Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jan 31st 2015

If you are in the Bay Area ...
This Saturday, 4 - 6pm ish.
Book reading/discussion/Q and A on 'The Liar the Cheat and the Thief' + play, at Soja Martial Arts in Oakland's lovely uptown. Snacks after.
Check in the 'Events' section :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Money Corrupts ....?

Friend Andy just shared this clip:

I have seen this too and thought the same, but here's a couple added subtleties that I think need adding to the equation.

An old teacher of mine once said you should only study martial arts from a teacher who does not have a side job. What I think he meant was that you want someone to teach you who is serious and has put the time and effort needed into their practice to indeed be worthy as a teacher.

But here's the thing. I have found, and this is not limited to martial arts but many other artistic fields also, that if your livelihood is purely dependent on this income, on some level you lose your independence when you attach money to art. At the harshest level, you are prostituting yourself to the whims and wants of your clientele so you can keep them coming back and paying you.

An artist friend of mine told me once that if she wanted to earn more money, she'd just paint cats and dogs, because they are a guaranteed sale. To paint what she really wants, she has to make a conscious decision to risk NOT making that money.

You might say, well why not paint what people want? But I suspect you know that this road leads only to generic reproduction with no room for confrontational or innovative art. Substitute 'Martial Artist' for 'Fine Artist' and you might also be able to see how corrosive this path might be - Teachers only teaching 'feel good' material, and stringing their students along as far as possible with promises of the 'secret stuff' to come.

I believe this is why those that say connecting money to art is a bad thing.

BUT .......

They are missing what is probably the biggest point in this whole thing:


I'll say it again


If I have spent years and years of time and effort to understand what I know and I'm good at it, why should I give it to you?

What is YOUR part in all this? What is the student's role?

See, the student also has a responsibility. Just as I feel I have a responsibility to pass on what I know, the student has a responsibility to value the teacher. To be happy to help them financially, as well as put in their own time and effort to gain the knowledge they are being given.

Really it is the student's job to OFFER to pay for the teacher's time, no? Not the teacher's job to ask for it. Where did that get lost?

It is also the student's responsibility to value the knowledge, separate from valuing the teacher. This knowledge may well be arcane, and it will not help with fixing the leak in your bathroom, but it is part of the human experience, a very old and deep aspect of it. It should have it's place beside all the other skills and fields of study that help us connect with being alive on this planet.

So think on this, and remember, respect and responsibility go both ways. If that's not clear, just ask yourself - Why would this teacher spend they valuable time teaching me? Why would they want to give me what they spent so many years of effort to learn?

And, no, the answer is not just 'money', but it's also not just 'because they should', or 'because I'm a nice person'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Feet on the Ground

Was playing some Sikaran (footsie) flow with R the other morning.

R is very good. One thing that he's really good at doing is being able to move on the balls of his feet. What this gives him is the ability to do more things than if his foot was flat on the floor, a really cool one being he can change the angle of the heel to evade and/or counter a foot trap/leg 'bar'. His pivot and drop at the moment of contact is very effective.

Basically he SHEARS the angle (using the same point of contact but utilizing a direction that favors him) with this new angle, he can put his heel down and take your balance instead of you taking his.

Of course on can also use the heel as a pivot and connect the knee to either as a one-two hit depending on if the range opens or closes. Sonny played mostly on the balls of his feet but used both pivots.

What articulating the ball/heel and foot/knee gives you is leverage. You come to see the arcs as well as the straight lines (both away from you and towards you) which you can use for power generation and the ability to string multiple hits together.

I think I already wrote about how Sonny vary rarely used his first contact as the final hit ... I mean if a single attack line was there, sure, he'd use it, but usually he was fighting out of his weight range and needed to off balance before striking for the greatest effect.

Not being flat footed takes training because we all have a tendency to plant ourselves when we fight. I'm sure this is partly to do with a freeze response, it also feels more powerful. However, it is not so good for evasion, countering, drawing, or reversing attacks which are all great skills for smaller people, and if you are around swords.

Here's a good way to start getting light on your feet (If you are not interested in what you should wear to look good during your practice, start at 3mins 15):

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Age and Training (Ryron and Rener Gracie)

Here is a half hour video I recommend everyone should take the time to watch.

It's Ryron and Rener Gracie sharing some wisdom. Not only is their advice good, but the fact that they came up with the question in the first place is to be applauded.

Why do people give up training? Who is it that gives up? When do they tend to do it? What's going on?

Of course for many people, martial arts do not become an important part of life. Training does not develop into a passion nor do they maintain a curiosity over time about this fascinating subject. But even for those that find the commitment and consistency to train to a high level often give up at a certain point too.

I know personally, that I HAVE to keep moving. My body feels better, and my mind is clearer. My brain is engaged and is more creative when I am training, and the constancy of the training itself is like a meditation, a calm foundation perhaps, for the ups and downs of life. I want to keep doing it, and lucky for me, my chosen arts make this physically pretty easy to do even into an advanced age. BJJ is much harder on the body, but still, it turns out it's the mindset that is the key. What a surprise :-)

Anyway, these 2 guys, still young, still at their peak, have thought deep and come to some major realizations. Good for them.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Bagua and Stuff

2015 Yizong Bagua and Hsing-Yi class starts next week on the 13th.

Twice weekly 7.30am to 8.30am at Suigetsukan in Oakland.

First 3 month session will focus on circle walking and how to use this solo practice in different ways - For meditation, body alignment, balance, and identifying what is 'stuck'. For working with motion and momentum to create power, and for those at a higher level how to play with form and lose form altogether.

The following 3 months will either be Hsing-Yi animal forms or maybe Bagua line forms with applications. Yet to be decided.

Just FYI, I am only teaching Eskrima in private sessions right now, and in workshops. It works best that way. Feel free to contact me at if you are interested.