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Showing posts from 2008

Insights from Dan Inosanto

I had the pleasure to meet and train with Dan Inosanto a handful of times back in the late 1990's and early 2000's. He is amazing. Incredibly knowledgeable and wow, he could still move! A really cool guy also; humble, respectful and supportive... someone I was inspired by.

I came across this poem from Dan that even though it is a bit corny, I liked it, so I thought I would share.



We are all climbing different paths through the mountain of life,
and we have all experienced much hardship and strife.

There are many paths through the mountain of life,
and some climbs can be felt like the point of a knife.

Some paths are short and others are long,
who can say which path is right or wrong?

The beauty of truth is that each path has its own song,
and if you listen closely you will find where you belong.

So climb your own path true and strong,
but respect all other truths for your way for them could be wrong.


-Dan Inosanto

Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

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Here it is a day after Thanksgiving and I was thinking about how grateful I am for so many things in my life. My loved ones, my health, all of those who have helped me and others, our service men and women out there in the face of adversity who are fighting so that we can be safe, all of our police and emergency response personnel who ensure our safety within our communities, our teachers who are helping raise our understanding to encompass more than just our own views, our leaders who hopefully will set the pace for greater justice, compassion and respect for all of us, and thanks to all of you who I have had or will hopefully have the honor of meeting and/or training with to share in learning, growing and "mowing the lawn" so to speak. (If you don't know what I mean when I say "mowing the lawn" give me a shout and I will explain). In light of my thankful thoughts I'm doing some more down to earth worldly activities such as cleaning my condo when I came acr…

Winning vs. Not Being Beat

Here is a good story that I read in Saulo Ribeiro's new book "Jiu-Jitsu University." The book is one of the best Brazilian jiu jitsu books that I have read and I thought his story about Helio and surviving was great!

When I was out in California training at the Gracie Academy I almost met Helio a couple times. One time I arrived a day late and another he came a few weeks after I had gone home. Too bad that I missed him...who knows though maybe our paths will cross sometime, someplace...

Well anyway, here's Saulo's story:

The last time I trained with Helio Gracie was a truly memorable experience and is to this day the most important class I ever had on Jiu-Jitsu. What struck me most was how Helio addressed me. He did not hold me in awe for my titles or championships, and what he said more than surprised me. He said, "son, you're strong, you're tough, you're a world champion, but I don't think you can beat me." At the time I just looked at hi…

What if...

you faced a situation that you couldn't win? A circumstance or adversary that would crush you if you went toe to toe with them. What then? How would you endure... Persevere... escape... survive... Sometimes when we come up against something there is no win or lose. There is survive or not survive. Live or die. Escape or be conquered. This could be physically, psychologically and/or emotionally. Sometimes when someone "win's" they really lose because their psychological make up cannot withstand the trauma. This is often called "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." It happens when someone is put in a highly stressful environment often dealing with violence, death, and/or the fear of them. The person could be on the giving or receiving end of this spectrum. Many of our soldiers & Police officers get this disorder after serving active duty in some type of a crime or combat zone where they were subjected to an intense amount of this type of experience.

How does t…

The Olympic Swimmer & The Life Guard

The other day someone asked me if I would train them to fight in a MMA match. I explained to him that I had a different view. I told him that I train people to live, not to fight and although there are many aspects of class that are physical and involve combat training, that aspect was a small part of a larger picture. At first he looked a bit confused and then a look of almost disgust came over him like I was trying to pull some Kwai Chan Cane philosophical BS on him or some how attempting to mask that I couldn't fight or that my classes were not practical because we didn't train to fight in the cage. So instead of challenging him to a duel or something crazy like that, I explained it to him another way. I told him that I train Life Guards, not Olympic Swimmers. Both train to be good swimmers and although the Olympian could probably win in a competition against the life guard, that's not how or why the life guard does what he does. Life guards learn to swim for altogether…

Job Corps

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Here I am beside Mr. Craig Marks (to my left) and few of the cadets from the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps. I have had the pleasure of working with these fine young people for almost a year now. They are attending the pre-military / law enforcement academy at the Gerald R. Ford Job Corp Center in Grand Rapids Michigan. This program is headed up by Mr. Craig Marks a former Marine himself (if there is such a thing as a "former Marine!"). He has an un-dieing commitment to the program and more importantly to each of the cadets. He helps each of them to reach out for their dream of having a career in law enforcement, military service or private security. It' s amazing that he has the time because he is also a father of six wonderful children and a wife who (hopefully) keeps him sane...or maybe makes him just that much crazier, it's hard to tell!! Anyway Craig you are doing a fantastic job and definatly making a big difference to not only each of the cadets you come into contac…

Kuntaw with Buzz Smith

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This Saturday a dozen or so of us got together at Chuck Pippin's Innovative Martial Arts Academy in Grand Rapids Michigan to train with Buzz Smith a master of the Southeast Asian martial art known as Kuntaw. Buzz is very knowledgeable and has much to offer. I have had the pleasure of training with Buzz at two earlier Gathering of the Tribes and this was no different. His perspective on standing and ground fighting was well received and very insightful. I like his approach to martial arts and the way he teaches. He uses examples of movements that we do every day to help people more easily understand the concepts he is trying to get across. Movements like "looking at your watch, picking up change, asking for lunch money, hitchhiking and many others" have helped many internalize combative movements that may otherwise take much longer to pick up. I know some of his teaching methods have helped me and people I have trained understand and communicate things in much simpler ter…

Buyu Camp with Jack Hoban in Jersey

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Shortly after touching down in the U.S. I was off to the East Coast to train with Jack Hoban in the art of Budo Tai Jutsu. It was a weekend filled with good training and great people. It was good seeing Jack again. It seemed like it had been a while since I saw him last. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the whole weekend. People came from all over the world to train. I had the pleasure to see many people I typically train with when I go out there and met many more wonderful and talented martial artists.

Saturday morning after an early jog and warm up everyone sat down and Jack led a couple hour training session that was filled with his usual (and sometimes unusual!) great training insights and methods. Then as we all sat in the grass Jack surprised me by asking if I would teach one of the afternoon sessions. I was a little taken back but very honored and excited to have been asked to contribute. Jack asked me what my session was going to cover and I immediately knew... I told him I …

Old News

Well, although I have many stories yet from Greece, they seem old news now, so if anyone out there is interested in how things wrapped up (or pics) I guess we'll have to go out for beers to chat. Stories of nude beaches, the Greek auto-bon and Samatha Fox will have to wait for a night out somewhere.

...Thailand and Vietnam next trip??

We'll see... :)

Back home... So much to still say

Well my friends, I have been back home for a few weeks now. I have finished my journey in Greece, my time at the Buyu Camp with Jack Hoban in Jersey, back to college and even back into the swing of things with my new job. I managed to get a few pics up on the site, but there are more coming. I also have some more Greece stories as well as others, so stay tuned. Little by little I am getting unburied and back into the groove of things. Thanks for your patience!!

~Craig

A spontanious memorial off the beaten track

I have been knocking around with Vaughn a gentleman from Wales. He is a young 55 year old who is now a parole officer in England, but he has traveled the world doing a variety of things ranging from teaching English (how I don't know, I can barely understand him - ha ha, sorry Vaughn!) in places like Greece, Crete, Indonesia, Russa and China. He has worked "smoothing the beach" here in Plakas, working in bars etc. Doing whatever to extend his travels. He is a pretty cool cat who loves talking about politics - "Oh them (insert any nationality other than Welsh here) are bloody bastards"; philosophy - "fuck those daft (insert name of anyone who disagrees here) bastards"; shagging - "Fuck those - "see - you - next - tuesday's" they'll fuck you then screw you..." He's really not that bitter. I rather enjoy his rants and he is a good guy.

Anyway, he and I have been knocking around and the other day we decided to go see this ol…

I've seen fire and I've seen rain...

I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I'd see you again...

Yesterday I got word that Bryan Schultz, a very dear friend of mine died from a heart attack this past Saturday. I was shocked and very sad. I will miss him. He was a good person, someone I was lucky enough to have known and call my friend for over 25 years.

None of us know how long we have, all we can do is live life the best we can; do more good than harm, inspire through our actions and keep going until our path is at its end. As William Wallace said, "Every man must die, few men truly live."

Bryan your music plays on in everyone that you touched... words cannot express how much I will miss you.

~Craig

Remembering 9/11

Today is 9/11 and I want to take a second to remember all of those who passed away in and who sacrificed their lives for the lives of others in the World Trade Center attack.

My hope is that we can all take hate and turn it into love. Through compassion, education and deeds we must as Gandhi said "Be the change we want to see in our world."

~Craig

The Service of Service

Hello all. Lets talk a little about the service industry over here. I am referring to the service at restaurants. In a word it is SLOW!! It kind of goes like this: They sit you quickly. It often takes them a while to get you menus. Then it takes maybe 4x the time you would expect them to take your order. They get you your food extremely fast (probably 2x as quick as in the US) but then you NEVER see your server again unless you send out a search party complete with flairs and the National Guard. Now at first glance the intreped if not particular American may be put off by this and get impatient and pissed, but hold on to your Coke a Cola's and strip malls gang because this strange non-capitalist type behavior was explained to me in this way: Things are much more layed back here. It is not so rush, rush, rush. People get together for a meal to do more than just eat. It is an event to be shared between people. It is a process not meant to be rushed. That said they would think it rud…

Ray Ban Sunglasses

Ray Ban Sunglasses are very popular here. Well, let me rephrase: Ray Ban knock-offs seem to be very popular over here especially w/men. I liked them so much that I shelled out 10 euro for a pair. :) Heck, they even say "Made in the USA!" You can buy a lot of knock off stuff over here.

Sorry, but I gotta jet...

~Craig

Typos galore!!

Hellogang~

Wow I amreadingbackthroughsomeofmypostsandseeingsooooomanytypos, addonandfragmentedsentences, badgrammer, spellingetc.etc. I correctedsomebutnottoomany. I amusuallyin a hurryhereandrarelyproofread; thatcombined w/poorinternet/computerconditionsaddupto...well, youseetheresult.Anyway, I willattempttodobetterinfutureposts. :)

Thanks for your understanding!!

Samoria Gorge

Yesterday I hiked the Samoria Gorge. It is about 20 km of very rugged terrain (& hot, temp. was in the mid 90's), but very beautiful. The entire hike takes people from 5 to 8 hours approx. to complete. This trip would never fly here in the states, at least marketed how they do. It was a very touristy and high profile hike, all of the tourist places sell this trip; They sell it to everyone; young, old, fit or not. What they don't tell you is that it's a technical, very physically demanding hike. Not to mention that you definitely need the right gear (aka hiking shoes and possibly poles). The only way in or out of the gorge short of a helicopter would be by foot, by donkey, mule or horse. Three people got carried out on stretchers, two more had to ride out on donkeys, and a number of them had to turn around because it was too rough (and that was just yesterday). I guess last year a couple tried taking a short cut and ended up lost. Their tour guide was afraid to report t…

Plakas is Greek for...

Well, I think Plakas (the town I am staying in) is Greek for the middle of flipping nowhere!! This is GREAT! An all day bus ride (well, about a 4 hour bus ride and a 2 hour "layover."). Through the mountains the bus driver had his work cut out for him. We kept getting further along our journy and further from Western Civilization the roads keep getting more narrow and the guard rail eventually disappear almost entirely. A couple times while going up a mountain we had to stop and back the bus up because there was a car coming from the other direction and we both couldn't fit. Yea, it's all fun and games until someone plummets off the side of a 300' cliff. Which incidently is what I was staring down inches from my window of the bus... no guard rails...miles from anywhere w/the technology to put an American like me back together if broken like humpty dumpty... Oh well, the view was amazing anyway. This is like Zen, you really have to let it all go and live in the mo…
The internet is crap here, so it is very difficult to get anything through, but her we go...

I am waiting @ a cafe' by the bus in North Crete. It is beautiful here. I am on the waterfront that looks like some postcard you would get from someone you want to hate.

This seems like a nice town. Not too tiny, but far from being huge. It looks like an ancient venisian fortress to the East of me. It runs along the shoreline; the lookout towers and large stone walls stretch into this modern time from somewhere in antiquity.

It was funny, I got here @ 2:12 pm and I see the bus schedule sign for transport leaving to Plakas (from what I can make out) and it says the next bus leaves at 2:15pm... uh, oh... So I am rushing to get to the ticket window so I can hopefully catch the bus. Well...things don't move too fast here in Crete. People tend to chat and linger which is exactly what happens. So when I finally get to the ticket window the time is 2:17pm. Now although people here aren't in …
It is amazingly hot here today and it's only 10am. I have been here in Crete for about 4 days now. I am heading to southern Crete on a bus to a Youth Hostel in Plakas. This one should prove to be interesting because I am supposed to be staying in an 8 person dorm. I am going to try to get into something with less people in it, but we'll see. It has been nice being in my own room here.

I saw some really cool things here in Herkiloin (which means city of Herculies), Crete's capitol. The town has some cool museums (only if they weren't under construction) and such. I went to Knossos (ancient Minoean city/palace), Yeta a town that produces olive oil and wine (pretty cool) and some areas that I didn't see down town. In Knossos I found out about the Minetour and Theasus. Saw the oldest paved road in Europe (dating back to 2000 bc). I guess they (the people inhabiting Crete) make up some of the founding members of European society, ranging back to 6700 bc or so! The tour g…

Are people from Crete Creteans??

Here I am in Crete. It is a pretty cool island. It is a bit more difficult getting around, but far from impossible. Most people speak at least a little english and I have gotten very good at asking (in Greek) if they speak english. I walked around about 15 miles today. Into town, around town, to all (and I do mean all) of their museums, archelogical sights, some cafe's and town squares. I really didn't even get lost today. Wow, I must be making some progress. I met a couple English people (yes, people from England silly) we hung out until about 1am or so and talked about politics, troubled youth, the difference between the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service (don't ask, if I told you I'd have to kill you:), body guards, ccw laws etc.

It was kinda of funny, most of the museums that I went to today were under construction and had only one exhibit open. Geeze, you'd think that they would have at least discounted their entry price, but noooooooo! Oh well. I at least had a real…

The Transporter goes Greek!

Well, today I decided to have an adventure and rent a moped to scoot around the island. Wow is all I have to say. That was quite an experience! First; of all of the European countries Greece has the most accidents; second, I don't understand their signs; third, I may not understand the language, but I understand what the sound of the horn means; 4th, the roads are narrow and everyone experiences traveling on the road, cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, atv's, people, animals, etc. There are no sidewalks and the roads are REALLY narrow.

I wanted to go to Fira which is the capital of Santorini to see their Historical Museum. I figured what the heck it probably won't get any easier to drive in Greece than on a small island. I go to rent a scooter it costs about 12 euro, that's $18 US. The thing looks fairly beat up with bald tires and a horn that doesn't work. Not to mention the guy renting this to me either didn't explain well or I didn't understand,…

The fall of Atlantis, the rise of tourism!

Well, I have been here in Santorini for a little less than a couple days now. I met some more Aussies last night. We got to talking and ended up playing a bunch of card games till about 10pm or so. The two young ladies were from just out side of Sydney and just out of high school (wow) they are both very nice and travelling w/each other for about 8 months. They have no plans and enough money to get them by for about three months until they have to start working to keep thier travels going. Many of these young people I have met seem quite a bit more mature than us in the states (especially their own age...probably mine too!).

I aquired two new Canadian room mates who both thought I was also Canadian due to my "accent." I would love to say I was shocked by this, but I have gotten that comment too many times in the past and pretty much everytime here in Greece to be anything but pleasently amused...eh?! (ha ha)

These two young ladies (yes more of them) are early twenties and just…

Grand Canyon in Greece?

Yesterday ended up being quite a day. Since the Delphi tour got cancelled I decided to go to the new Acropolis Museum. So I took the tube downtown (I was actually getting fairly good at working my way around it) and walked the rest of the way to the museum. It was still under construction but they were letting people in for free to see the first floor and what they have done so far (which is quite a lot, it is due to open in November). It is built over the ancient ruins of the city so they have much of the floor made out of glass so you can see the ruins beneith. It is sooo cool!! It has the same look and feel as the new GR Art Museum only much larger. I was done wandering around there and decided to fill up my water jug when I met a guy named George. He's from Jersey...actually he was mayor of one of the cities in Jersey North of Spring Lake where I train with Jack. He and I got to talking and come to find out he is 36 and traveling alone visiting family in Greece. He spoke fluen…

Vacationing vs. Travelling

Yesterday I was feeling rather queasy, hot and uncomfortable. I was making some phone calls and the booth that the calls are made from is maybe 3 x 3 and even hotter making me feel worse. I am also a bit on guard still regarding the location and with people waiting to use the phone, crashing in on me and all of the commotion around makes it difficult sometimes for me to relax, be less reserved and not on guard so to speak. Everything is fine and I feel plenty safe, but the communal living thing is not in total tune with my more private nature. Hostelling is like urban camping except you sleep in a tent with a few people you don't know and most speak a different language than you! :) It also makes you have to let things go and not worry so much about things (like your pack and clothes).

I got a bit of sleep last night and do feels tons better today! One of the people I am bunking with is this rather strange Italian young man. He has bushy black hair and a large bushy beard. Our firs…

Delphi Cancelled

Well, todaywas a goodday, I metsomepeoplefromBeruitwhowerenicetotalkto (wegottrappedtogetheron a cheesytouristsightseeingtour...). MytriptoDelphitomorrowgotcancelled :( Ironic, thatwasthereasonwhy I wasstayinginAthensforanotherday.Ohwell... I guess I willhavetofindsomethingelsetodo.

Well, gottago.

~Craig

Thong vs. Flip Flops

Which is what?! In some places thongs are a slang word for a simple light sandel that is worn on your feet, in other languages it indicates something that would be warn on other area's of your body that if left exposed to the sun too long may make your life a bit uncomfortble for a while. I think I am the only person here in Greece who brought the wrong type (you be the judge on which one!! HA HA).

Things are going well here in the land of olives and ouzo! I haven't time to write alot due to numerous internet starved 20-somethings leering at me with cigerettes between their lips and beers in their hands (Really... I'm not joking).

I went to the National Archaeological Museum today (increadable!). So much cool history and seeing things that until now I have only seen in books is simply amazing!

I have had some really interesting conversations with some English blokes last night (among many others). Nice guys. I have been asked more political questions about our election from p…

Here in Athens, Greece wandering in the footsteps of Socrates

Shed-oh-teh (Hello in Greek),

Yesterday I went to the Acropolis and about a dozen other sites, it was really cool! I think I started at about 9am and wasn't back until 8 pm. I took so many pics with my camera I burned through 2 batteries and a disposable camera. Still there were more pics to take. I Walked around all day and was exhausted by the time I got back. It is very hot here, I mean damn! Many places don't have air, so you just sweat, and sweat, and sweat some more. My room the first night didn't have air (I guess that is extra), but I paid another 2 euro to get it for yesterday. Had I known that I would have paid and had air the first night too, I thought was broken, but by the time I got in I just said screw it and took care of it the next day. It has been very interesting here so far. I have met some pretty cool people from all around the world (US, Canada, Australia [a lot of Aussies...so many I don't know who's minding their country!], Russia, Germany, a…

TMA vs. MMA

Everyone now-a-days seems to know what MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is. It's what's all the rage on TV and the largest growing spectator sport in the US. In my opinion the premise of MMA has been around ever since we wanted to survive in the jungle, desert, street and if given the flexibility of rules, the ring (or octagon!). A person faced with a threat will do whatever it takes to survive... period. If your daughter was being threatened by some 800 pound gorilla you would do what ever you had to do to protect her regardless of what was traditional, fair, nice or by the rules right? So if everyone is claiming that their art is the "real deal" and then proceed to rationalize why and how they train, how come things break down with a resisting attacker/opponent on the street or in the cage? Why do some people train in things that are more possibility and less probability?? Why do people do things that tactically don't make sense and then justify it by a mish-mash of ra…

Same but different

Once again I have been comparing and contrasting various approaches to warriorship, combative tactics and training methods. I have been traveling to New Jersey to train with Jack Hoban (BudoTaiJutsu) trying to better understand their approach to warriorship and tactical combat. Likewise I have also been studying with Mushdaq Ali in Silat which is an Indonesian martial art specializing in empty hand, knife and stick combat. Both are very cool arts with many practical applications. Although my background encompasses many areas it is good to get new perspectives of how things can be the same but different. I began studying martial arts in 1976 and have spent time as a student, competitor, combatant, survivor and teacher in numerous traditional, sport styles, and tactical arts. A few years back I had some complications from a seemingly routine operation that limited my ability to roll (grapple) for a little more than a couple years, putting a HUGE cramp in my training (and my spirit) for …

The Gathering of Tribes

This past holiday weekend I spent my Saturday from 10am til about 6pm @ a workshop called "The Gathering of Tribes," here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a rather knowledgeable and friendly, yet informal group of mainly Southeast Asian martial artists who get together to train at this 4 day event twice a year. People like Brian "Buzz" Smith (Kuntaw), Bobbe Edmunds (Silat), Cody Fielding (MMA / Sambo), Mushtaq Ali (Silat), Chuck Pippin (San Yun Do ), and others shared some of their insights and techniques throughout the weekend.

Saturday Buzz covered a very cool joint lock flow. Although I have been exposed to all but one of the 6 joint locks covered; it was the way he put them together that really impressed me. I like the way Buzz teaches. He has a lot of good insight and experience.

Bobbe covered some stick work w/a couple take downs and limb compressions. I love Bobbe's expression of life. He moves very well and has a great personality. I think Cody said it be…

WWDD (What Would Dali Lama Do?)

Hello all~

Sorry it has been so long since I've written. My life has been a bit isolated as I have been wrapping up the final few weeks of my Western European History class. Next Monday is my last class! I have enjoyed it, but it has been kicking my booty!! I have two more papers to write and a test to study for, so it's not over quite yet!

I have really enjoyed going back to college. It has been about 14 years since I was in college last; needless to say I am the oldest one in class, but it is all good! I was considering going back to college, but I didn't know how I would like it and/or how I would do as far as cutting the mustard so to speak regarding grades. I figured there was no other way of finding out than doing it, so I did my due diligence and voila, a college student once again! I find class to be very engaging, the four hour night class cruises by. I am even excited to do the reading and writing assignments. I am currently getting a high "A" and I hope …

Jack Hoban in Minnesota

This past weekend I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to train with Jack Hoban and others in BudoTaiJitsu. It is always inspiring training with Jack. Not only is he a great practitioner, but he shares what I believe to be true warrior ideals; the art of living. He never fails to inspire me.

There we were about forty of us sweating like hogs in this little racquetball court. No air conditioning or matts and not much space to move...It was great! We covered mainly empty hand fighting, defense against the knife and protecting a third party from empty hand and knife attack. It was hot & sticky... all in all really good training! Jack told many good stories about his experiences with Robert Humphery, Hatsumisensei, The Marines etc. I love hearing the history, philosophy and just cool stories!

I continue to explore their way of moving and approaching combat. The way that they control the space is somewhat different than how I currently control that space. It is kind of like the yin and yang…

I am I

Hello all! Being this is my first blog on this site...I never quite know what to write, but none the less I am very excited! I am going to Minnesota to train with Jack Hoban this weekend. It should be great! He is a true warrior and gentleman in every sense of the word. It is a bit of a hike 9 hours or so :( but that's better than the 12 1/2 hours out to New Jersey. All in all if I didn't think the training was worth it I wouldn't be going. I always enjoy training with Jack and his folks and I never walk away empty handed so to speak...he always has something to share that is valuable!

More when I get back.

~Craig