A Strange Intimacy

There are many different kinds of intimacy. Of course there’s the sexy sexy kind but there are quite a few that don’t involve sex or genitals or exchanging bodily fluids. Soldiers develop an intimacy with each other that they find hard to replace after mustering out. The same is true for police, fireman, and many other professions. Professional atheletes miss the camaraderie more than the glory. What I’d like to acknowledge is the strange, intense intimacy of training and combat in the martial arts.

It’s rarely acknowledged or discussed but martial arts training is likely the second most physically intimate thing you’ll ever do. Most of it is obvious. Grappling and rolling with a training partner is clearly a very close encounter. In every class we repeatedly put our hands all over each other. How many faces have you touched? I bet I’ve touched thousands. But it’s more than that. It’s deeper.

If I train with someone over time I get to know things about them that their closest family members probably don’t know. I know how they react to fear and stress. I know their deepest tendancies. I might know nearly everything about how they relate to the world. Funny thing is I might not know if they’re married or what they do to earn a living. A strange intimacy indeed.

We live in a society that allows very limited physical contact with each other. Anyone who’s trained has an immediate advantage in self defense because we’re used to the intense intimacy of combat. I wouldn’t think twice about putting my hands on a stranger. I do it all the time. It’s no longer a taboo for me.

The fact of this intimacy is why YOU CAN’T FUCKING LEARN MARTIAL ARTS ON THE INTERNET. Don’t get me wrong, watching other teachers and practioners has it’s place. I do it all the time. But it isn’t training. If you want to learn this shit you must deal with and embrace the intimacy. That in itself is revolutionary. Saor Alba, Vaya Con Dios, and Viva la Revolucion!

Two Teaching Styles

I teach a lot. I regulaly talk with other teachers and masters of their craft. I also have way too much time to think about teaching. Here’s what I think at the moment: Teaching is a big reponsibility. In my opinion there are two ways to look at this reponsibility. Does it ultimately rest with the student or the teacher? Let me explain…

Teaching style one believes that when you walk on to the mat (or into a classroom) that the teacher is responsible for making sure that you learn the curriculum. They must do whatever’s necessary for you to learn. I think of this style as the drill seargent style. They tend to be stricter and punish more often.

Teaching style two believes that the responsibility is always the students and the students alone. In this style the teacher presents the information to the best of their ability and leaves it up to the student to apply as they feel best. I think of this as the more advanced student style. It’s mellower and lighter but no less serious.

Let me state very very clearly that neither of these styles is right or wrong. Neither one of them is superior in any intrinsic way. As a student you must decide which style will work best for you. This will take some real soul searching and honesty on your part. It is, however, crucial that you get it right.

Anyone who knows me would agree that I strongly adhere to the second style, both as student and teacher. I don’t think it’s right, just right for me. I’ve sent students away when I’ve thought that the other brand of teacher would better serve their needs. Because all teachers should be strong enough to admit that other teachers have value too. Saor Alba, Vaya Con Dios, and Viva la Revolucion!

Are You Disabled? Of Course You Are

Can you legally use a cane? Of course you can…

From the American With Disabilities Act of 1990.

A DISABILITY: “an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity…As long as the impairment has an actual or expected duration of more than six months.” and “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual… major life activities include, but are not limited to… walking, standing…”

Remember, “An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.”

CANE use: “A public accommodation shall permit individuals with mobility disabilities to use…canes…or other similar devices designed for use… in any areas open to pedestrian use.”

DISCRIMINATION: “a failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary.” “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.” “no qualified individual with a disability shall…be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.”

Saor Alba, Vaya Con Dios, and Viva la Revolucion!