…And We’re Back

And after a season long slumber the blog reawakens, shaking off the greed and loathing of Christmas while remembering that the world is still at least half good.

Like most reasonable people I detest the whole ‘new year, new me’ resolution bullshit. None the less the darkness of Solstice combined with an acknowledgement of another cycle completed does seem like it lends itself to a certain amount of introspection. Given all that I thought I’d share one of my personal practices. I learned this technique from Wendy Palmer. (I learned a lot of techniques from Wendy. I’m eternally grateful for having trained with her.) When I was first exposed to it I flat out couldn’t do it. It just seemed too daunting. Now I’ve been doing it for more than a decade and can’t imagine practice without it. Funny how that works. Here’s how it works:

On or about New Year’s day you choose one, and only one, quality that you’d like more of in your life. It can be most anything but choose wisely as it might wreak havoc. Anyway, that quality becomes the focus of everything you do every day for that year. It informs every decision and all your practices and meditations. In short it becomes your obsession, the lens through which you see the world. It takes a fair bit of dedication but you can do it.

One of my early choices was gratitude. A good choice for a lot of people since it makes you a lot less bitchy. It doesn’t have to be a spiritual type choice though. One year my theme was ‘lethal’. How did I make all my practices more deadly? Some other qualities I’ve studied have been ‘still’, ‘confident’, ‘fun’, ‘useful’, ‘calm’,‘organized’, etc. I do want to warn you that sometimes the results are unpredictable. The year that I chose ‘boundaries’ I lost a lot of friends.

In 2016 I chose the quality ‘non-judgmental’. It was so challenging and all encompassing that in 2017 I kept it for a second year. Among the gifts it brought was an interesting amount of clarity about who people really are. By detaching my thoughts from other people’s actions I got to see them in a different light. Some people have interpreted this to mean acceptance. Others think it means agreement. They’re wrong, but so it goes. It also got me out of politics but that’s another story.

So now it’s time to choose a new quality. I have, and I’m not going to share it. It’s not really any of your damn business. I don’t tell anyone, not even my wife or closest friends. I will tell you that, while challenging, this is a damn good practice. Give it some thought. Have a Joyous New Year as well as 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!

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.

Size Matters

All right, that’s enough ranting and raving for the moment. Let’s talk about something more practical today. Let’s try to keep from getting stabbed.

I don’t like knives. A skilled knife fighter will gut you before you ever know they have the damn thing. I’ve said before that I’d much rather face a gun at close range than a knife. If I get my hands on a shooter before he pulls the trigger (and I probably can) I can take his gun without getting shot. If I can get my hands knife fighter I can probably get cut. I might win, but it’s going to hurt. Don’t believe me? Try training knife takeaways with a magic marker. Pro tip: Don’t wear clothes you like.

So how do I deal with knives? If you know much about me you probably know I’m a big proponent of canes. I always carry one and I train/teach with one nearly every day. The biggest advantage of the cane is that, by law, I can take it anywhere. Second only to that is how effective they are against knives. I can knock your ass out before you get to me.

On one level all martial conflicts are about control of space. Canes give you a huge advantage because they radically increase the amount of territory you can defend without being in range of your opponent. This is particularly useful if the attacker is using something that will sever an artery or a ligament. The ability to move, cut angles, and strike at the knife wielder should give you a decent chance of coming out of the conflict with a minimum of bloodshed.

I’m not going to bother going into specific techniques here. You can’t learn this shit from a blog. Go get yourself a cane and try it. Better yet, buy a cane or book from me and hire my ass to teach you! In the meantime, Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.

Grow the Fuck Up

Ok, get ready for a rant. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Have you been punched in the nose? You know, smacked right in the head. It hurts. It’s not the end of the world but it causes pain. The sensitive nerves in your face get bent out of shape and send urgent distress messages to your little pea brain and OUCH. You know what doesn’t hurt? Words.

You, yes you, are a seething pile of refuse, a scum sucking, thundering cockturtle. The world is sadder place for your presence you mouth breathing cuntwaffle. Now let’s do a quick inventory. Any nerves firing? Are you bleeding? Bones broken or joints sprained? I didn’t think so. You aren’t fucking hurt. Oh, your ‘feelings’ are hurt. So what. Are you 3? While I’m clearly being a bit silly my point is a serious one. We’ve been lied to in an absolutely ridiculous way and it’s doing terrible harm to our freedom. Words don’t hurt adults. We aren’t that weak.

How many times have you seen it? The FB meme or ad that says words are weapons. A poor victim claiming their life is fucked up because somebody said mean things. Grown ass adults claiming to be bullied because another adult used a bad word. Really? Over the last few years there’s been a consistent attempt to convince the populace that being offended matters and that words can do harm. It simply isn’t true. Hate speech and anti-bullying campaigns are thinly veiled attempts to kill free expression and you pussies are buying it. How about you all grow the fuck up?

I want to be crystal clear here. I’m not talking about the wee ones. Young humans are sensitive and growing up is hard. Adults, especially care givers, should be careful about what they say. This isn’t rocket science. Children gain responsibility and independence as they grow. That’s why we have age requirements to drive and vote and shit. They should also learn context and toughen the fuck up. If you’re over 18, act like it. Asshats. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.

In This Corner, Anger…

In the last post I pointed out that the country seems to have an anger problem. No, check that. The world ABSOLUTELY DOES have an anger problem. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise. We are angry little hairless monkeys after all. Even the holiest amongst us have trouble dealing with anger so what chance do we have?

A few years ago a group of Trappist monks at Gethsemani Monastery held a gathering of monastic people to discuss the ascetic lifestyle. Monks and renunciate practitioners from many different religions and cultures met for discussions, prayers, and discussions about the difficulties of their simple lives. One of the really interesting things that came out of this experience was the hardest challenge reported by all the attendees. Giving up anger. Yep, anger. They had resolved themselves to live without sex, meat, alcohol, creature comforts, children and all the other things we all think might be hard to leave behind. What they couldn’t give up so easily was anger.

If you give this some deeper thought I suppose it makes sense. Anger is the purest expression of ego. It nearly always results from some form of not getting what you want. To give up anger requires that you give up your ego, your expectations, and your judgment. Monks have left the world to accomplish this and no one said it would be easy.

Martial arts should be an avenue to address this very question. Your opponent is never your enemy, anger and your demons are the real foe. If you aren’t training this way you’re either practicing a sport or your doing it wrong. If you’re training you need to be thinking about this. If you aren’t training, or at least practicing something, you might well be letting anger rule your life and that would be a shame. After all, if you’re pissed off, you’re part of the problem, no matter how ‘right’ you might be. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, & Viva la Revolucion.