Martial Arts in the U.S. Have Changed a Lot

I was heavily involved in martial arts in the 1990s. Having had no access at all to martial arts in high school, I had just finished a career as a wrestler through the 80’s. I started training in Shotokan karate and Cheng-system taiji in college, before being introduced to wonderful style called Hwarang-Do by a college classmate. I spent several years at this school, training under the late Franklin “Butch” Fowlkes, an ex-Army Ranger who would later found the Five Elements Martial Arts System. In addition to being an instructor of Hwarang-do and the senior student of Michael Echanis, Butch held advanced ranks in taekwondo and hapkido (both learned while serving on the Korean DMZ) and wing chun; all of which he surreptitiously inserted into our lessons.

Sa Bahm Nim Fowlkes eventually cured me of my military-hating liberal ways, and I shipped off to be a late-blooming military policeman in the U.S. Marine Corps. In addition to high-expert ratings with rifle and pistol (and later MOS qualification as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor), I was trained in L.I.N.E (this was before MCMAP), Combat Hitting Skills, and pretty much everything Monadnock had to offer.

Once in the fleet, I spent three full years on Okinawa; training in Shorin-ryu karate, kobujutsu, and jujutsu under Grandmasters Shimabukuro Eizo and Kise Fusei. I was also briefly deployed to South Korea, allowing me to train in hapkido is some of the same places that Butch had. Upon returning, I briefly worked as “security contractor” until war broke out in 2002, at which time I returned to service in the National Guard. When my first deployment with the National Guard was over, I trained to the level of Instructor Candidate in the kali-silat system of MasGuru Greg Allend, before my instructor moved and I was once again in a wasteland with no training available. So, I got my NRA training credentials and worked on that for several years.

Now, as I finally approach retirement from the Guard, I find myself in area with several “martial arts” schools available. Except that they aren’t. Martial arts have been almost completely replaced in the U.S. by combat sports. My choices are, for the most part, to engage in sparring against athletic hopefuls half my age in systems with no weapons training at and which largely rely on rolling around on the ground for effectiveness; or to train with elementary school children in a sort of pajama’ed gymnastics routine which may or may not involve waving bits of plastic around in semblance of “weapons”. Even firearms training consists almost exclusively of medium-range rifle shooting at stationary targets from a bench.

The human race is not at the top of the food chain because we are the strongest or fastest animals on the planet. We are at the top of the food chain because we know how to make tools which largely negate the advantages of speed and strength from those who DON’T use them. Somewhere along the line, the citizens of the United States–who use tools for everything that they do–have allowed themselves to be convinced that using tools IN DEFENSE OF HUMAN LIFE is wrong.

This needs to be corrected.

Just a Little Reality-Check

Dear liberals: No matter what anyone claims, the Federal budget is 100% the responsibility of Congress. Period, full stop.

Dear Conservatives: RIFs only apply to planned furloughs, not emergency shut-downs. This is not a brilliant master plan.

GWB Buys Some Pizza;*OUTRAGE*

You know, George W. Bush was not a “great” President. He got ambushed by the repercussions of Bill Clinton’s policies, and while he was trying to do what needed to be done, he was continually set upon by some very powerful powerful folks. Nancy Pelosi, architect of the current crisis, being prime among them.

His biggest failing was never taking the offensive in the media; as a result we still have generations of Americans who think that Iraq and Afghanistan were a “waste of blood for oil” and that there were “no WMD”. He was so reviled by the globalist Democrats and their know-nothing constituents that parades were organized through major cities simply to hold signs of him with devil-horns.  All of the people who say that they have “never seen anything like Trump Derangement Syndrome” have apparently forgotten that TDS is just a play-on-words for the histrionics collectively known as “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

But he was never anything but a gentleman; to the troops he deployed, or the Democrats who ordered him to deploy them–and then called him a monster for doing it.

Today, he brought some pizzas to Secret Service officers on duty, and said that the Democrats and Republicans should be working together to resolve the shutdown. And all the know-nothings are screaming about what a monster he is for doing it. For buying pizza for people who protect his family, and saying that the elected officials should do their jobs.

*Update* For everyone screaming that George W. Bush should shut up, because he didn’t do anything about the border while he was in office:

Historical Update

I have been trying to post some historical data regarding previous Federal Shut-downs, but it is proving impossible to find the articles for which I am searching.  Therefore, I wanted to take a moment to record some data for future use.  Before I begin, I must note that I voted for Donald Trump neither in the Republican Primary (I supported Ted Cruz) nor in the General Election (I voted for the Constitution Party).  I note this because of the constant habit of Democrats to dismiss anyone who does not post constant negatives about Donald Trump as a “mindless supporter” (a classic case of projection, if ever there was one).  Thus noted, here are the facts to present:

  1. Democrats are calling this the “Trump shutdown”.  They made this same lie during the 2013 shutdown, and the articles cataloging the various meetings scheduled by Republicans to work on the budget, to which the Democrats refused to even show up, were the main resources I was searching for and can no longer find.  The current lie is supported by the fact that, last week, Donald Trump stated quite clearly that he would be proud to shut down the government if Congress did not honor their 2016 promise to fully fund the wall along the southern border of the United States.  However, it is important to note that no bill has been presented to the President.  It is Congressional Democrats who are refusing to honor their promises, and causing the Federal shutdown.  President Trump cannot be culpable for it until a budget bill is on his desk.
  2. The Federal Reserve has adjusted the interest rates on loans upward again.  The liberals in charge of this completely un-Constitutional body are doing everything they can to sabotage the economy.  We have been doing exceedingly well under President Trump’s policies, and the Fed is deliberately hurting Americans both individually (by making it more difficult to acquire credit) and as a nation (rates at this level almost always result in a recession, and make it much more difficult to produce the budgetary surplus needed to start paying off our 21-trillion-dollar debt.

For my money, since passing a Federal budget is really the only job that Congress has, I propose the following legislation: For any year that a budget is not passed in time to prevent the closing of Federal offices, or that the budget does not produce a net revenue, or that the Federal debt is not decreased (or surplus increased, should we ever reach that happy point again), Congress shall be taxed at 100% of their income for the year.  For every week that the Federal government remains shut down, fully or partially, they will be taxed an additional 10% of their current salary.

Conversations with Oath-Breakers, 16SEP18

Him: “Civilians shouldn’t have AR-15s!”

Me: Didn’t serve, or oath-breaker?

Him: “I was a tank commander!”

Me: All you had to say was “oath-breaker”.

Him: “I am an American.”

Me: Did you magically become a tank commander without swearing an oath to defend the Constitution? Or did your oath come with an expiration date? If the answer to neither of those is “no”, then you are an oath-breaker. The accident of your place of birth means nothing to me.

Conversations with Wannabe Despots 06JUNE18

From Twitter (paraphrased for brevity and clarity):

Them: “Public businesses have to be open for the whole public!”

Me: It was a private business.

Them: “Conservatives never consider that businesses are supported by police and fire departments. No business is an island.”

Me: If anyone had the choice to opt out, that would be a valid argument. We don’t.  Most conservatives are Republicans.  They took your slaves away once; they probably aren’t interested in letting you get a new batch.

Them: “I get really tired of hiring that.”

Me: I’ll make you a deal. You stop advocating for a system in which you have total authority to dictate what other people are allowed to do, say, and think; and I will stop calling you out for wanting Democrats to have slaves.  Again.

Thank You, Academy…

The morning news today said that the American Academy of Dramatic Arts would be taking extra steps today to ensure that they would not repeat the mistake of having awards announced incorrectly.  Are there any steps which they could take to get some good movies made?

On Okinawa Budou

Ryukyuan martial arts were not a monolithic entity called “toudi”, any more than there is one martial art in China called “kung fu” (or more precisely, “quan fa”). There were two major schools of Ryukyuan martial arts; one based in the capital city (Shuri-te) and one based in the major port (Naha-te).*  “Toudi”, or more commonly “tote”, is Uchina Guchi (native Okinawan language) equivalent of quan fa (Mandarin) or Kempo (Japanese). **  It is a generic descriptor of multiple styles. It should also be noted that these earlier systems were true martial arts, and not the modern sports derived from them: that is, they were weapon-based, with unarmed combat a secondary consideration.
Ryukyu was repeatedly conquered by Japanese forces over its history, and gradually assimilated Japanese language and culture. The Okinawa “to-te” was gradually replaced with the Japanese “Kara-te”, written with the characters meaning “China hand.” During this period, unarmed combat and improvised weapons also became more significant in training, due to the Japanese prohibition on weapons. Naha-Te also divided into two schools, which are today called “Goju Ryu” and “Uechi Ryu”.
After World War II, Ryukyu voluntarily repatriated to Japan as the Prefecture of Okinawa. A council of karate masters, not wanting to show disloyalty to their new nation, decided that the name “Kara-Te” would be kept, but the characters would be changed from “China hand” to “empty hand”. This also helped with the concern of appearing overly-belligerent in post-War Japan, as they removed the weapons curriculum entirely, forming a different art called “kobujutsu” (literally, “the old way of fighting”).
Today, there are a mix of schools on Okinawa which teach the more traditional karate-jutsu/kobujutsu, and those who have adopted Funakoshi’s “-do” philosophy.

*Today, Shuri is a neighborhood in Naha, and the capitol is Okinawa-shi, a bit farther north.

**This does not mean “fist law”. That is some nonsense Ed Parker made up to sell books. It means “fist technique”.

Cannibalizing Workouts

So, I have recently started back into the arena of powerlifting, after a nearly twenty-year military-enforced hiatus.  No, the U.S. military doesn’t ban powerlifting; I am just not genetically gifted enough to train in powerlifting and do my daily military PT.

In trying to break back in (at the age of 45, now), I first turned to what had worked for me before.  In high school and college, I successfully trained to State-champion (in my then very-low weight class, at least) using Coach Shepard’s “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” system.  I like the concept quite a lot, but it is somewhat difficult in this age of “Planet Fitness” zombie “workouts” to find a gym outside of an academic setting which caters to things like “four-way neck machines”, “box squats”, and “towel bench presses”.  While none of those things are strictly mandatory, I thought I would look at other, more recent programs to see if I could find something better.

My next stop was Wendler’s “5/3/1” program.  I liked this for similar set-rep scheme to BFS, and in fact its four-a-week training is more similare to how BFS was done in the 80’s than the current version of BFS is.  However, as Wendler notes, his is not a program for beginners–nor 45 year-old rehabilitees.  However, his books regularly mention Mark Rippetoe and the “Starting Strength” program, so I was off to my next trial.

“Starting Strength” and its sequel, “Practical Programming for Strength Training”, really are phenomenal introductions to strength training.  Unfortunately for me, it assumes that strength training is all you are doing.  While it has sections for scalability to “special populations” (such as quatragenarians like myself), it is also made clear that if you are doing other training, or not doing exactly the training in the book, you are NOT doing “Starting Strength”.  And Starting Strength requires you to do, in addition to other exercises, eight sets of back squats every workout.  This would have wiped me out as a fifteen-year-old on summer break, let alone as a forty-five-year-old with military training requirements and a martial arts career.

Even in the Starting Strength fora, the usual response is, “Just drop your other activities for a few months and do Starting Strength.  You’ll come back even better because of your stronger body!”  Be that as it may, “Sorry, Sir, I can’t PT with the Company any more; I’m doing Starting Strength” is not an option.  So, I have taken a lesson from BFS and alternate days of regular back squatting (on my bench press days) with days of front squats.  This is an “acceptable squat variation” from BFS, and mixing it in allows me to train without destroying my body metabolically.  I also did two sets of ten of each exercise, as per the BFS “Readiness Program”, instead of three sets of five.

I have recently met all of the standards for graduation from the BFS “Readiness program”, and I consider this a good place to transition from a true novice program to an “advanced-novice” program.  I am using the Onus-Wunsler template from Starting Strength, including the three-sets-of-five scheme, but with two substitutions: I am still alternating back-squat and front-squat days, and I am doing stiff-legged deadlifts in place of back extensions.  This is another old favorite from BFS which is mechanically similar to back extensions.  It places greater stress on the gluteals and hamstrings rather than the lower back emphasis of back extensions, but more importantly it does not require a special piece of equipment to which I do not have access.

My warm-up for every weightlifting workout is five sets of strict push-ups; I finish with either wrestler’s bridges or a Captains of Crush grip trainer.  On off-days, I do sets of sit-ups and a thirty-minute treadmill run.