Barriers

My early training was constant, but didn’t always take place in a martial arts school. Class was always the hardest part of training, under the exacting eye of the instructor. Always feeling a little lost at the new student end of the line, looking up at the senior students and wondering if I would ever be able to do the things they did. It felt like a gulf of a million years, watching them move through forms at the speed of light with crisp power and confidence. Working the beginner moves down at my end felt like trying to balance teacups on the end of a two by four while skating. Exhilaration came from learning a new move, mostly. We did some sparring, little or lots depending on which school I was training in. Sometimes that felt good, sometimes not. Mostly the rush came after class. I remember the summer…

Continue reading

Best for Self Defense: Sport or Traditional?

One of the favorite arguments amongst martial artists is to compare the relative values of a sport martial art like Muay Thai to a traditional martial art like Wing Chun, against the standard of the revered Street. The Street, of course, being the mythical place were evil monsters exist whose only purpose in life is to defeat your most beloved training technique. It happens within styles as well: your sport Judo isn’t as good for real self defense as my old-school Judo. Or Olympic Taekwondo vs your current kwoon Taekwondo. It’s a bit of a pointless argument. Odds are, neither are really good at preparing you for a self-defense scenario. It’s really not the purpose of most martial arts schools. Most schools are around to preserve knowledge, and to pass on the traditions of the teacher. This isn’t a bad thing. As Cicero says, it’s in our nature to seek…

Continue reading

Daily Work at Valkyrie

It was a late start today. We all overslept a little. After puttering about and getting out of the house, we all arrived at Valkyrie about Noon. By the time we close up after class, it means the three of us will spend about 10 hours at the school today. That’s not bad. A light day. That’s also 30 person hours a day of work being done here at the school. Over 500 hours a month on the lowest possible amount of work. A big chunk of that is business work. Paying bills, corresponding with people that want money — mostly the government at this phase, since we are a new business and trying to get started right. We also have to plan how we are going to spend money in the coming weeks and months, and try to balance out income and expenses and figure out what we need,…

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

Full Time

For the second time in my life, I’m going to be a full-time martial arts teacher. It’s a privilege and a responsibility, and not a thing to be taken lightly. Much has changed in me since my first go around. I’m older and more broken, but I’ve learned so much in the intervening time. There are teachers who think running a school as a business is a way of watering down your art. The valid point they make is that to make money, you have to water down your art. That’s valid in some ways, but it doesn’t consider all the aspects of running a professional martial arts school. For sure, full-contact boxing, wrestling and swordplay out of the gate is going to make a lot of people stick their head in the door, turn right around and walk away and never come back. Most people will walk away. Hell,…

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading