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!