Dramatics” magazine (Don’t judge.  It was the only reading material available where I happened to be “sitting”).  The title of the article is “Getting the best from your acting teacher” by Jon Jory.  He says that “whoever the acting teacher might be, you want to drain them of knowledge like a glass of water in Death Valley” and goes on to list five rules to help you accomplish that goal.

As I read, I realized how many of the same  concepts apply to Martial Arts teachers (or really any other teacher).   For example:

Rule #1 – “you’re serious about acting (karate) so let the teacher see that”.  As it states, teachers want everyone to learn, but can’t help but being interested in the student who really wants to learn.  The reality is that the students that show the most interest and enthusiasm will get more time and attention.  The students that show up and only go through the motions or put in half-hearted effort won’t.  If you can’t muster more energy than the average turnip, you may be helping to pay the studio rent, but you’re probably not going to get a lot of extra time and attention from the Sensei.

Rule #2 – “get up and do it”.  Acting and the martial arts are experiential.  When someone has to demonstrate or volunteer, be one of those that jumps up and gives it a try.  You get
direct and immediate feedback, the opportunity to make mistakes, get corrected, and therefore get better.  Don’t be afraid.

Rule #3 – “ask for individual attention”.  Especially in large group sessions, you don’t get a lot of personal attention.  Instructors are willing to help you, so ask.  Most people don’t.  If there’s an open gym time, take advantage of it.  If you need to pay for a private lesson, save for it.  And come prepared with specific things to work on. As in, “I’m having trouble with this punch/kick/throw/hold”, or “the transition between the first and second parts of the kata is throwing me off”or “how do I improve my conditioning/strength/flexibility so that I can get better at X?”  Ask something specific.  
 
Rule #4 – “work outside the class so your in-class work is good enough to engage the teacher”.  Teachers want to see their students make progress.  This is very affirming for them and makes it all worthwhile.  So if I show you something, work on it.  If I make a suggestion, fix it.  If I see you continuing to make mistakes or not correct things we’ve gone over, guess how much that makes me want to work with you in the future, or spend time with you vs. other students that are actively working on what I told them?  Right, not very much.  The reality is that we all have limited time, energy and attention span.  And we’re not going to invest it in someone that isn’t valuing it in return.   Those are just the cold, hard facts, ma’am.  
 
Rule #5 – “ask for a reading list”.  This has a specific context for actors.  But I think it’s also very relevant for martial artists or students of any kind.  You should always be curious and investigating additional things that will make you better.  It may be a list of reading materials or sources that could broaden your horizons.  The history of your style, other
styles, nutrition, strength and conditioning, DVDs, etc.  We live in a golden age of martial arts, with more information available about more arts than ever before in the history of (wo)man.  Granted, some of its complete crap, but that’s why you ask someone like
your teacher for recommendations.  Show an interest in the Martial Arts, follow-up on what you’re told or given, and then ask for a chance to discuss/demonstrate it.  You never know where it will lead and it shows that you’re a serious student of the Arts.

So take a tip from the acting community, internalize these five rules, and see how
your progress accelerates.

 
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There is often controversy in how best to develop a skill.  Which is better, quality movements or quantity of movements? Perfect practice or just practice? It can
very much depend on who you talk to and what skill you’re developing.  

In the martial arts especially, technique is critical.  There are correct ways to throw a punch or kick (just as there are “different” ways to throw the same punch or kick).  Sensei Dorow once told me
“There will come a day that you will be called upon to defend yourself.  If you are not technically proficient, you will be destroyed.”   Hmmm.  Coming from a guy that was physically tested during 2 tours on the ground in Vietnam, as well as dojo “confrontations” in the 60’s & 70’s, that’s something I take to heart.  
 
But on the way to perfection in technique, you have to practice a lot of reps.  A lot. Of. Reps.   And those first dozen, hundred, thousand reps are far from perfect, but they count towards the larger goal.  I like the examples used in this Fast Company article (be sure to watch the “Girl Learns to Dance in a Year” video).   And the axiom “Try fast, fail fast,
learn fast” has a lot of merit.  
 
So, if you’re waiting for that perfect time to start or for inspiration, don’t wait.  Get some
reasonable instruction, then get out there and try it.   Then try it again, get some feedback from a credible, reliable source, and try it some more.  Sooner or later, just about anyone can do anything.  It’s a marvelous testament to the human organism and spirit.  



 
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Are you a resident of La-La Land?  As in living in some fantasy world where everything is good, nothing can go wrong, or "that can never happen to me"?

Unfortunately many people live in this world.  And therefore grossly unprepared to cope when things go horribly wrong.  Case in point - Acapulco.  Let's say you happen to decide on a well-deserved vacation to this tourist hot spot with your spouse, SO, and/or family.  Then this storm comes, the SHTF and things go from bad to worse.  Looking past the obvious needs for food, water and shelter, can you protect yourself and loved ones?  
 
Chances are you haven't been able to travel with a firearm.  Do you have basic empty hand skills?  How about if you need to kick it up a notch?  Can you
wield a stick?  What about a knife?  Or machete? There are some that question the need to spend time on these  "traditional" martial arts in the time of modern firearms.  But I'd sure like to have some basic understanding on how to keep a crowd at bay or protect my family with anything I could get my hands on.

But where would I even get those weapons?  Where's the housekeeping closet in your hotel?  Do they have brooms or mops?  Many have handles that are metal, but even wooden ones are better than nothing. Have you eaten in the resorts fancy restaurant?   I'll bet they have wooden handled steak knives.  Wouldn't be a bad idea to "acquire" one of those in advance, just in case.  If not, do you know how to get to the kitchen?  Chef knives, cleavers, carving knives - anything sharp and pointy.  Is there a local hardware or supply store?  Maybe not at a resort/tourist town, but if you're out in town, keep your eyes open.  In many other countries a machete or brush knife is a common household tool.  Also might be worth acquiring one in advance. Think that's unrealistic?  Think about Rwanda in 1994 (not that long ago).  500,000 - 1,000,000 killed, many with
machetes.
 
So, not to be paranoid, but use your head and be prepared.  As demonstrated in
Acapulco and elsewhere around the world, most places are only 72 hours from
chaos when the "normal" social systems break down from any reason. Get some training.  Firearms are good if you're so inclined and have legal access.  Stick skills like those offered by the Dog Brothers or machete/sword skills as proposed by James Keating.  Hopefully you'll never have to use the skills you develop, but it's better to be prepared.  Besides, it's fun and adds another dimension to your current skill set.
 
In closing, stay out of La-La Land, face some cold, hard facts and be prepared.  

Now get out there and train.


 
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Lessons learned from this recent incident in NASCAR truck racing.  Key event is approx. 50 seconds into this video:

1) The open hand slap is an effective technique.  There are
many that prefer the slap vs. the punch as an offensive technique.   Much less risk to hurting your hand on someone’s cranium.   Anyone can apply it without specialized training or hand conditioning. 
 
2)The preferred angle of attack on the jaw is from back to front.  This makes it most susceptible to break or dislocate.

3) Don’t piss off the girlfriend.  If you do piss off the girlfriend, don’t block with your
head.