Matadora By the Numbers

We got a lot of excellent photos in last night’s class. It was in part due to a lack of equipment, which meant Courtney/She-hulk was able to use her talents with the camera to good effect. It was also partly due to the students. Our process of athletic development and heavy fighting tends to lead towards photogenic moments. Squeak and Zim, being the most athletic, tend to feature in the daily picture the most often. Worf, who is probably the strongest fighter in class, tends to not make the picture cut as often. He’s a powerful, aggressive fighter with an strong tactical sense, but his style has less pose. Last night we got good photos from everyone, but I chose the “Matadora” photo for a reason. Squeak, when she started to train with me, was a very rigid and linear fighter. Talented, and very capable…but she had adopted a precision…

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Giant Killing

When I was 19, I was studying Hung Gar Gung Fu. I trained really hard, five or six days a week, lots of weight training and full-contact work. At one point I was working graveyards at a 7-11 in what seemed like a nice neighborhood but turned into hell itself after midnight. Being the only business in the area that was open at night, I got to be the place people came to call the police from after they’d met a demon or three. The boss encouraged us to keep weapons at hand throughout the shift, and you better believe police got free coffee all night long. One night the crap started outside of the store, for once. A frantic woman started bashing on the glass windows and screaming for help, and then opened the door, yelling something about a guy going to beat the crap out of his girlfriend.…

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Rape and Martial Arts Culture

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community recently had to deal with one of the biggest nightmares any martial arts organization would ever have to deal with: Two senior students raping another student. It brings up a million questions, but I think it’s important we take this event as an excuse to closely examine what happens in our own schools. Ryron and Rener Gracie posted up the excellent video at the end of this post, and I think it’s important for every teacher of any martial art to sit down and watch the whole thing. It’s thirty minutes and it’s not exactly engaging…so pour a cup of coffee, and make sure you are paying attention. Don’t skip any of it, and listen to every word. They talk about mindset in schools, and what martial arts training should do for students. They talk about how to balance competitive spirit and intent with concern and…

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The good, the bad, and the oh-hell-no…

It was cold yesterday, and the forecast called for clear skies. It was sunny all day. When I went out last night to take the garbage out, it was the right kind of cloud. Bright…the kind you get in the cities when all the streetlights reflect off of the bottom of the clouds, and cast everything with a pink-orange light. I walked back in the house and told Courtney it was going to snow, which was no surprise for either of us, because you could smell it in the air the last few days. I checked the forecast, and it said it would be partially cloudy later, but still clear. I checked three more weather prediction services and they all said the same thing…clear skies, no snow. So of course, I look out the window this morning and see freezing rain, and facebook reports of snow in the rest of…

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Win, lose … or live

Aldo Nadi looks back with disdain. He says competitive fencing should be about scoring regardless of form, and jeers those who insisted that every fencer had to demonstrate excellence of form before being allowed to compete. Yet he allows that the process of exacting form produced stronger fighters than the modern crop, who lack correct body mechanics to exploit their natural given advantages. Aldo Nadi fought a duel, an experience completely foreign to almost all modern fencers. Martial arts schools are full of tough-as-nails baddasses who never, and never will, ever fight outside the training hall. Modern fencers adore their longsword and zweihanders because of there apparent war nature, but they will likely never fight in a tournament outside their school, and will only ever daydream about using the blades for real. I’ve seen my share of death up close and personal. Amongst my friends, teachers, and acquaintances are people…

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Coming to grips with the knife

Prepping for the new school again, and working over some of the material. As always, this means digging up my notes on Marozzo, checking what’s up with the latest translations, and re-reading the original. With Marozzo, I found my key to understanding him best comes from his self-defense section at the back. It mirrors the layout of the rest of the manual, but the accompanying pictures aid in mnemonic learning. You can hear the words, and see the actions, and the choice of words and patterns these are presented in added a kinesthetic element. “Prese” I like to hear as “catch,” for example. All these actions feel like they involve some aspect of catching…either catching a blade or a hand, and then following up. Which also reminds me of Catch Wrestling, which leads to the follow up. Catch the hand and wrestle. The first four catches are a perfect example.…

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