Go Read the Old Stuff!

Loyal followers, the summer and a couple of interesting opportunities have eaten up much of my available time over the next couple of months. Why don’t you take this little hiatus as a chance to catch up on the last decade or so of excellent crap. I’ve cleaned everything up. The links and categories all work so go look around. In the meantime I’ll be training, riding to Sturgis, and having a bit of craic. Expect an update right after Labor Day…

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!

On Wellness

In the last 50 years people have become increasingly disillusioned with orthodoxy. The large monotheistic religions, the hierarchical state, even traditional martial arts have seen a steady crumbling of faith and blind adherence. While I think that overall this is a very positive development it has left many spiritual people feeling a bit adrift. The first step forward should be developing a daily routine to ground ourselves and get in touch with a sense of the universe. I call this a Personal Unifying Practice and it provides the foundation for much of what I teach.

A PUP should be eclectic, diverse, and ever evolving. It needs to start with some quiet time or meditation and then include anything that increases awareness, center, compassion or Joy. Bits of Tai Chi, dance, yoga, Chi Gong, and martial exercises will all work. Later it can expand to include traditional exercise, self defense, playing music, drawing, or any other creative pursuit. I hope that the wellness community moves toward helping people design their own unique practice that draws from multiple traditions. If everyone spent 30-40 minutes a day in their own ever evolving art we would all be a lot more joyful.

Sometimes I wonder how many teachers in what’s become known as the wellness or human potential movement notice that the people who most need their skills are frequently those who are least able to access them. Temple of the Circus Monkey and Desert Monkey Dojo are my very small attempt to answer that concern. I am pleased that my classes are extremely inexpensive and that the bulk of my teaching is done in random spaces. I teach martial arts to people who would never enter a dojo and meditation to those who might be unwelcome in a temple. If your practice is dependent on a quiet beautiful space your practice is way too limited.

All practices should include a strong theme of ego deprivation and this had better start with the teacher. Alas this is not always the case. Tradition glorification, greed, and teachers drinking their own bath water don’t lead to wellness, they lead to new orthodoxy and more disillusioned practitioners.

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

To Do Today…

Every practice is built on a foundation of basic skills and practices. If you’re really serious about getting better you should try to spend a few minutes every day working on them. Below I’ve listed my basic 8. In truth it’s pretty impossible to do them every day but I do try. As your practice expands the list of basic daily exercises will likely expand to include other meditations, stretches, and movements. Eventually the daily practice will be unique to you. But start here:

1) Sitting quietly-
2) Hip isolation-
3) Standing meditation-
4) Balance-
5) Weight Shifting–
6) Rowing-
7) Stance changes-
8) 2 Steps-

I’m not going to elaborate on these right now, I’ll just give you the list. Over the next few weeks I’ll explain each one more thoroughly. Or you could come to a class or book a seminar. You can’t really learn this shit here in the virtual world.

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

Full Speedo Ahead

So here’s a quick question; When exactly did naked male flesh get to be yucky or bad?  Why are grown-ass adults reduced to giggly school children when a guy wears shorts above his fucking knee?  When I was a kid way back in the dark ages men used to wear shorts to play sports.  We even wore bathing suits and (gasp) speedos.  We showed our thighs.  Are those days gone forever?

As long as I’m on the subject why is a speedo synonymous with gay?  Why don’t women think seeing the outline of a penis is hot?  Has sexual repression really advanced that far?  How about we grow the fuck up about sexuality.  You know, like we used to be.

Humans should find human flesh to be attractive.  Sexual repression and the demonization of heterosexual urges by both the left and right disgusts me. Sexual mutilation, fat shaming, rape and whole host of other abominations start with body shaming.  Mortification of the flesh is an age old practice that should be rejected by modern sensibilities.

When the revolution comes I’ll be wearing a kilt.  Duh.  But at the post  revolution pool party I’ll be rocking a shiny speedo.  Saor Alba, Vaya Con Dios, and Viva la Revolucion!

A Good Old-fashioned Rant

If you want to catch a free animal you need to use a trap that closes very quickly or very slowly. In the first case they’re caught because freedom disappears more quickly than they can react. In the second fredom disappears so slowly that they never realize the threat exists until it’s too late. If you do it gently enough they might not even fight back. For us free humans the slow trap is just about closed.

I know, I’m just another libertarian type screaming hysterically about the loss of freedom. Go ahead, ignore me. I’m sure you’ll make a very good serf. You’ll be comfortable and safe enough, you just won’t get to have any independence or privacy. Go back to your idiotic super hero movies and you’re fucking video games. Oh, someone’s still here? Do you want to see the trap? Here’s a quick glimpse of some of the links in the chain you’re helping them build…

One of the hallmarks of a free man is the ability to move. To go someplace else, anywhere else, for no damn reason. That era is long past if you’re talking about international travel and it’s about to end domestically too. To many of us the car, or the blessed motorcycle, is the very symbol of freedom. I can strap in, buy some gas, and go anyplace. Anonymously. No ticket. No passport. Just go. That’s ending. GPS, on board computer systems, self driving cars, the mommy state and bullshit eco-laws are ending the era of free anonymous movement. Most new cars can be tracked and shut down remotely. Some European countries have vowed to get rid of human driven cars in the next decade. You know, for safety. You don’t know it yet, but you’re even about to lose the right to even ‘own’ your personal vehicle. Or most anything else.

Ah yes, private property, the very foundation of freedom. This is mine and I can do with it what I like. Not so much. Go buy a piece of land and see how many permits you need to do anything or try to drive your new car without permission and licenses. But I’m not even talking about those things. I’m talking about whether you actually own the car at all. Very quietly a consortium of car manufacturers and software companies are getting the laws changed so that you don’t own the code in the thing that you bought, and everything has code. Strangely enough John Deere is leading the way. You might say ‘so what’ but you’d be wrong. If they win, and they will, you will no longer have the right to modify or repair ‘your’ property at all. Doing so will lead to mandatory jail sentences for copyright infringement or intellectual property crimes. And guess what? Everything has code. Want to add your own software or turn off the GPS or microphone on you phone? Nope, you’ll go to jail. Even though you supposedly ‘bought it’. Speaking of which…

Part of private property is the right to buy shit anonymously. To do that we use money. It works. We don’t owe our souls to the company store anymore. However the powers that be hate cash. It can’t be traced easily. You can buy guns, hookers and cocaine with it. Or motorcycle parts. So guess what? Cash is going away. More and more you have to use cards or an app on your fucking phone. I tried to order a pizza last night and couldn’t because I wanted to pay for it with actual money. None of the delivery places let you do that anymore. Trust me, you’re really going to miss dollar bills when they’re gone, you can’t make private sales, and everything you buy is traceable.

Once there’s no cash, no anonymous travel, and damn little private property you’ll find that you have no privacy left. Computer and phone technology is stealing your personal life so fast I don’t even know where to begin. Alexa, get the fuck out of my life, And I haven’t even mentioned that police of every kind piss all over your 4th Amendment rights every day. To enforce the LAW.

We are a nation of laws. Millions and millions of laws. Every one of us breaks a number of them every day. Our founding fathers knew that laws only work well when they’re applied evenly. It’s why we blindfold Justice. Yea well, that bus left. None of us believe that the rich and poor have the law applied equally. A District Attorney in New York recently decided he wouldn’t prosecute illegal aliens for many crimes so they couldn’t be deported. That’s right, he decided that American citizens should go to jail and illegal aliens shouldn’t even if they committed the exact same crime. And he’s still the DA. Hell, why is still out of jail himself? Or alive?

Once you start talking about laws you have to begin to think about who gets to make them. Do you? Does Monsanto? You know the answer to that. Laws, for the most part, now serve the needs of corporations and the rich. Not you. And certainly not the Constitution. The power to make laws is important because the groups that have it also have the power to put you in a cage whenever they feel like it. Fact is the US puts more people in cages for more reasons than any other civilization known to history. Exactly how does this make us the land of the free?

Even if you do manage to stay out of a cage you still can be controlled by piling debt on your back. Back to the company store again. And if you don’t pay your debts guess what happens? Prison. Put all these things together and you are now a serf. What you can do, who you can see, and how you live your life are now effectively under the complete control of the Governcorp or the Corporament or whatever you want to call this unholy alliance. It’s their way or prison, they’re always watching, and you’re letting it happen.

We’ve been told that our enemies are a different color, a different religion, a different sexual orientation, a different party, oh fuck, just different. These aren’t our enemies and they sure as hell aren’t the Governcorp’s enemies either. You know who is the ‘enemy of the people’ is according to these power hungry ass-monkeys? A biker with a gun, some training, a pocket full of cash and a thirst for joy. Shit. That’d be me. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.

Work Smarter AND Harder

I’m back and feeling ever so much better. Thanks for asking. Of course I’ve spent some time thinking but we’ll get to that later. You know what I did for the most of the last few weeks? I trained. Hard. And played the same way.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a panel discussion. The subjet is irrelevant to this post so I won’t distract you with a lot of details. Suffice it to say that it involved a number of people who were accomplished in their chosen field and they took questions. Regardless of the raised issue it soon became apparent that the answer, when not specific or technical, was almost always some version of WORK HARDER.

Okay, so here comes the old man rant. You know what almost always helps you get better at something? Hard work. Not more technology. Not fancier training methods. Not clever short cuts. Just plain old fashioned nose to the grindstone, sweat producing practice. I can hear millennials bailing out of this post by the hundreds.

Work smarter, not harder.” “Get real results fast.” “Twenty minutes a day will reap amazing results.” No, you lazy fuck, it won’t. Do you want to be a great musician? Practice for hours every day. Serious about martial arts? Train your forms constantly. Want to get in great shape? Plan your days around the gym. Interested in a spiritual pursuit? Work work work at it.

Talent is nice if you have it. Dedication and faith are useful. A good teacher or 12 can certainly help smooth the way. Good tools can be fun or make you look cool. But only hard work over a long long time will give you mastery. Not easy. Not sexy. Definitely not profitable. Probably full of tears and injury. But true. If you want to be better, work harder. And if anyone tells you differently they’re lying. And they probably suck at what they do. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.

Martial Arts & Martial Sports

It happens every time, this crazy heart of mine. I start out writing a simple blog and I end up pissing everyone off. And so it goes. I guess it’s time to back off from politics, social commentary, and the like. Okay, good plan. Let’s go back to talking about martial arts.

Martial- Inclined toward being a warrior. Warlike or preparatory for combat. Arts- Repetition and expression of forms leading to transcendence. Attempting to describe truths that are beyond the objectively communicated.

Those are good enough definitions. Is there anything in either of those words that signifies sports? Competition for points or money? Sparring? Pay per view? Fucking walk in music? I didn’t think so. So STOP CALLING COMBAT SPORTS MARTIAL ARTS AND VICE VERSA. Jesus fucking Christ this pisses me off.

Look, I like combat sports. Boxing, MMA, Pro Wrestling, whatever. They’re fun. They can be entertaining. But they aren’t Martial Arts and neither are the training systems that attached to them. Judo, BJJ, Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, Karate, boxing, etc are great. They’ll get you into shape. They’ll teach you to fight. But they aren’t fucking Arts. Sciences? Sure. Sports? Past times? Valuable cultural phenomenon? Okay. But not Arts.

I’m a Martial Artist. I don’t fight. I don’t spar. Lord knows I don’t make much money. I train to understand the universe. I train to explain those things that can’t be explained. I have more in common with a modern dancer or a musician than an MMA fighter. Oh, and I can still probably kick your ass. I just don’t care about that.

Okay, now I’ve probably pissed off a bunch of ‘martial artists’. Maybe I better take a short break form the blog. I’ll be back in about two weeks. Promise. In the meantime why don’t you get off your damn computer and go train. In the meantime Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.