Lineage and Legitimacy, The Imposing Twin Peaks of Martial Arts.

In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?

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Monday’s Martial Madness: New Year’s Resolutions for the Martial Artist

AAAaaaaand I’m BACK! I took a bit of a hiatus because Christmas snuck up on me like merrily clad ninja then it was GO! GO! GO! for like 2.5 weeks. That’s all over now. So, it’s back to Monday’s Martial Madness for me, and you.

Today I’m offering a very unequivocally punctilious (ha ha, made you look up words!) list of New Year’s Resolutions that every martial artist should make. This list will insure that you are the best martial artist you can be for the coming year.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: The 12 Days of Martial Arts 🎄

Dear Reader, You are about to embark on a non-sensical journey of wonder.  You’re probably gonna wonder about this little ditty.  Why in the world would anyone do this on PURPOSE.  While it is possible to get injured practicing a martial art, it doesn’t happen this fast or intensely.  Rather, this is an imaginative a retelling of many injuries collected by many martial artists over the past century condensed into 12 days. Because Christmas, and madness.  

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Calm Aggression: A Paradoxical Reality of the Martial Arts

I was working with a young girl who I knew struggled with being aggressive in her sparring.  It was just her and me for that particular class so I could slow things down and explain some concepts that she had not intuited yet in her training.  I mean, she’s pretty young, so this concept wouldn’t have occurred to her anyway.  Whenever she sparred with the other students she would get overwhelmed, particularly if one young boy was her partner and freeze in response. We talked about what it means to be aggressive, she gave me a list of definitions that were most centered on being physically aggressive, I added really going after something and a couple of other ideas to the list.  Then we talked about remaining calm while sparring and what that looked like.  I told her that she could be both calm, and aggressive, at the same time.  She was skeptical of that idea. Through a series of exercises I proved that it was possible, and apparently that was a game changer for her according to her dad.

At this point in my training, certain things have become instinctual so I barely think about them until I’m faced with a higher level of danger or commitment.  Being calm, but aggressive is one of those things. It dawned on me after class that being calm AND aggressive at the same time in the face of danger is a bit of a paradox.  The terms seem mutually exclusive and opposites.  How can one remain calm, yet be also aggressive during a fight, or sparring, or during testing?  

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Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Make a Martial Art Out of ANYTHING

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, Gurg learned that he could stop his neighbor, Brob, from taking his portion of mammoth by hitting him with a stick just below the eyes.  Somewhere else, some other prehistoric dude found poking Zur in the eyeball helped him impress the local prehistoric babes.  Since then, humans have found numerous ways to hit, kick, maim and otherwise kill each other.  Some have organized their techniques into whole systems.  Some of these you may know: kung fu, karate, tae kwan do, and that barbaric sport pigeon-do.  Never heard of pigeon-do? It’s by far the deadliest martial art known to man, even worse than krav maga.

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Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast: The Learning Curve

Lately I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with a new white belt during class.  We are working through his first kyu (belt) level so he can complete his first test. Last night we were working on his punching and kicking techniques when Sensei came over to help my fellow student smooth out some parts of his punching technique.  He said to the student, “Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast.”  Our instructor often says he would rather us take our time learning the technique and do it correctly than be fast and hard but doing the technique incorrectly.  Incorrect movement leads to injury, or being defeated.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: A No-Touch Thanksgiving Tutorial

It’s that time of year again. An overflow of food and relatives that can a person feel overstuffed physically, and emotionally.  The madness that overtakes us every year can be daunting, and perhaps make us shut down with all of the work that comes with adhering to tradition by preparing, and eating, massive amounts of food.  I’m here to help you overcome the plague of busyness by helping you develop you’re martial skills in the area of preparing the fearsome feast known as Thanksgiving.  Because training is life, and life is training.

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