Monday, March 31, 2008

April: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month- Double Feature

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha...
Well kids, here it is, one day early. Gotta get out early tomorrow.
Who can say that Maureen McCormick wasn't the heart-throb of every teenage boy in America during the seventies. She made the Damned Brady Bunch worth watching and most likely started my attraction to slim girls with long straight hair. My wife has a striking resemblence to dear Maureen.
I read years ago that some guy had even started a cult based on Marsha/Maureen being the "Goddess Of The Sun And Moon" or something, With McCormick's husband threatening to beat the crap out of the guy.
But here's the kicker, Boys:
From The New York Post
"October 1, 2007 -- MAUREEN McCormick's sensational claim that she had a lesbian fling with Eve Plumb during their years as sisters Marcia and Jan Brady on "The Brady Bunch" couldn't have come at a better time"...
(D.R.) It gets better, but I can't write about that part. Oh Marsha, Marsha, Marsha... if we only knew...
And for our next act, you gotta check out this website, for pictures of beautiful girls with the most incredibly dorky guys you could ever imagine. The commentary by the author is priceless, Enjoy!

***Dave at Formosa Neijia just rained on our parade, read the comments...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

MMA For Kids As Young As Six?

What is missing from this training?
Well it's finally happened. MMA has gone to the pre-teenbeat. It made national television yesterday, so it must be true. Kids are the new gladiators, and I wonder what is missing from this program.
How about:
-Learning about other cultures through tradition, formality and dress?
-Learning about the historical background of a chosen Martial Art
-Learning an "ART", something that you can practice alone for self satisfaction and self improvement
-Learning the structure of rank and dicipline
-Learning that it's not just about fighting...
Now, I know that this was inevitable, and this is going to train new generations of hellcat fighters, but there is something depressing and sad about it for those of us who have had the privilege to experiance the comraderie and structure of a traditional Martial "ART".
As I've said before; "Combat brings necessary pain, "Art" necessarily brings pleasure".
Here's the article:

Ultimate fighting expands to include children as young as 6; some fight with parents' blessing
By MARCUS KABEL , Associated Press
March 27, 2008
CARTHAGE, Mo. - Ultimate fighting was once the sole domain of burly men who beat each other bloody in anything-goes brawls on pay-per-view TV.
But the sport often derided as "human cockfighting" is branching out.
The bare-knuckle fights are now attracting competitors as young as 6 whose parents treat the sport as casually as wrestling, Little League or soccer.
The changes were evident on a recent evening in southwest Missouri, where a team of several young boys and one girl grappled on gym mats in a converted garage.
Two members of the group called the "Garage Boys Fight Crew" touched their thin martial-arts gloves in a flash of sportsmanship before beginning a relentless exchange of sucker punches, body blows and swift kicks.
No blood was shed. And both competitors wore protective gear. But the bout reflected the decidedly younger face of ultimate fighting. The trend alarms medical experts and sports officials who worry that young bodies can't withstand the pounding.
Tommy Bloomer, father of two of the "Garage Boys," doesn't understand the fuss.
"We're not training them for dog fighting," said Bloomer, a 34-year-old construction contractor. "As a parent, I'd much rather have my kids here learning how to defend themselves and getting positive reinforcement than out on the streets."
Bloomer said the sport has evolved since the no-holds-barred days by adding weight classes to better match opponents and banning moves such as strikes to the back of the neck and head, groin kicking and head butting.
Missouri appears to be the only state in the nation that explicitly allows the youth fights. In many states, it is a misdemeanor for children to participate. A few states have no regulations.
Supporters of the sport acknowledge that allowing fights between kids sounds brutal at first. But they insist the competitions have plenty of safety rules.
"It looks violent until you realize this teaches discipline. One of the first rules they learn is that this is not for aggressive behavior outside (the ring)," said Larry Swinehart, a Joplin police officer and father of two boys and the lone girl in the garage group.
The sport, which is also known as mixed martial arts or cage fighting, has already spread far beyond cable television. Last month, CBS became the first of the Big Four television networks to announce a deal to broadcast primetime fights. The fights have attracted such a wide audience, they are threatening to surpass boxing as the nation's most popular pugilistic sport.
Hand-to-hand combat is also popping up on the big screen. The film "Never Back Down," described as "The Karate Kid" for the YouTube generation, has taken in almost $17 million in two weeks at the box office. Another current mixed martial arts movie, "Flash Point," an import from Hong Kong, is in limited release.
Bloomer said the fights are no more dangerous or violent than youth wrestling. He watched as his sons, 11-year-old Skyler and 8-year-old Gage, locked arms and legs and wrestled to the ground with other kids in the garage in Carthage, about 135 miles south of Kansas City.
The 11 boys and one girl on the team range from 6 to 14 years old and are trained by Rudy Lindsey, a youth wrestling coach and a professional mixed martial arts heavyweight.
"The kids learn respect and how to defend themselves. It's no more dangerous than any other sport and probably less so than some," Lindsey said.
Lindsey said the children wear protective headgear, shin guards, groin protection and martial-arts gloves. They fight quick, two-minute bouts. Rules also prohibit any elbow blows and blows to the head when an opponent is on the ground.
"If they get in trouble or get bad grades, I'll hear about it and they can't come to training," he added.
In most states, mixed martial arts is overseen by boxing commissions. In Missouri, the Office of Athletics regulates the professional fights but not the amateur events, which include the youth bouts. For amateurs, the regulation is done by sanctioning bodies that have to register with the athletics office.
The rules are different in Oklahoma, where unauthorized fights are generally a misdemeanor offense. The penalty is a maximum 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.Joe Miller, administrator of the Oklahoma Professional Boxing Commission, said youth fights are banned in his state, and he wants it to stay that way.
"There's too much potential for damage to growing joints," he said.
Miller said mixed martial arts uses a lot of arm and leg twisting to force opponents into submission. Those moves, he said, pressure joints in a way not found in sanctioned sports like youth boxing or wrestling.
But Nathan Orand, a martial arts trainer from Tulsa, Okla., said kids are capable of avoiding injuries, especially with watchful referees in the rings. He thinks the sport is bound to grow.
"I can see their point because when you say 'cage fighting,' that right there just sounds like kids shouldn't be doing it," Orand said.
"But you still have all the respect that regular martial arts teach you. And it's really the only true way for youth to be able to defend themselves."
Back in the Carthage garage, Bloomer said parents shouldn't worry about kids becoming aggressive from learning mixed martial arts. He said his older son was picked on by bullies at school repeatedly last year but never fought them, instead reporting the problem to his teachers.
And fighters including his 8-year-old son get along once a bout is over, Bloomer said.
"When they get out of the cage, they go back and play video games together. It doesn't matter who won and who lost. They're still little buddies."

(D.R.): "Some fight with parents blessing"?
***Also check out Pat's post over at Mokuren Dojo on Kids and armbars HERE

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is This What's happening In "No Touch Knockouts"?

"Look into my eyes"

Back to the controversial subject of "No touch knockouts", My original post is linked HERE. As I describe in that post, I have personally seen the "no touch knockout" work in some interesting ways, and I have seen it fail miserably. Nearly everyone has seen the videos of the technique failing against skeptics or hardened athletes.
There is however something going on, and I believe it is Hypnosis. Look at this example of Hypnosis used in a robbery:

Now, every time I have witnessed a "no touch knockout", there has been intense eye contact between the instructor and the subject. Here is the background of the above video:
'Look into my eyes': Supermarket robber who hypnotises checkout girls to get the cash is hunted by Italian police
Last updated at 11:19am on 21st March 2008
Italian police have issued video footage of a man who has been hypnotizing supermarket checkout staff and getting them to hand over the cash.
In every case, according to reports, the last thing staff remember is a man leaning over and saying 'Look into my eyes' before suddenly finding the till is empty. In the latest incident captured on video footage the man walked into a bank in Ancona in northern Italy.
He waited until he got to a female bank clerk and, according to the video footage, appears to hypnotise her into handing over more than £600.
He then calmly walked out.
The cashier who was shown the video footage reportedly has no memory of the incident. She only realised what had happened when she saw the money missing.
Checks of CCTV cameras in the bank showed her being hypnotised by the man.
Italian police are now looking for the suspect - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Saddam Hussein - who they believe is either of Indian or North African.
From dailymail:
(D.R.)-- So there are legendary stories of warriors in combat, when one catches the other's gaze, causing him to falter and loose the battle. In a sense, capturing the opponent's "spirit". We are even tought in Karate sparring to avoid falling for eye fakes which throw your rythym off or confuse you. Even a loud Ki-ai can have an impact psychologically. I continue to believe that there is SOMETHING going on here. Take a look at my previous post ,and also HERE for more ideas...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Examples Of Sun-Style Bagua

Sifu Joshua Brown

Sun Style Bagua

Here's two examples of the Sun-style Bagua we have been learning. Lots of fun, much more dynamic than Tai Chi Chuan, and a surprisingly good workout. Having an instructor like Tim Cartmell show the applications to these complex forms is quite a trip. Contrast and compare...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Back To School With Tim Cartmell

Sun Lu Tang

Tim Cartmell was in Seattle Saturday for his continuing series of seminars on Sun-style Bagua, as well as two other sessions on Xing Yi and a clinch clinic.
I had spent the last three days traveling to Oregon and back but was able to attend the afternoon session on Bagua before racing to catch the ferry back to the islands.
This time Tim focused on the Snake and Hawk forms, both unique and powerful in their applications. And when I say powerful, remember we are talking about Tim Cartmell, author of "Effortless Combat Throws" and other books on Chinese Internal Arts. Check out Tim's bio on Wikipedia Here. Tim has an incredible ability to take these obscure forms and pull out the joint locking, grappling and takedowns hidden within them, all from an internal martial arts perspective. After a review on the fan-jang hand techniques, with one he hadn't shown us last time (snake hands) we ran through the circle-walking before heading into a study of the Snake and Hawk forms. We practiced them in a linear way at first, just to understand them before moving into applications.
As you can imagine, the snake form tends to rely on tighter coiling movements, "snaking" around an opponents guard or torso. Applications included passing under the opponents arm into a hammer-lock with choke, with alternate San-kyo type lock. Another was from both opponents in an overhook-underhook wrestling posture. The technique was to keep the overhook very tight, snake the underhook arm across the opponents chest and down to the thigh on the side you have the overhook on. The palm turns against the opponents thigh as a fulcrum as you have stepped deeply into his dead angle to pivot him down for the takedown. There were several variations of this.
The Hawk form is more extended, with a piercing palm in one portion, turning with a chopping motion and a knee lift (similar to golden rooster stands on one leg in Tai Chi). The piercing palm application led into a over-the-shoulder arm bar, which could transition into a top wristlock. This is a grappling technique we practice at our Dojo, but bringing it out of the Hawk form application was fascinating. Here's what was really cool about the next part of the Hawk form: the knee lift after the turn is not a knee strike, because you are pulling the knee back and up, not foward as in a knee strike. Instead, you press against the opponents chest with one palm while pulling on his arm with the other, forcing him back on his heels. Then, you use YOUR lead foot to scoop his unweighted leg up, catch his heel and now you have his leg pulled up and extended where you can easily sweep the other leg or use any number of techniques for a powerful takedown. This is an application I had not seen or thought of before.
As always, the seminar was generously hosted by Jake Burroughs of "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center". For further information, here's the link for Jake's website and contact info for upcoming events.-- Now I'm off to practice what we learned and nurse a few sore muscles...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's Time We Had This Discussion

Do We Have Plans To Invade The Middle East?

Back in the "70's, When Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney were still in Gerald Ford's White House, Robert Redford starred in "Three Days Of The Condor". This brilliant and thrilling movie foretold what we are living through today.
Think about it:
The U.S. economy is on the brink of destruction - The second Republican Great Depression. The blood and treasure of our great nation has been squandered in a grand chess game, played out by the puppet-masters and paid for with your children's
financial and physical legacy.
Self defense is more than kicking somebody's ass. It's knowing your rights when oppressed by authority. It's picking your fights wisely. It's feeding your family.
Self defense is considering the "worst case scenario".
We are in for hard times, possibly as bad as the crash of 1929. There are riots in third-world countries due to a decrease in rice production. Wheat production can not keep up with demand, and the bio-fuel scam is using up valuable cropland. Infrastructure in our country is literally collapsing. It is time to really, REALLY change the direction our country is going, and it's gonna' be hard work.
I know most people read this Blog for a lively discussion on martial arts, but protecting yourself also means not being willfully ignorant. With that being said, I am going to print this article in it's entirety.
Coming up in the next few months, I'd like to explore some ideas on how we will continue to protect our families, feed ourselves, and guard our financial resources.
Here's the article, from the Sacramento Bee:

Steven Mufson: A crude case for war?
By Steven Mufson -
Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It's hard to miss the point of the "Blood for Oil" Web site. It features one poster of an American flag with "Blood for oil?" in white block letters where the stars should be and two dripping red handprints across the stripes. Another shows a photo of President Bush with a thin black line on his upper lip. "Got oil?" the headline asks wryly.
Five years after the United States invaded Iraq, plenty of people believe that the war was waged chiefly to secure U.S. petroleum supplies and to make Iraq safe -- and lucrative -- for the U.S. oil industry.
We may not know the real motivations behind the Iraq war for years, but it remains difficult to distill oil from all the possibilities.
That's because our society and economy have been nursed on cheap oil, and the idea that oil security is a right as well as a necessity has become part of our foreign policy DNA, handed down from Franklin D.
Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter to George H.W. Bush. And the war and its untidy aftermath have, in fact, swelled the coffers of the world's biggest oil companies.
But it hasn't happened in the way anyone might have imagined.
Instead of making Iraq an open economy fueled by a thriving oil sector, the war has failed to boost the flow of oil from Iraq's giant well-mapped reservoirs, which oil experts say could rival Saudi Arabia's and produce 6 million barrels a day, if not more. Thanks to insurgents' sabotage of pipelines and pumping stations, and foreign companies' fears about safety and contract risks in Iraq, the country is still struggling in vain to raise oil output to its prewar levels of about 2.5 million barrels a day.
As it turns out, that has kept oil off the international market at just the moment when the world desperately needs a cushion of supplies to keep prices down. Demand from China is booming, and political strife has limited oil production in Nigeria and Venezuela.
In the absence of Iraqi supplies, prices have soared three-and-a-half-fold since the U.S. invasion on March 20, 2003. (Last week, they shattered all previous records, even after adjusting for inflation.) The profits of the five biggest Western oil companies have jumped from $40 billion to $121 billion over the same period. While the United States has rid itself of Saddam Hussein and whatever threat he might have posed, oil revenues have filled the treasuries of petro-autocrats in Iran, Venezuela and Russia, emboldening those regimes and complicating U.S. diplomacy in new ways.
American consumers are paying for this turmoil at the pump. If the overthrow of Saddam was supposed to be a silver bullet for the American consumer, it turned out to be one that ricocheted and tore a hole through his wallet.
"If we went to war for oil, we did it as clumsily as anyone could do. And we spent more on the war than we could ever conceivably have gotten out of Iraq's oil fields even if we had particular control over them," says Anthony Cordesman, an expert on U.S. strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who rejects the idea that the war was designed on behalf of oil companies.
But that doesn't mean that oil had nothing to do with the invasion.
In his recent memoir, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil." Says Cordesman: "To say that we would have taken the same steps against a dictator in Africa or Burma as we took in Iraq is to ignore the strategic realities that drove American behavior." There is no single conspiracy theory about why the Bush administration allegedly waged this "war for oil." Here are two.
Version one: Bush, former Texas oilman, and Vice President Dick Cheney, former chief executive of the contracting and oil-services firm Halliburton, wanted to help their friends in the oil world. They sought to install a pro-Western government that would invite the major oil companies back into Iraq. "Exxon was in the kitchen with Dick Cheney when the Iraq war was being cooked up," says the Web site of a group called Consumers for Peace.
Version two: As laid out in an April 2003 article in Le Monde Diplomatique, "The war against Saddam is about guaranteeing American hegemony rather than about increasing the profits of Exxon." Yahya Sadowski, an associate professor at the American University of Beirut, argues that "the neo-conservative cabal" had a "grand plan" to ramp up Iraqi production, "flood the world market with Iraqi oil" and drive the price down to $15 a barrel. That would stimulate the U.S. economy, "finally destroy" OPEC, wreck the economies of "rogue states" such as Iran and Venezuela, and "create more opportunities for 'regime change.' " There are historical roots for all this suspicion. After World War I, the Western powers carved up oil-producing interests in the Middle East. In Iraq, the French were given about a quarter of the national consortium, and the U.S. government pressured its allies to turn over an equal share to a handful of American companies.
Even now, the fate of Iraq's concessions is laden with politics.
Russia's Lukoil hopes to regain access to a giant field. China is seeking new fields. The big U.S. firms are angling to return to fields they ran before sanctions barred them during the 1990s. Smaller U.S., Turkish, European and Korean firms are gambling on new exploration deals with the autonomous Kurdish regional authority despite threats from Baghdad.
"One can imagine Iraq's oil fields as a pimple waiting to be pricked," says Antonia Juhasz, author of "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." She notes that the Bush administration put former oil executives on the reconstruction team, hired the Virginia consulting firm BearingPoint to write a framework for Iraq's oil industry, picked the Iraqis who took key oil ministry posts and has pressured Iraq to adopt a petroleum law favorable to international companies.
The petroleum law has become a rallying point for critics who say that the war was about oil. It would allow long-term production-sharing agreements, which Juhasz says are only used in 12 percent of the world "and only where the country needs to entice the companies to come." Defenders of the law, including exiled Iraqi oil experts, say that it provides for different types of contracts; how generous they are will depend on how well they are negotiated, but the law sets minimum conditions.
Greg Muttitt, another widely quoted war critic, who works for Platform London, a group of British environmentalists, human rights campaigners, artists and activists, says that an occupied country can't negotiate freely. What ended up in the proposed petroleum law, he says, was "pretty close" to what was in papers drafted by the State Department before the invasion. "Perhaps not surprising," he adds, given lobbying by U.S. officials and the role of former oil company executives in the reconstruction hierarchy.
That's the theory. The problem is: The petroleum law has not been adopted.
The idea that the Bush administration was in the tank for the oil industry glosses over a story of conflicting views before the U.S.
invasion and the bungled execution of plans afterwards. There were two rival interagency policy groups before the war, one led by the Pentagon and one by the State Department. Some key differences were never resolved. Some Pentagon planners wanted Iraq to maximize oil output, while State worried that a flood of Iraqi oil could threaten Saudi interests and market share.
The notion of an oil war also conjures up an image of a swashbuckling, string-pulling oil industry that no longer reflects a business that in many ways has become cautious and fearful of political turmoil. Western oil interests did encourage the overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh in the early 1950s and the war in Suez in 1956. But generally oil companies are content to forge alliances of convenience with leaders as diverse as Saudi kings, Angolan communists and Indonesia's late, long-time autocrat Suharto as long as they're predictable. On those leaders' politics, human rights record, ethnicity or religion, oil giants are agnostic.
"Companies don't like and won't make investments where there's uncertainty, and war is the biggest uncertainty of all," said Rob McKee, the former number two executive at ConocoPhillips and a former top U.S. official overseeing Iraq's oil sector. "On the other hand, companies were hoping that Iraq would open up, and as long as Saddam was there, Iraq couldn't. ... From that point of view, maybe they were happy that there would be a change." Still, the big firms had trepidations. In a conversation with an adviser shortly before the invasion, the chief executive of one of the five major oil companies described what he would say if asked to invest billions of dollars in Iraq after the war: Tell me about the contract system, arbitration, physical security and social cohesion, then we'll decide.
Five years later, they still haven't decided, and physical security is so tenuous that the oil giants are still declining Iraqi invitations to send their employees to inspect existing fields.
This wasn't what Bush administration planners had expected.
Leading administration officials expected a postwar Iraq to reclaim its former position among oil exporters. "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress just after the invasion, predicting that oil would generate $50 billion to $100 billion in revenues within two to three years.
Ironically, Iraq might approach that figure this year because of high prices, not higher production.
Prewar planning settled who would oversee Iraq's oil sector. The Pentagon picked Phil Carroll, a well-respected former top executive at Royal Dutch Shell, who was succeeded by McKee. War critics point to such industry ties as evidence of nefarious influence, but former administration members say the choices were made on the basis of expertise. "If you wanted to get someone to help run an oil industry, who would you choose?" asked one person involved in selecting Carroll. "A broker on an exchange? An environmental expert? Or the head of an oil company?" The controversial details were all part of the larger strategic picture. "When we first decided on the war, I don't remember oil playing an important part," says Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under the elder Bush and a critic of the current president's decision to invade.
But that's because concern about oil supplies is part of the architecture of U.S. foreign policy. Scowcroft notes that oil can't be disregarded because Iraq and its neighbors sit on two-thirds of the world's oil reserves. But oil needn't be mentioned either because it's self-evident. War critics might call that the perfect conspiracy.
In a sense, though, all Americans are part of that conspiracy. We have built a society that is profligate with its energy and relies on petroleum that happens to be pooled under some unstable or unfriendly regimes. We have frittered away energy resources with little regard for the strategic consequences. And now it's hard and expensive to change our ways.
Zaab Sethna, a business consultant and former official of the Iraqi National Congress, says that he attended many Pentagon and State Department meetings and never heard postwar oil policy discussed.
But, he says, "Let's not kid ourselves. Iraq is sitting on a very large portion of oil itself and is in a key region of the world. And that makes it important for U.S. security interests. ... The Iraqi opposition ... realized that Rwanda wouldn't be getting the attention of the superpower." Until Rwanda discovers oil.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mike Martello: New Prices For Training Camp In China

Mike Martello wrote me the other day to let us know the prices have been reduced for his July 2008 training camp in China. A video of the intense training and beautiful locations are at THIS DOJO RAT POST.
Mike is one of the best instructors I have trained with-- 5'2" of intense energy and instruction with a heavy dose of humor. It's an absolute pleasure to learn from Mike, and for more information on this summer's training camp in China, please go to his website linked HERE.
In the mean time, watch this video of him giving his student a sound thrashing!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Aikido-- Dances With Wolves

Patrick over at Mokuren Dojo has this excellent post on Dog attacks, with a link back to a similar post I wrote for Dojo Rat. In it, he has videos of Dog attacks on both trainers and on-duty cops. The Dutch Shepherd appears to have the best bite strength and knockdown power, it's an impressive demonstration. The video also relates modern guard dog strength and tactics to that of ancient wolves.
Now, it just so happens I picked up a copy of "Aikido And The New Warrior", a collection of Aikido life-experiance articles edited by Richard Strozzi Heckler. Heckler has also written a book on his experiance training Green Berets in Aikido.
In one chapter of "Aikido And The New Warrior", O. Fred Donaldson writes "On Aikido, Wolves And Other Wildlife". Donaldson comments that most of the time people compete AGAINST animals, in hunting, rodeo and other events. Here he comments:
"We can substitute the dead trophies of contest with the enlivening experiances of Aikido. Suppose that instead of hunting animals to kill, we sought them out to engage in Randori (multiple person attack)".
Donaldsons comments reflect the concept that he has used his Aikido to become closer to nature, a blending aspect that most woodsmen, sailors and mountaineers realize.
But more specificly, he talks about using Aikido to help him fit in with a Wolf pack at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Washington State. He had to become like the wolves himself, and the blending concepts of Aikido helped him fit in. Here Donaldson explains:
"As Ukes, wolves are too fast, too full of suprise for me to depend on thought to control my responses. I use gentle intuition and heart to blend with their movements. Some are gentle, some quite forceful, and one is sneaky, always seeming to go to ground and jump me from behind." -- "My introduction to play with wolves was like being in the middle of an Aikido randori exercise".
Donaldson describes how he is often surrounded by as many as seven wolves, rolling in spirals and circles in a playful but potentially dangerous randori with his attackers. All the dynamics of an Aikido school, with heirarchy, technique, and necessary harmony are played out. It's a beautiful metaphor, and a thoughtful, well-written article.
It seems appropriate to conclude with this quote from Kipling's "The Law Of The Wolves"--
"The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack".

*** Please note:
Thanks Ted, for the detailed article on dog attacks in Aikido Journal- LINK HERE

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Wait 'Till The Olympics Start...

Monks under siege in monasteries as protest ends in a hail of gunfire

Jane Macartney in Beijing
Paramilitary police have surrounded Tibet’s most important monasteries after hundreds of monks shouting “Long live the Dalai Lama” defied Beijing in the biggest protest in the Himalayan region for almost 20 years.
Witnesses described violent clashes between monks and police on the outskirts of Lhasa on Monday afternoon and reported hearing as many as 60 gunshots as troops forced the monks to return to their quarters early yesterday. They said that about 60 monks from Drepung monastery were detained on the edge of the Tibetan capital and about 11 from Sera monastery were arrested after shouting anti-Chinese slogans.
The demonstrations were timed to coincide with the 49th anniversary on Monday of an anti-Chinese uprising in which the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India and tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed. Around the world, Tibetans took to the streets to commemorate the anniversary and to press demands for independence for the deeply Buddhist Himalayan region before the Beijing Olympics.
Monks took part in three demonstrations across Lhasa on Monday — a show of unrest likely to unsettle the Communist leadership in a year when China is under worldwide scrutiny before the Games in August.
The protests began when 400 monks left Drepung on Monday afternoon and marched about eight kilometres (five miles) as far as the Lhasa Customs office, where a dozen police cars blocked the road. They refused to return to their monastery unless the authorities met a series of demands.
Topping the list was a plea to the Government to grant full religious freedoms to Tibet before the start of the Beijing Games, a source at one monastery said. They also demanded the release of monks detained in purges at Drepung in recent months, including several expelled after they failed to pass tests to demonstrate their allegiance to Beijing and to vilify the Dalai Lama.
The police tried to force the monks to return to Drepung, once the largest monastery in the world with 10,000 monks and now home to about 900. When they refused, clashes erupted. Two columns of covered military trucks, each containing about seven vehicles, arrived to back up the police. Later an ambulance appeared. The monks then staged a sit-in. The police appeared reluctant to take on such a large number of protesters.
Meanwhile, a second group from Drepung monastery, numbering about 100 monks, raced down the hill and headed towards the city. They were stopped by police before they reached the bottom of the hill. They also staged a sit-in and refused to return to their rooms. At about the same time in the heart of Lhasa, around the Jokhang temple that is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, about a dozen monks from Sera monastery — the second-biggest in the city — staged a third demonstration. They waved the banned Tibetan flag, which shows a snow lion. Their shouts of “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Independence for Tibet” swiftly drew large crowds to the square in front of the temple where hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims arrive each day.
Police appeared from several stations that surround the temple. A Tibetan source said that about 11 monks were detained, with one or two ordinary Tibetans who joined in the shouts. It was not until early yesterday that police and troops were able to end the sit-in by the monks from Drepung. Witnesses said that most of them returned to the monastery but between 50 and 60 were believed to have been arrested.
The numbers could not be confirmed, and Chinese officials said that there had been no arrests. A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said: “Some ignorant monks in Lhasa abetted by a handful of people did some illegal things that can challenge the social stability.” He said they had been dealt with according to the law.
Reports by monks at Drepung described sounds of gunfire around the monastery at about 2.30am, but it was not clear if anyone was hurt. The monastery was encircled yesterday by hundreds of paramilitary police. In Sera monastery plainclothes police patrolled the halls. Monks there said they were fearful of reprisals and that government teams would launch new re-education programmes.
Champa Phuntsok, the ethnic Tibetan governor of the region, said that the monks had been counselled and released. “It’s really nothing. Everything is great,” he said.

Link To Original Article, Times of London

Monday, March 10, 2008

Smuggling Contraband Into Jail

Here is a sample of weapons confiscated at the Sangamon County Jail, which I believe is in Illinois. These weapons were hard to conceal, but others are readily available. Shanks are commonly made out of toothbrushes, pencils, or a piece of anything that can be pryed or broken off jail fixtures and sharpened. Moreover, the amount of drug use in jail is staggering, suggesting tacit approval of jail staff. Most inmates have their wives smuggle drugs in (you can guess how), and while it extends a criminal heirarchy behind bars, there may be some utility in stoned inmates. One guy I know, who was in for assualting a cop (he took his gun away and threw it into the woods during a struggle)- was stoned out of his mind and standing by his cell. A huge guard came up and stood right beside him. The guard looked over and smiled, telling the guy "A stoned inmate is a happy inmate". Later that same guy got some of his weed stolen by an inmate who was using a sharpened toothbrush as a weapon. Ah, sweet revenge. Mr. "X" waited for the right moment. He then took the "D" cell batteries out of his radio and duct-taped them into a pair of leather gloves (that he used for work crew) and made them into heavy fistloads. He caught the weed thief and bashed the crap out of him until the guy was hurt pretty bad. I guess some things are worth a couple extra months on your sentence.
Back when you could still smoke tobacco in jail (in fact they handed out roll-your-own pouch tobacco), it was easy to put a pinch of pot in the first part of the cigarette, with the tobacco masking the smell.
I know there are readers out there who have been on both sides of the system.
What are your thoughts?

Friday, March 7, 2008

When Does Push Hands Become San Shou?

More thoughts and information continue to roll in about the previous post "Mixing Hard With The Soft", about incorporating joint locking and hitting into the presumably softer push hands training.
In the current issue of "Tai Chi" magazine, Alex Yeo interviews Chan See Meng on "Martial arts training methods". In this excellent and revealing interview (which is part two), Chan again compares his Tai Chi Chuan training under Dong Yingjie (a famous master in a version of the the Yang style) with his training in both White Crane style as well as Japanese sword and Aikido. To sum up, here's a quote from the article:
Alex Yeo: You are also a master in White Crane, has training in another art helped improve your Tai Chi? In fact, does cross-training in another martial art help in mastering Tai Chi skills?
Chan See Meng: Let me put it this way. There is not any one good Tai Chi master in history who has learned only one martial art. Mr. Yang Luchan practiced many other martial arts before he learned Tai Chi. Even Dong Huling himself learned Shaolin martial arts, too. When you learn other arts you will gain more exposure and this enhances your knowledge of what you have already learned in a faster rate".
(D.R.)-- I obviously think this works both ways, and Tai Chi Chuan has made my Karate and joint-locking better. I also see the similarities in Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua and Aikido.
But what happens when we try to blend these arts together?
Before I wrote the original post on this topic, I contacted Dave over at Formosa Neijia, a Taiwan-based martial artist. Dave has very solid grounding in Internal arts but has also trained in hard styles. Here is his analysis, and it rings true:
(Dave): Formosa Neijia said...
There’s no problem with mixing the hard with the soft to some extent. I’m fairly open to eventually mixing in strikes, kicks, and throws into two person practices but then this evolves into sanshou, not tuishou.
Sanshou is obviously a valid practice.
The main problem that I see (even in myself) is that trying to incorporate harder elements into the practice is often a way to cover up our lack of understanding the softer more internal aspects of the arts.
When I want to play rougher, it’s almost always out of frustration that I can’t make something more internal work. But rather than surrender my desire to win in order to gain an understanding of a softer way, I try to “ramp it up” a bit. Or I want to use more martial techniques because that’s my background and I feel more comfortable using those techniques.
In the past, I scoffed at people that didn’t include obvious martial arts techniques in their push hands. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t really understand taiji and the practice of push hands. Using to much of the hard can eradicate the acquisition of soft power.
So long as incorporating harder elements isn’t a mask for lack of softer abilities, I think it’s a good thing.
(D.R.) -- Dave's right. When things escalate, we tend to go hard and fast. But perhaps that is how a confrontation actually occurs. Chan See Meng comments in the article described above about challenge matches between striking arts masters and grapplers that he has witnessed. The grapplers willingly take a punch coming in, and dump the master on the ground. After having the wind knocked out of him two or three times, the master can't continue.
Chan goes on to say: "If I put a guy there, train him in street fighting for three months, six months, you can train Tai Chi for 100 years and you'll still loose to this fighter because you have never encountered a fight, you've never been hit, you've never suffered a blow"
--To be continued...
--The website and order information for "Tai Chi" magazine can be found HERE.
*** Also check out the comments section on Dave's response "A More Martial Push Hands" at Formosa Neijia (link above).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mixing Hard With The Soft

I just finished reading an article in the February 4th issue of "The New Yorker" magazine, detailing the Chinese Olympic boxing team. In it, Boxing star Zou Shiming (who trained in classical Wushu Kung Fu) comments on his successful and elusive style:
(Zou): "I think I've combined martial arts and boxing". "Martial arts have a soft and flexible side, and boxing is more direct. Putting them together is a specialty of Chinese boxing".
-- This is something I have been giving a lot of thought to lately, and it is surely not without controversy in orthodox circles.
I no longer focus on the long-range fighting of my old Tae Kwon Do training, and my Kenpo has softened due to the influence of my passion for Tai Chi Chuan. Our hitting drills mostly stem from western boxing, with some open-hand variations. At the pre-clinch distance the sticking and coiling arm feeling comes from Chi Sao of Wing Chun and tactile softness of push hands. These naturally lead to some great joint locking action.
We have, in the course of learning these various systems, practiced them seperately and moved from one drill to another. Recently however, we have started doing something that is likely to horrify traditionalists; we are trying to combine it all into one unified practice.
Now, this blending of hard/soft is not a new idea. Think about Goju Ryu Karate. The problem is, That system is still way more "Go" (hard) than "Ju" (soft). Our persuit of Tai Chi Chuan has forced us to shift gears into a far more yielding approach to dealing with the incoming force of an opponent.
Using push hands as a foundation (both Yang style and Chen four-hands) we first added the occasional straight punch, which is neutralized and we return to the pattern. This works much better with the Chen pattern, which allows for a wider variety of movement. If we fall out of the pattern, chi sao sticky arms are maintained until we find the pattern again. This also allows for finger, wrist and elbow/shoulder locking, again returning to the pattern. For now, we have been alternating who does the technique back and forth -- push, hit, pattern, push, lock, pattern. Rollback is used to set up locks, with knees and elbows in the clinch. This is not necessarily done in a static motionless stance, we try to float around with a little natural movement, always returning to the pattern.
Critics may suggest that we are dabbling in drills that have distinctly different energies, and I suppose we may be distancing ourselves from the purity of any one art. A Tai Chi person might say "You're not doing Tai Chi" A Wing Chun guy might not like the softer push hands pattern, a striker might not recognize the value of sticking hands. A stand-up Small-Circle Jujitsu (or Chin Na) practitioner however, will see the value of this linking of systems.
We will be ready soon to put out a short video clip of what we are working on. In the mean time, I am curious what others think about this.
Am I "cheapening" an element of purity in my systemic drilling practice? Could it compromise the possibility of a truely deep understanding of any one art or system?
Or is this the natural evolution of years of training in seperate techniques and arts?
Isn't this how a broader understanding of dealing with an opponent is developed?

Monday, March 3, 2008

March: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

Yes, it's time again-- for our "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month" feature.
This one is for the Canadians out there, and it's a good performance by Avril Lavigne.
Now, I'm an old Dojo Rat, so I don't follow Pop music too closely (I'm kinda' stuck in the Allman Brothers era). But after seeing the kind of lip-synch zombie-like acts of Brittany Spears and Jessica Simpson, it's refreshing to see a young star that actually plays her own music and stands alone as a performer.
This little gal creates a very big sound, and is this month's Canadian representative for "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month"