diumenge, 14 desembre de 2014

Training train

I'm on the train back from my first "instructors meeting" of Kajukenbo. In theory, the first I've been allowed to be in, but apparently some people do not feel under the same rules. It's basically a black belt seminar.

Nice training. Met a couple of interesting guys, trained some, thought some more. I had to direct a class on Thursday, and this training has given me ideas for the next one I have to set, whenever it comes. And I'm not even too sore.

It makes you think, though, and think some more to see some things. The training itself is not really all that different from other seminars, but it's sort of more... Focused.

Also, my instructor sort of confessed to me that, back when I joined, he didn't really expect me to last. Neither was I all that hopeful, myself, back then. Like he, I saw how different Kaju was from what I knew, what I'd done before. And, mind you, it's still s daily struggle. People laugh, because it's a tad ridiculous to see a black belt saying things on the line of "Kaju doesn't agree with me". Or "I have trouble with this or that... Hell, i have trouble with Kaju", but beyond the awareness of the "advanced" belt of how much he still has to learn, it's true that Kaju is not, and never has been, a style that agrees with me. Neither my bodytype, a walking asparragus, nor my previous learning as a child and teen, in some sort of modernized jujutsu and judo, really help in learning a style that works at a mid-short distance, with a lot of percussion, almost none of which is snapping.

So it's hard, daily. It's also rewarding. Because it proves that the mind can win over the body. That your mind itself can change. And because training in certain things is a reward itself. Seeing how things snap together... How things can get symplified... And The same way I owe a lot of my SD-in-MA ideas to Angel, 20 years ago, I peobably owe a lot of my MA-as-move ideas to Rory.

Let's see if I can ever manage to teach them.

Take care

dilluns, 24 novembre de 2014

Blindfolds are black

At the very least from the inside.

I didn't feel this as much in Seitei, nor do I feel it in Tatsumi, but I've seen it / felt it in KJKB. Some people see the black belt as a sort über-level, so getting there makes so much of a big difference that they stop training once they reach it, their motive gone, conquered. Some comments by a partner might have pointed in that direction, just after the test. Maybe not: it would not be the first time his words come out of the wrong orifice but his actions keep being... Well, not 'good', but adequate.

Thing is, getting ready for the test, maybe seeing some techniques together, or training them slightly differently, allowed me to see some things that point into interesting directions... And that I don't yet understand completely, not even in execution.

So, to me, getting ready for black belt has been, in part, the removal of that blind. While I don't really expect to reach 10th dan, fact is thst I'm barely half way the formal knowledge recognition. That I'm seeing things I didn't see a year ago, that... That it would be sad if I stopped where I'm at now, now that I've seen some of my mistakes, perceived certain shapes.

And yet, the black belt sanctuary myth keeps on.

Take care.

dissabte, 22 novembre de 2014

Twenty years in the making...

I graded for black belt today, in Kajukenbo, through Angel GS.

First met KJKB through a gym partner, a guy who did three different arts and who left at least two of them not long later.

However, Angel was the first guy I met who said certain things about MA's relation to violence that have become more common these days, at least in lip service, but that I was getting weird looks for suggesting back then.

However, he was hard style and I was soft, even more back then. Then, about two years later, I left MA for quite a while. Saddened, done with the lot of self grooming associations... Missing MA every single week for ten years.

Got back into MA through a really nearby school I distrusted and ended up leaving, but by then I was already back in touch with KJKB, so I tried the style again. My mindset had changed some; Kajukenbo had, too. I'd gone to a seminar with testings and it looked like it was something I could make my own. Not completely convinced, back then, but that was late Feb'08. Might have been slightly sooner if life hadn't insisted on hurdles along the way. Still, not all that much: I did say my mindset was different, did I not?

Take care. Let's see what's out there.

dijous, 7 agost de 2014

Decision time

Deciding takes practice. Every data I've read on that, every woker in that field I've spoken with tells the idea in similar terms. You cannot expect someone to be able to decide if there's been no practice. You can't expect someone in an abusive relationship to suddenly decide she's off. It's hard, it goes against that person's grain and precedent.

That's the easy one, but... going physical after a mugger's interview is also hard. Cutting through the decission tree needs practice (and, preferably, a good decission tree to begin with).

My cell phone fell from my hand two weeks ago, walking down the street. Hard floor, and an already battered gadget. No way I could catch it. But... put a foot and break some of the fall but risk it going who know where and how or let it crash down?

Started my choice before taking it, rechecked as it fell, decided the outcome was the best option and fine tuned it.

A haymaker isn't all that faster. A jab is, true. But, also, check that... a) A prelim decission was already being acted on b)Tachypsychia, small time c) I did do something.

Practice with the small things, and the big ones won't be quite as big (and the failures not near as expensive). They won't be small, mind you, but not so extreme as they can look.

Take care.

dijous, 17 juliol de 2014


I don't conform worth a damn. I can try, and fake it, but it does require continuous effort. This might make me more aware (scratch: it definitely does) of certain group dynamics.

Now, groups are groups, and they all have their requirements. Some of them are obvious, some stated, some not (seriously, get Marc's Violence, Blunders and fractured Jaws, probably the best work of his early period). No one actually tells you you have to defend your family, or the limits (do I have to defend my twice-removed cousin by my sister-in-law's side if he's being an asshole towards a SWAT in gear?), you just do.

My problem comes when the unwritten rules become, basically, teenage group monkey dances. You'll see Rory talk about groups going into group monkey dances as extreme educational beatdowns. Now... he does talk about how higher levels of violence are reflected in lower ones.

Have you ever witnessed a verbal educational beatdown? What about a verbal Group Monkey Dance? Now, part of this is normal. Rebuking a child is, after all, an educational beat down, verbalized.

Problem is... we might be getting a bit too used to these things, especially online. When we gang on someone, even if it's half joking, online, we're greasing the wheels of the same mechanism we might end up using face to face, but without the fear for consequences. And, if we use it in small enough circles, we use it with an extraordinay expectation of success, because the object of our attention doesn't have another equivalent group to go to. It's a mix of the classic small-town circle and Web anonymity.

I submit it's a dangerous idea. It's a matter of time before you try what you do on Facebook, WhastApp, your favourite forum or blog in real life. If the person conforms to your expectations (because he's trained in the same tools as you are, or whatever), then all's nice and well. If not... you're in for a world of hurt.

And it happens to the weirdest people. I just saw it happen to a quality control-public relations guy. He did something in a small network that he would chastise anyone in public relations doing. Did it without a second thought. It's going to have consequences, even though it was a "virtual" setting. They'll be mild, because it was a simple mistake, but still... Same thing in real life? At best, a lost sale and customer. Where did I say something similar, of late?

Take care.

dilluns, 14 juliol de 2014

Self defense from self

I follow several writer's blogs. Probably since time immemorial, writers could use better communication skills. But shile Shakespeare might have wished for a better rep at the local pub, blogs are... worldwide.

One of those blogs currently has a post with over 200 answers in less than 12 hours. The post itself is over 1800 words. What for? A denunciation of a political tendency in the publishing world, plus three links: two recaps of the same idea, in the same blog, some time ago, and a link to betsellers of the opposing political tendency.

I'm using Dean's stats, modified for a 2000 word story. Should be more, considering how much the author joins the comment section, but it'll do and it's a round number. That person has spent between 110$ and 920$ (publication in Asimov) in that rant. A rant that validates her own worldview, that gives her an ammount of reputation. Which is all well and good, but... is it worth 900$? The blog is, basically: "They strike again because of an article. Nice piece. A and me wrote about this kind of attack before." Almost 2000 words.

Now... write as you wish. Beware of creeks and floods. I can't recall the exact term Marc used, but he did say something about behaviour reinforcing itself, particularly against attack. That person just used between 100 and 1000 bucks (plus future revenue) to... entrench herself.

When and how do you fall into the same behaviour? Because you do, be sure of that.

Take care.

diumenge, 13 juliol de 2014

Upright and uptight

I'm starting to chew an idea. Chinese MA have a style called "Six Harmonies". One of the ways I've heard it explained is that it tries to harmonize joints between higher and lower extremities. As a method for abstracting your own movement, it could be worse...

However, I've been moving my own body for a while. The more I practice MA, the more I tend to think that the "secret" to MA is unlearning weird mechanics. All that "you'll never have as much bodyweight transfer and coordination as when you crash into a bedside table at 3am". But we've gotten used to walk without weights: no backpacks, no toddlers, no water jars, no recently killed boar on our shoulders. These days, not even much in the way of terrain obstacles or irregularities. So, we walk weird, upright and uptight.

So, a good deal of instruction could be "walk weighted, learn to shed weight". However...

I haven't been moving other people's bodies for nearly as long, certainly not near as much or often. So, I'm coming to focus on ways of simplifying the ideas behind that, Because the simpler you learn, the less you bleed. And I'm getting to the point where my branch of Kajukenbo coul be explained as a different kind of "6 harmonies". Or Four, depending how you count them: both knees, both elbows, the head-soulders triangle, and hip.

Outside competition or dueling, you'll be able to reach elbows (and very likely knees), and you'll need to get past those to reach the body. Also, they're easier to grab than wrists (and, for the most part, the following applies to fingers), and more tightly linked to the centre of your opponent. If you try for a wrist lock you have three problems: wrists are fast; also, most wrist locks were designed for a fast break and current sensibilities try to find ways around that (which makes it slower). They're nimble. Wrists move a lot, and there's that extra joint between them and the shoulder, and a lot of length. You need extra effort to grab them, set them in position and hurt them. And they're so popular (people grab each other from the wrist since they're children; parents do; and on and on...) it's rather common to have a reflex of avoidance. They're also well defended: your other arm, stance and movement, circular elbows...

However... elbows are not as fast (and made worse because too often they're not considered a target). They're close enough. Not as flexible (also made worse by that perception gap earlier)... which means that, coupled with their position, they move your target's body.

So, you have two targets, about as close: one is fast, the other isn't. One has a lot of give, the other doesn't. Why would you go for the first one? If you reach for the elbow, you can afford grosser movements, use your body more instinctively, and it doesn't break your own movement patterns as much.

Same goes for knees, with the added plus that they're holding your opponent's body, so they're less mobile, and that weight adds an extra stress that can give very unpleasant surprises.

And, lastly, hip and upper triangle. Almost as related as elbows and knees. There's a trope, move the head and the body will follow, that's just a corollary of what I pointed about the give in wrists and the lesser give in elbows. And the null give othe head. And, oh wonder, the hip follows the same pattern.

Now, both hips and head are better defended. But. People tend to defend sort of instinctively against groin attacks, specially males, and punches to the head; but not as much against hip shoves or shoulder twists. Use it, play, feint. A shuto to the neck can very well turn into a shoulder grab ('n pull).

Just thinking aloud... Take care.