Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Strange and Rat's Excellent Adventure

A Couple of Ugly Mugs

Hell, I knew I was in for it.
He's bigger than me.
He's about 16 years younger than me.
He's a Texan.
He's a 5th Dan and practices Judo and Aikido.
He's capable of holding large quantities of alcohol quite well.
Oh, and I forgot to mention he's a magician.

Yes, He is often known as "Sensei Strange" at The Dragons Orb Website.

Strange and Rat have been long-distance friends for a while. We have traded compliments and barbs and like many of us on martial websites, we became friends.
Strange (His parents call him Eric) is on the journey of the warrior. Much like a hero in an ancient epic quest, Strange is wandering from Texas, through Oklahoma and to the far outskirts of the Dojo Rat Empire on a remote island on the Canadian border. He is hitting Dojo training on the way everywhere.

So Strange has been on this tour of drinking engagements disguised as martial arts seminars.
That works for me. When he showed up the first night, we had a nice mellow BBQ party which included a bunch of old people as well as a few local drinkers. We filled the Saloon and played into the wee hours.

Strange admitted to me that he was on a mission.
Agents deep within the New Confederacy had sent him up here to take me out.
Apparently, they were pissed off at me mocking Chuck Norris and that I had coined the term "Republifucks" to describe over-the-line so-called "Conservatives".
It seems they were truly pissed off.
Would he have warned me if he was going to kill me?
So I developed a strategy; Take Strange to a sauna /hot tub facility where there were naked hippie chicks.
Great distraction. Worked for a while.
There was only one tense moment where he looped his "Scarf of Death" around my neck from behind. Thankfully, it was a failed assassination attempt.
But for all you conservative guys who consider yourself in the "Republifuck" category, I got the message.
My next plan was to keep him intoxicated.

We toured our secret location and did about an hour of push-hands / kazushi unbalancing on the waterfront at the grounds of an expensive historic resort without getting arrested or kicked out by the staff. I only got knocked down once.
Strange, aside from his youth and size is a superior practitioner. I mentioned he is a magician, and I truly think that has a lot to do with his skill development.
He has the ability to think in non-linear ways in all respects. His push hands are unorthodox due to his Judo/Aikido training. This was great for me. We ran about an hour of standing grappling at the waterfront and then retreated for the comfort of our local Tavern.

It was late afternoon and we drank, snacked and then went back to my Saloon for more food, drinking and training.
Strange clearly outfights me in the clinch due to his judo skills. Our grappling range practice began to include leg traps and punching. I felt the only way I could keep my game going was with some controlled hitting, very soft and changing angles but keeping him off grappling range.

We had a fantastic sparring session and after that everyone moved inside to drink in the Saloon and go through Knife stripping techniques.

Random drunk friend training with Strange

I am proud to have connected with a true friend and Martial Brother. He had traveled a long,long way to reach our little island and play.
This is the beauty and wonder of our interaction with others on the intertubenetwebs.
We had a wonderful martial and drinking visit, and I hope for many more;

Thanks Strange!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When You Own Your Form

The video above is of our resident Tai Chi Chuan master, T.Y. Pang performing some freestyle Tai Chi and Bagua.
Experienced Yang Tai Chi stylists will recognize he is way off script, and loving it.

Back in the late 1990's our group was fazing out of hard-style Karate and into the softer arts. This is a natural progression for seasoned martial artists, regardless of style. Of course, it takes years to achieve.

When I started learning Tai Chi Chuan, I was still looking through the prism of Karate eyes. The movements appeared martial, but confusing and I sought application in every move. That can be frustrating with the differences between Karate and Tai Chi being so extreme.

So the process is to just run the damned form. Over and over, thousands of times.
What helped me is something that was never allowed in traditional Chinese arts; train with other masters. In my case it was in the sister arts of Tai Chi which are Xingyi and Bagua. I was fortunate to have attended seminars with people that can actually fight, such as Tim Cartmell and his students.

Gradually, I understood the purpose of the movements and applications. One art informed the other and I saw huge similarities as well as subtle differences.

In Pangs form performance above, he has abandoned the structure of the form, and that is the ultimate goal.
The form eventually becomes your manifestation of art.
Inside your head you have all the applications. You have the imprinting, the muscle memory.
Now you are ready for the Zen experience that the form provides;
You "own" the form, it is yours.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Milling About" at Dojo Rat Headquarters

"Hey DR; Why have you not been flooding us with fresh, new martial arts posts lately???"

Well, there are multiple reasons.
The first being that I am trying to secure Dojo Rat Headquarters for the upcoming winter. that means cutting at least three cords of firewood.
No problem, I have all these logs:

But wait; there's more!
We're also building a farm house and that requires big beams and planks and custom lumber. so we brought in my friends mill:

So we made big pieces into little pieces:

Some of these beams were 6x12x16 feet long. They took five guys to move them.

And here is some of the very nice live-edge Maple that will be for some nice custom features:

So fair warning; readers will have to slog through the long building process as we develop the farm at our undisclosed secret island hideout.
The Dojo Rat Blog is taking yet another left turn and hang on for the ride.

Look; you got the aging DR, scrambling to build the farm while the old body can still pound it out.
You got a huge political election that we will be ranting about soon.
And you still have some cool martial arts going on.

But as we tinker under the hood and keep this fucker on the road, some new and interesting stuff may show up.
Get ready for some building projects, music projects and writing projects coming your way soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ridin' The Dog

There is nothing that levels the cultural playing field as much as these two things:

1. "Airing" your dirty laundry at a laundromat
2. Riding a Greyhound Bus.

I've only had the pleasure of two such Greyhound trips.
The first, in the early 80's, I rode down from Portland to Modesto California. From there I hitchhiked south to Delhi to try and find a girlfriend who wanted to get back to Portland. On the trip I took a small backpack with a few essentials. I never let it out of my sight, and one of the passengers accused me of being a drug mule.
After hitching to Delhi I walked aimlessly around town until I found my girlfriends house, mission accomplished.

The next trip was when I had first moved up to our current undisclosed island hideout and had to get back to Portland to bring back a pickup truck.
I walked on to the Ferry Boat, took three county busses and made it to the Greyhound station right as the bus for Portland was departing.
Of course, they call these rides "The milk run".
The damned bus stops at every Podunk whistle-stop on the way, and it drags on and on.

As it turns out, I had a two-hour lay-over in Seattle, and the bus station is in your typical run-down concrete hellhole.
Two fucking hours...
So I walked out and saw three baggage handlers laughing and chatting. Appearing as the Little Country Mouse, I approached them and asked where a guy could get a decent sandwich and a Beer.
The one woman on the crew faced me and sternly cautioned that nobody who was drinking alcohol would be allowed on the bus, so she couldn't tell me where to find a Tavern or Bar.
But the very helpful man that was working with her pulled me over to him and told me with great confidence to go out the gate and take a right. He said go down two blocks and on the right is the place I was looking for. He even said "Go to the side door; they'll take care of you".
Well, I thanked him for the information, and left the gate as they all laughed their asses off in the noisy background.

So I'm walking down a dirty urban street past the station- back pack, boots, and flannel. Sure enough there's a Bar right where the guy said it would be. But something was a little off...
As I stood outside thinking about a cold Beer, a street person approached me like the typical "mark" that I was. I clearly established distance from the guy as he was up to no good.

"Hey man, wanna smoke some weed?"
"Back-off Dude"
"Whatcha doing standing outside this Bar?"
"The guy at the Greyhound station said I could get a Beer and a sandwich here"

"Ha-ha-ha-ha! He told you that? Man, this is a Gay Bar!"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th: Individual Freedom or Free Individuals?

Readers of The Dojo Rat Blog probably know this is my favorite statement for "Independence Day".
The point being; people who squak the most about "individual freedom" are becoming the most controlling authoritarians in our present-day society.
Think Religious Conservatives (of every stripe).
"Free Market" Capitalists.
Folks obsessed with stockpiling huge amounts of guns.
Charter school and "privatization" fanatics.

Need I say more?
Enjoy this clip from "Easy Rider":