This website has moved to:

The Striking Post is no more, it is now, Martial Secrets, the blog.

Inconvenient, yeah kinda, but I hope you enjoy the improvements.

Be well -

Kris +

Links to this post

The Old Guys

9:57 PM Monday, February 28, 2011

You know what I like, I like the old guys, the old karate-ka, the old judo-ka. Nothing to prove, smile easily, and just all around pleasant.

Let me tell you this story to illustrate my point. I was at a tournament and the guy running the show was in his eighties, looked sixty and smiled easily. He made decisions easily, no drama if something happened that was out of the ordinary, well he just fixed it. He didn't deal with it, he fixed it, a big difference in my book.

Then of course there was the other guy that glowered sternly at everybody with his best sensei eyes. This guy would do a Lee Majors imitation by lifting one eyebrow in the direction he looked and pause with that, “I am sizing you up, baby” look.

At the end of the day, the old guy went around and shook hands, thanked people for their participation, smiled a lot, smiled some more, and said, “Hope to see you next time.” The other guy, cornered me (I was just the guy in proximity) reached into the back pocket of his gi and pulled a photo out of his wallet.

“You know who that is?” “Uh, that is you right.” I guessed. “Yeah but, next to me, who's that.” I looked for a moment at the bent picture, “I, gotta say, I don't know.” His finger pointed to the picture again. “That is me, me and Joe Lewis.” To make this more awkward, we have seen each other around but never really spoken, he just bushwhacks me on the way out the door to show me his picture of him and Joe Lewis, like I said proximity.

One guy, with nothing to prove, the other guy still needed to add more to who he was.

I like the old guys, easy, smiling, nothing to prove.

And thanks for taking the time to read this little observational ramble, I know I feel better.

Links to this post

They hid it, but not in the form.

8:50 AM Monday, February 21, 2011

Yeah I think that martial artists of yesteryear hid their art. Teachers hid it from others so that they would have an advantage, one up, on a potential attacker.

The American Military has on occasion blown up it's own downed aircraft. They make sure the pilot(s) are clear of the wreckage, they lock in on the aircraft, swoop in and, boom! disintegrated. This ensures that the technology doesn't fall into the enemies hands. The technology is the edge that makes the difference. That technology means the we win, you lose.

However, the American Military didn't hide how to use the aircraft from the pilot. I am confident that this conversation between the engineers and the instructors never took place. “Hey Chet, let's make this Stealth Fighter hard to fly and then hide some of the skills needed to fly it from the pilot! No, no, no, wait, wait, aaaaannd we'll teach some of the skills backward, yeah! That's it, brilliant, done and done.”

It makes no sense at all. So if we take this real-world example to the world of kata it makes no sense to hide, obfuscate, or try to bury a technique to be found out after years of hard study.

I would go on to point out that way back in yester-lore, people didn't have as much free time, so the time allotted to martial arts was the purview of the military, the rich, and those few dedicated people that fall into the remaining categories of society.

So not much free time means I want to be able to apply my self-defense skills as fast as possible and do it well, hiding my skill from the bad guy until I need to show it, yeah that makes sense. Taking time away from making food and shelter and spending on some mind game...not so much.

So hiding from the bad guys, yes absolutely. Hiding from the end user, no, not at all.

Links to this post

This Conclusion Comes with Clarity

9:12 PM Monday, February 14, 2011

If you open up the Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) you will find a comment somewhere in the pages that a person should be familiar will all arts. Musashi also goes on to make the distinction between being familiar and understanding other arts, he is not suggesting that you master every art, just know about them.

Here is a quick list of where I have spent time, Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Hung-gar, Modern Arnis, Goju-Ryu, Judo, Aikido, Brazilian Jujitsu, Kenpo, Tai Chi and wrestling. You know what this experience has given me? A certainty. A certainty that what I am training now is right for me. This conclusion comes with clarity because I have had and still have the intellectual curiosity to explore other arts. A curiosity fostered by my parents, by my teachers and some of my martial arts instructors.

Now obviously I can not, nor could I try every art that is out there, that is impossible, however, a sampling allows you to “be familiar” as Musashi puts it. I liken it to a child that is resistant to trying a new food. They do not want to try it because they are confident that they know what it tastes like, and in a fit of immaturity turn up their nose to something that they have never tasted.

Some of my students have gone off to other arts, leaving the school permanently. Other students have returned after knocking around the martial arts world a bit. Other students have found something that lights them up more than karate. My comment to both of those paths is, “cool.”

I say get out there. There are more diverse opportunities in the martial arts than we have ever known in the history of man. Get out there try something new, you do not have to marry it, you can just date, it's OK....Guh a head, it's OK.

Links to this post

Filthy Fingers

7:13 AM Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I had a professor at college that announced one day that, “You should never trust a man with perfect finger nails.” with that statement I became a fan of his classes of which I think I took three. My background was from a farm, an agricultural community. Our community was so dependent on agriculture that we closed school for two weeks in the fall so the kids could help with the harvest.

When a kid took school off for harvest and didn't work that placed them in a different category, they where seen as somebody that didn't know how to work. What my professor validated was, don't trust anybody that doesn't do. The implication is that they don't understand.

For those of you that have degrees and are using those degrees today, when did you learn the most about what you do for a living? Did you learn more in the classroom or the first year or two out in the field plying your skills? So it has been stated many times before, differently, and most likely better, but when it comes to the martial arts, don't have perfect finger nails, get dirty, get slivers, get them smashed, get some dirt under the nails.

Reading a book, watching a DVD, or Youtube are great means of broadening your horizons. Using any available means to increase your knowledge and skills are great, but don't forget to get your fingers nails dirty. If you don't you may be like kids that never worked harvest, they never had filthy fingers.

Links to this post

Ok, yeah sounds all nice, fuzzy and easy to say. For somebody that teaches martial arts, it is not as easy as just showing up and gently shoving in the general direction of somebodies expressed goal. That is not successful over the long run. Success, here, is defined as a long and enjoyable training in the martial arts.

Aiding somebody in reaching their goals is a wild mix of the students needs, wants, and desires, plus your agenda as a teacher. Now let's complicate it by making it a moving target. Did your goals change as you progresses through he ranks, did you as a person morph, change and grow? Of course the answer is yes. The question is who is responsible for that transformation? Are you, the teacher responsible for the transformation, the other people in the school, a combination?

So helping others reach their goals is not a static target and yet we would hope that our discipline as a teacher will provide the laser like focus, the target that is needed to reach the goal. I would suggest to you that as an instructor that the target is not a target, but a path (although students still see it as a target). For students, know this, you will start with a target, but you and the target are going to change. Your goal will become a path if you stay long enough.

So let me get all Philosophy 101 here. For the students, the target forms the path and often you don't know you are on the path for focus on the target. Instructors have had targets, but are on a path.

So helping somebody reach their goal is more complicated than just putting them through the paces, targets move, appear and disappear, agendas change, and when a good path rises, it should be chosen.

Do you have a place that you can point to where the target fell away and the path appeared? I would love to hear about it.

There ya go, a big cup of deep thought tea.

Links to this post

Nothing says loser...

8:55 PM Monday, January 24, 2011

"Nothing says loser like 'I was kicked out of a cult.'" - Blind Date

Recently I have had an intermittent flurry of conversations with martial artists regarding instructors and instructor behavior. The conversation always comes down to a few points.

1. My instructor says I am not committed enough to X art

2. The instructors definition of commitment is, physically or mentally, unhealthy

3. My choice is to submit to the definition, or leave

4. I don't want to leave, and I don't care to by into the program as presented

The biggest issue is the sense of guilt that the person feels, the guilt that they have not worked hard enough, that they have lost something, that they have failed, plus a pile of other emotions.

Let's get this straight. It is your training, if you don't enjoy it, if it is causing you some form of consternation, you should stop.

The world is a tough place and it doesn't give a flying rip about how you feel. We all get kicked around every day; traffic, bills, work, difficult responsibilities, hard choices, sickness, and I am confident you can add more to the list.

So you are going to go take guff from your martial arts teacher? I don't mean challenging you to be better, but poorly constructed, lousy coach behavior. Yeah go pay for that with the money you earned, and further invest more of your time!? Pppppffft. I think not.

I suggest that if you are not having fun and learning you should leave.

You have a right to your life, and how you choose to spend that life. I am talking about the sanctity of the individual. So I am here to let you know that you are not necessary involved in a cult, but getting kicked out of a club, can make you feel like a loser. Well let's see what that illustrious philosopher and social scientist Marx had to say, of course I mean Groucho Marx; “I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”

These are of course extreme statements, but you get the idea, so here is the middle ground quote from one of my old instructors, “Karate is fun, when it stops being fun, you should stop.

Links to this post