Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Overlooked Knife Training attributes

There is a story, one of many, about the creation of the Bowie knife.

We are told the Jim Bowie's brother Rezin was out on his property one day when he was attacked by a wild cow. It the ensuing ruckus, Rezin managed to stab the cow to death with his belt knife.

unfortunately, during one or more of his thrusts, Rezin's knife slipped up his hand, lacerating his fingers quite badly.

As the tale goes, Rezin designed the Bowie knife, with its wide cross guard, while recovering from his wounds.




I don't know if the story is true, but it is quite "near-fetched" in that the sort of injury described is fairly common with people who try to stab someone or something with a knife.

This story illustrates one of the very important but sometimes overlooked aspects of knife work, grip training.

When a knife makes hard contact with an object you have to deal with all the ramifications of Newton's laws of motion. You also have to contend with the physics of a wedge moving through inconsistent material. If you have not learned to deal with these factors you may either lose your knife or injure yourself.

The first area to work in is grip strength and finger articulation.

You will want your grip to be both strong and supple because you will be changing pressure on your knife handle constantly.

There are two things I do to keep my grip strong, the first is that I keep a Gel ball near at hand and use it throughout the day. There is a nice side effect to this I am told, in that using a gel ball is supposed to help prevent things like carpal tunnel.

I prefer a gel ball over devices with springs and the like because you have more options when it comes to using it. You can work one finger at a time and squeeze at odd angles.

You will also want to learn a few mobility and coordination exercises for your fingers. One good way to do this is to get a book on basic "slight of hand" magic and practice the exercises found in it. You can also benefit from the wrist and finger exercises in the warrior wellness program.

The other thing I do to develop grip strength and articulation is to work out regularly with Clubbells. The interesting thing about these training tools is that your grip strength is the determining factor on your ability to do the exercises. What this means is that no matter what other part of your body you are working, you will be dynamically working your grip.

When you actually make impact on something, whether with a cut or thrust, you will begin to appreciate how important it is to have a grip that is "alive" on the knife.

Unless a person practices Filipino martial arts, there is a better than small possibility that they have never dealt with weapon impact. But even for an arnis or eskrima player, stick on stick (or even body) impact is still substantially different than knife impact when it is cutting or stabbing something.

Of course there are problems with getting the necessary experience, after all you can't just grab live blades and start cutting each other up.

There is one way to get around this problem. The Japanese sword arts have a practice called Tameshigiri, which is usually translated as "test cutting". Western sword practice had the same sort of practice, but until recently we have not heard much about it.

Part of test cutting was to determine the quality of a given blade, but it was also done so that a swordsman could have some real experience in moving his sword through material that approximated flesh. You will find some video footage of Test cutting done in the western style here so that you can have an example of what I am talking about.

There has been substantially less work done on the subject of test cutting with a knife. I know of only one article on the subject, and while the author gives some good advice, his basic premise is flawed.

If you take a look at the three photographs at the top of the article you will see that the cut is started with the knife cocked at the ear and it finishes at the opposite hip. This means that the cut was a full swing that transverses the entire range of motion diagonally for the arm.

Most people, when fighting with a knife, especially a smaller one, for example a Gerber Profile


profile
Gerber Profile, one of the better $20 knives

with a four inch blade, are not going to be making full arm swings with it (at least not if they want to live).

Here is an important truth. The way you train will be the way you fight.

So if in training you punch short, or off to one side, when you really need to use your skills you are likely to do the same thing, and if you practice your test cutting with a full arm swing you might try to use the same technique when it counts.

In my opinion, a person should train as realistically as possible, and since it is impractical to cut up your training partners you need to be "practice cutting" on various materials using techniques that you would actually call upon in a real fight.

What you will want is to be able to cut material that will allow you to experience things like cutting along a grain, which will try to turn the knife in your hand, or thrusting into a material that will give you the chance to learn how to not let your hand slip up the knife blade even if you hit something that approximates bone.

(Note: when I start training someone in thrusting skills I begin with a knife that has a dulled blade but a sharp point. This is because their hand will slip at some point in their training and without this bit of protection they will sustain severe injury).

(Another Note: If you choose to practice this sort of training you do so at your own risk. It can be very dangerous and you run the risk of hurting yourself or someone else quit badly. You assume all risk for trying out these things).

The materials I use for practice cutting are newspaper, cardboard, office carpet, closed cell packing foam (like a computer comes packed in, not Styrofoam) paper towel tubes, Cardboard tubes that carpet comes rolled on, straw mat (tatami) in various thickness, bamboo, various items of worn out clothing such as heavy jackets, 1 x 10 pine board. I will also use the occasional plastic pop bottle.

I use thick wall PVC pipe and 2 x 4's to build stands, and I use a lot of heavy string and Duct tape.

What you will want to do is create exercises that simulate how you will use a knife in combat (that is to say not full arm swings) that will allow you to see just how well you actually cut or pierce training material.

For example take a 3/4 inch PVC pipe and wrap and tape it with newspaper to about the thickness of a forearm, then cover that with the sleeve of a heavy jacket. Mount this so that is is at the same angle and height as the arm of an opponent. Discover if you can cut through the jacket and into the newspaper using a realistic cut.

One thing you will quickly discover is that the only parts of a knife, especially a small knife that count are the edge and point.

If you hit someone with the side of a stick, it is no big deal, it still does damage. If you hit someone with the side of a four inch blade, the best you can hope for is to piss them off.

To cut most effectively the edge of your knife should be at 90 degrees to the material being cut. For every degree your edge is more acute or obtuse, you will run the risk of the material you cut turning the knife because of "grain". To the degree your edge is more acute or obtuse that the direction of force, you lose cutting power.

cut_angle


Only by actually cutting something can you learn at the "body" level how to deliver the cut effectively and how to respond to the Newtonian consequences of delivering the cut.

Here is another consideration for you. If you are using a folding knife, it is very likely that at some point the lock will fail on you. This is especially true with cheap folders, but is also true for the better ones.

"But Wait" you say. "I have one of those knives that have good locks!" I have a picture of it in a vice with a hundred pound weight hanging from the handle!"

Well, that is groovy and all. I am sure that it is difficult to make the lock fail in the "closed" direction, but in cutting, the force is applied to the blade in the "open" direction. That is to say exactly the opposite of the test pictures that knife manufacturers show you. You will also want to notice that the force applied to the blade in such tests is not "impact" force.

I have yet to find a folding knife that won't fail towards the "open" direction after a time, this does not mean that there is not one out there, just that I haven't found it. I have however found this to be particularly true for knives with all plastic handles, even the best plastic seems to crack under repeated impact.

When practicing thrusts I like to use material that "grabs" the blade. Some closed cell packing foams are really good for this. I set up a half inch layer of newspaper over about two inches of such foam. The knife will tend to try to stop on entry, so you get to practice not running your hand up the blade, and will tend to "grab" the blade so that withdrawal is not easy. (remember train with a dulled edge for safety) Putting a piece of pine board as a backing will simulate hitting bone.

Performing a perfect cut with a knife is a very "zen" sort of act. It requires that your structure, breath, and motion be in complete harmony. This becomes even more evident when you use good fighting technique. It is impressive to cut through a two inch roll of newspaper hung from a string with a 12 inch bowie knife and a full arm swing, but it is even more telling if you do it with a 4 inch blade and a cut that draws you back into a guard position.

Have fun but be safe.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen

And Children of all Ages!

I am proud to present you with yet another blog for your consideration.

This is no ordinary blog, oh no! This is the blog of another of my highly intelligent, articulate but somewhat...... how shall I put this..... Interesting,...... yeah..... that's it, interesting friends.

Also one of my long time training partners in the art of Silat, as well as an Uber-Geek when it comes to the computer world.

A man with too many virtues to enumerate here!

Please let me direct your attention to



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Addendum on Truth

Here is what happens when our nation is fed a diet of lies. These figures are from the latest Harris poll.

-- 47 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (up six percentage points from November).

-- 44 percent actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis (up significantly from 37% in November).

-- 36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).

Another interesting finding is that only 46 percent believe that Saddam
Hussein was prevented from developing weapons of mass destruction by the U.N. weapons inspectors, a fact which most reports now support.

When citizens have no access to truth this is no longer a democracy. When the people who we have put in office bombard us with lies using what we should be able to trust as at least a marginally objective media to deliver their deceit, they have betrayed the public trust. When our elected officials support the lies of the parasitic right wing "commentators" in spreading lies and use our tax money to do so, we see that they have nothing but disdain for the American people.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Truth, and other American Values

Or several reasons to loathe the "Right" and take the country back from them

This last week I have been subjected to several variations of the "America, love it or leave it" gambit, and even a couple of "My country, right or wrong's", all because of my column on why Iran wants the bomb.

As it turns out, that has been one of my most popular columns and has gotten more links than just about any other.

But it has also upset some people.

There seem to be a number of people, including my friend Frank, who just can't bear the thought of people finding out that the main reason that Iran doesn't like us is not because America is a Christian country (which it is not) and Iran is Muslim, but because of over fifty years of greedy, self centered foreign policy, mostly Republican, though Democrats are not blameless. These people will, I guess, do anything so that they will not have to consider our responsibility for making the middle east the kind of place it is today.

But I am used to such things as "America, Love it or leave it". People started saying that sort of thing to me back in the day when some of us decided that the constitution and bill of rights meant something, and that every American should have the chance to participate in our "experiment in Democracy", not just the rich white ones.

Fortunately, I had learned what loving America really means from our twenty sixth president.




When I was young (a very long time ago) one of my heroes was Theodore Roosevelt.

Two books that I had as a child were "Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches" and "Hero Tales from American History" both by him. I read both many times and as I got older I made a point of searching out his other writings and speeches. If I was given a school assignment of writing about a president, it would be Roosevelt more than half the time.

It was Roosevelt who provided the best example of what it meant to be American, and what American leaders, especially our president should be. While he would be the first to admit that he was imperfect, and that he made mistakes, I fine him to be an outstanding example.

And it was Roosevelt who provided me with the comeback to "America, love it or leave it", he said;
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."
So patriotism means to stand by the country, and I would add, to love the country. But what is "the country"?

Three things define us as "the country". They are the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights. These documents provide us with our philosophical and even spiritual foundation, without them we would not be who we are.

Of course we recognize this in the various oaths that people take where we swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

So as far as I am concerned, being patriotic and loving the country does not mean following the dictates of some elected official, it means weighing the actions of all of our elected officials against the standards of the constitution and the bill of rights, and opposing anything that goes against these ideals.

And it means telling the truth. It especially means that our elected officers need to tell the truth.
"It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth".

And there is the rub, because George W. Bush (who I have become convinced is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Haliburton corporation) and all of his minions have been lying to us, cynically, blatantly, purposefully, systematically lying to us. And that is unpatriotic.

Now that the blanket of lies that Bush has wrapped himself in is coming loose at the seams, we begin to see just how dishonest the right wing, as led by bush, has been.

We find out that the information about Al Qida planning attacks on US soil was there but it seems ignored, and Bush tries to cover it up.

Bush gets us in a war that is starting to make Viet Nam look straight forward, telling us that he was protecting us from weapons of mass destruction, but there are none, and we find out that he knew that there are none. Now that we are riding the tiger, he tells us that we are "exporting democracy". Right! Exporting democracy out of the barrel of a gun, that will work.

And he gets us in a war with an abstract noun, or I should say ANOTHER abstract noun. After all, we have been in the war on drugs for something like forty years now. I am sure that we will be equally successful in the war on terror.

And then Bush's people hire reporters to write their agendas as if they were objective journalism, in other words Bush hires reporters, and pays them with your tax money to lie to you.

bush's people make fake news reports and broadcast them on TV, The comptroller general's office has to tell them that what they are doing is illegal.

Britt Hume re-edits the words of FDR on social security so as to make them say the exact opposite of what was meant, so that FDR seems to be supporting Bush rather than condemning him.

And then there is 'Jeff Gannon', the male prostitute that has been hanging out in the White House briefing room for the last couple of years working as a shill for Bush and his boys, so much for family values.

It is bad enough that we discover that Bush is using shills, but to use someone like 'Gannon', that is funny.

If this had happened in Hollywood we would know why 'Gannon' was there rather than someone more competent, because he was someone's boyfriend, but that could not be the case in Bush's White House. Could it?

This is a democracy, that means a government of the people, by the people, for the people. But we can not make informed choices without good information.

Bush and his people have withheld the truth from us, instead giving us a tapestry of lies which tells us only what he wants us to believe. And we let him do this.

As long as we permit Bush to lie to us this is not a working democracy.

It does go to show that the Democrats are worthless though. If Clinton had been caught out doing this he would have been impeached on the spot. The democrats can't even get people to take this seriously, what a bunch of wimps.

And for those who say "My country right or wrong"? I say that is the most Un-American sentiment of all, the sort of thing I would expect from Nazis.

An American will say "My country, right or else", and that is what we need to be saying, in the most certain way to Bush and his minions.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Spiritual Discipline

A couple of people were somewhat taken aback by my assertion that anyone could have a spiritual discipline, even an atheist.

Let me give you the basics for this. A spiritual discipline requires that you connect to something outside yourself that is greater than you, something that you can put yourself in "service" to.

A person's connection to this will help to develop and mature one's ethics and conscience.

For those who look to the religious side of things this is pretty easy as God is by definition greater than self.

For an atheist, the choice might be something like community. The feeling of connection to others, having a common set of goals and the possibility of continuity beyond the death of the self. These qualities can develop conscience.

Conscience, which means "to know together" is perhaps the thing that most defines us as human, and as martial artists it is a faculty we need refine. Beyond just a faculty that tells us what is right and wrong, conscience is what helps us get past our ego and self centeredness.

I hope that this helps clear things a bit


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Friday, February 18, 2005

Training and Recovery

About 3000 years ago in India The Warrior Caste used a three part training regiment. The first part consisted of exercises to prepare one's body for the rigors of training, what we would think of now as "fitness" exercises.

The second part was training itself, practice with the weapons of war that included sparing, as well as wrestling and other exercises to develop the skills and endurance needed on the battle field.

The third part was "recovery" exercises to promote healing and balance from damage done to the body in the first two parts of training.

A lot of the understanding of this process has been lost over the centuries, but enough information was kept on the first and third parts of training through its incorporation into yoga that we have some idea of what was going on back in the good old days.

Of the three parts of this process the "recovery phase" has been most neglected in the West until recently. In the last five years, the most interesting and important work on this phase of training has been done by Coach Scott Sonnon, and I am borrowing one of the terms he coined "Active Recovery", for this article.

Neglecting the recovery phase of training leads to high levels of residual muscular tension, injury and burnout, but it is, as I said the most often overlooked part of training.

There are three parts to address in recovery, they are Passive recovery, Active recovery and Internal recovery (for lack of a better term).

Passive Recovery

Passive recovery includes rest, nutrition and body work.

Rest is obviously very important in that you need to give your muscles and ligaments time to recover from the stress you have put them through. Probably the most important area of rest is sleep. Regardless of how much sleep your body naturally needs to be healthy and rested (for instance I usually need six hours a night to feel rested, someone else might need nine) you really need to make sure you get enough after heavy training.

Food

Nutrition of course is also very important. There are all sorts of dietary programs floating around these days, so if you find one that fits you, go for it. In case you have not found a diet you like I will give you the Traceless Warrior Non-Stupid Eating Diet. It is very simple.

1) Get as much of your carbs as you can from vegetables and go easy on grains. When you do eat grains go for oats and brown rice as first choices.

2) Eat sufficient lean protein to fuel your recovery process. Make sure you have protein for breakfast.

3) Avoid processed sugars as much as you can (this includes corn syrup) if you get a sweet tooth go for fresh fruit if available or a little dried fruit.

4) Do not do a lot of fat in your diet and make sure that as much fat as you can is from things like olive oil and fatty fish, but do not be fanatic about it, stay completely away from trans-fats.

5) Avoid processed foods as much as possible (that is all pre-prepared foods) Eat fresh whole food whenever you can.

6) Avoid "fast food" like the plague.

7) Do not overdo caffeine. Either avoid alcohol or drink moderately. If you like beer go for the micro-brews as they tend to have less in the way of additives. Don't drink cheap wine, go for the good stuff, it is healthier for you.

8) Eat less. Try to stop eating just before you feel full, go for smaller portions, take your time, eat slowly and enjoy your meal. Eating with friends is better than eating alone.

9) Eat three meals a day and a slow burn carb snack before you go to bed, Try to have breakfast within an hour of waking (Thank you Kathleen DesMaisons for a lot of this) try to spread meals out evenly and avoid skipping them. Make sure you get enough clean water each day.

10) Be flexible. A good multi-vitamin each day won't hurt.

This is what works for me, and if you do not have a particular way of eating you can use this as a place to start, but listen to your body, you want to be feeling good most of the time.

Bodywork

In India bodywork used to be (and in some places still is) an integral part of martial training.

A person who is training seriously should have at least one hour long bodywork session a month, more if they can.

A good bodyworker can help release lots of tension as well as break up adhesions, heal the effects of stress and get stagnant fluids moving. It can be one of the better things you can do for yourself.

Active Recovery

Active recovery means using specific sets of "body weight" exercises designed to help promote recovery from the stress of training.

One place you can find this sort of exercise is in some (but not all) hatha yoga. To be most effective in active recovery the yoga practice should be a "Vinyasa" (moving in a flow from one posture to the next driven by the breath) the more static postures do not work as well for active recovery. One example of what to look for would be the Sun Salutation from Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

Another place to find active recovery exercises is in Chi Kung. Generally the Taoist forms work better for this than the Buddhist forms, it is a matter of how the breath is worked in the exercise.

In general, active recovery exercises will be those that work "range of motion", coordinate movement with breath, encourage healthy joints by keeping them lubricated, and strengthen the ligaments and tendons.

unfortunately, I can't really recommend a lot of specifics in all these areas, but I can tell you what I use, and have found to work well for myself and my students.

I use two sets of exercises for active recovery. The first is called "Warrior Wellness", again from Coach Scott Sonnon. (You may have noticed by now that I refer to him a good deal. That is because he is a genus when it comes to human movement, I don't know of anyone who has done more useful work in the field in the last decade, and I know a lot of people).

Warrior Wellness is a progressive three level exercise set that works "range of motion" in every joint in the body, it is outstanding for recovering ROM and promoting joint health. I do one of the levels daily in the morning as a general "tonic", and use this program with my students as an important section of their warm-up. I have gotten remarkable results using this program, and like all the exercises that support active recovery they are quite energizing.

The Five Tibetians

The other exercise set I use is often called "The Five Tibetians", though they were introduced to the west in 1939 in a book called "The Eye of Revelation" written by a fellow named Peter Kelder under the unlikely name of "The Five Rites of rejuvenation".

The story that Kelder told about how he learned the exercises has more holes in it than a spaghetti strainer, and I suspect he sort of came up with it to align himself with the Theosophical movement. (much in the same way that we got a lot of writers in the style of Carlos Castanada after "The Teachings of Don Juan" came out in the sixties). But that does not matter as much as the effect of the exercises.

I don't know if they really are the "fountain of youth" that Kelder claims they are (ask me in another hundred years) but I do know that they have a remarkable effect when it comes to active recovery. I have been using them for several years, along with a few friends, and for active recovery they are superb.

There is one cravat though, Kelder never learned, or never wrote about the proper breathing method to go with the exercises. Others have attempted to graft pranayama breathing from yoga onto them, but got it very wrong. If you try the exercises from the link above, just let your body determine the best way to breathe.

If you want to explore the correct breathing method (which does make the exercise better) Check out the Five Minute miracle. It teaches both the proper breathing and the exercises with a number of variations for people at different fitness levels.

Active recovery exercises should be done every day.

Internal Recovery

Internal recovery is the single most neglected aspect of training. Internal recovery addresses mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery in martial arts training.

In some ways this is the most important aspect of recovery.

competition, even at moderate levels can be very stressful, and when it is "combat" competition the stress does go up just a bit.

There are a couple of interesting things that happen when a person (at least a male person, I don't have as much data on women) wins or looses a physical encounter, The winner's testosterone level goes up and the losers drops. All manner of emotional and self image material can build around events like these. If they are not addressed, you run the risk of burn-out. The confrontational aspects of the martial arts can really stir up the human psyche.

Then there is the fact that in studying a martial art, at some level you are rehearsing causing grave damage or death to another human being. Even the most sport oriented arts have this as a foundation.

I have seen my students come up against this most often when we start addressing the knife. There comes a point where the student realizes exactly what they are doing, when this happens it will produce a crisis of sorts where the student has to answer some very important questions, Like "under what circumstances would I really be willing to gut another human being and look into his eyes as the light goes out?" If one of my students is not disturbed by what he is learning, I worry. There are two things that address this.

meditation

A few days ago a martial arts teacher said to me "when I talk about this subject I get angry!"

I am sure we have all heard this comment, I am sure we have all made this comment at one time or another. What is says though is that you are at the effect of your emotions, that they come as the response to outside (or inside) stimulus and that they control you rather than you controlling them.

Having no choice about how you react to a given stimulus is bad enough for regular people, but when you have spent several years learning the fine art of doing harm to your fellow man it takes on a whole new meaning.

To counteract negative emotional states and to remove yourself from being at the effect of your emotional states, as well as removing emotional toxins what you want is a meditative practice, one that develops "Zanshin".

A lot of people I have encountered tend to shy away from meditation because they think it has a religious connotation, it doesn't.

While virtually every religion has at one point or another grafted mediation into its practices, the techniques stand on their own (note to self: blog about Patanjali's Yoga Sutras soon)

The good news is that no matter what your world view is, you can find a meditative practice that fits you. The bad news is, that without one it is very likely that your emotions will continue to run you and produce toxic byproducts that will get in the way of your training.

(Please note that I have not said "don't feel" or "don't have emotions" what I said was "don't be at the effect of them").


The last major part of internal recovery is developing a "Spiritual discipline". Please note that I did not say "find a religion", though that is the most common way to start developing such a discipline. Even an atheist can work in this area (it is just a bit harder)

Your spiritual discipline is what helps you fine tune you conscience so that you can find the inner peace that is essential for the higher levels of the martial arts. Without such a discipline the internal stresses and conflicts (unless you happen to be a sociopath) will get in the way of your training.

One's spiritual discipline is a very personal choice, so I am just going to encourage you to find what works for you.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Ignorance is curable

But stupidity is often terminal

Unfortunately the stupid often take a lot of people with them when they self-destruct.

It seems as if my small column on why Iran does not like or trust us has ruffled a few feathers.

While I won't bore you all with the interesting bits of hate mail this topic has generated, there is one example of the sort of stupidity I am talking about that I want to bring to your attention because it is so indicative of the exact quality of historical ignorance I was referring to in my last article. There is no excuse for this sort of ignorant commentary since the facts are there for anyone to read if they bother to take the time to do so rather than acting from political fantasy.

It seems that one of my readers, finding what I had to say on the subject interesting and posted this message to a self defense forum:

quote: For a different view on the subject check out 'Why Iran Wants "The Bomb"
For which I thank him, as it is always nice when people think what you have to say on a subject is interesting.

Of course this being something of a Right Wing forum from what I can tell, there was the immediate attempt to invalidate my points, unfortunately the fellow doing so obviously doesn't go beyond double digits in the IQ department.

Our erstwhile commentator starts out with this telling volley;

I dont think the writer of this article knows his history very well!
Well, perhaps not. Let's see..... I did live in Iran for a bit a couple of years before the Shah fell, I speak the language OK, (but am a little rusty these days) and I am a professional researcher with something like 30 years experience in the history of the middle east, But perhaps this fellow, who judging from his writing abilities, has a satisfying career in the food service industry, has access to historical documents that we mere scholars are not privy to.

Our friend points this out as a telling argument;

The country "Iran" didnt come about until 1935 after 20 years of trying to form a constitution.

What he doesn't realize is that it is a convention to refer to the region as either Persia or Iran and everyone understands that you are talking about the same place (at least everyone with an education) as illustrated here, where the name Iran is used throughout the timeline. He also fails to notice that the first constitution put into effect in Iran was in 1906.

He goes on to say;

Prior to 1935 the territory was known as Persia and was part of the Perian Empire which has been controlled by everyone from the Byzamtine Empire to Alexander the Great to the Mongols to the Arabians to the Nazi's.

Would it be petty of me to point out that "Persia" is a western word, from the Greek word for the area, "Persis", not the name by which it was known to the people who actually lived there? Can you guess what they actually called their country? No? Perhaps you should look it up.

I should also be petty if I pointed out that Byzantium never controlled Iran, nor did the Nazis. Even a cursory check would have shown this.

Then we have this bit of stupidity;

In the 1940's Allied Forces invaded Nazi-occupied Persia and Iran became a close Allie to America.

If this fellow had done ANY research he would have known that this is not true. Iran was never occupied by the Nazis, look it up. Check this again.

Then he graces us with this bit of wisdom;

This lasted successfully until 1979 when a group of religious scholars lead a revolution that overthrew the ruling monarchy and placed the Shah of Iran into exile. That same year they established a theocratic system of Government and attacked the US Embassy which lead to Americans being held captive for almost a year.

Yep, it was so successful that the duly elected parliament ran the Shah out of the country and took their natural resources back from the British.. If this fool calls 26 years of living in the shadow of SAVAK a success then may he have the same.

Then the topper;

Draw your own conclusions. But, i think religion has alot to do with this countries hate for america as it does with islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Adios,
Quest

This is why we are going to hell in a handbasket, because too many people like this guy look for convenient answers that allow them to avoid examining our responsibility in these events. I sure it is a whole lot more comforting to say that Iranians hate us because of their religion than it is to think that they hate us because we destroyed their democratic government and installed a dictator who killed anyone who looked sideways at him.

Sometimes I think that way too many people think being American is all about ducking the responsibility for our mistakes.

Then This fellow chimes in with this comment;

I have to agree with quest on that and also...notice they don't mention that we had to take the lesser of the two evils and go with that? No one mentions that....I wonder why!

Ron K....................
One wonders which two evils this guy is referring to? The evil of a country having a duly elected democratic government that would like to control its own resources verses a murderous despot who will sell cheap oil to the US?

What this fellow fails to realize is that we didn't have the right to choose for the Iranian people.

If we had been a little less greedy Iran would have been our best friend in the middle east
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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Why Iran Wants "The Bomb"

And Why Iranians Often Think of America as "The Great Satan"

The thing that most often amazes me about my fellow citizens is how many of them are completely oblivious to world history (let alone American history).

Both the right wing and the left wing suffer from this historical blindness, but in different ways.

In the case of Iran, I see right wing comments about Iran wanting the "The Bomb" to that they can use it for "terror". This just goes to show how stupid and out of touch the right is.

Since you didn't learn this in your history books I will fill you in on a few historical points. Most of this you can find by doing a simple internet search, some of this I got from the late Coronal Robert G. Temple (USAF) who was attached to the Iranian mission in the late fifties and early sixties.

The first thing you need to know is that Iran has been trying to have a democratic government since the 1880's. During this time Britain managed to gain an economic foot hold in Iran.

Democracy had met with a little success, a constitution was drawn up and was in place for a while when Republican forces ousted Mozaffar o-Din Shah and created a parliament in 1906

This sort of came to an end when the Russian and British governments decided in 1907 that they in fact owned Iran and divided the country in half with the Russians taking the north and the British taking the south. (This was done as "sphere of influence" rather than just taking the government over).

In 1921 Reza Shah took power in a coup d'├ętat. To fight off the British and Russian influence he made several deals with Germany, Italy and France in an effort to get out from under British control.

When WWII broke out Reza declared Iran neutral, but this did not stop the British and Russians from invading.

The British put Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the son of Reza Shah on the throne as a puppet ruler in 1941. During all this time the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), owned by the British government, continued to extract and market Iranian oil (something that Iranians were not all that happy about).

Mohammad Reza Shah does whatever he can to gather power and control from the elected government and to return to the days of total monarchy. He met with some success, but not enough.

In 1951 the Iranian parliament, under Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq voted to nationalize the oil industry. Britain freaked.

This is where things get really interesting.

Britain does everything it can to force Iran to let Britain continue to rape its natural resources. But by this time the British empire is just a shadow of its former self and can't quite pull it off.

Britain asks the US for help, but Truman turns them down.

So from '51 to '53 Iran has a moderate, democratic, secular government that is duly elect by, and holds power through the will of the people of Iran. This is exactly what the US claims it wants to see in the mid-east.

Mosaddeq does everything he can to create a progressive western style democracy,
Mohammad Reza Shah flees to Iraq to avoid prosecution for high crimes.

This is perhaps the best example we have seen of what the right wing says it wants to promote in the mid ease, except for that one little point about nationalizing the country's oil. The poor British are having to buy their oil just like everyone else.

Eisenhower, a right wing republican, assumed the presidency of the United States on January 20 1953. The British make contact with Eisenhower very quickly and soon worked out a deal. The deal involved certain preferred trade status when it came to buying oil from BP (British petroleum, the same BP that sells gas in the US and put the fix in for the big California oil shortage of a few years ago).

Eisenhower agreed to lend the British help from the CIA to get the oil back into British hands. They did this quite successfully by overthrowing the democratic government of Iran and reinstalling Mohammad Reza Shah as emperor.

The CIA and US military intelligence pulls this off without a hitch, using the excuse that Iran was going to make alliance with the USSR (which was bullshit, remember the Iranians hated the Russians as much as the British, for the same reasons).

So the US put the Shah back in power, and for twenty six years he oversaw a bloody reign of terror as a puppet dictator. The CIA helped him to build the SAVAK (along with special aid from the Mosad) which was nothing more than a tool for oppression.

So the Iranians, rather than seeing their dream of democracy be realized, got to have twenty six years of a bloody handed nutcase ruling them because he was being backed by the US.

So you want to know why Iran wants "the Bomb"? Simple, they are afraid of us. They know that we only give lip service to Democracy , and will install totalitarian dictatorships to make sure that we get the oil that we think we deserve.

They want the bomb because that know that they cannot win a conventional war with us and they hope that the threat of a nuclear explosion will make us have second thoughts.

All our claiming that Iran is a terrorist nation is just our Karma coming home to roost. If we had really supported democracy we would not be in the position that we are now with Iran. We created the conditions that allowed Khomeini to come to power through our own greed and because we don't really support democracy, we support us being able to loot other people's natural resources.

The Right Wingers always cry Democracy , but it is always really about oil.

So why do the Iranians hat us and call us the "Great Satan"? Because we gave them 26 years of a ruthless despot and we made sure that he stayed in power and could do whatever he wanted as long as he kept the oil flowing. Not because we are a predominately Christian nation, but because we are a predominately greedy nation. They hate us because we wanted their oil and we didn't want to pay them a fair price for it.

Iran may have the bomb, and if they do they will use it if they feel threatened, they think they have nothing left to loose and the ones who remember life under Mohammad Reza Shah don't want that again at any price.

Like I sad, this is our Karma, the price we pay for being hypocrites. If we had supported democracy in the mid east none of this would be happening now. But we chose greed instead and now we are looking at a people who have Nukes and think they have nothing left to loose.

This has been a very short history lesson, I have left a lot out, none of what I have not mentioned makes the West look any better. You can check out the facts yourself if you have any doubts, they are quite easy to find.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

I have been feeling quite irritable for the last couple of days

And I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.

Usually I am a fairly mellow person. People often comment on my sunny, even Pollyanna-like demeanor, so when I spend more than fifteen minutes being in a bad mood it usually means something.

Then someone said something to me last night that put my mood in focus, it's time for my yearly rant.

<rant>


Alcohol is basically an anti-evolutionary drug, I have always found it somewhat surprising that more people do not understand this.

While a threshold dose of this drug will produce a moderately positive effect, anything beyond that just makes you stupid. And dangerous. And irresponsible.

This is not anew idea, 1400 years ago the Quran stated
"In the matter of wine and gambling, there is some good in it for you and some harm in it, and the harm outweighs the good." (my translation)
Does this mean that I think that you should not dose yourself with alcohol if you want to?

No.

Does it mean that I think that we should prohibit the consumption of this drug?

Hell no!

My position is that people have the right to alter their consciousness chemically if they want to, even if it has negative side effects such as those found with alcohol; brain damage, liver damage, building a tolerance to the drug, and addiction.

I sure don't want to see another "prohibition". All the "Nobel Experiment" accomplished was to put unusual power and wealth in the hands of the criminal underclass.

In the Twenties the Mafia was very much like the cocaine cartels are today, and for the very same reason. Each group was able to become incredibly rich and powerful by selling substances that are very cheap to manufacture but who's market value has been artificially inflated because of prohibition.

But I am not here on this blog today to talk about the profoundly stupid drug laws enacted in the US, I want to talk about our number one legal mind altering substance, the drug that is more American than apple pie, the drug that typifies us as a people, alcohol.

The thing is, even though it is Red, White and Blue, alcohol makes you stupid when used in any significant amount.

Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong per se with making yourself stupid for a while. Turning off those higher functions can be very relaxing, recreational even. Not to mention that the lowering of inhibitions (or the anesthesia of conscience) can allow people to do stupid things and then blame it on the alcohol, all of which can be very cathartic.

If people want to dose themselves with alcohol recreationally I really have no problem with them doing so, the problem is that for some people, alcohol doesn't just make them stupid, it makes them "Right-Wing Stupid". This is the kind of stupid that makes you think that you can do whatever you want, regardless of the consequences to other people. This is the kind of stupid that makes a person think that laws don't apply to them, that they can ignore the effect they have on the people who they come in contact with, because they are entitled.

The single best example of "Right-Wing Stupid" is the drunk driver. The guy who goes careening down the street with no regard at all for the fact that he may kill himself (no great loss) or kill other people. (Did you know that Texas leads the nation in alcohol related driving fatalities?)

I am told that there were something like 120 million drivers on the road in 2002 who were driving impaired. That is a lot of people.

Something like 40% of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers, maybe more.

And you know what? For the chronic drunk driver, nothing much seems to stop them. You can fine them huge amounts of money, take away their license, give them jail time, impound their car, and they will still be swerving down the road the first chance they get.

For years (though most of you reading this may be too young to remember) driving while drunk was seen as a thing of little consequence. The laws in most places were nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and the media took it as a joke most times. (Back in the fifties and early sixties the drunk was often portrayed as a comic character rather than someone who was ruining his life and the lives of his family)

The bottom line though is that drunk drivers kill people. Our society is so disassociated from what this means that we don't really understand what this means. Let me reframe it for you.

Think of the person you care most about in the world, you wife, husband, children, whatever. Now imagine that they have been killed today by some guy who had so little care for his fellow human beings that he is willing to drive down the road drunk out of his mind and beyond all possibility of safety.

imagine that you will never see this person who you care so much about again. You have had them ripped from your live because some drunk thought it was his right to get behind the wheel of a car.

There has been some progress in recent years, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done a lot to bring attention to the problem.

But they have not been able to do enough. People still think that they have the right to drive drunk and kill whoever gets in their way.

We need something more. I think we need to get a little sterner with people who think they have privilege to do whatever they want to other people.

I think what we need is "Big Guys With Bad attitudes and Baseball Bats Against Drunk Driving".
It is obvious that the State governments and the national government will not ever do enough.


</rant>



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There is an old saying from Iran

I often quote it to my "twenty-something"students, it goes

"The young mouse thinks he can bite the lion's tail because the lion is old."

Here is an excellent example of the truth of the saying

From Yahoo News

Saturday February 12, 01:26 PM


'You picked the wrong man'

A young punk who tried to mug an 88-year-old picked the wrong man -- his intended victim turned out to be a former boxing champion who knocked the attacker out cold.

"I was visiting a friend's grave when a young, long-haired man came up to me and demanded I hand over my money," said granddad Gerhard Brinkmann of Halberstadt, Germany, who was the country's top lightweight boxer in 1936.

"I told him to come closer if he wanted it and, as he did, I landed a full-force right hook on his chin."



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Friday, February 11, 2005

America, or at least part of it

Is catching up to East Africa on certain important social issues.

Florida has just eased some restrictions on the use of deadly force, making it easer to defend yourself without fear of legal hassles. (Read This)

In Tanzania, if someone breaks into your house (which happens all too often) and you kill the robber, there is no problem, everyone understands that this is what is supposed to happen and there will be no big police investigation, and you will not be sued by the bad guy's family for messing with his "rights" (though it is not inconceivable that some friend might come looking for some pay-back).

If someone tries to rob you on the street and you kill him it is not a big deal either, as a matter of fact if you only wound the robber the people on the street will in all likelihood lynch the bad guy for you.

Being as there is not a lot of police protection and the courts are very bribable, "frontier justice" is very common. No one wants to see a robber back on the street the next day because he can bribe a judge, assuming a cop was around and interested in arresting him in the first place.

The thing is, there is not a lot of police protection in the States these days in a lot of places. When I lived in Southern Oregon there was never more than two Sheriff patrols for the whole county. Unless there were a violent crime happening they would not respond, nor would they investigate anything other than a violent crime. In other words, you were on your own unless you lived in a town big enough to have a police force, and even then you were not going to get much help.

But in the States, you can get into big trouble in a lot of places if you defend yourself from a robber. BIG TROUBLE!

Here is the problem, the Bush regime is ruining the US economy and a lot of places are going to end up with the same problem as Southern Oregon, not enough money to have an effective police force. This is not speculation, it is already happening folks.

So you may want to do a couple of things. The first is to help reduce crime in your state. How do you do this? Make sure your State is a "concealed carry on demand" state, meaning that any citizen who can pass the review can carry a pistol. Now I am not a "Pro gun" person, I would be happy if all guns everywhere just up and disappeared tomorrow. But, and this is a big but, there is now hard evidence that an armed populace in a State lowers the crime rate. Don't take my word for it though, check it out for yourself.

The other thing? Make sure that your State adopts the same deadly force rules as Florida. You can do that you know, the people in office are there at your pleasure, not the other way around, so if your State senate won't do this recall them and put some people in office that will.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

*Flash * This Just In

A friend, Jeff Finder, has his own blog

It is called Stickman's Escrima Blog

"Well (yawn) how interesting, yet another blog" you say.

But wait! This blog has content, it is information rich, you could learn something from it if you aren't careful.

This is not a blog by some self absorbed teenager wondering how to hide her bulimia from her parents while wishing she could catch the eye if the new "hunk" that just enrolled in her third period class.

These are the thoughts of a man who has spent years perfecting his art, and who is willing to share his experience with you.

Though the topic of his blog is Filipino martial arts, Jeff is a bit of a "renaissance man" so with any luck he will talk about some of his other interests as well.

So check it out, you'll be glad you did.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hey, I'm A Radio Station

Well, The station is up and running!

You will find it at Radio Ansari which is part of live365.com

The station has a pretty good mix of Sufi-like music, talks by my teacher, and once a week

The Traceless Warrior hour of mystery and intrigue(tm)
as well as radio drama preformed by

The Nasreddin Hoja Memorial Theater Troop(R)

It should be fun, check it out.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Here is an interesting bit of news

By this time next week I will have my own internet radio program.

Is that weird or what?

It will be part of a 24 hour station through Live 365 and my little section will include a "talk show" with interviews and commentary. I will be doing some interesting interviews, I intend to interview a good number of martial arts teachers, especially those who are doing really interesting work but never seem to find their way into the martial arts Rags. One of the first will be Guru Bobbe Edmonds, who is one of the up and coming young Silat teachers here in the US.

I will also be trying to convince some of my writer friends to spend an hour talking with me about various interesting things. As a matter of fact I will be gettting any number of people from all manner of strange and interesting fields to give interviews.

When I am not talking to people, or making fun of the Right Wing nut jobs who have taken over America there will be all manner of different music being played as well as other talks and lectures for your amusement.

It could be a lot of fun.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bloggingsphere Update

You just never know what's going to happen when you start something new.

My blog has been going now for almost three months and I am still enjoying it. More importantly other people seem to be as well, and that is just too kewl.

I seem to have about a hundred readers who drop in an a fairly regular basis, and it is really gratifying to know that there are people who find my ramblings to be either informative or amusing.

I was surprised to discover that I am listed in some places as an "Islamic Blog".

Well this is not an "Islamic Blog". While I am a Muslim, I consider a lot of what some people try to pass off as "Islamic" blogs or websites to actually be examples of obsessive-compulsive mono-maniacal religious ideation. It has been my experience that focusing on any one aspect of one's life to the exclusion of all others produces dangerously unbalanced individuals.

So my blog is about whatever I think is important, and will include everything from what I think about the God-human connection to good ways of improving your ability to keep your knife on target for best effect when sticking it in a bad guy. (And everything in between).

In some ways I think that this blog is my "Book of Five Rings", my thoughts and ideas about what I have found useful in a long and adventurous life. While I do not claim to be anything close to Musashi, I have managed to learn one or two things that I think may be useful to others.

This is a Human Blog

I am happy to report that my friend Steve Barnes' blog Dar Kush, has taken off and is going great guns!

Steve is getting a very good readership and his comments section is getting more activity that a lot of internet forums. I have to find a way to let people post more than 1000 characters, because some of the conversations there are quite detailed.

If you are interested in writing or self improvement, you need to check his blog out.

The Cool Blue Blog is still going strong and is providing a concise view of the Right wing viewpoint.

I have recently found THE counterpoint to the Cool Blue Blog, which is called Crooks and Liars. It gives a very different view of politics that is a pleasant change from what you might find on Fox News.

I have come to the conclusion that the so called "Right and the so called "Left" are just living in mirror image fantasies. Nothing that either side says makes sense any more. All I see is that each side spends all its time telling us why they are completely "right" and the other is completely "wrong", My opinion is that both sides have their collective heads inserted firmly up their arses and between the two "Sides", they will destroy this country.

If only each side would use some of their time and money to do an honest assessment of themselves and correct their own problems there might be some hope for the US, but I don't see this happening.

Small Flightless Bird is still giving us a delightfully Canadian view of the world.

Nietzscheswife over at Ecce Mulier took a vacation for part of last month. It was interesting to note how much I missed her writing while she was gone. If you haven't checked out what she has to say, you really should.

Jennifer St. Clair is still writing at DisOrganization and I am still enjoying what she has to say. One very kewl thing that emerged over the last couple of weeks is that two of her book made, and are staying at the number 1 and 2 slots on the Fictionwise best seller list. They are both quite good, and if you like fantasy books you might want to pick them up. Being eBooks they are very affordable.

Men Who Blog, and the Women Who Outdo Them

I have been told that something like 80% of all bloggers are female. From a quick check this does seem to be the case.

I am also told that most of the men who start blogs make a few entries, the get distracted and wander off to do something, leaving their blog orphaned, this also does seem to be true.

But there are some guys that are blogging regularly that I have found to be exceptions to these statements.

First is one I mentioned, whalesoundervish, written by my friend Azeem. He is not someone who writes everyday, but he has something to say.

Another is Kwasi, who is here in the states from Ghana working on his Ph.D in applied physics, and writes at Ramblings of an African geek. You will find some very interesting thoughts here, as well as evidence that comic books may speak a universal language.

Then there is the blog of Phil Ledgerwood, who occasionally comments here on this blog. Phil is an interesting guy, check him out.

Finally, the is instant gratification, the blog of a fellow named Don who live in the Mid-West and is a student of FMA. As it turns out he also reads my blog and likes it. I enjoy reading his, but he reminds me more than a little of myself when I was a lot younger. (more that a touch of rowdiness in his nature, but in a good way)

So keep up the good work guys, and remember, you're representing for the gender.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

And for you Grapplers

The last guy I saw get himself killed was a grappler.

I am not sure what style, but he looked like he had some skills.

He got into a "street" altercation with another guy, words were exchanged, names were called, things were said that perhaps should not have been.

The grappler did a textbook perfect shoot for a one leg takedown, the other guy hit him once in the back of the neck as he was going to the ground, then he got up and ran away, As it happened, he has a small knife held ice pick style, he punched it into the back of the grappler's neck, severing the spinal cord. It shut the grappler off quicker than the bedroom lights at a frat party.

Everything changes if the other guy already has a knife in his hand.

So for you grapplers who want to test your skills, put on a white tee shirt and give a friend a soft tipped marking pen (the ones with the square felt tips), get to rolling, after you have submitted your partner, count the number of stabs and cuts, decide if you would survive them (be honest).

Again, making assumptions about your skills without testing them against someone who is not cooperating is a good way to get a one way ride to the cemetery.

Your misunderstandings can be corrected in your school, but you can't fix being dead.

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Oh, I almost forgot

For Those People Who Think That If They Have To Deal With A Grappler......


That they will just cut him a few times.

Try this, get a friend who has some skills and get rolling with him. The match ends either when he submits you, or you draw and open a training folder and stab him at least three times.

For anyone who has not ever actually tried to deploy a knife against even a fair grappler this will be an eye opener.

One of the best ways I know of to get hurt or killed is to assume that something will work without ever testing it.

Just a thought for you.


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And Speaking of Knives

There is one thing I rarely see when people work with knives.

When I see people train with blades it is almost always squared off with knives out, one person attacks and the other defends. I am sure that everyone here is familiar with this.

So my question is, "How did that knife get in your hand?".

If you intend to use a knife to defend yourself then the one thing you need to practice above all else is getting that knife in your hand while keeping your attacker from killing you. The $500.00 "fighting-folder" that remains clipped to your pocket, or is dropped in an attempt to deploy it is worse than useless. I say worse because you have wasted time trying to get it out when you should have been using the time for something that would be saving your life.

Try it out some time. Have a training partner attack you while you have a training knife in a sheath in your belt, see if you can get it in play before you get "killed".

Then get a training folder, or make one by buying a cheap folder and grinding off the edge and rounding the point. See if you can get that sucker out of your pocket, opened and into use before your training partner cancels your ticket.

What you will find is that it is very hard to do so unless you have trained for it.

Here are a few tips that will help.

Fixed blade knives are better than folders as a rule because there are less steps involved in deploying them.

Always carry your knife in the same place.

practice drawing your knife under every conceivable circumstance, including sitting in your car, rolling on the ground, while a friend is shoving you around, with your "off" hand. Use your imagination.

Practice opening your folder with one hand until you can do it in your sleep.

Get two knives of the same kind, one you will carry and keep as sharp as a razor, the other you will grind the edge off, round the point and paint the grip red to use as a trainer (A trick I learned from Bob Orlando) threat way your practice knife and your carry knife will feel the same. This works the same for fixed blades and folders.

When my students are ready to learn the knife I have them get two Gerber Profiles for their training knives ($20.00 at Wal-Mart) This works quite well and they end up with a good cheap belt knife that they can use for all manner of tasks that to not involve putting holes in other people.

One exercise I use is to have a student stand with her eyes closed and her knife sheathed. I will walk around them with a focus mitt on one hand. at some point I will push them and they have to move away from the push at an angle (rather than straight back) draw their knife and cut or stab the focus mitt, which I may have moved to a different position.

Try it, it is a fun challenge.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Not only NO!

But HELL NO!!!!!!!

The LA Times has an interesting article today. It shows just how much contempt the Republican party (and their Democrat dupes) hold the citizens of this country in.

there has been a slow, quiet movement to amend the constitution to allow a person not born a citizen of the US to hold the office of President.

The person in question is of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, That misogynistic, cigar smoking, Whore house trolling, steroid guzzling, womanizing, grubber after special interest money (all alleged of course, by people who are no doubt un-American).

We can't elect a Black man to to the office, or a woman, or a Jew, or a Latino, but we can go outside of our own born citizens and recruit a two bit actor from Austria with a Nazi father to be our president? I think not!

And before you fascist Republican sons of bitches start complaining about bringing Arny's father into this, you all know as sure as you were born that if Clinton had a father in the KKK you would have been all over it! So shut the FUCK UP with your holier than thou Bull Shit.

For that matter, the Republicans wasted millions hounding Clinton for getting a blow job, but The Terminator is legend in Hollywood for his woman chasing, according to people who should know, he has the locations of all the best brothels committed to memory. This doesn't seem to bother the "family values" folk at all.

Well I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it any more.

I don't think that Americans are the morons that the republicans seem to take us for. It is time to gut the republican beast and expose the rot that has been festering deep in its bowels since the days of Reagan and his voodoo economics.

You know of course that it was Reagan who gave us the homeless crisis when he was governor of California don't you? Yep, he slashed the mental health budget for the state, closed half the state hospitals, dumped the patients out onto the street to fend for themselves as best they could. Along with the ones who were just lost and unable to take care of their needs he also let lose the two worst serial killers in California history. (I was working in the mental health field at the time and got to watch this happen)

Schwarzenegger will do the same. He is already looking for special interest money from outside California to fund all those initiatives he wants to pass (read that as selling California out).

So It is time to stop this bull shit and put these Neo-Con Dominionist fascists in their place (which is nowhere in our government)

Or are they right and we ARE a bunch of sheep?

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Getting Behind the Knife

"Hide behind your knife!"

"Let your knife move you", "Get behind your knife", are all phrases you will here often when I am working with my students on the knife combat phase of the martial art I teach.

Now some people will no doubt be put off by the idea of learning to use a knife as a weapon, but there are some valid reasons for this.

1) The best way to learn to defend yourself from a knife attack is to understand how an attack works.

2) nothing I know of encourages good footwork and body dynamics like working with a knife.

3) The knife is one of the most common weapons found world wide in the hands of bad guys.

4) It is fun.

5) It will teach you to use your body in an interesting way.


There are two "rules" for getting behind the knife. The first is

TOOLS BEFORE BODY

This is the idea that you move the fastest bits first, to use your tools (hand, foot or weapon) to make the way fore the slower bits (torso).

Implied in this is the idea that you move in "sections", as my Serak teacher, Guru Stevan Plinck says "one base at a time" which allows for more stability and power to your movement.

(There is a sub set to this rule that says move one base at a time for power, move both bases for evasion).

The second "rule" is

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, BUT YOU CHOOSE HOW

Now this may seem simple, and it is, it is just not easy.

Most people, most of the time will tend to pivot at the joints. This is the natural "intuitive" form of movement.

When an unskilled person moves, they will tend to move with the pivot point at the joint and the portion of the body above the joint will move in isolation.

It looks sort of like this;


p1

Think of this as an upper arm, elbow, and forearm,


p2

You will notice that the forearm moves in isolation (pretty much) from the rest of the body.

From the point of view of knife combat this is the basis of the classic "psycho in the shower" knife attack.

A person with some training will tend to move with the pivot point at the joints, but they will tend to "chain" the movements (move wrist, then elbow, then shoulder for example) making a much more effective movement.

But there is another kind of movement that is less intuitive, but more "masterful.

This involves placing the pivot point (or pivot points) for a movement wherever it does you the most good.

Imagine for a moment that rather than pivoting your arm at the elbow joint you make the pivot point for the movement between the elbow and wrist.


p3

When you move in this way you recruit more joints into the movement and you find that your whole body follows the movement.

p4

Rather than the joint staying stable, it moves, and the rest of your body follows. (Ideally).

If you keep the idea that you want to stay behind your knife (keep your weapon interposed between you and your opponent) it will produce a naturally efficient and effective movement.

But

Only in as much as your "flow" is unbound.

"Bound Flow" is an idea that was originally described by the dancer Rudolf Laban, then refined by Coach Scott Sonnon.

There are a lot of different ways to describe bound flow, but it is basically the place in your movement where your energy stops. (yes, I know it is vague, sorry)

So when you are allowing yourself to place your pivot points wherever is best for you in the moment and your entire body responds to the movements through those pivot points then you are "in flow". When your energy gets bound at a certain point, perhaps because of a limitation in your range of motion, the your flow becomes "bound" also and you lose the energy contained in the movement.

Try a little experiment.

Grab a training knife and move with it, but put your primary pivot point between wrist and elbow. Notice how your whole body wants to accommodate the movement of the knife.

Now grab a partner and play with attack and defense using the same idea. Work slow enough that you have time to feel what you are doing and don't slip back into habitual movement.

It could be intresting.

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