Monday, May 30, 2011

Barbarian Brothers Update

For those who haven't been following our saga of "The Barbarian Brothers", here's some background before the Update:

The brothers came up from the mainland with one of our friends who is a Kenpo and Tai Chi Chuan instructor. They started sometime around last August, and we were mostly helping them with Tai Chi and push hands stuff.
Somewhere along the way, they informed us that they were going to try and enter some MMA (mixed martial arts) fights that are promoted in our area of Western Washington State.
Since we are more of a traditional arts Dojo, we had never delt with this kind of training. None-the-less, one of our guys had fought in national Karate tournaments, another was a Boxer in college, and I wrestled
and fought in a lot of tournaments. Almost reluctantly, we started training them so they would be prepared for ring-fighting.

So Saturday, we loaded up in Tom's old cop car with his 120-pound dog and a bunch of Beer and took a boat to the mainland to watch the guys fight again in Anacortes, Washington.
The fights are conducted in an old fish cannery warehouse on the water at the end of town. In February for the last fights, the place was cold as hell and only had two bathrooms for a crowd of 300 Beer-drinking Yahoos.
This time they had brought in three portable toilets, yes three for several hundred people. That mostly ment pissing on the beach behind the building. One of our guys tried to use an indoor toilet, but there was a guy banging his girlfriend inside. Now get this; he then went out to use a portable toilet and there was a guy banging his girlfriend in that also. He overheard the guy saying "We have to be quick, I don't want to miss any fights".
Ah, to live in a coastal seaport.
So the Barbarian Brothers prepared to fight. Barbarian #1 is the older Brother, in his mid-thirties and has been very serious about his training and conditioning.
Younger Barbarian #2 has been slacking and not quite as ready for a serious fight.

Young barbarian #2 fought the third fight on an eleven-fight night.
He was matched with a skilled Jujitsu fighter and you can imagine what happened.
A few blows were traded, and then the Jujitsu guy got three good single-leg takedowns. Barbarian #2 escaped the first two, but in round two he couldn't get away.
He took a huge amount of punishment and lost by a TKO in the second round. It's good he bailed before he got hurt too bad.

Barbarian #1 was serious after a narrow loss in his first and only fight in February. He was definitely "in it to win it".
His conditioning was good. his skills have improved and he was ready to kick some ass. It wasn't too pretty, but he won his fight in 43 seconds. His hitting power is now impressive, he hurt the guy and as the guy made a desperate attempt for a leg dive, Barbarian #1 kept laying heavy right hands into the opponent's head- over and over.
The referee stopped the fight because the other guy couldn't defend himself, after 43 seconds.

I think both the Barbarian Brothers are re-assessing their futures in MMA, and if it is worth all the stress, trouble and punishment. They deserve major cred for just stepping up and fighting without any previous martial arts experience.
This is not what our little Dojo would like to focus on, but it's been a fun run. We've had some heavy training sessions and had a couple of big guys that don't mind
getting pounded on. We've been able to test our old Dojo Rat bodies against guys almost twenty-years younger and help them achieve goals none of us had ever thought of.
I think they have another fight or two in them, we'll see what happens next...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beautiful, Soft Xingyi

I have talked to other Tai Chi Chuan people who are both awed by the power of Xingyi and at the same time skeptical that it is an "Internal" martial art.
So often it is performed in a very aggressive "Kenpo" kind of way that people loose sight of the eb and flow and generally meditative beauty of the art.
I'm not sure of the lineage of this form, but I absolutely love it. This is more how my instructor teaches us to move. The problem with those who immediately try to access the power within Xingyi is that they can't feel the subtle "internal" aspects. Tai Chi Chuan forces us to recognize this. But because Xingyi is (As Tim Cartmell tells us) "mass in motion", the subtleties are overlooked by people trying to harness the power.
I just love this form.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meet James Keating

Meet James Keating;
Mr. Keating runs the website "Maajak" and "Comtech" training sessions. Every year Keating hosts "The Riddle of Steel", a tactical knife training camp in a remote canyon in Idaho. Keating has a diverse martial arts background and offers instruction not only in knives but also empty hand and improvised weapon training.
One of my favorites is his use of the Bandana, which I hope to explore further in a future post.
This video is part of his "Riddle of Steel" training camp which is produced by Paladin Press. Check out Keating's "Maajak" website for the diverse topics he dabbles in, we hope to see more of Mr. Keating in the future.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nice Kenpo Flow Drill

At our Dojo we like to do flow drills, a lot of them with Small-Circle Jujitsu standing joint locks.
Here's a hitting flow drill that uses the Century "Bob" target as a whole-body speed bag. The only slight break in the flow is where he chambers for the reverse elbow strike, but this guy really does a nice hard-hitting demonstration at the end.
Check it out...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Rapture Everybody!

Well as many of you have heard, some old duffer named Harold Camping has predicted that the world is coming to an end tomorrow.
He is raking millions of dollars into his ministry and "The Family Radio Worldwide" network.

If Mr. Camping was true to his word as a Gawd-fearing minister he should turn all of his assets over to some charity, today.
Of course, you know that won't happen, after all, Camping predicted the world would end in 1994 also.

So I had an idea;
If any of you evangelicals are going for a ride on Jesus's flying saucer, there are a few things ol' Dojo Rat might be able to use:

1. A new propane barbeque- my old one is pretty worn out. I need one that can sit outside and take the weather, the bigger the better.

2. A table saw. I have a lot of building projects and could really use one now.

3. A stereo with a CD player for the Saloon. My old stereo doesn't have a CD player.

4. Hey, there's gotta be a Christian Biker out there that won't need his Harley Davidson any more. Just mail me the keys and the address of where I can come and get it. Please sign over the title, you know that the DMV will still be here and they want paperwork.

So good luck, onward Christian soldiers.
I'm gonna be hanging out with this guy:

We'll be taking shots of tequila and shooting handguns.

If you want a list of Rapture parties around the country, check the link in this article.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why They Will Never Leave Afghanistan

Credit to "Cryptagon" and this excellent piece from CNN/Fortune

"Ultimately, victory will mean that Afghanistan becomes pacified in a manner that facilities effortless corporate rape. The purpose of the U.S. military is to tie the victim down. Then, the people in the suits step into the room… — "The Runaway General"

Realpolitik refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than ideological notions or moralistic or ethical premises. (Wikipedia)

Meet Ian Hannam:

"To Hannam, chairman of J.P. Morgan Capital Markets, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity -- one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. Landlocked and pinioned by imperial invaders, Afghanistan has been cursed by its geography for thousands of years. Now, for the first time, Hannam believes, that geography could be an asset. The two most resource-starved nations on the planet, China and India, sit next door to Afghanistan, where, according to Pentagon estimates, minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie buried. True, there is a war under way. And it's unclear how the death of Osama bin Laden will impact the country's political and economic environment. But Hannam is not your usual investment banker: A former soldier, he has done business in plenty of strife-torn countries. So have all the members of his team, two of them former special forces soldiers who have fought here."
"Hannam's unit, the Artists Rifles, was a part-time regiment akin to a U.S. National Guard special forces unit. The Artists Rifles had a storied past and a reputation for attracting adventure seekers from all social classes. Since then, Hannam has counted his old SAS cronies as his closest friends, often calling on them to help him in the world's tougher places."
"Investing in conflict zones is often thrilling, but the great commodities rush that J.P. Morgan and the Pentagon are trying to spark in Afghanistan creates a risk/reward equation of a different magnitude. It's extreme at both ends.
During the Cold War, both Soviet and U.S. geologists conducted surveys. The Russians bored thousands of test holes and identified big deposits of copper, zinc, mercury, tin, fluorite, potash, talc, asbestos, and magnesium.
The results were stunning: The U.S. Geological Survey identified huge veins of copper, iron, lithium, gold, and silver."


(D.R.)- So we see that J.P. Morgan has hired an entire investment team composed of former SAS soldiers to begin the exploitation of Afghanistan. How fortunate; a lawless impoverished region without environmental laws.

General Smedley Butler

(From Wiki)
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "The Fighting Quaker" and "Old Gimlet Eye", was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

Butler wrote the book "War is a Racket"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alex Gillis on The Future of Tae Kwon Do

After my review of "A Killing Art" by Alex Gillis, Alex and I exchanged e-mails and information that may pave the way to future projects.

Here's a bit of an interesting interview Alex had with "The Martial Edge":

(Interviewer Lesley Jackson, "The Martial Edge")

The Future for Taekwondo

And so we come full circle and where we started at the beginning, when I asked Alex what the thought the future holds for Taekwondo.

“ I fear that the martial art is dying, in both the ITF and WTF. My book explains how corruption and violent conflict started, and shows the massive amount of effort that’s required to get out of the mess. Before solving a deep problem, there has to be a reckoning, a truth and reconciliation phase. You can’t cure an illness without knowing what the illness is. My book helps to identify the illness, the conflicts and dilemmas in both the major styles of Taekwondo.

But it’s possible that we’re too late, that Taekwondo isn’t only dying, that it’s dead, dead in terms of the integrity of its techniques, in terms of keeping the profit motive in check, in terms of admitting to past failures, and in terms of popularity. It’s probable, for example, that WTF Taekwondo will be booted out of the Olympics soon. If you know about the shenanigans with money in the Olympics, all the scandals, then you can imagine how bad it must be in Taekwondo to be kicked out of the Olympic family.

For its part, the ITF continues to break apart; the three main splinter groups have themselves splintered further. Even the North Korean led organization contains fractures.

Still, perhaps enough instructors are quietly passing on the old techniques to keep our art alive. The continuity from generation to generation is what counts in martial arts, passing on the old, difficult techniques that take long years to perfect. I’m compiling a network of such instructors, people who have written to me, and I hope to post the list online one day.”


Here's the website for "A Killing Art", with other links

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alex Gillis; "A Killing Art"

I am sometimes late to the party, but when I get there I drink my share.
Which is why I am thrilled to review "A Killing Art", by Alex Gillis. This book, which was written in 2008 somehow escaped me until one of my Tae Kwon Do instructors from the past sent me a copy.
And boy did I drink my share; this book is not your typical background of Tae Kwon Do as a contemporary martial art. It is a historical account of The struggle of oppressed Korea, both North and South.
It is the story of the men who fought hand-to-hand in trench warfare against Communist soldiers and returned to refine the Shotokan Karate learned under Japanese rule to a uniquely Korean art that would aid the development of the emerging South Korean industrial tiger. The book is part history, part espionage, and the gradual emerging of western thought in a country that was steeped in stoic Confucian values of the past.
Author Gillis has poured over 4,000 pages of the U.S. Congressional investigation known as "Koreagate", conducted countless interviews and footnoted every reference in the book for further review. This book was researched in the best of journalistic methods and may be the most comprehensive book on the subject.
"A Killing Art" centers on the struggle between rivals to create Tae Kwon Do from the trench warfare era to present time. General Choi Hong-hi was instrumental in molding Korea's martial art from Japanese Shotokan, through the phase where nine separate schools (Tang Soo Do, Chung Do Kwan, Ji Do Kwan etc.), all of which had Japanese or Chinese influence became "Tae Kwon Do", or "foot-fist way".
General Choi, hardened by the war, favored a realistic fighting system and created the International Tae Kwon Do Association (ITF). Choi's art retained killing techniques, but began to be out shadowed by the emerging sport version favored by Korean Secret Service official Kim Un-yong. Here begins the internal war between the original battlefield martial art and Olympic sport Tae Kwon Do under the World Tae Kwon Do association (WTF).
Under treaties between the U.S. and South Korea, money for development flowed into South Korea in the 1960's, and Korea sent 300,000 trained soldiers to aid the U.S. and South Vietnamese in the Vietnam war. Likewise, thousands of U.S. servicemen were trained in using Tae Kwon Do in hand-to-hand combat. Tae Kwon Do became intrinsically linked to war and espionage, with thugs and gangsters enjoying it's use also.
Author Gillis describes how scandals developed involving the Korean CIA, shakedowns and kidnappings in Europe, The U.S. and elsewhere that led to misery and torture under the hands of Korean dictatorships. Gillis himself interviewed some of these agents in researching the book. Here-in-lies the dark side of the martial art known as Tae Kwon Do.
Alex Gillis pulls no punches in describing how Tae Kwon Do fell into decline with Olympic Tae Kwon Do and the shopping mall McDojo era. He describes the scandals revolving around the Olympics, and how the sport was corrupt and too boring for spectators to follow. The martial spirit was replaced with a careful game of tag that was often predetermined by corrupt judging and what is referred to as "branch trimming".
What sticks out most clearly, is that the same issues and criticism of Tae Kwon Do as a sport were played out by a bitter, aging General Choi (who appears to have been a North Korean agent) against his rival, the KCIA-embedded Kim Un-yong.
In "A Killing Art", Alex Gillis has compiled the best history of war-torn Korea and the subsequent dictatorships, the scandals involving espionage, U.S. Congressional members, and the pure athleticism of the men of Tae Kwon Do.
-It's one of my favorites, and has informed me towards future projects of my own.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Milk Thistle Tea

Today we'll look at "Milk Thistle" as part of the Dojo Rat self-medication program.
Disclaimer;, I'm not an herbalist or doctor, I'm a Dojo Rat.

After a particularly heavy drinking session with friends last weekend, I noticed some swelling in my joints and general retention of water.
Readers may know I quit coffee many years ago and have been using various herbal and Chinese teas ever since.

This time, I tried an old favorite; Milk Thistle tea.
I dropped two tea bags in my thermos and filled it with boiled well water. If you haven't tried it, Milk Thistle has a sweet popcorn-type smell and a slightly "slippery" consistency. It's known as one of the most effective liver detox herbs that is available.
Sure enough, overnight the swelling in my joints went completely away and I feel great.

Obviously, my liver needed a little help getting over last weekend's Beer.
Here's what Wikipedia says about Milk Thistle:

"For many centuries extracts of milk thistle have been recognized as "liver tonics".[6] Research into the biological activity of silymarin and its possible medical uses has been conducted in many countries since the 1970s, but the quality of the research has been uneven.[3] Milk thistle has been reported to have protective effects on the liver and to greatly improve its function."

Milk Thistle appears to be different than the common thistle we have on the west coast, even though they look almost the same. I'm going to talk to people more knowledgeable than me to find out if our local thistle can be used in the same way.

If anyone else has had experience with Milk Thistle, let me know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inside Job

Ok Mr. and Mrs. middle-America; You're pissed off.
You might have lost a huge chunk of your retirement.
You might have lost your pension.
Your property value has plummeted.

Who do you get mad at?


I just watched "Inside Job" last night, and I'm going to watch it again to fully understand the elements that led to the crash.

To be fair, the outgoing Clinton administration had their hand in the cookie jar, but the Reaganesque push for deregulation falls largely on the last three Republican administrations.

We have the best Government money can buy; how the fuck do we take the money out of politics?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bin Laden: "Too Tall for Judo"

From Reuters News, c/o "Raw Story"

Osama bin Laden a serious student: Taiwan judo coach

"TAICHUNG, Taiwan (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden stood out not just because of his height but because of his serious, conservative demeanor, according to a Taiwan man who says the al Qaeda leader, killed by U.S. troops on Monday, was a student in his judo classes in Saudi Arabia.
Jimmy Wu, a top Taiwan judo coach, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a tournament in the central city of Taichung that he came across bin Laden when coaching the Saudi Arabian national judo team from 1981 to 1991.
Bin Laden, whom Wu then knew only as "Osama," attended classes at the judo center while still a university student. He was too tall for judo, and Wu said he advised him against the sport, but he was insistent so Wu accepted him."
"Wu showed Reuters photographs of himself and a tall, thin, bearded, serious young man with a mop of black hair whom he said was Osama. Osama attended lessons two to three times a week but Wu never saw him again after 1984.
Reuters has no way of verifying that the man in the pictures was bin Laden.
Bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. forces in Pakistan on Monday. He had been on America's most wanted list since his followers carried out the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001."

More at link above

Photo Credit

Even Reuters could not verify the picture, and I question whether someone could get a Black Belt (as shown in the picture) in just a few years.


Here's a Reuters Video that may verify the story

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tai Chi Chuan: What is it Missing?

Tai Chi Chuan: What is it Missing?

I started Tae Kwon Do (Korean Karate) in 1979 and got to Second Dan Black Belt with eight years in the system. After moving out of Oregon I found a Kenpo school and reached Third Dan. Fortunately, one of the instructors was also a Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan practitioner, and had a friend who taught us some Bagua. Monday and Wednesday was Kenpo, Saturday was Aikido, and Sunday was Tai Chi and Bagua. It was a pretty full schedule.
As injuries and age set in, I dedicated myself to trying to understand the subtleties of the softer internal arts, and Tai Chi Chuan became a full-time art for me.
I love to research and compare, so I started collecting everything I could find on Tai Chi Chuan - books, videos, visits to other instructors. As the years went by I felt I had started to internalize my movements and developed better sensitivity to opponent’s movements. While the hard-style arts were pretty easy to understand, the subtle techniques in Tai Chi were difficult to grasp. Sure, there was still punching and kicking, but it avoided direct clashing and relied on yielding skills.
And here-in-lies the problem; in Tai Chi Chuan the focus is so dependent on yielding skills, many students never really learn how to return power. Even the push-hands tournaments that are run in the United States have too many rules and none of the body-slams used in Asia. Actually hitting an opponent is virtually nonexistent in most Tai Chi classes. Tai Chi had become all Yin and no Yang.
For this reason, many of the old Tai Chi masters also trained in Xingyi (more hitting) and Bagua (more grappling). There were stories about one of the Yang sons considering suicide because his Tai Chi training was so intense. In those days, handling a spear or sword was a survival skill.
Times have changed, but life is still difficult and the streets are still rough.
The stress of guarding caravan shipments has changed to dealing with co-workers, hard economic times and the rat-race of modern life. Tai Chi Chuan has become a valuable way to decompress from a fast pace and turn inward to experience ourselves. But what about the martial art aspect?
Tai Chi is supreme at developing yielding skills. When I have taught classes, new women students always get a better start than the men, they are naturally more supple and adapt to yielding better. Women do however, have a harder time turning on the power when needed. Men can turn on the power, but need to learn yielding skills. Students with a hard-style background like I had can really benefit from learning the yielding. It takes time and patience, but eventually it comes along. People who have only practiced Tai Chi Chuan can benefit by either training in Boxing (hitting target pads) or Xingyi (developing aggressive Kung Fu). Everyone should have some practice in safely falling to the ground and returning to their feet.
So if you are an aging hard-stylist, You can get a lot out of the meditative and yielding skills of Tai Chi Chuan. It will make you a better martial artist.
If you have practiced Tai Chi Chuan as your only martial art, it would serve you well to practice hitting target pads and do some actual sparring.
Proper Tai Chi Chuan is not just Yin, it is both Yin and Yang.

Here are two resources for developing martial skill in Tai Chi Chuan:

Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming's website - lots of good books and videos

Tim Cartmell's excellent series on Sun-style Tai Chi Chuan - principles and applications that apply to all Tai Chi systems

My instructor Michael Gilman has some very detailed videos at the website for The Gilman Studio

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bush Gave Up On Bin Laden; Obama Got The Job Done

Let's not forget moments like this, where the self-described "Commander Guy" admits that "I don't know where he (Bin Laden) is, I just don't spend that much time on him".

More to the point, journalists like Gareth Porter have proved that capturing or killing Bin Laden was never a priority for Bush and Cheney, they had other plans.
From Gareth Porter in "The Asia Times":

"Had the Bush administration's priority been to capture or kill the al-Qaeda leadership, it would have deployed the necessary ground troops and airlift resources in the theater over a period of months before the offensive in Afghanistan began.

"You could have moved American troops along the Pakistani border before you went into Afghanistan," said Lamm. But that would have meant waiting until spring 2002 to take the offensive against the Taliban, according to Lamm.

The views of Bush's key advisers, however, ruled out any such plan from the start. During the summer of 2001 Rumsfeld refused to develop contingency plans for military action against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, despite a National Security Presidential Directive that called for such planning, according to the 9-11 Commission report.

Rumsfeld and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz resisted such planning for Afghanistan because they were hoping that the White House would move quickly on military intervention in Iraq. According to the 9-11 Commission, at four deputies' meetings on Iraq between May 31 and July 26, 2001, Wolfowitz pushed his idea to have US troops seize all the oil fields in southern Iraq."

So there you have it; the Bush Administration never wanted Bin Laden, they played the 9-11 card to seize the oil fields in southern Iraq.
While elements of the right-wing media want to credit Bush in part for the Bin Laden hit, multiple news agencies reported that the trail for Bin Laden had "gone cold" in 2005.

Now, Obama can say "Mission Accomplished".

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cute Hippie Chick of the Month: Clowning Around Edition

Well, it's once again time for "Cute Hippie Chick of the Month".
This edition is dedicated to all those people who are completely freaked out by clowns...