Sunday, December 7, 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

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

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 across these pics from a workshop I did for the Girl Scouts in 2005 at our old studio on Market Ave. Downtown GR. Here are some shots of us training, learning about assault prevention and (despite the heaviness of the topic) having a great time! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and was able to reflect, if for but only a minute on those things you are truly grateful for.
Best wishes,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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 him sideways in disbelief. After all, how could a ninety-year-old beat someone who is in his athletic prime? It was at this moment that I realized how he deftly put all the responsibility on me to defeat him. This is the key to Helio; he never says he will beat you, only that you will not beat him.

This is important because he believes he will survive. His survival has nothing to do with perfect timing or strength. Instead, it has everything to do with mastering the defensive aspects of jiu-jitsu. He didn't say he would escape from my position, or that he would do anything else. He said he would survive.

The result of our training only validated that fact. Helio did survive, and I was not able to impose my game on him. Helio proved to me the importance of survivability and the defensive nature of jiu-jitsu. Furthermore, I took from him one of the greatest lessons ever: It is not enough to be able to defeat all of your challengers. To be able to tell any man that he cannot defeat you is to wield true power.

~Saulo Ribeiro

Thursday, November 13, 2008

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 this effect you and your training? Well, these are some of the issues we were talking about this past Saturday when I was out in Jersey training with Jack Hoban. We talked about these factors and how it is important to train with these things in mind. How to train in such a way that gives us and those who train with us, the opportunity to escape not only physical injury, but also psychological and emotional injury. Like I said before, sometimes even when you "win" you could lose. The soldiers coming back from Iraq are the "winners." They are the ones who may have personally conquered and eliminated many of our (their) enemies, yet they are scarred for life emotionally. Some are not able to handle the emotional trauma of it and they end up hand grenading their own personal lives. Why?? Are we meant for all of this violence? If we are than why does the human psyche so often get damaged by it? What happens when we can't justify the death and killing?

I can remember some personal experiences that I have had in my past. Although I was not in a war I did came face to face with a few extremely violent attacks in which I managed to escape intact, yet I had nightmares about them for years that stretched into over a decade after the actual events occurred. Why? Wasn't I the one who successfully defended myself from the clutches of the baddies? Wasn't I justified in defending myself? Then why the nightmares? Was it only about what could have happened to ME, or was I also traumatized by what I did to THEM? This was no ring fight. No competition, no glory, just violence and survival. The odds weren't in my favor, both of these incidents involved large, angry men with weapons. So weren't my actions justified? Didn't I have the right to live and not be threatened or harmed? My answer to myself is simply "yes," I did have the right to physically defend myself, but it came at a greater psychological cost than I would have imagined. It wasn't a direct conscience thought to respond in the manner in which I did in either circumstance, but because of my training I did respond physically and I am confident in at least one of the two incidents that my response most likely saved my life or at the very least a trip to an intensive care unit. I don't regret either outcome, because I was able to go home to those I loved, yet the violence that I performed even justifiably came with a cost. An emotional price that I was to pay for years to come. I've never forgotten... So I can see from both a personal experience and in the eyes of some of our soldiers and officers that sometimes even when you win you lose! Violence is not the way, even though sometimes it seems to be. We often revert to it only to be reminded later of the true psychological and emotional cost.

Thanks again Jack for the great training. I am looking forward to seeing you again next month!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

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 different reasons, reasons that out weigh merely personal gain. Yes, both need to know how to swim and how to swim well, but the life guard also learns many other things. They learn more than just how to be the best, fastest swimmer in the water. They learn about saving lives; how to protect and defend themselves and others. The training is different, they learn different things and more importantly they have a different focus. It's not about the competition, it's so much more than that. It doesn't mean don't be the best you can be or don't learn functional techniques. It means look to the larger picture of what you want your training and more important your life to be. I am not trying to take anything away from what it is to be an Olympian because I do have a lot of respect for them and any athlete that pushes their own limits and gives it their all (I myself have competed numerous times in my day), but a competitor has a short shelf life and after its all done, win or lose, what's next?? What is the bigger picture? Is the path your on... the way you train... the way you live sustainable? Are the things you do today bringing you closer to being happy, more fulfilled tomorrow? Do your actions bring you peace of mind and help you with life or is your training just helping you to win your next competition? How many 55 year old boxers, wrestlers, or MMA competitors do you see? Are you a protector/defender that trains for life, or a competitor that trains for your next victory. Isn't there always someone a little better? Someone younger, stronger, faster or in better condition waiting to knock you off your throne. At one time Muhammad Ali was young, cocky and the best boxer in the world, where is he today? Do police officers and soldiers have to be world champions to serve and protect?

So, I will leave you with the same thought that I left the young MMA enthusiast with: You don't have to be the best, fastest swimmer to be a life guard. Although you will have to learn to swim.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Job Corps

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 contact with, but our entire community!

Last year Craig asked me if I was interested in teaching close quarter combatives and warrior ethics at the Academy; I felt very honored to accept the position. Yes, sometimes the scheduling gets a bit crazy and things usually don't go off with out a hitch, but to say it's all worth it would be an understatement. I get a lot of fulfillment sharing in the growth of each of the cadets as well as the entire program. It is my way to contribute to them and the community that I live in. We are all in this together and the more we help one another, the better we all are!!

The cadets and I generally go over hand to hand combatives, restraining tactics and most importantly warrior ethics. I have a lot of respect for these young folks. They are a high energy group filled with many questions and real life experiences. I think I learn more from them than they do me! Tonight we reviewed the material we covered in our last session and introduced some new ground work including side control, mount escapes and reversals from the guard as well as escapes from standing head locks, chokes and a bear hug or two.

It was a smaller group tonight than last time so, unfortunately a few of the cadets weren't able to be in this pic, but hopefully we can get them in the next one.

All in all great job tonight gang. Keep going!!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kuntaw with Buzz Smith

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 terms. Definitely shortening the learning curve. It is rare that I come across an instructor with so much knowledge, open mindedness, unique and functional teaching methods, respectful demeanor and skill. Truly a great experience. Thank you Buzz! I am looking forward to training with you again soon.


Buyu Camp with Jack Hoban in Jersey

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 would show some ground work. When my group gathered we began covering escapes from the mount, some sweeps from the guard, a couple submissions, and getting up in base. The group kept an open mind and did very well, Jack even joined in and gave me a hand. He was a gracious and respectful host. Thanks Jack!

Although I had to leave a little early to drive 14 hours home, I had a great weekend!

I am looking forward to seeing Jack in November.


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... :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

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!!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

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 old Venician mill (1300s ish) that is off the beaten track not a tourist sight and about a 20 minute hike from the hostel we are staying at. We talk as we walk thorough the olive orchards and over the stream that is somewhat guiding our way. It is simply beautiful, no one is around, we are surrounded by blue sky, gusts of winds (Plakas is VERY windy) and some jagged mountains. I tell him about losing Bryan that day and he shares some stories of losing his father. We cross over this ancient arched stone bridge from the middle ages (wow if only our roads in Michigan could last as long!!) and begin assending the old walls of the mill. We are still talking and climbing and taking some great pics (soon to be up loaded to this site!) and I see across the other side of the stream on the face of the mountain facing us an old church imbeded in the side of the mountain. We say "what the heck" and decide to try to get to it. We climb down the mill, cross the river and climb across a narrow stone path to reach the small santuary. After a few minutes we get to this old church that is built into the side of this mountain. The door was small; something like an knome would go through and on the inside the was a small alter, offering bowl, candles, cross, and pictures of Jesus, Mary, arch angels and saints. It is still a functional shrine/temple. Vaughn suggests that we light a candle for Bryan and have a moment of silence for him in rememberance. So we have a small spontanious memorial service for Bryan in this ancient, tiny church in Southern Crete that we found while hiking. I felt it was not an accident that we found this place literally in the middle of nowhere. Bryan was a spiritual person and it was a very approperate way of saying goodbye to my good friend eventhough I was to miss his funeral in the US.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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.


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."


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 rude to rush you in any way or to interupt your conversation. They figure that that if you want refills on something or your bill you'll ask for it. Speaking of refills, they eat and drink much slower here too. Which is a change for me because as any of you know if you've ever had lunch, dinner, snacks or drinks w/me I mow through my food rather quickly. Some of the people I have had the pleasure to hang out with over food and drink were a bit amazed at my ability to attack my meal with the fervor of a starving pack of wolves. It took me quite a while to slow down to a pace more suitable for the area (although I am still faster than most here, I've made substantial improvements!). It is not uncommon for people to order a single Frappe' (iced coffee) and sit for three hours entrenched in conversation. If that happened in the States the people would be regarded as loiterers. It is all about the turnover here in the States. Get'em in, get'em out. When they're here fill them up fast and make sure they eat/drink more so we can raise the average sale per receipt... A different philosophy all together. So no stopping for a quick bite or even a quick drink, both are to be savored with your company. Try it you may find it suits you!!


Monday, September 8, 2008

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...


Typos galore!!

Hello gang~

Wow I am reading back through some of my posts and seeing sooooo many typos, add on and fragmented sentences, bad grammer, spelling etc. etc. I corrected some but not too many. I am usually in a hurry here and rarely proof read; that combined w/poor internet/computer conditions add up to...well, you see the result. Anyway, I will attempt to do better in future posts. :)

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 their absence so it was another two days before someone noticed they were missing...well five days after that their bodies were found. Anyway, I am rambling. Bottom line is it was a good work out with beautiful scenery, but rather misleading to the tourists. ...and I think the bus ride was even more dangerous than the hike...more on that later.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

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 moment. Finally after what seemed like a decade in the bus and numerous close calls we arrive in Plakas a very small beach town tucked away behind some rather shaggy mountains in Southern Crete.

I have no idea where this youth hostel is where I am staying so I wander a bit and ask shop keepers until I find my way. I have notice that there are a lot of people of German decent here, which is especially ironic (isn't that a name of a, that is ionic, or doric or something... ha ha) especially because of what happened in WWII. But then again millions of Americans go to Japan every year, more and more people are visiting Vietnam and heck, even Marc Specter went to Germany and ate pork sauage :) so I suppose it is not that big of a deal that Germans like to hang out here.

If the last Hostel I stayed in was the 90210 of Santorini, then this one would be the hippie commune of Crete. I am bunking with 9 other people here. There are no doors anywhere except for the bathrooms and showers. It is VERY laid back. Like something you'd find in some movie of a tropical paradise that a corporate executive would go after he grabbed his "manisfesto," the goldfish and his back pack saying "kiss my pooper-flap to corp. America..." ...hey wait a minute... uh, oh, mmmmm....maybe we should skip that... :)

It is very windy here!!

I am looking at the map and taking into consideration how much bus, ferry and airplane time was needed to get here and I am thiking I have a fuck of a long way to get back to Athens.

Hmmm, lets add this up:

4.5 hrs back to the sea port
4 hr ferry to Santorini
4 hr ferry to Athens
1 hr train/bus to Airport

Total time w/o "lay overs"

13 1/2 hours !!!!

hmmmm....I may stay here a bit longer.

Chris the hostel owner is a rather polite brit who has owned this hostel for about 12 years. He was an architect in England and hated it so he got pissed and quite.He says it was the best thing he ever did. Now he loves what he does and works like a madman (in a laid back Cretean way) for 7 months out of the year running this hostel and takes the rest of the year off. Most of the Creteans do the same. I guess the country pretty much shuts down from Nov. till April. Sounds like a good deal to me.

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 a hurry, the transports do run on time, so needless to say my bus was leaving my American butt at the station.

Anyway, I am at the ticket window and I say "ticket to plakas" the best I can to the attendant who gets a strange, mildly disgusted yet overall bored look on his face and proceeds to get a woman who speaks English to talk to me. She starts in by mildly scolding me that I should pay closer attention because my bus already left (no really!!). (Side note) I have learned that over here although the people are generally friendly and nice they tend to have a somewhat gruff exterior and being able to hold your own, being polite yet very firm works in your favor. (anyway continuing the story) So I proceed to tell her with a stern look in my eye that my bus just arrived and I have not yet purchased my ticket for Plakas. She looked at me for a moment (possibly determining my resolve to get to my final distination, or more likely trying to decypher what I was trying to say). She then nods politely, says a few things in Greek to the ticket attendant and I get my ticket. The next bus arriving at 4:30pm which is ok because it will give me while to eat.

What I have determined so far that most people are generally nice even if they appear to be gruff on the outside. It's alright for you to smile and be friendly, but if your smile is too big and are too friendly it seems to be counter productive. I don't know if they then think you are being fake, untrustworthy, weak, "touched," or whatever, but it doesn't seem to get you too far. I have found that being reserved yet polite and friendly when needed seems to be the way to go.

Well, that's it for now.


Friday, September 5, 2008

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 guide seemed very knowledgable about where we went. She was a spunky older Greek woman who reminded me of a teacher I had when I was in middle school. She's a fiesty one. I think I saw her drag a couple people off by the ear and make them write "I will not hold up the exhibit line" on the chalkboard 1000 times. She asked me if I was from the states (I have not run into anyone from the states here in Crete...ironically enough no Aussies either, a bit of English and lots of Germans though) and after I told her in fact I was, she proceeded to tell me a joke about President Bush and his poor speaking skills. I have to admidt that I don't quite know how to take jokes like that from people other than Americans... It is even more amusing to me that these people I run into know intimate details of our administration and government and I couldn't tell them anything about theirs. Heck, they know more about my own government than I know about it. Wow, no wonder we have such a bad rep out there...

I have been having dinner with Eva the past few nights. She is a middle-aged English woman who is a social worker in her home town Durand. Her dad was Indian and her mom was from England. She spent a good number of years living in Calcutta, so she had some interesting stories. She is staying here in Crete alone on holiday. She is nice enough and provided interesting conversation regarding the UK and her travel experiences. She is happy to get out of the rain and crap weather of England. She says that it has been really wet this summer.

Oh, George's connection never worked out... oh well, no worries.

Prince is playing on the radio right now. Which reminds me how ecletic the music has been here. They (the stations) will go from American music to strange dance mixes from all over Europe and if the mood strikes them they'll throw in some traditional music w/a techno back beat to it...weird!

Well, I should get up to my room and pack my stuff for my bus trip to Plakas. I think I'll be in the bus for about 4 hours or so.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

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 really good frappe' at a cafe' after!

In one of the museums I saw the ww2 history of how Germany invaded Greece and Crete in 1941. I didn't really know about that part of history. We don't talk about it much in the States. It was pretty powerful.

Tomorrow I head to Knossos the land of the Mineitour (I really don't know how to spell it and this spell check is not working...damn it). I am excited to see that archelogical dig!!

Well, that's all from me right now.

Catch up with you all later.


Monday, September 1, 2008

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, because I am tooling around and suddenly puuut, ppppppttttt..... blahhhhhhhhh. The damn thing runs out of gas. I don't know if you've ever seen Santorini, but it is pretty much all mountains, and there are not a lot of gas stations. So, here I am pushing this moped up the side of some mountain trying to get it to the next station of which I have no idea where one is, so I could be pushing this thing until Zeus comes down himself to help me out. So I'm pushing and pushing and finally I see a sign that says Petrol 500m ahead... Thank the gods!! So I push this thing the longest 500m of my life up the side of this mountain in 95 degree heat to the next gas station, put some fuel in it and am on my way again. I finally get to the Capital Fira and have to go down these old roads where it is a free for all regarding driving, riding or walking, so everyone is yelling and honking and giving me what is the Greek equivilant of flipping me off (I'll show you later), but after circling the town about five times I finally say screw it and decide to park the scooter and walk to the musuem (I am having trouble finding it). I find it w/o much trouble and I proceed to get in. All the doors are closed so I circle the facility only to find out that it is open every day EXCEPT the day I decide to visit. So, I walk around a bit, buy a couple things and try to head back to the hostel. I am driving around and around. I don't how I can get lost in this little (but confusing) Greek town, but I manage and just as I think I get my self square on the directions I run out of gas AGAIN!! Yes it's true, I guess a liter doesn't get you too far... so once again I push this f*#%-ing thing to a not so near gas station (lucky for me this time most of it was down hill!) fuel up and make it back to the hostel in one piece!

I am off for Crete, my ferry leaves at 3:30 am... yes that's right I typed that correctly, I have to catch that infernal thing at 3:30 am... waaaaahhhhhhhhhh!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

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! (ha ha)

These two young ladies (yes more of them) are early twenties and just graduated college to be teachers and are travelling together for a while before looking for jobs. I think they are out and about for 3 months or so.

Rauel is also my new bunk mate. He is from Spain. We talked for quite a while and will probably grab a couple beers later tonight before crashing. He is 28 and works as a electrician. He is going back to University (as they call it) to become an electric engineer. ...and he "is in love" with this Aussie that he met on the bus from the port to his hostel... :)

I went on a tour of the island today, but I will have to get back with y'all on that later, this internet cafe' is about to kick my 'merican ass out!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

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 fluent Greek and we seemed to connect well. Before long we were joking around and it seemed as if we'd been buddies for years, so we ended up spending the rest of the day together wandering around, getting lost, drinking beers, eating, getting lost, going to a couple of mueseums, did I say drinking beers and getting lost (?). George just started mountain biking and he was telling me of his experiences with all of that. I said to George, "is it just me but do all of these young European women always have this bitchy, pouty, look on their face?" They all wear these HUGE sunglasses, super tight shirts that show so much cleavage you would think that you were visiting the Grand Canyon and ALWAYS look disgusted, like they are going to either slap you, spit in your face or fuck you (and I don't mean gently)... maybe all of the above (in that order). That theme was carried out for pretty much the whole day. He might be hooking up a place for me to stay in Crete. We'll see... I can hear it now, "Hey, yea, I'm George and althought I won't be coming out to stay with you in Crete, I just met this cool guy from Michigan and he would love to stay with you for the next few days; eat your food, sleep on your treat him good, thanks~! :) Yea, right! We'll see. Anyway George and I had a fantastic day just hanging out, making fun of the European pouty princess', eating, having beers and of course getting lost. We ended the night having some traditional Greek apatizers (don't ask me to spell or pronounce it!) a couple of Amstel's in this awesome out door cafe' (aren't they all in greece?!) with an increadable night view of the Acropolis and Heidens Library (which reminds me I still have those Greek CD's that will be a week overdue when I return them), both of which are light up and look absolutely amazing. I was thinking to myself, "I am really here in Greece!" George and I talked about everything. The change in direction of my career, politics, philosophy, family, life, etc. We exchanged contact info and hope to hook up again soon. Maybe one of the times I go out to see Jack. After George and I called it a night I took the tube and then walked the rest of the way to my hostel, it was about 10:30pm. I stopped at the bar to say goodbye to my two favorite bartenders in Athens and ended up staying too late (1:30 am - ish), which made today a bit rough at first. I got up about 6am and scooted to the pier to jump on the ferry bringing me here to Santorini. It was funny I was "THIS" close to missing my ferry I mean really. The boat left at 7:05 am, I was supposed to be there 20 minutes early to board. My train arrived at the station at 7am on the nose. So I literally ran the half mile to the dock, which wasn't easy partly due to my pack and probably more because I was not feeling so well from the night before... So I get to the dock and ask someone in uniform where my boat was (I am speaking perfect greek now...ha ha, NOT). and have to sprint the 50 yards to my boat which has already pulled up the mooring ropes and was literally just starting to pull away from the dock. I was winded, almost ready to puke, and sweating like a hog, but I made it. I was barely able to make it to seat and push back the queasy feeling in my stomach and now my throat, but I managed. Within a couple hours and a nap I was good to go....Sooooooo here I am in beautiful Santorini. The hostel picked me up from the dock which was a huge suprise, I was planning on having to find my own transport. The hostel looks very clean and nice, much nicer than I was expecting. I put my things in a locked locker (YEA) and ran into one of my bunk mates, a young Aussie (go figure) named John. He seems nice enough.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

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 first encounter was when he answered the door when I knocked the first time to let me in. He just got out of bed looking like Chewbacca who just smoked a pound of weed, wearing black jockey and sporting a hard-on... No I'm not joking. It was quite funny really. (This must be what dorm life in college is like) He doesn't speak but a couple words of English (and to his defense, I speak even less Italian). He is always in the room... rather strange. I mean really, he is always sleeping. He smokes a lot (yes in the room... cig's not dope), as a matter of fact, he left for a few hours late last night and I let him back in the room about 2am-ish, next thing I know he's light'n up a fag and the small unventilated room fills with his hand rolled, unfiltered cigarette smoke @ 3am in the morning. Thoughts of a news story I heard about two months ago goes through my mind: Some kid in an European hostel fell asleep smoking and lit the place on fire killing something like 7 people and injuring a dozen or so. I meditated on it a bit and told myself not to be an up-tight American and just let it go, so I did and fell in and out of sleep for a little while until I let go completely to worry, annoyance and consciousness. The Italian seems nice enough, things are just different over here.

I haven't been over here even a week yet and it seems like a long time since I've been home... not in a bad way. Not in a vacation way either though. This is more traveling, less vacationing. They are different. Some things have been challenging and brought me out of my comfort zone. This is a different experience all together from vacationing. I have not done this to this extent in a while. I do it a little when I go to various places and train, but this is a bit more extreme. The hostlers (I call them) are like global partying beach bums. Each seems to see how long they can keep the ride going (they usually work along the way, bartending, waiting tables, whatever they can to get a few bucks w/o working too much). They have their own language (aside from the one(s) they already speak), their own customs, legends and way about them. Most are twenty-something, but not all. They are not without their own form of elitist attitude, but overall I have found them very laid back and open. The path seems to be open to all, yet the typical "Hostelite - Wanderer" has a sort of profile... and American isn't really one of 'em. I know you are thinking what profile? Well, like I said, typically European or Aussie, twenty-something, adventuresome, into partying, laid back, open, carefree. I am not saying there are no Americans that fit this, I am saying that from what I have heard and seen directly there aren't as many Americans that do this (overall).

Well, I have to find something cool to do today since my Delphi trip was cancel, so I should get going.

I haven't been able to up load pics yet, but I will keep trying... so hopefully soon.

Hope all is well w/all'y'll in the states.


P.S. I have to mention that I have not seen this many people smoking since the 70's. It appears that you can smoke pretty much anywhere and everyone seems to do it.

Delphi Cancelled

Well, today was a good day, I met some people from Beruit who were nice to talk to (we got trapped together on a cheesy tourist sight seeing tour...). My trip to Delphi tomorrow got cancelled :( Ironic, that was the reason why I was staying in Athens for another day. Oh well... I guess I will have to find something else to do.

Well, gotta go.


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 people from other countries than I have ever heard from folks here in theUS. Many are truly interested in what is going on and how it can effect our future (and the worlds). Most Americans I know don't know much about our own political happenings let alone that of another country.

I changed some of my plans and I am off to Delphi tomorrow before taking a boat down to the Island of Santorini.

I have met some really cool people so far I done a fair share of hanging out with people from all over the world so far. I hope this continues.

The dorm life has been ok so far. There is a young couple that is staying in my dorm that just had their wallet with all of their credit cards and alot of their money swiped about an hour ago. THAT SUCKS!! She was crying and pretty upset. I guess they were at an internet cafe' (not this one) and she left her wallet out and BANG some one went off with it. Moral: keep your money, passport and credit cards in a money belt on you. Don't leave stuff out to be knicked (shit I'm starting to talk like some of these English / Aussies I have been running into). I keep my stuff on me all the time; money belt etc. I'm not saying that it is impossible for me to get stung, but I am a bit paranoid. Speaking of which I did find a way that is a little better regarding my pack in un attended territory... More on that stuff later. I should let the next person on the computer before I get deported!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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 many I don't know who's minding their country!], Russia, Germany, and Greece of course). Most folks are pretty friendly. As for the language so far it hasn't been a huge problem, we'll see how it continues. ...oh and talk about getting lost. I think I have out did myself. I am so lost here I barely know which end is up, even with a map. :) As usual, it all works out though. :)

Tonight is my first night in the dorms here. We'll see how that works out... I already don't like part of the deal, which is you leave your back pack in the "luggage room." Yes boys and girls a room with no lock that everyone and their Grecian brother have access to. I don't like that at all, so I am trying to figure away around that. I can see ALL of my stuff getting ripped off :(

I am happy to say they have Jack and Coke here in Greece. My first night stay I ended up hanging out til the wee hours with a few folks from Australia, Canada and New York... It was fun.

Many people here are surprised to see an American travel especially alone. Most have been saying that American travellers are few and far between. Interesting opinion I have been getting from most about being an American and what their thoughts are of us... I suppose we all need to travel more to break the stereo-type.

I am charging my camera batteries and then I am going to the National Archaeological Museum.

I hope to up load some pics soon!

Carpe' Diem~


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


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 rationalization to make some type of logical since of it all? Have you ever trained something that your partner has to almost help you make the technique work? ...Oh I'm sorry, we can't train with live resistance our techniques are too "deadly" or "well, if I poked you in the eyes or grabbed your groin then you couldn't mount me and use my head like a pinata!" We've all heard the excuses, oh I mean reasons that people continue to use techniques that just don't work! Maybe they did once upon a time...or maybe it was someone long ago who didn't have access to TV, Play Station or a YMCA membership who was just trying to keep from being bored? I don't know, but what I am pretty confident in saying is that you should be your own judge and play with your techniques and strategies yourself in a live setting with a resisting opponent. Now that doesn't mean that you need to go full tilt and hurt one another, but if you "play" with varying degrees of resistance you will find out for yourself what's working and what isn't. Granted your effectiveness will also determined by who the attacker / opponent is. You can make things work on an out of shape drunk who hasn't fought since the 8th grade or a 50 pound 11 year old much more easily than you could on an aggressive motivated terrorist, Randy Coutour or an 18 year old gang member with intent on doing more than just car jacking you. The point is that there are many safe, fun and effective ways of training that will hone your skill and make you more realistically functional in a live situation if you should have to use those skills.

Oh, I should probably explain my Probability vs. Possibility continuum. Probability is when something works the majority of the time for most people under adverse conditions against a resisting attacker. Possibility on the other hand is something that has the chance of being successful only if everything is set up "just right." Thus it is POSSIBLE, but not probable to happen. Knowing the difference is clutch in training from a more honest and safe perspective.

I think a lot of it boils down to usage or lack of it. If you are a cop, soldier or a ring fighter and you face something in an environment that if what you are doing is not working you will, at the very least have your ass handed to you, or in the case of the police/soldiers etc. you would be putting yourself, your partners, and the people who you are protecting at risk of injury or death. When your life or safety is at risk your tactics change to what you hope will give you the best possible chance of surviving that situation. If there are any conflicts with how you were trained and its effectiveness you will either do something more instinctual, do what you were trained to do for better or worse, freeze, submit or flee (I am not going to even get in the reptilian brain survival instinct or fine vs. gross motor skills under stress issues on this blog post). If you are training in a manner that is not using progressive resistance your technique may breakdown all together leaving you in a more vulnerable situation.

So what is this TMA? It stands for Tactical Martial Arts which I describe like this:

Think of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) meets Krav Maga. (...or in English modern combat-sport conditioning and the latest law enforcement / military defensive tactics). Add some life empowerment strategies and tone down the intensity a few notches making it safe, fun & sustainable for people like you and me (men & women 16 to 60). TMA is a great way to stay in shape while learning real world self defense. Classes are taught in a supportive. non-competitive way using progressive resistance drills that safely adjust to your comfort and fitness level! We train for life!

Well, that's my advertisement pitch anyway. I think it describes it pretty well without limiting the content too much.

Keep going.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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 (Budo Tai Jutsu) 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 a while. It defiantly shifted my focus. I am grateful for all of my hard sport and functional training of sport styles in particular MMA, BJJ and Kickboxing (in all their variations). Training with a no nonsense approach is important from a functional standpoint, but so is personal development, health, proper psychology, tactical strategy, empowerment, compassion, defensive tactics, fitness, developing / maintaining warrior ethics and having an overall sustainable training methodology if you are planning on getting the most out of your training over your lifetime. Everyone develops their own groove as far as how they like to train. It will change over time if you follow this path long enough. So, find what is good for you and adjust what you need to as you grow, develop and age. Look for people who share your general views in training. If you get a lot from Tai Chi but, don't like hard contact you may not enjoy Bjj or MMA classes, but don't confuse how practical and functional your training is if you are not training in a way that is using free flowing progressive resistance. Typically the greater the adversity the more realistic the training. Know what you want out of your training. Train safe because it is hard to train if you are injured, besides no one will want to train with you if you are hurting them all the time. Have fun or you won't want to do it for long. In the long run I think it is about Humor, Paradox and Change. Although it usually takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears too!!

Keep going.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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 best; "Bobbe isn't someone you meet, he is someone you experience." So true. It was a great pleasure being introduced to him and training.

Cody went over some things that he learned from Randy Couture. Mainly pummeling (a Roman Greco clinching exercise), MMA shooting, some take downs and cage work. I REALLY had fun with that stuff!! :) ...and I got a chance to talk to Cody a bit later at the feast that evening. A really great guy. We exchanged some war stories from our youth... If you ever run into him maybe he'll tell you about the night his Porsche broke down in the red light district in New York... aaahhh it was like reuniting with an old buddy....

I had some personal training insights by the time the day was done also. I have been thinking a lot about how / what I train, what I call it, how I structure it, etc. maybe getting some new affiliation or possibly some other certification / licensing. I have been formulating a few ideas mainly regarding approach to training and future direction. The challenge for me has been finding other material and / or training affiliations that balance the things I feel important to training 1) Functionality / practicality, 2) Holistic Health - Sustainability of training, 3) Personal Development 4) Focus (sport vs. tactical combatives)...blah blah, etc. Few I have found cover all the areas I want to be covered in the mannar in which I like them covered. It always seems that I find one that covers this and another that covers that etc. Well to make a long story somewhat short I believe that I have almost come to a satisfying conclusion regarding all of that, but you all will have to wait to hear my climatic conclusion when I have more time to write! :(

In the meantime Hang Loose! :)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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 to finish the class with that too (hopefully!), but we will see.

A couple weeks ago I had an epiphany regarding freewill and choosing our experience. Each one of us as individuals and as a collective society create what we experience...let me say that again, WE REALLY DO CREATE WHAT WE EXPERIENCE! I have had this thought in the past many times , but for some reason it hit me in a certain way when I was researching yet another war Europe was in the middle of back in the 1800's. I believe it was when Prussia was trying to unify all of the German speaking people into a country we now call Germany. Through out the semester in class we studied how people would evolve and war would ensue over and over and over again... We covered the late feudal system in Europe; moving on to the Renaissance; the Reformation of the church, including the 30 years war; the split of the holy roman empire; I saw the boundaries of countries come and go; old countries crumble and new ones raise from the old; The royalty warring at a whim, a lust for power and prestige, their struggle for an Aire and for their family to stay in power; how the almost voiceless peasants rose to be the voice of nations; The raise of the middle class; enlightenment; scientific revolution, agricultural revolution; Revolution after revolution, including the French revolution; The fall of divine right, but the inability of most of the European countries to not keep going back to some type of monarchy (old habits die hard!); the evolution of the working class and all of the "isms"; mercantilism, humanism, industrialism, liberalism, nationalism, imperialism, fascism, socialism...etc. etc. We fight and kill and fight some more. Wow! Some days I would be overwhelmed in thought just noodling on how all of these people lived in those conditions. They all just wanted lives like you and I. They had families, friends, kids, lovers, jobs, hobbies...lives, real lives just like you and I. Sometimes even when you win you lose... Name of the game?? Do what you can. Keep going. Make the most of every moment. Live like you may die tomorrow, because you could! Live life the best you can from a bigger perspective, love more, laugh, more, be more open minded, practice forgiveness, compassion, tolerance; Slow down; change what you can and as for the rest... let it go... you can't always control what happens...sometimes when you lose you win... it is all in the perspective. WE CREATE THE WORLD WE LIVE IN BOTH AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A SOCIETY!! We create the experience that we have here. The universe didn't change when we started or stopped killing each other, we did. When we change we experience something different on a personal and collective level. A quote came to mind: "Be the change you want to see in the world." -Gandhi
It was like a light came on...we REALLY do create our own experience. Holding that "Aha" moment is difficult!

Anyway, enough from me for now. More later!


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jack Hoban in Minnesota

This past weekend I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to train with Jack Hoban and others in Budo Tai Jitsu. 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, Hatsumi sensei, 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. It is all good, just different. I utilize different tactics to achieve my goals in a combative manner. I saw some rays of light at the workshop. Somethings made more sense to me and I was beginning to capture the flow better. Keep going!

After training I had the opportunity to hang out with Jack a bit and talk. I always appreciate that. A number of us had a beer or two and dinner. We went to some Mongolian grill, the food was great, unfortunately I had to cut things a bit short because I had a 9 hour drive home :( but it was well worth it! I am looking forward to training with Jack again soon (probably next month).

Until then take care all.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

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.