Survival of the Fittest

In the 1888 book Twilight of the Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote “What does not kill me makes me stronger”.  This is a frequent sentiment seen among athletes, especially in the contact and combat sports, even more so among martial artists.  I’ve reflected on it a bunch recently as I’ve listened to old tales of martial arts ‘back in the day’.

My primary style at the moment is Kajukenbo, a system born out of the post-World War II slums of Hawai’i.  It was a hardcore style in the truest sense, composed by black belts from various systems, in an attempt to create a truly universal and effective fighting style that would protect them and their students from the ravages of gang and racial violence.  Legends abound about the training at this time.  The black belt test involved being kidnapped from your home in the middle of the night and dropped off in the jungles.  Or maybe the test started at dusk and you had to survive the beatings until dawn.  Al Dacascos – one of the heads of the style and the creator of its primary off-shoot, Wun Hop Kuen Do – talked about the day’s training not being done until there was blood on the mat.

Good stuff, right?  Hardcore.  Tough training makes one tough.  It makes sense.  This is martial arts.  This is fighting.  This is violence.  You must be prepared for the viciousness of a true fight to be able to reliably survive it.  Bruce Lee once said ‘the best preparation for an event is the event itself’, right?  So what better preparation for a fight than a fight itself?  If you get your ass kicked, and survive, than you’ll come back stronger?  Right?

Right?

Well, funny thing… Continue reading “Survival of the Fittest”

What’s In A Grade?

I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about grades, and ranks.  Related to my earlier post on gamification, I’ve been thinking about how we assign value to accomplishments.  How do we state ‘this is a 90 out of 100’ and ‘this is a 75 out of 100’?  What comprises ‘a hundred’?  How applicable is that?  Is one person’s 75 equal to another person’s 75?  Was the process for one person to achieve 75 equal to the process of another person achieving 75? Continue reading “What’s In A Grade?”

Learn, Love, Live

Rather unexpectedly, I’ve found myself learning two new skills recently and it is has been exceptionally educational.  I’ve begun learning about cars, and I’ve begun studying Kempto-Jutsu.

Just shut up and do it

I’ve never been a car person.  I’ve never cared much about cars, nor how to maintain them.  I can change oil, change tires, and change headlights, but anything beyond that is beyond me.  Likewise, how a car looks hasn’t ever registered with me.  I generally thought of automotive wax as aesthetic only.  And unless it effects fuel economy, I didn’t concern myself much with aesthetics.  I mean, sure Charges look dope as hell and most Lamborghinis are so badass, they’re classified as a sin in at least three major religions.  But otherwise?  Meh. Continue reading “Learn, Love, Live”

10lbs of Muscle

I’m trying to add ten pounds of muscle in twelve weeks.

Let me clarify.

This week is the start of a new twelve-week cycle for me.  I break my year into twelve-week periods, during which I pursue specific(ish) training goals as well as personal goals, and set-up writing projects.  Stories, articles, and panels that I wrote during the summer will now get edited during the fall, and copyedited in the winter, to be released next spring.  It helps me keep things fresh, while also rotating out projects until they are completed.  It allows me to space out the stages of development on a project so I can see it with fresh eyes at every step, but not so far removed as I forget everything about it.

Continue reading “10lbs of Muscle”

The Meritocracy of Martial Arts

This weekend, I will be in DC for Katsucon!  I’ll be presenting a host of panels as part of the Japanese Cultural Institute, on topics from the Japanese-American Internment Camps in World War II to two introductory classes to martial arts (one for all ages and one geared more towards kids).

Preparing for those classes, I’ve been reminded of a longstanding and problematic point of contention in the martial arts, namely “why do you study [insert derided style du jour]?”.  This question is always asked after the revelation that a person studies an unpopular or denounced style.  In a post-UFC world, Tae Kwon Do and some traditional Karate styles are the usual candidates.  For me, it’s usually when I say that I study Iaido (a slightly obscure art, often connected to Aikido, studying the drawing of the katana).  People, especially those involved in armored combat, immediately remark with disdain and surprise.

Continue reading “The Meritocracy of Martial Arts”