Fighting Fear

At Valkyrie we make it no secret that we’re owned and run by women. We constantly, actively recruit women as students. When the subject of women, fear, and martial arts comes up in conversation, it’s common to assume that you’re going to be talking about fear of being hit, hurt, or injured. Bzzt. Wrong. Thank you for playing. It’s not to say that the fear doesn’t exist, because it does. In my experience, though, it’s something that we’ve prepared ourselves for ahead of time. When you go to a martial arts class you know that at some point you will be punched in the face. You begin to deal with that before you even walk in the door on your first day. It’s just one small piece of the normal flurry of emotions that come with trying a new thing. The problem. The fear that takes you by surprise the…

Continue reading

Post Assessment

First run of assessments done. Rapier sparring took up our entire night on the previous Monday, and the wrestling assessments completely destroyed the whole class and left us exhausted enough that we finished class a half hour early on Thursday. It will take me another week to work through all the video footage, alone and with the other instructors, to write up and clarify the individual assessments. Rough initial impressions are already done. All that is left is to justify our impressions with detailed review of video. As a teacher, it’s been an wonderful process for me. A quick glance at the first summary has given me months of lessons to teach, as it easily revealed some common weaknesses in the school. The process will take some streamlining. Our first plan was to have each student take center stage and fight for five touches against all the other students. This…

Continue reading

Beauty and The Beast

  Being pretty means you win at life. That’s how it works. If you are born with the right genetics for the time, it’s like being born to the right family. You will have advantages in life. You will win where others fail, with no effort needed. The Stoics disregarded beauty, amongst other things. It had no value because it was a thing that was out of your control. No one has any say in the family they are born into, or the body and face they are born with. If you are born with physical gifts, you will have advantages because of the Cargo Cult mentality. People will believe they can somehow gain your advantage by supporting you. Vote for rich people, and you will become rich too! Because magic, I suppose. We are supposed to be modern people, educated and above such biases and bigotry. We are supposed…

Continue reading

Dealing With the First Big Hit

The first solid hit I ever got was rewarding. It was in my first month or so of MMA training, back before I ever picked up a sword. I was a young and not so spry 30, my opponent was a broad shouldered 19 year old beast. I caught a left hook to the temple so hard that both feet left the ground, and I flew sideways for about a meter before crashing into the wall…still on my feet, still in guard. The world was pretty wobbly, but I was inordinately pleased that I was still up and in guard. George St. Pierre just retired from MMA competition after booking more time in the cage than anyone else. One of the concerns people had brought up was the amount of damage he had taken in the ring. It accumulates. Muhammad Ali had an incredible ability to dodge blows, but he’s…

Continue reading

Traditional Arts in the Modern Martial Arts World

I love watching the UFC these days. It’s progressed and developed to the point where a good bout looks like sparring from old-school martial arts. Lyoto Machida’s fight against Mark Munoz was pretty much exactly what I learned to do in Shotokan Karate. Control the distance in the fight, look for the perfect opening, and strike to finish. I love traditional martial arts. I think they are wonderful repositories of technique and tactics. A good teacher of a traditional art is a walking encyclopedia of mayhem. They should be capable of devising a solution to any martial problem from within their own system, as was handed down to them from their teacher. Put a traditional martial artist in the cage with an experienced MMA fighter? It’s going to be a bloodbath. Or at best, the traditional fighter is going to look like a raw beginner with a heavy dose of…

Continue reading

Painting Death

Ditch all the drama of martial arts, and you are left with a reality that doesn’t jive with our spoken or even understood reasons for training. Mostly we spend time justifying our interest. A lot of the justifications I hear don’t stand up under some scrutiny, but we still use those justifications amongst ourselves to try and make ourselves more right than other practitioners. I train for reality, therefor your sport approach sucks. I train for historical accuracy, so your reality approach sucks. You train just for fun? Poser. Loser. Your art is empty. Long term goals are always a bit of a fantasy. As the old saying goes, you can tell what you will be doing two years from now about as well as you predicted today two years ago. Nothing wrong with putting a little aside for a rainy day, but don’t waste today’s opportunities. For us martial…

Continue reading