Thursday, December 30, 2010

Great Thread on Aikido's Ueshiba in China

Onisaburo (left) and Morihei Ueshiba (right) shackled in Mongolia

Jonathan Bluestein has started a great thread over at "The Rum-Soaked Fist", speculating that Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba may have picked up Bagua techniques and incorporated them in his Aikido.
As expected this is a hotly contested claim, and one I have also written about in "Is Aikido of Chinese Origin?"
While it's obvious that Aikido's roots are in Daito Ryu Aikijitsu, I see a valid explaination for Aikido's softer, more circular movement as strikingly similar to Bagua.

Here's an excerpt from the article I wrote (linked above) with comments by Ellis Amdur:

(Amdur): However, Ueshiba did observe Chinese martial arts. Takeda Hiroshi studied Ruyi Tongbei ch'uan from He Zhenfang in the 1920's and 1930's. Takeda published the first book on Tongbei ch'uan in 1936. Tongbei is a martial system that uses a very flexible upper body and whipping techniques with the arms, as if there is an axle from one shoulder to the other. Although I do not know if this is true in Takeda’s line, some Tongbei ch’uan traditions have staff and/or spear training with fajin practice as part of their system. According to the following website,


"Interestingly, although the content in certain portions of the book are very clear, other parts are very puzzling and strange. Many believe the reason is that Master He did not really want to teach Takeda, and so he diverted the teaching on purpose. There is speculation that this happened because of the political situation between China and Japan at that time." In any event, Takeda stated in an interview in a Japanese martial arts magazine in the late 1980’s, that his home became a center, not only for practitioners of Chinese martial arts, but also for visiting Japanese martial artists, and among them was Ueshiba Morihei, who visited him in 1936. According to Okumura Shigenobu, “Yes, he went to Peking too. He saw various Chinese martial arts. There are good martial arts in China. Ueshiba sensei was impressed by them.” Let me be very clear here. I am not saying that I believe that Ueshiba studied under Takeda Hiroshi - or anybody else in Beijing. But it is possible that, in his visit to Beijing, that he observed such training either by Takeda Hiroshi or by some of his other compadres, and saw something of value that he could "steal." Remember, Ueshiba was the man of whom Sugino Yoshio stated that he could observe something once and see exactly what they were doing. In sum, what I am saying here is that the type of force-building and expression that I am loosely referring to as “fajin,” may have been something that Ueshiba did observe in China and integrate in his own way into his art — either as something new or as a augmentation or variation to what he had already learned."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In Today's Neanderthal News...

Yes, ol' Dojo Rat is a Neanderthal. Or at least part Neanderthal, and now I can prove it. From "Discovery News":

"Neanderthals, Humans Interbred, DNA Proves
A newly mapped Neanderthal genome reveals that between 1-4 percent of DNA of many humans today came from Neanderthals."
"It's official: Most of us are part Neanderthal. The first draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome has provided the strongest evidence yet that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred and that all non-Africans today have Neanderthal gene fragments in their genetic codes.
Although the Neanderthal contribution to the DNA of these individuals is estimated at being just one to four percent of the total, the finding, published in the latest issue of the journal Science, helps to resolve the long-standing controversy over whether or not humans mated with Neanderthals when the two groups encountered each other outside of Africa."

Prehistoric Cute Hippie Chick of the Month

And in a sideways blow to the "Primal Diet", as promoted by "Mark's Daily Apple",, studies show that primitive man ate cooked grains.

"Neanderthals cooked their vegetables just like humans: study"

"WASHINGTON — A US study found that Neanderthals, prehistoric cousins of humans, ate grains and vegetables as well as meat, cooking them over fire in the same way homo sapiens did.
The new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) challenges a prevailing theory that Neanderthals' over reliance on meat contributed to their extinction around 30,000 years ago.
Researchers found grains from numerous plants, including a type of wild grass, as well as traces of roots and tubers, trapped in plaque buildup on fossilized Neanderthal teeth unearthed in northern Europe and Iraq."

The primal diet, as I understand it says that all the health woes of modern society, like diabetes, began with man eating grains. I think there is some truth to this, but the article above clearly shows that "Grok" did indeed eat wild grasses.
I have to admit- the primal diet pushes a huge amount of meat and dairy as being closer to the diet cavemen ate. While it sounds very appetizing, eating three-to-six eggs a day just can't be good for us.
Just stay away from processed white flour and sugar, chips and bread.

And embrace your inner Neanderthal...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Versions of Stand-up Grappling

Mike Martello demonstrates Chin na

The late Mike Martello was one of the favorite instructors I have trained with. Part class clown, part mad scientist working over lab rats, and all martial artist. As you can see, Mike was very short, but very powerful. He had to perfect body dynamics because he simply did not have the mass to out-muscle the big guys. As a result, Mike was able to teach very well and was a ton of fun to train with. Additionally, he had a very high level of body control in form work, which was beautiful to watch. I had a few long e-mail exchanges with Mike between his visits to Seattle, where we learned a bit about each other and life in general. Mike is missed by students on at least four continents throughout the world.

Wally Jay demonstrates Small-Circle Jujitsu

Aside from Wrestling in school, I studied Aikido for two years and got a great overview of spiral energy and joint locking. My training partner Corey was fortunate to have trained extensively with Wally and Leon Jay of "Small-Circle Jujitsu". I was able to attend a pretty wild seminar with Leon Jay in Portland some years back. I dislocated a guy's finger, Corey got seriously knocked out by Leon, and we learned a lot about energetics. In the short interview with Wally above there is mostly some pain-compliance that looks good for the camera. But let me tell you, the Jays can get really rough. They say "Pain makes believers".

Tim Cartmell demonstrates Chin na

And then there's Tim Cartmell.
The seminars I have attended with Tim on combat Bagua, Taiji and Xingyi application and stand-up grappling have been some of the most influential in my recent training years.
I wish there was more video available of Tim but he stays pretty much below the radar on YouTube.
For those that don't know, Tim was a successful fighting champion in Taiwan and authored and translated many books on martial arts including the classic "Effortless Combat Throws". Tim is a "grappler's grappler", now a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During the time I have met and talked with Tim, he has dispensed with the notions of metaphysics and Chi in favor of good old leverage and mass-in-motion. His principles are proven in combat, both on the street and on the mat.
As you can see, Tim's techniques in this video resemble those Make Martello uses in the first video. I only wish there was more available. Fortunately, I have hours of the seminars I attended recorded, which is an invaluable asset. I look forward to training more with Tim in the future.

Special thanks to my friend and instructor Jake Burroughs for bringing Tim Cartmell and Mike Martello to Seattle, and for the continuing training Jake provides me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Train with The Karda Group

Now here's a guy I would really like to train with;
Branden Wyke is one of the instructors at "The Karda Group". The group trains in a mix of Filipino/Indonesian arts with a heavy influence on knife work.
In an e-mail chat with Branden he described the training group:

"A lot of the guys have instructorships in a different things. A few are instructors under Inosanto in Kali, Silat, and JKD. Some are Muay Thai instructors, and one of the guys in Wing Chun. Then some of the guys have spent time in a lot of other stuff like lua and some Filipino martial arts like Sayoc Kali, and Atienza kali.
We've spent most of the time the last couple of years working on knife and empty hands vs knife because there seems to be a lot of unrealistic practices going on -either guys aren't training under the right amount of randomness and stress or they were training a LOT of stuff that was about killing an empty handed man...we wanted to get away from that kind of stuff and explore what was really working and in the right context.
We've been working the emptyhands stuff too -just organizing it in a structure that can roll with it well if the other guy pulls a weapon."

Now, I have to admit that I am not that skilled in knife work myself, which is something I intend to work on. I have some basic disarms, Aikido knife defense, basic weapon stripping etc.
With that said, here are my observations on Branden's teaching and technique:

First of all, Branden has had very good instruction. You can tell because he teaches very well also. No esoteric terminology, basic stuff western lunkheads and Dojo Rats can understand.
While all the defenses in his videos use gross motor skills (something that will work in a stressful situation) he demonstrates sensitivity to the opponent's weapon and body movement. In other words, Branden does not try to out-muscle his attacker, but he follows the movement of the blade and adjusts to a controlling position.
He does however, use his body mass to bear against the attacker rather than arm strength alone. This fits with the general theme of internal martial arts; follow the opponent's movement and force him to deal with your body mass as a unified whole.
Let's not fool ourselves; there is going to be some huffing and grunting in a real struggle against a resisting opponent, and this type of training adds necessary realism. One thing to note - Branden exhales consistently, which maintains a breathing rhythm allowing him to pace his endurance and emphasize the yin and yang of yield and press.

I suggest anybody interested to look at the other video's on "The Karda Group" website, linked HERE.

You can contact Branden for training information here:

Public Class:
Location: Relentless Martial Arts
6202 S. Sheridan Tulsa, OK., 74133
Times: Mon 8-8:50pm & Wed 6-6:50pm
Contact: Branden Wyke
918 806 8912

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Su Dong Chen Mixes It Up

I just love to watch this guy move.
Su Dong Chen was trained in Taiwan by Hung I Hsiang in Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua. since then he has developed his own variations and blends of these arts.
Here is a little background on Su from his website "The Essence of Evolution":

“Essence of Evolution” is a research-based approach, specializing in evolutionary developmental processes based on the essence of martial arts and physical movement/exercise. EOE’s founder, Master. Su Dong-Chen, is an eminent authority of martial arts.
The Martial Arts Philosophy developed by Master. Su has as its cornerstone the study of physical phenomenon as they actually manifest, a kind of philosophical positivism. This is based upon and tested through actual fighting experience, as well as Master Su’s mastery in his background arts, the Chinese Internal Martial Arts styles Xing Yi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, and Tai Ji Quan. Mr. Su is also well-versed in Southern and Northern, Shaolin Kung-fu, and the various martial arts and fighting sports of Japan and the West. He has specialized in developing and carrying out experimental proof of technical principles, as well as the research and application of tactical thought. For more information about Mr. Su and his philosophy, please refer to his biography.
In looking beyond the boundaries of any style or any school, as a result of unrelenting quest for evolution, and through research of the essence of martial arts, Mr. Su’s martial arts philosophy gradually formulated a uniform system of theory: “Consistent Technique” in defense, striking, and throwing/joint locking; and a comprehensive relationship of the principles “Point, Line, Cross, and Spiral."

His website has lots and lots of information, you can check it out HERE.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Fun: The Nutcracker

Back by popular demand...
Ah yes, it's that terrible time of the year again. "X-Mas".

When I look at my Blog Stats for December, I realize that children and families all over the world search the Interweb looking for the classic Ballet "The Nutcracker".

Instead, because your ol' buddy Dojo Rat is a footsoldier in "The War on Christmas", they stumble upon this irreverent display -- "Nutcracking" of another sort:










There now; doesn't that put everybody in the right holiday spirit?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kung Fu for Philosophers

Thanks to my Martini-drinking buddy Bob over at "Striking Thoughts" for finding this one:

From all places, this piece on "Kung Fu for Philosophers" comes from The New York Times opinion page, and it's pretty good. You can read the entire piece at the link highlighted above, but here are a few excerpts-

"But as the Shaolin monk pointed out, kung fu embodies much more than fighting. In fact any ability resulting from practice and cultivation could accurately be said to embody kung fu. There is a kung fu of dancing, painting, cooking, writing, acting, making good judgments, dealing with people, even governing. During the Song and Ming dynasties in China, the term kung fu was widely used by the neo-Confucians, the Daoists and Buddhists alike for the art of living one’s life in general, and they all unequivocally spoke of their teachings as different schools of kung fu.
This broad understanding of kung fu is a key (though by no means the only key) through which we can begin to understand traditional Chinese philosophy and the places in which it meets and departs from philosophical traditions of the West. As many scholars have pointed out, the predominant orientation of traditional Chinese philosophy is the concern about how to live one’s life, rather than finding out the truth about reality."
"One might well consider the Chinese kung fu perspective a form of pragmatism. The proximity between the two is probably why the latter was well received in China early last century when John Dewey toured the country. What the kung fu perspective adds to the pragmatic approach, however, is its clear emphasis on the cultivation and transformation of the person, a dimension that is already in Dewey and William James but that often gets neglected. A kung fu master does not simply make good choices and use effective instruments to satisfy whatever preferences a person happens to have. In fact the subject is never simply accepted as a given. While an efficacious action may be the result of a sound rational decision, a good action that demonstrates kung fu has to be rooted in the entire person, including one’s bodily dispositions and sentiments, and its goodness is displayed not only through its consequences but also in the artistic style one does it. It also brings forward what Charles Taylor calls the “background” — elements such as tradition and community — in our understanding of the formation of a person’s beliefs and attitudes. Through the kung fu approach, classic Chinese philosophy displays a holistic vision that brings together these marginalized dimensions and thereby forces one to pay close attention to the ways they affect each other."
"The kung fu approach does not entail that might is right. This is one reason why it is more appropriate to consider kung fu as a form of art. Art is not ultimately measured by its dominance of the market. In addition, the function of art is not accurate reflection of the real world; its expression is not constrained to the form of universal principles and logical reasoning, and it requires cultivation of the artist, embodiment of virtues/virtuosities, and imagination and creativity. If philosophy is “a way of life,” as Pierre Hadot puts it, the kung fu approach suggests that we take philosophy as the pursuit of the art of living well, and not just as a narrowly defined rational way of life."


As I like to say;
Combat brings necessary pain, "Art" necessarily brings pleasure...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: What Is Tai Chi?

I am very pleased to review a new book by Peter A. Gilligan with the simple title "What Is Tai Chi?"
So often books of this type are over-complicated, lose something in translation, or are merely pictorials of form movements. In "What Is Tai Chi?", author Gilligan attempts to answer a student's basic question, and succeeds in compiling a thorough overview of Tai Chi Chuan as a health practice, self-defense method and vehicle for self improvement. Gilligan speaks clearly to the western practitioner, while embracing the true historical and physical aspects of Tai Chi Chuan - in his own words:

"My writing about the art has been organized around three ideas, which I regard as three developmental tasks or levels of learning. The first is rectification of the body, the second is the method, Daoyin, and the third I call Nei Gong, linking The Six Secrets with true Nei Gong of "internal work" or "internal breathing".

Author Gilligan does a great job in laying down a format instructors can use to teach the deep and diverse art of Tai Chi Chuan. He covers issues such as Chinese philosophy, self-defense vs. martial art, methods of natural movement and body alignment, the above mentioned "Six Secrets", and how to approach teaching Tai Chi Chuan. Again, in the author's words:

"Ultimately the role of teacher in Taijiquan is considerably less than that of the student. The teacher is not so much there to teach you specific moves, techniques or forms. The teacher's job is to teach you methods to enable you to find whatever is relevant to your current level of development, be it rectification, Daoyin or Nei Gong."

"What Is Tai Chi?" is a study guide that applies to all styles of Chinese Internal Martial Arts, not just Tai Chi. It's definitely on my short list of recommended books for students, fellow practitioners and instructors of the complex and beautiful art of Tai Chi Chuan.

"What Is Tai Chi?", along with other books on Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua, Chinese medicine and Qigong are available at this website for

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Sticky Wiki

In the wake of the first Cyber-War of this century, with hackers shutting down financial websites and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in jail -- Former FBI agent Coleen Rowley and other intelligence experts have come out in support of Wikileaks.
In a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece, Rowley and a Federal Air Marshall assert that:

"WikiLeaks might have provided a pressure valve for those agents who were terribly worried about what might happen and frustrated by their superiors' seeming indifference. They were indeed stuck in a perplexing, no-win ethical dilemma as time ticked away. Their bosses issued continual warnings against "talking to the media" and frowned on whistle-blowing, yet the agents felt a strong need to protect the public."

Rowley has serious credentials:
"Coleen Rowley, was a special agent/legal counsel at the FBI's Minneapolis division and worked closely with those who arrested would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on an immigration violation less than a month before the World Trade Center was destroyed."

Rowley states her investigation could have helped prevent 911, but was suppressed.
The co-author of the article, Bogdan Dzakovic has a story to tell also:

"Federal Air Marshal Bogdan Dzakovic, once co-led the Federal Aviation Administration's Red Team to probe for vulnerabilities in airport security. He also has a story of how warnings were ignored in the run-up to Sept. 11. In repeated tests of security, his team found weaknesses nine out of 10 times that would make it possible for hijackers to smuggle weapons aboard and seize control of airplanes. But the team's reports were ignored and suppressed, and the team was shut down entirely after 9/11."

Could Wilileaks have provided that "safety valve?"

On to Julian Assange himself; he faces extradition to Sweden for charges similar to rape. The actual charge in one case is having sex without a condom. Assange's accuser has links to a CIA-funded group:

Revealed: Assange ‘rape’ accuser linked to notorious CIA operative
"One accuser, Anna Ardin, may have "ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups," according to Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett, writing for CounterPunch.
While in Cuba, Ardin worked with the Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White), a feminist anti-Castro group."

Now, as layer upon layer of the onion are peeled away, we read this interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski on PBS:

"Zbigniew Brzezinski doesn't think all the leaked information coming out of Wikileaks is a result of Army PFC Bradley Manning, as a matter of fact he suspects a foreign intelligence service may be providing the more embarrassing leaks."
"ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It's not a question of worry. It's, rather, a question of whether WikiLeaks are being manipulated by interested parties that want to either complicate our relationship with other governments or want to undermine some governments, because some of these items that are being emphasized and have surfaced are very pointed.
And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren't some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments."

Brzezinski was President Carter's National Security Advisor.

Theories abound. Lots of fingers point to Israel. Others say it could be an intentional information dump by rogue elements in our own intelligence agencies, as Rowley suggests in the L.A. Times article.
For now, the anti-authoritarian spark in me supports Assange. I believe the rape charges are overblown. I'm not crazy about his legions of cyber-hackers shutting down Master Card and Visa in retaliation for cutting off Wiki's cashflow, but I clearly see the genius behind the move.
There was a time when I viewed computer technology as leading to a potential police state. But if anybody can defeat a computer-driven Orwellian police state, it's the cyber-punks.

So go for it boys and girls; let's see how this thing plays out...

Monday, December 6, 2010


The Puget Sound region of Western Washington State is rife with military bases, defense contractors (think Boeing), and current and retired intelligence officers. I personally know of places on private islands that have been protected by Secret Service details at times.
I am purposely going to leave this story a little vague, so as not to get anybody in trouble:
We were on the mainland a couple of days ago, at a great bar we visit for drinks and music. Sometimes when I go to these places, it seems that the oddballs are drawn to talk to me. I must have a sign on my forehead that says "tell me your life story".
It had been a fairly long day, we hadn't had dinner yet and I was primed with at least six Beers. Shortly before the music was supposed to start, a guy in a green military-style coat approached us. He had shoulder-length black hair, a short goatee beard and carried a small day pack. He wanted to know where the other bars in town were, as a popular pub up the street had been closed recently. We gave him directions to a more up-scale jazz club a few blocks away, and while we were talking I realized his partner was a few bar stools away watching us. The other guy stood up and introduced himself by handshake, no name. Both these guys had obviously been drinking a fair amount themselves. For some reason, we were the people in the Bar they chose to approach. Guy #2 was more clean-cut and wore a ball cap. As we talked, he told me "We protect America". I see a lot of Coast Guard types in our area, so I said "Homeland Security?". He said "No. Higher up". I looked at his partner with shoulder-length hair and I said "DEA?", thinking they might have been an undercover team. He said "No, we kill people>". Now, I was fully primed with plenty of Beer by this time, so I decided to play the game too. I said "Kill people in this country or outside the country?". He said "Wherever they send us".

I started to get the picture, so I probed a little further. It seemed like these guys really, really had to talk to someone and just didn't fit in with the young-punkish crowd that filled the bar. I asked " Do you ever question the motives of your mission?". He said "All the time, but it's our job." Meanwhile, the guy with longer hair in the military jacket tells the person I'm with "The town has changed since I was here last. Lots of pot smokers and Liberals." -"When were you here last?" - "Seven years ago." He added: "We're on a Navy Munitions ship." -"Over at (location)?"- "Yes, over at (location)."
Well, we had seen the ship and are familiar with the facility.
Now, people talk a lot of shit in Bars after they've had a snootfull. But here we were in "Navy Land". You could wrap the guy with the long black hair and beard up in desert garb and he would fit right in in tribal Afghanistan. These guys were obviously having trouble fitting in with the crowd in the Bar, and for some reason, they identified with us. They had a somewhat vacant look in their eyes, like they had a serious disconnect with civilian life. We thanked them for their service.
The next morning we left our hotel room and there was a big white bus parked outside the American Legion Hall, waiting to pick people up. By the drivers window, in small blue letters was "US. Navy".
We thought about those guys on the ride back up to our place.
While waiting for a ferry back to the islands, I saw something I had only seen once a couple of years ago; a large passenger jet, with a small fighter jet in escort, right on it's tail.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Faceplant !

You never know when what you practice in self-defense will save your ass.
In the huge wind, snow and ice storm we had recently, I needed to get off the farm and visit a few friends at the local tavern. Several Beers later I left to pick up a couple of things at the store and head on back up the hill. There was a very nice, thick patch of ice on the ground and it was pretty dark out. Even with good boots on, I hit the ice just right and slipped forward towards a full-frontal faceplant.
Fortunately, we practice front, side and rear falls as well as rolls. I landed in a perfect sprawl position, forearms flat, up on my toes.
The first thing I did was look around to see if anybody saw me wipe out, then I laughed my ass off. It reminded me of when you see drunks fall down at parties and they protect their drink glass first and foremost, never spilling a drop.
So all you drunken martial artists out there; keep practicing your falls, and never spill a drop!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Man Being Evicted For Living On His Own Land

Now this just really, really pisses me off.
This guy is hurting Nobody.
For shits sake, he's living on 36 acres. There is no animal cruelty issue. There are no heaps of garbage. He doesn't appear to be destroying his neighbors property value. My guess is somebody wants his property and is leaning on him.
-Look, I live out on the west coast. I've lived in Barns, tents, tarps, school buses, campers, trailers, abandoned cabins and primitive shelters.
That's how half the hippies in Amerika get by. Haul your water. Build an outhouse. Maybe have a generator or solar power.
I wonder if it was a communal farm if the county would treat it differently?
This guy needs a good lawyer...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cute Hippie Chick of the Month: TSA Scanner Edition

Coming to a Bus or Train station near you?

And check out this detailed essay from a molecular biologist:
Review of the TSA backscanner safety report

Well, Ol' Dojo Rat has never been on an airplane in his life.
Why break a perfect track record now?
I see a dystopic future of people traveling by goat cart and donkeys. Might be better in the long run...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Video Review: Tim Cartmell's "Standing Grappling"

It's amazing how things can come full-circle.
In my martial training, I started out as a wrestler, and most of my fights went to the ground. In Tae Kwon Do I trained kicking techniques for years. Later in Kenpo we practiced nasty hand strikes and Western Boxing. Aikido and Small-Circle Jujitsu re-introduced grappling techniques. The last ten years have been spent practicing the Chinese Internal Arts, and in an amazing way, it has brought me back to wrestling.
Attending seminars with Tim Cartmell has been a revelation in martial experience. Tim is undoubtedly the best grappler I have learned from, and his background in traditional Chinese Martial Arts is legendary. Many of you know that Tim has become a skilled competitor and coach in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well.
In his video "Standing Grappling", Tim covers escapes and counters to many of the most common grappling techniques seen in common street fights. These include things as simple as wrist grabs, but the meat of the video is on dangerous techniques such as headlocks, chokes and body locks used to slam an opponent.
Tim first introduces the proper way to properly perform these chokes, headlocks, etc. Then he shows how to prevent someone from gaining such a hold on you, and
how to escape if you do get caught in these types of holds and locks.
The difference in Tim's method is that he asserts that striking, kicking and elbowing will simply not cause an extremely strong opponent to release their grip.
Instead, Tim demonstrates very logical and scientific ways to use body leverage that nobody can resist. For instance, he suggests you can not use isolated muscle groups in the arms alone to break holds. Through subtle angles and body positioning, you can force your opponent to have to contend with your entire body weight, the use of torso, back and waist in unison as opposed to isolated arm muscles.
Within each counter-technique is redundancy, that is a "plan B" for every attempt. What to do if the first part of the escape is not successful. What to do if the opponent changes his tactic or positioning. And what to do if the opponent maintains the lock on you after you have successfully thrown him and you both go down together.
There are plenty of opportunities to loosen the hold, strike the opponent and get away. But Tim sticks strictly to grappling techniques that work and can be practiced safely with training partners at near-full strength. Options to many of the techniques include breaking the hold and getting away, or following with a submission such as an arm bar, shoulder lock or choke.
There is probably nothing more dangerous in a street fight as being choked out or slammed to the ground on a hard surface. In "Standing Grappling", Tim demonstrates some very common-sense methods to defend yourself if you are ever caught in a head lock, body lock or choke by an opponent that may be bigger and stronger than you.
Great stuff, and it includes many out-takes of Tim with some incredible BJJ competition moves, and his students at "Shen Wu" sparring and grappling with many of these techniques. I highly recommend this video;
Tim Cartmell's "Shen Wu" website is at this link
and all his videos are available here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving holiday, it's been a rough week up here in the islands off the coast of Washington State.
Monday we had the worst windstorm I've experienced up here. I've got ten-thousand pounds of broken Maple tree laying in the yard. It could have killed us... That was the little treat between snowstorms and power outages. Trees are down all over the property.
Ah, life on the frontier...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seattle: Rain City Superheroes

Oh man, I'm worried this could turn out bad...

From The Seattle P.I.

"Vigilante justice has come to Seattle, and the caped crusaders drive a Kia.
Seattle police say a group of self-described superheroes have been patrolling the streets at night trying to save people from crime. They call themselves the Rain City Superhero Movement and say they're part of a nationwide movement of real-life crime fighters."

(D.R.)- I have a feeling that this activity is a product of uncertain times. The financial elite have looted the wealth of the nation. Millions face homelessness, chronic unemployment, and shattered families. Crime will naturally increase. People have a need to try to regain control over their personal lives and try to improve society at large.
But this is not without personal and societal risk:

(Seattle PI)
"Phoenix was interviewed by detectives this month and came to police headquarters dressed in most of his costume, police said.
(Phoenix) apologized for not being in full costume, as it was being repaired after (he) was stabbed while trying to intervene with a drug dealer and a citizen," the police bulletin stated, according to a police source.
The man was not seriously wounded during the incident under Interstate 5, and police say he may not have actually been wounded.
Now, police were told Phoenix wears body armor, a ballistic vest, arm and leg trauma plates -- and a ballistic cup. Police were apparently told that bulletproof vest helped stop a bullet during an incident in Tacoma a year ago.
Others are expected to be at police headquarters this week for identification."
"I don't condone people walking around on the street with masks," said the man who called himself Phoenix Jones. "Everyone on my team either has a military background or a mixed martial arts background, and we're well aware of what its costs to do what we do."

The police seem to be taking this lightly for now, but it is a slippery slope from crime fighting to pure vigilantism.
How much of a stretch is it before some "team" begins "hunting" supposed "illegal immigrants"? Or "Arabs"? Or Hippies? Or Gays? Or Democrats?

For now, this appears to be merely an odd trend that is becoming a national movement. According to the "Real Life Superhero" website, members not only arm themselves with tasers, batons, pepper spray and body armor. They study anatomy charts, supposedly allowing them to disable attackers.
To their credit, they also recommend donating blood, distributing food and blankets to the homeless, and handing out leaflets for missing persons and unsolved crimes.
This hearkens back to "The Guardian Angel" movement, started by Curtis Sliwa. Sliwa, now an extreme reactionary talk show host has commented that "The Guardian Angel" movement has morphed into a "paramilitary organization":

"Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa has declared his volunteer street patrol group “a paramilitary organization.”
“Having guardian angels out there is the second line of defense for the police. Highly visible red barret, red satin jackets, it’s a paramilitary organization,” Sliwa told WYTV Channel 33 News in Ohio.
The Guardian Angels have been sharply criticized as a vigilante or paramilitary group since it first started 30 years ago. Sliwa and his followers have always taken care to emphasize its street patrols are merely “eyes and ears” for police and work more as a deterrent.
The group has recently come under scrutiny after members of the Davenport, Iowa franchise broke an Iraq War veteran’s arm in three places while detaining him.
Sliwa made the statement in New Castle, Pennsylvania, where he was holding a press event for Guardian Angels members who just passed a Tae Kwondo class.

There are a lot, a lot of grey areas of law here...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seattle's Brian Johnson Wins U.S. BJJ Open

This old Dojo Rat owes a lot to instructor Jake Burroughs. Jake has surrounded himself with the best experts like Tim Cartmell, the late Mike Martello and others who he brings to Seattle for great seminars.
We meet and practice at "The Northwest Jiu Jitsu Academy", run by Jake's BJJ coach Brian Johnson. Over at Jake's Blog "The Ground Never Misses" Jake has posted this great short video of the U.S. Open BJJ highlights, and the first competitor shown is Brian Johnson. Brian won the Black Belt open division, giving away as much as 90 pounds.
It was also great to see how tough the women competitors were, and the quality of sportsmanship.
I swear, if this stuff was around when I was wrestling, I would have been ape-shit nuts for it. But for now, these old bones will merely appreciate learning a few modern techniques for holding my own -- if I find myself in the unfortunate position of defending myself on the ground.
Great, great stuff, congratulations to Seattle's own Brian Johnson!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Fights

Four Versus Four Fight In Siberia - Watch more Funny Videos

Continuing on with our current discussion on where traditional martial arts end and modern fighting skills begin; we look at this four-on-four fight at a mall in Siberia.
I've been in fights like this, two of them were three-on-three and we were surrounded by a crowd both times. One I ended up with a guy in a choke and my back to a wall, the other I was in a mount on the guy with his face down on the sidewalk, hammering the back of his head. His friend grabbed me by the sweatshirt and pulled me off. I'm lucky he didn't kick me while I was on the ground pounding his buddy.
Note what works in the video above. Once it starts, it happens quick. Straight up boxing punches, a few front kicks, and stomping the guys on the ground.

Serious business, it's good no knives came out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Martial Metanoia

My old San Ti stance, pre-correction


: a transformative change of heart; especially : a spiritual conversion.
Greek, from metanoiein to change one's mind, repent, from meta- + noein to think, from nous mind
First Known Use: 1577 (Merriam-Webster)

Every now-and-then we experience something in our training that shakes our core beliefs. This is a natural process, and we are smart to learn and grow from it.
Ever since I attended the Tim Cartmell seminar on MMA concepts adapted to street use, I've had to really re-think where my training is going and what I would like to change.
First of all, let me say that nothing in Tim's presentation was new to me. With the exception of Tim's subtle ways of using angles and leverage, I had seen most of the techniques in past programs. There was a lot that took me back to wrestling techniques, knee strikes, basic chokes and focus-pad boxing strikes. These were done with the open palm, which Tim recommends for any strike to the hard head surface of an opponent on the street.
All these things are techniques I have practiced, the technical rise - returning to your feet safely MMA-style was the only really new addition and I had practiced that with Jake Burroughs a couple of weeks before.
So why did this cause me so much consternation that I would seek reflection and change?

Let's use another couple of big words to answer that: Cognitive Dissonance

: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

Despite the fact that I've been in many, many real fights in the past - and know what that takes - I was falling into the traditional martial arts trap.
I was conflicted because I knew deep inside that half the stuff we teach in traditional martial arts will get the crap beat out of you on the street.
None-the-less, rosy-cheeked Tai Chi Chuan students begged to be taught two-person fighting sets, stuff that they thought would help them survive a home invasion or mugging at the ATM.
In teaching traditional arts, there is pattern, practice and method. Nearly all of us, especially if you have experienced multiple styles, see the building blocks that are supposed to stack together and eventually form an impenetrable castle.
So much of that is deeply flawed, yet we continue to teach it textbook fashion.
Tim's MMA for the street presentation was nothing new, but truthfully, a beginning student would get more out of that five hours than in five, maybe ten months of traditional training.

So here's my dilemma; traditional or practical?

I think I have a solution.
Our Monday-Wednesday club practice has always had sparring, self-defense and form work, all in a very non-structured way.
The grand experiment is with "The Barbarian Brothers". These guys are huge football player types that have an interest in MMA. They can easily pick my 200-pound ass up and toss me. But they know nothing about real technique. They come on Wednesdays from the mainland to practice with us and are very consistent. But when they first came, it was because another Tai Chi Chuan instructor brought them up to learn more advanced Tai Chi with us. We got stuck in the routine of introducing internal concepts to guys that have trouble with basic stances. Furthermore, they like to mix it up and follow MMA.
So we set another program for them. They come in and start with Tom, our boxing coach on basic western boxing drills. From there, Corey takes them for Small-Circle Jujitsu and related grappling and self-defense. But they still need the structure of form work so they can get familiar with their bodies, so I started them on the first of the short but effective Xingyi Five-Element Forms. They really need stance and root training.
This proved to be a well-rounded scenario, everybody participates and we get a great workout. I'm sure this program will grow and change with time and experience.

Now to the matter of My Thursday Tai Chi Chuan class.
This class is populated with a core group of people ten years older than me and the occasional young people. Seeking the balance is more difficult. Since these students all know the Yang Taiji form, I think I am going to dispense with it for a while. They need to work on basic defensive structure for when people push or grab them. They need to get out of the locked-in-your-stance immobile position and start doing some freestyle movement with a partner. Where is your defensive bubble? What angle do you choose? What gross motor skills are most effective in a simple confrontation?
Gone for now are the inner journey of internal adjustments. These oldsters will never really mix it up with anybody, they just need a little practical protection.

I'm sure other instructors have had to work through these issues, we'll see how it goes...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mr. Pang's Bagua, 1974

This demonstration puts the "art" in "Martial Art".

Here, our local Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua master, T.Y. Pang runs through the eight stepping methods of Sun Xikun lineage Bagua. I studied with one of Mr. Pang's top students, Joel Chung, every Sunday for a year. The foundation of the style comes from Cheng Ting-Hua, a renowned wrestler in his day. Tim Cartmell has told us that in order to seek the applications of Bagua, especially Cheng lineage, is to imagine your body right next to the opponent's body. Within these stepping methods are grappling takedowns, sweeps, arm drags and close striking methods.
Seattle internal art instructor Andrew Dale stated in a 1991 issue of the "Pa Kua Chang Newsletter" that:

"Pang's Pa Kua was the most intricate he had ever seen."
"Seeing Pang do Pa Kua was like watching a powerful snake coiling, attacking, twisting, darting, spinning and turning."

I know for myself, that Tai Chi Chuan balances my yin and yang most effectively.
Xingyi raises my yang energy and is the most direct expression of power.
But Bagua provides the most stimulation and has the appeal of whole-body Yoga. This method articulates and opens every joint in the body and is the most physically expressive of all the internal martial arts I have practiced.

Combat brings necessary pain, Art necessarily brings pleasure...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Freestyle Taiji and Bagua with T.Y. Pang

It's a pleasure to see our local Tai Chi Chuan master T.Y. Pang in this demonstration from Amsterdam in 2009.
Mr. Pang doesn't teach much anymore, but I visited him at his house a while back and hope to again soon.
Pang is among the few living students of Tai Chi master Dong Jinye and Bagua master Sun Xikun. Look how supple his body is, he's well into his seventies. His Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan is what I practice, as taught by his long-time students Jack Greene and Joel Chung. Same with the Bagua, Sun Xikun lineage. I spent a year walking the circle every Sunday with Joel.
Mr. Pangs longevity is a testament to the health and physical skill his Taiji and Bagua produce.
Here, he begins with the opening of the Yang form, slides into freestyle mode, and finishes with some Bagua.
Great stuff...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Re-post: Western Boxing Influence in Asian Martial Arts

In the course of our discussion of the "close cover" as opposed to extended guard, I'd like to take another look at a post I put up in May, "Western Boxing Influence in Asian Martial Arts":

In our recent review of the book "Chin Na Fa", we read that author Liu Jinsheng held Western boxing in great regard:

""Those who have practiced these (edit-Chinese martial) arts twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or Judo. Why is this? It is because the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms - they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors. Hence, our martial arts are viewed by outsiders merely as rigorous dancing."

In a discussion in the comments section, I brought up the theory that Western boxing had influenced the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu. This is something I had heard and read about, but never confirmed.
Sean Ledig, who writes from "Tales From The Carport Kwoon",

Karl Godwin, a Wing Chun instructor in Altamonte Springs, Fl., wrote an article about that idea for Black Belt in 1986.
I can't remember which issue, but Google books has a complete collection of Black Belt from the first issue to present day.
Karl hypothesized that Wing Chun was a synthesis between Western Boxing and Taijiquan.
I've heard similar things. I'm sure there's some cross-pollination between fighting arts. Good teachers and good fighters, no matter what country they're from or what time they live, are always on the lookout for anything that they can add to their arsenal."

As it happens, I just started reading "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals - A Historical Survey" by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo (review to follow).
In a short chapter on Western boxing, the authors write:

"Noted Chinese martial arts researcher and teacher Tim Cartmell wrote, "When the Chinese army was researching and developing their hand-to-hand combat, (which later evolved into the modern San Shou/San Da tournament fighting popular today) they researched all the popular forms of martial arts, including their own. The conclusion was that Western boxing hand techniques, when it came to developing practical striking and defensive abilities in a reasonable amount of time, were superior to all others, including their own".

So it appears that there is no doubt that Western boxing had a great influence on Asian martial arts, especially after 1900.
However, in my opinion, Western boxing is not necessarily in the "Art" category. Western boxing combines exercise, sport and combat skills. It is perhaps the most effective and easily learned fighting method, but it lacks the philosophical grounding that would put it in the "Art" category for me.

Combat brings necessary pain. Art necessarily brings pleasure.

This opens the door to a future discussion, also fueled by Kennedy and Guo's book "Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals" on the integration of religion, morality and the martial arts.


With all that said, I still like the extended guard for something approaching at long range, but the close guard just makes sense when the hitting begins.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More Thoughts on Close Cover vs. Extended Guard

Perennial pain-in-the-ass Scott -- ("Expert" video at this link, LOL), writes in to challenge the concept of a close guard as we practiced at the Cartmell MMA seminar:

"The old masters 150 years ago had experience with real violence, they knew what they were doing when they designed the forms and they didn't do it just for muscle training! If some modern people aren't able to use the postures and stances the way they were passed down it is because they don't have the correct theory of power that goes with the movements."

Scott, with all due respect, looking at the extended Bagua guard and details of body alignment in your video you are not following your own advice. You wouldn't last 15 seconds against someone that can really hit.

Let me clarify what I believe the value of the extended guard to be.
If a guy is beyond kicking range but closing in, it is perfectly natural and smart to raise your guard up. Extended may be fine, like a "hey, back off" position. It can even appear non-threatening, especially if there are witnesses.
-But look at the video above;
Once a boxer has moved into serious punching range, you gotta' cover. It's easy to knock down or simply hook-punch around the extended guard at this range.
The technique in the above video is exactly what we practiced at the seminar last weekend.
Look, the extended guard is a natural defensive posture. There's nothing wrong with it at a certain range. I practice it in traditional form work.
But in close against someone that can really hit, without a close cover you're done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Training Superfood: Vietnamese Pho Soup

On the rare occasions when I make it to the big city, there's an opportunity to try new food and get new ideas.
Last weekend at the Tim Cartmell MMA seminar we had an hour to grab lunch. The guys jumped in our cars and we made a group trip to one of the best Vietnamese restaurants I've been to.
Sandwiched between an Aikido school on one side and a Kung Fu school on the other was a place that served Pho, or Vietnamese soup. It was one o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed.
The trick during these training seminars is to get enough food for energy to keep going, while not getting so full that you are sluggish.
Pho is a rich broth soup, served with rice noodles and topped with a nice presentation of cilantro, Thai basil, sliced chile peppers and lime slices. From looking over recipes, it appears the key to traditional Pho ingredients is bone marrow, rich in nutrition. In the days before joint suppliments, bone marrow broth was how people supplemented joint health. The method appears to be to parboil the bones for ten minutes, then discard the initial greasy water and begin again, simmering the bones for two or three hours. There is a quickie recipe that simply uses a good natural packaged broth to save time, but I think I'm going to try the traditional method this weekend.
The meal we had came in large porcelain bowls, a huge serving for around $6.95. It was a delicious clear broth with sliced beef and rice noodles. A small plate with the bean sprouts, basil, lime, chile's etc. was served along side to use as you wish.
An incredible amount of nutrition packed in a very digestible meal, allowing us to continue training exactly an hour later.

Here's a couple of recipes:

Traditional recipe

Quickie recipe

Monday, November 1, 2010

Modern Combat Concepts with Tim Cartmell

After a good five-hour thrashing:
From Left- Jake Burroughs, Me, and Tim Cartmell

MMA Training Group, c/o Terry, thanks

Yesterdays Seminar in Seattle with Tim Cartmell was one of the best I've been to, and my 51 year-old ass held up pretty good. I think the extra conditioning and a preview of Tim's "Ground-proofing" concepts with Jake a couple of weeks ago gave me a heads-up on what to prepare for.

As always, Tim's presentation was brilliant. Tim has experienced the concepts he teaches intellectually, physically, and in highly stressful competitive fighting. Tim knows what will work when the shit hits the fan, and it's no surprise that simpler is better. I've got two pages of notes and had plenty of time to mentally review the seminar on the way home.
As explained, every human will react predictably to given stimulus, like when the hands come up as someone pokes at their eyes. This can be used both ways, in attacking and defending, but let's focus on defense. The key is to take those gross motor skills and morph them into simple and natural reactions that fit a self-defense or fighting concept.
I have to say, this seminar- which was billed as "Intro to Mixed Martial Immersion", made me rethink a lot about how I have been training. That's what a good seminar is supposed to do, and it's sinking into my thick skull.
Tim always keeps his guard in a "boxers triangle" close to his head. He never reaches out to block anything, but rather pats jabs down "monkey paw" style, absorbs hooks against his head with forearms, and blocks body punches with movement and smothering the punches with forearms and elbows, which remain close to the body.
While it may sound like you would take a lot of punishment in this position, it is actually a great protective guard. I asked him if the extended guard of classical styles is still useful in any way, and he said it was just for training. When his master instructors in Taiwan actually fought or sparred, they reverted to this protective position. The idea is, once someone has crossed into punching range, they can work around or knock down an extended guard. The extended guard may work against drunk Rubes, but against anyone that can stand in and throw punches, this is the only guard that will protect you.
Here is where Tim made the distinction between ring fighting and street martial arts. There is no rule set on the street. So when you throw boxing punches, you can not over-rotate and expose your flank, as pro boxers do in the ring at times. You must always remain facing the opponent, so the punches need to be modified.
From the feet Tim moves in to the clinch range, where most fights go anyway. He seeks inside control on the bicep lines and then sets up the take down.
In his way of thinking, even a great kick boxer can get knocked out if the fight keeps on going, and he believes the quickest way to end the fight is to slam the opponent on a hard surface.
Sprawling to prevent leg dives, protecting yourself if you are on your back, and the technical rise to your feet were all covered in detail.
Tim, who wrote the book "Effortless Combat Throws", is an expert in high, damaging throws. But what he teaches are mostly off-balancing knock-downs, ankle picks and the occasional hip throw. Most of the take downs are more like tipping over a large cow; if you use simple angles and leverage it is possible to topple something much larger than yourself.
Those of you who read Dojo Rat regularly know I have a deep passion for the traditional Chinese Internal Martial Arts, especially the meditative and health aspects they provide.
But Tim provided a clear summary of the evolution of martial arts as they stand today. While very, very few of us train for ring fighting, we should not ignore new technology that actually makes survival in a violent confrontation possible.
This seminar will give our little Dojo a ton of new material to work on, in stand-up fighting, clinch work, and if all else fails, how to protect ourselves on the ground and safely return to our feet.
Great stuff from a great instructor, special thanks to my friend and Xingyi instructor Jake Burroughs for hosting the seminar.

November: Cute Hippie Chick of the Month

Ah, those Navi chicks keep getting cuter...

And because we just got through Halloween, I thought I'd throw this one in too:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Off to a Tim Cartmell Seminar

Yes, I'm headed down to get my ass kicked at a Cartmell seminar in Seattle tomorrow.
Above is Tim demonstrating a vary smooth version of Pi Chuan from Xingyi.
Textbook perfect in my humble opinion.

And this video is very, very short, but it shows Tim's trademark throwing skills, from the guy that wrote the book "Effortless Combat Throws".

Coming up:
Monday is "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", followed by a review of Tim's Seminar- if I can still sit up and work the keyboard.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Seven Days in May", and The Wellstone Crash- UPDATED

"Turner Classic Movies" has been playing some intensely powerful political movies recently, and I think it's no accident.
The other night I watched "Seven Days in May", about a military takeover of the U.S. government that came out in 1964. According to Wikipedia:

"President John F. Kennedy had read the novel and believed the scenario it described could actually occur in the United States. According to director John Frankenheimer in his director's commentary, production of the film received encouragement and assistance from Kennedy through White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, who conveyed to Frankenheimer Kennedy's wish that the film be produced and that, although the Pentagon did not want the film made, the President would conveniently arrange to visit Hyannis Port for a weekend when the film needed to shoot outside the White House."

Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963.


It just so happens that Minnesota Public Radio got a hold of the FBI files on Senator Paul Wellstone, who was killed in a suspicious plane crash ten days before his election. He was pulling far ahead of Norm Coleman, who had been hand-picked by Karl Rove.
Wellstone was labeled the most liberal in all the U.S. Senate. He had a long history as an anti-war activist, and had been under surveillance since the Vietnam war protests.
Wellstone was passionately speaking out against a preemptive strike against Iraq, based on scant evidence and mounting lies by the Bush/Cheney administration.
The FBI documents obtained by MPR describe threats made against Wellstone, some of which may have been cover for the real players.
According to Professor James Fetzer:

"By October 25, 2002, Wellstone's lead over Coleman had grown to 6 or 7 points and was increasing. He had told others that Vice President Dick Cheney had warned him against opposing the administration on Iraq and that the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you. There will be severe ramifications for you and the state of Minnesota."

James Fetzer is no slouch, he is a McKnight Professor Emeritus of The University of Minnesota, Duluth.
On his website, Fetzer uses time lines and eyewitness accounts to suggest how new technology using a strong electro-magnetic or microwave pulse could have been used to take down the aircraft:

According to Fetzer, The FBI crash team would have had to leave their headquarters at the same time Wellstone's plane took off to arrive at the crash when they did.
Weather conditions were not at all severe according to other pilots. People in the area experianced garage doors opening mysteriously and extreme cell phone interference.
Fetzer couples this with the revelations by reporter Seymour Hersh that Vice President Cheney was running an assassination team out of his office, that answered directly to him alone:

I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen.
"Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command -- JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. ...
"Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths."


We'll never know what really happened to Wellstone.
Like many others on the progressive or liberal side, the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, various Black Panthers and reporters like Danny Casolero, they were bumped off by mysterious forces.
--Government by gunplay, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Savings and Loan meltdown under Reagan, How George Bush Sr. set up the first Gulf war, the stolen 2000 election coup, the stock market crash of 2008, and the second Republican Great Depression.
All brought to us by "conservatives".

I think "Seven Days in May" is very instructive.
What's coming next?


Bush Thought 911 Flight 93 Was Shot Down

From The Guardian, UK

"George Bush thought 9/11 plane had been shot down on his ordersMemoirs reveal former US president gave order to shoot down any hijacked planes before United Airlines flight 93 crashed
Bush reveals that he gave the order for any further suspected hijacked planes to be shot down after the first aircraft were flown into the World Trade Centre in New York during the 2001 terror attacks.
He at first thought the crash of United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania had resulted from this instruction, although it later emerged that passengers had stormed the cockpit as hijackers flew the plane towards the Capitol building in Washington."

That's because it appears it WAS shot down:
Evidence: LINK

Must See:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tim Cartmell's Shen Wu

Well I'm getting ready for a big Tim Cartmell seminar in Seattle this weekend, so I thought we'd take a spin through some of his videos.
This one is from our buddy and fellow Dojo Rat from the north, William, who visited Tim in 2008.
Notice the diversity of training, Tim's guys are very well-rounded fighters. The one thing that I have realized through Tim's instruction is how many options you have in standing grappling. See how he demonstrates that if any given technique doesn't quite work, you can maintain a superior position by changing angles or direction of intent.
This weekend I am told we will work on some flow drills. These will start at hitting range, go to the clinch, take down, submission attempt, counter to submission, safely return to feet, and reverse rolls.
Shit, many of the guys will be almost twenty years younger than me. It'll probably take a case of Beer and two days to recover...

For information on the Seattle seminar, go to Jake Burroughs website "The Ground Never Misses".

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Martial "Art" vs. MMA: The Real Difference

From "Mind Over Matter - Higher Martial Arts", by Shi Ming:

"The position of refinement of consciousness in the theory and practice of martial arts is utterly critical. It pervades the fundamentals of training in martial arts as well as the most advanced level. This is the technical and theoretical core and quintessence of martial arts. To abandon this is tantamount to throwing away the living soul and fundamental work of the techniques and theories of martial arts, leaving only low level "external exercises" with their peculiarities of outward form, only retaining contents substantially much the same as any other pugilistic techniques.
The inner exercises and energy exercises of martial arts are inseparable from corresponding "consciousness exercises." Without going through the process of refinement of consciousness, there is no way for the inner and outer exercises of martial arts to progress into higher levels of effective work and spiritual states.
This is the sort of experience alluded to in the folk saying "If you practice martial arts without practicing meditation, when you get to be old, it will all be in vain."


I'll have a complete review of the book soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Sons; Where "Deadwood" Meets the "Soprano's"

The Sons of Anarchy

We're just about to start season two of the F/X series "Sons of Anarchy", and I'm definitely hooked...
Creator Kurt Sutter has masterfully blended familiar elements of two other great shows- "Deadwood" and "The Sopranos" - into a mixed display of honor and violence surrounding a fictional biker gang in a fictional California town.
I had seen the adds on TV for "Sons", but never drifted to the right channel on the right day to watch it. After hearing a local barmaid talking about the show, I asked a couple of other people if it was any good. I mean, OK, it's a biker show, but does it have good drama?
Well, it doesn't just have good drama, it has great drama. We are watching the series on Netflicks.
Sutter captures the "Wild West" horseback feel of the biker gang, eluding to my "Deadwood" reference, along with some serious organized crime as per "The Sopranos".
But as in every good tale, loyalties rotate among players, there is good within the bad and vica-versa. According to theatrical reviews, the series is loosely based on Shakespeare's "Hamlet", with every bit of the intrigue.
The level of violence might not be good for the young kids, but is not so graphic that wives can't handle it.
There's something very satisfying about watching an ongoing series, it gives you a lot to look forward to with every turn of the throttle. I recommend this one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will Smith as "Ali"

Well I finally got around to watching "Ali" starring Will Smith last night, and it sure brought back a flood of memories.
I remember my Dad picking me up from a Cub Scout meeting. The Cassius Clay / Sonny Liston fight was on the radio in the car, and we ran into the house and listened to the rest of the fight on the radio inside.
Then there was the high-profile statements by Ali about Vietnam;
"I won't fight the yellow man for the white man", and "No Vietcong ever called me a nigger"...
Ali remained his own man, despite immense forces pulling him every which way. The US Government couldn't own him and neither could The Nation of Islam movement.
The movie was touching in examining the relationship between Ali and Howard Cosell, and I remember seeing many of those interviews live, including one where Ali Slapped Cosell silly, on live TV.
Smith definitely buffed up for the part and the boxing scenes looked pretty damned good.
I have no way to verify this, but someone posted on the YouTube page that Smith had turned the roll down until Ali made a personal request that Smith take the roll.

The Clay (Ali) - Liston fight

Ali and Cosell

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Perils of Renegade History

From The Huffington Post:

Why I Got Fired From Teaching American History
by Thaddeus Russell

Five years ago, I had every reason to believe that my job as a history professor at Barnard College was secure. I had been teaching there for four years, I had published my dissertation with a major publisher, and because I had tripled the sizes of the introductory U.S. history course and the American Studies program, colleagues told me they "would be shocked" if I were not promoted to a tenure-track position.

But that was before my colleagues knew what I was teaching.

I had always been a misfit in academia, partly because of my background, partly because of my personality, and increasingly over the years because of my ideas -- ideas that are now a book called "A Renegade History of the United States."

I was raised by pot-smoking, nudist, socialist revolutionaries as an egghead white boy in black neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland. I nearly flunked eighth grade and finished high school with a C average. Then I went to the anarchist, ultra-hippy Antioch College in Ohio, which accepted all their applicants, didn't give grades, and didn't have a history department.

So even though I managed to pull myself out of that background and into and through Columbia for a PhD, then onto a job at an elite college, I was highly uncomfortable moving from the world of weed to the world of tweed. I hated being "Professor." I cursed in class. I talked about sex. I used politically incorrect terms. My students said they had never heard the things I was teaching them in class. They called me "Bad Thad."

I showed them that during the American Revolution drunkards, laggards, prostitutes, and pirates pioneered many of the freedoms and pleasures we now cherish -- including non-marital sex, interracial socializing, dancing, shopping, divorce, and the weekend -- and that the Founding Fathers, in the name of democracy, opposed them. I argued not only that many white Americans envied slaves but also that they did so for good reason, since slave culture offered many liberating alternatives to the highly repressive, work-obsessed, anti-sex culture of the early United States. I demonstrated that prostitutes, not feminists, won virtually all the freedoms that were denied to women but are now taken for granted. By tracing the path of immigrants from arrival as "primitives" to assimilation as "civilized" citizens, I explained that white people lost their rhythm by becoming good Americans. I presented evidence that without organized crime, we might not have jazz, Hollywood, Las Vegas, legal alcohol, birth control, or gay rights, since only gangsters were willing to support those projects when respectable America shunned them.

This was not the standard left-liberal perspective my students had heard, and it certainly wasn't a conservative one, either. It was informed by an unlikely mix of influences, including the hippies and other cultural radicals I had encountered in my early life, black and gay cultures that showed me a way out of the self-imposed limitations of being white and straight, and libertarians who caused me to question the commitment to freedom among the left that I had been born into and which employed me as a professor.

I gave my students a history that was structured around the oldest issue in political philosophy but which professional historians often neglect - the conflict between the individual and community, or what Freud called the eternal struggle between civilization and its discontents. College students are normally taught a history that is the story of struggles between capitalists and workers, whites and blacks, men and women. But history is also driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires -- the "respectable" versus the "degenerate," the moral versus the immoral, "good citizens" versus the "bad." I wanted to show that the more that "bad" people existed, resisted, and won, the greater was what I called "the margin of freedom" for all of us.

My students were most troubled by the evidence that the "good" enemies of "bad" freedoms were not just traditional icons like presidents and business leaders, but that many of the most revered abolitionists, progressives, and leaders of the feminist, labor, civil rights, and gay rights movements worked to suppress the cultures of working-class women, immigrants, African Americans, and the flamboyant gays who brought homosexuality out of the closet.

I had developed these ideas largely on my own, in my study and in classrooms, knowing all the while that I was engaged in an Oedipal struggle to overthrow the generation of historians who came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, controlled academic history, and had trained me. They were so eager to make the masses into heroes that they did not see that it was precisely the non-heroic and unseemly characteristics of ordinary folks that changed American culture for the better.

So I was quite anxious when I was asked to present my work to colleagues in order to get a long-term contract and be moved into line for a shot at tenure. A friend in the history department told me that given my publishing record and popularity among students the talk would be "really just a formality." But I knew it would be trouble.

Several distinguished professors from Columbia showed up, since the university has final say on all tenure decisions at its sister college, Barnard. During my talk, a Columbia professor who had been named by a national magazine as the most important public intellectual in the United States, stared at me with what I took -- rightly, it turned out -- to be disgust. Another walked out before I finished. One of my graduate school advisors asked a series of hostile questions. Other colleagues told me after the talk that I was "courageous," that I was "wonderfully, relentlessly revisionist," and that I made some famous historians "look like dinosaurs."

But emails came into the hiring committee from "important places," I was told, calling my ideas "improper," "frightening," and "dangerous." They said my ideas had no place in the academy and insisted that I be terminated. It was simply not okay for me to describe the "oppressed" in the terms used by their oppressors -- "shiftless," "sexually unrestrained," "primitive," "uncivilized" -- even though my argument transformed those epithets into tributes.

After I was told that I would be leaving Barnard, hundreds of students protested in faculty and deans' offices and the Columbia Spectator devoted an editorial to my case, but to no avail. There did indeed seem to be no place for me in the academy. And so I wrote a book.

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