7 Virtues of Bushido


7 virtues

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ULTIMATE Defeat the Darkness


Ultimate Defeat the Darkness

A Long Week


I have not been posting for a while. Many of you already know if you have been watching my personal Facebook page, my wife of 18 years passed away last Sunday, May 19th at 11:45 am after a very short battle with cancer.

My emotions have ran an entire spectrum and my energies have been scattered for three weeks now as we battled through hospital stays and radiation treatments.

We had her ceremony yesterday and the outpouring of support brought me to tears. The church was completely full of family and friends of the family wishing to celebrate the life of “Mrs Sensei”.

Hopefully this coming week I am going to get things back to “normal” at the dojo.

 

Shame On You


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In a lot of ways this is difficult, even painful, for me to write, I have never liked “throwing anyone under the bus” but if you know me, you know I can NOT stand McDojos or snake oil salesmen. I was actually writing an article on the history of the obi, the karate belt, and got tired of thinking and started surfing the web for films of self-defense techniques. At one point I went to Google and typed in “fight like a girl self -defense techniques”. This link came up about third down the line.

What I saw in this deeply disturbed me. Here we have a black belt in Gracie Brazilian Jujitsu teaching children self-defense using his daughters to perform the techniques. I had heard that these same sort of techniques were being taught here around town in some of the schools and it bothered me just hearing parents and kids describe them to me.

I honestly don’t know if these techniques are authorized Fight Like a Girl moves or not but they are certainly using the name on the video. Here’s the newsflash for you:

THEY DON’T WORK!

With the exception of one technique where the guy picks the child up from behind and she starts kicking him, they are worthless. The ending of that technique is fundamentally wrong as well. Whoever created these moves has absolutely no understanding of either body mechanics or insight as to how a predator attacks. I know. I, wanting to at least give it a chance, went to the dojo and worked with several students of different ages, sizes, and degrees of body strength. Not even adults could get the first couple to work. I can’t understand for the life of me why a black belt in a grappling art would waste his time putting these out there.

Let’s walk through the video and I will explain.

0:19

I will start here because this is basically a repeat of the first 18 or so seconds at a different angle.
First of all, pause at 0:22 seconds. Notice the position of the attacker’s body. His arms are outstretched and locked. His hands around the girl’s neck. This shows the attack has just begun. The attacker is attempting to subdue the victim. THAT is what his attention is on. Now, note his body position. He is between the girl’s legs. In most cases a sexual predator will NOT move into this position until he has already gotten his prey under control. (Although, believe it or not, it does make the escape easier). He will straddle his victim to further control their body.

0:23

The girl moves her arms across the attacker’s arms, pulls down, and breaks the choke hold. Notice also at exactly 0:24 he opens his hands thus releasing the hold. NOT! If you are on top of someone attempting to choke them your arms are locked and the majority of your body weight is pushing down. A weaker smaller person will not be able to break the hold in such a manner as depicted on the film. After at least 10 attempts to mimic this move in our dojo with unsuspecting victims, none of them worked. Quite simply the child is trying to use muscle instead of any kind of technique to break the hold. Coming from under the attacker’s arms with both hands to the elbows would probably work better. Then again, turning her head and biting a hunk out of his hand would be more efficient.

Back to the attacker releasing the hold: once someone has you in a position like this, maintaining the hold they already have on you is imperative to them. That is why deceptive moves like going for the eyes or groin will augment a technique and cause it to work…it takes the attackers mind OFF of the primary hold. In this case, the attacker simply releases his hold without attempting in any way whatsoever to regain it, thus regaining control.

0:24

The girl simply wiggles her way out. The attacker doesn’t attempt to regain any kind of control whatsoever. (Dad just lets her go). She kicks him a few times in the chest (no effect if the attacker is a large person). The only redeeming factor is that she finally kicks him in the face, rolls away, and escapes (although with no sense of urgency at all).

0:35

This is so ridiculous I’m not going to even waste a lot of time on it. Sure enough, last time I saw a larger person attack a smaller weaker one they got right down on their knees and tried to choke them. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that it seems to be a re-occurring theme in a lot of these techniques for the child to LAY DOWN on the floor and start kicking. Gee, that puts them right back in the situation we saw at 0:19, aka…JUST where a sexual predator wants you!

0:50

Probably the best idea of the bunch. The attacker grabs from behind and the girl starts kicking him until he lets go of her. This is a good sound move UNTIL the attacker releases her and we, instead of getting away immediately, go right back to laying down on the floor and kicking.

1:21

Another one I can’t figure out why a Jujitsu guy would even entertain teaching. I am a Nidan in Japanese jusitsu. An adage my Sensei pounded into my head over and over again was “If they push, you pull. If they pull, you push”. By following this you take away the attackers strength and basically turn his power against him. I teach my students in such an attack to either move into their attacker with an offensive move or attack his hand as he pulls you. Once again, we find our young heroine on her back on the floor kicking.

Anyone who is out there teaching these things, especially if you have training and know better, should be ashamed. Why are you passing on to children of all people, worthless techniques that don’t work, make no sense, and place them in more danger?

Here are some tips if you are really attacked.

Do NOT lie down! Prone on your back is the LAST place you want to be.

The face is almost ALWAYS open. Punch it, scratch it, hurt it going for the eyes.

There is NO SUCH THING as a “fair fight” when you are attacked. Bottom line: you walk away or you get carried away.

When you get the chance…RUN! Don’t “pretend” to run. Don’t half-way run. R-U-N!! Get away. Get to help!

Health Benefits: Karate Has Them

April 9, 2013 2 comments

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The following is taken from our flyer for adult karate lessons

Karate is a fantastic fitness alternative for men, women and children of all ages. The great thing about martial arts is that it’s a departure from the gym or average aerobic class. Like any physical activity, mixing up your routine with something fresh and fun can give you a boost in reaching your fitness goals. This is especially true for individuals that may be experiencing a plateau in their goal cycle.

Karate is one of the most effective weight-loss activities around. It offers a full-body workout by employing movements that exercise all major muscle groups, as well as incorporate balance and dexterity. Using punching, kicking and fight stances, individuals work their arms, legs, glutes and core through an activity that is challenging and fun at the same time. Despite karate stereotypes, it is not strictly about fighting techniques. It’s about improving fitness levels, self-discipline and overall health.

The Winning Number

So the big question is how many calories does an hour’s worth of martial arts burn? Quite a lot actually. An average 145 pound person engaging in one hour’s worth of martial arts can expect to burn approximately 870 calories. In order to burn the same amount, a runner of the same weight would need to run an 8 minute mile for 60 minutes or bicycle at 14 miles per hour for 90 minutes. Comparatively, martial arts is a hot calorie burner.

Physical Benefits include
Improved reflexes and coordination
Increased performance in all physical activities
Increased strength and stamina so you feel great all day
Increased flexibility and weight control for better overall fitness
Cardiovascular workouts ( heart and lungs ) to keep you in top shape
Greatly improved balance
Ability to defend yourself

Mental Benefits include:
Improved concentration for better work and study habits
Stress reduction and the ability to relax
Confidence in knowing you can defend yourself and your family
Confidence in knowing how to deal with bullies and other confrontations
A positive attitude toward life through self-confidence and self-discipline
Self-esteem and your outlook on life
Respect for yourself and those around you
Motivation and an ‘I Can Do It’ attitude

You’re Doing It All Wrong

April 8, 2013 2 comments

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The dojo completed our Defeat the Darkness benefit for Family Crisis Services last Saturday standing against Domestic Violence, sexual assault and abuse. At the end of a very long day I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. We raised approximately $600.00 toward ending Domestic Violence in our community.

I learned a lot that day. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that all though some people are apathetic to the plague of violence that is rampant in our nation today, there is a host of others that are caring and concerned about the people around them that are suffering silently.

The speakers left an ever-lasting impression on me and I hope to the audience in attendance. These people, many of them volunteers, touched my heart and soul. I even found the courage to tell my own tale and all of it brought tears to my eyes at times.

There are some that turn a blind eye to the subject. There are those who want to help in the beginning, find out what a task, a battle, there is in front of them and back away. Although I understand this aspect of their thought pattern, I wish these people would at least be honest to the public and the victims.

One person related a story to me of a group who went full throttle into helping with the problem. These good-hearted, community-oriented people were great in the beginning. Then at the end of a past Take Back the Night Walk when everyone had gathered in the park (there’s a nice photo and article on this in the archives of this blog) people were allowed to stand up and speak openly. Some people publicly announced they were taking a stand against abuse. Others found a voice and told their own stories of how they had been abused.

This “community- oriented” group and its’ leaders were offended by one or two of the stories that were told. They found the outpouring of emotion and sometimes grief from these people too graphic and offensive. In what I can only consider their self-righteousness they chose to pull out and no longer support the move.

Are you crazy?

Want graphic? How about this…if you have a deep wound and you rip the scab off of that wound, it’s going to bleed! If you have a diverse group of people gathered together on the subject of Domestic Violence and abuse, emotions are going to rise to the surface because the thin veil that is holding back all of that pent up anguish is going to be torn away. This is the real world not some sanitary environment you have created where the boogie man lives outside somewhere. The boogie man lives right next door to you. He may be hiding in your own home. Real life is not a fairy tale where stories of dragons and monsters are told. We don’t live in the Middle Ages where priests told stories of demons and monsters living “out there” in the forests and had rituals and magics which would get rid of them which were never really used because at the end of the day no one had actually saw a monster. This is the 21st century. We have our own dragons and monsters and they are real. We really see them every single day when we watch the news or read the paper.

If you are out there, especially those of you who teach martial arts, and you have this kind of mind set, you need to wake up! The monsters are real. Violence is real. Abuse is real. People come to you in order to learn to defend themselves. Some of these people have experienced violence. They have been attacked or know someone close to them who has. They have met the monster. They have shook hands with the Devil. They are looking to you for help. For you to sit in your little make believe world and refuse to accept that is wrong. For you to teach people self-defense methods and techniques that you’re not even sure will work in real-life is wrong. Most of all and most important, for you to be angry or offended at a person for opening their heart is wrong! Don’t get angry or offended at the victim for opening up. Get angry at the crime. Get angry at the suffering! Get offended at the fact that we see this every single day an treat it like it’s “just life”. Or even worse, we ignore it completely.

In other words: You’re doing it wrong and your heart is in the wrong place. What is even worse is that in your pious indignation you are hurting the very people you claim to want to help.

Take your blinders off. Stop thinking about your reputation and your desire to make money for a moment and realize that you have intentionally put yourself in a position of authority and knowledge. People look to you for guidance. They look to you for advice. In a lot of very deep and personal ways, they look to you for compassion and understanding. If you’re going to place yourself in a position to help people then do it. If you don’t have the talent, knowledge, or courage to see it through then stop dancing around the thing. In the end you will get someone hurt either physically or emotionally.

I’m not a professional counselor. I have no degree. I do not want people to look at me in that manner. However I want to help. I am committed to help. In that commitment I have made connections with people who are professionals. I am set up so that if anyone comes to me and needs help I can direct them to people who can help them.

I suppose you could say I am a “professional” martial artist although I hate to use that term. I am trained and I have real-world experience with violence. I can, in that capacity, teach people how to defend themselves. Although I do attempt to increase my knowledge and continue to learn, I have no need for outside self-defense programs, catering to women or otherwise, to augment my teachings, line my wallet, or fatten my bank account. In that aspect I can confidently contribute to ending violence. I’m not a savior. I’m not even, in my mind, a leader in this fight. The volunteers that man those phones 24/7, the people who put victims up in safe houses, the staff who counsel and advocate for the abused, those are the leaders and heroes in this fight. I’m just a voice. I’m just a single pair of hands that are outstretched to try to help. I am a simple Sensei who refuses to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to what is going on. I have seen enough real violence in my life that I am not so thin skinned that I would turn my back on anyone simply because I felt “offended”. If you are one of these people yet you have set yourself up to be a champion for the cause; You’re doing it all wrong! And I have to wonder what else you claim to be or take up a cause for that you will simply walk away from because you find something offensive or something doesn’t fit into the nice little box of your life.

Declaring War on the Monster

February 28, 2013 4 comments

One thing I have hoped since I began this blog is that it would educate and inform others. If not that, I had hoped it would at least entertain people to some degree. One thing I have noticed is that more often times than not it educates me. At least it makes me think.

My last article was on Domestic Violence. I thought that it was time to begin looking at the subject and getting feedback from others. As I began actually researching the subject even more some of the things I wrote about, and some I didn’t, sickened me.

It seems that not a day goes by that I don’t open a newspaper or turn on the evening news and am bombarded by horrible stories of violence and Domestic Violence. You notice I capitalize the words. That’s because Domestic Violence has become almost a living breathing thing in my mind. An evil thing.

It’s not that I have just discovered it. Neither have you. It isn’t that it just became an important issue. It always has been. Has it grown in intensity? Yes, I believe it has. Yet even noticing that growth is not the reason it has suddenly came to the forefront of my mind I don’t think. I saw it when I was very young. It is one of my earliest childhood memories. I think it has probably lurked in the back of my mind all of my life like a silent ghost.

The thing that I think brought it forward in my life was a story in the news from Colorado Springs a few weeks ago. A man, I hesitate to call him a “Father”, murdered his two children then took off on his motorcycle. He wrecked the bike and killed himself only a few miles from his home.

How many of these stories do we hear every single day? Often times there are more than one or two stories in the same news broadcast. We listen to them. See them. Absorb them. Then we go on with our lives. I have been just as guilty of it as anyone. Finally I threw my hands in the air and asked WHY???? Have we gotten to the point that we are so desensitized to it that it’s “Just life”?

I haven’t.

I have seen a lot in my life. Looking back I think I have actually sought out violence in a weird round-about way. Twenty-four years in Corrections is pretty much putting yourself right in the middle of violence. I know it, have embraced it, have walked hand-in-hand with it. I would say that I have been, because of that life experience, pretty much as numb to it as anyone else could be. Some would say that gives me an advantage. I suppose in a lot of ways it does. But I have come to the point that I will not be as numb as the average person because of it.

Several years ago the dojo began supporting Family Crisis Services here. This organization is simply one of the most wonderful ones I have ever seen. The people there, many of them volunteers, selflessly give of themselves to assist the victims of Domestic Violence, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. They provide training and education to schools, churches, community organizations, and first responders. They offer a hotline 24/7. They also provide a Safe House for victims and are advocates to them as well even going as far as assisting the victims with restraining orders. They help victims develop safety plans for themselves and their children. There are several other faucets in which they act on behalf of those who cannot help themselves. And everything they do is confidential.

One of the things Family Crisis Services is very involved in is the Take Back the Night Walk to raise awareness on Domestic Violence. Several years ago I developed my Defeat the Darkness Women’s Self-Defense classes and seminars to compliment and work in adjacency with Take Back the Night. Even though the program has been a marvelous success I decided it simply was not enough.

This year Defeat the Darkness has taken on a whole new persona. I have decided to do an all-day event including martial arts demonstrations, guest speakers, and the self-defense program. We intend to collect donations for Family Crisis Services and do everything possible to raise awareness and educate the community.

Since I began working on the event I cannot believe the outpouring of support from the community. I can find fellow martial artists to demos at the drop of a hat. That’s no problem for me. The things I thought would be difficult are turning out not to be as much work as I thought. Within one afternoon I had three guest speakers lined up with the possibility of several others. I wanted door prizes and thought getting people to sponsor the event would be problematic. I had seven sponsors within 45 minutes today. I’m not bragging. I feel lucky and very blessed.

I hope this will be only the beginning. As hokey as it sounds, I feel like I am launching a war on a monster. It is a war I am willing to fight but I fully understand it is not one I can wage alone.

I am adding a link to an article one of our local publications printed (including in it a very nice photo of some of my students working out) on the dojo and the subject.

http://www.canoncurrent.com/category/news/karate-school-fights-to-serve-community/

I urge you, please, stop taking the problem of Domestic Violence with a shrug. Get out in your community. Take action. Make a stand. You can make a difference in people’s lives.