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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The best political speech I've heard in a long time.

Of course it's given by a comedian.

It's a sad state of affairs when the only person making any sense runes a fake news show on Comedy Central.

But the Republicans have spent most of the last 40 years destroying this country. Almost everything that is going wrong today in America has it's roots in Right Wing ideology (Or perhaps I should say fantasy), They should not be allowed to administer the affairs of this country for us.

The Democrats have proven themselves to be incompetent and corrupt by turns. Even when given more power than any political party deserves they have managed to fail miserably at raining in  the excesses of Republican power grabbing. They Don't deserve to administer this country for us either.

And the militant arm of the Republican party the Tea Baggers, what to turn this country into a Religious Moronocracy.*

So let's hope that this video goes viral.

*(Moronocracy: rule by the stupid)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Something on Gun Control

and a new way to carve a pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The best "get out the Vote" video I've ever seen

Done by MoveOn as it seems

Go Here and check it out

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Walking Your Talk

And other rare occurrences

Those of you who are regular readers know that I have the privilege of being a friend of Scott Sonnon, and that I write about him from time to time.
(Quick disclaimer, While Scott is my friend, I am not a part of his organization, RMAX, nor am I certified to teach any of his programs. I do not receive any financial consideration for saying nice things about him, or from using his material. In other words, I ain't got no reason to be foolin' with you about this)

Here's the thing, if Albert Einstein had gone into martial arts and athletics instead of physics, he would have been Scott Sonnon.

This isn't hyperbole, I'm dead serious. Scott isn't just a genius when it comes physical movement and training, he has discovered something I consider equivalent to the theory of relativity for athletic endeavor. 

What Scott has found is something very much like the Platonic Ideal of training. I've been watching him work on this for some years now, and it looks to me as if he has gotten his theorem polished.

Recently, Scott has been giving out a series of training programs under his Tacfit umbrella.
There are several Tacfit programs now including:
Tacfit the original. A great program for when you have a gym handy.
TacFit Commando, which is a program that requires no equipment at all.
TacFit Mass Assault, uses a simple set of dumbbells to do wonders.
Tacfit R.O.P.E., for pulling movements. This is basically a whole gym hidden in a rope.
and his latest in the series Tacfit Kettlebell Spetsnaz,which takes kettlebell work to a whole new level.

While all these programs are amazing in their usefulness and effectiveness, they are not what I find most interesting.

What Scott has done is create a matrix into which he can input any sport or movement discipline and output the perfect set of exercises and protocols to maximize your performance.

So someone could say "give me something for badminton" or "I need something to help me perfect my bowling" or even "How about a Tacfit Cheetah for barefoot/minimalist runners?" (not that I am suggesting that Scott should develop a Tacfit program that would help people to maximize their speed, power and endurance as runners while minimizing the chance of injury, just that the world would be a better place if he did :-) ) and within just a little while you would have a set of exercises with progressions and the protocols for executing them that would allow you to reach you full potential in that sport.

And that, my friends, is worth it's weight in gold, to have such a deep understanding of exercise at the Meta level that you can produce a high level training regime for anything involving movement. (I will postulate that this matrix can be used for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual movement, but explaining that will take another full post).

So what does all this have to do with walking your talk?

Well, perhaps you have noticed that while there are all manner of people who offer programs in martial art or exercise, there is perhaps less objective evidence than one might like as to the effectiveness of these programs.

This is especially true in martial arts. There is all manner of stuff out there, but the time to discover whether or not you made the right choice in training is NOT when you really need it.

But how to tell the value of any given material?

For me, there are two criteria. "Can he do?" and "Can he teach?".  Now "Do" doesn't mean "do with your students", anyone can look like the baddest dude on the planet when working with the people who they have trained. And "teach" doesn't mean your students demonstrating in your class. "Do" means demonstrating that your stuff works against someone who has skill and is doing everything possible to make your art fail. "Teach" means your students can do the same.

Here's the rub. The only place to test out your stuff and show that you know what you're talking about (besides the battlefield) is in competition, and big name teachers mostly just don't compete.

I can't really blame them. If you get on the mat and lose, people might not think you know what you're talking about, and if your income is based on being an expert, that could be devastating. (Of course, the only people who have never lost in competition are the ones who have never competed, but many people don't understand that) So you don't see the big name teachers taking risks. (There are a few notable exceptions though).
When was the last time you saw (fill in the name of your favorite self-defense guru here) get on the mat with someone of real skill who was fully committed to beating him?

So some people were a little surprised when Scott put everything on the line and agreed to compete in the 2010 World Martial Arts Games.

He was anteing up his reputation, his company, his health and well being for this tournament. If he lost his detractors would have trumpeted it all over the Internet and it would have no doubt seriously hurt him financially.

And this was not some "do some demos and a form" sort of competition. This was full contact, submission/knockout play.

It's not like Scott has anything to prove. He has a whole list of wins from when he was a Sambo player, and then back in '05 he went to a San Shou Tournament and showed the world that he knew exactly what he was talking about. (read about it here and here).

Scott uses his methodology to train himself for the competition, which is pretty much a "put up or shut up" action. With that, the whole world gets to see exactly how good his stuff is.

So what happens? He goes to this Tournament and fights nine full contact matches in 24 hours against a field with no weight classes or age divisions (Scott just turned 40) and came home with four gold medals, two silver, and one bronze.

There you have it. A person that has proven that their methods are effective using their own body and reputation (and actually risking everything to do so) in open competition, an event almost unheard of in this day of Internet wonders and seminar warriors.

Here's a highlight reel of Scott's competition.

My personal favorite part is just about 2:45 in where Scott's opponent tries to get him in a triangle choke and Scott pretty much dives through his own navel, comes out the other side and gets him right into an ankle lock. Too Kewl.

You can listen to this Interview Of Scott by Steven Barnes for The Diamond Hour Show (right click to download) on the tournament, the training that lead up to it and such. It's well worth it.

Just when I think Scott Sonnon couldn't impress me more he does this. Respect!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Warm San Franciscian Nights

And slightly cooler mornings....

I have recently returned from a two week stay in San Francisco, one of my all-time favorite cities.

I was invited there to teach a series of workshops on a few different subjects. I did three clinics on barefoot running as a method of transitioning to a forefoot strike, a day long seminar on Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings", and a rather experimental workshop called "Think, Sweat, Feel".

The events were organized by two of San Francisco's best trainers and coaches Cody Fielding and Carey Rockland.

The first two running classes were put on for Workout On The Hill, This is an organization that offers outdoor training in the Bernal Heights district of SF. (My kind of people. "Gym? We don't gotta show you no stinkin' gym!")

So on Tuesday I found myself standing on the top of Bernal hill at sunrise with a group of really dedicated people.

We started with posture exercises to introduce the idea of "runner's stance" and teach people how to find it and keep it active.

We also went through some of my favorite core strengthening exercises.

As well as the drills I use to help people find the right lean for efficient running.

And of course we did a lot of running practice with our toes exposed to nature in all her early morning glory. There is something quite peaceful about running at dawn, even more so with friends.

After two mornings of training the group was doing quite well, so I left them in Carey's competent hands and went on to a more challenging group.

Carey had set up a running tutorial with a group which was comprised mostly of personal trainers, coaches and teachers.

So on one those perfect San Francisco afternoons, I find myself in a park full of people lounging about on grass.

I am surrounded by some extremely fit people half my age or less, it's my job to suggest that there might be some virtue in returning to a style of running that had fallen from favor before they were born, and to demonstrate that I know what I'm talking about.

It took very little time to get them out of there shoes and going through my basic set of drills. While doing this I also taught some of my methods for working on a more subtle level. One skill I think they will find useful is how to teach a person's "non-dominant" side a skill that they have learned on their "dominant" side.

In very little time I had the group running about the park, bare feet flashing, to the puzzled looks of the other park goers.

At the end of the class I took the group through a short meditative process to help them connect to their "ancestral runner", then we went off for a last run. The group was having so much fun I had to sort of coax them back in for the wrap up.

Of special note for the afternoon, I got a chance to meet a couple of people with whom I have had an Internet acquaintance for a while. First is Heron Saline, a fine hypnotherapist who I have had some pleasant conversation with from time to time. I was particularly geeked to have him attend because he could become a resource for the trainers there who developed an interest in the sort of mental processes I was using to enhance learning. I'm happy to say that he was as kewl as I expected.

The other person I had been looking forward to meeting was T. Thorn Coyle. I have corresponded with Thorn a few times and have several friends who know her and think very well of her. We actually got a chance to spend a little time together before the class, but it is going to take a full blog entry to tell you about that.

There is one thing of note that I will mention here. As I watched her take her last run across the park I remarked to myself how good her form was. She had that long straight runner's stance as she moved, and the gazelle like grace you see in the best "primal" runners. I sort of assumed that she must have some sort of running background. As it turns out I was misapprehended. Check out Thorn's Blog entry for a more accurate account of what was going on.

The Book of Five Rings

The first weekend I was in SF I did a day long seminar on  Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings".

The philosophical part of the day was fairly easy to address, but as I don't have much of a background in Japanese fencing I knew we were not going to be waving katanas around, and needed to find some way to address the more physical aspects of Musashi's work.

My solution was to have everyone bring rattans and address what Musashi called "sword fencing" through the lens of Filipino martial art.

We spent considerable time on the nine principals outlined at the end of the "Earth Book"
  1. Do not think dishonestly.
  2. The Way is in training.
  3. Become acquainted with every art.
  4. Know the Ways of all professions.
  5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
  6. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
  7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
  8. Pay attention even to trifles.
  9. Do nothing which is of no use.
as I consider them to be a really useful condensation of the entire text. The nine principals act as mnemonics for the entirety of Musashi's method of strategic thinking.

The best way to understand Musashi though, is in contesting with with an opponent. The free flow of  combat allows one to experience Musashi's strategy in real time and to get it into the body.

Interestingly, most of the participants were not martial artists, though all were athletes from various disciplines. Those who did have a martial background were mostly not weapon based.

So I was fortunate indeed to have, as one of the attendees Sharon Sanghera,  Editor in Chief of Vincit Magazine and JKD/Kali black belt. Sharon is a proven fighter of no little skill who has fought in some interesting venues.

I had wanted to ask her before the seminar if she would be wiling to help out with the weapons work, but I was not able to, so I just sort of drafted her.

I'm happy to say she was quite game for some impromptu sparring. To tell the truth, I could have stopped the seminar right there and spent the rest of the day fencing her. She had great flow and a strong spirit.

With her able assistance I was able to get the room moving with sticks and having some direct experience of Musashi's strategy in action.

The day was both quite fun and a success in laying a foundation for further study of Musashi's philosophy.

There is one other event of note for the seminar. I finally got a chance to meet Vince Brown, which I had been looking forward to for quite a while. I am going to have to dedicate a full entry to this meeting as it was quite information rich, and I think it may be of interest to a wide audience.

The last event I led before returning home was an experimental work-group called "Think-Sweat-Feel".

It is my attempt to counteract, in some small way, the epidemic of spiritual neotony that has infected humanity like some vile mind parasite.

One thing I have learned over many years of teaching is that if the whole person is not engaged in the development process bad thing may happen.

In designing this seminar I pulled a lot of information from Dr. John Medina's "Brain Rules" to help create the matrix that contained the information.

I will no doubt write more about this later, but I think the seminar was a very good start and came away feeling quite happy about the day and the people.

Here is a bit of theme music for the post. a song that came out in 1967, the first year I ever visited San Francisco.