Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Humans: One Big Electro/Chemical Battery

As we dig ourselves out of two long weeks of deep snow and intense cold, I have given much thought to how our bodies react in the dark of winter. We loose our inner routines and find it difficult to manage our lives in a way we are used to. The winter solstice on December 21st marks the shortest day of the year, and this week we can finally see the return of the light.
Our bodies are one big electro/chemical battery, largely influenced by the circadian rythm, described HERE on Wikipedia. As described:
"It appears that the SCN takes the information on day length from the retina, interprets it, and passes it on to the pineal gland, a tiny structure shaped like a pine cone and located on the epithalamus. In response the pineal secretes the hormone melatonin. Secretion of melatonin peaks at night and ebbs during the day".
Of course, the pineal gland is widely believed to be a powerful center of psychic energy, often linked to the "Third Eye" many cultures depict above the eyes in the center of the forehead.
All of this seems quite interesting in relation to the book I just finished, "The Chi Revolution" by Bruce Frantzis, and another I am about to start, "Chi Gong" by Paul Dong.
With this in mind, I dug through the Dojo Rat archives and found a post worth repeating, as I can't see how my view has changed since I wrote it.
So from April of 2007, here's one of my first posts on Internal energy:

From the comments in a previous post:
ta2urnfs said...
Just wondering, where does the internal energy come from?

Well, I don't know if I can adequately answer this question, but here are some thoughts: For thousands of years The Chinese and other cultures have believed in pathways of energy in the body that are not specificlly associated with blood flow or nerve impulses. In Yoga this is represented in the "Chakras", in Chi-Kung (Qigong) it is found in meridians associated with the organs and structure of the body. There is "pre-natal chi", which one is born with, and "post-natal chi which we can gain or loose. It is believed that through certain techniques, this mysterious energy can be cultivated and improved for health and strength.
This is obviously a controversial subject, and is constantly debated. Let's look at how western science tries to examine this subject:
From Wikipedia-
"Bioelectromagnetism (sometimes equated with bioelectricity) refers to the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues or organisms. Examples include the cell potential of cell membranes and the electric currents that flow in nerves and muscles, as a result of action potentials."
..."Biological cells use bioelectricity to store metabolic energy, to do work or trigger internal changes, and to signal one another. Bioelectromagnetism is the electric current produced by action potentials along with the magnetic fields they generate through the phenomenon of electromagnetism."..."Bioelectromagnetism is an aspect of all living things, including all plants and animals. Bioenergetics is the study of energy relationships of living organisms. Biodynamics deals with the energy utilization and the activities of organisms. Some animals have acute bioelectric sensors, and others, such as migratory birds, are believed to navigate in part by orienting with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. Also, sharks are more sensitive to local interaction in electromagnetic fields than most humans. Other animals, such as the electric eel, are able to generate large electric fields outside their bodies."
(D.R.); The way I see it, our bodies are nothing short of huge electro-chemical batteries. What happens sometimes when you have a thought that makes you worry? That electrical impulse sends a message to glands and organs that make your stomache seem upset (electro-chemical interaction). Likewise, when you get scared or suprised, your breathing becomes short and rapid.
So the idea is, through meditative and posture techniques you can have more control over how your battery charges and discharges. For instance, if your attitude (electrical impulse) makes your breath short and rapid (chemical) then by controlling your breathing you calm the mind.
Chinese texts also state the obvious that the food you eat and the air you breathe affect postnatal chi also. This is one reason people like to practice chi kung in forests, where the air is clean.
I have also written in the Dojo Rat archives about the subject of light touch and no-touch knockouts, one of the most controversial aspects of this subject in the martial arts (see "No Touch Knockouts?" Jan 4 2007)
In summary; the Internal Martial Arts practice chi cultivation through deep Psychophysical (mind-body) integration, as opposed to the detachment of Trancendental meditation. This is generally different from the hard or external arts that use more muscular strength in the limbs of the body and less core or whole-body action. All martial arts that I know of practice some type of meditation or energy cultivation however.
As far as how I precieve chi energy, the only thing I can say is after a session of calm, focused internal training such as Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua or Chi Kung, I often feel warmth in my palms, and an occasional "shiver" up my spine. Colors are more vivid and the senses more alert. It's like a tune-up on your car. I have also experimented with dowsing rods to find buried water and electric lines, which I believe is somehow related.
I encourage any other thoughts or suggestions from readers...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nice Image... Plus UPDATE

I was just really was taken by the image...
Gotta visit with family, back soon!

Reader Tom sent this really cool video of a dance depicting a version of the image above, Thanks Tom!

Well, Im back, still digging out of the snow. Working on some stuff, more martial arts coming soon...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: "The Chi Revolution", By Bruce Frantzis

For some reason, the stars have aligned in such a way to bring me into a deeper study of getting to know my body better. This just so happens as the Pacific Northwest is slammed with a two-week snowstorm, and except for cutting firewood I haven't been able to meet with any of The Dojo Rats for group workouts.
So into my life pops the first book of several I am going to review on how to experiance and cultivate Chi Flow.
In "The Chi Revolution", Bruce Frantzis provides a refreshing and understandable format to help us understand how we feel Chi in our bodies. I have many books on acupuncture meridian theory and five-element study, but there is so much deep knowledge in such topics a beginner could get lost in details.
Bruce Frantzis makes the distinction between western standards for fitness as opposed to an eastern tradition, based on Taoist energetic practices. Frantzis recalls meeting dynamic atheletes and Yoga masters that were outwardly fit and able, but had no continunity of movement in Tai Chi Chuan for instance. People can be outwardly fit, but disconnected internally. As described, this lack of internal presence can not only prevent heathy organ function, it may not make potential illness identifiable.
While dealing with the seemingly mysterious notion of Chi energy, Frantzis offers suggestions of how to recognize the feeling in our bodies. The occasional stimulation, the shiver up your spine, the warm glow of a lover. His treatment of chi flow during the sex act really stands out against what is often viewed as a life of monastic chastity to achieve enlightenment.
For those of us that already practice Chi Gong, Internal Martial Arts or both, Frantzis provides us with a matrix of ideas in which to feel, experiment and get more out of our practice.
For those new to the concept, "The Chi Revolution" has simple, easy to practice "Chi Rev" exercises to get people off to a good start. These include:
* Longevity breathing
* Chi scanning
* Chi balencing
* Freeing trapped Chi
"The Chi Revolution" explores enhanced energy flow in relation to spirituality, meditation, Internal Martial Arts and the ancient philosophy embedded in the "I Ching".
I found the practical information in this book to be very helpful to my ongoing learning process, martial arts, health and relaxation. I hope you will too.
Check out "The Chi Revolution", and other works at this Bruce Frantzis Energy Arts Link.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Humor: A Little Holiday Green

Well you can probably tell I'm still snowed in, about 5 more inches yesterday. So what to do but spend time surfing the fetid waters of the internet...

-And oh my freakin' DNA, this is the funniest damned story I have read in a long time. I mean I KNOW THESE PEOPLE! (Actually, people just like them). If you have the time, and want a good laugh, read this story of life on a California pot farm during harvest time. I mean, this is laugh-your-ass-off funny -- and believe me, this is absolutely how these operations are run. Here's a sample:

"If the production of weed were legal, trimming
weed in Humboldt would be a lot like the seasonal
job of stomping wine in France. It is not legal, so
trimming weed in Humboldt is like cooking meth in
Kentucky. What can I tell you about going to work
on a weed farm that the Grower, The Trimmers and
The Landowner won't kill me for? Soft criminals are
especially tense about getting put in cages by men
with guns.
For the sake of this story I will posit that every
Grower is, due to certain skill sets and predilections,
essentially the same kind of guy. All Growers have
three shitty houses but don't live anywhere in particular;
all Growers are trigger hippies who learned all
Growers have a truck, a dog and an ex-girlfriend
with an axe to grind; etc. I don't know if crime makes
cliches come true or if it's the other way around, but
I would guess that a variation of the following drama
is acted out in remote camps across Humboldt every
year at harvest time".

Here's the LINK

I promise I'll get back to martial arts, coming up soon...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Age, "08 Version

The obligatory frozen outhouse photo

Darn those guys over at Mokuren Dojo, they're one step ahead of us again. Pat tells us that Hell Has Frozen Over In Mississippi and New Orleans for the first time in years and years.
Well, we get it every year. The freeze that has hit the Pacific Northwest is the worst since 1990, with temperatures below freezing, often in the low teens for what may be two weeks. We've had 60 mph wind gusts, and trees are down everywhere.
Right now we are just working on keeping the pipes from freezing, and continue cutting firewood. It is beautiful, but definately cuts into our work and holiday schedule.

Here's a picture of my tractor shed. As you can see, we only have about 4-5 inches of snow, but it's turning into one giant frozen glacier. We're expecting another 4 to 6 inches starting tonight, with no end to freezing weather in sight.

And above is a pic of my current project; "The Swamp Ridge Saloon"!
Yes, that's right, a little Western Saloon. Of course, we are still in the early building stages, but it's mostly dried-in and kind of on hold until after the first of the year. My wife even bought me a keg cooler with Co2 and everything. What more does a guy need? Fellow Dojo Rats out there can expect to see more of the saloon when the weather breaks and we get a little further along.
--Meanwhile, we took inventory-- let's see;
-- I think we'll be just fine for a few days...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kung Fu Congressman In Trouble!

Embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Last February We took a look at Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D. Illinois), and saw how he had dumped a bunch of weight and took up Kung Fu. Jackson, who apparantly has somewhat of a temper, threatened to kick-ass on a Republican Congressman that had told him to "shut up" during a debate on the House Floor. Jackson challenged Rep. Lee Terry to "step outside and settle it".
As reported in the Washington Post:
"The consensus in Washington is that Jackson would have whupped Terry's butt. "It would have been Bruce Lee vs. Pillsbury Dough Boy," one congressional aide told the Post."
Well, as we can see, those were "Happier" times for Jackson, he is now front-and-center in the corruption scandal revolving around Governor Blagojevich:

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. declines to answer questions as he leaves a news conference in Washington where he denied being involved in any scheme to buy the Illinois senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama.
Ah, for the good old days When Jackson's only problem was where to beat the crap out of Republican Lee Terry, pictured below:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pat's Take on "ART"

I highly recommend that everybody check out THIS ARTICLE over at Mokuren Dojo. Pat has possibly hit upon the answer as to "What makes a Martial Art "ART"?
Pat's analogy of "Art" as "abstract" is brilliant, and makes complete sense in the context of those of us who practice a martial art that expresses itself through forms.
Check out Pat's article at the link above, and remember:
"Combat brings necessary pain, Art necessarily brings pleasure"...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review: Yin Style Bagua: Seizing And Grasping Attacks

Bagua Master He Jinbao

Unlocking the secrets within the Bagua circle-walking forms can be a daunting task.
The spinning, coiling and stepping patterns are beautiful to watch and perform, but beginning practitioners can have difficulty understanding how to use the system in self-defense.
In this video, "Yin Style Bagua: Seizing and Grasping Attacks" Bagua master He Jinbao covers a multitude of locks, controls and throws from the Yin system. The production quality is generally good, with the video shot in full sun outside on a clear day. Master He Jinbao is an imposing figure, tall and thickly built, perfect for the grappling methods of Yin Bagua. The DVD suggests that "the video is intended for practitioners already familiar with the fourteen seizing and grasping forms of the Qian trigram lion system". This may be the video's only shortcoming, which I will explain later.
The video covers:
*Very close grappling, pre-clinch to clinch
*Using strikes to bridge the gap
*Wrapping and trapping both arms
*Throwing - by using leverage against joints, by pulling the opponent off balence by crossing his arm or arms across his centerline, and by seizing the waist
*Manipulating the head and neck
*Pressure point strikes
-- What the video lacks:
While I have had classes in Yin and Sun style Bagua, I currently am practicing a version of the Cheng system. It would have been very helpful for the Master to have introduced more motion into the techniques. Many are shown from somewhat static postures, assuming the viewer has clear knowledge of the various Yin palms. It would be more easily understood by a wide variety of stylists if the techniques were introduced from the circle-walk or a more active attack-defend pattern. If anything, the video has too many techniques, rather than centering on a more complete presentation of fewer techniques. Despite these issues, I found a great deal of information and ideas to process that will directly translate into the stepping and coiling patterns I practice.
For Yin Style Bagua students, this video is a valuable training tool. For any internal arts stylist, this video will give ideas of locking and throwing that you may not have considered, and will add some unique techniques to your grappling toolbox.
Contact the producers of "Yin Style Bagua: Seizing and Grasping Attacks" at the Yin Style Baguazhang website Link Here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Young Punks

Isn't there always some young punk that wants to screw around with you because they hear you practice martial arts?

Myself and two other Dojo Rats had a very nice Tai Chi Chuan application class Saturday. It's a long day trip, involving two ferries both ways (four boat rides) and a fair amount of Beer afterward. Our instructor, Michael Gilman is very detailed in his instruction. I kid you not, we spent three hours on just the first four or five moves in the Yang long form. That's the difference with internal arts, there is a microcosm of structure and alignment, especially when you put it in action against an opponent. The study of these postures explore many of the concepts that carry on throughout the form.
For instance: in the first opening for Ward-off left, do you pivot on the weighted foot? Or do you shift to the stationary leg, turn the unweighted foot, shift the weight on to the foot you just turned - then step forward into ward-off?
The first method, pivoting on the weighted foot is very Yang. The second, shifting from one leg to the other is very Yin, dealing with an unweighted leg. This method tends to be more "old school". It does buy you a little time while you are neutralizing the opponent, but you are not in as strong a position if the opponent is powerful. All this stuff makes a big difference in freestyle push-hands, and of course in self-defense. This kind of study gives us fresh, new ideas to experiment in our solo form practice.
Later this week: a review of a new DVD - "Yin Style Bagua - Seizing And Grasping Attacks"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tai Chi Chuan Instructors: Take Notice

We had a very nice e-mail from Shai Amir from the Nanking Tai Chi school in Israel, thanking us for posting a previous Chin-na video by their school.
He sent us the link for the video you see above, which is an excellent example of how a modern Tai Chi Chuan school should be run. The instructor is Efi Dinar.
As readers of the Dojo Rat blog know, esoteric new-age Tai Chi - the kind with no martial connection at all - absolutely drives me crazy. I know long-time Taiji practitioners that have NO IDEA what the hell they are doing in their form, therefore NEVER get the form right, or the intent within. They might as well just be sitting on a Yoga mat, they would get more out of that.
The class video above has all the elements for a comprehensive Tai Chi Chuan program;
*Form Work
*Push Hands
*Chi Kung/Meditation
This is a very well rounded program, and if you look at the Chin-na video linked above, you will see how their self-defense Tai Chi Chuan appears very effective.
* Kudos also for the excellent production quality of the video, this is a very nice presentation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Circular Or Linear? You Decide...

Our old buddy Pat over at Mokuren Dojo has an interesting post up titled "Pay attention; Aikido is not circular". Pat's contention is that there are no true circular (or linear) aspects in human movement. I say he is splitting hairs. That is in the context of, let's say a comparison to Shotokan Karate or Hsing-Yi, Both Aikido and Bagua are indeed composed of circular movement. Colin Wee made a good observation that perhaps a better distinction should be if the technique takes the opponent's center directly, or if it captures it and spins it off. The above video is one of my favorite Aikido demos, and I think it displays both linear and circular aspects beautifully.
Below is an example of Bagua circle-walking. The best example of circles-within -circles begins around two minutes in:

So perhaps Pat and I are BOTH splitting hairs, but I have been involved in far more linear martial arts, and they did not employ the amount of circular movement demonstrated in both videos above.
Click the link above to Pat's discussion for his views and the excellent comments that follow...

Monday, December 1, 2008

December: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

Ah, yes... it's time for our monthly feature "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", and as we can see, things are not always as they seem...

As we roll into the winter, we should conserve energy, not worry about making huge goals and progress. It's best to watch our health, visit friends and family, eat good food and drink good wine and beer. So many people live in artificial environments today - in an office, under florescant lights with controlled temperature. My work is outside every day, this time of year I start tree pruning. I think it's much more natural to live with the cycles of seasons. If you make it part of your being, the wet, cold and dark don't seem to bother as much. Balence it out with warm friendship and lively entertainment!
How do you approach winter? Let us know!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: "Black Belt Karate"

For me, browsing through "Black Belt Karate" by Chris Thompson was somehow familiar and comforting - like coming home to the smell of fresh baked bread on a winter day.
In these days of Mixed Martial Arts and exotic forms of all varieties, Chris Thompson has provided a no-nonsense overview of traditional Japanese Karate. Thompson, 8th Dan Black Belt and Chairman of the British Traditional Karate Association, covers the history and development of Karate from it's Chinese and Okinawan roots. He outlines the various contemporary Japanese styles currently in the WKF (World Karate Federation).
I have to say, the high production quality of "Black Belt Karate" is probably the best of any martial arts book I have seen recently. The large color photos are beautifully captured, and the layout of techniques and forms are easy to follow. This book would serve other authors well as an example of how to produce a readable, attractive presentation.
Thompson goes on to illustrate self-defense techniques, the rules of traditional point sparring, and how to judge in tournament competition.
As I stated above, it's heartening in these times of anything-goes martial arts to see a welcome example of pure, traditional Karate.
I would recommend "Black Belt Karate" as an inspiration to a beginning traditional Karate student, and it may be of real value in the libraries of schools and universities that have traditional Karate in their physical education programs.
You can find "Black Belt Karate" and hundreds of other martial arts titles at the link for BLUE SNAKE BOOKS.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What A Turkey!

Our long National Nightmare is almost over...

-Thanks to all the Dojo Rats out there, our friends new and old. It's exciting to build a community of Martial Brothers and Sisters, and exchange tremendous amounts of information in the blink of an eye.
Have a warm and safe Thanksgiving Holiday, I shall slosh down a few Beers in honor of all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seagal, Schmegal...

Something must be going on in the fetid world of Steven Seagal: my statcounter has regestered hit after hit for two Seagal articles I wrote. I mean it's off the charts.
The first article, Lebell vs. Seagal, details how Seagal allegedly got his ass kicked by legendary Judo man Gene Lebell (shitting his pants in the process).
The second and highly requested article "The Company He Keeps: The Mafia, CIA and Steven Seagal" details Seagal's shady dealings with mobsters and intelligence spooks. For some reason, there has been a huge spike in hits on these articles. The only thing I can find in the news is this:

Steven Seagal Gets a Real Badge, Reality Show
Josh Grossberg Josh Grossberg
Mon Nov 24, 3:23 pm ET
Los Angeles (E! Online) – Steven Seagal is out for justice again...this time for realsies.
The erstwhile big-screen action hero has become an honest-to-goodness crimefighter in New Orleans, a gig he's ready to share with the TV-viewing public.
His movie career mired in the direct-to-DVD dustbin, Seagal, 57, has now been deputized by the Jefferson Parish County Sheriff's Office, and he's preparing a Cops-like reality series for A&E that documents his efforts to clean up the Big Easy. The show is set to premiere in late 2009.
We're just waiting for the inevitable programming block of Steven Seagal: Lawman and Dog the Bounty Hunter. TiVos set for stunned.

So for whatever reason, let's satisfy that Seagal curiousity with a rehash of "Bad Boy" trash stories about our favorite bloated Aikidoka movie star:

The Company He Keeps
The Mafia, CIA and Steven Seagal

Of all the Hollywood martial arts stars, Steven Seagal may be my favorite. His stunts are no-nonsense and he uses techniques that any competent martial artist could use. No incredible 360-degree jump-spin crap, just good solid Aiki and “crash-and-bash”. Stuff I could use. One of my Aikido instructors in the past, Robert Button trained with Seagal in a Dojo in Tokyo. He said he had never, ever, been thrown harder by anybody than Seagal. Seagal was the real deal.
Despite my leanings towards Seagal’s techniques, movie-star looks, and story plot lines, I have already trashed Seagal. In February ’07 I wrote about the legendary story of Seagal getting his ass kicked by aging Judo man Gene Lebell. As the story goes, Lebell choked Seagal out to the point where Seagal shit his pants. (LINK HERE)
But Seagal has more in his background than his current washed-up movie career, he has a whole host of bad-boy friends.
The Girls
Despite his suave and swarthy approach, Seagal has consistently had trouble with relationships with women. His first wife was Miyako Fujitani, a Japanese national Seagal followed from California to Japan.
They had a child together, and Seagal’s Dojo in Japan was actually founded by Fujitani’s father, owned by Seagal’s mother-in-law, and managed by his wife.
John Connoly, in his epic expose’ of Seagal in “SPY” Magazine reported that Seagal was assigned four women to be his “production assistants” in 1990. All four quit in 1991. Connoly writes that as assistant Raeanne Malone was brushing her teeth in Seagal’s quarters during an interview, he commented publicly that “You look like that when I come in your mouth”. (ouch) Two of the women were paid around $50,000 each to drop charges against Seagal.
His Japanese wife, Fujitani, went on to describe how Seagal told her “I never will betray you”, right before he took all her savings and moved back to America to pursue his movie career. Without seeking a divorce, Seagal went ahead and married Adrienne La Russa in 1984, followed by actress Kelly LeBrock. La Russa told Connoly that she couldn’t say much, “Because I am afraid of Steven and his friends”. As alleged, Seagal was so broke in 1985 that he arranged for LeBrock’s Porsche Carrera to be stolen so he could collect the insurance money.
The Boys
Seagal apparently had developed other sources for money; he was said by friends to have disappeared while flat broke and returned with a new car and a stack of $100-dollar bills six-inches high. Seagal boasted to friends that he had done a job for the mob.
Seagal’s mob ties were known at times. His one-time partner Julius Nasso was a pharmacist from Staten Island and owner of a company that “supplied pharmaceuticals to merchant vessels”.Nasso and Seagal formed a production company that was headquartered in Brooklyn. Nasso had served as an assistant to Sergio Leone in the Mafia film “Once Upon A Time In America”, which spawned his movie desires. Nasso’s uncle was the owner of a concrete company that was involved in a Mafia bid-rigging scheme and company employees testified for the government, leading to the imprisonment of Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno. Nasso was also the best man at the Seagal-LeBrock wedding, and held the deed on Seagal’s house.
Much later, the tables would turn and Seagal and Nasso would be at odds, but more on that later.
Perhaps even more curious than Seagals Mob friends, are his seemingly outrageous claims of having been a CIA contract employee. Robert Strickland, an actual CIA contract agent claimed that Seagal made him a $50,000 offer to kill Gary Goldman, a former Mercenary who had collaborated with Seagal on movies but threatened to expose Seagal’s exaggerated CIA ties. Other mercenaries and agents Seagal associated with claimed he started telling stories of their mercenary adventures as if they were his own. This certainly did not set well with the rough boys, one of whom claimed Seagal “Would surely die of starvation if he was given a compass and a map that led to a restaurant five miles away”.
But the Truth was, Seagal was indeed running with a very bad crowd.
Robert Booth Nichols
It’s a little unclear how Seagal hooked up with Robert Booth Nichols, identified in Federal wiretaps as an associate of the Gambino Crime Family. Nichols became one of the technical advisors on Seagal’s film “Under Siege”, and actually had a bit part in the movie. An associate of Nichols said Nichols once hung an adversary up in an airplane hanger and started up the propeller plane in front of where he hung. We don’t know what happened after that.
Nichols has a reputed history during the Reagan administration of being involved in the Nicaraguan Contra re-supply operation. That means Guns down, Cocaine back. How else does the CIA fund an “off-the-shelf” operation? (To quote Oliver North).
But it was Booth’s relationship with murdered investigative reporter Danny Casolaro that really creeps people out. Casolaro had befriended Nichols as he was researching deep levels of government corruption in the Reagan era. His thesis was called “The Octopus” a criminal enterprise involving the Mob and the Reagan administration that had “tentacles” everywhere. Casolaro was using Nichols as a primary source, and was found dead in his hotel room before he could publish his completed story.
Nichols had been the owner of “Meridian arms”, and had been accused of attempting to take over Howard Hughes’ former company, The Summa Corporation.
At the time, Nichols was involved in a scheme to manufacture arms on an Indian reservation in California, the reason being there was no authority other than reservation law, and the airspace was open for uncharted, un-inspected flights.
Casoloro was at some point clearly over his head. I remember hearing about his death when I was writing for alternative newspapers in Portland. One of my contacts was Heinrich Rupp, a survivor of the Nazi Luftwaffe who claimed to have flown George Bush senior to the treasonous “October Surprise” meetings with the Iranians – to hold the American hostages until Carter was defeated by Reagan. Rupp referred to Casoloro’s death and warned me off of a subject I was writing about. I wrote it anyway.
Danny Casoloro was found in the bathtub, in his hotel room. None of his friends or family said he had been depressed, yet he was found with dozens of razor cuts to his wrists, some down to the tendons. No one knows how this was possible, and plastic bags and bloody towels were found on the floor. Forensic evidence was destroyed when Casolero’s body was embalmed.
According to an FBI agent named Thomas Gates, who was dogging Nichols and was actually being sued by him, Casoloro had told Gates that his life was in danger. The last known contact with Casoloro was Nichols, who may be the main suspect in Casoloro’s “Suicide”.
As reported, Casoloro had discovered that Nichols had one weak spot, one that he might have to kill for. Federal agents had told Casoloro that Nichols had offered to be a snitch against the mob, probably to cover his ass. One way or the other, Casolero died with that knowledge, His death ruled a suicide.
Detectives, Movie Stars and Hillary Clinton
Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano is in big trouble. Remember Seagal’s pal Julius Nasso? He and Seagal had now fallen out, with allegations by Seagal that Nasso and the Mob were attempting to extort money from Seagal. Seagal was deeply intertwined with various crime families and was treading water, trying to stay on top. Well, Pellicano’s name came up in the course of the Mob investigations. He was already known for his connections to the Clintons. According to Judicial Watch, a citizen’s legal watchdog group, Hillary Clinton had previously hired Pellicano in 1992 to get dirt on Gennifer Flowers, who had claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton. Pellicano is now awaiting sentencing for 76 out of 77 counts of racketeering, wiretapping and operating a criminal enterprise. The list of his clients and targets is a virtual whose-who of Hollywood.
Allegedly, Seagal hired Pellicano to go after writer Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times, who had written unfavorable reports about Seagal. As the story goes, Pellicano allegedly detailed associate Alexander Proctor out for the job. Anita Bush came to her car one day to find the windshield smashed, with a dead fish and a rose stuck in it, along with a note saying STOP!
Authorities investigating Pellicano and Proctor raided Pellicano’s Sunset Boulevard office and discovered C-4 plastic explosive, hand grenades and presumably other weapons. As stated, Pellicano is currently awaiting sentencing.
While Seagal's Mob ties are certainly more clear than his association with shady intelligence operatives, he has at times been involved with some bad cats. Seagal has attempted to live his life like one of his own movies.
And come to think of it, I haven’t seen a Steven Seagal movie come out for quite a while now…

Further reading:
The Waterfront Trials
More on Pellicano
Reprint of 1993 Spy Magizine article

*(Go to link above for embedded links and comments)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wim Demeere: Combat Sanshou

I'm terrible at updating my links list, but at the right of the blog you will see I have added Bruce Frantzis Energy Arts, a great resource for Internal Martial Arts and Chi development.
Also new to the list is Wim Demeere, a tough fighter out of Belgium. In this video, he demonstrates Combat Sanshou, including some really good applications of the Tai Chi Chuan form. Currently on Wim's blog he is featuring a preview of a pressure-point video by Loren Christiensen. Loren was a long-time fixture in the Portland, Oregon martial arts community. He was at one time the lead cop in the police gang unit, and as I remember, he had good negotiation skills and was well respected.
Wim's blog also has links to his other websites, check it out - it's a good surf.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Nice Visits

Internal Arts Expert Bruce Frantzis

We've had some interesting visits from some great martial artists in the last few weeks;
While discussing Bagua and Expert Bruce Frantzis, we had some very interesting commentary by Jess O'Brien, author of "Nei Jia Quan- Internal Martial Arts"
Jess's comments on the fusion of Bagua and Aikido, and what Aikido practitioners might find useful in exploring Chinese internal arts can be found HERE.
While refering to Bruce Frantzis, I neglected to include a link to his website and was contacted by Erin Gilton, who asked if I would post a link. Bruce Frantzis has an incredible history in the Internal arts, and lived and trained with many famous masters in China, Taiwan and Japan. He has a new addition to his famous book "The Power Of Internal Martial Arts and Chi" which is updated with the emphisis on Chi. He also has many new titles out, including "The Chi Revolution". The Energy Arts Website for Bruce Frantzis can be found HERE.
Nando Raynolds (Website here) wrote in to let us know about his new book "The Push Hands Workbook- Tai Chi Partner Movement For Sport And Personal Development". The book is spiral bound so you can open it flat for reference while you practice, and has a written recommendation from my Tai Chi Chuan instructor and push-hands champion, Michael Gilman. I hope to review it soon!
We also had a nice e-mail from fitness trainer and SanShou expert Wim Demeere, who wanted to let us know about the release of his Six-dvd series on "Combat SanShou". His main website is HERE, and his blog with reviews and commentary can be found Here. If you surf through his various web pages you'll see some photos of great knockouts, and clips from his brutal "Combat Sanshou" videos. It looks like there's a lot of great Martial Arts coming out of Belgium these days (Watch out, Mike Martello!)
Thanks everybody, for checking in. I'll try to get a little better at including links!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

For news geeks like me that are following the meltdown of "The Second Republican Great Depression", take a look at the absolute best insider story of how this all happened at THIS LINK
--And I mean this is the BEST first-hand story of this crapfest I have read yet...

And in The Tai Chi Chuan department; take a look at Andrew Dale's compilation of "The Taiji History Of Seattle", at THIS LINK.
Andrew Dale has put together a thurough list of internal arts masters in Seattle from the early 1960's to present day, lots of big names and outlines the developmental process of the arts in the Pacific Northwest-- Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chin Na in Israel

Here's one for Bob over at "Striking Thoughts", who is currently enrolled in a very painful Chin na school right now...

We know that Israel is the home of the ultimately practical "Krav Maga" self-defense system, but it looks like there's a few good Internal artists there also!
"In this clip, Efi Dinar, from the Nanking Tai Chi School of martial arts in Israel, demonstrates only a few of the various techniques taught in the ancient art of Chin Na".
-- I love the concepts and movement. Notice about half-way through when the "attacker" spins out of the shoulder/elbow lock, the instructor demonstrates several ways to salvage the technique for a takedown.
My only criticizm would be that these techniques are pretty hard to set up against a resisting opponent, unless you have a set-up strike first.
While stylisticly different, you see here many techniques that would also be found in Aikido and traditional Jujitsu.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Training Speed In Tai Chi Chuan

Everybody has probably heard this joke:
"A guy goes into a bar-
-outside the bar, a Tai Chi master is defending himself from a drunk-
-the first guy has three drinks, then leaves the bar-
-outside the bar, the Tai Chi master is still s-s-slowly defending himself-
-(que snarky laughter)...
When people think of Tai Chi, they usually picture old people moving slowly and methodicly in a park. So what is it about this art that manifests it's nature in slow movement? How can something so slow be used to defend oneself if attacked?
For the purpose of this article, I will generally refer to the Yang style, which I practice, and is the most common style practiced world-wide. It is true that the Chen style (and perhaps others) have some explosive movements in their forms, and Chen appears to be the root of other styles. But let's look at the Yang form.
It is generally believed that moving slowly and carefully allows the practitioner to measure each movement precisely. This makes for smooth efficiant movement.
At a seminar several years ago, Stick-fighting expert Bruce Chu told us about an expert marksman he knew in the military. When asked about his shooting success, the marksman said: "Smooth is fast; slow is smooth; so slow is fast". In other words, his success was from slow methodical method, even in "rapid fire".
In Bruce Frantzis' book on "The Power of Internal Martial Arts", he describes a paradox in how slow movement manifests itself into incredibly fast and efficiant actions. He suggested there is almost a time-lapse phenomenon where an old master is not necessarily faster than a young attacker, but finds the gaps in the attacker's techniques and exploits them in a seemingly magical way.
Part of the illusion of Tai Chi as strictly a slow moving form is that most people never learn the CHUAN (fist) aspect of Tai Chi Chuan. While it used to be called "The Supreme Ultimate" of Chinese boxing, it is precieved in the west today as new-age hippie-dippie yoga. To a certain extent, that is true. Many Taiji students never play with push-hands or partner forms. Most can't figure out applications of the form because they have never tried, and are happy to just be doing some gentle movement that makes them feel good. Well, that's fine, but they are missing so much that they could explore to make every aspect of their skill better.
In an excellent article by Peter Lim Tian Tek titled "Taijiquan Training Speed", he reviews historical record of fast, compact and explosive fighting techniques in the Yang family forms. For instance, here is a quote refering to the form of Yang Chen-Fu's older brother Yang Shao-Hou:
"His taijiquan 'frame' style was originally similar to his brother's, but later it gradually changed to the style of high 'frame' with lively footwork and well-knit small movements, alternating quick with slow actions. He was swift and powerful in delivering his blows and, with eyes blazing like torches, a grim smile on his face and roaring and howling as he darted back and forth, he was held in awe by others" (Gu Liu Xin, his introduction to 'Yang Style Taijiquan' by Yang Zhen Duo, 1988, page 7)
-- So while learning the form, it is necessary to be slow and precise. But once the form is committed to memory and you have complete freedom of movement, we should have elements of fast, explosive action spontaneously come out in the form. Not a whole series of movements, but a piece here and a piece there. Moving Yin (slow) into Yang (fast), is perfectly in keeping with the philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan. Please check out the article linked above for further historical context.
And remember; "Smooth is fast; slow is smooth; slow is fast".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Congratulations Jake Burroughs!

Well, well... look who made the big time!
Our old buddy Jake Burroughs of "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center" has an article published in the prestigious "Journal Of Asian Martial Arts".
Jake's article is titled “A comprehensive introduction to Sun Family Taiji boxing: Theory and applications”, and this publication is one of the very highest quality martial arts magazines I have seen. (I guess I'll finally have to get my subscription now).
Jake has worked tirelessly to bring many high-level martial arts instructors to the Seattle area, including various seminars I attended with Tim Cartmell and Mike Martello. He has built a strong body of knowledge and his school is very hands-on and grappling oriented. If you are in the Seattle area and want to learn more about Jakes school and upcoming seminars, please check out "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center". Good Job Jake!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Shutdown, Part 2

In a previous video we discussed the "Shutdown", jamming the opponent's weapons at his biceps. In this video, we have a flow drill that comes out of it. Don't let the appearance fool you, that shot with the shoulder is more powerful than it appears. Combined with the elbow smash and eye rake, it's a pretty devastating technique. Go easy on your training partner!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Master T.Y. Pang

Last week I had the great opportunity to visit with Grandmaster T.Y. Pang. Mr. Pang lives in our area, however he has largely retired from teaching. Pang's martial lineage goes directly to some of the most famous masters of the last century. He trained with Taiji masters Dong Yingjie, Wu Tunan and Bagua master Sun Sikun (also spelled Xikun). Mr. Pang is one of their last surviving students.

Pang's teacher, Bagua master Sun Sikun
Lineage: Bagua founder Dong Hai Chuan, to Cheng Ting Hua, to Cheng Yu Long, To Sun Sikun, to T.Y. Pang
Much of my early Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua practice was with two of Pang's senior students Joel Chung and Jack Greene, and I attended a Chi Kung seminar taught by Mr. Pang many years ago. Pang generously accepted me to visit and discuss his Bagua system, which I had many questions about. Pang had just returned from China, which he said is moving and changing unbelievably fast right now. He said everywhere, everything is mechanized, and people are becoming more like machines. However, we are indeed living beings, and we should strive to feel what is going on in our bodies as we move. His example was picking up a coin: if you quickly toss it away, you can't feel what kind of coin it is. But holding it allows you to examine and feel the coin.
It's a simple parable, but one that speaks to me as I approach fifty-years-old. I've done my share of tournament fighting, as well as brick, board and rock breaking.
I'm entering a mindset where I want to explore the dynamics of movement, and Taiji and Bagua are the perfect roadmap for that.
Another thing I began to understand from our conversation was how each master left their mark on the art by emphasizing their best skills. Much like the differences in the Yang Taiji form between masters, Pang's Bagua has it's roots in the Cheng lineage, but it is somewhat different than other versions of the Cheng style that I have seen and read about. In fact, in the December 1991 issue of "The Pa Kua Journal", Seattle-based instructor Andrew Dale stated that "Pang's Pa Kua (Bagua) was the most intricate he has seen... Seeing Pang do Pa Kua was like watching a powerful snake coiling, attacking, twisting, darting, spinning and turning".
-- And that's exactly what it feels like. Meeting and discussing with Mr. Pang again has opened up yet another door of opportunity for me. I now have better understanding of Pang's Bagua system, his lineage and intent, and we discussed the possibility of having him teach another Bagua seminar.
If you are interested in reading more about T.Y. Pang, and purchasing his newly released Bagua DVD video, you can check out his website at THIS LINK.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check This One Out!

Take a visit over at Bob's 'Striking Thoughts", and look at this video of the Aikijutsu group he went to visit.
This is the cool thing about Aikijutsu, which predates Aikido; it employs all kinds of striking as well as locking and throwing. When I was in my twenties our TKD group cross-trained with some Aikido guys. One of their instructors was a guy named John Clodig, an old Navy guy that had inherited the Head of the Yanagi-Ryu Aikijutsu system. When he got a hold of me, I didn't know which way I was going, but I knew he could dislocate or break me at any time - it was quite an experiance.
Check out the link above to Bob's post and see how Aikijutsu works!

UPDATE: Here is the direct link to view the Aikijutsu video: (LINK)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neutralize With "The Shutdown"

Boy, we are such amateurs at video production, but we're having fun with this stuff.
-- This is a simple drill from the Small-Circle Jujitsu system, called 'The Shutdown". The purpose is to establish a control point and body awareness when you are confronted at close-range. It is best done slowly with eyes closed, feeling your way to the control point on the opponent's bicep area on the upper arm. Once you get on it, you keep foward pressure on the opponent, preventing them from hitting you. This gives you a split second to fire off your own technique. As stated, this is NOT intended to try to hold or restrain the opponent, merely to jam them up while you transition into a strike, lock, takedown etc.
This is the most basic level of this drill, others involve moving to the flank and grounding opponent by draping your arm across theirs, pressing their arm tightly against their body and hitting with your free arm. We'll try to get some of that on video next.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

End Of An Error

From Economist Paul Krugman:
November 5, 2008, 8:25 am
The monster years
Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.
What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.
And in our national discourse, we pretended that these monsters were reasonable, respectable people. To point out that the monsters were, in fact, monsters, was “shrill.”
Four years ago it seemed as if the monsters would dominate American politics for a long time to come. But for now, at least, they’ve been banished to the wilderness.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More On The Fusion Of Aikido And Bagua

The October 28th post on Bruce Frantzis demonstrating Bagua has brought some interesting discussion in the comments section. I had claimed that Master Uyeshiba of Aikido was likely influenced by martial arts he witnessed in China.
Martial Development stated:
"Aikido inspired by Bagua? ORLY? :)
I'll believe that when I hear a more convincing argument than "they both have spirals".
As I wrote in THIS POST in 2007, there is first-hand knowledge from people who hosted Uyeshiba's visits to Chinese martial training in 1936. Take a look at it for further background.

We also recieved a series of fascinating comments from author and practitioner Jess O'Brien, one of which I would like to include here for those who might have missed it:
j said...
"As for the Aikido/Ba Gua connection, that's a topic that deserves a much deeper examination, by people who understand the issue much more than myself.

I think what's more relevant is that Ba Gua, and Xing Yi to some degree, can offer a few training methods that would be quite valuable for the open minded Aikidoka.
Aikido's strengths are in it's emphasis on two person training and tactile awareness. You learn so much about how to engage and respond within the fluid, smooth rhythms of Aikido's throwing practice. The structure, connection and footwork all share so much with Ba Gua.
What Ba Gua can offer is the integration of slapping, striking and smashing palms that flow in and out of the throwing techniques very naturally. Aikido's atemi is often an afterthought, whereas in good Ba Gua training, striking integrates instantly and usefully in the throwing. Ba Gua's full body approach to striking would suit Aikidoists quite well, it's based on turning the core of the body to create power and that fits perfectly with Aikido's body movement and footwork. The constant stepping of Ba Gua is very similar to Aikido's way of moving, in contrast to the block, plant and strike of harder arts.
This allows for extremely powerful strikes that are used to open up the opponent to throws, sweeps, trips and reaps. One central tenant of Ba Gua striking is that it's intuitive, based on unconscious openings that the other person has for you to exploit. Their "ki" has gaps for you to enter, if you will.
Aikidoists would love the two person training of Rou Shou which Ba Gua uses to create an intuitive understanding of these gaps, and the slight angle changes needed to enter in on them. The standing grappling and pummeling of Rou Shou is a perfect adjunct to the bigger, run at 'em and chop training that Aikido is more commonly known for.
There's a lot more usefulness in Ba Gua for Aikidoists. Not really to change what they do but to help open their eyes to some new ways of using what they already do. The Tai No Hen Ko stepping of Aikido is identical to the Ko Bu/Bai Bu stepping of Ba Gua. The unbendable arm body structure is the same as Ba Gua's Zhuan Zhang extended arm. The only difference is that Ba Gua's striking techniques flow very naturally from this shape, whereas Aikido doesn't focus on that much.
Another interesting thing for Aikidoists would be looking into the sister art of Ba Gua, called Xing Yi Quan. In many Ba Gua schools Xing Yi is trained also, they have been connected for over 100 years.
Aikido's main striking techniques called Shomen Uchi and Tsuki are identical to the prime Xing Yi striking techniques of Pi Quan and Beng Quan. Xing Yi fighters ahve been famous for a long time for hurting people real bad with these two techniques. It's what Xing Yi's fierce reputation is built on. Contrary to the stereotype, Aikido's striking is meant to be extremely powerful and utilitarian, not a fake gimme for the thrower to get an easier throw. Shomen Uchi and Tsuki are plenty to win a freestyle fight with, forget the throwing. They are the main techniques because they WORK not because they don't. 6 months of work on Xing Yi would utterly transform the Aikidoist's striking techniques, not because they'd need new strikes, but because they would make a few mental shifts that change Shomen Uchi from a big fake over hand chop to something much more utilitarian. It's hard to explain in type, because the Shomen Uchi and Pi Quan look exactly the same, but perhaps it's the intent that shifts slightly to make them feel so different in practice.
This is one of my favorite topics, because I've seen how a short course in Chinese internal martial arts can unlock the potential power of Aikido into something vastly more useful for freestyle, full contact training. The only hurdle to overcome is that you gotta put on gloves and get punched in the face a few times. It doesn't hurt as bad as it looks though".
Just a few thoughts!!

Jess O

(D.R.) Now that's some great stuff...

November: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

I know, I know, I'm two days late on "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month".
-Was away at a Tai Chi Chuan seminar, Martial Art Posting coming right up.

--As far as our picture of the Golf Pro, Is anyone else old enough out there to remember Arnold Palmer's wife appearing on The Johnny Carson Show? The banter had to do with balls and putters...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The Wicked Witch Of The North

From Rock Musician Danny Elfman:

"Sarah Palin was my worst nightmare.
It was like experiencing a real-life reenactment of the movie The Omen. Not that I literally thought Sarah Palin was Damien with a 666 birthmark on her scalp, but it still felt like some kind of terrible pre-ordained horror. Worse -- a person who thought that "seeing" Russian land in the distance gave her an edge on international relations? A person who believed that men walked with dinosaurs when the world began 6000 years ago? Worse. The idea that person who believed that the "End of Days" would likely happen in her lifetime would possess the launch codes for enough firepower to actually bring that Armageddon to fruition without God's help. The personification of the repressive, small-minded extreme religious right in the driver's seat of the racecar called Earth"... (Link)
The Witch's Ruby Slippers

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Aikido vs. Bat

Sammy Franco Bat Defense

Here's an example of how an internal art differs in defensive patterns as opposed to a more linear defense. Both are effective, but one completely "goes with the flow", and the other chooses to close and engage.

And here's one from a Krav Maga system

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bruce's Bagua

Here is the great Bruce (B.K.) Frantzis showing some Bagua applications.
While this particulear video is not the best quality, it will give the viewer an idea of movement and application. This is an example of how similar Aikido is to Bagua, and one reason Uyeshiba may have been inspired to create Aikido after viewing Bagua in China. Here's what Frantzis has to say:
"Everything changes. Every moment in time is unique unto itself. Every moment in time carries a shadow of the past and in many ways the future is nothing more than a projection of the past. What happened before is going to happen again, although in exactly what way is hard to predict.
The nature of change is that you have to have the capacity for it. Whether you're trying to go from one chi gung movement to the next, from walking the ba gua circle to changing directions, going from one meditative state to another or going from one event in life to another, you must be able to change".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Review: Liu Bin's Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang

There is something about Bagua...
Even though I have dabbled with Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palm) since I started Tai Chi Chuan in 1996, I am still a beginner at this art. It's methods are diverse and it's styles are many. At one moment it appears to be like Aikido, at another it can resemble other styles of Chinese boxing. It's hallmark is the twisting, coiling and nearly constant circular movement. I have to say, I am fascinated by Bagua and have never had any other art provide such an energetic release from such seemingly calm yet kinetic movements.
Zhang Jie is a practitioner of Chinese Martial and Healing Arts in Seattle, and has written his first book in a series on Bagua. As I have said above, there are many styles of Bagua but nearly all Bagua lineage goes back to the legendary Dong Hai Chuan, teacher of Cheng Ting Hua. Cheng Ting Hua was a renound wrestler, and many techniques of what is now recognized as "Cheng Style" reflect the grappling and throwing methods of Chinese wrestling.
Zhang Jie's new book, "Liu Bin's Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang" presents yet another sub-set of the Cheng style. As Zhang describes, Beijing's South District Cheng Bagua was split into two schools. One was called "Flowing Water Bagua" or "Liu Shui" Bagua. The second was "Zhuang Gong" or "Strong (tree) Root" Bagua. It is the Strong Root, Zhuang Gong system that the author details in this book.
Zhang Jie gives a good overview of the history of Bagua, followed by his personal journey - which includes his description of the harshness of the Cultural Revolution. Zhang does a good job of explaining the philosophy of Bagua as it relates to the I Ching, Chinese culture and the various elements and animal systems. Zhang answers some of the questions on why Bagua creates such an awakening within the body; not only are the external parts of the body (bones muscles and tendons) strengthened, but the coiling and twisting movements massage the internal organs, including the sex organs. Zhang explains how this stimulates the hormonal and lymphatic systems, leading to improved health. Zhang further details how acupressure points and meridians are activated within the movements, and provides a series of Chi Gong postures that prepare the body for the more complex palm changes.
Another thing Zhang answered for me is the relation of Yin and Yang to both the direction being walked in the circle, as well as which foot is yin/yang and the transition of this dialectic through the palm change.
As with many martial arts books, photos at times can not do justice to complex movements. Bagua Zhang contains internal movement, circles within circles, and multiple direction changes. The material in Zhang's book should be seen as an addendum to a practitioner's basic knowledge of Bagua movement, but a beginning student could pick up quite a lot also. It would really be nice if authors would market a package deal, with both book and video DVD of movement, technique and concepts.
Zhang Jie presents the foundation of his Bagua system in this first book, with a second book in the works. I look foward to that second book, and am pleased to see that Zhang Jie teaches in the Seattle area where I may be able to meet and train with him. His book is both a good introduction to Bagua as well as a source that answered some of the very complex questions I had about details of the system.
You can find out more at the website for Blue Snake Books, a publisher of many titles and martial styles, available at THIS LINK. The direct link to find "Liu Bin's Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang" can be found HERE.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First 100 Things To Leave The Shelves

I found this somewhere, can't get the link to original. I think it is not necessarily in order, for instance canned food is down around #60, and wine is down around #94. Pretty interesting; how many of these things can you get your hands on in an emergency?

The One Hundred Items To Disappear Off The Shelves First

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc
.61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughts on Military Hand-To-Hand Training

Navy Harbor Patrol Boat

I've had permission from Billy Parker, currently stationed with U.S. Navy Harbor Patrol in Bahrain, to post part of our exchange on Martial Art training at a military level:
I am extremely interested in your approach to joint locking. I believe what you guy's are doing is fantastic! I am in the military and currently overseas. I wanted to refine some of the locks that I have been teaching, but have gotten a lot more out of your videos than just refining. Where are you guy's located? And do you have more???
I teach my own system that I put together after I got frustrated with blind minded people. I am prior Taekwondo, Karate, and Aikijujutsu guy. However non of my instructors ever wanted to seem to be practical about their material. They just wanted to teach me everything. So I went along with that for the first 12 years off my life since I started. Now I have plugged and chucked a tone of stuff, and am trying to gain more practicality for real world application to the techniques. I have tossed a lot of the old methods and techniques. I teach military colleagues, so it has to work or not at all.
What do you think, do you have any more material floating around out there I can get my hands on?

(John @ Dojo Rat):
Much of the locking we do comes out of the Small-circle jujitsu system of Wally Jay and his son Leon Jay. My training partner trained with Leon Jay and George Dillman. We have somewhat reinterpeted it (locking) now through the softer internal arts like Tai Chi Chuan, where it is called Chin-Na.
You can look at other video's we have done by clicking on my video channel on youtube, or go through the archives at our website dojorat.blogspot.com.
Thanks for writing, let me know if you have other questions and you can find my e-mail dojorat@gmail.com at the website also.
Thanks, John @ dojorat
P.S.-- I was first trained in Tae Kwon Do, then Kenpo and Aikido, now mostly Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua -- but in the end, it's all the same!

So you said you participated in Kenpo, are you referring the Ed, Parker System? And also I really like what you said about
it's all the same. That is a statement that I have been preaching since I began doing Ju Jutsu after I quit practicing Taekwondo.
So I understand the importance of getting out there with an open mind, and then realized the similarity in all of the systems.
Thanks for the references, take care!

Hi Bill,
I'm an old hack now, pushin' 50. I got my TKD black belt in '84 (second two years later) and my third dan in Kenpo in 97 I think. It was a Hawaiian Kenpo style developed by Bill Ryusaki, I trained under his style in Washington state. I think Parker Kenpo is a better system, and I truely wish I had trained under his students.
Meanwhile, we have to fight with the system we have, not the system we would like to have (ha, I just had to throw a Donald Rumsfeld quote in there for you!)
I would like to hear more about your training with other military guys. Would you like to write up a short summary and send it to me? We could put it up on dojo rat if you are interested!

Training with the military has been a fun experience and an eye opener. Back in the United States at your
local Karate school the experience is I would say soft in most places. Here everything is made to be as
realistic as it can be. The Navy originally taught us basic JuJutsu based arm locking and wrist control. As
time has passed they moved into Mechanical Advantage Control Holds, or the MACH system. Again more
Jujutsu based technique. And then I have my background in both traditional Jujutsu and a little bit of Brazilian
that I have picked up from my colleagues here. But training with the military is a great way to learn real solid
skills because of both the serious atmosphere and the demand to make sure you don't mess up due to the
fact that I may actually have to use it a regular basis compared to back home where you may only have to
use it once in your life. But for us here we feel that Jujutsu is the most practical and most appropriate martial
art for us.
Back to the Kenpo, and I really like your Rumsfeld quote! Good stuff there! I have not had solid experience
in Kenpo, but when I am out of the military I am going to find a school and pick it up. I really enjoy the philosophy,
theory, and mechanics of the system. Ed Parker system is my favorite. I enjoy Jujutsu, and I like locking. But I
am ready to start something a little different and continue with the serious self defense systems. I am not a fan of
fighting in the ring or competition at all actually. The Japanese Kanji symbol for MARTIAL has two symbols together.
The first means to STOP and the other is CROSSED SPEARS. So in true essence of the original meaning, martial art
actually means to Stop conflict. Not the art of inducing it. It's not about the fight and it's not about fighting. It's about
being able to stop the fight and move on. That's why MMA cannot use traditional systems without mixing. Because
they are abiding by the opposite idea. MMA is not Martial Arts. Also that is a great theory on why Brazilian Jiujitsu is
so effective in the MMA cage, because it does not have the same background as the traditional asian methods whos aim
was to be hand in hand with justice. Bringing rightousness to fruition.
*Other thoughts: Opposite of popular belief, the martial arts are not purposed for the ring,
for glory, or for fame. If you partake of these ideals they immediately dilute who you are
and what you are capable of. Pulling your punch is one of the worst harms you could ever
do to yourself. In the military It's hard to conduct randori amongst ourselves well, because
we don't pull strikes. So that's why we train in other ways, much like the old way of Karate
during the Japanese occupation of Okinawa utilized the striking of stones, boards, bricks,
and tile. Long before it was turned to sport. Well, we still break today, but it's not the mind
that they used to have. It has a different purpose, and if you don't have proper focus and
character, your Karate will not be used the way it is meant. Much the reason Americans
generally say TKD and Karate don't work. As for the true philosophy of the martial way,
it works.
Thanks for writing me back!
Take care, Bill
An interesting exchange!
Thank you Bill for your thoughts on Martial Arts in the military, and thank you for your service!

As requested I won't post Billy's military (.mil) e-mail address so there is no hassle for him, but if you would like to contact him please use this e-mail address navy_recon@yahoo.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

MTV Warns About Martial Law

Well, this ongoing theme of Martial Law coming to the United States just doesn't want to go away. In a previous post "Prelude To Martial Law?", we saw that the first of several Army Infantry Brigades has been assigned duty here in the United States. This is against the Civil War era Posse Commitatus Act and has never happened on American soil. This comes right in time for the most serious financial meltdown since The Great Depression and as a historic election is about to occur. Congressman Brad Sherman says on video that Congress was recently threatened with martial law.
Now I see that MTV is bringing this cautionary message to America's youth, and I think this is good.
Come on kids! Rock the vote and keep what's left of United States Democracy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Deadliest Man Alive

The British newspaper "Telegraph" has featured a three-minute snip of Floyd Webbs documentary on John Keehan, aka "Count Dante". It's a great little preview with action shots and historical background on the outlandish and carismatic Karate master. I am really bummed there is no embed included in the video so I can post it here directly, but here is the headline and the link for the video:

Cinelan Documentaries: The deadliest man alive
John Keehan, aka Count Dante, was the “crown prince of death” - a respected karate master, voodoo priest and martial arts promoter made famous through comic book ads offering the secret of the Dim Mak Death Touch.
--Video Link Here

And here is the link to Floyd Webbs website, "Searching For Count Dante"

** And for people who are wondering who the hell "Count Dante" was, and why he is promenently featured at the top of the Dojo Rat Blog, Here is "Of Dante and Dojo Rats"...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Low Pass - "Mopping The Eyebrow"

This is a technique taught to us by Tim Cartmell and is out of the Sun-style Bagua system.
The idea is to circle away from the power of the hook punch, striking at the face or eyes with the free hand. The opponent's punch is passed low and fed into your free arm. Try to root the person in and down, begining to turn his body with the arm drag. Then use the forearm to smash into the jaw and/or cheek, turning the head. This is the key; if the head turns, the body turns. Step to your rear and circle the opponent to the ground, with your knee smashing the ribs and your palm pushing his head into the ground. Many other options occur here.
You should start with a circle moving away from the power, circle the arm down and across, circle the opponent's head, and circle to your rear for the takedown. Circle, circle, circle.
This technique is called "Mopping The Eyebrow".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thief Throws Down Challenge

Alleged Des Moines burglar challenges victim to fight; winner takes all

A man who is alleged to have taken another man's property from his house in a recent burglary has challenged the victim of the crime to a fight, Des Moines police are reporting this morning. The winner takes all.
Seymour Gray, 66, of the 1100 block of 13th Street in Des Moines, told officers a man broke into his house last week and took two laptop computers, a desktop computer, a fax machine, VCR and some tools.
Gray said he knows who did it. He added that the man called one of his relatives and admitted taking the items from the house.
Police said in a report that the thief will give the property back only if the Gray challenges him to a fight. The alleged thief told police whoever wins would get the stuff.
The burglar has a 10-year age advantage. But that still puts him in his mid 50s.
No arrests have been reported. The case has been turned over to detectives for further investigation.

(D.R.)-- Who says there's no honor among thieves...