Friday, February 27, 2009
Urban Food Tower
Now that the "Masters Of The Universe" have blessed us with the Second Republican Great Depression, we have to come up with some innovative ideas of how to handle the care and feeding of Americans. This may involve a "Back to The Future" solution, so called "Victory Gardens" for a modern age.
In this excellent article by Chip Ward, He recommends we need more "Homegrown Security" and less Homeland Security:
"Cultural historian and visionary critic Mike Davis has already wondered why our approach to homeland security doesn't draw from the example of "victory gardens" during World War II. In 1943, just two years into the war, 20 million victory gardens were producing a staggering 30-40% of the nation's vegetables. Thousands of abandoned urban lots were being cleared and planted by tenement neighbors working together. The Office of Civilian Defense encouraged and empowered such projects, but the phenomenon was also self-organizing because citizens on the home front wanted to participate, and home gardening was, after all, a delicious way to be patriotic".
Ward goes on to say:
"Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier recently unveiled his vision of a "vertical farm," a 30-story tower right in the middle of an urban landscape, that could grow enough food to feed 50,000 people in the surrounding neighborhood".
Inside The Food Tower
"Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark, reports that, within the de-industrialized ruins of Detroit, a landscape she describes as "not quite post-apocalyptic but ... post-American," people are homesteading abandoned lots, growing their own produce, raising farm animals, and planting orchards. In that depopulated city, some have been clawing (or perhaps hoeing) their way back to a semblance of food security. They have done so because they had to, and their reward has been harvests that would be the envy of any organic farmer. The catastrophe that is Detroit didn't happen with a Hurricane Katrina-style bang, but as a slow, grinding bust - and a possibly haunting preview of what many American municipalities may experience, post-crash".
Photos of other beautiful and unique food towers are embedded in the link to the article above
Thursday, February 26, 2009
In an interesting turn of events, I have been asked by our local rural High School to help teach a physical education class. This will be a short series, four Friday classes on Tai Chi as part of a "Fit for life" program.
This is not the first time the school has asked for my contribution, I gave a talk to a civics class on "The Freedom of Information Act", and how to file requests for information with a Government agency.
Now here is where I find myself having to really re-think my teaching approach:
Several months ago I had a Blog discourse with Patrick Parker over at Mokuren Dojo. Pat's discussion about how to teach kids a calming meditation technique without calling it "meditation" was at issue. His point was that in the deep south of Mississippi parents would pull their kids out of his Dojo if he was to teach anything close to "meditation". This was obviously due to deeply held religious values and suspicion of eastern concepts. I was critical, in a polite way, and I chastised the ommision of "eastern thought".
Well, now I have to chew on a very small corner of my hat, and acknowledge that this is a difficult issue to approach with other people's kids in a public school.
I have not been cautioned against any form of presentation, but I am going to practice a form of self-censorship.
In my written and oral presentation, I will describe practicing the Tai Chi Chuan form as providing three benifits: Quiet introspection, a unique exercise, and a practice based on ancient Chinese martial arts that can improve ones ability in other sports.
The two issues that I must tread lightly on in public school are meditation and martial art. That almost guts what my normal presentation is to other students who attend my Thursday evening TCC class. No concept of "Chi", Taoist philosophy, even fighting skills. Public High School is not the place to approach anything resembling fighting skills, so this is going to be an interesting series of classes for me to teach. I do however, think it will be possible to bring in another adult student at the end of the last class and do a demonstration that will include some push hands and self-defense applications, just for the students to view and to further inspire. There may be a few students that will want to research and pursue these other issues on their own, and hopefully have a more complete understanding of the art. I should also say there is a yoga instructor in another class at the school that is taking a similar approach.
-- So Patrick, I owe you a partial apology because, at least for this series of classes, I find myself in the same situation that you are dealing with.
I'm sure I'll have more to say on this later...
Here is the link to Patrick's original post
Monday, February 23, 2009
Fellow Dojo Rat William made a trip from Canada to Tim Cartmell's Shen Wu school for some great training. I had met William at Jake Burroughs' seminars in Seattle, and he put together a nice video of the type of training at Tim's school.
After studying for years in Taiwan, writing and translating several books on Chinese martial arts, Tim found a weakness in traditional arts. They had no ground game at all. Tim went on to excell in Brazilian Jujitsu, winning the Copa numerous times and winning a silver medal at the '05 Mundials in Brazil.
As you can see, Tims "Shen Wu" combines the stand-up fighting of Xingyi, Bagua and Tai Chi Chuan with BJJ.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I usually don't post this guy's stuff because it's so, well, "Commercial".
But he does offer good instruction on this complex set of movements at the very end of the Yang Tai Chi Chuan long form. This is a series of postures that always give beginners a lot of trouble, and there seems to be no concensus on exactly how "Draw The Bow" is performed. Here, Master Gohring clearly shows detail that has escaped me in over a dozen-years of form practice. Specificly, details on draw the bow and the lotus sweep.
This is a reminder that there is so much information encoded within the Internal Martial Art forms. No one posture is an end in itself, rather a link in a continously moving chain, with techniques within techniques...
Friday, February 20, 2009
Ok; those of you who have read Dojo Rat for a while recognize that we discuss martial arts, political arts and the art of living simply. Today is the day for Political arts. I have been very hopeful since the Presidental election, and have not posted a political rant lately.
But frankly, I am f'in sick of Republican propaganda that currently fills the air. After nearly ten years of Republican rule (since they took the Senate in '98), they have succeded in crashing the system. We are f'ked. And they still blather on about corporate tax cuts etc.
From George Washington's Blog, Here is how bad things could get:
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Growing List of Officials and Experts Warn of Depression-Induced Violence
The number of high-level officials and experts warning that the economic crisis could lead to revolt and revolution world-wide - even in the U.S. - is growing every day:
The U.S. Army War College in November warned in a monograph [click on Policypointers’ pdf link to see the report] titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development” of crash-induced unrest:
The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”
“An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” it went on.
“Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance,” the document read.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said:
"The global economic crisis ... already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries ... Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period," said Blair. "And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community."***
"Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one-to-two-year period."***
“The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”
Blair made it clear that - while unrest was currently only happening in Europe - he was worried this could happen within the United States.
[See also this].
Former national security director Zbigniew Brzezinski warned "there’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots."
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned the the financial crisis is the highest national security concern for the U.S., and warned that the fallout from the crisis could lead to of "greater instability".
Others warning of crash-induced unrest include:
The head of the World Trade Organization
The head of the International Monetary Fund
Senator Christopher Dodd
Leading economist Nouriel Roubini
Leading economist John Williams
Top trend researcher Gerald Calente
(D.R.) What are you doing to prepare?
Links to above references at Blog link above
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Since I've been thinking more about Xing-Yi (Hsing-i) lately, Here's one of the favorite takedowns we learned at Tim Cartmell's last seminar in Seattle. I'm still learning about the simplistic, effective power of Xing-Yi. Tim demonstrated this "crossing fist" application, which has a lot of similarities to the Tai Chi Chuan application of "parting wild horses mane/slant flying". The difference is the entry, which collapses the opponent's guard. The opponent's arm is locked tight in an underhook, with his other arm trapped against his body. You must step as deeply into his root as possible, pulling him in very tightly. The throw comes with a rotation, sitting into your throwing-side hip.
It's a farily safe position, even if you blow the arm lock- if you have stepped into his root correctly, you still have lots of options.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Now here's a book that may interest students of Xingyi (Hsing-i), Chinese military history, or just guys that like to play with rifles with fixed bayonets.
Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army is authored by Dennis Rovere, with translation assistance by his wife Chow Hon Huen. Rovere was the first civilian to train with the Bodyguard Instructors' Unit of the Chinese Special Military Police. This overview of Chinese Military tactics and training are based on the 1928 publication by Huang Bo Nein's "Xingyi Fist and Weapon Instruction". This text, primaraly an instructors manual, became the manual for training soldiers at The Chinese Central Military Academy. This was at a time when hand-to-hand combat was quickly being replaced by combat with firearms. Rovere's Xingyi translates the original text, and offers contemporary explanation sand photos that suppliment those from the 1928 text.
Rovere's book offers a basic explanation of Xingyi's 'Five Element Theory", with the simple yet effective fighting methods. Those familiar with military training methods realize that there is a short window of training time for soldiers. They must be taught basic, large body motions that can be applied in a variety of conditions, wearing heavy clothing and packing gear.
As it is, the book shows the fist forms and fighting applications, but the second half of the book is designed for military enthusiasts with instructions on basic rifle/bayonet and sabre combat. On that note, I found the evolution of the Chinese combat sword interesting; it seems that the Chinese military sabre of the era looks very much like the Japanese Katana sword. Someone more knowledgable than me may have an opinion of that sword development.
"The Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army" is somewhat of a "niche" book, of special intrest to practitioners of Xingyi for historical reasons, or for military enthusiasts.
Check out this book, and hundreds of other martial art titles at this link for Blue Snake Books!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Send in your off-the-wall training photos. Introduce your Dojo Rats to other Dojo Rats around the world!-- Be part of the series "Don't mess with these guys" in (your city here)!
--Please, no commercial Dojo's, Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
CNN: Potheads Support Phelps
While there is nothing new to a story about a famous athelete getting caught with drugs, attitudes clearly seem to be shifting about the recreational use of Marijuana by anyone from atheletes to executives. Everyone has read or seen reports that Michael Phelps, the exceptional Olympic swimmer, was caught in a photo smoking a bong at a party. The consequences range from Phelps loosing commercial endorsements, to the local police in the city where "the crime" occured trying to arrest him.
What a joke. What arrogant bluster. Even the former police chief of Seattle Norm Stamper, now an anti-prohibition activist has slammed both the County Sheriff in North Carolina but also told Kellogs that he would not use their products anymore for dropping their endorsement of Phelps.
Across the globe in Japan, another similar scandal erupted when a number of Sumo wrestlers were banned from the sport also due to pot use. Wow; can you imagine a four-hundred-pound Sumo stoner with the munchies? Now let me say this: Japan is a much more rigid society than the United States, and traditionally Sumo has been linked to a quasi-Shinto type of spiritual ceremony of pureness or such stuff. I can almost understand that.
But U.S. atheletes are under no such constraints. In fact, nobody could ever claim that pot is a performance enhancing drug.
More reasonably, one could argue that the use of small amounts of pot could unburden the athelete of performance anxiety, provide effective pain relief, and negate the need for any pharmaceutical anti-depressents that half of society seems to use these days. Let's face it, atheletes are into peak experiances, and recreational use of non-addictive herbs like pot, or even mind-expanding mushrooms fit that category. An argument could be made that with sensible use, these natural drugs could help produce not only a better athelete, but a more open, understanding and aware individual.
So Come on Michael Phelps! Be true to your self! While you have said publicly that you have learned from your mistakes, you have not specifically mentioned pot smoking. Why not just come out as a spokesman for decriminalization of pot? Why not bring this discussion into the same televisions in the same homes in America that cheered for you at the Olympics? Are you not still an American hero?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Well, I survived another two-day seminar on Internal Arts with Tim Cartmell, king of the Combat Throw. Tim is one of the best instructors on body mechanics I have been to, with subtle methods and adjustments that make tossing your 200-pound training partner - well, "effortless". I think this is my third seminar with Tim.
Tim demonstrates application of "Peng" with Jake Burroughs
The Saturday session focused on the last two animal forms of the Sun-style Bagua system, the Monkey and the Phoenix. The Monkey is a fairly straight-foward neck break technique, while the flowing movements of the Phoenix employed the Fan Jang (overturning palm), wrapping and coiling methods. These of course, led us to a variety of throws as Tim's Bagua instruction is based on grappling techniques.
Tim demonstrates Chin Na elbow lock and projection on Terry
Day two began with Bagua applied combat theory. This had a lot of work on stepping patterns that allow the fighter to seek a superior position against the opponent, a factor that not only allows use of whole-body power but is the key to making those throws "effortless". These techniques (as well as many others) were off the opponent's jab, cross or hook punch.
The final session was an examination of the foundational hand methods (Peng, Fan, Heng) of Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua and Hsing-i. All of these arm structures are similar, but rely on different energies, angles and intended result.
Many of the throws we practiced could truely be devestating without a forgiving mat, I can imagine what would happen on concrete or being rammed into an object like a car. Tim is patient and informative with his instruction, and provides the detail that makes these techniques practical when the gap is closed from kicking and punching to grappling.
- As always, the seminar was generously hosted by Jake Burroughs. You can reach Jake for information on future master instructors visiting the Seattle Area at his "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center", the Website is found HERE.
Tim Cartmell's Shen Wu Website is linked HERE.
Friday, February 6, 2009
So we're starting a new series on Dojo Rat, inspired by Kostas' E-mail and link of training in the park in Athens Greece.
-It's called 'Don't Mess With These Guys" in (your town here).
If you have a scrapy group of Dojo Rats that train on a serious basis, send in your picture and a description of your training and introduce your self to fellow Dojo Rats all over the world.
--Again, please, no commercial Dojos, We're looking for small groups that train "outside the box".
Contact at email@example.com
Here's from reader and fellow Dojo Rat Sean Ledig, AKA "Hand 2 Hand":
It's all I currently have on my computer. I'm practicing siniwalis with Anthony Chan at a jujitsu dojo in 1996 owned by a mutual friend in one picture. The other was shot in my yard, as part of an article for Inside Kung Fu in 1998. We're practicing some knife techniques.
In 13 years, Tony and I have trained at the weight room of his old apartment complex, in a vacant apartment in that same complex and in his garage or outside in the street on the cul-de-sac where he lives. He's taught me Jeet Kune Do, Filipino Tribal Arts and some Hung Ga (which he learned from his mother) in exchange for my teaching him Wing Chun and Taiji.
Tony has played host and we've traded techniques with guys from pretty much every style, including Yoshukai, Muay Thai, Jujitsu, Escrima, Kali, Arnis, Wing Chun, Hung Gar, Yau Kung Mun, Jeet Kune Do, Silat, Shaolin Five Animals, etc. He's also hosted a pro-wrestler and many members of a local film makers group who came to Tony for his help in choreographing fight scenes.
What can I say? Chan is more than my instructor and training partner. The man is closer to me than my own brother.
Sean Ledig and Anthony Chan
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Fellow Dojo Rat Kostas Tountas sent us THIS LINK to the "Areos Park Kali Group", a group of fun-loving guys that likely scare the crap out of people visiting this park in Greece.
Kostas and I have been in touch a few times. We share similar long-time background in Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu, and have evoloved into more exotic and internal arts. The link to his site has some great action photos of full-contact stickfighting in the park, as well as Links to pages with Kostas' Bio and training history.
-- If you have an "off-the-shelf" rag-tag group of Dojo Rats that gets together for training, send in a picture and a few words about your group.
-- Please, no Commercial Dojos, we see that in every strip-mall in America.
But if you have a solid group of Dojo Rats, send a picture and introduce yourself to everybody! Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Somehow during Blogger updates (I guess) my video bar dissapeared, but it is now re-installed at the right side of the page.
-- Also; A friend sent me a whole collection of DVD's with tons of video of Bagua. The only thing is, my computer can't read what appears to be VCD format. I took it to a friends computer and he was able to open them. I have XP, he uses Vista. He opened them with Windows Media Player, but it doesn't open on mine. The web has suggested companies that will sell me a download to read VCD for about $30.
***Anybody have any suggestions?***
UPDATE:-- VLC download worked great. Now if I could just get the damned video bar on the right side of the Blog to only show my video's and not random crap in-between!
Monday, February 2, 2009
From Douglas Wile; "Lost Tai-Chi Classics From The Late Ch'ing Dynasty", page 85 "#37 of "Yang Family Forty Chapters":
"There are life and death acupoints, but to learn them requires oral transmissions. Why is this? One, because of the difficulty; two, because it relates to life and death; and three, because it depends on the charity of the individual. First, one must not teach those who are not loyal and filal; second, one must not teach those who do not have a good background; third, one must not teach those with evil intentions; fourth, one must not teach those who are careless and crude; fifth, one must not teach those who have no consideration for others; sixth, one must not teach those who are outwardly polite but not compassionate; seventh, one must not teach those who are not reliable; eighth, one must not teach those who are quick to learn and quick to forget. It is important to know the eight disqualifications; as for outright criminals, they need not even be mentioned. Those who do qualify may be given the secret transmissions orally. You may teach to those who are loyal and filial, emotionally stable, faithful to the teaching, respectful to the teaching, and always consistant. Given these five qualities, if the student is truely consistant from the beginning to end and never wavers, then you may transmit every aspect of the art. From generation to generation, this is the way of the transmission. Alas, is it not a pity that there are still criminals in the martial arts?"