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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020, Martial Arts, and Personal Responsibility

Unpopular opinion time.

Yes, 2020 was a uniquely awful year.  A global pandemic, social isolation, livelihood challenges, a distinct lack of slow news days...  hopefully 2020 will be an anomaly that we can all look back on as a weird time that we all got through.

I have gone all-in with the meme that 2020 has been a malicious abomination that is actively out to get us.  It has amused me during a time when amusement is a much-needed salve.  And I'm not going to stop.

But.

Real talk time.

We made 2020 what it was.

Think about the things that went wrong this year, all the lowest of the low points, and you'd be hard pressed to think of one that wasn't a direct result of--or exacerbated by--decisions made by humans.  

Pandemics are governed by science, but humans chose to make it political, to listen to the experts or not, to make one less trip to the grocery or give in and buy the comfort food, to sacrifice one holiday season to save lives or not, to spread misinformation or fact-check diligently, and so forth.  

Photo credit.

With various parts of the world in government-mandated lockdowns, and other parts of the world leaving it in the hands of the people to make the best decisions to balance necessity against the spread of the disease, a lot of martial arts schools are closed.  Very many of us have found ourselves without our classes, instructors, training partners, and sometimes livelihoods.  Which, besides being painful, it has also been a test of our ability to adapt, to persevere, and to do what is right even when it is hard.

Isolation has been its own awfulness, and without our classes and training partners, we martial artists have lost a major avenue for social connection, which is no better or worse than the garden variety isolation blues that non-martial artists are facing.  It's just easier to go unrecognized, since most of us don't show up to class because we're eager to chit chat.  We go to train, and the social component is a less-visible side benefit.  2020 gave us an opportunity to recognize our dojang friendships, casual though they may be, and either do right by those friends or not.  After all, those friends have also lost their martial arts classes and social connections.

Photo credit.

Looking back on 2020, I can think of many decisions I can be proud of, and just as many things I could have done better.  And the problems of 2020 aren't going to magically dissipate on January 1st.  It's going to take a lot more than a turn of a calendar page to meaningfully improve humanity's biggest problems.

But, we're up to it, right?  We, as martial artists, who proudly say we are physically and mentally strong, that we value character and character growth, that we want to be leaders in our communities (or at least positive influences on those communities), and that we are good people who strongly believe in the power of martial arts to make the world better?

Let's walk the walk.  2021 will be exactly what we humans choose to make it.

Let's do it right.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Karate Lotion!

Like much of the world, I have been doing a lot more hand washing lately than I used to.  Which in turn has caused me to go through a lot more hand lotion.  And this leaves me with a bit of a problem, which is that I really dislike most hand lotions. 

The main thing is the smell. 

  • I don't want to smell like food.
  • I don't want to smell like a delicate flower.
  • I don't want to smell like a hospital.

And there's surprisingly little left over when you eliminate all of that.

But today I conjured up some vague recollection of a friend of a friend making their own lotions.  Maybe I can do that!  Maybe I could launch a whole line of Face Punch Lotions and name them things like Roundhouse Kick and Legendary Warrior.  I bet I could sell like two jars.


But most importantly, I could have hand lotion that smells however I want!  What does Roundhouse Kick lotion smell like?  What does Legendary Warrior lotion smell like?  Actually most martial arts things just smell like sweat, but I don't need any help smelling like that.  And I do need hand lotion.

So, then, with my perfect lotions, I don't have to smell like a food, a flower or a hospital.  But what DO I want to smell like?
  • I want to smell like a mighty death punch walking the earth in human form, confidently striding amongst mere mortals.
  • I want to smell like ten thousand cuts of a samurai sword.
  • I want to smell like the goddess Athena, so clearly in a mood after being momentarily inconvenienced by destroying an opposing army, that it only takes a sidelong glance to silence the next mortal who tries to explain warfare to her.
  • I want to smell like a flying side kick so powerful and precise that it can rend an entire forest into perfectly cut makiwara materials in a single blow.

Yes!  I will finally have hand lotion that I love!

I tracked down directions for how to make hand lotion, and scoured the internet for ingredients.  And that is when reality came crushing down on me.

It turns out, making lotion is hard and expensive.  It would cost me hundreds of dollars to even give it a try.  Well.  I can repurpose that old bottle of body cream under the sink for free.

I know you're crushed, but Face Punch Lotions was just not meant to be.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Form Name or Metal Song?

Recently Iain Abernethy pointed out that some kata names sound like death metal bands.  For most martial artists this would elicit a smile and a nod, but this blog is weird and you're weird for reading it.  So for all my favorite weirdos, here is a fun little quiz.  I'll present two phrases.  One is a translation of a form name, and the other is a metal song.  Guess which one is which, and see how many you get right!

(Quick side note:  Some of these translations are disputed.  Don't shoot the messenger, just have fun.)


Which is a form name, and which is a metal song?  Click your answer to find out if you were right!

Round 1:

Attack and Destroy or Seek and Destroy

Round 2:

For the Greater Good of God or Might for Right

Round 3:

Your Body is a Battleground or Internal Divided Conflict

Round 4:

Emperor's Crown or King's Eyes

Round 5:

Rest Calm or Tranquil Force

Round 6:

Power of One or Ancestors

Round 7:

Rise and Fall or Gazing Heavenward

Round 8:

Fighter to the East or South of Heaven

Round 9:

Center of the Universe or Heaven and Earth

Round 10:

Temple Sound or Spirit

Bonus Cheating Round:

13 or 13

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Solo Training Resource List


In the face of a global pandemic, martial arts instructors all over the world are looking for ways to help their students train at home while classes aren't being held.  My own tiny school is doing this as well.  But that does little for the instructors who are also stuck training at home.  During these trying times, we have an opportunity to come together and support each other.

In that spirit, I'm offering up the lessons that I created for my students for anyone who wants to try them.  Those who read this blog tend to be more advanced than the students these were created for, but you may enjoy them nonetheless.

If you have created exercises or workouts for your students to do at home and want to share them with a wider audience, please leave a comment on this post with the link.  I will add them to the official list as quickly as I'm able.

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The List:

Martial Journeys of Madison At-Home Training
Leigh Simms Progressive Karate
Clubb Chimera Martial Arts Shadow Sparring Workout
Karate Nerd 10-Minute Karate Workout
IMOK Karate Class Video
Iain Abernethy's Applied Karate Kata Bunkai App
Taekwon-Do Senior Instructors Class
Solo Training Dos and Don'ts
Happy Life Martial Arts Home Workouts

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Fine print for those contributing links:
1.  Please, only one link per school.  If you want to offer multiple workouts, please use a link to a tag or a playlist or some other format that will allow for a concise single link.
2.  Please only submit your own content.  That way I know I'll only post links with the permission of the person who created it.