Coffee and cereal

I like learning new things. When I was a kid my family was convinced I was going to be a mechanic when I grew up. Every time I got a new toy the first thing I would do with it was take it apart. It drove me nuts not to know how things worked. I took everything I could apart. I never bothered to put them back together, because what was the value of a toy once you knew how it worked? If I wanted to play pretend with things, I got more mileage out of the variously shaped parts lying around. It seemed better than restricting myself to the limited imagination of the toy maker. Sticks were the best toys. They could be anything from swords to guns to spaceships to boats and cars and robots and a million other things. A toy car was a toy car. Boring.…

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Structures of Violence: Part Three

My beard is a constant reminder of what racism feels like. And sexism. And homophobia. It’s only a small taste, but short of changing my sex or race, it’s gonna have to do. Some people like the giant hairy monstrosity on my face, but most people don’t. When I walk down the street I’m very aware of how people react to me. And I’m in the process of switching banks. Since my beard has developed, most Scotiabank branches in town have really helped me to understand what “profiling” really means. Which brings us back to self-defense… We’ve worked our way down from self-defence in the legal sense, dealing with crimes of violence, to the more personal end of things. Today we’re going to get into the intimate end of things, which is self-defense below the legal limit. Into the land of the creeper we go… Usually the first thing we…

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Structures of Violence: Part Two

So when can I punch someone in the face? We talked briefly yesterday about use of force models. These are the models used to explain why force was used. They are also used as a teaching framework for people who have to use force in the line of duty. It’s interesting stuff, and can help you understand what you are seeing the next time a video is posted on youtube of a bouncer tossing someone out of a club. But that’s a foreign world to most of us. We don’t deal with violence on a day to day basis. We train to deal with it in various ways in our martial arts clubs, but what’s the reality? What really happens when we have to defend ourselves? It helps to understand that there is a difference between defense and consent. You might not feel like it at the time, but you…

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Structures of Violence

The best bouncer stories are usually the ones that involve some complete jackass who thinks a few drinks are all that are required to become a competent lawyer. I swear the only people more comfortable with their understanding of the law than a drunk might be indignant teenagers. “You can’t do that! I know my rights! I’ll sue you!” Usually accompanied by a righteous friend with a iphone recording the whole thing. I think, sometimes, it’s the mating cry of the hyper-privileged suburban dirtbag. I could be wrong, I suppose. I know that in this case I earnestly wish for ignorance. I’m not gonna share the stories. Go buy a bouncer a drink some night, when he’s not working. Use of force isn’t really a mystery. There’s a nice little overview at Police Chief Magazine. Or you check out this nice little PDF done up by the Vancouver Police Department,…

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Lore of the Hand

Prepping for the wedding, my brother complained. The kilts were on and, after weeks of frantic work, looking good and fitting just right. We’d just had a wee little of an exceptional aged rum, and were at the last step of preparation before heading out the door to the wedding. I was strapping on my favourite sword…a nice sharp modern take on the US 1860 heavy cavalry sabre. Chris was wearing his amazing antique infantry officers sabre. Todd was looking at the sword I had given him, a Hanwei Practical Mortuary sword, and asking “Why isn’t mine sharp?” I told him he hadn’t earned the right to wear a sharp. He hadn’t trained to use one, so he didn’t get one. Sure, he’s an accomplished martial artist. He’s even trained in Balintawak Arnis, a weapon style…but it’s not the same thing. My wife, amongst her many other skills, is a…

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Building babes

My wife hit me, hard. Gosh it feels good to write that, for many reasons. It’s very pleasing to write “wife” instead of “girlfriend” obviously. It’s also nice to feel that great transition that can happen when teaching boxing…when a student goes from hitting you with a kick, to chopping you down with an axe-blow. We started getting serious about the unarmed training a few weeks ago. It’s not new to us, but we’ve switched up from some of our more familiar drills. I like to work flow drills, and build tactical awareness. Once that’s in place, I can use to the flow as a basis for corrections that build better technique, power, precision, speed, etc. It works for most students, but not all students. We talked about approaches, and what we enjoyed, and what we wanted. We settled out on a variation of my old Shotokan training. I would…

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