A Change is Gonna Come

Valkyrie is now open. It took us years to put in the base work, and six months of headaches, tension and bureaucratic fighting to get the doors open, but here we are. Grand opening was a success, lots of people showed up to support us and there was fighting til nighttime, followed by friendship and beverages. Now we are into the business of being a school. I was asked recently what my philosophy of martial arts was. It was an interesting question, as I’d spent a lot of time leading up to the opening writing about what the school offered people. That’s not the same thing, though. I’ve also written here before about what drove me to start martial arts training, and how my motivations have changed over time.  It’s still not what I would call my philosophy. I had an old student show up last week. She was in…

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Bullshit and Lies

Do you want to be an eagle or a crow? Common sense and admiration are fantasies. We look at the eagle, the hawk, and the falcon and think of the power, beauty and above all deadly efficiency of the raptors. Why would you want to be the common, when you can be the exceptional? Who wins a fight, Crow or Eagle? The eagle has talons, and that wicked hooked beak. It’s bigger than a crow. We name fighter jets after eagles and falcons because we recognize the true warrior power of these creatures. If you want to inspire with your martial arts school, you would have no problem using a raptor as your logo. A crow is a small bird. Sure, it’s smart, but it’s got tiny claws and a beak better suited for opening mcdonalds waste packaging than hurting anything. They are drearily common, and mostly derided as a…

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Moving Past Quit

She’s supposed to be searching me, but I’m just tired of it. So I turn, with everything I’ve got, and smash my elbow into her face. I try to drive her neck into the wall with my forearm so I can hit her more, but she’s already out and down. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I step forward to do something to her again. I’m grabbed from behind, violently. There might be yelling or commands, but I don’t hear them. It’s the other guard. She spins me around, maybe hits me, I don’t know. I duck under her arm, grab her around the waist. I’m told later that she, being a trained judoka, tried a leg sweep/trip throw on me, but I was having none of it. From my waist grab, I drive my right shoulder into her solar plexus, and slam her into the wall.…

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Assembly

Been sick for over a week. Missed a lot of work, which is going to suck when the next payday arrives. But at least I’ve managed to catchup on my rest and recharge time, which means writing is back to being a nice and easy thing. Being sick last night, I had to rely on the head Valkyries (Squeak and She-Hulk) to help out with the teaching. It didn’t work out the way I expected, but it did work out the way I had planned. We’ve been working through a lot of Maija’s drills lately. They’ve been very valuable to us, and each session keeps revealing new depths that work with our system quite well. The usual process is that I demonstrate the drill, talk about the focus of it for today, and then everyone practices while I watch and correct. If the numbers work out, then I am lucky…

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Cultivating Awareness

When I demonstrate a technique, I do want you to perform it the way I do. Last night we did wrestling, and explored some pinning movements from a couple of traditions. I try to show the technique clearly, and then break it down visually and verbally so that people can have the most understanding before they try it for themselves. What I can’t demonstrate is the feel of the technique. The integrity of the connection between my opponent and I. When I go around and check on everyone’s application, I see a common error repeated. The physical expression of the error differs from student to student, and sometimes that needs to be addressed, but usually fixing the common error does the job. I’ll look at the students trying to apply the technique, and I see that the crossing of the arm is at the wrong place, the wrist is at…

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Grinding and Forgetting

Some of my favourite moments in martial arts are when the whole class is pushed past the point of exhaustion. During last night’s class, I looked up during the wrestling drills, and saw over half the students flat on their backs, trying to get their wind back. They would catch their breath, and then go right back to the grind. After a while the grins are gone, but the determination is still there. At that point you forget things. All of your go-to methods are useless to you, because you’ve already used them on your partner and they’ve found solutions. You are too tired to try and surprise anyone with bursts of speed and cleverness, you haven’t got the gas to jink and fake anymore. In the grind, you are left with guts and willpower. You stop thinking about being the better wrestler, and start to think about surviving. If…

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