Monday, December 31, 2007

Plans for the New Year

I've been thinking recently about what I could do to improve my advancement in Judo and Aikido in the coming year. For those of you who remember me trying to start a club at UCF, I've officially been told that no clubs can have non-student members due to a liability issue that occurred earlier this year. That said, I started looking around and on the Aikido front I found a dojo quite near my apartment that's called Shoshin Aikido and they're linked to the Aikikai. I've spoken with the Sensei their and I'm going to visit after my trip back to Mississippi. It should definitely be a learning experience going to a more traditional dojo. As far as Judo goes, all I can think of is to volunteer at the local YMCA and practice with Andy when we can. If anyone else has any suggestions please feel free to send them.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Randori With Beleek

Saturday was a pretty slow day. After me and my roommates went to eat, I was in the mood to do a little Judo. I went downstairs to do some falling practice and Beleek called and agreed to practice a little with me. I went over a few chokes with her and showed how you can use a gi to your advantage with the collar and sleeves. Then we moved on to a little stand up randori. I showed Beleek O soto gari and told her to look for places it might come up. We moved at half speed and were careful when getting near the edges of the mat. I got a couple of good off-balances but the highlight was Beleek going for throws and she actually picked me up once! I was so proud :) I can't wait to see what happens next time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yearly Trek Back

Well January 7th-14th I'll be back in Mississippi to visit family and friends. I'm also planning to swing by Pat's and see what I need to brush up on. Careful Pat, I've been reading your blog and now I know your secrets so be ready when I challenge your dojo and take your sign muahahaha. :) Getting pummeled again should be fun. I plan on trying to get Bryce to show up too.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Swot'in my Blog

Pat's Swat yo Blog challenge is something I've been avoiding for a while...because I wasn't sure of my blog's goals. Originally I just wanted something in the blog sphere for Pat to look at and give me and Bryce pointers. Later as I kept writing, it was more of a journal for me to read my own progress. Most importantly it's been a great way for me to be introduced to other people's blogs like Dojo rat, Uchi-deshi, and Somaserious. Somaserious's blog is actually what reminded me to finally address what I want my blog to be. After Pat's bloggy award me and Andy started looking at where our blogs are in relation to each other and on the blogsphere in general. I'm almost dead last, lol :) I'm also for some reason not on google anywhere so my traffic must come from cross linking through Pat or Andy. For the past week I was kinda sad I have so few viewers, but not because I want to be high on the list or anything, but because I get so little feedback. I'm trying to teach myself and refine my skills with blinders on since Bryce left. I need all the advice I can get, lol. So where is all this going? Good question. I have a few ideas, but I'll start with Pat's suggested SWOT method.
Well I'm linked to the number 1 blog in our little sphere right now :)
Also I've been better about posting at least once or twice a week
Since this was originally geared at Pat, I use way too much technical jargon like "Honasu number 1" which is meaningless to someone who doesn't do our form of Aikido.
I would definitely like more entertaining stories on my blog, of Aikido/Judo nature or not.
Environmental factors that might help would be my roommates, maybe the Judo club over at UCF, and if I can get a link for my site on google, maybe that for more input.
Threats in my environment would be things like my and my roommates general laziness and opposing job schedule.
Once again the bureaucracy of the college when attempting to make or deal with any of the campus clubs.

Now comes the conclusion part where I have an epiphany and solve the hole problem...I'll get back to everyone on that...but I'd love some thoughts.

Back to Aikido

Well last night I got home I realized I haven't done anything in a week. This is a point Andy's been pointing out for this past week so I invited him and Beau down to the garage for a little falling practice and Honasu. Andy wasn't interested last night, his days have been longer with the approaching holidays and the WoW addiction has Beau firmly in its grip. So me and Beleek went down and we worked on her ukemi (falling). While things started out rocky she was definitely improving after a dozen or so falls. I forgot how hard it is to relax when you're not used to falling and someone's telling you "just don't resist". It'll come with time. We went over the 3rd and 1st wrist release and Beleek even got a few really good off-balances. It feels so good to practice some days :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Promote 3 Meme Time Again!

Well normally I'd put 3 blogs that are below mine on the blog roll...but I'm 58 out of 61 so there aren't many choices. Congrats to Pat for being number 1 and Andy for being high up there. People reading his blog, means people reading about our training, so his blog victory is my blog victory. I still think more people should check out
Tales of a Mommy Karateka.
My other two are people above me in the blog roll, but who still don't get enough recognition.
Uchi-deshi-who's anecdotes keep me training and entertained continuously
Dojorat- who's urban and gritty views of the martial arts remind the layman that anyone can make training work.

Bad Timing?

Last night me and Andy went over Nijusan a bit and I realized I was getting a really good off balance. The problem lies in that as we analyzed it a correlation was discovered between Judo and Aikido as we noticed the off balance I was getting so well, was due to foot placement and I was either spinning Andy right on his feet on that first step, or getting the off balance so that he wasn't leaning forward or backwards, but just sort of stuck in limbo. I could hardly perform and of the moves because right after the off balance Andy wouldn't be able to regain his posture before falling. I know that in a real life situation this is the spot we aim for...but I couldn't stop doing it to actually practice kata without consciously forcing myself to take an awkward step but then I couldn't get out of my own head and just flow with things. It seems it's either one or the other. The highlight of the evening was definitely doing Honasu though. We stopped on the 2nd release as Andy noticed his initial step was a bit off so we looked at mine and I discovered that I was doing it completely different than what I was taught by Pat...and maybe different from what Bryce showed me too. Normally we step out of the way, same hand-same foot. That's what Andy was attempting. What we noticed I was doing was turning my opposite foot inward and giving uke my arm and wherever that non-turned foot stepped, I did a slight hip-switch to go back to same hand, same foot. They both work, I just noticed turning the opposite foot felt more natural to me. Pat, I'd love your thoughts on this...and anyone else's for that matter (assuming I've written this so that it's understandable.
UPDATE-just got off the phone with Bryce and I learned 2 things. The hip switch thing from Honasu Bryce apparently does too, so I picked it up from him (and I thought I'd done something original). 2. During Nijusan, I was apparently doing something more akin to Junana (the 17 techniques that used to be taught before Nijusan replaced them). I was (as best as Bryce can explain) off balancing Andy by pushing him on his back foot instead of redirecting him in a more outwardly circle. Basically I was applying force that were this a real life situation would be great, but for kata and practice makes doing a specific movement difficult. I'll play with this more and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Difficult Explantions

During a lull at work today, I was attempting to explain Aikido to Beleek and realized I have lost the ability to easily explain what's happening. I've been trying for a while to pinpoint a single, easy to teach movement that gets the FEELING of Aikido across to someone with no training in it. It's a lot harder than it sounds. I've noticed people move awkwardly when paying attention instead of how they naturally move. I thought maybe I could show Beleek the 2nd movement in Nijusan, Aigamae-ate. I noticed during the off balance no matter how slow we moved she was compensating the off balance and recovering her balance but wasn't aware of what she was doing. I used to think "move here, then there, and lastly here" during the I see all sorts of things I never saw before. I explained it to Beleek in terms she could understand. She did a large picture of her face and from a distance the lines making up her eye look horizontal, but up close each few inches are made up of tiny swirls. I used to see Aikido like that. I saw a large overall picture of a throw made up of 3 basic movements, now I see tiny nuances and can't explain things in the big picture anymore. I don't want to overload the poor girl with my ramblings of tiny circles (to continue the metaphor), but I can't seem to show the big lines anymore.
I tried uploading the image she did, but I've been having trouble, so please use he link.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Photos

Showing the Mount
Me Playing Teacher
Beleek About to Escape
Andy Still Going Strong

New Partners

Well last night we were down in the garage as normal, which by the way looks like this....
As you can see, we have a pretty limited area. That's 10' wide by the way. Still it doesn't matter where you train as long as you're training. Beleek and Beau joined up last night so I got to play teacher with 3 students :)
Things briefly started out with Deashi-harai just to emphasize off balancing and those famous lines we tend to work on in the Fugakukai. For anyone reading this not in the Fugakukai the lines I'm referring to are the lines created when a person steps. Take two feet and draw a line going from one foot to the other then a line perpendicular the first line. Those four lines are where a person's balance is weakest and we try to throw down those, or off balance down those, then throw.
The main part of the night was discussing the mount, the guard, and escapes from each of them. After talking about shrimping and it's many uses we did a little randori and a few things happened. First off, Beau and Beleek did a good job of putting what we went over to use, Beau even came up with an impromptu arm-bar. Secondly, we had our first injury unfortunately. Beau caught Andy in the lip with his knee while trying to shrimp. Andy's alright though. More pictures to follow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What a Twist!

If you read either my blog or Andy's, you should notice the mostly the same lessons as we tackle the same issues or cool instances that crop up during our training. As he said in his post we briefly went over ko soto gari again to make sure he had it. I wanted to try uki goshi but that the time of class I just could not get the timing right. Andy's a lot taller than me so the problem I ran into was when loading him on my hip, he could just take one of his stork legs and plant it. I knew it was an off-balance problem I was having (more on that at the end of the post).
I decided to show him ko uchi gari instead which turned out better for the both of us. We got into a discussion over techniques and I ended up showing O uchi gari too. I was amazed to find out that even though that throw has notoriously escaped me, while telling Andy about it I was able to break it apart in my head and re-piece it together so that it made more sense to me. Of course that was great because then I could relay that info so that it made sense to him (hopefully).
Moving on, we did tegatana and talked about short steps about should width before moving on to the event of the night which was Nijusan. Andy wanted to switch it up a bit by having uke pull his arm back before moving in and then extend it as he was stepping. It felt more akin to a strike and changed my perspective a little. It also made the off balances more exaggerated. Each time we threw the other in one or two steps. It's funny how a little change in motion can drastically alter the parameters of what can and will happen. I'll let Andy go more into detail about that. Just before a Judo thing I wanted to work on, we practiced avoiding a punch (don't worry Pat, we went slow) from same hand same foot, then from uke having the opposite forward so he could twist into the punch. The same hand same foot thing happened almost just like Nijusan, but the opposite foot and hand punch was astonishing to watch. As each of us did it whoever was Tori could easily (and I mean EASILY) step in and shomenate their partner before the swing was finished.
Lastly, the Judo. I don't watch UFC a lot, but I occasionally see a match starting to happen as I'm scanning channels and I'll watch, along with kickboxing, Mui Thai, whatever. I like watching people move and seeing what works for them. The problem I notice more often than not in the UFC (and let me just state here I don't want a hail of posts arguing over if MMA is effective or IS is most circumstances this is ONLY MY OBSERVATION), is that when someone is on the bottom, guard or not, they just turtle up while the guy on top beats the tar out of them. So I had Andy put on some gloves, get in the mount, then the guard, then with me in the mount and in the guard, and had him punch at me to see if I could get out. Yes in each case is the short answer. You'll most likely get hit once or twice, but with a little practice I know you can cut it down to zero nine times out of ten. Either way, when I had Andy in the guard he didn't get a chance to hit at all due to my shrimping and moving his hips as he tried to punch. He lost balance every time. Try it!

One Last I was watching tv and walking towards the kitchen to make a sandwich I figured out what was wrong with my uki goshi....or at least something I could do to make it work for me. Instead of trying to throw Andy off my hip or "clip him with it" as Pat used to say, I learned I could load him on it (even just a little) and turn a little more away from him rotating him around my body until it threw him. Not the proper way I'm sure, but it worked for last night. I plan on more study with it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last Night's Randori

While my and Andy's attempts to get our roommate Beau involved in classes haven't met with the success we'd hoped, so far we're having a blast. Last night we briefly went over ko soto gari for about 10 minutes then almost an hour of ground randori. Andy's getting much better at his ground work and because of this I noticed after class that during class I was saying things like "That was great, but make a slight adjustment here. Oh and try this" and by the end of class I must've given him 50 things to work on. I need to remember to just pick one or two things and everything else will just naturally happen. When going over ko soto gari I noticed my ko soto gari was looking fairly well last night but when I made a comparison to hize garuma, I couldn't get the throw to work for me :) the lesson there is, when a throw is working for you one night, you stick with it and change it up the next night. I've been in correspondence with Pat hoping to get some pointers now that I more fully understand what he was telling me a few years ago. It's frustrating when you get advice but you can't act on that knowledge until a year or so later when you ACTUALLY understand it. I mean you understand what the sensei is telling you when he/she is saying it, but it's much farther down the road when you say "Eureka !" and have an epiphany of what they were really trying to convey. Anyone else have that happen to them? I want some stories!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Martial Atrophy

Friday night before practice I was talking to Andy about what I call Martial Atrophy. He feels that he's settles into his rank. In my view, I'm usually getting better or worse, moving forward or backwards in progress but always moving. If I'm not practicing I feel like my skills are declining. I was wondering if there should be a system in place so that if a martial artist doesn't perform or practice for x amount of time if his rank should decrease due to lack of participation. Later that night during actual practice we went over Nijusan and though I haven't practiced it in a while, my views I discovered were pretty unfounded. While my off-balance timing was a bit off, once me and Andy started moving I could easily feel where his momentum was taking us. I recalled how difficult it was when I was a green and yellow belt and how much I have progressed since then. There's nothing quite like realizing you can still surprise yourself.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Let the Training Begin...

Me and Andy had our first actual practice session tonight. We've had varying schedules lately (and a little laziness on my part) so things didn't start as soon as expected. He told me if we were going to be doing any Judo, he needed to go over the basics again. I showed him Mune gatame, Kesa gatame, and Kata-gatame. We mostly worked on positioning the body and later on escapes from said holds. Now that we have mats I can go over hip throws and actually fall from them. We also touched on Ki-Hara Aikido randori. I remember when Pat showed it to me (and Pat if you're reading this please correct me if I'm wrong) in order to change the direction of movement someone had to take a step first. Overall it went well, and it felt great to be at it again. I look forward to making at the very least weekly posts on it. Monday my girlfriend will be joining us for some Judo. She has no interest in doing Aikido by I'm sure with Pat's trick of showing the cool ninja move of the night and it actually being Aikido or Judo (whichever you want them to learn) and later telling them "you know those moves are from (Aikido/Judo) AND what you've already been taking" she'll join in. I hope she doesn't read this....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Old Habbits Reveal Themselves

My roommate Beau and I used to be in the Marine Corps together. We've been friends since childhood and now that he's moved to Florida we decided to set up an exercise regime to get back in shape. Today was the first day of that and I'm exhausted. While waiting to use the shower I decided to do some tegatana and made a discovery. All moves and habits become VERY clear and exaggerated when tired. I noticed myself leaning in the opposite direction just before I fell in the direction I was about to go in. Bryce has been telling me I do this but I couldn't see it till now. So if you're ever super-tired, try it :)

New Mats!!

Well my old roommates have moved out and the new ones are in. My new Zebra mats arrived and have been stored in the garage until everyone finished using it for their respective moves. They look great, haven't had a chance to actually test them yet since I plan on thoroughly cleaning up the space being used first. I'll post as soon as I do. Also once me and Andy get a steady schedule going I plan on posting a couple of times a week unlike the once a month or so I've been doing lately :)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Judo Posture

Tonight me and Bryce went over how important good posture is in Judo. We've beaten it to death in Aikido but you see a lot of leaning and bending in Judo, especially competition. While being active and not just waiting for the other guy to try something is important, keeping your posture correct while doing so is just as important. It all started with us going over hip throws and what I need to work on once Bryce is gone and Andy moves in. While exploring the timing of the initial contact of the hips or thighs, we got into a discussion about reversals and how by keeping good posture, a lot of the time they become self evident. As your opponent goes to throw you, you can just keep your back straight and sink a little. As he rises, you rise with him and continue his upward momentum, from there, you can do almost a reverse engineered hip throw, or even ko soto gari. After practice we started discussing exercises Pat used to have him do like knee walking from the mount as the guy on bottom rolls left and right, barrel rolls, and shrimping. In case anyone's wondering what barrel rolls are, it's when a student rolls from one end of the mat to the other, laying down, without letting his arms, hands, legs, or feet touch the mat...good times.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Quick Workout at the Y

Me and Bryce got a free guest pass in the mail the other day to go to the YMCA, so we used this opportunity to use their tumbling mats and get a little Judo time in. First off, like all our attempts at doing Judo, nothing comes easy...there were no tumbling mats. They had a tumbling class for kids on a soft carpeted room but after speaking with them for what we were looking for, they had some old mats that they didn't use anymore they loaned us. The mats were very old, pretty hard, full of holes, and there were only two of them (not even of the same size). I'd say one was about 4'x8' and the other was 4'x6'. There was only velcro on the short ends so we put down some yoga mats on the hardwood floor and they kept tension so the mats didn't slide. In spite of conditions, it worked reasonably well considering we knew where the other person would fall with each throw. He gave me a few pointers on what me and Andy can work on when he gets here. After the workout the attendant at the desk asked if we were interested in joining on a monthly basis. For an individual membership is was $60.00 a month and you're allowed 1 free guest pass a year. When I was growing up I remember YMCA's being $20.00 a month with lock-ins and it was run more like a boys and girls club. The one we visited had 4 kids around 10ish for the tumbling class and everyone else there (who wasn't an employee) were in their 50's and up. I understand most of the youth going to the college gym and L.A. Fitness around here. I seem to recall the YMCA being about more than just a gym though. I guess it was just a weird disillusionment. After talking about it with Andy and an Aikido teacher a little over an hour away, we'll probably post some videos every couple of days of our workouts (and ALL opinions are welcome). Once or twice a month we'll drive down to Vero Beach to see the Yondan down there and let him review our progress. It'll be strange not having Pat or Bryce's guidance, but sometimes if you want to keep training you gotta train yourself.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back at it again....(and Promote Three Meme)

First off, I'd like to thank Scott Zrubek, and Uchi-Deshi for tagging me with Pat's Promote Three Meme. I forget that people other than Pat and Andy read my blogs. Speaking of Andy, he'll be moving down to Orlando soon and that means I get a new training partner! No news from UCF on the Budo club yet :( but I'll keep trying until it gets done. In the meantime the weather is cooling off a little so a garage with a wrestling mat and a fan will suffice for a place to train. It's just too bad Bryce is leaving in October. It's great for Pat because he'll have his old training partner back. For me however that makes me the highest ranking Judoka/Aikidoka at least in my small circle of people I'll be training with. I still lack any good ability in randori and doubt how well I'll be able to teach and learn since my own training has been sporadic at best. I just don't feel like a 2nd Brown, though Pat tells me that no one ever feels they deserve the rank they have. In any case the experience of me and Andy trying to teach each other should be enlightening.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

An Unexpected Call...

I'm at work the other day talking to three people at once when my phone rings and it's a number from Texas. Nothing too surprising except I don't know anyone from Texas. It turns out to be the head of our Judo and Aikido organization. There were so many questions I wanted to ask but I restrained myself especially since I'm not even a Shodan yet and asking a few basic questions might come off as inappropriate. Well it turns out he just called to say my handwriting sucks (I sent off my yearly dues and rank fees almost a month ago). On an unrelated note...we now have a UCF staff sponsor for the Judo/Aikido club on UCF (Robert Reedy) so finally we can get the paperwork back underway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Site Under Construction

My site will be temporarily down while I try to start the Budo club at UCF and gear the blog towards that. I know I've been slacking off in posting but once I get the club started and get a regular time to practice, I'll have a regular posting of progress...or at least some cool anecdotes from class.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Budo Club

Well the preliminary paperwork for creating a club at UCF for Judo and Aikido has been filed. They already have a Brazilian Jujitsu club and a MMA club, but I think the one me, Bryce, and Beleek are making will be the first free one. Oddly enough, I recently discovered a Bujitsu club already exists there that teaches Tae Kwon Do. So anyone in the Orlando area who wants to do come play with us, you're more than welcome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Judo/Aikido Club

Since getting Beleek into Judo, I've gotten a few suggestions to start a Judo and Aikido club to safely practice and improve. The only problem is where. I've looked into the local YMCA but the prices are a bit steep here in Orlando. Thought about getting mats, but then there's nowhere to put them to practice. All there is around the apartment complex is pavement and grass. I think everyone knows where the pavement route would lead and grass would damage the mats after the extensive use I plan on using on them. I've looked into local gyms but the only ones that seem to have mats, only use them for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) UFC fighting classes. I'm going to contact the local college (UCF) and look into using their facilities. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Weekend at Pat's...

Well the trip to Pat's went well. You can read about the overall on his page or on Andy's but they left out one or two things. First off, Judo night went really well, Beleek (my girlfriend) who was terrified of it now wants to study it (thanks Pat). Later that night me and Andy had a randori session that I had Beleek videotape which I went over with Bryce as soon as I got home. I need to work on tegatana more, my posture leaves a lot to be desired. We also are trying to work on a way of doing more standing randori around here. As far as Andy's comment on his page about seeing just how yellow his belt is in Judo, I'd like to say he's getting much better every time I head down. The exciting stuff happened the next day at Aikido when we worked on knife techniques and multiple attackers. Everyone got stabbed over and over with knife attacks. There's just no way to win. I even got Pat the one time he defended against my knife attack. There must be some secret I'm missing with the knife stuff. Andy was coming at me at one point and I tripped over my Gi pants, did a backwards fall and rolled to standing and regained my posture right before I got stabbed. I died, but it felt like a win that I regained my composure before the rubbery death that was Pat's practice knife.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Heading Home

I'll be heading back to Pat's next week to visit the family and brush up on my Judo and Aikido once more with my teacher. I remember once when I was in the military and had a grappling class I was getting my butt kicked. We had a week break so I decided to take some leave and visit Pat. I made a few rude comments on how this Judo stuff wasn't working and how I must've been wasting my time and Pat did what any respectable teacher would do...he listened then wiped the floor with me. Afterwards he politely said "Your problem is obvious, you're trying to do moves and have forgotten the principles. You're not shrimping anymore." I thought about it (while I was on the floor not being able to get up) and realized he was right, I was wrong, and how stupid I felt for coming in complaining. I don't know if I said I'm sorry before Pat, but I am for that. Don't worry though, I'm not coming in with any complaints this time, just some new tricks I learned from your former student Bryce :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The guard and it's many uses

Today we went over yep, you guessed it, the guard. This started from conversations on seeing people get someone else into the guard then not knowing what to do with it once they have it. Other than just scissoring someone with it (which seems to almost always be the case if the guard's even being used at all), you have enormous control of your opponent's hips using your legs as hooks. We practiced just keeping the other person off-balance and while a bit tiring, it takes almost no time to effectively learn to use. We also went over kesa gatame and briefly escapes from kesa. One thing I need constant reminding of is that when a hold is done improperly the escapes work, but once it's set and set right, you can't really escape (at least not without GREAT effort). The best defense is always to not get into a bad position in the first place.

Knives, knives, and more knives.......

Last night me and Bryce went over knife evasion techniques and how the affect our Aikido. We did this exercise due to all the knife postings from Pat and Dojorat. First all, knife work makes my Aikido go to crap. It shouldn't, but it does. I get so focused on that wooden spoon we were using as a knife that I can't relax enough to do proper Aikido. This was the lesson Bryce was trying to get across by jabbing me all night and keeping me on edge. I know it sounds simple to say "well just take a deep breath and relax and do proper smooth Aikido" but it didn't work out that way for me. Afterwards he told me I did well and now I know what I need to work on...staying calm. He was also saying that he was told knife randori is about as close as you can get to the real thing because in an actual life and death encounter you'll be a bit stiff and awkward and moving on reflex. Hence the need for constant practice and proper posture training. The exercise was great at showing me how far I've come and how far I need to go though. Any suggestions from anyone reading these posts on other exercises to try?

Friday, June 1, 2007

New Understandings

It never ceases to amaze me how in any martial art, two people can do similar moves, study them and get drastically different results. Last night me and Bryce were up discussing how different people in our organization of Aikido came up with their own unique ideas of how a move should be performed under similar circumstances. For instance, in honasu number 1, Uke grabs Tori's wrist with his opposite hand (so Uke's right hand to Tori's right hand making their arms go across the body). In our version of this Uke is pulling on Tori's wrist so we follow it and step with that motion. In another group, they teach that Uke doesn't pull but squeezes and roots himself to the ground requiring different movements to offbalance him. I'd seen that one before but there was one more that blew my mind how simple it was and that I'd never considered it before. Uke grabs and pulls but Tori steps AWAY straightening the arms and when they become straight he swings his hand inside the body and gently takes Uke's already slipping grip with his other hand turning it into a Kotogaeshi with very little movement. Afterwards we spiraled into a discussion of High School wrestling techniques versus what I've seen Jujitsu guys do that appear to be very similar moves. After an hour or two of that, Enter the Dragon came on tv and that led to a few more hours of how to defend against someone with the speed of Bruce Lee (other than throwing something at him and running away). All in all, a good learning experience. Pat if you're reading this, I won't physically be in McComb for the Aiki Buddy Gathering in June, but I'm sending Andy in my stead with a camera so I won't miss any of the action.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

One more thing...

I forgot to add in the last post that me and Bryce also spent around 2 hours (after physical practice) talking about mai and it's relationship to everyone in Aikido and how it changes in Judo. Apparently there are 2 mai distances. There is the Aikido mai where your opponent would have to commit to stepping (or leaping) forward to get you, and there's a passive mai where someone gets about the distance and arm would be before it could hit your face, not your other arm. We played around how differently people react to those two instances. We did a little Judo randori and I've decided that every time I go back home now I'm going to take the video camera to Pat's with me, especially for me and Andy's randori sessions before class so when I get back home I can analyze what I need to work on a bit more objectively. Not so much point out "I should've done this here or that there", but more "Ok I'm leaning in when I'm closing mai, or my posture is horrible as I attempt hip throws". Any other suggestions on improving one's self when not in class (other than the standard repetition of tegatana would be most appreciated.

Long night

First off let me apologize for not posting more often but I haven't done anything other than tegatana for a couple of weeks until last night. Me and Bryce worked for 2 hours straight on the difference between getting real tension to move with, and giving what feels like real tension to GET uke to move with. Basically committed attacks and attacks that look and at first feel real but without any substance. We also went over some ground work and how we use leverage by not collapsing our circular and triangular shapes, but by rotating them but keeping the same shape. All of this came together with a very good speech on staying inside "the box" when facing an opponent. The only exception being in Judo where you can leave the box but only if you take your opponent outside his as well and you can get back to yours first. I unfortunately won't be able to go to the Aiki-Buddies gathering in June but I've gotten a week in July off to head back. My girlfriend wants to know what all this Aikido stuff is so she'll be coming with me so it should be a pretty good couple of classes. I still want to work on multiple attackers when I'm there and movement from the kneeling position.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

June Aiki Buddy Gathering

I got the go ahead from work that I'll have the time off to go to the Aiki Buddy weekend in Magnolia in the middle of June. I was looking at Pat's post with the randori videos on it and I realized I've never done any exercises with multiple attackers. Usually (almost always) it's because we just don't have enough bodies in class for this. Hopefully this can be addressed in June. For anyone who has done exercises concerning multiple assailants, how big is the gap between handing one uke and handling 3 or 4?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Got home early today....

Today was the end of Bryce's days off from school so I left work a little early and got some Aikido time in. We briefly ran through Nijusan and concentrated on kote-geshi. Now that I have a DVD of Pat doing Nijusan thanks to my last trip down :) I was able to have a visual on some differences of Bryce's kote-geshi and Pat's Kote-geshi. The most notable difference is that in Pat's version, when Uke reaches the end of the line, Pat doesn't set kote-geshi, but has it in place and holds it while Uke walks into it while keeping the other hand up for shomenate. This technique makes Uke feel like he's walking into a brick wall, he tries to move forward but as he sets kote-geshi on himself he can't keep moving forward. In Bryce's version, Bryce will set kote-geshi at the end of the line and keep moving around the point of contact giving Uke that feeling of having his legs whip out from under him. While this requires more room, it's more fun to do (if not quite as foolproof as Pat's). Then we went into close kote-geshi and far kote-geshi. We finished up with playing around with how often kote-geshi and waki-gatame actually come up in "real life" situations and what to do if for some reason or another the movement from Uke and tori stops (from Tori losing his balance and regaining it or Uke just standing up because Tori wasn't in total control with tension).

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Promotion

I'm getting a promotion at my job which means I can keep that one and lose the other. That translates to more sleep and more Judo/Aikido time. I was hoping to go to the Henry clinic this weekend but alas, plans fell through. The picture of Andy is finished. The hands look slightly different than the picture on his blog (the hands are improved) but I'm not posting a new picture cause it's not that big a change, just slightly sharper. So if anyone's interested I know the artist and she'd be happy to be commissioned for another (I'm thinking of getting one myself lol). I've been doing tegatana and working on the rising and falling of the center. I've been reading this book lately called "Conversations with God Vol I" (there are 3) it's where I got the love vs fear idea from and there's another I'd like to discuss. There's a part that talks about people's passions. It says a person who's passionate about something may initially undertake a task/hobby/whatever for the end result but learns that the end result isn't as important as the experience or feeling you get from doing the activity. I thought about this and realized that when I first saw Ueshiba, and yes even Steven Seagal on one of his 80's movies, I believe it was "Hard to Kill" when he disarms a guy with a knife using knee walking and kote-geashi in a convenience store, I wanted to be able to do that one day. Lately I don't look so far ahead. I just wait for the next class or practise session with Bryce period. I'm finally enjoying the ride so to speak. Just wondering if anyone else had any stories to relate to this. Pat, I recall one you told me about stopping at a Krystal's in Alabama as to why you started, are you still looking for an ending or just enjoying class as it comes?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back into the Saddle

Well in some good news I'm getting promoted at one job in May so I can support myself enough to only need one. What that means for Judo and Aikido is more time for practice. I'm going to attempt to come down in early April with Bryce during his school's spring break and hopefully things will work out where we can both go. I'd like to go to the Starkville clinic, but we'll only be in town one or two days and I don't know if we can drive up to the Sumrall/Hattiesburg/McComb area then drive 3-4 more hours out towards Starkville...we'll see. Even if we can't, hopefully we'll be able to catch Pat before or afterwards. I've been doing tegatana a lot lately and at first I was letting the weight of my hand cause me to fall in the directions of the steps but that felt too much like leaning, so I started just falling those directions then moving the hand. After working with it a while, I feel like it works best with starting to fall and moving the hand around the same time then centering the hand during the downward fall and catching myself at a point where I could change direction instantly with my hand already at my center. Thoughts?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Back again

In response to Pat's reply to my last post, of course I haven't given up. I don't think I could ever "give up" martial arts. I've just been working 18 hour days 6 days a week between 2 jobs. Andy called me the other day and I had to work in the morning and was off in the afternoon and he put it quite well when he said "so with you only working 1 job today, that's like a day off for you". I've done a lot of thinking over this the past few days. I've been avoiding this decision for a long time, but it's finally time to give in to seriously pursuing martial arts as a career. It's the one and only thing I can do day in and day out without getting tired of it or my love for it diminishing. It's a constant challenge to the senses with physical and philosophical sensations. I plan on staying in Orlando the next year and after getting a car, driving to Vero Beach when Bryce is gone. Afterwards maybe Houston or Oklahoma. The only way I can see making a career of this work, is just to study and study until I'm good enough that people come to me to learn. I've also been looking into whether it's possible teach Judo as an after school program at the boys and girls club, or (hopefully somewhere) as a class itself. It more than qualifies for a gym class. Especially if could be taught to 8th-9th graders where they're old enough to be able to perform the moves well but young enough to absorb the info. Any suggestions on how to make martial arts a feasible career are most welcome and greatly appreciated.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Quick Update

To anyone still reading my blog, just letting you know that I am still making an effort to post. I just started my new morning prep job at a brand new Outback that just opened yesterday and I work nights at Blockbuster. Combine that with Bryce's crappy class schedule this week and it's left no time for Aikido or Judo...hopefully next week.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Love and Fear

"We Contribute to Our Own Failure" was a post recently made on Pat's site and if you're reading this, please go there and click on his link to the Classic Aiki Story there. My post is in reference to that. Someone special to me once said that humans only have two emotions and all other emotions are derived from those two. Those two emotions are love, and fear. I thought about this concept and how it fit into my aiki training. It's true, I'd love to get into a classic example of a mugger taking an old lady's purse and gracefully tossing him to the earth, handing the lady back her purse and have her thank me. When I really sat down and thought about why I'd like a real life situation to occur for my Aikido though, it's not out of some need for gratitude, it's out of fear. Fear that maybe what I'm learning I won't be able to perform when I really need to. Fear that I'd let my Sensei and myself down when it really came down to it. Therefore, I want a black and white confrontation to have a definite answer. Pat's was about there not usually being a black and white circumstance. Mine's about this desire to test my skills being misled. I keep doing Aikido because I love Aikido. I get immense joy out of blending with someone and moving with them. I get just as much out of being Uke and letting Tori toss me and improving someone else's Ability. While I was down at the Mokuren dojo for my Aiki weekend, Pat was telling me about how almost everyone who gets into Aikido initially gets into it because it seems magical and there seems an element of control over another person that we all want to learn. The farther we progress though we learn that the idea of controlling someone else is an illusion and we start liking it for what it really is. The higher up the chain of Aikidoka you go however, the more "magical" the abilities of people seem to be, even to those that practise Aikido already, until they get to that point, and so on, and so on. I'd just like everyone reading this to really ask themselves why they got into Aikido initially (the actual motivation), and why they're still doing it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the Incident...

Please read the previous post for back story. I'll be the first to admit I occasionally horse around in the dojo. If waki-gatame is being demonstrated on me, after the 2nd time I might try to Gedan-ate my way out of it. I only try these things on Pat since he's 5th degree and I know that he's expecting it and I never go for anything serious. It's a bad habit I have and Pat usually makes me pay for that Gedan-ate attempt by introducing me to the floor or setting waki-gatame as an armbar. That being said, I was working with Patrick, who by the way has a really interesting feel during honasu number 5 with the turning under the arm since he doesn't counterbalance, on a chain in Nijusan. Patrick tends to get over-zealous from time to time and he made a move during the exercises to put me into tenkai-kote geishi but jumped into it. Since we were moving slow and he dove into this full force it caught me off guard and he didn't let go of my wrist so I dove backwards into the mat to save my wrist from being broken. I got up and told him to take it slow and cool off and he tried it again so I moved with him at normal speed and reversed the hold and broke away from him. He was giggling and saying "good stuff man, good stuff" and it occurred to me he didn't realize the severity of what just happened. He leaves his phone on during class, he's come before with his Gi reeking of smoke (thought not for a while) and it's never addressed. I only come down once in a while so I don't really mind anymore, but I used to when I was there. I was just wondering if anyone else has any advice on how to deal with the student that doesn't seem to listen....other than bringing it to the attention of the Sensei. Sensei Pat has the patience of a Saint, unfortunately I haven't developed that yet.

A Learning Weekend

Well I know Andy and Pat have made a few posts about the Friday and Saturday Aikido/Judo weekend already, but here are a few words from me about it. The weekend started off with me and Andy arriving at the dojo a few hours before Pat so we warmed up and commences some standing Judo randori after I refreshed him on some basic throws. I have to say his Aikido defiantly shows in his Judo, he's gotten noticeably better since the last time we did anything. He got me with a few good throws and I got one or two on him before Pat showed up. Right before class me and Andy did some ground work in Judo. He did pretty well for someone who hasn't done it before except for maybe a class or two a few years ago. I was amazed how this time I didn't go for any arm-bars or chokes...they just happened. My hands just fell in the right place which brings me to something Pat was mentioning on his blog. This was the first class where I felt like a Sankyu. I could do all the moves at will (not always fluidly, but I could make them happen), and I just felt really comfortable in my rank for once. According to Pat that means I need to be promoted and taken out of my comfort zone again. That Friday during class we did a little Owaza and went over Nijusan. I remember Andy saying that he was curious how the feeling would be different with the more linear Junanna I was practising with Bryce and how that would transfer. Before I left we both agreed that there was no noticeable difference in feeling. Kary, an old buddy me and Andy used to work with showed up after class so all three of us stayed the night at Pat's house to get up early for Aikido in the morning. Sat morning the dojo was freezing. It must've been 30 degrees in there. It didn't feel warm till the 2nd or 3rd hour right before practise was over. I got a chance to work with Pat's other students, Kristoff the exchange student, and Patrick the one armed student Pat references to from time to time in his posts. Kristoff seems really fluid in his motions, I just hope as time progresses his attacks as Uke become more committed, I think it's a little confusing to the other students when they try to move with an attack that's not there. There was a slight incident with Patrick which I'll post separately in a second. After class I took some video footage of Pat and Andy doing Nijusan then the Kihara chains. Pat may or may not choose to post some of it, but I'd like it to go on record that Andy taking the falls was already exhausted from Judo the day before and 3 hours of Aikido that day so if the falls aren't pretty and he takes a little longer after each throw to get up, that's why. Bryce was excited when I got back that we have some new stuff to go over. I plan on TRYING (note the operative word Pat) to make it back in April with Bryce and have an Aiki Buddy weekend or whatever it is Pat's calling it. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Home for a week...

Just letting my avid readers know I'm heading back to Mississippi for a week. I won't be posting until I get back and share my thoughts on how class back at the Mokuren dojo went. Please feel free to read the post there to see Pat's thoughts on the weekend...but check back here for news on the randori session before class. Hopefully Andy will have a few thoughts on this too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Knee Walking

Me and Bryce have been going over the much neglected knee walking principles lately. Not only incorporating them into moves, but just how it works and specifically why it works with good posture. I was having a problem with it was not putting my weight over my heels while transitioning to the next knee. I was getting in a hurry and falling a little more forward than I should and firing off back muscles to pull myself into proper position again. Other than gaining a sore back, I would fall over after doing this a couple of times. As far as ne waza and getting out of the way by picking up a knee...that took a lot of work. The best explanation I can come up with is if you start with your weight resting on your knees and having them at shoulder width apart, you can get proper tension by moving like you're pulling them apart without actually moving the placement of your knees, just getting tension. That way when you get pushed or pulled, you just lift the knee you aren't rooted to and it will fall right where it needs to go and you just take a step. It's an odd feeling having to move if your leg was chopped off at the knees. Your movements are easier, as in feeling where you're supposed to go...but those same movements need to be more precise or you just fall over. The biggest problem I have was having was slightly dragging my rear knee when moving forward so it's been giving me rug burn. I'll either get better at moving and this won't happen...or I'll get callouses so big it won't matter. Anyone else have any knee walking stories or tips? Also, does anyone know of any specific exercises for knee walking to help on precision other than just knee walking back and forth?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Excited about class

I can't wait till next Friday and Saturday where I'm going home for a bit to practise on mats again...lots of falling. Pat if you're reading this, we need to go over Owaza 1-5 just so I can be thrown from it...Bryce insists. I was talking to Andy about this and me and him are both curious to see how our Aikido feels now that we've been learning from different people. Plus a little friendly randori is as the fore-front of our minds :) I'd give anything to do Aikido and Judo as a living but I wonder how successful a dojo would be in a larger city area. While you have a greater population than smaller towns, you also have dojos every couple of miles. The more I train though the more I genuinely want this to be more predominant in my life career-wise. I just wonder if I'll have to hold down a 9-5 low pay job to support my passion.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


Last night me and Bryce went over the importance of retaining the initial tension you get after the offbalance. We went through Junana and most of the changes made for Nijusan. He couldn't remember the Nijusan version for waki gatame so we went over around 8 different possible was a long night. Very refreshing though as we also briefly went over taking someone to the ground and maintaining control and positioning keeping in mind where judges might be sitting for a formal rank test. That definitely makes things harder, but a little challenge is always good. After all that, we touched on San Kata, or Koryu Dai San if you want the formal name. The best part of the night for me was my being re-taught kote mawashi. I had completely forgotten about that until it was done to me once. After that I threw myself into something else to keep him from getting kote mawashi again.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Belts and Indications...

When I first began to learn about martial arts I thought whatever belt a person was wearing was an exact indication of their skill level. Later, I thought it was a rough indication of skill and more an indication of time of rank. I was discussing what it actually meant with Andy and he said it depends on the wearer. That mostly it's just something given to students to give them a sense of accomplishment. I just wonder if belt ranks cause more problems than benefits. Lots of people quit after getting their Shodan (which I personally see as a benefit). For those that don't though, I get the feeling they feel they don't deserve it. I know I didn't feel like I deserved my yellow, green, or brown belt when I was awarded it. My Sensei Pat assured me that it's normal and I'll never feel like I deserve them when I earn them because I'm looking at what I feel I ought to know instead of how much I've learned between each one. That works great except for the times I fell out of practicing for a few months at a time. You never dramatically feel your skills improving but you can defiantly tell when they've dropped. Belts don't degrade though, so you're left a green belt but you feel like a yellow or even white. I have no idea what brought this post up, and it has no questions...just some thoughts.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Learning by looking forward, and backward...

I was debating whether to edit this out but then this blog wouldn't really be my thoughts as I truly see them. I've had this growing theory of how things get taught and it consists of two parts. First off, people much better than me having an insight into inner workings of movement I can't fathom yet so I just do as they tell me or I see them doing hoping to understand or finding understanding in it, at least partially. Secondly, the people who teach me, looking towards the people that taught them the same way. I wonder if they see something they don't understand and just attempt to find meaning in it too. For instance, when I was asking about the getting behind the arm in Nijusan, I was wondering if Karl or Henry said to do that for all of the movements or if that was extrapolated by the mid ranks and being taught that way because that's how they saw it. Later, the upper echelons looking at the mid ranks and seeing what they're doing and deciding "well if they want to get behind the arm ALL the time, the lets concentrate on teaching them that" and the mid ranks looking forward, seeing more taught on getting behind the arm and being validated. I'm getting at a cycle. While things can and are learned greatly from this, does misinformation travel that way too? Pat once told me bad Judo came from Japanese purposefully teaching bad Judo to Americans. Later Japanese kids wanted to be like Americans so they mimicked our culture and with it our bad Judo. Then, when America looked back at Japan we saw those kids doing bad Judo and therefore thought we were doing it right. There are only so many hours one can teach, so what determines when something old gets thrown out in favor of something new? I think occasionally Pat finds such a deep understanding of something that it's lost in translation when he tries to teach it to lower belts...I know a few were on me :) I think there needs to be a bridge to span the gap of old an new. For instance, we don't teach the three steps anymore in Honasu and Junana (now Nijusan) in favor of fluidity. I know I couldn't do it fluidly if I didn't learn it in those steps in the first place. I know Pat and them learned in steps initially and now that it's not taught anymore it occasionally brings up interesting situations when I try to discuss a certain step with Andy. I'll call out which step, and he's asking which chain it comes from. After talking about this with Bryce, we came up with the idea that maybe they should both still be in the curriculum somewhere. Teach Honasu the steps way to white belts. Then at yellow teach the fluid way of Honasu, and 1-5 of Junana the linear way. At green, 6-10 of Junana the linear way, 1-5 of Nijusan the fluid way. This way students get both, younger students come into class, looking ahead at higher belts they see how fluid it'll become but it's in a language easier to grasp initially for them. Opinions?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Samurai Steve...

I've recently taken a part time job at Logan's roadhouse for some extra cash. My night trainer was a guy everyone calls Samurai Steve. He's called this because he wears a small pony tail that resembles a top-knot....and because he takes 8 different martial arts. After talking with him a few minutes I gleaned some info about his martial experiences. First off, he's been taking some form of martial art for 3 years. He takes some form of Kung fu, Taekwondo, grappling Hapkido (I didn't know Hapkido was distinguished as two separate things), some form of martial art that's his own design and was approved by his karate teacher, whatever the form of karate is he takes that he's changed into his own, and a few weapons martial arts. He holds a black belt in two of the arts mentioned (let's hope at least one is in his own). Now the reason I bring up Steve is that after asking me about Judo and Aikido and telling me how lame it was and me just blowing his comments off as ignorance, this grill cook who works next to us came over after eavesdropping on, well on Steve's one sided conversation. He was interested in taking some form of martial art and wanted some advice from the two of us. Now Steve can say whatever he wants to me, I don't care, but I didn't want to give off a false impression to this grill guy. So as Steve's telling how you need a strong stance and widening his legs, I casually mention that it depends totally on the style and what you're looking for. Steve basically tells the grill guy that I take a "weak" martial art so I don't know what I'm talking about, and I'm patient...but after 3 straight hours of him berating Aikido and Judo I thought a little check was in order so after him saying that he was in an immovable stance, I gave him a little tug down the line. His feet were so far apart his back leg had to pop up to catch himself so he didn't fall. He blamed it on the wet floor and I went back to prepping since orders finally started coming in again. My latest quandary is, what should I have done? In that situation is it best to just let the grill guy's experience start off with someone like Steve, who's a self proclaimed innovator of his own style, just because of some flashy punches? I don't have the time or desire to argue or even discuss things concerning martial arts with Steve because he's only waiting for his turn to talk. I think Bryce would say "Let Steve talk, let the grill guy figure it out for himself" but I don't like the idea of ignoring someone's who's interested and leaving them to, well to Steve, lol.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ok Gedan ate--(lower body push)

Me and Bryce have gone over this move in particular almost every time we practise. In the new circular way we do Nijusan by off-balancing and getting behind the arm, it makes little sense. The timing has to be perfect and sudden and it feels to us that by doing Gedan ate this way you have to force it, which isn't Aikido. Nijusan over all feels leaps and bounds over Junana in terms of smoothness, but Gedan ate always feels awkward. Upon examination of it, I asked Bryce..."why does this one have to be circular"? He told me that all the moves in Nijusan get behind the arm in that dead zone (sorry Pat, I don't remember the name for it) and are performed from there, which I replied "but why this one?". We decided the best way for it to come naturally is for Tori to pull back after Uke steps off-line and off-balances Tori. As Tori pulls back, Uke follows the movement and catches Tori on the rise and continues his movement backwards. It seems to flow smoother. Gedan ate isn't something that happens in circles, it happens when something goes wrong and a line is created. How does Karl perform Gedan ate? Then again...his timing is always perfect so that small window for him is probably enormous. Thoughts? Here is the way Gedan ate feels best for me.

Finding a Teacher...

I read Pat's post on his blog about my response to Jory-san the other day. I think Jory-san was just interested in my particular reasons for picking Fugakukai, and for me to clarify what I was typing because it could've been stated better :) Since Pat's put in his two cents about what brings people to different places, I felt I should elaborate on how I got where I am. I didn't just fall into as I said. I'd actually forgotten how many other places of martial arts I'd looked at until I ended up where I am. As Andy can attest to, I tried Seibukan, a form of Okinawan Karate, for a brief time. Although Sensei Bill-Jack was an outstanding teacher, the art itself didn't "feel" right for me. I didn't "ride the waves", I wanted "THE WAVE". Me and Andy (who I enlisted in my quest for the metaphorical wave) once drove 4 hours to an Aikido dojo to look at it. They taught Aikido, which I wanted to learn, Iaido which he wanted to learn, and the dues were relatively cheap...which we both thought was a plus. I asked the teacher how sparring worked in Aikido (knowing it was a loaded question because I was wondering how he'd react), he sternly looked at me and said there was no sparring but delivered it in such a way that he was almost admonishing me for asking a question that a student who'd never seen Aikido before would ask, so I left. Before my tangent continues, the point I'm getting to is to make sure that anyone reading this doesn't just go to a dojo and stick with something that doesn't click with them until something better comes along, sometimes you have to go out and find it. I looked for a while until my friend from high school told me he knew someone that took it. So in a way I did fall into Fugakukai because I didn't seek out Bryce to point the way to Pat so I could learn...but I wasn't aimlessly going from place to place either. You'll know when you find a good teacher and when you meet the martial art that's for you. That being said, a lot of places are getting more and more commercialized so make sure the aim is in teaching you a martial art, not selling a bunch of t-shirts and trophies. Find out the style of a school and research the history of it and make sure the person teaching you knows a little about'd be surprised at the results sometimes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Martial Arts are Viewed Lately...

I was sitting on the couch with my girlfriend flipping through tv and there's a channel called FitTv. This particular channel caught my eye because it was all about martial arts. They covered Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Karate, and TaeKwonDo. The show was geared towards getting fit but the questions being asked of the instructors were about self defense and how it related to getting fit. Beleek seemed interested in the show but as it went on I felt hurt that this was the perception the public really has of martial arts, that their only value is for aerobic least that's what the Kung Fu master and the TaeKwonDo master said. After the show was over, my girlfriend asked me which one of those schools were good and which ones weren't. I said at first glance, the Karate place and the Tai Chi place. She asked why those and not the other ones. I should mention we have a form of TiVo at our house so I could go through the show and give examples of why I personally would go to one over the other. While typing this and discussing this with Andy, he made a good observation. She wasn't asking me which style was "stronger" but which school I felt taught better or I would look at after seeing the information presented in the 5 min segments on each one. First off I showed the TaeKwonDo dojo (cause it was last and I was rewinding). I picked a particular frame and froze the tv and pointed out a few things that looked out of place for me personally picking a dojo. In the frame, there was a merchandise section of his shop that had huge collections of shirts, buttons, hats, posters, it was like the whole place was a billboard. The key thing that stuck out was a banner over the instructors head that read "Your Goal is to Become a Black Belt". That may be people's general idea of what to strive for, but isn't it our responsibility to change that perception? The Tai Chi class was taught by Terry Dunn who said blatantly "Tai Chi was originally a martial art, but the class I teach is not" and I totally respect that. The Kung Fu school I can't for sure say what I did and didn't like about it, so I'll leave that one alone. The Jujitsu school's instructor had a gi with so many patches, his black gi looked checkered. He had his own boxing ring in his dojo and after the FitTv lady said "let's say I'm someone right off the street and have never heard of jujitsu before, what can I be expected to do first", he went into a routine of 20 something strikes and throws as her first exercise. Everything he did looked flashy and it just was strange. Now for the Karate teacher. They said he was the 4th American to be given the ok from Japan to teach Karate in America. He was an old black man with a rustic simple dojo, a few mats, and mirrored walls. Beleek asked me what distinguished him from the other guys and Bryce was walking through and said "his black belt is so old and used it's turning white". I just wanted to post this because I see these chains of dojo's everywhere and kids and adults walking into my workplace still wearing their gi's and belts talking about how high their kicks have gotten. That's a good goal, but is that all people look for anymore out of any of the martial arts?