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The thoughts and viewpoints on this blog are my own and represent my skeptical, critical-thinking approach to martial arts, combative training, film, the field of cognitive science, and random subjects.
Updated: 3 hours 39 min ago


Sat, 2014-08-16 16:19

“Here in the light a lazy mist is lifting
And the sands of time are slowly shifting"

Out of the Darkness, David Crosby-Graham Nash

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Aldous Huxley

I have lived in or near the so-called 'Bible Belt' of the Southern part of the United States for most of my life.  Those sweet people who live down in the South are real generous folks.  They share just about everything down there--potato salad, pecan pie, sweet iced tea, and their faith in a fire-and-brimstone Old Testament God and His love-and-joy New Testament Son.  It is not an uncommon experience for me as I travel the South to meet believers who feel obliged to witness to me.  When they discover that I am an atheist they will often intensify their efforts and ratchet up their rhetoric.  For some odd reason they will often become quite angry.

What they don't know, and what they don't bother to ask about, is that for a time in my youth I was involved with, and in fact that I was a leader in a national religious organization which taught what was referred to as 'THE TRUTH.'  

This interdenominational organization sought to convert college and high school students to its fresh brand of fundamentalist Christianity during a time of political unrest and uncertainty.  

It was a time when student anti-war demonstrations were an everyday occurrence, when people were still dying for the cause of equality, and when the white, conservative establishment had no clue about the emerging views and values of a diverse and dissatisfied counter culture. 

Bumping Up Against Science

In those days I was indoctrinated to believe that science was evil and that faith was good; that science was a lie, but that the gospel was the truth.  

This organization trained me and motivated me and encouraged me to go out and approach perfect strangers with a simple faith-based solution to all of their life's problems.  They expected me to talk to others about their sadness, and loneliness, and emptiness, and despair.  Should a scientific, rational objection--'resistance' we liked to call it--rear its ugly head, we were taught insurance-salesman-type techniques to negate and overcome resistance and to 'close the deal' of winning hearts and minds to what I now recognize as a mythology.

Desperate Times
The youth culture of the Sixties had witnessed the horrifying assassinations of a beloved president, a deeply respected and inspirational civil rights leader, and the president's brother, a voice for freedom and justice.  They had seen the bigotry and the terrible brutality of racially motivated church bombings, one of which took the lives of four innocent young girls in Alabama.  They had watched flailing nightsticks used against protestors at the Chicago Democratic National Convention.  They saw the Cuban missile standoff and the steady proliferation of nuclear warheads, bringing the symbolic Doomsday Clock mere minutes away from what could be a very real total annihilation.  

They watched shocking images on the nightly news of the tragic war in Southeast Asia, they knew about the murders of peaceful demonstrators by members of the National Guard at the campus of Kent State, and they were aware of the corruption of senior government officials in the Watergate conspiracy.

The Jesus Movement

Amidst all of this upheaval the "Jesus Movement" of the late 60s and early 70s had no problem whatsoever gathering together growing numbers of scared and disillusioned teens who were hungry for hope, peace and love in a time of turmoil. 

This religious movement was energized by a wave of youthful converts who saw a connection to the man Jesus, a bearded, sandal-wearing teacher who preached brotherly love.  They saw themselves in this man, and they could empathize with a person, an outsider, who was persecuted for being different.

This was also around the time of a new national bestselling book, The Late Great Planet Earth, about the horrors of a coming apocalypse which would fill the earth with death and destruction on an epic scale.  The clues in the biblical books of Daniel and Revelations just needed to be decoded to see the fulfillment of end-times prophecy being played out on the evening news and in the morning's headlines.

We did not look to science for solutions in those days, and instead we thought we knew The Truth--that the problems of the world were spiritual problems, solved by a return to the simple gospel of the early church.   

The organization was not so much anti-science as it was science-free and blissfully ignorant of basic scientific facts.  

On the rare occasion that we thought about science at all we perceived scientists as the ones who created the tools of destruction.  Our view was that chemists and physicists created napalm, Agent Orange, nerve gas, and the atom bomb, and they polluted the water and the air, and threatened the environment with the help of giant mega corporations.

During that time my beliefs would occasionally brush up gently against science, and I would have to look the other way if scientific facts stood in my path.   

Seeing the Light

Eventually as I got older and encountered tough, real-world problems in my own life, my spiritual life began to wane.  Around that time I began to have a growing interest in the physical world around me.  The things I had learned in studying scripture could not help with basic questions about the physical world or provide satisfactory answers to simple questions about the mind and human behavior, and so I started to turn to science and education for understanding.

You know how in the cartoons the character gets an idea, and we see the light bulb over his head?  Well, mine was more of a dimmer switch, and it took me many years to pull my head out of the sand, to finally see the light and to shift my mind out of the darkness of ignorance.  

For example I had begun to read that the world was old.  Very old.  And that the continents were adrift, moving at about the same pace as the growth of our fingernails.  As so many curious people before me when I looked at a globe I couldn't help but see that the coasts of one continent seemed to fit jigsaw-like against the coast of another even though they were an ocean apart.  

My Christian friends had no problem accepting that the earth was young and still had a new car smell, but this made no sense to me when I took the time to think about volcanoes, earthquakes and the forces of erosion.  I wondered about fossils of dinosaurs buried deep in the ground.  But dinosaur fossils were explained as either:  (a) they were put there to test our faith, or (b) because they are buried in the ground they support a global flood.  

I wondered about the origin of the moon on whose surface man had so recently left his footprints.  I wondered how it was formed, when it was formed and how it affected life on earth.  

I wondered about atomic energy and quantum mechanics, knowing full well that the explanation would blow my mind.  

And I wondered how things worked and where things came from.  

The Grand Canyon for example.  Geologists explain that it was carved quickly, perhaps over a span of 5 million years--a mere blink of an eye geologically speaking.  

But my fundamentalist friends believed that it happened only about 4,500 years ago--just 1,500 years after the beginning of 'Creation'--and that it was carved really really REALLY quickly, perhaps in a year's time, at a rate of a hundred thousand cubic meters per second, as a result of the 'Global Flood' from the Old Testament story about Noah.  

Instead of accepting the scientific explanation of the Grand Canyon, I was encouraged to read a book by Dr. Henry Morris, one of the early founders of modern "creation science."  I bought and read his book on Noah's ark and the gathering of all kinds of creatures to rescue man and beast from the destruction of global deluge.  Although it's hard for me to believe now, but in the absence of any training in critical thinking and with only a very limited education in hard science, his views seemed quite reasonable to me at the time.

Science books and educational television shows explained that the universe is unimaginably vast, and constantly expanding at mind-boggling speed.  The Andromeda Galaxy alone is 2.5 million light years away, and with light traveling approximately 5,878,000,000,000 miles in a year, the age of the universe is admittedly hard for mortal minds to comprehend.  And yet fundamentalists whom I called my friends and leaders claimed that the universe was only a few thousand years old. 

I was encouraged to ignore the views of astronomers and popular science spokespersons such as the brilliant Carl Sagan.  I am embarrassed to say that for a time I listened to the persons in authority within that organization, and I accepted the consensus of the group that these atheistic scientists had an evil, anti-god agenda.  

I regret those lost, dark years.   

Because of their religious indoctrination, my friends had no clue how the process of natural selection worked.  They had some simplistic notion that modern man supposedly evolved from monkeys.  They were then unable to comprehend how there are still chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans in the modern world if we evolved from apes and monkeys.  

These same friends wanted to turn back the clock to the time of the Scopes monkey trial in my home state of Tennessee.  They wanted to remove the teaching of evolution from science classes and teach what they referred to as the Truth of Creationism, what has recently come to be known as the theory of "intelligent design."

Although anthropologists can point to a growing body of evidence that accurately traces the family tree of modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) to a common ancestor with modern primates, our closest cousins, my Christian friends refused to accept these rational, scientific explanations.

Even now fundamentalists--some of whom hold seats of power on local school boards, or in state government, or on science committees of the national government--disregard this evidence and want American school children to be taught that man was created in the image of his divine creator in his present form only a few thousand years ago.  

They want to teach American school children that this first man and his mate disobeyed divine guidelines and doomed all of us to everlasting torment unless we accept the intervention and payment of an actual historic god-man sacrifice. 

I can see how this mythology might have made sense in the Dark Ages.  I can even see how this mythology could possibly make sense in the absence of scientific literacy.  

Heck, it even made sense to me for awhile.  

But I cannot understand how it continues to prevail in the 21st century when the science explaining man's origins is so clear, thorough, and convincing. 

The Breakdown of Belief 

Gödel, a mathematician and logician, concluded that in complex axiomatic systems, and especially with axioms that deal with the infinite, there may be statements that are true but unproveable, and thus some axiomatic systems are incomplete or inconsistent.

The folks at Duke University give us a semantic mental game that's been around for some time:
  • The Law of Contradiction tells us that any given statement cannot be both true and false at the same time.
  • The Law of Excluded Middle tells us that any given statement must be true or false.
  • The following statement is false.
  • The preceding statement is true.
The axiomatic system taught by the leaders in the national youth religious movement to which I belonged in high school was full of self-referential axioms, or what one writer referred to as a Gödelian knot.   The axioms or rules were often difficult to defend in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, and apologetics--self-evident statements and established principles in defense of the faith--follow pretzel logic, and were full of incomplete and inconsistent statements.    

There were essentially three primary rules:  

  • The axioms or statements of Truth within this system have been divinely revealed to us long ago and are contained within a book of divinely inspired writings which encompass rules about day-to-day behavior, regulations about the practice of certain proscribed rituals, and prophetic--albeit mysterious and paradoxical--statements issued forth from an actual, living, all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present being, and they are true, complete, non-negotiable, and good.   
    • Death is not the end of existence.   
    • Those individuals chosen by this divine being to accept the Truth and who willingly admit their separateness from this divine being due to an innate/inherited, hereditary curse or natural condition of wickedness as well as actions taken by the individual which do not follow the rules and regulations as presented in inspired writings, will spend an eternity in the presence of this divine being which can only be described as paradise.
    • Those who are not chosen and who do not admit the guilt of their condition of separateness will be condemned to eternal torment and suffering and separation from all that is good and eternally pleasing.
    • Faith or belief is required to know the Truth.  Truth will not be revealed to those with insufficient faith or belief; however, a simple, child-like acceptance of the Truth will suffice. 
    • Many axiomatic systems demand payment or offering to please the divine being at the head of their system.  This payment is generally in the form of sacrifice, that is propitiation or homage, and is quite frequently a burnt offering, that is an offering of burnt animal flesh.  
    • Those who realize their state of separateness from this divine being must accept by faith the blood sacrifice of an actual, historical god/man.  
    • This god/man came to earth to be a sacrificial offering for the sins of all men.
    • Knowledge was given to man, the pinnacle of creation, and man is expected to use this knowledge to have dominion over the world and all of its creatures.

(2) If any of the axioms within this system appear to be confusing, contradictory or untrue, please refer to rule 1.

(3) All competing axiomatic systems which claim to be true are actually bad, false and not divinely revealed.  Acceptance of competing axiomatic systems will lead to divine judgment which includes eternal torment and suffering and separation from all that is good and eternally pleasing.  These competing axiomatic systems may have strong similarities about rules and regulations, with similar things being labeled as 'good' or 'bad', or 'acceptable' or 'prohibited'; however, this is where the comparison stops. 

I not only actively participated in efforts to help others come to grips with these 'Truths,' I even helped train others to go and do likewise.

Because of these years of darkness and ignorance I find myself to be playing a constant game of catch-up.  So much to learn, and so little time available.  

When I am stopped by a smiling Southerner I just know it's going to turn ugly.  The smiles will morph into snarls fairly quickly as I turn aside their tired, cliche-ridden, science-free attempts at persuasion and offer tough resistance to their sales pitch.  

At some point amidst their diatribe I realize that their minds are closed.  They have no grasp of the provisional nature of science and the need to use thorough observation, systematic analysis and rigorous experimentation to arrive at knowledge that is ever evolving.  Their absolute adherence to and confidence in their faith has closed their minds from learning. 

I do my best to try and explain, but I am often rebuffed. 

If they would allow me to, I would paraphrase Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine:

"What separates science from all other human activities is its belief in the provisional nature of all conclusions. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is the heart of its limitation. It is also its greatest strength.

"I believe, but cannot prove...that reality exists and science is the best method for understanding it, there is no God, the universe is determined but we are free, morality evolved as an adaptive trait of humans and human communities, and that ultimately all of existence is explicable through science."

They will quote scripture, use outdated arguments based on faulty logic, and in a final touché they will tell me (sometimes shouting) that they will pray for me.

They do not realize that I have been inoculated and that I have built up an immunity.


Thu, 2014-06-26 00:17

First there is a mountainThen there is no mountainThen there isDonovan
One does not simply climb a mountain.

I'm not talking about all the unique gear, the extreme conditioning and the specialized and dangerous training.

No, what I'm saying is that there is a process.

Here at the ABC (Always Be Climbing) Academy we understand that process better than most.  We can proudly say that while mountain climbing can be risky, in our 9 years of operation we have never had a death or even a serious injury at our academy.

So what is our process, you ask.  Here are the essential elements:

1.  Each new member of the ABC Academy participates in group classes.  Together, in unison, we work with imaginary gear, tie imaginary knots in imaginary rope, and perform carefully choreographed movements that prepare us for the imaginary climb.  Why imaginary?  Well, while actual mountains exist in the real world, they are all quite different.  Some are rugged and craggy while others are smooth.  Some are bare while others are covered in snow and ice.  And, let's face it, mountains are often quite far away.  Keep in mind that when George Mallory gave the answer "Because it's there," as to why he climbed the mountain, for most of us the mountain just isn't there.  On the other hand the mountain in our minds, let's call this the ideal mountain, is the tallest, most difficult mountain in the world, perhaps in the universe.  It is there ready for us at any time.  It will be the mountain we are always preparing to climb.

2.  During our training we will work with special scenarios and particular patterns of sequential movements.  Here are just a few you will learn:  "Leaping the precipice."  "Scaling the cliff."  "Traversing the wall."  Each of these and many many others may be performed as a group or in solo performance.  Each performance will be evaluated on form, emotional gravitas and physical skill.  Some movements require poise and grace, while others are explosive and powerful.  There are even special patterns that have been synchronized to carefully chosen music.

3.  Meditation and visualization is critical.  Being able to "see" each part of the mountain in our mind's eye means that our movements will be much more representational of reality.  After all, we consider ourselves a reality-based academy.

4.  Seminars and special training are also major features of the ABCA program.  Several times each year we will bring in guest instructors who have proven time and again that climbing the ideal mountain requires years of preparation.  Many of our guest instructors have gone on to become champions in climbing form competition, showing intensity and flawless style in choreographed routines.  Just this past weekend the National Mixed Pairs Abseiling (Rappelling) Champion visited our school for 2 great days of training.  Our students practiced the extremely difficult Australian rappel and the Tandem or Spider rappel (on flat surfaces of course).

5.  Thorough evaluation and certification.  As the old business mantra says "it's not over til the paperwork is complete."  This is also true in climbing.  Each phase of training is carefully graded using stringent standards of subjectivity.  When the student can demonstrate knowledge and proficiency at a particular level, then and only then will he or she be allowed to move to the next phase.  Each phase is identifiable by different colored climbing harnesses.  Red harness and black harness students, our most advanced and elite group, normally trains separately from the green and blue harness crowd.

6.  We honor the mountain goat and strive to exude the spirit of the goat in all that we do.  Fearless, agile, strong, confident--these are the attributes we aim to incorporate into our training.  We study the goat's movements, and we try our best to emulate each nuance of these magnificent creatures.

7.  Safety First.  We are sticklers for safety.  We follow careful safety protocol in all that we do.  When climbers in our advanced program work the 9 foot climbing wall, affectionately known at the Academy as "The Widow Maker," each climber will wear a safety harness with an instructor at the ready.  It goes without saying that climbing helmets, gloves, and elbow and knee pads must also be worn during these intense training sessions.

8.  It's not all serious, life-and-death training.  We also try to have fun.  Each quarter we host sleepovers, and each summer we conduct week long climbing camps so that our students can work out the kinks (pardon the pun).  We watch movies, such as The Eiger Sanction, Cliffhanger or Vertical Limit.  We have contests where we see who can throw the Monkey's Knot the farthest or who can hang the longest amount of time with only one hand (based on Tom Cruise's move from Mission Impossible 2).

If you've ever thought about the potential thrill of mountain climbing, rock climbing, or ice climbing, I urge you to stop by our Academy and let one of our experienced Climbing Instructors put you through an introductory course, which we call "Base Camp."  It's absolutely free, and you might just learn a thing or two.

Remember:  A. B. C.  A-Always.  B-Be.  C-Climbing.


Sat, 2014-06-07 17:26

I recently had an epiphany.

There I was in the cafeteria, waiting on my burrito supreme (the one that has the extra sour cream), when I noticed some of the fit, healthy looking guys from the gym.

As they walked past me I glanced at their trays.  One guy had a small cup of soup, the other a tiny salad.  Appetizer, I thought.  First course, I hoped.

But then I saw them heading straight to the cashier, buying nothing else along the way.  They didn't even look at the potato salad.  No cookies.  No burger.  Not even banama puddin.  Nada.  

Then a thought hit me!  I seriously hated these S.O.B.s.  

Then the second thought hit me, they're lean because they eat lean.

So I decided that I too would strive to eat leaner.  "Stay hungry", wasn't that the mantra of the young body building champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger?  

The next day I packed my lunch.  A handful of almonds.  A few slices of lean, low-sodium lunch meat.  Some celery for roughage.  A cup of plain yogurt.  A thermos of skim milk.  A pear for dessert.

"I can do this!", I thought to myself, "I can just say no to bad foods and big servings!"

Trying to ignore the hunger pangs was the worst part of it.  I sipped cups of hot water with a slice of lemon.  I chugged bottled water every half hour or so and popped sugar free peppermint candy.

The first few days were the roughest.  But by the end of the week it started to get easier.

The first time I had to cinch up my belt was glorious.  And within a couple of weeks I even actually had to punch a new hole.

The other day I was back in the cafeteria, getting a small salad.  A big guy from the gym was standing in line waiting on his sub sandwich.  He looked at me and waved, and I'm pretty sure he glanced down at my tray.  




Fri, 2014-05-23 21:32
"Well, you could have been anything that you wanted to
And I can tell, the way you do the things you do.
The Temptations

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business, more than 40 percent of the actions people perform each day aren’t due to some well planned, rational-based, decision-making process, but instead are actually habits.

To put it another way, we do what we do.  What we do regularly becomes a habit.  Most of us, without knowing it, are stuck on a hamster wheel, repeating the same old habits over and over.

So, if that's true, if we end up doing what we regularly do, why do we do such weird, wacky stuff in our martial arts training?  Why do we make a habit out of training for situations that are unlikely to occur?  Why do we practice highly technical, inefficient and ineffective or outdated techniques?  Why do we stress the art and the flash and the precision while often forgetting the practical and the common sense and the down to earth?  Why do we spend so much time on fancy flourishes?

Why don't we get off that hamster wheel?

Well, it's what we do, it's where we're comfortable.  Change is uncomfortable and often avoided.  

So now that I've got that off my chest, here are some pictures of people doing some of odd ball things.  It's what we do.


 There for a brief shining moment, 
Phil actually believed he was channeling his inner eagle. __________________________________________________

Bill's shadow puppets were very popular at kids' parties.  Here he is making a horsie.__________________________________________________

Everybody was kung fu, seriously, 

Derrick never expected the inverted YMCA move...
but let's face it, no one ever does.

Andre calls this his pretzel stance.__________________________________________________

"I believe I can fly...(oof)"__________________________________________________

"I was in the alley when 3 big muggers approached me, 
and I"

No one gets to go to the outhouse until he gets past 
Larry, "Guardian of the Gate."

Smell it...go on, SMELL IT!

Hey!  Nice jugs!

Try as he might, Tony could not get that guy off his foot.


Once again the Marines had to cancel their landing because the beach was just too heavily protected.

Here's Stan, a man outstanding in his field.  Get it?  
Out standing in his field?  Oh forget it.

Wait, before you attack, you might just want to take a second and read what it says right there on my headband.
 __________________________________________________'s all about stillness, and relaxation and being calm...unless Pat forgets the Ritalin again.


Guess who lost a bet earlier that day?

Open your mouth and say "aaaaaah"

Gymkata.  I don't have any funny comments.  
I paid good money to go and see it.
Let THAT sink in.

Flex Stick...never leave home without it. __________________________________________________

Paul preferred a subtle look for his martial arts fashion.
 __________________________________________________ Of COURSE I'm a your heart out.   __________________________________________________ 

Seriously, I'm not kidding...this is a real, intentional, undoctored picture.  


Sun, 2014-05-04 02:22
THE DEEP ENDLearn to swim to avoid swimming.Coach Richards, Dolphin Club
As I sat in the crowded bleachers overlooking the Olympic pool I couldn't help but be proud of my little Michael.  There he was, 8 years old, sitting on the edge of the pool, his feet in the cool, clear water.  It was his first night, but he acted so brave, trying to hide his fear.  

Two boys from the neighborhood, the Parkinson boys, were down there next to Michael, and their dad, Phillip, sat beside me in the stands playing with his smart phone.  His boys were senior students at the Dolphin Club.

Me:  "Your sons don't seem to mind the water."
Him:  "What's that?"
Me:  "I was just saying that your two boys seem comfortable near the edge."
Him:  "Oh, right.  No they don't mind it.  They've been down there so many times that it's nothing to them any more.  We even went out deep sea fishing last year off the coast of Florida, and there they were sitting on the side of the boat like it was just another day at the pool."
Me:  "Wow.  Micheal seems a little scared, but he's doing a good job hiding it."
Him:  "Sure, he'll get used to it."
Me: "So, when do they actually get in the water?"

At this point the conversations around me stopped, and Phillip actually put his phone in his pocket.  He got up and moved next to me.

Him:  "What do you mean 'get in the water'?"
Me:  "I'm just wondering when they'll learn to swim, that's all."
Him:  "You better talk to Coach Richards.  He'll fill you in.  But (and he lowered his voice), don't get the other parents upset."

I went to the Dolphin Club office and knocked on Coach Richard's door.  He invited me in and shook my hand, and I introduced myself.  I took a seat and looked around the office.  Trophies, pennants, ribbons, medals, and certificates were prominently on display.

Coach Richard:  "I apologize, but I've only got a few minutes.  Planning for the big meet scheduled for next weekend you know.  How can I help you?"
Me:  "Phillip Parkinson suggested I talk to you.  He was concerned that I might be upsetting some of the parents."
CR:  "What exactly did you say?"
Me:  "I just asked when the boys would actually learn to swim."

He got up and closed the office door.  He sat down and thought for a minute before speaking.

CR: "How much do you know about swimming?"
Me:  "Well, I'm from the country.  We did a lot of swimming when I was kid...had a big place in the local creek...spent a lot of time down there in the hot summer."
CR:  "I see.  And did you ever know anyone who drowned?"
Me:  "No!  Thank God.  Why do you ask?"
CR:  "Surely you know the statistics.  The water is dangerous.  Swimming is risky.  You can easily drown in a pool, or a lake, or a river."
Me:  "Are you kidding?"
CR:  "No sir...I can assure you I'm very serious."
Me:  "But this is the Dolphin Club.  You have a big pool.  Are you telling me the kids don't swim?!  And what about the big swim meet coming up?"
CR:  "First off, I didn't say it was a 'swim meet.'  Look, our students know more about water safety than most.  They learn all of the basic strokes, learn first aid and watch videos about drown proofing and life guard duties..."
Me, interrupting:  "Just no swimming, right?"
CR:  "I'll have you know that I have a responsibility to the children and their parents, and I take that responsibility to heart.  I can't let them get in the water where they could just drown!"
Me:  "But I thought they knew all there was to know about water safety.  Surely they've done a little swimming..."
CR:  "Not at MY school they didn't!  At Dolphin Club the kids learn to swim to avoid swimming.  Getting in the water is not necessary.  Everything you need to know you can learn on dry land!"
Me:  "That's just ridiculous!  Kids can't learn to swim on dry land!  Besides, what's the fun in that?"
CR:  "It's a different world than it was when we were kids.  Things have changed.  Kids are more technologically savvy than we were.  They play video games and do most of their learning on the computer.  Believe me, they most certainly can learn to swim without getting wet.  Heck, just last weekend we had a sleepover at the club, gave parents the weekend off!  And you know what we did?  We watched UWS on pay per view!"
Me:  "UWS?"
CR:  "Yeah, UWS--ULTIMATE WATER SWIMMING--and the kids loved it.  I'm surprised you haven't heard about it.  It's a competition where 2 people at a time actually get in the water and swim with all the energy they can muster.  And essentially there's no rules!  There have actually been several near drownings in the UWS!  Of course, that's for the professionals.  Our kids mostly watch that for the entertainment value.  They talk every now and then about entering the UWS when they grow up, but it's a pipe dream. The average Dolphin Club member, I'm sad to say, gives up the pool after only a few months.  Some might stay for a year or two, but in the end we lose most of them to other sports."
Me:  "To be perfectly candid with you, I'm not surprised.  It sounds boring as hell at this club!"
CR:  "I'm sorry you feel that way, but we have lots of activities.  The kids learn choreographed swim routines.  They can join the demo team.  And they can earn special patches and certificates.  Some can even enter competitions, like the big meet next weekend."
Me:  "You mentioned that before.  But if they don't swim, what is it they actually compete in?"
CR:  "Several events:  Sitting at the deep end.  Breath holding competitions.  Simulated first aid to a drowning victim.  And those choreographed swim routines I mentioned are a big hit."
Me:  "Well, I'm sorry.  I thought my kids would learn to swim.  I'm going to pull them out of this academy and find another swim club."
CR:  "Be advised that you'll be in violation of the contract you signed.  And besides, you'll be putting your son in danger!"
Me:  "Screw you AND your contract.  We're getting out, the sooner the better!"

I got up, left the office, and yelled for my son to get his feet out of the pool because we were going home.  He looked confused but started jogging towards me.  A lifeguard blew his whistle, and reminded my son that there was no running by the pool.  


Sat, 2014-05-03 03:10
Following are my nominations for retirement.  Some should have never been around in the first place.  Others were fun for awhile, maybe even a little interesting.  But that ship has sailed, that shark has been jumped.  So adios, bonjour, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, ciao, and aloha.
TRYING TO MAKE THE WORD 'KARATE' LOOK LIKE ASIAN WRITING__________________________________________
PATRIOTIC MARTIAL ARTS CLOTHING__________________________________________
SHOWING OFF YOUR MARTIAL ARTS SPLITS TALENT  _________________________________________
  GI PATCHES__________________________________________
BOARD BREAKING DEMONSTRATIONS__________________________________________
PRESSURE POINT KNOCKOUTS__________________________________________
ANIMAL INSPIRED MARTIAL ARTS BULLSHIT__________________________________________


Fri, 2014-05-02 16:05
7 DEADLIER SINS“The essence of training is to allow error without consequence.”
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

Let's imagine you're on Jeopardy, and the question is:  The 7 Deadly Sins, and be sure to phrase your answer in the form of a question.

You might remember 3 or 4 if you regularly attended Sunday school, but all 7?  That's a tough one.  Okay, try this mnemonic:  "All Private Colleges Leave Serious Educational Gaps"--Anger, Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Greed.

Now, let's see if you know the 7 even deadlier sins of self defense training.

Here are the ones I propose:

1.  COOPERATION  Save the 3 verses of Kumbayah for bonfire night at summer camp.  If your self defense training involves flashy, choreographed, over the top Hollywood movie techniques, you're fooling yourself.  It's chaos not cooperation!


I've seen it a million times...guys who focus on form over function.  Where getting it right is more important than making it work.  Just remember, it's more hand grenades than horseshoes, more shotgun than a sniper's rifle.  It's not a karate club demonstration at the mall on Saturday morning, it's real life. 
Save your precision for the dart tournament. 

The dojo with an open training area and mats to soften your fall is a great area for much of your training.  But every now and then you need to train in realistic conditions...outdoors, in a parking lot, in limited space, on uneven terrain, or in a crowded room with things to trip on and objects that can be used as shields or expedient weapons.  Fight standing up, in a clinch, kneeling and on the ground! 


Lots of people practice self defense as if it was a duel.  The opponent is in front of you, and there is time to see and plan for what's coming.  But remember, the sneak attack or ambush might just come at you from the side or even from behind you. 
In the movie Fight Club, Tyler Durden asks:  "How much can you know yourself if you've never been in a fight?"  I'm not suggesting that you've gotta punch each other out, but seriously, if you haven't been hit, if all your training is dainty and soft and safe, then you won't be prepared.  Every now and then you need to gear up and go hard.  You need to box, and kickbox, stick fight and grapple.  My mantra:  How you rehearse is how you react.  How you practice is how you perform.

We've all seen the magician at work.  After the trick there's this "TA DA" moment where the magician and his lovely assistant seek your applause for a job well done.  I'm here to tell you to forget the TA DA.  Don't think that your technique is like a magic trick.  Don't imagine that you'll do one dramatic move and your attacker will drop like a sack of cement.  It only works that way on TV or in the movies or on the stage in Vegas.While I'm at it, forget the chi training.  Forget all the fancy stances and specialized hand strikes.  That crap will get you hurt.Stick to practical, low maintenance, energy efficient, nuts and bolts skills.

There is a very good chance that your attacker will be armed.  If weapons training and weapons defense is not part of your program, then you are missing an important dimension.  Learning the capabilities and limitations of weapons--guns, knives and edged weapons such as box cutters and razor blades, and blunt force weapons such as pool cues, hammers and tire tools--should be a critical part of your self defense training.  Incorporate weapons into your training, and be ready to react to neutralize the weapon before it can be brought into play.  Forget the instructors who tell you that you can't disarm a weapon.  Learn some simple, universal disarms and practice them until you can do them in your sleep.