Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tae Kwon Do and Autism Article Appears in TKD Times

Hey all,

Just letting you know that my profile of Hunter Oliver, a seven-year-old Tampa Bay boy with autism is in the September 2009 issue of TKD Times.

I'm pretty proud of it. They gave the article good play and ran it in the entire length.

I got my advance copy today, so it should be available soon at your local newstand or bookstore.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Playing a little bit of catch-up

Hi folks!

Yeah, it's been a while. Between some health issues, paying jobs, trying to find paying jobs, home repairs and upcoming family obligations, I haven't had much time for training and less time for keeping up with the latest from the Carport Kwoon.

First of all, a week of regular rain kept me inside for much of the second week of this month. I know, I know, Tampa needs the rain. I'm well-aware of our drought situation.

But human beings need sunshine, too. And we need time outdoors to get fresh air. Without those two things, we suffer, both mentally and physically. I know that being stuck indoors did not have a good effect on my normally sunny disposition.

Early last week I was hit with some major stomach issues. I've spoken with four people who've all had their gallbladders removed and they seem to think that mine needs to go, too. I've been doing the usual jumping through hoops and taking tests. If it's gotta go, then it's gotta go. Just make it soon so I can get back to my life.

I did do some training this week. Mostly some light workouts in-between home repairs and cleaning. Wednesday, I finally got together with Bret Bumgarner, a mostly online friend who is no slouch when it comes to internal training in martial arts.

He offered some great suggestions for what little Baguazhang I know. Hell, he put me into information overload. I was really sorry I did not have my notebook, video camera and tape recorder handy. It's hard to know where to begin.

We also had a great push hands session. While my root is still pretty strong, my waist and hip coordination were my downfall. Thankfully, Bret lives near Carrollwood. Push hands is something that can only be developed with lots of practice with other competent practitioners. If you don't practice, you will very quickly lose any benefits.

Bret is no sadist. But his Baguazhang and his push hands have a very strong martial flavor. None of that new-agey, lovey-dovey, peace, love and understanding that permeates so much of Chinese martial arts, especially Taijiquan.

No, Bret loves his overkill. He would be a very dangerous guy in a streetfight. Contrary to what so many other internal stylists teach or practice, Bret's art is very aggressive. As he likes to phrase it, "Bagua guys don't give a shit!"

But it's not sloppy, either. He doesn't sacrifice solid body mechanics for aggression. He pointed out my overuse of my shoulder muscles showing how and why my shoulders get so tired in chi sao and push hands. He's forced me to re-examine how I do the bong sao (elbow-up) block in Wing Chun, both with partners and on the dummy.

Lastly, check out your newstand or bookstore. I have articles appearing in the Sept. 2009 issue of TKD TIMES and the Nov. 2009 issue of BLACK BELT.

In TKD TIMES, I profile a seven-year-old boy with autism and how he's benefitted from Tae Kwon Do training with local instructor, Chris Man-Son-Hing. In the interest of disclosure, Man-Son-Hing Sabum Nim (master instructor) was also one of my classmates in Tang Soo Do and Hap Ki Do under the late Kim Jae Joon Kwan Jang Nim (grandmaster).

For BLACK BELT, I take a look at the martial arts urban legends that refuse to die. Among them: A black belt must register his hands as deadly weapons; A black belt is legally prohibited from using his martial art in self defense unless his opponent is also a black belt; A black belt can rip a person's heart from his chest and show it to him before he dies.

Forgive me for including a spoiler here, but all those legends are just a crock of shit with no truth to them whatsoever. But they're still out there and I take great pleasure in debunking them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Takin' the Knee to Rehab

"They try to make me to go to rehab, and I say uh, no, no, no!"
- From "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse -

Knee joints are a bitch.

It's easily the most complex, most misunderstood joint in the body. I had my right knee kicked in during a sparring practice in 1984. It was a pretty typical accident, especially in Korean martial arts. My partner and I tried to kick each other at the same time, our legs collided and I happened to take it on the inside of the knee.

Three years later, my left knee gave out. I'd just been favoring that leg so much that the wear- and-tear just got to it.

In 1992, my then-sifu, Lucjan Shila, and my kung fu brother, Andy Macaluso, taught me some new ways of stretching. Combined with some other changes in my workout, I've been able to manage my knee pain pretty well. Thanks to their advice and training, I often go for months, or even years, without any problems whatsoever.

But once in a while, I'll do something that sets it off again. I'll be limping around or even resorting to my cane while trying to rehabilitate my knee through the use of stretching and strengthening exercises, various medicines, both modern pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies, along with some common sense and rest.

I've hit one of those times again. My right knee has been giving me some pain since I twisted my foot getting out of my car. It wasn't a bad twist and that's how it usually happens. Just some moment of not paying attention causes a little twist or some impact that causes the old pain to act up. Of course, I don't think the wet weather we've had lately has helped matters, either.

So my summertime efforts at returning to some strong basics are taking on a whole new meaning. I've found that when dealing with injuries, very often, the best thing to do is the most basic exercises and techniques.

Today, I started with a short but good 15-minute standing stake exercise, aka "Embrace the World" posture. There is nothing like that exercise to gently get your joints back into shape and to force you to pay attention to your alignment and body structure. It's an incredibly basic exercise with benefits that carry over to the rest of your practice.

I followed that with a full-body stretch while I plan out my workouts for the next couple of weeks. I think I'll be focusing mostly on various qigong and stretching exercises in the morning, followed by the usual strongman stuff in the afternoon.

We'll see how it goes.