Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Arlen Specter and "The Magic Bullet"

Washington D.C and the cable T.V. news-models are abuzz about the defection of Senator Arlen Specter from the Republicans to The Democratic Party. Potentially, this move may give the Dems the sixty votes they need in the Senate to push legislation through unobstructed.

Senator Arlen Specter

What some people may not know, is that Specter is The author of "The Magic Bullet Theory". After the assassination of President Kennedy, Specter was council for the Warren Commission, widely recognized as the instrument of cover-up in the conspiracy to Kill Kennedy. In order for Lee Harvey Oswald to be framed as "The Lone Gunman", Specter devised the theory that one undamaged bullet went through Kennedy, changed directions, exited and entered Governor John Connally, causing multiple wounds in each man. This theory rejects the obvious scenario that there were multiple shooters in a trianglulated fire pattern. Classic military-style ambush.

Trajectory of Magic Bullet

The bullet they claim that did all the damage mysteriously ended up on a hospital gurney in pristine, undamaged condition. Governor Connally years later died with more lead in his leg than is missing from the bullet!

Specter is reported to have coerced a witness to the Kennedy assassination, Jean Hill:

He kept trying to get me to change my story, particularly regarding the number of shots. He said I had been told how many shots there were and I figured he was talking about what the Secret Service told me right after the assassination. His inflection and attitude was that I knew what I was supposed to be saying, why wouldn't I just say it. I asked him, 'Look, do you want the truth or just what you want me to say?' He said he wanted the truth, so I said, 'The truth is that I heard between four and six shots.' I told him, 'I'm not going to lie for you.' So he starts talking off the record. He told me about my life, my family, and even mentioned that my marriage was in trouble. I said, 'What's the point of interviewing me if you already know everything about me?' He got angrier and finally told me, 'Look, we can even make you look as crazy as Marguerite Oswald [Lee Oswald's mother] and everybody knows how crazy she is. We could have you put in a mental institution if you don't cooperate with us.' I knew he was trying to intimidate me.... SOURCE

Jean Hill in red coat

So perhaps the old conspirator has had a new lease on life, he just beat cancer. Perhaps, like conservative Barry Goldwater, he had a death-bed conversion away from Republican ideals. I have my doubts.
Call me cynical, but after Kennedy, his brother Bobby, Martin Luther King, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the savings and loan scandal of the eighties, nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, torture, NSA spying on Americans and the current second Republican Great Depression, I just don't trust the Bastards...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rolling Stones

This guy's video's are fast becoming some of my favorite Bagua training information. Here, Instructor Kent Howard uses various sizes of rocks to explore more deeply the types of palm changes in Bagua.
In our little Dojo, we have a big, two-handed rock we use like a medicine ball for core strength exercises. In this video, Kent handles the rocks loosely at first, balencing them in the palm to improve whole-body control in the palm change. He later moves to larger rocks that require grip strength to maintain control.
So simple a caveman could do it...
Here is THE LINK for Kent Howard's new book on Wang Shujin's Bagua system, and here is Kent's website for Nonviolent Self Defense.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jedi Religion: The New Taoism?

According to this article, eight Police officers in one of Scotland's largest divisions have declared their religion to be... Jedi.

"Nearly 400-thousand people in England and Wales listed their religion as Jedi in the 2001 Census for those countries. The figure in Scotland is at 14-thousand".

Not only are orthodox religions finally beginning to wane and loose their stranglehold on the minds of humanity, it appears people are seeking a more non-specific version of spirituality. As the dogmatic doctrine of the previous 2000 years begins to fade, the Aquarian age of change brings with it a form of self-mobilizing introspection more powerful than the political structure known as the orthodox church.
Apparently more prevalent in the UK and Australia than the U.S., the Jedi religion is a reflection of ancient Asian teachings bundled up in the pop-mythology of modern heroes - much like the origins of Christianity itself.
As described by Australian blogger "Inspirepub":

"Pages on the Jedi Code and Jedi Truisms explore concepts which are clearly drawn from the cultural background of the contributors, many of whom are Asian. Buddhist and Confucian ideals take on a new life, encased in a far less codified religious framework.
The Jedi are big on individual responsibility and an internal moral compass, but the classic Star Wars moment ("use The Force, Luke ...") has a yin-based letting-go which resonates well with Buddhist teachings".

Here is a sample of Jedi precepts that parallel Taoist thought:

The Jedi Code
There is no emotion;
There is peace.
There is no ignorance;
There is knowledge.
There is no passion;
There is serenity.
There is no chaos;
There is harmony.
There is no death;
There is the Force.

Also evident is the binary duality of Yin and Yang, good and evil. Of course, all of these moral issues were played out in George Lucas's "Star Wars", the obvious origin of the Jedi religion, but there is no indication that Lucas considers himself a Jedi adherent.
For more information, or if you just need a good smile, check out The Jedi Church, and

Friday, April 24, 2009

Russel Crowe Stars In "Dojo Rat; The Movie"


Coming to an imaginary theatre near you, the blockbuster movie of the spring is "Dojo Rat; The Movie". Russel Crowe plays an aging martial artist in a small ecclectic Dojo of misfit hacks.
Crowe: "It's my best action role since Gladiator"

Crowe as Dojo Rat, running away from Cops

Corey "The Brown Dragon" provides an electrifying performance

Nick Nolte as aging boxer Tommy T.

Brad Pitt as an injured Zacky Chan

And guest starring Vin Diesel as Seattle Kingpin Jake "The Burro"

Brought to you by BEER IN A CAN

***Sorry guys, lots of inside jokes here...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Case Study: Grappling Defeats the Kicker

Years ago, when the young Ratlet was in High School, I was a wrestler. Every fight ended up with someone on the ground getting pounded. Then came Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Check out those cool chuck Norris-style kicks! Kicking was the rage as I fought for years in TKD tournaments, and I was often outmatched by lanky kickers with longer legs. Then came Kenpo and Boxing drills, which finally brought my hands up to speed.
Now, as I approach 50, I once again realize the importance of grappling skills and things are coming full-circle.
In this video fight, Black is said to be a Bagua stylist, Yellow a Shuai Jiao wrestler. Now, Black is no slouch. He has a good sense of timing and has pretty good game. But the grappler just waits patiently until Black offers him a leg, and... Slam!
Now, imagine if Tae Kwon Do tournaments were conducted like this.

**** Side note: I still am not sold on prolonged ground wrestling in a street fight, it's too risky. But, these type throws with a good stomping, I can go for that...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jackie Chan: Authoritarian

And this comes from one of the wealthiest Hollywood Kung-Fu actors that ever lived:

Jackie Chan: Chinese people need to be controlled
By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer William Foreman, Associated Press Writer – Sat Apr 18, 2:48 pm ET
BOAO, China – Action star Jackie Chan said Saturday he's not sure if a free society is a good thing for China and that he's starting to think "we Chinese need to be controlled."
Chan's comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders in China's southern island province of Hainan.
The 55-year-old Hong Kong actor was participating in a panel at the annual Boao Forum when he was asked to discuss censorship and restrictions on filmmakers in China. He expanded his comments to include society.
"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said. "I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."
Chan added: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."
The kung fu star has not been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in his hometown of Hong Kong. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, voters have not been allowed to directly elect their leader. Several massive street protests have been held to demand full democracy, but Beijing has repeatedly said Hong Kong isn't ready for it.
The theme at Saturday's panel discussion was "Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry Potential," and Chan had several opinions about innovation in China.
He said that early in his career, he lived in the shadow of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee. He said that during his first foray into Hollywood, he struggled to establish his own identity, so he returned to Hong Kong. After spending 15 years building his reputation in Asia, Chan finally got rediscovered by Hollywood, he said.
Chan said the problem with Chinese youth is that "they like other people's things. They don't like their own things." Young people need to spend more time developing their own style, he added.
The action hero complained that Chinese goods still have too many quality problems. He became emotional when discussing contaminated milk powder that sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies in the past year.
Speaking fast with his voice rising, Chan said, "If I need to buy a TV, I'll definitely buy a Japanese TV. A Chinese TV might explode."

(D.R.) Wow!........ LINK

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Thoughts On "Heng", Crossing Fist?

Xingyi Five-Element Forms (slightly different than the way we practice it)

Regular readers probably know that in an effort to expand my understanding of Chinese internal arts, I have been learning the Xingyi 5-element forms. In order to stay within the framework of internal arts, I've had to correct previous habits from Karate, such as avoiding full chambered punches.
The first four elements- splitting, smashing/crushing, drilling and pounding are pretty self-evident in performance and application.
But the Fifth Element (Hmmm, a Bruce Willis movie) is a little confusing and I'm interested in other people's opinions. It is serpentine in nature, and the application is often shown as a strike that curves around an opponent's arm with striking surface being the thumb side of the fist. I'm not sold on that yet.
In reviewing my reference material from a recent Seminar that Tim Cartmell gave on the similarities between Taiji "Peng", Bagua "Fan" and Xingyi "Heng" (Crossing Fist), Tim demonstrated that all three related techniques use alternating arm circles in (Peng) rising, (Fan) oblique, and (Heng) horizontal. Same basic concept in each.

Above is an example of the type of use for Crossing Fist that Tim Cartmell teaches, presented in my own clumsy interpetation.
As my Xingyi instructor Jake Burroughs explained, a significant feature in this technique is not the striking out with the fist. The emphisis is rather on the hip action and setting into the Kua. Jake warned me that learning crossing fist correctly was going to drive me crazy, so I welcome comments from people out there familiar with the form. One more thing:
The Crossing Fist, Heng, is said in the classics to be the "mother" of the five elements. Tim explains that this is due to the nature of the alternating arm circles noted above. The Classics also mention Heng as related to Earth and the Spleen, which reglates Yin and Yang and therefore regulates yin and Yang of the other four fists.
If other people more experianced than myself would like to give comments/opinions on the subject of Heng, Crossing Fist, It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all your suggestions and opinions on Heng-
If you haven't read it yet, Jose' provided one of the best descriptions of this technique that I have read yet. Jose' - as always, thank you very much!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Esoterica In Tai Chi Chuan

Once again we see that much of modern Tai Chi Chuan practice is nothing as the art was intended. Refering again to Douglas Wile's "Lost Tai-Chi Classics From The Late Ching Dynasty" page 63, discussing the "Yang Family Forty Chapters":
"In the third category of texts we find advanced, even esoteric, techniques that go well beyond the specificity of the classics and beyond what has appeared in print in the twentieth century. These teachings begin with advanced grappling and pressure point concepts, noting especially their physiological effects in terms of traditional medicine. On a more advanced conceptional level, text 32 provides a sophisticated model for analyzing an opponents energy pattern. Taking an opponent's energy as "empty" or "bound", one employs techniques of "breaking" or "rubbing" in order to destabilize the balence of Chi and strength. Text 36 is a catalogue of hand and finger techniques so rich in it's detail and variety as to rival anything in all of martial arts literature".
(D.R.)- So here we understand that hidden within the original forms (as opposed to the 13-movement new-age crap) is the roadmap to joint manipulation, pressure point striking, and studies affecting Chi flow in the body's meridian system. The problem is I haven't met an instructor yet that can transmit all aspects of this advanced knowledge. For the Chin-na locking and joint manipulation, I had to learn Small-Circle Jujitsu techniques from the Jay family system. For pressure point information I had to learn from students of George Dillman and study acupunture theory and the work of Erle Montague's Dim Mak. For Taiji fighting techniques, nobody comes closer to explaining all of the above information than Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. But finding teachers like Dr. Yang is very difficult, so we take it wherever we can get it.
Douglas Wile continues:
"That martial arts are a system of self-defense is self-evident, and the medical benifits of martial arts exercise is not a great leap. However, Chinese culture has taken the martial arts several steps further, merging them with meditation and inner alchemy, and finally presenting them as a path of ultimate self-realization through the Tao".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Even Pirates Can Have A Crappy Day Too

While we're on a Pirate theme, check out the scene below;
The U.S. uses "Seals" to protect it's ships, the Chinese use Dolphins...

Story link and photo credit here
According to a report from China’s official news agency Xinhua, “thousands of dolphins” recently prevented an attack on Chinese merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Xinhua’s Web site published the photograph above, and three others, which first appeared on the Web site of China Radio International on Monday.
It has to be said that none of the photographs actually shows the boats said to contain Somali pirates being blocked by the dolphins, but Xinhua reported news of the dolphin intervention as fact. Xinhua’s English-language report, about a group of merchant ships escorted through the dangerous waters by vessels from the Chinese navy, contains some translation errors, but describes the efforts of the newest members of the anti-piracy coalition in glowing, even poetic, detail:
The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China’s fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China’s.
The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.
Xinhua does not suggest that the cetacean force may have been part of a classified military program, but given that we know that the United States military has at least tried to train dolphins to work for the government, The Lede is not yet willing to rule out the possibility.
In 1989 Timothy Egan, who now blogs for The Times, reported in the newspaper that the United States Navy was working on a plan to use dolphins to guard a nuclear submarine base and had already spent millions of dollars on training, though there had been some problems:
As part of a top-secret program expanded in the Reagan administration, the Navy has spent nearly $30 million in the last four years trying to put the highly intelligent marine mammals to military use.
Critics question the ethics of using what is seen as a benign creature for military tasks and charge that dolphins, known to be independent and unpredictable, are not reliable guardians. [...]
Navy officials admit that dolphins and sea lions, which are also being trained for military use, have occasionally been absent without leave or have refused to obey orders.
While that Dr. Evil-like plan was officially abandoned in 1991 because of budget cuts after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and former dolphin members of the Soviet Navy were reportedly finding new lines of work in 1997, there were reports in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that, as the Guardian suggested in 2005: “Armed dolphins, trained by the U.S. military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.” The Guardian report cited concerns that the dolphins may have been trained “to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises,” and added, not so reassuringly, that “the U.S. navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arming Yourself On The High Seas

Avast Ye scurvy Rats! Sit right back while old Dojo Rat spins a yarn from his past...

There is a currently a lot of talk about the dramatic rescue of the American ship Captain who was being held by Somali "Pirates" this week. Of course I have heard only one commentator mention the fact that the Somali's are pissed about European nations dumping radioactive waste off their coast and other abuses.
One of the most frequently asked questions is "Why don't these ship crews arm themselves"?
The answer is simple: You can not enter many foreign ports with guns on board. In some cases, you can declare that you have weapons on board and turn them over to customs, hoping you will get them back when you leave port. This brings us to our story:
I have always lived near the coast, owned my own boats and know lots of friends that have been all around the world on boats. One of my friends, we'll call him "Skip" had a harrowing adventure on a cruise that could have been very, very serious.
Skip was an expert sailor; he had been in the Coast Guard, sailed near Antarctica and was skilled and confident. When I met Skip, he was due to arrive at our moorage near the Columbia River south of Portland. This was in January during one of our worst winter storms, and he successfully brought his sailboat down from Canada safe and sound. Skip had two crewmates, both Canadian citizens. The plan was to outfit the boat, a Colvin lug-rigged Schooner, for an extended scuba diving trip in the Caribbean. They provisioned and upgraded the boat, got in shape for a demanding trip and set sail. I stood on the riverbank and waved as they headed off to the ocean, and imagined what kind of adventure they would find.
They made it down the west coast, and went through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean side, where the real adventure began.
This was at the time when the Reagan administration was fighting an illegal guerilla war in Nicaragua, pitting the CIA-backed Contras against the Socialist Sandinista government.
Before sailing, Skip and the crew had invited me onboard for a beer and a smoke, celebrating their upcoming voyage. I asked if they had thought about taking a handgun or any weapons with them. Well, it just so happens that Skip had a very nice AR-15 assault rifle on board, and in a seperate storage box he had the conversion kit to turn it full-auto. In fact, he kept the rifle stored with his old Coast Guard uniform, thinking that the fact that he was former Coast Guard might mitigate the fact that he had the rifle on board.
So there they were, somewhere off the coast of Nicaragua where they were boarded by a heavily armed Sandinista patrol boat. That's when the whole idea of the Coast Guard uniform and assault rifle became a big, big problem. The Sandinistas, keenly aware of covert operations against their country, immediatly took them into custody believing they were CIA. They held them for nearly two weeks, as the lawyers, guns, and money got involved. Fortunately, the Schooner was a Canadian registered vessel, and both of Skips crewmates were Canadian citizens. That's about the only thing that kept them out of prison. After much negotiating they were released, without the rifle, and free to go.
Needless to say, some of the fun had gone out of the trip, like an empty Beer bottle sinking to the bottom of the sea. They cut the trip short, and eventually sailed back home.
Many, many articles in sailing magazines have argued the merits of carrying or not carring weapons onboard. There are some places you can not do it at all, and others, like the South China sea where you are crazy not to. Wherever you go in the world, you have to clear customs, and there lies the problem.

*** On a side note, I supported the Sandinistas against the CIA Contras. One of my best friends from grade school, Ben Linder, was the first American killed by the CIA Contras. Ben was building a small hydroelectric plant in a rural jungle village. He was tortured and killed by the Contras. My friend and mentor, the late Ace Hayes, ran guns down to the Sandinistas. He installed them in the walls of a pick-up camper and drove them down to Nicaragua personally. How he didn't get caught, we will never know...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fungus Amongus

Japanese scratching their heads over fungus that is killing judo
Richard Lloyd Parry in Tokyo
They are among the most famous fighters in the world, renowned for their discipline, speed and toughness. Now Japan’s martial artists are being laid low by an epidemic that is inflicting them with itching, disfigurement and baldness.
Doctors and officials say the sport of judo is facing ruin because of an infectious skin fungus spreading through clubs across Japan. It is passed from one participant to another during the grappling that is at the heart of the sport.
Practitioners of Western-style wrestling and the ancient sport of sumo have also been afflicted by Trichophyton tonsurans, a skin-eating fungus similar to athlete’s foot. So concerned is the sport’s governing body, the All Japan Judo Federation, that it commissioned research to gauge the extent of the problem.
It revealed that almost one third of judo clubs and half of all high-school judo teams have been struck by the fungus, which is highly infectious and difficult to treat. Its symptoms include patches of redness on the neck, face and upper body, which are often itchy and swollen.
The fungus most often affects the scalp, sometimes causing patches of skin to flake off, but often displaying few obvious symptoms in the early stages. Left untreated the fungus can enter the hair follicles, causing loss of hair. Treatment consists of a three-month course of drugs.
The prospect of fungus-infested Olympians or sumo wrestlers deprived of their famous topknots has caused wide disquiet. “The federation has become worried about the situation,” said Seitaro Hiruma, a professor of dermatology at Juntendo University, Tokyo, who carried out the research.
“Now they are saying that if they leave this infection unchecked it will ruin Japanese judo.” In a letter to judo clubs across the country the federation pleaded with judoka, as judo practitioners are called, to take part in the survey. “If this infection spreads it may harm the image of judo and can’t but contribute to the decline of the sport,” the letter read. “So please cooperate with this research.” The contagion is a side-effect of the great success of judo and its growing internationalisation since it became an Olympic Sport in the 1964 Tokyo Games. Professor Hiruma said that Trichophyton tonsurans originated in Latin America. “The infection started in America in 1960s after the revolution in Cuba when lots of refugees moved into US,” he said. “Wrestlers brought it into Europe and the infection spread among the wrestling population.” In Japan the number of wrestlers is small – 50,000 – compared with 500,000 judoka. Japanese judo athletes got infected in Europe and brought it back to Japan.
Follicular faith
- Sumo wrestlers are expected to grow their hair long and fix it in a topknot similar to that worn by samurai during the Edo period. Yokozuna Tochigiyama, one of Japan’s most successful sumo wrestlers, retired in his prime in 1925 as he did not have enough hair
- Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe was asked by a journalist why he had cut all his hair off. The superstitious footballer replied: “I had to, I only ever seem to get injured when I have longer hair”
- In the 1998 World Cup the Romanian team emerged for their match against Tunisia with bleached hair. The decision had been made to reverse a curse placed on the team by the Romanian Orthodox Church
- In Ancient Greece Olympic wrestlers were among the only men, besides slaves, to keep their hair short to keep their opponents from grabbing it during a bout


Friday, April 10, 2009

Fantastic Sword Cuts, Seemingly Impossible

First of all, these Japanese game show formats just crack me up. But holy crap, it doesn't seem that these stunts are faked. If true, this is the stuff that legends are made of... keep watching, it gets better -

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dojo Rat Now In Urban Dictionary

A fellow Rat alerted me to the fact that nobody had defined the term "Dojo Rat" in the online version of "The Urban Dictionary". Here is how the current addition of the book is described on Amazon:
About the Author
"Founded in 1999 by Aaron Peckham as a parody of the dictionary, features definitions written by people from all over the world. Since then, Urban Dictionary has been cited in court, in graduation speeches, and by countless news media outlets, including CNN and Time magazine. Today Aaron is a software engineer in Silicon Valley and San Francisco".
--And here is how it is now defined (by me):
1. Dojo Rat
Dojo Rat:
(1). Intensely motivated Martial Arts practitioner. Always working out at the training hall (Dojo).
(2). An old Martial Arts hack that has been around forever and can still kick ass. See
(3). All of the above
(use in sentence)
(1). Zac The Dojo Rat is always at the damned Dojo.
(2). Tom is an old Dojo Rat dude but he can still crush your face.
(3). I'm scared of those Dojo Rat guys.
karate-tai chi chuan-martial arts-dojo-asskicker
by Dojo Rat Apr 8, 2009 share this

--Anybody else want to chime in? Here's the link for "The Urban Dictionary"
-Available at Amazon here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kent Howard: Leg Trap And Counter To Leg Trap

Leg Trap
Once again, I've really been enjoying these video's produced by Bagua instructor Kent Howard. In this first one, he demonstrates leg traps using the T,L, and V steps from the Bagua palm changes. I used the inside trap during a freestyle push-hands match Monday, just to disrupt my partners balence followed with a push. I could have taken him off his feet completely if I chose to, and it reminded me how vital these traps are when you are in close quarters.

And here he demonstrates the counter to the leg trap with a nice little partner drill. Thanks Kent!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Springtime For Taiji In Port Townsend

Arriving by boat to Port Townsend Washington

What a difference a couple of weeks makes; last trip to see our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman the Ferry shut down due to high winds and snowstorms. This Weekend, it was sunny, 65 degrees and beautiful.
Myself and another Dojo Rat were joined by two other Rats from the Seattle club for a class with instructor Gilman that hosted around twenty students. Michael has been teaching seminars on the various "energies" in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan, and we have gone over Peng-Lu-Ji-An in great detail. The focus this time was more directed to Ji and An, and the Yang-style push-hands patterns.

Michael Gilman, assistant instructor Stephanie, and a pack of Dojo Rats

The seminar wrapped up with a lively session of push-hands with the warmer temperature really bringing the sweat on! That of course necessitated replacing our vital body fluids with the elixer of life; Beer. Now, Port Townsend has a brewery that produces one of the finest IPA's I have ever had. I usually start with that then move on to something a little lighter. No matter how I tried, nobody joined me in drinking the Beer that made Washington State famous: Olympia in the can. Oly is light enough to fuel the Rat all night long, which is pretty much what happened as we watched a great R&B/Funk band and closed down two bars.

Looking south towards the Olympic mountains. The paper mill you see is where Deborah Winger was rescued by Richard Geere in the movie "An Officer And A Gentleman", which was filmed in Port Townsend. (The movie had a couple of great fight scenes). I think half the brown-paper bags in the United States come out of this plant. Below the grass headlands on the right is a beach where in 1981 I lived in a small travel trailer (until the Cops kicked me out).

And finally, here's a pic of the great little Kala Soprano Ukulele I picked up in town, which really came in handy as some of us had a late night train wreck of a music jam up in the hotel room.
All-in-all, a very successful mission!
For more information on Tai Chi Chuan in Port Townsend, check out Michael Gilman's Website.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kent Howard On Bagua Single Palm Change

Here are some drills for the Bagua single palm change by instructor Kent Howard. The first one I learned years ago in Aikido, and we have been doing it pretty much as Kent presents it. The second drill is nice because of the Fan Jang aspect of the change. All of this guy's videos are well produced and have good information. The style is after master Wang Shujin, the barrel chested dude in the first picture in the video. The style is different than from what I practice in that he (1.) holds his elbows somewhat away from his body and a little higher than I like. I believe that may be because master Wang was so huge he held his arms away from his belly. Naturally, all his students would replicate that position. Jake Burroughs recently commented to me that he saw the same thing in the students of an obese Xingyi master. (2.)In the palm change, but not shown in this video is the high leg raise after the wrap and change of direction. I see the utility in leg sweep applications but is a little to high for me.
All this guy's video's are very good however, and we may take a look at a few more later. Also, you might check out the website for Kent Howard's book on Wang Shujin Bagua at this link.
- I'm off to a Tai Chi Chuan workshop with my instructor Michael Gilman this weekend, more on that next week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April- Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month: A Brief History Of Hippie Chicks

"Wandervogels Abschied" by Fidus, 1900

Ah-- yes fellow Dojo Rats, it's time again for our regular feature "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month".
This time, we take a look at the origins of the "Hippie Movement", such as it is.
Let's begin with this really great article "Hippie Roots & The Perennial Subculture". This is a legenthy and somewhat inspirational historical perspective that takes us back to the Pagan ethos of the German Folk at the turn of the last century. Yes, you read that right. The Hippie Chick (and Dude) movement started in Germany. The article states:
"Thus the religiosity of the Indo-Germanic people, whenever their nature can unfold itself freely, emerges only in that form which religious science has described as "nature religion" or "earth religions". To remove the German soul from the natural landscape is to kill it. The Romans knew this so once Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire their missionaries were eager to chop down the German forests and set their temples on fire.
Whenever the church encountered Pagan elements that it could not suppress, it gave them a Christian dimension and assimilated them. These ancestral traditions were reinterpreted and revised, but the church never succeeded in effacing the German Pagan heritage".

Celebrating The Sun, 1926
The Pagan spirit of the Germans became the "Wandervogel" movement of the 1920's, with youth roaming the countryside playing music, clad in wool, swimming nude and establishing "Nests" and "Anti-Homes". Popular literature from Goethe to Hesse was heavily influenced by the emerging movement. From the article:
"the "Wandervogel", was founded in 1895 by Hermann Hoffmann and Karl Fischer in Steglitz, a suburb of Berlin. They began to take some high school students on nature walks, then later on longer hikes. Soon a huge youth movement that was both anti-bourgeois and Teutonic Pagan in character, composed mostly of middle class German children, organized into autonomous bands".

In the 1950's and 60's, Germans who moved to the United States brought the Wandervogel spirit with them, and were called "Nature Boys". Many lived in warm climates where they could camp and forage food from the wild. Many abstained from alcohol and caffiene and ate only raw foods. This was the dawn of the natural health food movement of today. As far back as 1896, these were the goals of the original Wandervogel: Particularly:

1. vegetarianism
2. nudism
3. natural medicine
4. abstinence from alcohol
5. clothing reform
6. settlement movements
7. garden towns
8. soil reform
9. sexual reform
10. health food and economic reform
11. social reform
12. liberation for women, children and animals
13. communitarianism
14. cultural and religious reform: i.e. a religion or view of the world that gives weight to the feminine, maternal and natural traits of existence
(D.R.) Pretty foward thinking, Eh?
And finally, the so called "Hippie" movement saw fruition in the fertile 1960's:

Hippie Chick and Surfer Dude on the island of Kauai, 1971
So, we conclude our salute to the "Brief History Of The Hippie Chick" with another historical photo:

Germany, 1916

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