THE DEEP END

Ron Goin's Blog - 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.  

DON'T LET THE SCREEN DOOR HIT YOU ON YOUR WAY OUT

Ron Goin's Blog - Sat, 2014-05-03 03:10
DON'T LET THE SCREEN DOOR HIT YOU ON YOUR WAY OUT
LET'S HAVE A RETIREMENT PARTY!
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.
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TRYING TO MAKE THE WORD 'KARATE' LOOK LIKE ASIAN WRITING__________________________________________
PATRIOTIC MARTIAL ARTS CLOTHING__________________________________________
 THAT DAMNED KICK FROM THE KARATE KID 
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SHOWING OFF YOUR MARTIAL ARTS SPLITS TALENT  _________________________________________
  GI PATCHES__________________________________________
CHRISTIAN KARATE CLUBS
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NINJAS__________________________________________
BOARD BREAKING DEMONSTRATIONS__________________________________________
PRESSURE POINT KNOCKOUTS__________________________________________
ANIMAL INSPIRED MARTIAL ARTS BULLSHIT__________________________________________
THESE GUYS
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NUNCHUCKS
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THAT POSE THAT TRIES TO MAKE YOU BELIEVE KICKS ARE POWERFUL

Just...Breathe

Rory Miller's Blog - Fri, 2014-05-02 19:27
"Are you having fun?"
The student grins, "Yes."
"Are you getting hurt?"
He looks a little confused,"No."
"Then there's no reason to be so tense. Relax. Breathe."

RC pointed out that in certain professions, sleep deprivation is just a natural state. Whether you're a pager slave or you do shift work; whether it's crossing time zones or adapting to the sounds and smells of a new place every night-- or injuries. People who do certain things don't sleep much or well, generally. And that can put you in what I call the Death March mode. You have a job to do, a condition to outlast and mentally, physically and spiritually you are running on reserve power. What do you do? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And breathe.

When the energetic, powerful kid wants to grapple, relax. Let him burn his energy as you fill the spaces that he creates in his thrashing. Just breathe. Even better if you can arrange that your dead weight is on his diaphragm, so you can breathe and he can't.

When the pain gets bad but you must remain absolutely still, breathe. When you know you've made a bad mistake and don't think there's anyway out and you feel the little rat in the back of your skull clawing away at you, telling you to panic, breathe. The air comes in, and fills your belly and holds it full and the air goes out until your lungs are empty and you feel that empty sensation before you inhale.

When you want to find a dark corner and just rock and hum, that's okay. Rocking and humming is breathing.

And every so often, for no reason at all, got out in the night, lie down, look at the stars, and breathe.

7 DEADLIER SINS

Ron Goin's Blog - 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!
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2.  PRECISION

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. 
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3.  STERILE CONDITIONS
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! 
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4.  FORGETTING TO CHECK YOUR SIX

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. 
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  5.  TOUCH NOT TACKLE
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.
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 6.  MAGIC TRICKS
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.
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7. IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET?
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.  

Building Scenario Training: Part Two – Creating the Aggressor

John Titchen's Blog - Tue, 2014-04-29 22:35

Introduction

In sparring a good training partner can be a revelation: someone who has the skill to push you to do better but also illustrate your weaknesses without destroying your confidence. The role of an aggressor in scenario training is very similar, but the attributes they require are often more mental than physical and they can even be technically far less skilled in fighting while providing extremely high quality training. Without good role-players scenario training can easily become no different from competitive sparring. Role-playing aggressors should have a number of different attributes and be carefully selected to ensure the safety and realism of the training.

 

An understanding of HAOV

Habitual Acts of Violence (HAOV) is an umbrella term that covers not only the most common physical methods used in the many different types of violent attacks, but also the body language, posturing, verbal assaults and other forms of aggression that may precede a violent event or characterise its de-escalation or aftermath. A good role-playing aggressor must be able to replicate the body language, talk and physical attacks found in the type of scenario being created in order to give the other trainees a good simulation.

 

Body language and posturing

The body language of an aggressor throughout a scenario determines both its realism and its outcome. If a role player cannot convey anger, aggression, frustration, arrogance or violent intent accurately through their body language then not only is the recipient trainee not going to get an accurate simulation that may put them under a degree of decision making pressure, but they are also not going to be able to learn when to make de-escalation or pre-emptive judgement calls in a safe training environment. In self protection training it is important to acknowledge that a large proportion of violent events occur unnecessarily because of poor interpretation of an aggressor’s body language and inadequate de-escalation skills. As such in a significant proportion of the alcohol related scenarios that I run the aggressor is briefed to back down if they are met with appropriate body language and verbal responses that enable them to save face (as not all aggressors really want to fight). If a role-playing aggressor cannot act out their own mental de-escalation when presented with an exit by the trainee, but maintain fixed in overly hostile body language or even continue to escalate in aggression, then a trainee may not even attempt to employ de-escalation skills or inappropriately strike pre-emptively to escape.

 

Verbal

The verbal element of recreating an aggressive or violent event for the purpose of training is extremely important. As I’ve discussed here in the past, there is a great difference between witnessing verbal abuse on television or in films, seeing someone else being verbally abused in person, using swearwords in a friendly exchange, and being on receiving end of a sustained aggressive verbal onslaught from someone in close proximity. This can place constraints on where and when scenario training can be run, especially if you don’t have your own venue. It is important for those giving the abuse to be able to pick appropriate language and have the capacity to deliver it.

 

Physical attacks

This is an area of scenario training that is particularly prone to failure when trainees are taking on the role of aggressor for the first time. There are three crucial aspects that must be addressed: the temperament of the person taking on the role, the techniques that are used, and the tactics that are employed.

  • Temperament - Even amongst the trainees who choose to engage in scenario training involving contact, there are many who do not have the temperament to take on the role of the aggressor, especially if it is their first time engaging in a contact form of training. Through no fault of their own many people do not naturally have the ability to shove or hit first. Furthermore in making an attack in a scenario an aggressor is also well aware that they can expect a physical response from the defending party or parties, and that in playing their role they cannot use their full range of skills to defend themselves. Some people will naturally have the right attitude to take on this difficult and vulnerable role, and in others it can be developed through experience in training, but selecting the right people is crucial for successful training.
  • Techniques - Getting the ‘attack’ right means that the role-playing aggressor must not only understand HAOV but also be able to employ them in an appropriate way in a scenario. There is a slight irony that while the role playing aggressor (who is more likely to be under less pressure having generally orchestrated and instigated the attack) has to limit themselves predominantly to HAOV, the non role playing defenders in a scenario often resort to HAOV under pressure (especially if they are not used to accessing their skill set in the training environment presented – see my post here) and swing windmilling punches, collapse failed punches into headlocks, grab and push without intent, or simply barge forward against an attacker. Furthermore the role player not only has to know how to realistically use the repertoire, but also in many cases how to hit fast without power, particularly when initiating an attack with a punch to the head from the defender’s blind side.

  • Tactics - Even before scenarios with more than one attacker or defender or bystander are introduced as training elements, there is a significant difference in the fight dynamic between in the first instance an aggressor attacking an unsuspecting defender or a defender engaged in conversation while trying to prevent a fight (in both cases with a clear intent to harm or knock out the other person and not expecting resistance), and in the second instance an aggressor attacking a fully prepared and ready to fight defender, knowing that is the case, and being cautious and probing to guard against skilled defence or counter-attack. The former only resembles the latter if the attack fails and the defence to it also fails, and then only if the original attacker has both the intent to continue the fight and the sobriety or emotional wherewithal to proceed with caution. This is why although using many of the same techniques, a self defence scenario (or real violence for that matter) looks different to a competitive fight. It is also why some things that we do not currently see in competitive fighting (but are traditional martial arts techniques) can work well in scenario training, while some of the competitive fighter’s repertoire (particularly the long range elements) may be inappropriate or ineffective. What can often happen is that the role player has not adopted the correct mind-set and as a result probes the defences of the other trainee (rather than simply going for them) resulting in a pattern of behaviour that more closely resembles sparring.

 

An understanding of different motives

 Violent events occur for different reasons and while this is obvious it is a game-changing factor that can be overlooked in ‘creating’ an aggressor for scenario training. Some people behave aggressively because they are genuinely angry and have had any normal inhibition against violence reduced by the influence of recent events (for example relationship or work problems), perceived anonymity, and/or substances (such as alcohol). Those same factors can also affect behaviour where the recipient of any abuse is known to the aggressor, with memories of perceived or real slights or abuse displacing anonymity as an inhibition releasing factor. Often such people do not really want to fight but to save face, especially if people known to them are present. Some people may behave in aggressive manner or utilise weapons as a means to an end, with no real intent to commit bodily harm (though when weapons are employed even an unwilling person may, in the panic of meeting unexpected resistance, cause a life changing or fatal injury). Others in the same situation may be only too happy to commit bodily harm. There are people who behave aggressively and intend to hurt people because it gives them pleasure and perhaps ensures status within their peer group. There are others who may commit extremely violent acts due to mental health problems, or who use violence as a means of (or to) sexual gratification. The important point is to recognise that different scenarios require different behaviour patterns on the part of the role-playing aggressor. People tasked with an aggressor’s role need to know why their character is doing what they are doing as it should affect not only the course of the simulated violent event but also whether or not a violence is the outcome of the scenario.

 

The ability to assess and vary contact

There are many different educational outcomes that can come from scenario training in addition to great fun (though for many it’s the same fun as the rollercoaster that you dread throughout your entire time in the queue, are filled with blind panic throughout the ride, and afterwards say “That was great, let’s do it again.”). One thing that is not an aim of scenario training is injury, whether short term or long term. Accidents can happen in training and as I outlined here there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the risk, which can be higher than in normal training due to the number of people involved. A good aggressor has to be able to tailor their attack to the recipient: different ages and different amounts or types of training mean that the same level of contact is not always appropriate to create the same learning outcome, and the amount of force put into a protected part of the body (such as an armoured torso) is different to that which can be safely used on the head, particularly if the recipient can’t see it coming. Depending on the type and length of training run the ‘victim’ may have to run multiple scenarios and even role play an aggressor themselves, something that can’t be done if they get shaken or knocked out by an overly hard head shot.

 

Training and Picking Aggressors

There is a difference between being a good aggressor in scenario training and being a good martial artist. It takes a long time to be a good martial artist but often people require very little training to be excellent role players. Many very skilled martial artists, while having the control and ability to be able to judge how much force to use and to create safe realistic training, do not have the ability to act or to adopt the physical and verbal attributes of an aggressive person. That does not completely rule them out as ‘bad guys’ in a scenario: they don’t have to know they are bad guys, they can be told to simply be themselves and back up their ‘mate’ in a scenario, or to limit themselves to HAOV but back up their friend – the friend being the crucial role-playing aggressor.

Role players need to understand what the training is trying to achieve. They do not need to be psychiatrists. Demonstrations combined with video clips of real violence, plus an explanation of the types of attacker that might be used, is often sufficient for most people. Obviously the more experienced people are at this form of training (or handling real aggression) the better prepared they will be to create a good simulation.

One method of selecting aggressors is to have trainees alternate delivering verbal abuse to each other while continuously rotating pairs to see who has the acting talent. This is useful for identifying those who can deliver verbal abuse, those who can’t, and those who are intimidated or become aggressive – an important safety concern as to ‘who gets what with whom’ in training. Following this is the important element of contact acclimatisation, again with rotating partners, having trainees alternating hitting each other along a force continuum. This identifies who has the temperament to hit, but also educates each person in the training group as to the abilities and limitations of each participant, thus reducing the risk of excessive force being used. From these exercises a core group of potential attackers can be identified for the initial phases of training.

 

 

 


Teaching on the Fly

Rory Miller's Blog - Tue, 2014-04-22 22:19
As mentioned, some of the seminars in the UK were shorter than I like, shorter than my standard lesson plans. On arrival, I didn't always know how many people would be there, the backgrounds of the students (how many force professionals versus experienced martial artists versus beginners, etc.) what the facility was like or what equipment was available.  Traveling, I can rarely carry the amount or type of equipment that I like, so I'm dependent on what can be provided.

Teaching on the fly is a challenge, and I enjoy it.

Some tips.

Make a lesson plan. Don't expect anything to go according to the plan, but plan anyway. I don't remember who said it, but "plans are generally useless, planning is essential." It's a good exercise, it allows you to put thoughts in a logical way. Don't fall in love with the plan-- at one venue I had a tight 'essential elements of self-protection' plan but the students wanted restraint & control. Know your stuff well enough to switch and improvise.

Keep the end-user in mind. That's the students. You are teaching not just to the students but for the students. Not for your ego, not for your pocketbook. If they need something different than you planned, their needs trump your preferences, at least in my philosophy.

There are three elements (probably more) that determine what is possible to teach.

#1: The student base. You have to be able to size them up quickly. Watch and listen. I start with the one-step drill because you can see how well they follow instructions, get a good gauge of any training artifacts or bad training habits that are endemic, find the blindspots... and it engages them immediately.

If there is a wide range of students, your drills should be designed such that beginners and advanced practitioners, pros and hobbyists all will get good value. Their goal is to learn and improve. Once you understand the core of your own skills, you can set the game so that each person can learn what they need. That's one of the differences between teaching techniques and principles, or teaching subject matter and students.

#2: The equipment. Some things can't be taught without the proper equipment. You can't do scenarios properly without armor. Some of the academic stuff (like violence dynamics or force law) are damnably difficult without a white board. I wouldn't try teaching ConCom without a projector, too easy to go off on tangents. Power generation requires firm kicking shields and, ideally, telephone books.

That said, there are other things that don't require equipment-- learning to move a body; or leverage; or targeting. There's more than enough information to fill a day even if you don't have the right equipment. Just don't fool yourself into believing that anything is good enough or complete enough. Targeting is cool, but good targeting with poor power generation is likely to fail.

#3: The facility. My least favorite place to play is a nice, clean, flat place with good lighting and padded floors. It's excellent for some things, but difficult for others. It's hard to do environmental fighting in a dojo. You can usually break off small groups to the office and the restroom, so not impossible. But I like having stairs and access to a few parked cars that are already scuffed and dented as well. In general, you want to do your rolling on mats, but a couple of times a year (or at my seminars) I want people rolling on asphalt, concrete or hardwood floors. I want them to remember that in the real world, stuff is dirty and it hurts.

You can teach body mechanics almost anywhere, but the combination of exploiting momentum and "gifts"is hard to teach in a pristine, flat, uncluttered world.

You also have to evaluate things for safety. Boots are good. If you wear boots you should practice in boots. Mats are good, they make learning to take falls easier. Mats and boots together can result in some really horrific knee and leg injuries. That's bad.

Straight or Bent

John Titchen's Blog - Mon, 2014-04-21 11:17

A Pinan / Heian Sandan application from Volume 2 of the Pinan Flow System.

I’m talking legs. In fact I’m looking at what you’re doing with your rear leg in sparring, pad work, or indeed any paired drills.

Every martial arts system, whether it be predominantly grappling or striking based, or whether it hails from China, the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, India, Malaysia, New Zealand or Europe, has a number of different foot and leg positions. These are often taught to beginners as ‘stances’ and in many systems we are conditioned at an early stage into thinking in particular ways about how to employ them.

I’m going to come out of a little karate closet, I believe that biomechanically (and therefore tactically) in almost every situation bent is better than straight.

Among the most important elements required to dominate a standing situation are the ability to move and effectively employ power or weight against another person. A bent rear leg achieves this quicker and with more power than a straight leg. The obvious ‘counter-argument’ to this is that a bent leg generally achieves the above by straightening, but there is a huge difference between straightening and becoming straight, and between thrusting and straightening.

Once the rear leg has thrust and initiated a process of power transference there is a moment of choice. The leg can continue to straighten: this effectively jams against any active return resistance (such as momentum of the target towards you) and checks forward momentum by placing the heel on the ground, but provides no further ability to drive forwards without give since a fully straightened leg has to bend in order to thrust again. Alternatively the leg can remain bent once sufficient thrust has been generated to drive forward or rotate the hips; if the foot stays where it is that gives less counter stability in the case of active resistance in the opposite direction, but a comparatively greater degree of hip rotation and arm extension which should transfer greater power. Another option is to carry the foot forward (not necessarily stepping through) post thrust with the momentum of the hip, then all the advantages of the bent leg are retained combined with the stability that easy heel placement with minimum give in a short deep stance can bring. The little elephant in the room being that when we push against a resisting object or a heavy object (think about pushing a car), in order to move we naturally take our heels off the ground anyway, so whether bent or straight the heel on the ground isn’t part of optimum forward power transference.

In many Traditional Martial Arts we see straight rear leg postures. Don’t think of these as wrong, instead try to view them in context. A straight leg can be an exaggerated example of thrust, codified into ‘good form’ for aesthetic purposes. It can also, due to the linked foot and heel placement, be a result of postures designed for employment in traditional inflexible flat or platform footwear.

The depth of a stance will affect the ‘need’ to bend or straighten the leg (or lift the heel) to gain power transference in strikes, but at close quarters against an actively resisting person the higher the stance (and therefore the straighter the leg) the more vulnerable you are to being taken off balance. That naturally leads to the question as to whether the spine should be upright or angled, ramrod straight or hunched.

 


Assuming The Contrived (#131)

Kris Wilder's Martial Secrets - Thu, 2014-04-17 18:14

The dangerous fallacy that an assumption can lead to, such as a sexually transmitted disease, knives and getting cut, balancing the humors, a little Roman history, nerve strikes, and what you should not expect when you run from a cop.

THE WIND, AND NOTHING MORE---A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT

Ron Goin's Blog - Thu, 2014-04-17 03:17
A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT...the wind and nothing more

“When it is not in our power to determine what is true, 
we ought to follow what is most probable.” 

René Descartes

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.  'Surely,' said I, 'surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore - Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'
Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven

I remember when I was a kid how easy it was to enter into a make-believe world.  Within seconds I could lift myself out of the boring, day-to-day reality and transport myself to the ancient past or to another planet or into the heat of battle.  Those imaginary worlds felt so real that I could actually smell the gunpowder, hear the battle cries of attacking soldiers, and feel the weight of a musket or a bazooka in my hands.

As I got older it became more and more difficult to use my imagination.  Now I have to close my eyes and concentrate in order to vaguely imagine what used to come so easily, so automatically to me.

But there are people out there, some of whom mean well, and others who are nothing but shysters and con men out for a quick buck, who hope that the rest of us haven't quite lost that special power of make believe.  They want us to have a vivid imagination that allows us, just for a few minutes, to separate our minds from everyday reality and to walk into an imaginary world.

They want us to imagine that we have limitless energy right at our fingertips and to pretend that this energy can be used for the good of mankind.  With this energy we can help people reduce their stress and lower their blood pressure.  As if by magic we can help them to get rid of negative emotions, reduce pain, and prepare themselves to be healed from injury and disease.  We can use it on others, on ourselves, and even perform it in proxy for the benefit of another far far away.  We don't have to have a medical degree to help people with this healing energy.   

These are the proponents of energy psychology.  They use nebulous words like synergy, and psychoneuroimmunology, epi-genetics, neuroplasticity, and interpersonal neurobiology.  

They want us to believe that we can transcend conscious effort and instead grow in touch with a spontaneous flow of chi/ki/qi/prana, a "life energy field."  They sincerely hope that we can shut off our rational thought processes, the part of our brain that tries to think things through and understand them--what they would refer to as limiting beliefs--and free ourselves from obstacles which prevent us from living in harmony with the universe.  

They want us to rid ourselves of emotional blockages, to reclaim confidence and self esteem, and to step away from anxiety and depression and compulsive and additive behaviors.  If we have a chronic illness, or if we have a friend or family member who suffers from disease, they want us to believe that this pure power, this limitless energy, could flow from our fingertips if we would just accept it, and change could take place.

Here's another thing they would have us believe:  The problems we experience, the sad feelings, the disappointments, the frustration, the anxiety, the fear, all of this creates an imbalance in the flow of energy through our bodies.  Energy workers, those with "training" and special, intuitive powers, claim that they can manipulate the energy field. They can remove clogs, they can restore the flow of energy, and they might even be able to transfer some of their own energy to help our bodies heal.  

There is no scientific basis for what they do.  But that won't stop them from claiming that their methods are old, maybe even ancient.   They will suggest that what they do is just common sense.  And they will blatantly misappropriate ideas and terminology from cutting edge nuclear physicists, claiming that we are all nothing but energy and vibrational patterns.

They will use all kinds of labels to describe what they do:  EFT, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch.  They sincerely believe that they are ushering in a method to bridge the ancient and the modern paradigms.  They claim that what they do works and works fast, and that those who accept the efforts of energy workers will achieve both emotional and physical well-being.   One does not need to study human anatomy, toxicology, biochemistry or other rational, scientific fields in order to claim to be a healer.  In fact, they will boldly assert that those areas may steer one away from the truth of the natural, instinctive, intuitive ways of energy work.  They genuinely have faith in what they do, believing that they can augment Western medicine, contribute to the healing process, and that they can be beneficial to healthcare professionals.

And, as far as helping someone to relax, to bring care and consideration to those in pain and fear and depression, I'm all for these actions.  Being present, holding a hand, offering calm and soothing words, mopping a hot brow with a cool cloth, these can go a long way in helping someone who is suffering to feel better.  And if that helps accelerate the healing process, fine.

But don't claim otherwise.  Don't pretend that there is some magical energy, some supernatural force, that there are pathways of 'energy' that can be blocked by negative emotion.  Don't act like you have healed others of cancer, of diabetes, of some rare genetic malady.  

To those who believe?  I say let it go.  To those who are charlatans, shame on you.  

I've grown weary of the drip, drip, drip of their claims.  The new age is nothing new.  Prehistoric shamans and tribal healers did not have knowledge about parasites, or DNA, or hygiene.  They believed that disease and pain were sent by the gods to punish or were a result of curses from one's enemies.  They did the best they could with what they had.  A potion, some herbal tea, a fowl smelling ointment or salve, incense, drumming, chanting and rituals.  We cannot judge what they did.  

But, as they say, that was then, and this is now.  If they claim otherwise, if they claim that they have discovered secret, hidden, veiled, obscure, and ancient wisdom, or conversely if they claim that they have knowledge from beings outside of our own galaxy or from another dimension or even from the future, just remember this:



'Tis the wind and nothing more.

It would actually constitute more than a miracle, he realised. It would take divine intervention plus luck, plus some unknown element of cosmic wizardry.” David Baldacci, The Whole Truth









 


Alone Time

Rory Miller's Blog - Wed, 2014-04-16 00:22

This is alone time. It might not seem like it to you. It’s crowded. It’s loud.The table across from me are a bunch of overweight guys with glasses talking about being great fighters and women. A very few couples, I don’t think this is a date kind of place. I’m sitting in a corner, typing away, sipping something local and watching.It’s alone time. No one knows me, no one has any reason to watch me. Typing on a laptop is unusual but non-threatening. To the few who notice at all, I’m a nondescript guy in a corner, typing. Probably some kind of struggling attorney, maybe a journalist. Those that peg the accent will take me as a tourist at first, but other things won’t add up and, again, the very few that think of me at all will assume I’m here on business.I’m an extreme introvert. Which doesn’t mean I don’t like people. Not saying I do like people, just saying introvert means something else.It means I find them exhausting.But not this. Right here, right now, I am separate and watching, even in a crowd. I’m clocking potential threats and potential prey, noting patterns of movement and interaction. It’s the most restful time I’ve had in two weeks.I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t love teaching, I would do something else. But three weeks, constantly on stage, constantly a center of attention... it drains me.And so I steal an hour, maybe ninety minutes to be gloriously alone in a crowd. It will refresh me, and I will hit the stage again tomorrow with renewed vigor, fresh.
Written a few days ago, in a pub. Very refreshing and the last of the class is winding down. It's been intense, good, powerful. Tomorrow night, a train to Scotland. Friends and fine whisky. Then a long plane ride and a few hours in the arms of my one true love.

Easy Teaching is not Easy Learning

Rory Miller's Blog - Sun, 2014-04-13 09:39
Going to be writing about teaching for a few posts, I suspect.

Traveling seminars are usually weekends, and it makes sense to batch them, like three UK weekends over 16 days (plus travel time, and maybe a day to reset the internal clock). But that leaves the weekdays as big sinks of unused time. Garry and Dan decided to remedy that this trip. Dan scheduled things at St. Andrew's and it seems some college students can handle an all-day seminar during regular class times (imagine my old man voice saying, "Kids these days!") Not a problem.

Garry's were evening classes, so working people could make them. Three hour slots in London, Gate's Head, Wirral, Doncaster and four hours (later today) in Coventry.

Most of my lesson plans center around eight hours. It's the minimum to get a taste of the pieces, in my opinion. Almost everything in those eight hours is centered on understanding the question (What will I face? What are the elements of attack?) and gathering information-- how to see and evaluate not only what the threat is doing but your own trained mechanical inefficiencies. A second eight hours can go into the mechanics of efficient brawling. But at three hours something must be left out, and it must be made clear how incomplete the training is AND that can be hard when the attendees have never had that type of information in that volume before. Things can feel more complete than they can possibly actually be.

Anyway, how to train is often on my mind. But given a new problem, you learn new things.

One thought right away, and this feeds back to my secret intention with the Joint Locks video:
The best way for teaching is almost never the best way for learning.

It's an endemic belief in bureaucracies that training must be consistent and measurable. It is far more important to be able to objectively evaluate a student in a skillset than whether that skillset works. That's how bureaucracies measure 'fair' and bedamned to those who wind up bleeding.

It's not just soulless organizations, either. It's a staple of martial arts instruction as well. Any kind of force skill will be applied in a chaotic situation. It will be messy. Everything affects every other thing. Your ability to play in the margins, to use the chaos and mess is a big part of your survival skill. But it's hard to train, and for the ego-bound instructors, the prospective of losing to a student (and if you teach them to think sideways, you will lose sometimes) is a huge threat. It's hard to teach, so many instructors teach the easy stuff, not the good stuff.

And the way of teaching. The easy way of teaching is to break things down into manageable chunks. If I can pick out the eight steps to that wristlock, I can teach those eight steps. I can tell whether the student is doing each of those eight steps correctly. I can correct the student, which makes me feel like a teacher. And in the end, the student only has to remember those eight steps (and we're all good at remembering sequences, right?) and apply them and everything will be fine...

But it won't, because the student will need to access the memory part of the brain, which is slow and nearly useless in a force incident. The student will hesitate because that's what being constantly corrected makes people do. The ritual of the eight steps, consciously or not, sets an expectation for a very specific set-up that the bad guy may not be willing to provide. And it's not eight steps to success but eight chances for failure, since if any of the steps fail, they all do.

Some of the keys, and I'm a long way from finding them all:

  • Getting the information in the right level of detail to actually use. Nothing to memorize, but not so vague as to be useless
  • Match the skill to the correct part of the brain. Fighting has to be noncognitive, so there's no point in getting intellectual about it. Get intellectual about perfecting your training, though.
  • Teaching in the right modality. And testing, too. Fighting is inherently kinesthetic, not visual. We knock people down, we don't impress people unconscious.
  • Make it fun. Force is an inherently unfun subject, but all animals learn through play, everyone moves more efficiently when relaxed, and people learn better and to a deeper level of the brain when they enjoy the process.
  • Play. Related to above, but there is no way to script a complex answer to an unknown problem. The only way to get good at any complex skill intended for a chaotic environment is to play. And there's a lot in this, because the game has to be very well designed to teach the right things, and the student must be carefully prepped not to read too much into it.
  • Whatever you teach must agree with the student's world. The wording on this is tough. Generally, assume that your students are intelligent adults with their own experience of the world. So if you say or teach something that contradicts their knowledge of the world, they will either doubt the rest of what you say (which is bad) or they will reject their own experience (which is much worse.)
Enough for now. Time to go to Coventry.


Volume One of the Pinan Flow System released!

John Titchen's Blog - Sat, 2014-04-12 13:03

Another book on the Heian / Pinan kata?

I wrote my first book on the Heian / Pinan kata in 2004. Between that and the publication of the book in 2007 lay transplant failure, dialysis, and the gift of a second transplant – all factors that slowed me down but increased my appreciation of how good karate can be for the weaker person.

So why have I written another book, and not just one book, a whole series on the Heian / Pinan kata?

Over the last ten years the research and training methods that I’ve adopted have changed my karate practice considerably.

Through the investment I made in developing scenario training I’ve had the privilege of learning from watching large numbers martial artists face HAOV outside the comfort of the normal training environment. The process has been helped by the diversity of participants: from fit young aspiring martial artists to normal hard training middle aged men and women, and even young teenage boys and girls, all of whom have enabled us to create a variety of realistic and emotionally distracting challenges.

In those simulations I’ve observed how people have accessed or failed to use their training in more realistic conditions. Confined spaces, close ranges, doorways, furniture, verbal and visual and physical distractions from other people, trying to deescalate a situation, trying to shield or rescue a child or perceived weaker individual, having limited peripheral vision or not being aware of a situation until after it has begun: these have all put participants’ ability to access their physical training and knowledge to the test, whether their training base was Shotokan, Goju, Wado, DART, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, MT, TKD, Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, or some obscure CMA, and whether they were 6th Dan, 5th Dan, 3rd Dan, Coaches or kyu grade students, or experienced LEOs, security or military personnel. The successful tactics, when the participants were able to access their skill sets, were relatively diverse, but what brought them all together was the similarity of their responses when things didn’t go to plan, and both how and when things didn’t go to plan.

What is consistently visible in the footage of these events is that successful navigation and extraction of participants from the close quarter fighting comes not through accessing their well drilled kumite combinations, but through movements and stances that more closely resemble the strategies that are shown in karate kata, even amongst those participants who have no martial arts experience. In fact if I were to edit out the aggressors from the videos so that it appeared as if the trainees were fighting thin air, then the resulting movements would look more akin to a kata than anything else seen in the martial arts.

I wanted to share what I’ve learned with a broader audience than I can possibly reach through travelling round the world teaching seminars, and the logical next step was to try and condense my findings into more books. In doing so I wanted write something that appealed not only to the experienced black belt looking for greater depth and practicality from their practice, but was also suitable for the complete beginner in karate trying to make sense of the funny movements he was learning in class, and that an instructor could safely teach to beginners.

 For me the Pinan / Heian kata represent a comprehensive catalogue of the interlinking strategies and approaches I’ve seen work under pressure. The majority of these are found in other forms, but the Pinan are the perfect vehicle for spreading the word on how effective basic karate can be because as a set they are simple, taught to beginners in many systems, and practised by karateka at all levels of their training. The practical defences against HAOV and the strategies from common less desirable positions that I’ve set out in these books are not complicated, in fact they are deceptively simple and easy. Almost everything that is combat effective is simple and brought down to the bare essentials of movement.

I hope you have as much fun reading the books and trying the drills as I’ve had writing and training for them. I’m really excited to be able to release the first in the series covering Pinan / Heian Shodan and Nidan in both paperback and ebook. I intend to have all four volumes in the series published this year and I’m up for travelling to teach in person at any club that’s interested.

You can buy the new book here, or on amazon and any of the other major book retailers. If you have a local store that you like to use they’ll be able to get a copy for you too.

John Titchen


Volume One of the Pinan Flow System released!

John Titchen's Blog - Sat, 2014-04-12 13:03

Another book on the Heian / Pinan kata?

I wrote my first book on the Heian / Pinan kata in 2004. Between that and the publication of the book in 2007 lay transplant failure, dialysis, and the gift of a second transplant – all factors that slowed me down but increased my appreciation of how good karate can be for the weaker person.

So why have I written another book, and not just one book, a whole series on the Heian / Pinan kata?

Over the last ten years the research and training methods that I’ve adopted have changed my karate practice considerably.

Through the investment I made in developing scenario training I’ve had the privilege of learning from watching large numbers martial artists face HAOV outside the comfort of the normal training environment. The process has been helped by the diversity of participants: from fit young aspiring martial artists to normal hard training middle aged men and women, and even young teenage boys and girls, all of whom have enabled us to create a variety of realistic and emotionally distracting challenges.

In those simulations I’ve observed how people have accessed or failed to use their training in more realistic conditions. Confined spaces, close ranges, doorways, furniture, verbal and visual and physical distractions from other people, trying to deescalate a situation, trying to shield or rescue a child or perceived weaker individual, having limited peripheral vision or not being aware of a situation until after it has begun: these have all put participants’ ability to access their physical training and knowledge to the test, whether their training base was Shotokan, Goju, Wado, DART, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, MT, TKD, Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, or some obscure CMA, and whether they were 6th Dan, 5th Dan, 3rd Dan, Coaches or kyu grade students, or experienced LEOs, security or military personnel. The successful tactics, when the participants were able to access their skill sets, were relatively diverse, but what brought them all together was the similarity of their responses when things didn’t go to plan, and both how and when things didn’t go to plan.

What is consistently visible in the footage of these events is that successful navigation and extraction of participants from the close quarter fighting comes not through accessing their well drilled kumite combinations, but through movements and stances that more closely resemble the strategies that are shown in karate kata, even amongst those participants who have no martial arts experience. In fact if I were to edit out the aggressors from the videos so that it appeared as if the trainees were fighting thin air, then the resulting movements would look more akin to a kata than anything else seen in the martial arts.

I wanted to share what I’ve learned with a broader audience than I can possibly reach through travelling round the world teaching seminars, and the logical next step was to try and condense my findings into more books. In doing so I wanted write something that appealed not only to the experienced black belt looking for greater depth and practicality from their practice, but was also suitable for the complete beginner in karate trying to make sense of the funny movements he was learning in class, and that an instructor could safely teach to beginners.

 For me the Pinan / Heian kata represent a comprehensive catalogue of the interlinking strategies and approaches I’ve seen work under pressure. The majority of these are found in other forms, but the Pinan are the perfect vehicle for spreading the word on how effective basic karate can be because as a set they are simple, taught to beginners in many systems, and practised by karateka at all levels of their training. The practical defences against HAOV and the strategies from common less desirable positions that I’ve set out in these books are not complicated, in fact they are deceptively simple and easy. Almost everything that is combat effective is simple and brought down to the bare essentials of movement.

I hope you have as much fun reading the books and trying the drills as I’ve had writing and training for them. I’m really excited to be able to release the first in the series covering Pinan / Heian Shodan and Nidan in both paperback and ebook. I intend to have all four volumes in the series published this year and I’m up for travelling to teach in person at any club that’s interested.

You can buy the new book here, or on amazon and any of the other major book retailers. If you have a local store that you like to use they’ll be able to get a copy for you too.

John Titchen


WE'RE NOT LAUGHING WITH YOU, WE'RE LAUGHING AT YOU

Ron Goin's Blog - Fri, 2014-04-11 12:16
WE'RE NOT LAUGHING WITH YOU, 
WE'RE LAUGHING AT YOUA SPECIAL ALL 'CHI' EDITION OF THE
 MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD OF MARTIAL ARTS


One of my friends recently asked me why I seem to be so obsessed with chi.  "You're always writing about it," he said, "putting it down all the time.  Why can't you just agree to disagree and let bygones be bygones?  Why don't you just do YOUR thing, and let them do THEIR thing in peace?"
It's a valid question.  I've probably written a half dozen articles about chi, Reiki, no-touch knockouts, and pressure points over the years.  I've watched hundreds of videos, read an encyclopedia's worth of articles, and I've interviewed or had discussions with numerous proponents about this subject.  And I still don't get it.  How can so many otherwise intelligent people fall for such magical thinking, such blatant B.S., such hyperbolic hogwash?

Let's say you're a zoologist...no one just automatically assumes you believe in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.  They'd give you more credit than that.  Or if you're a historian, people don't naturally assume you believe that aliens built the pyramids.  Those are considered fringe beliefs, outside the norm.  But in martial arts there are a lot of people who believe that ALL of us believe in chi, use chi to hurt others, work hard to develop our chi, and even use chi to heal those with injury or illness.  When the average, uninformed person sees a chi demonstration they come away believing that there is a magical force that can defeat petty fists and feet.
I have tried reasoning with these practitioners, using a fact-based, (as opposed to a faith-based), approach, calling upon science and critical thinking.  I have pointed out the numerous failures of proponents to prove that chi or chi-related powers existed.  I reminded them that James Randi has a standing offer of BIG bucks to anyone who can demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled setting.  All to no avail.  As B.J.Thomas once sang, "I just can't help believing."
So, since I can't join 'em, since I can't help them see the light, I guess the only thing left is to have a little fun with them.
Hey, I'm not laughing WITH you, I'm laughing AT you.


They all made fun of Randy when he couldn't blow out all his birthday cake candles when he turned 6.  
Well, he's been practicing ever since. _________________________________________________________________________________

Matches?  We don't need no stinking matches. _________________________________________________________________________________
This is exactly how I feel when acid indigestion occurs. _________________________________________________________________________________

Watch out!  I have an asterisk, and I know how to use it! 
 That's nothing, I have 4 parenthesis!! _________________________________________________________________________________
Larry, please quite saying "WHEEEEEEE" everytime I use my chi.
 
_________________________________________________________________________________

I'm starting to detect a trend here...
See, there it is again...
 

Why is everybody flying away?
 _________________________________________________________________________________
The infamous sneaky rear chi attack! _________________________________________________________________________________
Knock Knock.  Who's there?
Chi.
 
 _________________________________________________________________________________


Reigning patty-cake champion Natalie faces stiff competition for the first time in 25 years. _________________________________________________________________________________

Unstoppable chi vs ummovable chi...
this is how black holes are created! _________________________________________________________________________________
The tattoo on his back reads "Gullible" _________________________________________________________________________________

Honestly?  I don't know if this is a chi-focusing antenna or an insulting hand gesture. _________________________________________________________________________________
Suddenly Earl can't remember if this is a chi workshop or a square dancing seminar.
_________________________________________________________________________________
This is my chi ball.  
There are many like it, but this one is mine.

________________________________________________________________________________
Intimidates the hell out of the bad guys.

Not on Hold, Just... Busy

Rory Miller's Blog - Mon, 2014-04-07 20:35
It's hard to write when you are either working or trying to sleep.
This is my life now (and this is not a complaint, but an explanation and apology to the regular readers):

Up relatively late. Most times I have to catch a plane, the plane seems to leave at 0600, which means I have to be at the airport between 0400-0430, which means awake at 0300 at the latest. So the late start is a blessing...

But after a delay for mechanical problems which misses a connection  and another delay on the made-up connection I find myself at the destination somewhere around 25 hours awake and eight hours off from my biological clock... screw it, too tired to do the math. Commit to staying awake until at least 2100 local time so that I don't screw up my sleep schedule too bad. In order to stay awake, no writing or reading. I'd fall asleep. Walk. See a few friends. Walk. Have a wee dram. Walk. Keep moving.

Back to the flat around 2100, as planned. To sleep. Snap awake after three hours. (The one actual side-effect of my history is that, until very recently, I couldn't sleep more than four hours at a time.) Up, stretch, read, sudoku. After two hours I can sleep. Sleep until almost noon. Cool.

Wander the town (I love walking In Edinburgh, but also Montreal, Athens, SF, many others) with a friend, see more friends, eat and back to the flat to sleep. Snap awake after four hours. Still exhausted but only doze fitfully after that.

Get up, get coffee, try to find wifi and contact home. No-go. Find food. Catch ride to venue. Teach for 8+ hours. Talk and socialize and answer questions for another two. Dinner with the group. Back to flat. Go for another long walk. Realize that on a Sunday, breakfast, wifi and coffee will be harder to find. Hit a grocery store so at least breakfast won't be a problem in the morning.

Get up. Ride was barely on time yesterday, so go down right on time only to find that he felt guilty about not being early and has been waiting. To venue. Eight hours of teaching, plus talks,  dinner, etc. Things wind up so late that, with a friendly native guide, I have to work out the bus system to get back to the flat.  Next morning is free, but have to teach evening classes, and in that morning break, finally get a chance to blog.

Classes. Up late answering questions. Up early either to teach or to travel. Repeat.

This is not a complaint. Raf gathered a fantastic group at Edinburgh. Dan and Maya let me teach and connect with some of the next generation at St. Andrew's. The last three days in Swindon have been incredibly high energy, with plenty of bruises and learning for all.  I finally got to meet Stuart Williams and the lovely Louise in person. A gorgeous woman in the Edinburgh airport (they do tastings at the Duty Free there) gave me a dram of Glenlivet Distiller's Reserve. Ruins and good food and great conversation... Going forward, Garry has set up a slate of people to meet. Hoping to see Iain and Al again and maybe meet Geoff.

It's an awesome life, but sometimes a bit too busy for writing.

YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT

Ron Goin's Blog - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:31
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT
Ore-May IX-Nay on the I-Chay


"It matters less to me what your specific beliefs are than that you have carefully arrived at your beliefs through reason and evidence and thoughtful reflection.” 
Michael Shermer

"If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, 
then he's doing it the hard way."
James "The Amazing" Randi 


"Teaching thermal physics
Is as easy as a song:
You think you make it simpler
When you make it slightly wrong." 
 
Mark Zemansky



I just saw a spoon bender on TV.  But, unlike Uri Geller who claims to have special powers, this guy was just an illusionist.  I don't mean anything negative when I say he was "just an illusionist."  In fact this guy's close-up magic was superb, and to the uninformed it must have looked like a mini-miracle.  But at no time did the guy claim to have supernatural mental abilities.

Uri is different.  Over the years he has claimed to use his mind to read other people's thoughts, identify hidden objects, dowse for oil, and bend spoons...lots of spoons. 

Uri's easy to make fun of.  He was debunked years ago, and he's been proven to be a fraud so many times that it's not even interesting any more.  And yet he still has followers, people who pay good money to obtain just a tiny speck of his power.

Uri even sells a home kit to help people develop their ESP, mental power, and telekinesis.  You know, in case you need a spoon or two bent.   


Some people will watch Uri or some other illusionist perform a parlor trick, and they will immediately wonder how the trick was done.  Let's call them skeptics.  Others will see it and think to themselves, "I wish I had that power."  Let's call them believers. 

The brilliant physicist and lecturer, Richard Feynman, once met Uri Geller and said, "I'm smart enough to know that I'm dumb." "Feynman was intelligent enough to realize that a good magician can make it seem as if the laws of nature have been violated and even a great physicist sometimes can't figure out the trick." (1)

Famous skeptic Michael Shermer once said, “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

This brings me to chi.  One could argue that chi is a mind/body power.  That a skilled, focused, patient and persistent, well-practiced individual could use the power of his mind to affect the physical world via supernatural or unexplained ability.  In fact I recently watched a video that a friend sent me which purported to explain chi...in fact the title of the video was "What is Chi."

Now, if I sent you a book or video with a similar title, for instance if I sent you something called "What is Heat," you would probably expect me to describe heat, maybe show you examples of heat...a steaming cup of coffee, a raging fire, some smoldering charcoal, a river of volcanic lava, a pot of boiling water, the Sun in our own solar system, something like that.  You would probably expect me to perhaps define what heat is, using terminology the layman could understand.  For example: "What-is-Heat:" from the Physics Classroom
  • The degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment.    
  • A measure of the warmth or coldness of an object or substance with reference to some standard value.   
  • A measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a sample of matter, expressed in terms of units or degrees designated on a standard scale.    
  • A measure of the ability of a substance, or more generally of any physical system, to transfer heat energy to another physical system.    
  • Any of various standardized numerical measures of this ability, such as the Kelvin, Fahrenheit, and Celsius scale
Then I'm guessing that you would expect me go on to discuss the physics of heat, what's actually going on at the molecular level as a result of molecular motion.  How heat is really about the "internal energy" of an object.  How heat is interchangeable to the concept of work.

However, if in the presentation I told you, "I don't know what heat is.  I only know that it's sometimes pretty and sometimes destructive.  That my finger burns when I touch something hot.   I only know that when I turn on a gas stove or start a campfire I can cook something with heat.  That's all I know."  If the presentation said those words you would probably conclude that the presentation was a waste of your time.  This person, you would say, knows nothing about heat and should not have weighed in on the subject if he was not prepared to explain it in terms that made sense, that might expand our knowledge of heat, and help us create heat on our own heat.



However, on the video "What is Chi" the presenter did exactly that.  He described chi using vague, vacuous, and poetic words.  He talked about "animation" and breathing and thought control and directed energy.  But he also said that he couldn't really explain it.  The presenter said that all he knows is that it works.  It's like a light switch, he said, in that the light comes on whenever you flip the switch.  He said that when he turns on the dishwasher the dishes get clean.  That was good enough for him.

Well, it's not good enough for me.  Not by a long shot.  I'm like the guy who watches the spoons bend, and I think "I wonder how he does that trick."  I'm the skeptic.  I'm not saying it DOESN'T happen by supernatural means (though I kinda sort am at this point), I'm saying I need an explanation in order for me to ditch the science and the physics.

So far, in all of my reading on the subject, in several interviews and one-on-one chats, in hours of watching one video after another purporting to show chi manipulation to move a person or an object, to extinguish or to start a flame, to hurt someone or heal someone, I've never yet read a rational explanation of what's going on at the molecular level.

The people who believe in chi, who believe they've seen it in action, who believe that they themselves have felt chi being used on them or have used their own chi on others, seem content to accept it by faith alone.  "Don't ask me how it works," they tell me, "it just works."  

Well then, hand me that spoon.

Conflict Communications with Rory Miller (#130)

Kris Wilder's Martial Secrets - Wed, 2014-04-02 14:31

 

Rory Miller calls in to Martial-Secrets from Tierra del Fuego or outside of a Mexican Restaurant – you never know, and introduces us to his new book ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication. If you have ever wondered why your boss ignored a suggestion that could save millions of dollars, or why you have the same argument again and again with your spouse, the answers are here. As well as the tools to do something about it.

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