Monday, November 29, 2010


Rory Miller has put to words what I have felt in many social exchanges throughout my life. I cannot say I fully understand or can realize first hand, perhaps, everything written here but I have glimpsed its truth.

Apostates: "This is going to be complex.
One of the tenets of Conflict Communications is that people belong in groups. We are all members of at least one and usually many groups. Whether that is a tribe, a school, a tradition, a family, a club, a profession or something else. People don't survive well on their own-- either physically or psychologically.

Groups have rules. You can call them mores (pronounced moray, like the eel) if you want to go all anthropological/sociological. A group without rules isn't a group. NOT because rules are the bedrock of social control but because rules are the bedrock of identity. Dietary laws may or may not have had survival value in the past. The fact that they continue even when they do not is a sign that their primary value is one of identification.

There is no identification value in common sense. Any society that survives will value, for instance, trust within the group and productivity. No society will survive that doesn't value self-preservation (and this is one to look at because what someone says they value or what a group honors, like martyrdom, doesn't actually happen all that often. The words and the music of many cultures are not truly in accord.)

This means the identity value is in the silly stuff-- the stories and myths and ritual. A Christian is not defined as someone who is meek and kind to others and honors his parents. A Christian is defined by the belief that a man-god got nailed to a Roman torture/execution device and quit being dead three days after being buried.

You can follow every law and rule and live with what people might call perfect Christian ideals, but if you don't believe that piece, you can't be a member of that group.

So every group has mores that are arbitrary if not down-right weird, because those are where the group identity rises.

And this is where the edge-walkers come in. I can't speak for everyone, but one of the things about almost dying is the way it clarifies things. Lots of things are bullshit and once you see that, once you see the value of breathing when someone has tried hard to stop you AND you see the inevitability of the end-state of not breathing, your identity doesn't come from labels and rituals. Maybe, in the end, your identity doesn't even need to be.

So loving your neighbor makes sense, because there is only so much time to get loving in... but heaven doesn't matter. Heaven is not good or bad or true or untrue. Heaven DOES NOT MATTER. The rituals and the myths do not matter. If I like you, what do I care about the patch on your shoulder or which party you vote for or where your ancestors came from? If your waiken has forbidden you from eating birds, other than some menu switching, your myths don't affect my friendship (or dislike) for you.

When the edge-walker gets to this understanding, he is neither fish nor fowl. He does fit into a tribe, in his own mind. He values what he values- the good works and the people themselves. He does the right thing. He will give his life to protect these people, myths and all, and will not feel slighted or ashamed to do it. He is one of them, on a deeper level than they can probably feel because it is not a matter of ritual and the random chance of birth. The edge-walker chooses.

But he will no longer be accepted as one of them. Without the rituals and the myths, the trappings, he cannot be identified. 'Because he serves us and will die for us does not mean that he is one of us.' He hears it rarely, but sees it again and again. This is the separation, one of the most unexpected and disturbing things if you spend too much time on the edge.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two amazing poems...

Here are two poems that I think almost all black belts can appreciate at some level.  Given that each black belt takes time, determination, sacrifice, and sometimes a little suffering.  We definitely walk a different path than most:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost 

Poem provided by - The Road Not Taken

This poem is a bit more altruistic but I think it is a good perspective for anyone.  Especially for a black belt.  I really like this one too.  The description of my blog in the header is derived from this poem in part.   

To Have Succeeded

To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one's self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am always happy to hear good quotes or poems if anyone finds something interesting to post to comments.  I will have a post of some of my favorite quotes next week sometime. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Becoming a follower

Got a post from "The Striking Post" by Kris Wilder and it was very thought provoking.  However, one note that stood out to me was the one at the end that asked people to become followers of his blog.  This helps him to know who is out there and if we are still listening.  I have done this for Kris and would ask you, if you watch this blog for my posts, become a follower so I know you are listening too.

It is a small thing.  Insignificant mostly.  I will post even if no one is reading just because I like the practice but to know someone reads my posts too would be really spiffy!  Become a follower today.  

Monday, November 15, 2010


I saw a great post on the Striking Port Blog by Kris Wilder (author of Little Black Book of Violence) and he made a very interesting point.  The gist of his post was that it is useless to simply tell people to "Be aware!"  Aware of what? I admit at some point when I had just started teaching this type of thing I too would tell people to be aware, just as my instructor had told me.  Looking back on this lesson over the years and it really is a useless comment in training.

So to continue Mr. Wilder's post he pointed out that what we really want to be aware of are the aberrations in the normal patterns of the world around us.  The world (society) flow in a certain standard.  Consider, personal space between people or how someone talks to you.  One of DeBecker's (author of Gift of Fear) mentions in his book is that charm is not inherent.  It must be learned.  So if a person is being charming and it gives you the heebie-jeebies then chances are you are right.  There is a change is a non-normal flow in the standard patterns around us.    

An extreme example might be a person walking through a crowd that bums into people.  Perhaps even several people.  If you watch even the busiest and most crowded streets everyone moves with a certain pattern.  Very rarely will you see someone move against that flow.  Unless they are a tourist or are breaking pattern for a reason.

So essentially we are not just being aware.  We are watching for something that breaks the routine.  Is flowing against the current or standard pattern of the environment.

Another quick example, people do not stare most of the time.  If someone is staring at you, then this would also be a change in the normal pattern.  Look for the elephant in the room.  With a little practice he will not be hard to spot.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Way of Sanchin Kata by Kris Wilder

I have started studying the book "The Way of Sanchin Kata" by Kris Wilder this week.  It is a very interesting read and something of a bear to put into practice.  I also have the companion DVD but have not looked at it yet.  I have also gone over my notes from the seminar Kris presented back in 2009.  I really like the power generation effect that this study obviously builds.  It is very different from what I have learned from of my instructors here in Oklahoma.

Further, the other Goju Ryu schools in the area don't get into anywhere near this level of detail on this kata.  At least not in my experience.  That is not to say that they can not.  I don't know if they can but I have certainly not seen it.

My secondary reason for working on Sanchin Kata is that I really like a kata in Shotokan called Hangetsu.  In the Okinawan systems of Karate it is called Seisan.  Seisan finds its root in Sanchin like many other kata and I want to be better at it.  Seisan and Tensho and fascinating kata and I think they will be my preferred path to progress in my study of the martial arts.  Or at least one of the paths I am taking for now. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recommended Authors

Mosaic of Martial Arts Books
I have been reading martial arts related material for some time now and I have found some authors to be must read material.  This is in no way a slight to authors not on the list.  It represents a body of work that I have had the privilege to read and review, so far.  Things that have had a profound effect on my understanding of the world, violence, and the martial arts.

Author and some sources of reading material. (In no particular order)

Iain Abernethy - Bunkai Jutsu(book), Iain Abernethy(newsletter).
Rory Miller - Meditations on Violence(book), Chiron Training(blog)
Kris Wilder - The Way of Kata(book), The Striking Post(blog)
Marc "Animal" MacYoung - Professionals Guide to Ending Violence Quickly(book)
Lawrence Kane - Teaching the Martial Arts(book), The Way of Kata(book)
Lt Col Dave Grossman - On Killing(book), On Combat(book)
Loren Christensen - Fighter Fact Book 2(book), On Combat(book)
Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang - Bagua Zhang(book and DVD), YMAA Publication(website)

There are more but this is a pretty good start.  Of course, if you ever have questions for me I would be happy to answer them.  I think in order to really have a good understanding of anything it requires study.  The kind of study that comes from both experience and reading(academic).  

A wonderful quote

Going through my daily glance at Google Reader and I see that Mr. Rory Miller has posted another couple of articles.  There is a quote from his most recent post called "Old School". 

I have my personal definition of bad and evil. A bad guy will hurt someone to get what he wants. Evil will hurt someone even if there is nothing to gain. It's simple, but it works for me. - Rory Miller
 I love it!  So clean and concise.  Reading observations from Rory Miller, Kris Wilder, or Iain Abernethy I always feel very humbled by elements of their work I would consider to be profound.  This quote is a good example.

Their work is inspirational.  Keep it up guys.  Want some great reading take a look at my list of recommended authors on this blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2011 Seminars you must attend!

Well, I received an email from my friend and fellow martial artist Eric Parsons of Blue River Martial Arts.  Eric has been host to a couple of great martial arts seminars over the last two years.  First we had Kris Wilder of West Seattle Karate come and teach in Spring 2009.  Then in the Spring of 2010 we had Rory Miller of Chiron Training.  Again it was a fantastic seminar and I learned things far more valuable than just the martial arts from both of them.  The details have been and will be the subject of other blog entries.  Needless to say that given the opportunity I would go study with both of these gentleman again in a heartbeat.

Little bit more background:  In August of 2010 Kris Wilder hosted the United States side of the Martial Art Expo.  A seminar series that had some of the biggest martial arts names in the world teach both here and in the United Kingdom.  The instructors included Iain Abernethy, Al Peasland, Kris Wilder, Rory Miller, Marc "Animal" MacYoung, and Nicholas Yang.  The trip to Seattle was wonderful all by itself but the seminar made it that much better.  We had a great time and I enjoyed meeting all of the guys in the seminar.  I hope with some small changes to the order of things that we can do something like that again.

All this brings me to the main point of the article.  Eric is currently working on the details of hosting two seminars next year.  Nicholas Yang on April 1st and 2nd and Iain Abernethy October 7th through the 9th.  As mentioned above I worked with both of them at the Martial Arts Expo and I am really looking forward to these next seminars. 

Nicholas Yang, was great to work with and obviously very knowledgeable about the martial arts.  Having grown up with Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming as a father could not have been easy at times but the evidence that both are great martial artists was demonstrated to me at the martial arts expo.  The focus of the material for this seminar is going to be Chin Na, White Crane Kung Fu, and Shuai Chiao.  For me with a Karate and Aikijutsu background I am hoping that I can use these Chinese arts to fill in any gaps I might have in my styles.  As they are in many ways the forerunners of both Karate and Jujitsu(Aikijutsu).  I am looking forward to this seminar.

Next is Iain Abernethy.  I didn't get anywhere near the time I wanted to meet him in Seattle but he is one of those guys whose great attitude is infectious.  Iain seems to have an indomitable attitude.  He is also well published with books like Mental Strength and Bunkai-Jutsu, he was the first author I read that gave me insight into the world of applied martial arts.  I have spent years putting together a lot of the information that seems to have always been common place to Iain.  Iain's style hits very close to home with my martial arts.  His primary Karate style is Wado Ryu and mine Shotokan.  I am certain that to look at them now they may not be what most think of when they talk about those styles but Iain has taken his Karate back to its root function as a real world means of self protection.

Both seminars are going to be worth any investment you might need to make to attend.  If you have to choose one you will have quite a dilemma on your hands.  I will be sure to post more information on this blog and on the Guinn Martial Arts website as I get more details.   

2011 is shaping up to be a great year!



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Laws of Nature and The Crosswalk

Part 2...good stuff!

Laws of Nature and The Crosswalk: " by Kris Wilder

To follow-up on my previous blog regarding “Be Aware!” Pffft...useless.” I mentioned that I find myself ruminating at stop lights. As a result, I see some interesting things. I see people believing that, “I am safe when I am in this crosswalk”

Got news for you Padre, you are not safe.

As I sat at a stop light, I watched a young man with his i-pod, texting on his phone, never look up as he stepped into the cross walk. He just responded to the beeping of the cross walk signal while stepping on to the magical protective white paint of the cross walk.

This cross walk guy has all the rules, laws and rights on his side. Crosswalk guy is 100% justified in walking into that cross walk, heck the light changed. The laws of nature say that if I miss the light, for whatever reason, he is dead. I would say that the laws of nature trump the man made laws every time.

The point in my previous post was that I can't go around on alert all the time, not possible. However situational alertness is a darn good idea. So let's solve this problem with a quote from former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”

This, “Trust but verify” is a great little maxim to use in the martial arts, and day-to-day living. You already use it on the mat or dojo floor already don't you? Don't you have a follow-up technique if you first technique fails? Don't you follow through on a throw?

Sure there are a lot of issues in this posting, but I would say, the primary message here is; Know that the laws of nature trump the laws any city council can make.

So I guess the maxim now reads; “Honor natures laws and look for abnormal behavior.”

Yeah, nice maxim that bookends the two extremes.


“Be Aware!” Pffft...useless.

I had to share this article from Sensei Kris Wilder. Plus look for the follow up article as well.

“Be Aware!” Pffft...useless.: " by Kris Wilder

I always think that first principle of self defense to be utterly useless, at least as presented.

A considerable amount of my time at stop lights has been spent pondering this idea. “What is awareness and how do I implement it in a manner useful to me?” Clearly I can not walk about like a crazed meth-head flinching at every moth that goes zig – zaggy past me on its way to the nearest light. Assuming that every person is a threat is not going to work either. I am not going to throw down on grandma on line at the Safeway pharmacy, no upside.

I am always seeking ways to condense, to distill, to a single statement, my methodologies. How do you assemble the idea of “Be Aware!”

Well I got that answered by a cop named Ivan that I met at Crossing the Pond Martial X-PO. Ivan said, “The cop has the job of investigating the unusual.” Now we do that all the time, but being aware that we are looking for the unusual is the kicker. Actually we unconsciously look for irregularities all the time. I am suggesting that being actively aware that you are looking for anomalies in pattern makes a tremendous difference in the identification and assessment.

Ask any person that does crowd control, works a door, bounces, or cops, they will tell you they look for the disturbances, the unusual in the patterns and once they find that disturbance then they identify why it is unusual.

Like I said I try to condense these ideas to a useful maxim and what I have here is; “Know you are looking for behavior on either side of normal from the baseline environment.”

Have a better version, a tighter expression of this idea? I am always open for comment.

Oh, and one last thing, those jobs I listed above, their job it go toward the disturbance. My job is to go the other way.


Update on my life

I have not been writing in some time.  I completed my Phase 3 class which is the second part of the classes needed to get my license as a private investigator.  Now I have to take the state test as my next step.  The test is going to be on November 16th in the morning.  Once I pass it I will need to come up with about $500 for the bond, PI license, Agency License, and other odds and ends.

I also need to come up with another $500 to get my process server license.  This is actually a higher priority than the PI license as with it I can start working immediately.  Once I have it I can earn the money I need for the other.

As for the PI work.  I have to build a clientele and I need to work with a mentor to get a little experience before I start taking my own contracts.  Plus I need about $4000 to $5000 in equipment to really get started.  I will need to invest in other equipment too but that can be done over time.

I applied for a small business loan but after three weeks of waiting and a few phone calls to get some feedback I still have not heard from my banker.  So, either something odd is going on or the guy wants to tell me "No" and just hasn't found the time to come tell me.  I am not sure.

I attended an OPIA (Oklahoma Private Investigators Association) meeting while in class last week and met some great guys.  I hope that one of those contacts will be my mentor.  I would like to shadow some people for a couple of runs before I get started.  I also need to sit down with my friend Clay and see what information he picked up in the Process Server class he took at C.O.P.S.  (Center of Professional Studies).  From what he said they had some really great information.

So much to do and so little time with which to do it.  Plus I plan on incorporating my business into an LLC and that means I also need to fix my articles of incorporation and get them filed with the state so that I can get that ball rolling too.  In order to get my Agency license I need to have the corporate filing done first.  Plus I need to have all the bonds issued in the company name.  Bonds are going to be in place of liability insurance for now and I have to have them by state law in order to get licenses.

At some point I also want to join the OPIA.  It would be a great organization to be a member of and provide me with some great contacts for when I start working.  I have a feeling that until I get away from my current employer I will need to use subcontractors to get some of my work done.  

It will take a lot of work for me to organize all this but it will be worth it.

Lastly, I need to start getting my name out to people.  I just don't want to put the cart before the horse.  I need to have all the licensing before I start accepting work.  but if I wait till I have my licensing I might be waiting longer to get the work and I will need to start working immediately.

Anyone know where I can scrounge up about $500?  Might take me as much as 6 months to pay it back but I will get it paid back in time.

Plan B is to wait till tax time and use what little money I get back from taxes to get started.  That will work fine but I sure don't like to wait.

Exit Poll 2010

Fox news posted a really nice statistical analysis on the exit polls for this midterm election.  Some very interesting material and some things that you are just a given.  Take a look: - Exit Polls