How Big Are You?

September 7, 2008

So I’ve been coaching some folks for awhile now, watching them go thru the usual phases of thinking with their hands, wondering what the next move is etc. etc. blah blah.

One day when I was tuning them out, I was struck by how big their motions were, what large angles they were taking.  Everything had a  rushed hurried vague quality to it.  There was a lack of grace to their unconcious movements.

This ain’t their fault, it’s mine, sorta.  They work on what I coach them to do, so they’re off the hook (for now).   Even though I thought I had been stripping things to their essence, I missed a step.

Every sport/exercise/dance is an exploration of motion with your body.  But your internal perception of your body is only as accurate as it’s needed to be.  So picking something up is easy even half asleep.  Playing the piano well requires a more vivid and precise internal diagram of the hand and fingers to do their magic.

So getting caught up in teaching them mechanics of movement, they still don’t have a crystal clear picture of exactly where they end and the outside world begins.  Their edges are not sharply defined to themselves.

So stepping angles are large and uncertain.  Was that far enough?  Did I block them early enough at arm’s reach?

The sharper the picture becomes, the smaller motions are needed to get the desired result.  Right now their internal picture is of someone 3 times their size.   So they react accordingly.  But trying to do a large person motion in a smaller person’s body is….welll…..ugly.

So NOW, I have to figure out how to help them protect/defend their ACTUAL bodies, not the 2 feet of air surrounding them.

Gives a new spin on what it means to feel good in your own skin.  Do you even know where you skin is?

“Red Belt” or Why Mamet Should Be Raped by a Moose on Acid.

June 1, 2008

dirty and not in that good way for having seen it. I wish I had the courage
to tear out my eyes with golden broaches it was that bad.
Every motherfucking cliche about MA was present in this turd in a punch bowl. Half assed koans, meaningless aphroisms, stupidity impersonating honor, poverty is purity etc. etc. And the whole position of “competition weakens the fighter” and then having the goddamn movie populated with competitive fighters?!?!? WTF? I mean WHAT THE FUCK!?

No witty Mamet-speak. Characters out of a third rate comic book. Fight scenes choreographed by slow children with dull tools. All the style of a dead fish. This is a still-born movie.

I feel like I’m doing the Monty Python Parrot Sketch at this point.

Avoid it at all costs. Kill if you have to. If you know Mamet or anyone in this movie, kick them square in the nuts. Twice.

I Hate Bruce Lee.

May 11, 2008

Not exactly, but it’s a lot like hate.  Gifted athlete becomes the leaper with the most fingers on the MA scene, gets a couple movies and *poof*,  anyone who does any kind of martial art ends up hearing that annoying sound.  You know the one.  The one that makes you want to punch your friend in the throat while he does it.

He did have some good insights and was diligent in his research.  I don’t know if it was him playing up the Chinese thing or what, but he took those good pieces of information and wrapped them up with crappy ass fortune cookie philosophy.  ugh.  Way to re-enforce a stereotype, dude.

The thing that makes me hate him acutely now (as opposed to background hate) is that after 20 freaking years of dealing with the cat-getting-raped noise from morons, I finally get what the hell he was talking about.


Specifically, his whole “a punch was punch, then it wasn’t, now it’s a punch again.”  What?  Was he performing a magic trick?  Saw his fist in half?

What I finally figured out was he was mapping his process.  Everyone whose any good…their process as well.

We all start off in the cargo cult ( of  our  first  MA  class  and  ape the  motions  of  the guy with the ugly suit up in front.  He tells us if we keep practicing that in 20 years, we’ll have the same power and skill he does.

Actually, what happens is that after fleecing us for 20 years, he takes the money and his mistress to Costa Rica.

So we spend all this time thinking about what cool shit we’re going to do one day with this amazing punch.

Hopefully before wasting too much time, we got our asses kicked by someone’s little sister.  The magic punch didn’t come through.

Here’s the fork in the road:  Challenge her to a fight in 20 years when we’re ready OR think that MA training was a waste of time and stupid and stuff.

Or (this is the tough one) one could figure out that it was user error.  Granted, that slimeball at the McDojo never taught you how to punch, but get over it.  It wasn’t his responsibility to give a shit about you.  It was (and still is) your responsibility.

This is where we actually learn what goes into a real punch and suddenly is this overwhelming amount of information and skill and you’d swear it was your personal White Whale.

But after a few years (if you’ve been actually training) you kind of forget all those bits.  It’s just how you punch.  You may no longer have a clue as to how you are doing it anymore.  It’s just a punch again.  Only this time it can knock some teeth in.

What really bugs me is that I have the sneaking suspicion that all that is a stupid metaphor for much of one’s life.  We fake it for awhile, some of us wake up a give a shit and do the hard work of living, and then we get so used to it, we don’t know how to teach others.

Remember.  Whatever cool/deep/important things you’ve figured out, learn how to teach someone.  You learned it, so it can be taught.

Nobody’s impressed that Jesus could walk on water.  He’s the boss’s kid.  What always gets people’s attention is that he taught Peter to walk on water.  THAT we dig.  That sticks with us.

So get over yourself and your aquatic pedestrian tricks.  Teach someone else to do it too.  If you don’t, you’ll most likely end up saying stupid crap like Bruce and then I’ll hate you too.

The Screamingly Obvious

April 8, 2008

“Training (it has dawned on me) must be a 100% effort.”

Yeah, I wrote that in an email. Brilliant, neh?

What did come out of it is looking at effort differently than I did in my past. “Effort” connotes sweating like a hog, breathing hard and aching muscles. But there is (or should be) a lot of other things besides just physical labor. There should be a sense of total involvement.The only way to do that is to give the conscious mind specific goals/tasks. In training, in the fight, everything.

Think about it.  The conscious mind is prone to wandering off to fantasy land or abstractions.  Without a specific task, the mind wanders and you end up being a performing monkey.  How good is what ever it is you’re doing?  About as good as a performing monkey.

Know what you’re trying to do for real.  In detail.  Understand why the hell you’re doing what you’re doing so you can try to do it better.  Do it more efficiently.

If you don’t understand it, you don’t own it.  That’s what 100% should mean.


April 4, 2008

Intent: Unabridged (v 1.1) [in-tent] Pronunciation Key –noun

1. something that is intended; purpose; design; intention: The original intent of the committee was to raise funds.
2. the act or fact of intending, as to do something: criminal intent.
3. Law. the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.
4. meaning or significance.

You can’t have intent if you don’t know what you’re doing…

April 4, 2008

It seems obvious, don’t it? Apparently it’s taken me 38 laps around the sun to cut through the dross to “get it”. What is it, exactly, that you intent to achieve? It’s really immaterial as to what part of your life you’re talking about, the essence holds true.

Intent isn’t about your hopes and wishes…those are passive and useless. Don’t believe me? Hope for something to happen and then sit there and wait. (Screw you Obama…there is no daring in hope)

Intent isn’t abstract. “I want a million dollars” When? Over the course of your life?

Intent is like that proverbial genie from the lamp in those jokes you remember from junior high. You’d best be specific or you’ll get taken literally and I seem to remember those jokes never ended well.

Intent is not having to be careful what you wish for. Because you make it happen the way you want.

If I’m working with a patient, my Intent is to make them feel listened to, safe and that I will bring everything I have to bear to their problem. My intent is that I will tell them the truth…even if they don’t like it.

If I’m hitting, my intent is to shudder his spine every time I touch him.

If I’m rolling, my intent is to be as heavy on him as possible.

If I’m training, my intent is teach my client so they own their movements again.

I’ve got a whole lot of other things to figure out what I’m trying to do…like what I’ll be when I grow up. My short list of intents have shown me the value of a true clarity of purpose. It has an interesting uniting quality about it. It’s as if every part of you knows the mission and links up with all systems go.

I ain’t a force of nature just yet, but it’s sure fun trying.