Tao of Chris

My view on the world of Martial Arts.

Location: Canada

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Judo Class

So, it has been almost 2 months now since I have started Judo. Things are going great and I am learning tons of stuff. I especially like the fact that I am always working with a partner and trying to put what I am learning in to action. The little voice in my head has calmed down now though I do find myself thinking about what I am trying to do way to much instead of just doing it. It is frustrating at times but it is something I had to overcome before and I will overcome it again. The most important part for me right now is that I am thoroughly enjoying myself and learning on a continual basis.

I know it was short but I will write again soon. Take care.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sorry for the long wait

I know, I know. It has been a long time since I have posted anything. Have been busy with a great number of things over the last while. Hopefully I will be able to post a bit now that things have slowed down some.

Well, last I talked about an Aikido school that I was thinking about joining. Long story short, I didn't join. However over the last while I have been working with Rayn and a friend of mine (Joey) off and on. We were mainly working on wrestling and grappling. That was going along great although it still wasn't like being in a class again, more like a couple friends getting together and exchanging ideas. Over time it started to slow down as we all had other things going on as well and our schedules weren't lining up with one another.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a Judo class. The instructor I have known since I started martial arts and have always enjoyed talking with so it seemed like a natural progression. So far it is going well though I have this little voice in my head on occasion that says to me you shouldn't be doing this or you shouldn't be doing that. I am getting better at silencing that voice but it still lets out little mumbles here and there. I am quite enjoying being back in a classroom though and having a teacher. I think it kind of humorous that Judo translates as the Gentle Way as I have taken some throws that sure don't feel gentle. Well, I thought it was funny anyways :).

I will try to keep up on my posts and let you all know how my new chapter of martial arts is going. Till next time take care.

Monday, November 27, 2006

New School

Sorry it has been so long since I have written anything. I have been quite busy with work and my baby girl. I do have a bit of time now to get things done that I have wanted to do for a while. For those of you that know me, you probably know that I have been searching for a new school. What a grueling process this can be. I have talked to more teachers in the last month than I have in the last couple of years. Between talking on the phone and going to check out classes I can tell you there isn't much out there that appeals to me.

This last month has proven to be a bit frustrating. I have checked into every school I could find in the phone book and on the internet in my area. I started off just wanting to check out Jujitsu clubs but that ended quite quickly. I either found teachers that didn't know any more than I did, which isn't very much, or I found teachers that would flip through a book to see what they should teach next. I don't know about you but when a teacher needs to pick up a Judo book in the middle of a class to see what he should show people next, that makes me a bit nervous. Especially when he is teaching lower rank students. Unfortunately, I also came across the teachers that seem to know everything under the sun and are quite vocal about it. How their heads fit through the door I don't know.

After searching some more I thought perhaps I should broaden my thoughts as to what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something I hadn't done before or didn't know much about. In my area there are so many different Karate's, Kung Fu's, and Tae Kwon Do's, all of which aren't of real interest to me anymore. Not trying to make it sound like they aren't worth my time or anything it is just that I wanted to find something that lit that fire I once had. I used to live and breathe for class and I wanted that feeling back.

A couple of weeks ago while searching the internet I had a memory pop into my head. It was a memory from when I first started Martial Arts. I had been in Wing Chun for maybe 6 months when I met an Aikido instructor. I ran into him from time to time and was always impressed with how humble and knowledgable he seemed. We used to talk about the differences between the styles that we did and training methods and such. I had a few chances to see some demonstrations his club did at some local tournaments which were always impressive to watch. When this memory hit me I started looking for his club in the phone book and online. There was only one problem with my search. I had never asked him for his last name and I could not remember what the name of his school was. Well, unfortunately it didn't take me long to find out that he had passed away a few years ago and that his school no longer existed. There are however three schools that I found. I checked them all out and think I have found one that I will try. I went to the school with one of my friends (Joe) and sat through a class. The teacher was very nice and was more than willing to answer any questions we had. After the class was done he invited us back to try a class if we wanted. I think I am going to go try it within the next week or so. Hopefully everything will go well and I will have that fire lit again.

Till next time, take care.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Traditional VS MMA

Sometimes when I talk with people about martial arts it makes me feel like I am talking about politics or religion. The reason for this is that usually when talking about politics or religion people have very strong opinions about their beliefs and the discussions can get rather heated. It seems much the same way when talking about martial arts a lot of the time. One person believes this is the way it should be done and that is all there is to it and there is nothing you can say to change their mind about it. This is not true about all martial artists but it does seem to be an overpowering thought process with many. I have met so many people that believe what they do is the right way and what other people do is simply wrong. To me, I think this is an absurd thought. It is like saying that there is no other martial art in the world that compares with what they are doing. If that were true how have all these other styles lasted as long as they have? It is true that there are a lot of styles out there that are not perhaps as well rounded as others but this is not to say that they don’t have anything to offer.

There are always people talking about MMA and Traditional martial arts. Many think that if you aren’t training in some form of MMA that you are wasting your time. A lot of traditionalists believe that MMA is merely bastardizing the arts. Who is right and who is wrong? Well, my personal opinion is that there is no right or wrong. It is simply what the individual that is doing the art wants to get out of the style that they have chosen. If you want to learn to be an all around fighter then perhaps MMA is more for you. Maybe you are interested in history and tradition, so a traditional style may suit you more. There is nothing wrong with either of these. I think that as long as the individual is happy with what they are doing that should make it right.

So, what is better for fighting? If you train at an MMA school, does this make you a fighter? If you are training at a traditional school, are you doing nothing but forms or katas? Again, my thought is that it depends on the individual. I personally don’t think you can make a fighter. You can make a fighter more skilled but you can’t give him the will to be a fighter. Most MMA schools probably work on heavy sparing more than the average traditional school, but that does not mean that traditionalists can’t hold their own. As I said it depends on the individual. We have all seen plenty of traditional schools that don’t practice as much hands on as they perhaps should but I have also seen some that made me sit back in awe. I have also come across many MMA students that are not as well rounded as they think. Again, it is the individual that makes the difference.

Just my thoughts on the matter. Take care.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The All Powerful Black Belt!

Ah, the all powerful black belt. I don’t know how many times I have heard things like “don’t mess with him, he’s a black belt”. It amazes me time after time how many people are impressed with someone just because they have a black belt. Truth be told, there are so many bogus schools out there that the term black belt shouldn’t even be applied to their teachers. There are numerous schools out there that are pushing people through the ranks just so they can have extra teachers or have boasting rights about how many black belts they have. I have even seen teachers promote students just for the sheer fact that they will then have to pay extra for special testing due to their new rank. Now I am not trying to be rude, merely honest about things I have seen.

In my years of training I have come across countless numbers of people that have black belts. Some are pretty good, others shouldn’t even be ranked a yellow belt. I don’t know how many people I have seen that have a black belt around their waist and think that they are Gods gift to the world. Now this is not true about all black belts, although it seems to happen all too often. Maybe it is just me but just because you are wearing a black belt around your waist doesn’t mean that you are all powerful. I have seen so many people at this rank that can’t fight their way out of a paper bag. Even point sparring gives them trouble. Why is this? I personally think it can happen for many reasons. They could come from a club such as I talked about before where they are pushing people through the ranks. Doing this doesn’t benefit anyone. It waters down the art that they are doing and it gives people too much confidence in what they do because they think they have worked extra hard to get their black belt that quickly. Another reason is that there are a lot of clubs that don’t concentrate on practical application. All too often they are doing drills where if you don’t attack them a certain way or move a certain way they can’t apply their techniques. Like I said though, this does not include all clubs. There are plenty of great clubs out there, you just need to find them instead of settling for the first one you come across.

To me, it is not the black belt that is impressive. It is the length of time and the amount of effort that impresses me. I have done martial arts for about 14 years, if I feel like a beginner how can I be impressed by someone that gets a black belt in their three years of martial arts? The most impressive people I have met have all done martial arts longer than I have been alive. These people have forgotten more than I have learned. There is one common trait that these people share. They all believe that they still have lots to learn even after all those years. Now that is impressive.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Body Mechanics

What is body mechanics? Well, body mechanics is exactly what it sounds like. It is simply the way our bodies move and are able to move. Some people are more limber and flexible than others and some people are stronger and more rigid. Lets face it though....our bodies will only move in so many ways. Our joints are all built to work in the same relative way. Once you know how your joints work you know how the next persons joints work. It seems like a very simple concept but I think it is overlooked quite often or not even thought of at all.

In knowing that our bodies can only move in certain ways this gives you the knowledge to use deductive reasoning when sparring or working with an opponent. Deductive reasoning is especially helpful when you are starting out in Martial Arts. When working with a partner if you get stuck and are not sure what to do next ask them to pause so you can take the time to think of what to do. Using deductive reasoning, you can break it down into what can work for you at that moment and what your opponent can do as well. This is great when you are starting out or if you find yourself in a hold or situation that you haven't come across yet. I know for myself I have had people try to tell me what to do to get out of a hold but I find I learn more when I try to figure it out on my own. Ideas from others are always welcome but it seems that when I figure something out on my own I remember it. Plus, what works for one person will not always work for another. We are all indivduals and come in all different shapes and sizes. A five foot two person is not going to do things the same way as a six foot two person.

So, next time you are working with someone and you get stuck remember "pause" and try to work it out using what you know about body mechanics and deductive reasoning. Till next time, take care.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How to choose a Martial Arts style that suits you?

There are so many different styles of Martial Arts out there that it can be quite confusing to someone that is looking to get involved. There are some mainstream Martial Arts that everyone has heard of. There is for example Tae kwon do, Karate, Kung Fu, and Jujitsu to name a few. What a lot of people don’t realize or know is that there are many different types and styles within these mainstream styles. This only adds to the confusion for most people.

There are some things you can ask yourself to make this decision easier for you though. You can ask yourself merely what is available in your area. For some people that live in smaller communities they don’t have much that is offered. So they might have to settle for what is near them or commute to a larger town or city that has something else to offer. Another thing you can ask yourself is what you want to get out of it. Some people may just be interested in the exercise aspect of things whereas others may wish to learn something for self defense. Personally, I think if you are interested in self defense you should try to find a self defense course instead of a Martial Art itself. Some Martial Arts clubs don’t concentrate on self defense till much later in their teachings and some I have seen don’t discuss it at all.

There are other questions you can ask as well. Does a hard or soft style suit me better? Is the club I am looking at credible? Does the way the club trains interest me? Can I afford to train at the club? Just because a club wants big money for you to train there doesn’t mean that they are any better than the next club down the street asking half the price. The list of questions goes on and on.

Before you choose a club or style research what you are getting into. Take the time before you make your decision to answer all the questions you have first. This will save you from possible frustration in the long run.

Till next time, take care.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Welcome to my Martial Arts Blog

Firstly, I would like to say welcome and thank you for joining me on my blog. Secondly, I would like to say that I do not view myself as a master or expert in martial arts in any way. In fact, I gave up my rank many years ago as I wished nothing more than to be a student.

Within these pages I will discuss some of my beliefs and thoughts towards Traditional and Mixed Martial Arts. I hope that you find something of interest while you are here. Enjoy!

Before we begin with the good stuff I will give you a short glimpse into my background in the world of Martial Arts.

I started training about 14 years ago when a flyer came to my door advertising the style of Wing Chun. It mentioned the names Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto among others so I had to go check it out. I was immediately hooked. I enjoyed everything about it and I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. My first teacher (Sifu Bently) taught me a great many things but the time came a few years later when I had questions that he couldn’t answer. I came to the hard decision that it was time to find someone that could answer my questions. I apologized to my teacher and told him that I needed more. Being the great teacher that he was he knew as well that I had to find something else but urged me not to forget what I had been taught.

A month or so later I was at a movie (Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx to be exact). While waiting for the movie to start another flyer was handed to me. The flyer mentioned numerous styles of Kung Fu all being taught under one roof and was offering one month of free classes. Again I had to go see what there was to learn. Truth be told, I had a bit of an ego when I left for that class as I was the top of my class in Wing Chun. The very first class I went to opened my eyes to styles and weapons that I had either only read about or heard about. My new teacher (Sifu Egon) noticed that I had a bit of an ego to start so paired me up with his best student (Warren). He didn’t look like much, stood a few inches lower than me, was a bit bulkier than me, and was about ten years older than me. Lets see what you’ve got I said in my head. WOW!!! I am extremely glad for the pounding I received that day, for it taught me never to underestimate anyone and that no matter how much I know…..there is always someone out there that knows more.

Over the next many years I learned many wondrous things and went through some of the toughest training I had ever endured. I was definitely at the peak of my physical well being at this time as I was training five to six times a week at an hour and a half to three hours each session. This was also the time that I asked my teacher to take my sash back as I wanted to just be a student again. I was getting tired of being looked at as a trophy by new students that walked through the door and I was also scared that I might get the swelled head that I had years before. He accepted with a smile and was kind enough not to take it as a sign of disrespect as some teachers may have. He taught me so many things but I think the best thing he taught me was that there are no ultimate martial arts only ultimate people.

Some of the styles that I dabbled in during this period of time are: Praying Mantis, Tiger, Drunken Boxing, Leopard, Monkey, Snake, Horse, Tai Chi, Iron Palm, Chi Kung, Eagle, Phoenix, and White Crane among others. I use the term “dabbled” because I do not believe that you can ever truly finish a style as they are always evolving.

Times then started to change at the school and I changed as well. It was again time for me to find something else. I can honestly say that I never found anything else that made me work as hard or feel as good as the years before. It was then that a friend of mine (Neil) asked me to help him start a school. Him and I had trained for a long time together and it looked as though it would be fun. We wrote up a curriculum and began to put things together. The only request I had made was that I was not to be looked upon as a teacher only a student….I just wanted to train and help out if needed. Once that was agreed a location for the school was found. It was a quiet little town that only had one other school. It didn’t take long to get some students but at the same time there was only enough of them to pay the rent of the building we were in, didn’t really matter though because we were doing things we loved.

There was one student in particular that caught my interest….or should I say I caught his. I first met him at a barbeque that one of the students was having. I hadn’t had a chance to train for a few weeks as I was busy with work and such but it appeared that he had already heard of me. Everywhere I went, everywhere I sat, he was there. I remember saying to my girlfriend “who is this guy?”. She shrugged and laughed about it all. Later we were sitting around the fire and again he was right next to me. I looked at him with a look of wonder and he finally spoke. “So, you are Chris…..show me what you can do”. I laughed and flat out refused. I had no intent on showing anyone what I could or couldn’t do. He introduced himself as Rayn and persisted in a slightly annoying way so I told him he would see in class as I would be back the following class. Even that didn’t seem to stop him from wanting to see something but he did finally ease off. When the next class came I eagerly suited up and started to stretch out. While I was stretching Neil came over to me and told me how Rayn said he wished to train the way we used to with our old teacher. I chuckled and said he wasn’t serious but he encouraged me that Rayn said he was ready for it. Truth be told I didn’t even think I was ready for it as I hadn’t had a workout like that for at least a year, but there was a point to be made. After class started and stretching was done I was paired up with the young student. All I can say is that I was a lot nicer to him than Warren was to me. Twenty minutes or so into the workout the young student had to be excused from class. He didn’t feel that well and seemed a bit upset that he wasn’t ready for the workout like he had thought. With my old teacher this was how we weaned out the people that didn’t want to learn as much as the rest. Rayn came back the next class and gave it his all again…..I am glad he did. He always pushed the envelope and yearned for more. No matter how hard you pushed him he would always come back. I am glad he is still pushing.

Well, I think that is enough about me for now. I will post more soon. Take care.

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