Tuesday, July 16, 2013

E-book Review: The Best of Wim's Blog

The full title of this book is - Martial Arts Self-Defense and a Whole Lot More: The Best of Wim's Blog, Volume I by Wim Demeere.

Wim Demeere is a martial artist (MA) whose blog I have been following for more than a few years now. You can find the link in the Blogs I Follow section to the bottom right of this home page. He is more than a martial artist, as everyone is, and is pretty objective about what he writes and is entertaining as well. Based on my links and last non-children book review, you can tell what kind of MA blogs and books that I like. :-)

This review concerns the e-book. I follow Demeere on Facebook as well and was lucky enough to score this e-book for free during one of his promotions. So no conflict of interest here.

"The Best Of..." is more than a collection of blog posts. Demeere has taken popular posts/comments and incorporated them into sections where he explains his view on the matters. Like all blogs the content is a matter of opinion or personal experience. It helps to keep that in perspective and it's too bad people don't keep that in mind when responding or commenting.

The subject spectrum is pretty much what you'd expect: self-defense, MMA vs Traditional Martial Arts, training, what is "real" fighting, etc. However, Demeere presents it all in a concise manner without any nonsensical filler you find in some MA blogs and books. The material is presented from his experiences, so it's different from what you know, or I know, or even others with a long history of either MA training, LEO or other violence experience know. That's what makes it a good subject read. Note that it is not a "how-to" or literary masterpiece - and it is not intended this way.

I found it very useful in that it supported some of my held notions on martial arts and challenged others. A great section for most people is the section on sparring. For example, we are focusing more on sparring during our Summer training sessions. My Sensei and Demeere say pretty much the same thing - sparring at the end of class is primarily time to work on the drills or tactics you have just been taught. Not to beat on each other, which accomplishes nothing.  Unfortunately I see this a lot with some of my fellow students. Luckily my partner is on the same page. When it's time for free-sparring, that's different. Demeere does a great job of breaking down the types of partners who deviate from the script and suggests good ways to deal with them.

You could get all of this information on his blog by searching but it's pretty spread out, plus you'd have to filter through all of the comments. Having it available on my smartphone in airplane mode is important for me, especially when my commuter train goes underground. The guest posts at the end of the book were a nice addition. He asked colleagues (Marc "Animal" MacYoung, Loren Christensen, Rory Miller, etc.)  to write on anything they wanted. All he told them was the nature of his blog and this book, and set no limits. That was a real treat but it looks like you'll have to get the book to enjoy them. All in all the book provides pretty solid advice, common sense actions/reactions, and a level-headedness uncommon in the MA world. Well worth the couple of bucks it costs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Those Darned Katas

Preparing for karate training after a long break really exposes what you have forgotten. Katas are one part of training you think you'll never forget. It's like riding a bicycle, once you learn that is all you need to do. Well that was not the case for me.

When I began I knew I would trouble with Seichin and prepped for that. However I did not expect to go blank at the end of Kanshiwa or the middle of Kanshu. Sanchin was the only bicycle kata for me. It only took me one evening to straighten myself out, but I had to use an old standby to help me. Videos. When I first started training it was hard to remember all the kata steps and movements. I trained in class twice a week and wrote down what I learned. But it wasn't enough.

There are many videos online of people performing kata. The problem is that they are of varying quality and even within the same style of martial arts they are performed differently, Uechi-ryu is no ecxeption.

I use videos to help me remember the sequence of the steps/moves while taking pains not to imitate what the performer was doing. You still perform the moves as taught by your Sensei - do not forget this if you decide to try using videos as a training aid.

For Uechi-ryu Kyu katas I like the ones by Anthony Licalzi on the Uechi-Ryu.com Streaming Videos page. His videos are slow speed, he performs crisp moves and is easy to follow. They are not perfect as sometimes he is not facing the camera, etc. But don't complain, they are great examples and *free*.  There are also many videos on kumite, bunkai, and more on the Internet available for use. These people are really great to provide these resources for us to use.

Again the videos are here but feel free to search for ones that suit you better and remember that it is an aid, not a substitute for learning in class.

Ed. Note: I mixed up Seisan for Seichin in the orginal post. Sorry for any confusion.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Getting Ready to Train

I have been working on a post for about three weeks and it is still all over the place. It needs to be reworked and potentially scrapped, it's about monks in the East and West and meditation and some other stuff.  In the meantime I almost forgot that I will begin training again so here is a short piece on that.

It has been a very long time but I am ready to test the training waters again. The Summer sessions have begun and I start my Uechi-ryu class next week.

My son is back today so it kind of feels normal for me again.  My back is feeling better and I have been running. I just haven't been training karate...it will be a rude awakening. :-)

I do look forward to it and have spoken with our Sensei about my condition and goals for now. It should be a good experience.

I need a headband!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New Blog - Mechanical Time

I have started a new blog about my interest watches. It's more of an outlet for my hobby and appreciation of manufacture d'horlogerie. It hasn't taken a set direction yet but I look forward to seeing how it goes. I'm still trying to figure out a tie-in with Uechi-ryu. :-) Take a look when you can.


http://mechanicaltime.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 20, 2013

Please Let Me Re-Introduce Myself

Sorry for changing up the Rolling Stones lyric in the title.  As you can tell from the deafening silence, I have not posted in nearly one year. Lots of things were going on.  I know it is hard to regain an audience but I will be posting again and hope to get back to what led me to start this blog to begin with.

My back has been improving steadily and I've signed up for Uech-ryu classes at my old school later this Summer. I don't intend to go full out (go for next rank, etc.), at least not now. I've always liked the spiritual and meditative aspects of traditional martial arts and find that it's more complete when you train in a group rather than just alone. I hope to go into this further in future posts.

Until then, take a look at the Sanchin testing video. It is being conducted by Gushi Sensei and I believe the student on the left is either his son or grandson. The other student is using sanchin jars - you can find out more about them here, but essentially they are used to develop hand strength/grip. They also are the reason for "Uechi Shoulders".

Friday, June 1, 2012

10,000 and going

The site has hit the 10,000 views mark. Thank you all for visiting and I hope it is worth your while. Cheers!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Explosiveness

Explosiveness is a much talked about, but difficult skill to achieve in karate. Many people think of it as being really fast or hitting really hard. The concept of fajin "(expressed power)" brings it into better perspective. "Fajin is considered by many to be the most sophisticated physical expression of energy in the martial arts...".

Uechi-ryu has many movements that give the practitioner the opportunity to practice explosive movements solo, and with partners. And for a system that focuses on close-in or close combat fighting, being able to learn and use these techniques is an important, though not the only, step to your success.

I suggest reading more about the theory and application of explosiveness, and how it applies to Uechi-ryu. These are two great resources.
  1. Elements of Fajin in Uechi-ryu Karate, by David Elkins, L.C.S.W.
  2. Explosive Karate, (1) by Arthur Rabesa (Amazon.com)
  3. Explosive Karate, (2) by Arthur Rabesa (EasternArts)

Some examples of this explosiveness in action by Wayne Otto, 5 Dan. Though it's kumite, you see the explosiveness and control exhibited.

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