Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post; Kostas at The Dog Brothers Euro Gathering

Kostas and friends


This week I'm pleased to present a guest post from Kostas Tountas in Greece.
Kostas and I have become fellow Dojo Rats and exchanged much information over the years. As you will see, his specialty is training and fighting at events hosted by the famous "Dog Brothers" fighting club.
While the training is intense, the fighting is brutal and as real as it gets. Traditional weapons of all sorts are used, and the painful results can be seen in the photos below.
I've got to give Kostas some major cred here; he's my age (53) and still fights in the most brutal martial-sport I can imagine. As he describes, the friendships acquired during these sessions are as long lasting as the valuable fighting lessons learned.
This is simply great stuff, here's Kostas:




"Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may recall a post entitled "Kostas Fights at Dog Brothers Euro Gathering".

In the three years since, I have returned to Bern faithfully each summer – to be with my “brothers of the stick” with whom I share the same "madness". We greet each other warmly, catching up on news, and discussing whether there will be any unusual weapons, in this year’s fights.

Indeed, a Dog Brothers Gathering is not just about stick fighting. It’s also about three-section staffs, spears, halberds (edges and points blunted), etc. Furthermore it’s not just about stand-up - many fights end up on the ground - and yours truly has been there on several occasions.

A fight at a Gathering is also about learning to deal with pressure - as soon as we tap sticks, I can feel that one wrong move and my opponent will not simply "come at me", he will try to go RIGHT THROUGH me.




Several fighters come prepared with specific strategies and techniques that they want to test under realistic conditions. The fact that there are no winners or losers encourages people to experiment but at the same time, they know they can't afford to get let their guard down.

For example, one member of the Dog Brothers tribe is an expert with the three-section staff – travelling regularly to China to train with his master. The Gathering provides him with the opportunities he requires in order to further his skills.




But at the same time, one not-so-obvious benefit is that by helping prepare this fighter, Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny gained new insights into a less-well-known weapon, and in so doing expanded his own area of expertise – and that of the tribe as well. So the Gathering serves as sort of “fight laboratory” for both coaches and fighters alike, in which various strategies and techniques are pressure-tested, and fine-tuned till they are practical and effective.

As for myself, in four Gatherings, I have had fourteen fights. I am now a candidate Dog Brother. Though this is not so remarkable, it hasn’t been easy. At 53 years of age, training injuries are more frequent and take longer to heal.

There have been and there may yet be times when I think to myself that this will be my last Gathering. In this, I am not alone. One fighter was so known for this, that he was given the name “Sinatra Dog”, in memory of the famous singer who, near the end of his career, became known for his numerous “last” performances.

But the fact is that when preparing for a Gathering, I feel motivated. The realization that I MUST be on the ball or I am going to get my ass handed to me, has re-invigorated my training. I still have much to learn and some things I need to RE-LEARN - but that’s the beauty of it - that after many years of martial arts, I still feel excited about getting in there and being a part of it!

I hope to be there next year, to see my brothers, to fight well, and then to return home with colorful bruises and a big BIG smile on my face".




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Thanks Kostas!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Does Time Slow Down For Elite Athletes?



I think many of us have been in "the zone" where a perfect technique is in play at the exact right "time".
The following article from Discovery.com attempts to put it in scientific terms, but something is lacking.
What is lacking is a realization of separate realities, which may occur during times of stress, mystical experiences, or in athletics.

There is something a deceased friend who appeared in a dream told me: "All time happens at the same time".
It will give me something to ponder for the rest of my life, and possibly beyond.

From Discovery.com:

Does Time Slow Down For Elite Athletes?
Analysis by Sheila Eldred
Sat Sep 8, 2012

How does Venus Williams return smashing serves? How does Josh Hamilton hit home runs off 90 mile-per-hour pitches?

It's not just talent: preparing to leap over a hurdle or dunk a basketball makes the brain process information differently. The athlete perceives it as a slowing down of time, say researchers at University College London after a new study.

"John McEnroe has reported that he feels time slows down as he is about to hit the ball, and F1 drivers report something very similar when overtaking," Dr. Nobuhiro Hagura from University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience told BBC News. "Our guess is that during the motor preparation, visual information processing in the brain is enhanced. So, maybe, the amount of information coming in is increased. That makes time be perceived longer and slower."

The researchers tested the theory by asking subjects to react to flashing discs on a screen in two different ways: either to tap the screen, or just watch. The group that tapped the screen reported that there seemed to be more time between the flashes. And, the more prepared the participants were, the longer the time seemed to stretch.

That last finding leads the researchers to postulate that elite athletes may have a greater capacity to experience the perception than the general population.

Future experiments may include professional athletes, as well as an experiment to find the physiological mechanism that makes the phenomenon happen.

"We now want to do these behavior experiments again while measuring the participants' brain activity with electroencephalography," Hagura told BBC News. "We can then look at what is happening in the visual cortex during the action preparation period."

Saturday, September 1, 2012