Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meditative Practice Changes Our Genetics

James Keating's excellent site "Maajak" provides us with a link to this interesting article from Newsweek: How training your mind alters your DNA.
Here's a snip:

"the relaxation response alters which genes associated with the body’s response to stress are on and which are off. As Benson said in a statement, “we’ve found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented.”
It’s being billed as “the first comprehensive study of how the mind can affect gene expression.” By “mind,” they mean mental practices such as meditation and prayer, which are among the techniques used by the 19 long-term practitioners of the relaxation response who were studied, along with 19 volunteers who had never engaged in such practices. After the latter went through eight weeks of training, the scientists compared before-and-after patterns of gene expression, finding that mental training alters the expression of genes involved in inflammation, in the form of cell suicide called apoptosis (which can keep damaged cells from forming cancers), and in how the body handles damaging free radicals.
It really is time to stop thinking of our DNA as immutable. Even thinking can change it."

(D.R.)- This news should be of great interest to those of us who practice martial arts that have strong internal meditative quality...
And let's take this a step further; if the power of thought can change our bodies, can it influence the world around us also?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Discussion On Chinese Arts and Kenpo

On the heels of last weeks posting which compared Kenpo to Chinese arts, There is a great discussion on this exact subject on the EmptyFlower Forum.
Check it out at This Link.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Cheer Beer

Let's admit it.
This time of year is dismal enough without tacking a Christian theme on to a perfectly good Pagan Solstice celebration.
So what's a honorable Dojo Rat supposed to do?
Why, explore the history of Beermaking, of course!
According to this article in the German magazine "Spiegel", It was Beer Brewing that actually began the civilization of man!

"Humankind's first encounters with alcohol in the form of fermented fruit probably occurred in just such an accidental fashion. But once they were familiar with the effect, archaeologist Patrick McGovern believes, humans stopped at nothing in their pursuit of frequent intoxication.
But that wasn't enough for McGovern. He carried the theory much further, aiming at a complete reinterpretation of humanity's history. His bold thesis, which he lays out in his book "Uncorking the Past. The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverage," states that agriculture -- and with it the entire Neolithic Revolution, which began about 11,000 years ago -- are ultimately results of the irrepressible impulse toward drinking and intoxication.
"Available evidence suggests that our ancestors in Asia, Mexico, and Africa cultivated wheat, rice, corn, barley, and millet primarily for the purpose of producing alcoholic beverages," McGovern explains. While they were at it, he believes, drink-loving early civilizations managed to ensure their basic survival."

(D.R.)- Hey, I'm good with that... But wait, there's only one other thing missing...

That's right, here is the link to a new website; "Very Important Potheads".
Go ahead.
You won't get hooked.
Take a look at the most famous Potheads in history, complete with biography info and smoking status.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Hung Ga: Brutal Kung Fu

Once again we explore the differences between the linear power techniques of Japanese/Korean Karate and the striking of Kung Fu. I found this video on the EmptyFlower forum.
Much like the Kenpo we saw last week, Chinese arts use seemingly "minor strikes". These include raking fingers across eyes, blowing out eardrums, tearing tendons and pressure-point strikes. This is some nasty stuff, and should only be used in life-or-death situations.
The contrast I would like to suggest is that the Japanese and Korean Karate I practiced in the past relied on power punching and kicking. Lots of Board and Brick breaking, heavy bag work. Nothing wrong with that, but what a difference when you compare it to the techniques in Kung Fu.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tiger's Nest Monastery

The beautiful "Tiger's Nest Monastery"
From the brief description in This Article:

"Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, clings to the slide of a cliff about 10,000 feet above ground in Bhutan's Paro district. The monastery was built in the 17th century and damaged in a fire in 1998.
Visitors can reach the monastery by mule ride or by foot. Walking takes about two hours from the base of the trail. The monastery is still used, and entry is restricted."

More info:

(D.R.)- According to the website above, until recently Bhutan was only accessed through high mountain passes in Tibet.

"Bhutan, which was until now isolated from outside world and has its unique form of Tibetan Buddhism, has been hailed as the last Shangri-La."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hawkins Kenpo: Speed

Love this guys stuff.
The cool thing about his presentation is that he doesn't over-produce. Not really that much flash.
Listen to what he says about "the pause", to access the opponent's position etc.
Here's the link for James Hawkins video series on "Functional Kenpo".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kenpo: Thrusting Wedge and the Xingyi Tiger Form

Here again we have Kenpo instructor James Hawkins.
I really like the relaxed humor he presents in his instruction, which is indeed "Functional Kenpo".
As I wrote in a previous post, the Japanese and Korean Karate I have practiced in the past leans towards "crash-and-bash-linear", despite the spin kicks of TaeKwon Do.
I believe Ed Parker was a genius. In his creation of "American Kenpo" he re-categorized motion itself, adding much more blending and circular movement. Detractors of the style refer to it as a "slap art", with lots of checking the opponent's weapons and minor strikes to set up knockouts. Bullshit. Watch how Hawkins moves; he takes what the opponent gives him, blends and moves through his defenses until he is defeated.
Historical commentary about the Hawaiian-styles like Kajukenbo and Kenpo say that Japanese Karate in the early days could not defeat the huge native islanders.
Emperado and Mitose created their arts for that reason, with more fluid streetfighting movement. Ed Parker ramped it up to a level unseen before, and we view that in instructor Hawkins' relaxed body dynamics.
My personal opinion is that Parker included more Chinese-based movement, indicated by raking minor and circular strikes not commonly seen in more traditional Karate.
While the Kenpo style I practiced in the past was a Hawaiian style, we incorporated many Parker techniques that were pretty cool.
While not a perfect comparison, take a look at the basic movement of the Xingyi Tiger Form below. It is nearly the exact movement in Kenpo's "Thrusting Wedge" demonstration by Hawkins above, the entering movement to be followed by techniques to finish the opponent off.
Xingyi Tiger Form

Monday, December 14, 2009

Great Article On Carport Kwoon

Our Buddy Sean Ledig has a really great article reviewing ancient training methods and the book "Hojo Undo".
It's loaded with lots of very practical thoughts on how well the simple strength methods of the past were superior to typical Gym workouts of today.
Check it out at THIS LINK.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ode To Kenpo

In the beginning, there was Tae Kwon Do.
It was powerful.
It was agressive.
It had structure.
It was flawed.

In the second era, there was Aikido.
It introduced yielding.
It was based on blending.
It used circular motion.
It was not complete.

In the third era, there was Kenpo.
It was powerful.
It was based on blending.
It used circular and linear movement equally.
And it was good.

In the fourth era, The Dojo Rat drank a Beer and rested.
"What is it", he thunketh, that has given birth to these diverse methods?
Why of course; it is the Chinese martial arts!

And so, with wisdom gained from thinking and drinking, The Dojo Rat did go forth.
And the fruits of the Tai Chi Chuan, The BaguaZhang, and the Xingyi Quan were harvested.

Nay to the linear crash-and-bash of Japanese and Korean Karate.
Nay to the nicety of Aikido.

One must be just, and one must use what works.
The straight line and the circle must share.
One must blend to proceed.
If these things are held close, we are on the true path.

And with this, we see the Chinese "Quan Fa" is "Kenpo".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wall Street Bankers Arming Themselves Against Public

Go Ahead, Jump!

In an interesting disappearing act, a Bloomberg News aritcle detailing how Wall Street Bankers are fearfully arming themselves against the public has largely slipped off the web.
Bloomberg is the top news source for the financial industry.
Fortunately the story was mirrored on other alternative websites.
Here's a snip of the article, carried on the Canada Free Press:

"Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public: Alice Schroeder
By Editor Tuesday, December 1, 2009
“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank."

Well, nobody can say Wall Street isn't Greedy, Arrogant, and now- Paranoid.


I just found an article suggesting there is indeed increased violence against individuals in the financial industry

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Bad Ninja

Don't Put This Kid In Jail, Put Him In The CIA

Meet Colton Harris-Moore, "The Barefoot Bandit".
This six-foot five-inch eighteen year-old may be the best cat burglar in recent history, and has made national crime shows and is now profiled in "The Times" of London.
Young Colton first came to the attention of authorities well south of us on Camano Island, where he repeatedly broke into vacation homes to gather food and camping supplies. Since then, he's been on a two-year crime spree, outrunning frustrated Cops from Seattle to Canada.
Known as "The Barefoot Bandit" as he rarely wears shoes, we discovered him on our little island when a small plane belonging to a Seattle radio show host dissapeared from the island airport. It turned up later crash-landed on the Yakima Indian Reservation, hundreds of miles to the east.
It seems young Colton taught himself to fly by playing video games.
Sometime later, he returned to our community and hit three business's and one bank in one night. First he broke into a local pub and raided the cashbox. Then he climbed a utility pole barefoot, broke into the second-story of a hardware store and robbed it. The local Bank and the grocery market were hit and their ATM machines battered. While in the market, he cut himself while breaking into the ATM. He calmly went to the isle where they stock the bleach, cleaned up his blood and patched himself with first-aid gauze.
It's unclear exactly when, but one of our Sheriff Deputy's persued him in a foot chase. The Deputy complained that as the 6'5" Colton easily pulled away and fled into the forest he was laughing his ass off.
Then, he proceded to steal a boat from one of our friends on the North Shore, and headed for Canada, near where the boat was recovered.
Not long after that, he crossed back into Idaho and stole another airplane and crash-landed it near Seattle.
As written in "The Times" article;

Since then he has been accused of stealing other planes for hops around the islands in the Puget Sound, including another Cessna belonging to a disc jockey who vented his frustration on radio, saying: “He still doesn’t know how to land a plane in one piece.”
He evaded a police pursuit by crashing a Mercedes-Benz into a roadside gas storage tank, using the explosion as a diversion to escape back into the woods where, he says, he feels like a Native American.
This was followed by the largest manhunt in recent memory. Three dozen sheriffs, aided by specialist armed units and an FBI helicopter, fanned out across Camano Island but failed to capture him. “We saw him, we think, but it’s like he disappeared in front of our eyes,” said one sheriff.
For some Harris-Moore is a modern Butch Cassidy: a surprisingly agile 6ft 5in cat burglar who thanks his victims by leaving them notes and cheeky photographs of himself, which have sold for £300 on eBay.
Thousands subscribe to his Facebook page and his image appears on T-shirts with the logo “Fly, Colton, Fly!”. Local rock groups have penned songs about him.
Hollywood producers have lodged lucrative film deals with his family and offered to pay for lawyers if he gives himself up.


Now the stakes have gone up; The Police accuse someone, Colton perhaps, of firing a rifle shot at them. It's possible, but it could be the hype produced by frustrated Cop syndrome. Up to this point, Colton has been completely non-violent.
Now, Colton's mother believes he might not make it out of the woods alive.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Afghan War: You'll NEVER See This On American TV

The above video, which appears to have been broadcast on BBC3, clearly shows why training the Afghan population to stand up and fight a counter-insurgency against the Taliban just won't work. The guys in this video are stoned out of their minds on Hashish and Opium, and the British troops are beyond frustrated at the backpeddling and waste of resources.

With that said, I would like people who have a minute to please take a look at this post on Washington's Blog.

Feel free to follow the embedded links in the article, but here is a summary:
1. The Iraq and Afghan wars were both planned by the Bush/Cheney cabal before 911.
2. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the administration knew it.
3. Saddam offered to take a great deal of money and leave the country of Iraq.
4. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz planned to overthrow Six Middle-East countries
5. The Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden off to a neutral country for trial without even seeing the evidence against him. The U.S. obviously turned them down. Cheney needed a "Boogey Man" on the loose.
6. We could have killed Bin Laden in 2001 and 2007.
7. According to the former British Ambassador to Afghanistan the British and U.S. military and the CIA are protecting the most lucrative Drug trade on the planet

The reason we are still there? According to Ambassador Murray:

"Karzai comes directly from the Bush camp and was put in place because of his role with Unocal in developing the Trans Afghanistan Gas Pipeline project. That remains a chief strategic goal. The Asian Development Bank has agreed finance to start construction in Spring 2011. It is of course a total coincidence that 30,000 extra US troops will arrive six months before, and that the US (as opposed to other NATO forces) deployment area corresponds with the pipeline route."

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Can't Out-Lie A Texan

Well, I got my ass kicked again.
What was I thinking?
That I could out-lie a Magician from Texas?
About wrestling Hippie Chicks?

And now, as it has been revealed in some "Back To The Future" sort of way, Sensei Strange claims our shared DNA is due to his time-traveling sperm bank show.
Crap. I got Texan blood in me.
It won't wash off.

Sensei Strange elucidates:

Sensei Strange said...
Uh...I have been going to Burning Man since '98.

Wrestling Hippie chicks is what I am currently writing my PHd thesis on sponsored by MIT and NASA. I am just back from my tour of the subcontinent as a professional hippie chick wrestler. In the Mexican wrestling circuit I am known as "El Hippie Vaquero". I invented a time machine just to travel back to Woodstock to get my wrestle on. I traveled even further back to father a North Western child that grew to be the Dojo Rat.
That's right Rat, I am your father. The similarity is to close - you know it to be true. I mean if only you were younger, stronger and better looking. Besides that we are the spitting image of each other.
C'mon give me a hug my boy!

(D.R.)- Hey Pops; can I have the keys to the hovercraft?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let's Mess With Texas

Shocked I tell you!

Yesterday in the comment's section of "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", I had another complaint.
Somewhere in Texas is some misplaced Dojo Rat DNA running around by the name of Sensei Strange. The lad claims to be the spitting image of me, but thinner, stronger and better looking. Poor kid, he doesn't realize that we are growing him to be an organ donor for when I finally pickle my liver.
Sensei Strange

Well, yesterday Stange commented that I was a "wishful liar" regarding the issue of wrestling with Hippie Chicks.
Hey, I'm not just a Dallas-Fort Worth Wallmart-quality liar, I'm a world champeen liar.
Ok, in Texas Sensei Strange probably wrestles Steers or Armadillos.
I'm pretty sure he has never sat naked in a backwoods sauna surrounded by half-a-dozen beautiful unshaven Pacific Northwest earth-muffins.
Instead he's all mopey and hang-dog stuck down there in Texas, probably watching re-runs of George W. Bush's greatest hits.
See if you can get a hall pass from your wife so you can come up here and play electric guitar and drink Beer with us in the Saloon!
We might even be able to find you a Hippie Chick to Wrestle!

So in the spirit of jest and play, please direct your best personal tall-tales and outright lies to Sensei Strange in the comment section below!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chinese Medicinal Tea

No, It's Not Hashish

Not long ago I picked up another great Qigong (Chi Kung) book, this one titled "Qigong- The art and science of Chinese energy healing" by Kenneth S. Cohen.
Cohen presents a useful bridge between esoteric energy studies and modern science, but what caught my eye was his chapter on Tea.
Now, I had quit coffee at least fifteen years ago, and have used common teas (Lipton, Red Rose, or Green) as well as herbs such as Dandelion, Milk Thistle and others, which are technically "Tisanes", not true tea.
As Cohen describes, infusions from the camellia sinensis plant are the only "true" teas, and they are indeed medicinal.
Much has been said recently about the health benifits of green tea (which is un-fermented) as far as antioxidents and weight loss. What interested me was the research on black fermented teas, in particulear one called "Pu-Erh" (pronounced poo-air).

Cohen, on page 310 writes: "Pu Erh, a semifermented Oolong tea from Yunan Province, is probably China's most famous medicinal tea. - Pu Ehr is characterized by a mellow, earthy taste, almost smokey and peat-like".

I might add, it's earthy taste resembles "compost", because it is indeed processed in that way. The Holy Mountain Trading Company website describes the process:
"Tea leaves are withered, then, still slightly moist, they're heaped into piles where a bacterium creates a reaction. The leaves are then dried loose or compressed into teas or cakes". --and this:
"In the 1970's Chinese doctors in Kunming reported clinical experiments in which drinking pu-erh was shown to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream. French researchers at St. Antoine Hospital in Paris duplicated these results and found that three cups of pu-erh a day for a month brought lipids down 25 percent in 20 hyperlipidemia patients, while those on other teas showed no change. These tests showed pu-erh performed at least as well as clofibrate, the most advanced medicine for the purpose, without the drug's side effects. It has since been shown to help reduce body weight by increasing the metabolism". -And this:
"In the study, men with a high flavonoid intake had a 73 percent lower risk of stroke during 15 years of follow-up, compared with men with a low intake of flavonoids. The men in the study got about 70 percent of their flavonoids from drinking black tea.
Men who drank more than 4.7 cups of tea a day had a 69 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with men who drank less than 2.6 cups a day, said the researchers of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in Bilthoven, the Netherlands.
Tea also helps prevent tooth decay in several ways. It contains a solid dose of fluoride and works better than the antibiotic tetracycline. According to researchers at the Tokyo Dental College, it fights the kinds of bacteria in the mouth that cause gum disease and the eventual loss of the teeth. It also kills the greatest cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth, Streptococcus mutans".

One of the reasons I quit coffee years ago was because of the caffine. While teas also have caffine, Cohen suggests that tea contains other chemicals that may change or mitigate the effects of the caffine. He also reviews many studies including the Paris hospital experiment (it bears repeating) where twenty patients with abnormally high blood fat levels were given three cups of Pu-Erh tea a day for a month. Their blood fat levels dropped by 25 percent.
A quick spin around the internet will provide you with lots more information on the health benifits of tea, this research inspired me to rise above commercial teas and try some Pu-Erh.
As you see in the picture above, the best ones come pressed in neat little bricks that look like nice chunks of Afghan Hashish. I have yet to try the high-end varieties. Instead, for my first try I bought two pounds of loose Pu-Erh, shipped for a total of $35.00 from a supplier on This tea only needs a tablespoon to my one-liter work thermos, and I can even add more hot water after I drink half of it.
The taste is indeed peat-like, very rich like coffee. The color is a beautiful root-beer ruby-brown. This tea is much richer than a Pekoe like Lipton, for instance. The two-pound bag should last me six months. I plan on trying the high grade pressed cakes later, but for now I really like this tea.
I may have a chance to do my own science project with Pu-Erh tea. While my cholesterol levels have been good lately, I have another test in three months. This may be an interesting experiment in body chemistry, and if there are any significant changes, I'll write about it again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Music Jam: The Aftermath

For those who have been following the progress on the little Western Saloon we're building, here's a shot of some of the mess after the Thanksgiving music jam. There was a small drum kit there also, so we had a complete Band. Lots of really crappy music, and lots of fun. You can see that the sheet rock is completed and ready to paint. Then window and door trim, the antique woodstove and most important; the Bar!

If you haven't seen the Saloon, here's an outside picture from one of our last parties (I think in June):

And here is the little creek that is running behind the Saloon:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkeys: Fear The Lowly Rooster!

Well, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, (and Roosters have been on Dojo Rat the last few posts) I thought this Turkey vs. Rooster story might be appropriate...

When I was running the farm down in Oregon, I had lots of animals, many of which tasted pretty good.
One year I bought six Turkey chicks. Out of the six, one died right away. I fed them out, and when Thanksgiving rolled around I butchered two and a friend butchered a third for himself. That left two very lucky Turkeys.
As it happened to be the Presidency of George Bush senior, I named the male George, and the female Barbara. I figured I'd keep them around until we needed to eat 'em.
All winter long I watched with disgust as the birds drug themselves through the mud at the farm, eating bugs and wheat shoots coming up in the field. They didn't look so appetizing as they battled winter storms and made themselves a general nuisance.
Winter turned into spring, a new girlfriend (now my wife) moved in and the nuisance became a hazard. It seems that Barbara couldn't stand having another female to compete with, and took to flying up in my sweetheart's face. At thirty pounds, that's something to watch out for. I gave her what we called "the Barbara stick" which my sweety swung mightily and beat some respect into that bitch Barbara.
Now George on the other hand, well he became the life of the party. He would chase anything with a motor. Tractors. Cars. Lawnmowers. Anything.
We would have parties where George would wander in and out between the legs of the guests and stomp his feet and hiss. My buddies would pour beer on his head just to watch him turn purple with feigned Turkey rage. George thought he was top cock.
At times when I let my chickens out to free-range, George decided he hated one of the Roosters. He was at least three-times the Rooster's size, and chased him relentlessly for weeks on end.
Finally the Rooster had had enough, and learned how to fight back. While George the Turkey would try to use his size and weight to bear down and stomp the Rooster, the Rooster figured out how to expertly duck under the Turkey's wing and come up spurring from George's blind side. Over and over he bloodied that Turkey George, and before long it was the Rooster that was top cock. Now we watched with amusement as the Rooster chased huge George the Turkey all over the farm.
Lesson learned?
The mobility, agility and sheer willpower of the Rooster overcame the immense bulk of George the Turkey.

And with that said, here's Lou De Xiu demonstrating applications of the Rooster form from Xingyi:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Xingyi: The Song Of Six Unifications

From the classics; 'Xingyiquan" by Liang and Yang-
"The body forms the six postures;

Rooster (chicken) legs, and
Dragon body,

Bear shoulders,

And Eagle claws,

Embrace like a Tiger,

...And sound like the Thunder

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meditation Cuts Risk Of Heart Attack By Half

A while back I was watching someone do a Karate kata, Sanchin I believe. Every change in posture was accompanied by loud hissing of breath, dynamic tension and intense straining of arms, legs and torso. You could see the veins pop out in his forehead.
And this is healthy? I think not.
Again, we see the Taoist philosophy of not harming the body during exercise as being a superior path. No pain no gain is pretty much bullshit for longevity, which is why practitioners of the internal or "soft" martial arts reach their peak in their fifties.
With all the stress of daily life, why would someone hiss and strain in a kata that is ment for health and self-defense? Even in self-defense we have to cultivate a calm mind. While I find seated meditation difficult and a little boring, the moving meditation of Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua and Xingyi really helps me focus and center. The difference from Trancendental Meditation is that instead of trancending the body to a seperate state, we strive to have full and complete mind-body integration.
Here's a great article from The Telegraph.UK that cites medical studies showing that meditation cuts heart attack risk by half. Here's some quotes:

"The researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, calculated heart attacks, strokes and deaths as one result and found a 47 per cent reduction in meditating patients.
They also had lower blood pressure and significant reductions in their stress levels, the researchers said.
Dr Robert Schneider, lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, said: "Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity.
"But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality."
Dr Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like a newly discovered medicine for the prevention of heart disease.
"In this case, the new medications are derived from the body's own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice," he said".

I gotta go practice my Tai Chi Chuan now...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homage To Master Hong Yi Xiang

A very, very nice performance by Abi Moriya, in honor of his late teacher:

"In memory to my teacher, the late master Hong Yi-Xiang : martial artist, doctor & painter, founder of the Tang shou Tao school, Taiwan."

And here is Moriya at a seminar in Israel, demonstrating some nice techniques, including some chin na locking:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pat Parker: "Psy-Ki-Do"

Anybody else seen the movie "The Men Who Stare At Goats"?
While I have read the book, Pat Parker from Mokuren Dojo saw the movie last week, so he wanted to team up and do a little guest posting here on Dojo Rat.
Here's my last post on the book, reposted on Zimbo (I don't understand why, but the previous Blogger post only comes up in some kind of html).
--So here's Pat Parker from Mokuren Dojo:

Psy-ki-do - Inciting Blind Rage

Pat Parker here from Mokuren Dojo. Dojo Rat has been kind enough to agree to let me pollute his blog with my crazy ideas. Today, inspired by the movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats, I have an interesting little experiment in psychological violence for you.

Have you ever noticed that blog comments that contain direct quotes more often seem like an attack? When someone quotes what you say (or write) but slightly twists the inflection or connotation or meaning of of your words, you tend to perceive that more negatively and you tend to respond more vigorously to that sort of blog comment? You can use this phenomenon to your advantage.
Have you ever noticed that the scariest, most troublesome attackers are the calm, cool, collected, ruthless, careful ones - the ones that carefully dissect you? The ones that leap at you in a blind rage are relatively easy to deal with. You can use this phenomenon to your advantage.
If a conflict is imminent and you want the attacker to have greater energy and commitment (perhaps even to the point of blind rage), then repeat whatever they say to you verbatim, but change the tone or inflection of 1-2 words at random. Perhaps rephrase everything they say as a question. It works like this:
Them: "Hey, jerk!"
You: "Hey _jerk_?"
Them:" Yeah, you! I'm gonna kick your ass!"
You: "_You're_ gonna kick _my_ ass?"
Them: "You'd better kiss your ass goodbye!"
You: "You want _me_ to kiss my ass goodbye?"
If you practice this a few times on your buddies then you should be able to see the tension level in them rising after 1-2 of these exchanges and you can probably have them literally hopping mad after about 3-4 exchanges. Even if you hope to never get into a fight and you know for certain you'd never do this to anyone, it can be fun and instructive to try this with your buddies. If you don't learn anything else from it, it will make you more aware of this funny glitch in your wiring so that you don't explode on someone next time they throw some direct quotes at you.

Disclaimer - Don't get into fights - nobody ever really wins them. But if you do get into a fight you might be better off if the guy is in a blind, unthinking rage. If you make that decision then this technique might work for you. But if you try it, don't blame me if you get your ass handed to you. When you sew the wind, you may reap the whirlwind!

(D.R.)-- Aw Pat, don't get into fights? Nobody can see it when you hit them with your mind!

Be sure and swing over to Mokuren Dojo for some of the best Aikido and Judo analysis on the net!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Team Seattle Tears It Up At No-Gi Championship

Brian Johnson Kicks Ass

Some of the local boys Did quite well at the recent No-Gi World Championship grappling tournament held in Irvine California.
Watching Brian Johnson go to work on these guys is truely seeing a grappling master in the creative process.
Now, aside from High School wrestling (which had quite different rules) I really have no working knowledge of how BJJ-type systems operate.
With that in mind, I got quite a lot out of hearing Brian coaching Jake Burroughs (fight below) from the side of the ring. You can hear Brian helping Jake with strategy and brings him along to a successful win.
As Jake says on his Blog; Respect the wristlock, Bitches!

Jake's Wristlock

Congratulations to Brian Johnson, Jake Burroughs and David Meyer!

For more of the matches, go to Jake's Blog "The Ground Never Misses" at THIS LINK

You can find out more about The Northwest Jiu Jitsu Academy at THIS LINK

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Lies They Told

What a Dick; The most Dangerous man in the world

Well, well...
Years have now gone by since the terrible morning on September 11th when our country suffered the most significant terrorist attack in history. Just as with the failed cover-up known as the Warren Commission after the assassination of President Kennedy, the cover story dreamed up by the 911 Commission is beginning to fall apart.
In his new book "The Ground Truth", Senior council to the 911 Commission John Farmer unravels the Bullshit that was spoon-fed to the public during and after the official investigation. Farmer is no slouch, he is the former attorney general of New Jersey and the Dean of Rutgers school of law.
Remember; the Bush (Cheney) administration did not want to have any investigation at all, and initially inserted fixer Henry Kissinger into the lead roll. Kissinger backed out when he failed to disclose his close ties to the very elements that were accused of the attack.
Now, in his book, Farmer carefully deconstructs the lies that compromised the commissions investigation- From the review in the New York Times:

"Yet both Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney, Farmer says, provided palpably false versions that touted the military’s readiness to shoot down United 93 before it could hit Washington. Planes were never in place to intercept it. By the time the Northeast Air Defense Sector had been informed of the hijacking, United 93 had already crashed. Farmer scrutinizes F.A.A. and Norad rec­ords to provide irrefragable evidence that a day after a Sept. 17 White House briefing, both agencies suddenly altered their chronologies to produce a coherent timeline and story that “fit together nicely with the account provided publicly by Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney.”
"Farmer’s verdict: “History should record that whether through unprecedented administrative incompetence or orchestrated mendacity, the American people were misled about the nation’s response to the 9/11 attacks.”

So we see that Farmer, as well as other commission members view the investigation as hopelessly compromised and we may never fully understand what really happened.
But here's where Farmer falls short: he faults the Bush Cabal for lying to cover their inept response to the attack, ignoring their foreknowledge that the attack was about to occur.
You see, the head of an empire can be brought down for having received a blowjob from an attractive staffer, but to acknowledge that the empire itself is so deeply corrupt that it would slash it's own wrists in an attempt to lure a sympathetic public into endless war for resources; well, that shakes the foundation of faith that binds the country together. It simply cannot be allowed, hence the cover-up.

Want to go down the rabbit hole?

Read this, and be sure to click on some of the embedded links to verify sources.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fear The Mongols!

Over at "The Ground Never Misses" my friend, Xingyi instructor and general Big-Bald-Badass Jake Burroughs is running This series on Mongolian wrestling. (Also Here).
This brings up a story that old Mr. Choi, my Korean Tae Kwon Do master told me about his childhood;
As I remember, he grew up in North Korea and his family fled to the South when war broke out. His family had a farm, and every day he would take a large potato to school with him. All the kids would put their potatoes on the woodstove to heat them for lunch. They had a pack of farm dogs that they would let loose once a week which probably killed every living bird, rabbit or rodent they could catch.
Once, when Mr. Choi was still quite young, his family took a trip to see a Mongol festival, much like the one depicted in the video above.
They arrived at a village or camp, tents and yurts everywhere. Mongol horsemen swung from their mounts at full gallop. That night, his family entered one of the largest of the tents. Mr. Choi's eyes lit up as he described the scene, which was etched on his memory;
The interior of the tent had cooking fires and torchlight. Huge Mongolian wrestlers were competing for the crowd. The spits on the cooking fires held entire animal bodies that were being turned and roasted. Compared to his Korean family, the Mongols were giants, and he remembers some of them in full-Mongol party-mode eating entire rams legs, the grease dripping and coating the rough garb they were wearing.
It was a spectacle that Mr. Choi never forgot, and some of the roughest and most powerful warriors he would ever meet.
Check out Jake's posts on Mongolian wrestling at the links highlighted above.

My friend and instructor, the late Tae Hong Choi

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Xingyi in Taiwan

Stopping back in Taiwan for another look at the Tang Shou Tao martial arts system.
This style represents a fusion of traditional Chinese arts with the structure and ranking borrowed from Japanese systems.
I love this stuff. Look at the beauty of the forms-- and I think the guy demonstrating the chicken and swallow forms may be Su Dong Chen, who went on to be a famous master in his own right.
From Wikipedia:

Tang Shou Tao is not a separate style of martial art, but rather a practical, step-by-step, systematic approach to learning internal martial arts and developing highly refined levels of skill. It incorporates elements of all three of the major Chinese internal arts (xingyiquan, baguazhang, and taijiquan) as well as Shaolin kung fu and qigong. However, the emphasis of this system is on xingyi and bagua. Although the system itself was formed and founded by Hung I-Hsiang during the 1950s and 1960s, the roots of using the commonalities of bagua and xingyi in practice and application can easily be traced back through Hung's teacher Chang Chun-Feng (張俊峰) to his teachers, Li Cunyi (李存義) and Gao Yisheng (高義盛).
When Hung I-Hsiang took a trip to Japan, he was very impressed with the way martial arts instruction was organized there. He liked the uniforms, the belt system, and the systematic approach to training. Subsequently, he adopted many of the Japanese style martial arts school characteristics when he opened his own school. The students had belt ranks, wore Japanese style uniforms, and Hung devised a more systematic approach to martial arts instruction than what was typical of most Chinese style schools.

--Very cool stuff...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sam Masich In 1988 Tai Chi Tournament

A few days ago we took a look at a short compilation video of Sam Masich, a great Taiji instructor from Canada. Here's a few interviews and some action from a 1988 tournament that Sam was in. The quality of the fighting is certainly not as great as some Karate tournaments, but Sam says in the interview that this was his first fighting tournament, and he clearly dominates his opponents.
All-in-all, this gives a nice flavor for the essence of Tai Chi Chuan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taiji Secrets: Opening And Closing The "Kua"

Again we have instructor Michael Gilman with a very detailed explanation of the use of the hips or "Kua" in martial training.
This video integrates the rooting aspect of gathering to the inside of the foot and releasing from the heel and outside of the foot with proper use of gathering and releasing from the "Kua".
All of us have seen people who "float" on top of their hips. They move like stick figures and cannot perform proper rooting skills. No matter what art you practice, this will add greatly to your ability to root and then discharge energy.

You can watch the rest of this series and find dozens of other Tai Chi instructional videos on Michael Gilman's YouTube channel at THIS LINK

Monday, November 9, 2009

Michael Gilman: Taiji Inner Secrets

I just got back from another great weekend workshop with our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman. This class was on what he calls "The Inner Journey", and delves into the hidden ways of movement that make for really great Tai Chi Chuan.
Michael explains things in great detail, and this is the second of an eight-part series.
In Tai Chi Chuan, the power is generated from "the root". In this video, Michael explains the importance of "gathering" to the inside of the foot and "releasing"(energy) from the outside of the foot and the heel. This is the key to success in rooting and stability in grappling arts. Taiji players that push hands (and other arts) will benefit from this series.
So many people mindlessly practice their forms with no clue to proper structure, let alone proper application. A good instructor that can explain the subtleties of a complex art like Tai Chi Chuan is a rare find, and our Dojo has a lot to thank for Michael's patient instruction and deep knowledge of the art.

You can see Michael Gilman's website at this link

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fighting Styles That Will Probably Get Your Ass Kicked

A generous tip of the hat to James Keating at MAAJAK for directing us to this funny but ultimately serious article about "Fighting styles that will probably get your ass kicked".
Of course, I fully expected to see my life's persuit of Tai Chi Chuan dashed upon the bloody rocks of FAIL.
Not so!

Spoiler: Judo guys will be very pleased...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nice Sam Masich Video

Here's a nice little compilation video of Sam Masich, a really great Internal Arts practitioner from north of us in British Columbia Canada.
We had the pleasure of having a push hands class with Sam in a very small and infomal setting when he visited our island. Sam is one of the absolute nicest guys I've ever trained with, and has extensive knowledge in the Chinese Internal Arts.
In that class, he asked a Karate instructor from another school to try and touch his face. As the Karate guy reached and tried to simply touch him, Sam had siezed his center and had him on his heels. He backed him across the room and into a counter against the wall. There was nothing the Karate guy could do, as he had lost his base. Sam made the point, that everything in the room was his weapon in a situation like this. Every table, chair, stairway.
The point was well taken...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Watch This Guy Get Away!

Well, I don't know what these Cops got this guy down for, he may have been freaking the attendant of the Gas/Mart out, as he is either putting on a great act or is "a little touched"
Sure the Police have tough jobs, but they blow this one. I think they:
1. could have de-escalated the incident or;
2. cuffed him quicker and got him in the car
3. they did not have him fully under control
4. they tase him for no real reason
5. they fail, he gets away.
Now, as far as the guy:
1. this is the best case of passive resistance I have seen
2. he baffles them with mumbo jumbo and waits for his chance
3. he has the power of the video to keep the Cops from using too much force
4. he successfully gets away

-- I have to say, as long as he's not a serious offender, I can't help but root for the underdog in this one...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pirates In Our Islands

Ever since I moved to The San Juans, a group of islands which are closer to the Canadian border than they are to mainland Washington State, I've been collecting local Pirate stories.
I just heard a doosey this week, more on that coming up, but first some background;
There is mounting evidence that the West Coast was explored and populated by Chinese sailors from as early as 2000 B.C.
Pirate stories abound; when I was a kid my friends family owned an old cabin in Oregon, at the mouth of The Salmon River where it meets the ocean north of Lincoln City. When the coast highway was expanded, they uncovered a ship that had been attacked by local Indians. On board was the remains of a "Kanaka", or South-Sea Islander, and another man who was clutching a sword, his head bashed in. Every year, treasure hunters begged to dig on my friends property, believing it the most likely location for hidden goods.
In northern Washington State, the San Juan Islands were allegedly first explored by the Spanish and English. One legend is that Sir Francis Drake sank a Spanish ship in a deep channel, killing everyone on board except the navigator, who was spared for his knowledge. As the legend goes, they salvaged a fortune in gold from the ship, took it to a sandy beach and recast the ingots with English stamps. High above the waterfront, strange rock cairns (one in the shape of an anchor) add to the legend of clues to treasure.
Much later, these islands, with their hidden coves and dark waterways became one of the key smuggling routes for everything from illegal alcohol to Chinese immigrants from Canada. To this day, the waterways between the islands are a favored transit point for the famed "BC Bud" Marijuana, and other mysterious things such as eight severed human feet have washed ashore in our area since 2007.
When she was young, one woman I know here knew a family that pulled a ladder up into the bedroom loft of their cabin every night to prevent them from being harmed by rogues and bandits. Near the shore, there are huge and ancient middens, or Indian trash dumps. Occasionally, the bones of a discarded Indian slave are uncovered, and from the vista of Turtleback mountain we know the location of dozens of Indian graves.
Which brings me to my latest Pirate story:
When the first settlers arrived, some of them worked for the Hudson's Bay Trading Company and lived in small log cabins. One family was living near Massacre Bay, aptly named due to a slaughter of Lummi Indians by a Heida tribe from Canada.
One day, three Frenchmen came ashore in a boat. The youngest was a huge bear of a man, one was middle-aged, and the other was very old and spoke only French.
They told the family to get in their cabin and stay there, or they would kill them. To prove their intent, they showed them their guns and knives. The family retreated to the cabin, and peered out through small windows.
Outside, the three Frenchmen indentified a large boulder, a huge landmark that had been deposited by glaciers thousands of years ago. The oldest Frenchman did all the pointing and calculations, estimating the location they sought on the rocky face of Turtleback Mountain above. The family watched as the men left to scale the hillside. The family scurried back into the cabin when the men returned, and took visual estimates of the mountain from the boulder again, unable to find the location on their first attempt.
Again they headed back up the hillside, and that's the last time the family saw the Frenchmen. No one knows who those men were, or why they would have killed to find what was hidden on Turtleback Mountain, but stories like this keep the legends alive...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CIA Complicit In Afghan Drug Trade

The October 27 issue of The New York Times has This Article with updated information on the Karzai government and the ongoing Opium production and Heroin trade.
It appears that President Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai has been on the CIA's payroll for years. That in itself is not unusual, if not for the accusations that he is deeply involved in the Drug trade.
This is part of an ongoing pattern that has been well documented since the Vietnam war. The best book I have read on the subject is "The Politics Of Heroin In Southeast Asia", by Alfred McCoy.
Everywhere the CIA goes, guns go in and drugs come out. The trade is protected in part to support the indigenous people that the agency draws it's paramilitary forces from. But more importantly, as we saw in Reagan's proxy war in Nicaragua it provides funding for "Black" operations. Oliver North's handwritten notes acknowledge the use of CIA assets in the guns down / drugs back operations.
Take a look at THIS ARTICLE that states that the Bush administration gave a green light to Opium production in 2002. Here's a snip:

This Is Your CIA on Drugs

The CIA decision not to stop the Afghan opium production has been greeted silently by U.S. allies. According to intelligence sources, both the U.K. and French governments have quietly given their approval of the American policy by not acting in accordance with the U.N. global ban on opium traffic.
However, one foreign intelligence official was quick to point out that the CIA has a history of supporting international drug trafficking.
"The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences – the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970s is directly attributable to the CIA. The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years, so I guess they just want to carry on their favorite business," noted an allied intelligence official who works closely with U.S. law enforcement.

Oh the hypocrisy...

UPDATE: Helena at asked to put up this video:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Last Fight I Lost

A few years ago I was talking with a young guy from another Dojo who was about to test for Black Belt. He commented that he wondered if his martial skills would work if he needed to defend himself. I was a little shocked, and I asked him if he'd ever been in a fight before. He said no. I laughed, bought him a Beer and told him not to worry, his skills would be there when he needed them. But inside, I wondered.
You see, I had rarely thought about that. I had been in lots of fights before I ever started training in the Martial Arts.
This year, at 50, I've got enough distance from my youth to look back and see things with the perspective that age brings. There are two things that stir unparalleled emotions in young men; fighting and fucking. Both are extremes in passion and expression, fueled by hormones and experimentation. It's a brave new world.
There were so many scraps that barely rate as a fight, but some that bordered on life-changing. One of the first big ones was with a kid named Teddy in 6th grade. We met in the back field after school, a crowd around us. As a kid, we were always told not to hit, so I wasn't a very good hitter. Teddy, whose hair was redder than mine, got a few good punches in and we wrestled until we got tired. That was it.
But the following year, I was a little bigger and stronger. I was down in the cafeteria where a nerdy friend of mine named Berkley was being bullied by a mean kid named David. I got between them, David knocked the notebook out of my hands and the fight was on. I put one hand on a locker and another on a table and launched myself Errol Flynn-style into David with a kick. It got into grapling, and David got me in a headlock and threw me on the ground. Before I could get up, he kicked me in the head. That's the last fight I lost.
Years later, I picked David up hitchhiking. I drove him to town in my '70 Cuda. He was strung out on drugs and committed suicide sometime later.
High-school wrestling was a great sport for channeling all that adolescent energy, and provided some basic fight skills as a bonus.
One day while aimlessly loafing around the school, the call to help our buddy Dickey went out. It seems there were these guys in their late twenties that had chased Dickey into the school. They were rough street people, nobody knew where they lived but they were rumored to have cut the brakelines of another guy's car earlier.
As I rounded the stairs to the area in front of the auditorium, one of them swung a wine bottle at Dickey's brother Bob, and it shattered on the floor. There were three of those guys and way more of us. I grabbed one and slammed him into a wall, then held him in a choke hold from behind and put my back to the wall. My friend Terry had one guy on the ground and was pounding him. The third came to me and said to let his friend go or he'd cut me with a knife. Right then, with a huge group of students gathered around us, one of the male teachers came to break up the fight. Those guys went to jail, and none of us got suspended.
Around that same school year, there were similar incidents. One night, we were in a store in Northwest Portland, then called "Heroin Alley" trying to buy Beer. My friend Bud was waiting for us outside when trouble broke out. I ran outside and grabbed the Junkie who was fighting with Bud, drove him into a car fender and laid into him with body hooks. We got our Beer and got out of there.
Sometime that Spring, we traveled across town to 82nd avenue where the hot rod car action had moved when the Cops shut down Broadway. There, in a McDonalds reastaurant, my best friend John got hit in the eye by a guy named Teague, who was one of the star football players in that school district. We were clearly outnumbered, and retreated to John's '51 Mercury and headed back to our turf.
The next Saturday night, fueled by cheap Beer and fresh troops, we headed back over to 82nd to see if we could settle the score. This time we had several cars, and John and I were riding in Dave's '54 Oldsmobile. We parked across from the McDonalds to wait for the other cars with our buddies. Well, that '54 Olds looked enough like John's '51 Merc, and we were spotted. Out of nowhere, carloads of local kids started pulling in and gathering around us. Where were our guys?
There must have been sixty people circled around us three. As it is with these things, most people just want to watch, not get their noses bloodied. But three of them squared off with three of us. "That's the one Teague hit last week" said the guy pointing at the black eye John was sporting. The fight was on. One guy threw a punch at Dave, who was wearing glasses and got cut. I stepped between them and that's the guy I took. It was all like slow motion. He threw a loopy right, and a left, both which I blocked easily. The wrestling kicked in and I took him to the ground, with both of us rolling to the curb of 82nd with traffic a few feet from our heads. I managed to get on top, with his face down on the sidewalk. I hit that shithead with hammerfists to the back of the head until one of his buddies grabbed me by the sweatshirt and yanked me off. John and Dave were mixing it up with the other guys. Some religious couple quoting scripture stepped in and tried to break it up, right as our reinforcements made it to the fight. It turned into a stand-off for just a minute, and the crowd drew the attention of the Cops, who broke up the scene and sent everybody packing. We headed back to our turf, we still had Beer, and considered that one a victory. My friend John had another black eye, and we called him "Rocky Raccoon". This was at a time when a fistfight was a fistfight, no guns or knives thank goodness.
Two seperate guys got their noses busted by me when I hit them first. One tried to get revenge and actually found us on a side road and threatened me with a gun. I had a feeling he was too chicken to shoot, and I approached his car. He shoved the gun under his carseat. As I walked to his car, he backed away and I found the gun and threw it out into the bushes. The guy flipped out in a rage. He raced his car out of there, passed some Cops a few blocks away, and was arrested. The Cops came back to where we were parked, and I showed them where I threw the gun. They gave that kid an "elevator ride" in the jail when he tried to fight with the jailors.
I went to work right out of school, had to grow up, start paying rent and feeding myself. There were a few weird scrapes, including saving a Mexican girl from being raped while I was working an overnight shift at a gas station on Burnside in Portland. But I hadn't worked it out of my system yet.
One night after work my friend Mark and I hopped in his GTO and went to a car lot (again, on 82nd ave.) where I had started negotiation on buying a Plymouth Duster with a 340. Nice car. Never bought it. Got in a fight with the used car salesman.
I can't remember exactly how it started, but we argued, and the salesman tried to kick me in the balls. I instinctively blocked it and took him down with a judo leg sweep from wrestling. His sport coat came off in my hands, and I stood over this pathetic middle-aged car salesman, whipping him with his sport coat. Mark and I got out of there before they could call the Cops, and I had some answering to do at work because the company I worked for owned that car lot also. There were a few other dust-ups, but nothing special.
When I finally made the decision to go back to school, I started a Goju-Ryu Karate class for P.E., like thousands of other students try on a whim. Except I never stopped. That class channeled my energy into a path that would lead me to maturity, my first of several Black Belts, and lasting friendships with Dojo friends that beat me up so other guys couldn't.
Something changes when you take up a martial art in a serious way. Sure, I had some minor incidents after that. The difference was, I could handle the situation without breaking anybody's nose or rolling around in mud and broken Beer bottles. simple things like positioning, joint-locks or simple avoidance worked quite well. I didn't have anything to prove to anybody. Hell, I'm old now and there's plenty of people out there that can hurt me, so I stay out of trouble for the most part.
Some fights were emotional, some in rage, some with fear, others just cold procedure. But "the machine" always turned on.
Which brings me back to the young guy I mentioned in the beginning. He did get his Black Belt. He's probably still wondering if his skills will work if he gets into a fight.
I got that question out of the way years ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nice Push Hands Practice In Portland

I don't know who this instructor in Portland is yet, but from his short YouTube videos he appears to be a Bagua and Yang Tai Chi Chuan stylist.
I can't help but see similarities in his movement with our friend and teacher the late Mike Martello.
Like Mike, this guy is small but appears very strong. He uses subtle footwork and movement to defeat larger opponents.
I've still got friends and contacts in Portland, If I was still living there, I'd love to train with this guy. I'll try to get in touch with him by his YouTube channel, and maybe we can find out a little more about his training system and classes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things Are A Little Tense Around Balloon Boy's House


Oh Dojo Rat; how could you?
Trolling so deep as to exploit the "Balloon Boy " Conspiracy?
Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon! ("The Fifth Dimension", kids- 1969?).

Now that The level of "Balloon Dad" Richard Heene's depravity appears to be exposed, neighbors are (perhaps rightly) at their wits-end with all the media attention.
But really; who hasn't wanted to just kick the shit out of a Fox "News" Crew at one time or another.
This pissed-off neighbor appears to be in the right. He was requesting the police by cell phone, was jumped from behind, and got out of the full-nelson enough to paste the media guy a good three or four times. Good for him.
Reports say no charges are being filed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vampire Killing Kit

Got some Goth kid on your street that threatens to kidnap your cat?
How about a blood-sucking employer or attourney?
-Well friends, this is just what you need-- a 19th-Century Vampire killing kit.
Check it out: a nice little single-shot pistol, a silver-handled dagger, not one but three Bibles.
But wait; there's more!
It's got your Cross, a mallet with lots and lots of wooden stakes, and a whole pharmacy of poisens and potions!

From "Boing-Boing", Here's the seller's description:
"These are expensive kits, made for the wealthy; not some cheap and cheesy plastic novelty items. Such luxury concedes a seriousness -- a deadly seriousness. These items were made to address deep, dark, primal fears. And then, like our fears often are, they were not thrown away but stored in equally dark and out of the way places... Antique wooden killing kits in the attics of old houses, just waiting for the day when the creatures creep from the attics of our minds."

I'll bet Steve Perry wants one of these.
And judging from the kind of E-mail Bobbe Edmonds has been getting, he might need one!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Strength Of The Rat Is The Pack

To paraphrase (or mis-quote) Kipling, "The strength of the Pack is the Rat, but the strength of the Rat is the Pack". We had the occasion to get our little Dojo in order with all of the Dojo Rats actually in uniform and ready to rock-and-roll. It was Tommy T's 51st birthday, and young Zac is leaving to teach in Japan for a year.

There were reviews of techniques, a few Beers, some stickfighting and sparring, more Beers, and a spontaneous demonstration of The Wudang Saber Form we are learning. This was a difficult form for me, it is very long and complex. I screwed the ending up just a bit, but not bad for early days. After the movements are perfected, the form is done much faster and more aggressively. This is at Taiji speed, so we can stay together.

The gathering was also attended by the Wives (Rat'ets) and Girlfriends (Rat'lets) of the younger Dojo members. There was tons of great food, lots of Beer, Wine and Sake, and a few gifts for Tom as well as a new Saber for Zac's going away. We'll miss the little Shit, but he'll be back and he hopes to train in Aikido while in Japan.

And as per usual, we had a huge music jam that went late into the evening, with friends of the Dojo, Wives and Girlfriends joining in.
Good news? Nobody got hurt, except my Wife who got kicked in the shin by Zac (just a bruise).
We've had a pretty steady core training group three nights-a-week for years, but it is really special when we can get everybody in the Dojo, in uniform, united in "The strength of the Pack".

One More Picture:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Am I Wrong Guys?

Video One

These Two Videos Go Together
As a part-time expert on Womens exercise videos, and a some-times fisherman, I hereby declare that these two videos go together.
Just watch a bit of the first video, and then all of the second.
A shameless pitch for crank comments, I say...

Video Two

...Back to martial arts soon, I promise...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

There was an unexpected spike in my stats for Monday; it's interesting to try to figure out what's going on. Here's the spread:

Interestingly, my statcounter at the bottom of the Blog has appeared to roll over without counting the current number of hits. It's stuck on 022,659. Another seperate statcounter located slightly above says 178075. Who knows. Maybe it will self-correct, but I know the true count is somewhwere above that number.
Here's the yearly numbers:

So there has been a significant increase since 2007, and it looks like with 2-1/2 months to go this year I'm already ahead of last year.

Boring stuff, but it's an interesting study for those of us that write Blogs, and want to provide fresh and fun information.
Thanks to all those fellow Dojo Rats out there for checking in!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Very Powerful Internal Animal Forms

I really, really like this video showing the exercises of Xinyiliuhe, more on the style in a moment.
First of all, consider the variety of technique and the amount of exercise this guy gets done in an extremely small space, no larger than an elevator. Watch as he first goes through the particular animal form with relaxed attitude. Gradually he builds until you can clearly see the martial intent. The spurring of the Rooster, the siezing of the Eagle, the knock-down power of the bear, the defensive covering from blows to the head as the Tiger washes his face. Nice elbow striking also.
Now for the style itself:
The best information I found was here on Jerek Szymanski's "China From Inside". Jerek is a very active journalist and historian living and Training in China, and has some of the best reporting on the lineage of Chinese martial arts.
"As stated in his article, Xinyiliuhe is a Moslem (his spelling) martial art meaning "Fist of Mind, Intention and Six Harmonies". From Jerek's article:
The art of Xinyi Liuhe Quan was passed secretly among Chinese Moslems and has been known as "the most cruel style among Chinese martial arts"

-- As I said above, see how little room you need to do a complete martial arts workout? I can run an hour of Tai Chi Chuan, intense Bagua and a cool-down with Xingyi in less than an eight-by-twelve area (although I prefer outdoors).

Oh, and by the way, I shamelessly ripped this cool video off from The Emptyflower Forum, a source for lots of Chinese internal arts stuff.