Monday, August 29, 2011

Bombs Away!

"Trebuchet" Catapult

Ah, Island Kids...
My friends kids built this "Trebuchet" catapult for a local science fair. So far they have launched softballs and similar objects, but think what it would do with a Molotov Cocktail!

And for the extra-large version, watch this piano launch from the TV show "Northern Exposure". I was told a local log home builder and his crew built this one:

If you like what these kids built, please go to their YouTube page and leave a nice comment, I'd like to pump up their views. They really worked hard and did all the welding, bolting and assembly of this cool device.

Here's their YouTube page:

Trebuchet catapult link

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jake Says; "Fear The Wristlock, Bitches!"

Man, oh man.
If BJJ had existed in the U.S. when I was wrestling in the 1970's I would have been all over it. But now I'm just a broken-down old Dojo Rat so I have to enjoy my friends matches.
Here is my Xingyi instructor Jake Burroughs (Black Gi) in a recent Seattle Tournament. I met Jake when he had recently moved to Seattle and began bringing his instructors in for seminars. We trained with the late Mike Martello and Tim Cartmell in Mantis and the Chinese Internal Arts, with a heavy emphasis on throwing. Tim also had a great "MMA for the street" session.
Jake has followed in Tim's footsteps and taken up BJJ to round out his skills, and it's been fun to follow his progress. He is currently training and teaching with Brian Johnson at Seattle's NW Jiu Jitsu Academy.
From what little I know about BJJ, the glamorous techniques tend to involve chokes and armbars. But here in this match, Jake wins with a wristlock which his opponent wasn't expecting. It looked painful enough that the guy tapped immediately.
There's a lesson there: Jake says "Fear The Wristlock, Bitches!"

Here's the links to Jake Burroughs site "The Ground Never Misses" and Brian Johnson's NW Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Economic Depression by Design

Catherine Austin Fitts

Here's one for the deep thinkers, those who explore the "Realpolitik" behind today's world events.
Catherine Austin Fitts is brilliant. In this brief piece she gives voice to something that we suspect has been going on throughout history, repeating itself in a cyclic continuum.
The key points are that there is a planned economic re-engineering occurring, involving targeted intentional collapse. This has been forced against the third world over and over, with tools such as debt for equity swaps. In other words, sources like the IMF or private banking concerns load the third world up with debt. When the bill comes due and is unpaid, the Banksters come in with a big tow truck and sweep up (privatize) natural resources of the target country.
Fitts calls this "The Central Banking Warfare Model".
The bad news for us is that they're screwing the first world now. We are witnessing the biggest transfer of wealth from the public commons to the global bankers, a staggering amount of wealth flowing upward from you and me to people who consider themselves "The Ruling Class".
As Fitts concludes; "Now that they've got your money, they're going to change the deal".

Here's a perfect example from "The Street":

"NEW YORK (RealMoney) -- The largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors -- vulture funds.

These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value.

You and I will not be allowed to participate. These investors will come from the private-equity and hedge-fund community, Goldman Sachs(GS_) and its derivatives, as well as foreign sovereign wealth funds that can bring a billion dollars or more to each transaction.

In the process, these investors will instantaneously become the largest improved real estate owners and landlords in the world. The U.S. taxpayer will get pennies on the dollar for these homes and then be allowed to rent them back at market rates
Assuming taxpayers don't push back, the next step will be to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will be the bid and plan for these homes by investors.

The way to keep taxpayers from pushing back is to structure the RFI so that the real intention, the bulk sales, is masked by feel-good goals, such as stabilizing neighborhoods and increasing the supply of rental properties.

As intended, the mass media are playing their part in classic style. Every major newspaper in the U.S. has run articles discussing the plan as a rental conversion, allowing readers to assume that Fannie, Freddie and HUD will be renting the properties directly to families who need housing. And although there is an allowance for these kinds of rentals, it is a minor political facade to the obvious true goal of bulk-sale privatization of these homes."

Feel free to discuss...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bad Kung Fu Series #4: The Principles of Effortless Power

Author and teacher Peter Ralston

I seem to have a "respect/bewilderment" relationship with author, fighter and teacher Peter Ralston.
Ralston has varied experience in several martial arts, but has narrowed his "Cheng Hsin" down to a blend of Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua, Aikido and Western Boxing. He flawlessly borrows from any given art in his playful movement. I have one of Ralston's best DVD's. It begins with clips from a sensational tournament fight he won in China in 1978, where he works a Chinese fighter over pretty good, finishing with a nasty body slam to the ground.
Tai Chi purists deride his unorthodox methods, but he has an uncanny ability to control opponents with his boxing-push hands-Aiki-Bagua throwing style.
Ralston, who teaches as a Guru (often wearing a monks robe) clearly has the ability to "feel an opponents intent".

With that said, I would like to present a review I did on his first book "Cheng Hsin: The Principles of Effortless Power" , from a post I did in December of 2007:

Peter Ralston winning the 1978 full-contact tournament in China

Several months back, Dave from “Formosa Neijia” wrote about Peter Ralston, founder of the “Cheng Hsin” martial art system. Cheng Hsin refers to “The true nature of being”. The description was very interesting and I checked out Ralston’s website. Along with Ralston’s description of his martial philosophy, there were several clips of him performing various internal martial arts techniques. Ralston is no slouch, he has a varied background and has successfully competed internationally.
With that in mind, I ordered two of his books: “The Principles Of Effortless Power” and “Cheng Hsin T’ui Shou; The Art Of Effortless Power”.
“The Principles Of Effortless Power” is Ralston’s first book, so I started there. It begins with his martial history, and his journeys in spiritual awakening. These were steeped in the self-realization and encounter-group sessions of the 1970’s. These sessions branded Ralston’s first book with the stigma of new-age thought and explanation.
Ralston seems to be attempting to explain Internal Art principles without using any of the Chinese or Japanese terms and thought patterns. In some cases, he re-labels them. I am no stranger to alternative views and esoteric thinking, but in my opinion, Ralston is trying to re-invent the wheel. While westerners sometimes have difficulty with vague terms such as “Peng” in Tai Chi Chuan for example, there is no real need to eliminate the term or replace it.
I see where he is going with his philosophy, and understand much of it, but I have to say I find him explaining things in a circular fashion at times. For example, I book-marked this paragraph on page 90:
Ralston writes:
“ Since we already give BEING to the perception of what IS (in other words, we acknowledge it’s “beingness”), and to interpretation itself, it is necessary to move our cognition-attention and life force into a position of Being in which this can be recognized as already and actually the case. We can then give being to what is not at present occurring”.

--Whew!… this passage is not an isolated case, and I have to admit that twenty pages later I simply set the book down and moved on to his next one, which I’ve just started. That book, “Cheng Hsin T’iu Shou” shows a greater degree of maturity in his writing. While his sometimes-frustrating philosophy is present in the first part of the book, the second half is all applications that demonstrate what he has been prattling on about philosophically. While I have been on the search for concept books, Ralston’s first attempt is pretzel logic to me. I feel I will get much more out of his application book, which demonstrates many internal art principles. I came away from these books feeling that Ralston may be better as a Guru demonstrating direct transmission of knowledge to students in a Dojo format. His knowledge is deep and he is a skilled martial artist. I’ll be interested if anyone else has read his material, and any comments they have.

Well, that was in 2007.
I would skip "The Principles of Effortless Power". But if you're interested, his second book "Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou: The Art of Effortless Power" presents the same material, along with application techniques in a more sensible, readable way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bachmann-Perry Overdrive

Cornholing Iowa

Hurray-Hurray; step right up and see the show!
Right before your eyes, see Welfare Queen Michelle Bachmann and Brother Perry's Traveling Salvation Show!

Oh, poor Iowa. I'm so sorry you had to be a part of this. Yes, a carnival where candidates Pay each participant $30 to vote for them in the Iowa straw pole.

So far at this point in the National Republican White-Peoples Party it appears that Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry have wiped the pig shit off themselves and risen to the top of the rabid pack.
Bachmann won the fake straw poll. Ron Paul was 9/10 of one point behind Bachmann and nobody wants to admit it. I'm not a Ron Paul fan but he, Romney and Huntsman are the only sane Republifuks in the room.
Romney can't win the south because he's a Mormon. Same with Huntsman, who was an ambassador to China for Obama. Kiss of death.
So you've got the Reich wing veering madly off into Cristo-fascistland with Michelle and Rick.

Bachmann is a self-loathing anti-government recipient of government money. She received government money for raising foster children. She and her husband Marcus received federal money for a religious clinic they ran to "pray the gay away". She received federal money in farm subsidies. She's an anti-tax former tax collector for the IRS.

And then there's Brother Perry's Traveling Salvation Show:

While Bachmann is an unhinged religious dingbat, Perry is even worse.
In the hellhole that is Texas, "pastors told Perry of God’s grand plan for Texas. A chain of powerful prophecies had proclaimed that Texas was “The Prophet State,” anointed by God to lead the United States into revival and Godly government. And the governor would have a special role."

According to this article in "The Texas Observer" Perry is involved in an aggressive Theo-fascist movement:

"If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable. But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.
In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual."
"other movement leaders occupy the radical fringe of Christian fundamentalism. Their beliefs may seem bizarre even to many conservative evangelicals. Yet Perry has a knack for finding the forefront of conservative grassroots. Prayer warriors, apostles and prophets are filled with righteous energy and an increasing appetite for power in the secular political world. Their zeal and affiliation with charismatic independent churches, the fastest-growing subset of American Christianity, offers obvious benefits for Perry if he runs for president.
There are enormous political risks, too. Mainstream voters may be put off by the movement’s extreme views or discomfited by talk of self-proclaimed prophets “infiltrating” government."
“The church’s vocation is to rule history with God,” he has said. “We are called into the very image of the Trinity himself, that we are to be His friends and partners for world dominion.”

Perry claims to be responsible for "The Texas Miracle".
He is the head of the most polluted, uneducated state in the country. Texas ranks 42 in states that have home Internet access. 49th in high school graduates. #1 in minimum wage jobs. Some miracle.
Perry called for Texas to secede from the United States.
Now he wants to run the rest of the free world.
Texans who know Perry, like former state agricultural comissioner Jim Hightower say he is dumber than George W. Bush. Perry's college grades were in the C's and D's.

Despite the horrible mess that two terms of George W. Bush left us, with two wars and The Bush Depression, President Obama looks like the only adult in the room.
The Republifuks are intentionally tanking the economy by blocking job-creating legislation. Their only hope is to make stuff so bad for Obama that people will be desperate for a different type of charismatic leader to sweep them away.
So the Reich will get even crazier to rally the knaves in the hustings.

Bachmann is a nobody. She's Sarah Palin with a law degree from Oral Roberts University. But Perry is a re-packaged George W. Bush with better hair. Believe it or not, there are gullible folks out there that long for the day of vacuous Texan swagger.
Republicans like 'em pretty and dumb.
But Perry has a lot of skeletons in his "closet". Get ready for the exposes' and backlash.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad Kung Fu Series #3: Mind Over Matter - Higher Martial Arts

Mind Over Matter - Higher Martial Arts by Shi Ming

Well, I have to say I had high hopes for this book.
If you, like me, look for "concept books" over "technical books" this book has the appeal of deep thinking and experimental physiology.
But in the end, it is a continuum of verbose wordiness and partly related ideas. Every page or so there is a clever notion that pops out, but taken as a whole I had to labor through this short book.
Hey, I'm a pretty smart boy. This book wasn't over my head. It's more like a long run-on sentence that seems to present the same concepts in different ways. The translation from Chinese is by Thomas Cleary, who usually provides good text, so I don't necessarily think the re-write went wrong.
Author Shi Ming can be found in YouTube clips demonstrating "empty force" Chi-type techniques on his cadre of willing students, not very convincingly.

Here's a quote from the book to give you an idea where the author is going:

"Martial arts are a total format combining nature, society, and human life, a system with many levels of effective capacity as well as a holistic essence and potential. The purpose of refinement of consciousness through martial arts is to develop the latent abilities of the human body and brain, to cultivate supranormal capacities in the human body and supranormal levels of consciousness."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bad Kung Fu Series #2: An Obese White Gentleman in No Apparent Distress

In our continuing series on "Bad Kung Fu" (relating to any bad martial art book) we take a quick look at "An Obese White Gentleman in No Apparent Distress" by Riki Moss.
The book is an attempt at something that should probably never be done; a novel that mixes the life of a real person with fiction.
The target of this misplaced effort is the fascinating and enigmatic Aikido master Terry Dobson. Dobson's lover, Riki Moss penned a grief-stricken tale of the aging Dobson as he battles illness, waxes nostalgically about his dysfunctional upbringing and his time spent in Japan learning Aikido from it's founder, Morihei Ueshiba.
Moss writes in the voice of a distressed lover that can't quite get a rope around Dobson's neck. This is a shame, because Dobson is a larger-than-life character that plows through life smoking weed and womanizing, something that a few of us can relate to.
Looking at Dobson's Wikipedia page I see there are other biographies of Dobson available which may depict a more complete history. But in this case, Riki Moss presents her case as that of a jilted lover, one that can never fully own her man - in part because Dobson is still trying to discover himself.

I am sorry to say that I just couldn't finish the book.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Canadians Struggle With Self-Defense Issues

David Chen tied up a shoplifter

Canadians are facing legal issues regarding self-defense in these changing times-
From The Montreal Gazette:

TORONTO — A Toronto man escorting his girlfriend to her home Sunday night discovered signs of entry to her house and, fearing for the woman's mother sleeping inside, searched for intruders. A man was found hiding, Toronto police said. An ensuing struggle left the intruder bleeding from stab wounds.
As frightening as the incident was, it is the charging of the boyfriend with aggravated assault, punishable by 14 years in prison, that makes the case stand out in a clutter of urban crime.
It is the latest flashpoint in the debate over self-defence and protection of property after a number of high-profile cases across Canada brought a clamour for clarity and change.
"The man was charged because it is alleged the stabbing was excessive," said Const. Tony Vella. "It is alleged that he stabbed the man a number of times. He's fortunate to be alive."
Key to the case is that the multiple stab wounds were inflicted both inside the home and outside, Vella said, suggesting the occupants might have been able to close the door once he was outside and call police.
Recent self-defence cases have not gone well for prosecutors.
Last month, Lawrence Manzer, of Burton, N.B., had a mistrial declared in charges stemming from a confrontation with intruders on his neighbour's property. Sloppy paperwork was cited as the reason.
The same month Kim Walker, a Yorkton, Sask., welder, was sentenced to eight years after a jury declined to find him guilty of murder for killing his daughter's boyfriend whom he deemed to be destroying his drug-addicted 16-year-old daughter. He was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
In May, Joseph Singleton, 46, a farmer in Taber, Alta., had his charges — for assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm, after he wounded a man who had just burgled his house with the blunt end of a hatchet — referred to an alternative measures program.
In March, prosecutors dropped gun charges against Ian Thomson, 53, of Port Colborne, Ont., who shot at three masked men caught firebombing his home while one yelled: "Are you ready to die?" The Crown said there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.
And last October, David Chen, a Toronto grocer in Chinatown became a celebrity when he was acquitted of charges after he tied up a repeat shoplifter in a citizen's arrest.
"The courts have repeatedly said the self-defence sections of the Criminal Code are incredibly complicated. The provisions are really complex and are in need of an overhaul to simplify them,"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bad Kung Fu Series #1: Tim Tackett Hsing-i Kung Fu

Here at Dojo Rat, we've had a chance to post reviews of some very high quality martial arts books. Most of the ones that don't quite rate I have avoided reviewing out of respect for the author and publisher.
But that's changing.
Sometimes you pick up a martial arts book and it leaves you scratching your head and going "huh"?
So I'm going to go ahead and review a few books which I will put under the "Bad Kung Fu" banner, regardless of what type of martial art it is.
Today we look at Tim Tackett's 1982 book "Hsing-i Kung Fu, Volume 2: Combat".

To begin with, it's pretty hard to find any literature about the traditional Chinese art of Hsing-i (Xingyi), so I was pretty excited to find this at a used book store. Because it is obviously out of print, I have not gotten a copy of volume one yet.

Tackett trained in Taiwan from '62-'65 and went on to train with Dan Inosanto in Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do method. That's important, because one of the main problems with this book is is not Hsing-i (Xingyi) at all.
None of the nomenclature of the traditional art, the stances, the Five Elements or animal forms are shown.
Most of the postures resemble bad Wing Chun stances and techniques. By that I mean weak, high center-of-gravity stances that are anything but Hsing-i. The punching has that typical off-balence rear-foot tip-toe front leg weighted off-line punching that looks like a grappler could just shove the guy over.
This is a great disservice to what I know off all the Chinese internal arts, let alone Hsing-i.
To his credit, Tackett attributes these modified stances and techniques to his instructor Chen Mei Shou:

"From the basic, formal positions, he encourages whatever modifications that assisted the hand movements and added speed and power to their delivery. Such modifications included transferring the weight to the lead foot to assist the forward motion of a strike, angling the body for better power and accuracy and pivoting one or both feet to "launch" the hands".

To which I say; fine, then the book should have been called "Wing Chun".

But, even a blind pig can find an acorn. I still found the book interesting if somewhat confusing. I suppose in 1982 Tackett was becoming enthused with Jeet Kune Do and wove such details into an art he had been practicing for some twenty years.
Despite being a sad disappointment to traditional practitioners, the book retains value as a period piece in the era of evolving American martial arts.
I'll probably look around to see if I can find a used copy of volume one to see how he presents the basics.

By the way, Tim is still around, giving seminars and working with small groups in California.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cute Hippie Chick of the Month: Asian Girls!

Worried about the Debt Ceiling deal?
Watching the market or your 401k?
We've got a little breathing room now, so...
-All across America, dare I say the globe, fellow Dojo Rats check in today to find the inevitable:
Cute Asian Girls; Finally!