Friday, November 8, 2013

What is "Real"? What is "Authentic"?

From ComTech - a nice article on reality and training.

What is "Real"? What is "Authentic"?

How can one classify human motion? How can one honestly measure human creativity? What are the limits of mans higher powers? These are the questions asked of those truth seekers who tread upon the thousand mile path of the modern (neoteric) warrior. Other men cannot answer these questions. The answers must be found within yourself. Other men can lead you to the "threshold of knowledge", but only you alone can cross that threshold and enter that domain as a fully awakened being.

I ask you, can one martial culture claim actual ownership of specific human motions over another culture whom they say "stole it" from them? Isn't it possible that other people have also discovered the same or similar truths in their quest for species survival over the millennia? And besides, how stupid and shallow (arrogant even) to lay claim to human motion!

Why can't a skill or an action simply be what it is? And what it really comes down to is just "human motion", plain and simple. Approaching the martial arts from that high ground perspective changes everything for the better! 

Here at Comtech we study human motion more so than cultural styles. Leaving off the myriad of foreign names, confusing terms and vague translations allows one to honestly concentrate upon their true task of understanding their own potentials and abilities. Not to say it is wrong to learn the cultural aspects of any art, it is a personal choice on how you wish to use your time and thought energy.

Comtech is about swift, sure skill and so we tend to concentrate upon the reality of human motion.  We can teach our method fast by using terms that people understand and remember. It's easy then for pupils to learn advanced fighting skills because of this simple change and others like it which we have implemented throughout the curriculum.

I understand that names for styles and names for techniques must exist. But those names, terms and references must be relevent to that specific culture that you are operating in (at the moment) or what ensues isn't "instructional" at all.  What comes then is confusion.

Getting past barriers and learning that the recognition of motion is far more important than some have considered it to be is the first step to defeating cross-cultural confusion. Taking that mental step is crucial to those on the road to actual mastery and truth. Limitations and barriers can be self imposed. We must know how to look inward and counsel ourselves through accurate introspection. They can also come from those about us. People often adopt the thinking of those around them. When they do this they adopt their friend's limitations as well and most do not even realize it. Suddenly their limitations are YOUR limitations too, even when they shouldn't be!

On another topic of what is "real" and what is "authentic" - I am telling it true here, SKILL and ability, those things are authentic. They cannot be denied. They must become your most sincere goal! Whatever rewards (belts, ranks, atta boys) that come around afterwards may lead you to then consider yourself a lucky man. Skill first and the rest of the rank and belt circus later. Adult martial arts operate differently than other methods you see. Step up, step up!

By having a piece of paper or an old photograph or a worn rank belt means you have a souvenir from another time, nothing more. A fun little something it is for sure this certification game. But most people have the idea turned about backwards. They think the goal is to get pieces of paper and that such recognition then transforms into some type of ability. Huh? Other people strive to get a photo with a famous person. Then some how they hope it will turn them into a "somebody" too. Again I must ask, Huh? Collecting belts (rank) is also an obnoxious and pointless habit. Even old Funakoshi said that you should be humble and NOT display your rank or powers. But some people think that having a "belt rank" is the ultimate martial pursuit (duh I'm gonna git me a black belt). Be proud but be humble as well.

Back in the eighties I was speaking with the Great Kenpo Master Ed Parker. He was telling me about the "touch of authority". He pointed out that he had it (and he did). When he touched you it was immediately evident who was the boss. He did not hurt you and he did not abuse, you just knew by the touch. He encouraged us to develop this "touch" ourselves. It took me another 15 years before it came about. But I followed his orders.

In the system of Mustika Kwitang one of my past teachers Guro Besar Ingram taught us to "let our guns do our talking" for us. What he meant was to let skill speak for itself. He avoided the rank certificate pitfalls and much of the related headaches by getting everyone to simply focus on the real goal of building skill and knowledge. This form of "real" is closer to what is true than the other forms of "real" that are being pushed on to the unsuspecting public.

Eventually it comes down to each individual to either make or break their training goals. Teachers can only do so much. The rest is up YOU! Nothing makes the point about being real and authentic like actually being able to back up your words with implicit action. Leave no doubt in anyone's mind that once you decide to move, that in some cases there really is "no turning back". Fighting for sport, fighting for the glory, fighting for your life, there is nothing about fighting that is "nice", understand this truth at the core of your being. So train hard my friend, decide on your path, your goals and then for the next thirty years or so  just do it. No matter what happens in your life don't stop. A slow, steady, day by day march toward your own, personal self actualization. It's in your hands now.

Seek Truth / Stay Sharp! / Uncle JAK (James Keating) 11 / 2013


I trained with Mr. Keating last summer for two days. Helped bring me to a better understanding of my arts and myself. And with no certificate or photo :-)
just a simple (?) path to follow and train.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One Punch One Kill - Danger of a single punch

From Dan Djurdjevic's blog - a posting on the dangers involved in a 'simple' fight.

Not to make light of the topic, it is extremely serious. More injuries seem to occur from the person receiving the 'punch' hitting his head again on the ground - striking the ground without any protective maneuvers (as they are at least temporarily knocked out), and a whiplash effect.

Fighting in the ring is one thing, both contestants are fit, ready and capable. Fighting for 'machismo'/monkey dance reasons are pretty much stupid. Please re-think your attitudes if you have the idea that fighting is just a 'game' and no one gets hurt.

Please visit his site, and read some of his other articles as well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quote of the Week

Found this in Hemispheres Magazine (August edition), in an article by Paul Ford - Stop the Presses.

"This is the problem with technology. One day you're in your cave sharpening rocks, enjoying how pointy they are, and then the new neighbors move in a few caves down. They have really nice blades, light, smooth, powerful. And that's when you realize you're a Neanderthal.'

Survive the Unthinkable - a short review

I purchased 'Survive the Unthinkable' from the folks at Target Focus Training - and am writing a short review here.
The information in the book, while written primarily for women, is applicable to all people, regardless of their sex.
Covering the basics of mindset, awareness, and the Target Focus Training (TFT) methodologies, it presented a great introduction to the system, which hopefully will lead to further training.
I have had training in similar systems before (SCARS, a TFT 2-day training session) as well as traditional martial arts, and found the material very beneficial. 
The book is fairly short, with minimal illustrations/photos. This is not a 'he does this, you do technique X' type of book - stressing the principles of TFT rather than the techniques.
There is some repetition of material, but this may be because the points are important and need to be stressed more than once.

I recommend this book, and hope it will lead its readers to get more training in self protection.

Friday, August 9, 2013

37 uses for a Bandana

From Survival Life - 37 Uses for a Bandana in a Crisis.

 For those in the know, ComTech has a series on the use of a bandana as a life preserving tool. I highly recommend checking them out. They provide a great addition to your personal defense tools, and to your conceptual training. Train Hard, Train Smart, Stay Aware.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ComTech Visit


I made the journey up to Milton-Freewater, Oregon (hop, skip and jump from Walla Walla, Washington) to spend a couple days training with Master At Arms James A. Keating.

I was introduced to ComTech methods/concepts in the late 90's, via a friend in Australia (thanks, Pete).
Basically, he had done a Riddle of Steel and brought many of the training ideas back with him. This helped me to learn more of the idea of concepts vs. techniques, and brought many of my kung fu forms and training to a viable, 'live' status.

Over the years, I have corresponded with Mr. Keating, on training (knife, empty hands) and some general life philosophies. I have followed his web site (it is on my daily checks) and avidly studied his video offerings.

Finally, this year my schedule smoothed out a bit, and I fit in two days training (actually, two days, plus an evening prior with his regular scheduled class). Well worth it, wish I had done it years ago.

I am used to traveling, arranging my own transportation, lodging, meals, etc. When Mr. Keating offered to pick me up, tell me the places to go, etc., I was a bit amused. Apparently, many people are not so independent. :-)

Our training ranged far and wide - from basic knife concepts (see his latest offerings on 'Knife Coach' for an idea of where we started), to some empty handed kung fu investigations, to fencing and some energy concepts. Not a bit was steeped in the spiritual 'woo-woo' that sometimes come into play - strictly practical, straight forward explanation/applications.

This helped bring a lot of the disparate training systems I have done (traditional Chinese Kung Fu, SCARS/TFT, MMA) and helped me merge them together better. I feel I have so much to keep working on, but now have had a bit of help reading the map ahead. And as I age, the emphasis seems to be to work more on the yielding and softer side of the arts, vice relying on strength. (As I tell my Tai Chi partners - I am relaxed, what are you talking about?)

At no time was I belittled as to having no skill, or treated as anything but a professional. And treated as a friend. His students I met (Andy, Kevin, Jay - forgive me if I mess up names) were all of the same caliber - no egos were allowed in the training hall, just a desire to learn and practice.

I highly recommend everyone check out his websites, video offerings (some on his youtube channel) and prepare for a bit of mind expanding (in a good way). And get your butt up off the couch, seek out ComTech instruction to help prepare you for life.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Physical Fitness

Just a couple thoughts on fitness, to start my blogging back up again. If you like it, spread the word, let's get more readers...

I spend a lot of time traveling, living out of hotel (or smaller) rooms. Thus, I tend to favor workout routines that take little space and/or equipment.

Below are some of the routines I have used over the last  15 or 20 years, for varying lengths of time. Remember, variety can be the spice of life - shake up your normal routine every so often and expand your comfort zones.

Combat Conditioning (ala Matt Furey)

Consisting of a core of three exercises (Hindu Squats, Hindu pushups, Bridging) and with multiple variations on the theme, this fits the requirements of no equipment and little space. It can be done by building the reps of each exercise (one set each), or doing multiple sets in a circuit.

Mr. Furey started his 'empire' on this basic course, and expanded into martial arts, exercise and mind/personal development videos.

The only drawback with Combat Conditioning is the lack of variety in the basic workout - do this for a month and it will be hard to keep motivation up.

TacFit (Scott Sonnon and rmaxinternational)

Coach Sonnon provides a wide variety of exercise programs, under his TacFit umbrella. His products seem to be evolving, from simple FlowFit to TacFit 26 (sorry if the terms are not 100% correct). With a wide variety of exercise modalities, the boredom factor is much harder to come by.

My favorite program is TacFit Commando - at the time, a huge offering of supplementary videos and books, covering nutrition, recovery, the exercises, etc. His basic TF Commando routine (and much of the other items) is based on a 4 day mini-wave, done for 7 sessions. For the math geniuses - it's pretty much a month per session. TF Commando has 3 levels, and 3 levels per level - totaling 9 months of workouts. Recovery (mobility and yoga-ish routines) are incorporated, which is helpful as we age and do not recover as quickly as we used to.

Subscribe to his newsletter ( - his company offers deals around holidays, and at random times - a good way to get the material at substantial savings.

Convict Conditioning (ala Paul Wade)

A newcomer to the scene, Mr. Wade has brought 6 basic exercises and challenges people to do them as strength exercises - strict form, relatively low repetitions (and done slowly) and time for recovery. He offers a variety of routines (a daily routine, 3x weekly rotuine, etc.) and leaves it up to you to do the hard work.

There is a tendency with Convict Conditioning to jump ahead of the progressions (I can do the basic pushup - why regress to a wall push?). In my opinion, this would be a mistake - use the progressions to develop the perfect technique, which will make all the difference later on in your efforts.


In the past, I often combined parts of fitness routines (yoga on some days, cardio on others, strength (pullups, calistehnics) interspersed, along with martial arts workouts). This is what the TacFit folks call 'cocktailing' and really doesn't allow for a good recovery phase - something that being young I didn't need (unlike now).

I am currently doing TacFit again (3rd time) - with the addition of some yoga in the mornings. I have also added the Mobility and Recovery portions of TacFit ROPE to the Mobility and Recovery days of TF Commando (bumping those workouts to about 30 minutes per day).

My only gripe about the above exercise routines is the hype and advertising that go into them. I understand it, gotta attract attention and all that. Just goes against my grain to advertise with hyperbole. Probably why I am a struggling entrepeneur?

Any exercise is good - get off the couch. Limit your internet time to my blogs, and get moving. Comments always welcome.