Thursday, December 27, 2007

The doctor is in

This is related to the question recently raised about centerline theory, which in turn led to discussion about striking targets on it. Dr. Rowe forwarded this about chest wall impact.

Volume 338:1805-1811 June 18, 1998 Number 25

An Experimental Model of Sudden Death Due to Low-Energy Chest-Wall Impact
(Commotio Cordis)

Mark S. Link, M.D., Paul J. Wang, M.D., Natesa G. Pandian, M.D., Saroja
Bharati, M.D., James E. Udelson, M.D., Man-Young Lee, M.D., Mark A.
Vecchiotti, B.S., Brian A. VanderBrink, B.S., Gianluca Mirra, M.D., Barry J.
Maron, M.D., and N.A. Mark Estes, M.D.


Background The syndrome of sudden death due to low-energy trauma to the
chest wall (commotio cordis) has been described in young sports
participants, but the mechanism is unknown.

Methods We developed a swine model of commotio cordis in which a low-energy
impact to the chest wall was produced by a wooden object the size and weight
of a regulation baseball. This projectile was thrust at a velocity of 30
miles (48 km) per hour and was timed to the cardiac cycle.

Results We first studied 18 young pigs, 6 subjected to multiple chest
impacts and 12 to single impacts. Of the 10 impacts occurring within the
window from 30 to 15 msec before the peak of the T wave on the
electrocardiogram, 9 produced ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular
fibrillation was not produced by impacts at any other time during the
cardiac cycle. Of the 10 impacts sustained during the QRS complex, 4
resulted in transient complete heart block.

Conclusions This experimental model of commotio cordis closely resembles the
clinical profile of this catastrophic event. Whether ventricular
fibrillation occurred depended on the precise timing of the impact. Safety
baseballs, as compared with regulation balls, may reduce the risk of
commotio cordis.

Source Information

From the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service, Tufts-New England Medical Center,
Boston (M.S.L., P.J.W., N.G.P., J.E.U., M.-Y.L., M.A.V., B.A.V., G.M.,
N.A.M.E.); the Maurice Lev Congenital Heart and Conduction Center, the Heart
Institute for Children, Christ Hospital and Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.
(S.B.); and the Cardiovascular Research Division, Minneapolis Heart
Institute Foundation, Minneapolis (B.J.M.).

Address reprint requests to Dr. Link at the New England Medical Center, Box
197, 750 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111.

More on the "interesting question"

This from Dr. Jacobus in Nebraska.

For clarification sake for the blog. The "Box of Death" is referred to in many Trauma textbooks as an area, as I described. But we use it in description of concerns for penetrating trauma. As was concisely described by others, the confluence of science within the martial arts will offer up more "mainstream" science hopefully to balance the knowledge of the body that comes with Oriental Medicine and the hundreds and hundreds of years of human anatomy knowledge from martial arts etc.

Historical interest

Over the years the system has changed in regard to how many techniques are taught per level. There are instructors still teaching the original 32, there are some still teaching the Parker curriculum as it was before he created the lists of 32. In the early 80's it was chopped to 24 per belt. People say he was "going to make it 16" but I never heard him say that. The techniques were re-sequenced in the 80's also. Some techniques were dropped and others added. This seems to be of some interest and I base that comment on how many videos I've sold of the original ten yellow belt techniques as well as seeing how many people don't know them when I go out to teach seminars.
I scanned and uploaded the original requirement booklets from yellow to green on my website. If you're a member you can see every page along with the commentary I've added. You can see the changes made in form sequencing, lists of the freestyle techniques, and the elaborate grading code he developed.
In addition I scanned in the IKKA member handbook. It's neat to see how he laid out the standardized uniforms and testing procedures for what was originally a very tight and strong group, along with other items.
I want to emphasize that Mr. Parker marked them as copyrighted in the 70's and they're not up on the web for people to go and use them in their schools, so I hope people will respect that. They are there for the historical interest. I have them and want to share the information.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Interesting question

One of my Chicago guys, Tony Velada, sent me a link written by a kung-fu stylist about the "centerline". As all you martial artists know, we are always talking about it - what it is and where, how to protect it, how it moves, and how to control it. The article was accurate and had good detail from the internal arts point of view. I forwarded it to many of my students and former students. One of the people I sent it to is Craig Jacobus and chiropractor now living in Nebraska and teaching emergency medicine. Craig was a paramedic when I met him way back in the 70's or early 80's and went off to med school. I'd like to share his comments on the centerline as related to Western medicine, with a slant toward emergency medicine.

The concept of Centerline, as it is described can be related to what we call in trauma the "box of death". It is the mediastinal area, as you know. The middle of the chest that contains the vital organs- heart, lungs, aorta, sup/inf vena cava and of course the vagus nerve. Cranial nerve 10/ vagus nerve, "operates" the workings of a good part of the 'automatic'/ autonomic nervous system. Striking a target that is innervated by the vagus nerve (many) can cause anything from a very slow almost imperceptible heart rate to unconsciousness to multiple organic failures.
From the medical perspective, most all of the article makes sense. Coupling that with my meager early training in acupuncture, admittedly just enough so I was not ignorant but not enough to practice it, the points correlate. But the healing arts of thousands of years are still being understood and hard to correlate with our current system of only a 150 years or so.
Take care guys,
Craig Jacobus

The original link for the article is below.

Thanks to you guys for the questions and participation.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ed Parker's passing

This past Saturday was the 17th anniversary of Ed Parker's passing. I posted a small salute to him and those who have kept the flame burning on my site. I include even those who just started taking kenpo lessons because they are a part of the history of the system.
The photo I put on the site is the same as the one above. I could have used one of the portrait shots I have but I wanted one that showed him as one of the gang. He's relaxed and enjoying being with the guys. You see Frank Trejo throwing a back elbow at John Conway Jr, too, so you see it's not a formal photo.
I've been working on scanning many of my photos for inclusion on my websites photo gallery and another book I'm working on. But these pictures always remind me of how much I miss him, and of the responsibility people like me have as seniors in the system.
I had the strangest thought on Saturday morning, which was the actual anniversary day. It was that if I live only as long as he did I have five years left. When it's your time to go, it's time. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be around a long time to aggravate you guys. My dad is 80 and going strong.But, realistically, I do ride a motorcycle and fly airplanes, which are "risky" and, God help me, I drive in the Ft. Myers traffic. Some blue-haired old lady who's been mixing her medication and martinis could take me out. In the meantime I'm not going to not about dying. Got too much stuff to do.

New You Tube videos

Tom Fanelli has posted two more videos on You Tube. You can see Broken Rod and Snapping Twig, both shot at Mike Squatrito's school in Cape Coral, Gulf Coast Kenpo Karate. By the way, I was invited to attend their Christmas party Saturday and "the joint was jumping".
The two videos are answers to technique questions. I have two more questions that have been submitted and will do more as they come in. We like to shoot several videos at a time, so send me yours at
There's a link to the videos on my home page at, too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


If you live in the SW Florida area and would like to take the Mensa admission test, I am now a proctor and can administer it. Mensa is the High IQ society. The test takes about 1.5 hours lotal time, consists of two parts, and you only have to pass one to be invited to join. We can't tell you your IQ but if you pass you know you're in the 2% that has a genius IQ. If you want to schedule a test please contact me at

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Those of you who have read one or all of my books, I am solicitng your comments. I have two more in the works and would like to have some testimonials to put on a cover. So if you want to write one and don't mind it going on covers of thousands of books if it's suitable, please send it to me at

The doctor is in

More on brains. This is submitted by Dr. Rowe and is of interest to you, especially if you have a birthday.

Losing your mind? It's your white matter, stupid
By Dov Michaeli MD, Ph.D

Who hasn't complained about loss of memory? With increasing frequency, I
forget where I left my glasses, what's her name? Where did I meet him? And
for the hundredth time, what's the name of this bird?

No, it is not incipient Alzheimer's. I still write blogs, although that's no
proof of a sound mind. I manage a large drug development project, read the
newspapers daily and am up on the latest political twist. So what's going

Beware received wisdom

When I went to medical school (UCSF) I was struck by a paper I read claiming
that 50% of what we were taught would be either obsolete, or plain wrong,
within 5 years; amazing, but true, and not very reassuring to both physician
and patient. One of the things I was taught with great certitude was that
with age we progressively lose neurons, which make up the gray matter in the
brain. True enough even today. It was then a no brainer to conclude that
this loss of neurons is responsible for the creeping loss of cognitive
function in the elderly. This tidbit of "information" turns out to be part
of the 50% that is obsolete, and maybe even wrong.

The nerve cell

A neuron, like any other cell, has a "body", enclosed by a membrane. It
contains a nucleus, where DNA resides, mitochondria, the power plants that
provide energy for the functions a neuron performs, and cytoplasm, where
proteins are shuttled about and enzymes perform what they are supposed to.
But then there is something unique to neurons: they have long projections,
some of them inches long (which is enormous in the context of
microscopically small cells). These long projections, called axons, serve
two purposes: they serve as conduits for a traffic of neurotransmitters and
other substances on their way out of the neuron. And, through tiny
projections coming off their surface, called dendrites (small branches, in
Latin), they make contact with other neurons around them. This is how
information, in the form of electrical impulses, is passed around the brain
along precisely demarcated circuits and over very long distances. The
neuronal cell bodies, where the nucleus and the DNA reside, are the "brain"
of the cell; they have a gray hue under the microscope-hence "gray matter".
The axons, on the other hand, are considered conduits only, very much like
water or sewer pipes-no "brain" at all. They have a white hue, and are
called the "white matter".

Organization of the brain

The human brain can be divided into major functional regions, each
responsible for different kinds of "applications," such as memory, sensory
input and processing, executive function or even one's own internal musing.
The functional regions of the brain are linked by a network of white matter
conduits. These communication channels help the brain coordinate and share
information from the brain's different regions. White matter is the tissue
through which messages pass from different regions of the brain.

Scientists have known that white matter degrades with age, but they did not
understand how that decline contributes to the degradation of the
large-scale systems that govern cognition.

So what's new?

New research, published December 6, 2007, in the journal Neuron, begins to
reveal how simply growing old can affect the higher-level brain systems that
govern cognition. The research was conducted by Randy buckner's group at the
Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As Jessica
Andrews-Hanna, a graduate student in Buckner's lab and the lead author of
the study stated:
"The crosstalk between the different parts of the brain is like a conference
call; we were eavesdropping on this crosstalk and we looked at how activity
in one region of the brain correlates with another."
Buckner, Andrews-Hanna, and their colleagues looked at crosstalk in the
brains of 93 people aged 18 to 93, divided roughly into a young adult group
(18-34 years old) and an old adult group (60-93 years old). The older
participants were given a battery of tests to measure their cognitive
abilities-including memory, executive function and processing speed. Each
person was studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) exams
to measure activity in different parts of the brain. fMRI can precisely map
enhanced blood flow in specific regions of the brain. Increased blood flow
reflects greater activity in regions of the brain that are utilized during
mental tasks.
For the task used in the Neuron study, subjects were presented words and
were asked to decide whether each word represented a living (e.g., dog) or
nonliving (e.g., house) object. Such a task requires the participants to
meaningfully process the words.
Buckner's group explored whether aging in the older group caused a loss of
correlation between the regions of the brain that - at least in young
adults - engage in robust neural crosstalk.
They focused on the links within two critical networks, one responsible for
processing information from the outside world and one, known as the default
network, which is more internal and kicks in when we muse to ourselves. For
example, the default network is presumed to depend on two regions of the
brain linked by long-range white matter pathways. The new study revealed a
dramatic difference in these regions between young and old subjects. "We
found that in young adults, the front of the brain was pretty well in sync
with the back of the brain," said Andrews-Hanna. "In older adults this was
not the case. The regions became out of sync and they were less correlated
with each other." Interestingly, the older adults with normal, high
correlations performed better on cognitive tests.
According to the authors, it is inferred that in a young, healthy brain,
signals are readily transmitted by white-matter conduits. As we age, those
conduits are compromised. Depending on the networks at play, the result may
be impaired memory, reasoning or other important cognitive functions.
Buckner and Andrews-Hanna emphasized that other changes in the aging brain
may contribute to cognitive decline. For example, cells' ability to express
chemical neurotransmitters may also be compromised.

My take

1. Extremely important work. The dogma that "dropped neurons" is solely
responsible for the cognitive deficits of normal aging simply did not make
sense. First, the billions of neurons in the brain have plenty of capacity
to make up for losses; we have a tremendous reserve. Second, the brain has
the capacity to reroute specific information through alternative circuits if
the original ones are compromised in any way. This is what underlies the
phenomenon called "brain plasticity", which is the basis for rehabilitation
of stroke victims, or the educational strategies for dyslectic children.

2. This finding, like any in science, raises new questions. What is the
nature of the disruption in the default network? Is it reduced number of
axons due to neuronal death? Is it a functional defect in the conductive
properties of the axons? Is the dysfunction generalized or restricted to
specific pathways? What is the root cause of the changes? How can they be

What can we do about it now?

No doubt you have encountered claims of "brain rejuvenation". Just work on
your daily crossword puzzle, learn a new language, solve sudoku puzzles,
stand on your head. The trouble with all these is that they work-but very
specifically. If you do your daily crossword puzzles or sudoku you'd be good
at them, but you will still forget names and misplace your car keys.

So far, the most convincing global change in the aging brain is reduced
blood supply. Blood vessels either get occluded (atherosclerosis) or
degenerate because of death of tissue they had supplied. Not surprisingly,
the only strategy that proved effective in maintaining the overall integrity
of cognitive function is, you guessed it, increase blood supply through
aerobic exercise.

So throw away your sudoku puzzle or crossword puzzle and go out for a brisk
walk or run. And don't forget the keys to the house.

Dov Michaeli MD, Ph.D is in the biotech industry.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This is too cool

In my years in the martial arts I have met some really interesting people. "Interesting" includes the good and the bad. The majority are good people, with interesting life experiences, personalities, abilities, and goals. My friend, Bruce Meyer, in Columbia, SC is one of those people.
Bruce has had many in interesting story to tell me over the years I have known him. A few years back he told of a rather strange coincidence he experienced on a trip to Florida on his honeymoon. That moment changed his life. Thinking about it, Bruce has had many a life-changing moments in the years I've known him and this wasn't really a surprise. But the events following that day are worth reading about and will inspire you.
Challenges have been raised and Bruce has met and dealt with them head-on. If you have a few minutes, go to the following link and read the story. Keep in mind that if you think you have obstacles you might take a hint from Bruce.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Parker art

One of my Florida black belts is Brad Congress. Brad is a jeweler, and a good one. The photo here is not very good and doesn't do justice to the piece.The colors are off and it's blurry. It's platinum color and the sword hilts are black. He made for Ed Parker Jr and you'll recognize Ed's Five Swords artwork, taken from his Kenpo Kards.
Brad came in a week or so ago and gave this to me, telling me it was the first one made. That's an honor, and one that's appreciated very much. These will soon be available for sale through Ed's website at I don't know the cost.
Brad's place in here in Ft. Myers, FL on US 41 and is called Bradley's Fine Jewelers. He makes all types of jewelry and has done other kenpo pieces for us in the past. 239-337-2723, he wants to talk to you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chicago seminars

Just in time for the first winter storm of the season, we had two seminars at the Japanese Cultural Center on Saturday, Dec. 1st. Each session had 20 people laying hands on each other. The first seminar was on technique extensions and the second on contact manipulation.
We had friends from other systems in the second one and they were "blown away". I enjoyed working with the group and there were a bunch of smiling faces there after we finished off.
I got a lot of flak about not bringing some Florida weather with me but hey, when you live in a place that gets colder than Anchorage, Alaska, you have to put up with some bad weather.
We all had a chance to hang out on Saturday at a local sports bar, where the guys and girls played pool and ripped on each other. I saw two of my primary flight instructors, too, one of which I hadn't seen in almost 20 years.
Kurt and Barb Barnhart were my hosts and they saw to it that I enjoyed every minute of my visit, which is always too short. I grabbed the opportunity to take Sensei Bob Garza's Iaido workout on Sunday. He's a great guy and I really enjoy talking with him.
Man, I miss those Chicago people, but not the weather.

Friday, November 30, 2007

He just said what you thought

I ran into the mother of one of my little guys at the Home Depot. She, like many parents, likes to reinforce the lessons we give the kids about values. They were talking about how we taught them that a karate persons's best weapons are a handshake and a smile.
"Yeah", he said, "You can hold him while you kick him in the shin."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flying lessons = karate lessons

The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) is the professional group for Certificated Flight Instructors (CFI) I belong to. I get an e-newsletter from them and this week it had a short and to-the-point article about student preparation. Apparently they have the same problem we have in getting our students to study. Sure, that's a problem anyway but flying lessons and karate lessons are not mandatory courses of study. They are electives, and they are luxuries.
I couldn't really understand how a person could spend the time and money on lessons and not study. Later I learned the reasons and classifications of students, etc. All that aside, the student is there with the instructor and just doesn't know the stuff.
The article states that you should let your students know you expect them to be prepared. You would think that's a given but it's not. Beyond that, the author states that your should let the student know that YOU prepared for the lesson. I totally agree.
I have all the instructors at the Ft. Myers school prepare lesson plans. They actually use them. And if you want to know how they work in their schools feel free to contact Kyle Zwarg at 239-481-9947 (K Zwarg's Karate) or Mike Squatrito at 239-543-0007 (Gulf Coast Kenpo).
I have been known to say, when I teach, such phrases as "When I was researching this" or 'When I reviewed my notes". The guys know I don't come in unprepared. I don't get in front of a seminar group and say "What do you guys want to work on?" like I've heard in the past. There are times when that may be appropriate, though.
The teacher/student thing is two-way. You expect them to prep and they should, too. Like the Boy Scouts, "Be Prepared".

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This is the place

This is way overdue. I was sent this photo of the judo school I started at way back in 1967 last year and I've been delinquent in posting it. My friend-instructor/owner's son, Dave Zorich, sent it to me. Dave and I have met at the school in 1976 and reconnected some years ago. He still lives in Chicago with a wife and family.
The school was at 85th and Stony Island Ave on the South Side. I used to walk there almost every day after school, so I was a regular. I'd go on Saturday, too. Dave and I became buddies. He reminded me that it was he and I who gave that sign a fresh coat of paint. It was a long walk, too - about 2.5 miles each way (uphill both ways!) - which is a lot for a kid.
That school held a lot of great memories. It's where I met Carole Wolken, my first real Judo teacher. She's living in Tucson. I learned the physical and moral principles of judo there. As we got a little older, Dave taught me one of the really important lessons that I teach. That is, don't let judo people get their hands on you. I had gone off and learned some kenpo and came back to visit. Our family had moved so I couldn't train there anymore but I did go back to visit. Dave and I got on the mat to "compare" the styles. When he approached to grab I kicked him. Not hard, but I hit him and he was surprised. Then we hooked up. He hit me with a footsweep and went into an armlock with lightning speed. I had to tap-out.
Thus, the lesson.
Dave and I have maintained that mutual respect for each other. He attained at least a fourth black in Judo, and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well. He attends my Chicago seminars whenever possible. He's teaching, too.
(Here is some trivia. You can't see it in the picture but the little office to the right, next door, is where Jesse Jackson's Operation Push started.)
So, to Joe and Dave Zorich, Carole, and the rest of the Shindo Kan bunch I say thanks for everything. You were the base of my experience and it meant more than you'll ever know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The wierdness continues

The people who have worked with me in my studios over the many years can tell you some stories about some pretty strange and funny stuff. Just read my musings (rants)on my website for a sample. Well, even though I sold my school, the wierdness continues.
Last week I got an anonymous letter in the mail, postmarked Louisville, KY. The writer believes they have a degree of precognitive ability and proceeded to outline a few instances in which they were correct in their foretelling of danger or bad stuff happening. Needless to say, there were deaths and collapsing bridges described. I was told that my name had popped into their head and that they felt a need to warn me to be careful.
OK. I'll go for that.I'll keep looking both ways before I cross the street and pre-flight the airplane extra carefully. They said I could take it as a joke and hopefully, not as a threat. Ok, I'll buy that too. But they got a little too broad when they wrote that nothing bad was likely to happen to me but to one of my family, friends, co-workers, etc. I told the other pilot I was with in the airplane about it and he laughingly said he wished I hadn't told him that.
I know an awful lot of people. I hear about injuries, sickness, death and other bad stuff frequently. I just have to wonder about this person, who admits they sent me a form letter, and what drives them to send these letters out. Sure I understand they may be genuinely concerned for the welfare of their fellow human beings but on the other hand they may just be screwing with me. I'll keep you posted if there are any developments.

The doctor is in

Marc Rowe sent me a long article on girls and concussions. It was actually a little too long to post here so it's on my site in the articles section. What they're finding is that females don't withstand concussion causing impact as well as males. The effects are more severe and long-lasting. There was one comment that really jumped out at me, though.
They said that helmets would certainly help reduce the severity of the impact and its results but they were not sure that the wearing of a helmet would not ratchet up aggressiveness in play. Huh, you think they'd hit each other harder because they're protected? No kidding!
Back when the dipped foam safety gear showed up in the early 70's that was precisely the argument Ed Parker made against gear. He was convinced that the gear would make people think they could tag just a bit harder, and that's pretty much what happened. It was quite a controversy for some time. As you new people can see, the gear manufacturers and lawyers won out because most competition today is done with safety gear. And people still get hurt. They call it by other names, too, besides safety gear. Contact gear for one, which is probably more accurate.
When I had my school the insurance company mandated sparring with the gear because it's an industry standard now. But you can do self-defense all day without it. Some schools have the guys wear mouthguards and hand pads. That's probably a good idea. The gear has gotten better in construction and design so grabbing is not as much of a problem as it was many years ago. And it lasts longer. I had a pair that cracked the first time I made a fist.
Anyway, read the article on my site. Click resources, the articles and it's at the top.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Three P's

I was taking some annual refresher pilot training and took a course on Aeronautical Decision Making. What's that got to do with karate? Lots.
I've found in my life experience that many of the other activities I've been drawn to require the same decision-making processes as Kenpo. Why is that? Because we're human and we need this stuff. Some of our activities are more risky than others and the method of risk evaluation is more formalized. We are taught risk analysis and mitigation/prevention as kids when we learn to walk our bike across an intersection or look both ways before crossing a street.
In learning to ride a motorcycle I was taught SIPDE - scan, identify, predict, decide, and execute. In aviation it's Perceive, Process, and Perform. In Kenpo it's the eight considerations of combat that give us a handle on this but it's not organized the same way.
I thought I'd tease you with this because the meat of this will be in the Members section of my website. That's where I have full articles on aspects of Kenpo and instruction methodology. I add to it monthly at least, and more often at times. My aim is to have my Kenpo Instructor's Handbook published in there instead of as a book, along with other technical articles that I write and publish nowhere else. See for info.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What goes around, comes around

An e-mail arrived in my website inbox yesterday. I was happy to see it was from the flight instructor who trained me for my instrument rating back about 20 years ago. His name is Stirling and he asked if I might be his "prized student who also taught karate". I'd lost touch with him many years ago when he went off to fly for American Airlines. He's back in Chicago and flying routes to the Orient on a Boeing 777.
When I was a new private pilot and working on my instrument rating Stirling would jump in the airplane with me and give me the dual instruction needed and never charged me a dime. After I passed the test I gave him a token gift as a thank you. He says he keeps it in his office, reminding him of "Something I did right in my life long ago" and that it inspires him today.
You just never know when something "small" you do will have such impact on a life. I occured to me that with all the volunteer time I give today as a flight instructor, it's a return on the investment Stirling made in me. Today I am providing volunteer instruction a man with the Naples squadron of the Civil Air Patrol who will be an instrument instructor.
What goes around, comes around.

Quick quote

"With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose."

- Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Some people

I've been teaching for a long time. When I was a young brown belt I had visions of training with a true Master. But those people are few and far between despite what the phone book and Internet would have you believe. If you have been to my seminars where they have introduced me as a Master you've heard me say I don't claim to be a master - I have much work left to do to deserve that. I am a master teacher, I'll buy that. But that's only one aspect.
Anyway, I understand the allure of training with a master, or saying you train with a master. I understand the "prestige", or maybe it's "street cred" today. And I understand the responsibility involved in such things, especially when one is labeled as a protege (how do you get the accent mark over the letters anyway?).
What's bugging me today is that I came across a website with the statement that the man "is a direct student of Lee Wedlake". I've had many people tell me they met so and so and he was a student of mine, or one of my black belts, or how they know me and we hang out, blah, blah, blah. And it's just not so. I even had a guy call my studio and tell my sister, who was working the desk, that we went to college together in Arizona and got our black belts at the same time. For one, the whole of my time in Arizona was in the Phoenix airport one time on a connection. Second, I took my black belt test alone. Actually, it was the second I took alone. The first was in a group and I flunked it. Where do we get such people? My sister was amazed.
This man with my name on his site took a total of about three private lessons and a few seminars. We never got past Short Form Two. I never certified him for anything. In fact, last time I spoke with him I told him we had no future in any kind of relationship because I had heard his bad-mouthing about me. Then he has the balls to call me and ask me to do a seminar. He did not deny he said the things but he still advertises my name on his site. If you e-mail me at I may tell you his name.
There's a guy in PA that has a diploma that I witnessed at his test and tells people he studied with me. I met him but I didn't train him. I guess it's easy to fall into the trap that you're in the lineage or whatever but please give credit where it's due. And don't take it when it's not. What do we do about this? Probably not much. We have people with fake Physician and Religion degrees. They get caught from time to time. And so do these people with the fake lineage. It catches up with them most of the time. I was with Frank Trejo at someones apartment in California many years ago and we noticed an IKKA black belt diploma on the wall. I said it looked fake. The man actually told us that it was and Frank said "I wish you hadn't told me that. I'm in charge of tracking these things down."
Be careful who you brag to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The doctor is in

It seems this subject has been coming up weekly in my life. That subject is how we have become out-of-touch with ourselves due to the pressures exerted on us by technology on everyday life. This article is submitted by Dr. Rowe.

Kid contemplatives: UW neuroscientist's project aims to give middle-schoolers tools of 'mindfulness' and meditation

If gym class helps children tone the body, what helps them exercise the mind?

Homework and tests are logical answers, if proof of success is a higher GPA. But when the goal is to produce a more emotionally sturdy and thoughtful person, researchers suggest the ability to be still and contemplate is what can make a positive difference.

In 2008, local middle school students will among those who participate in a national pilot project that studies the effects of contemplation in the classroom, says Richard Davidson, a University of Wisconsin researcher/neuroscientist. (Time magazine selected him as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People of 2006.)

"Education," says colleague John Dunne of Atlanta's Emory University, "is not just about acquired knowledge but the development of virtues -- patience, kindness, learning how to be in a tough emotional situation without becoming unhinged."

Although researchers suspect the role of contemplation has value in educational settings, from kindergarten on up, it is rare for contemplative exercises to be a part of the school day.

Dunne, a former UW researcher, will return to Madison on Monday for "Contemplation and Education: Landscape of Research," a free panel discussion at the Wisconsin Union Theater. The event also features remarks by Davidson and the Rev. Thomas Keating of Colorado, founder of the centering prayer movement in Christianity.

"We're still trying to understand how these practices work" scientifically, in a grade K-12 setting, Dunne says. "It seems likely that there are things that can be done to regulate emotions effectively."

"The ground is ripe for this type of science to be conducted," says Davidson, whose work already has shown that meditation can change the way the brain works. In college students, Davidson says research at the UW and elsewhere shows that contemplative practices cause "changes in the brain that promote empathy, compassion, increased concentration."

Calmness, clarity

The upcoming work with middle schoolers will occur under the auspices of the nonprofit Mind and Life Institute, which for more than a year has studied whether and how to move contemplative practices into the classroom setting. Davidson chairs the initiative, which also involves Dunne.

Although in "an embryonic state," Davidson says the studies will focus on kindness, calmness and clarity of thinking. Participants will follow a contemplative practice that is "being designed from the ground up." Participants have not been selected, although "informal contacts with several schools" have been made.

Davidson expects the work to begin within six months. Middle school students are being targeted because early adolescence is a time of heightened vulnerability due to body and brain changes.

"If kids are going to make a wrong turn," Davidson says, "this is when it starts to occur." He is referring to substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors.

"The brain can change in response to training," he says, dismissing any notion of unwarranted mind control. "I think this is actually deprogramming" children from media influence and "returning the mind to its natural, unprogrammed state."

It's not religion

Centering prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, sitting in silence, extended concentration on an object and focusing on positive thoughts and images are examples of contemplative exercises that can be taught.

The level of controversy associated with bringing the concept into classrooms in part depends upon the presence of religious overtones.

"In my view, it's not a religious issue," says Keating, because of the many forms that contemplation can take. "Silence is not denominational, and it can be practiced in a methodical way."

Sitting in silence for 20 minutes, twice a day, "gradually introduces us to our deeper self," but the academic world "allows no time or place to pursue this" in an organized manner. That includes seminaries, he says.

Keating soon will help Milwaukee's Marquette University introduce a centering prayer program. "The fact that they see a need for this is very encouraging," he says, describing Marquette as one of the few schools nationwide that is incorporating the practice into its curriculum.

Therapeutic value

Like Buddhist meditation, centering prayer for Christians is an age-old religious practice that has experienced a revival in contemporary times. Keating says both practices "transcend the rational mind" and are "a way to be present to psychological content of the moment."

There is similar value in "gazing at a beautiful sunset or ocean -- just enjoying" and being aware of the emotions that are aroused. The therapeutic value, Keating says, is in identifying and releasing "negative energy that had never really been processed," which becomes "like junk food if it stays stuck in our unconsciousness."

Thousands of centering prayer groups (including four in Madison) exist nationwide. The gatherings occur occur in setting from rural churches to maximum security prisons.

"Most people without a special (contemplative) practice tend to be pushed around by external events," Keating contends. In classrooms, "the younger the child, the easier it is" to teach contemplation because young participants typically aren't impeded by as much emotional baggage.

For Dunne, whose daughter is 5, teaching contemplation means spurts of "lovingkindness" meditation -- concentrating on positive thoughts. He says sustained attention on a specific object for a few minutes, once or twice daily, might be a good contemplative practice for a slightly older child.

"Mindfulness -- stepping back from your emotional state" and learning to feel it without being overwhelmed might be appropriate to introduce during adolescence, he says.

Some of these exercises, although deeply rooted in Eastern and other religions, can be effective and inoffensive in a secular setting, Dunne says. The effort is about using "mental technologies" that have religious origins, not pushing theology.

The goal of compassion, he notes as an example, is not the sole ownership of Christians or Buddhists. "It becomes a universal human value."

Kenpo Karate 601

While K-501 will be out around Thanksgiving, I've been working on K-601. I'm down to a few items needing completion. Ed Parker Jr is working on a cover design. I'll be shooting the photos soon, too. And my long-time friend and student Kurt Barnhart of Chicago will write the preface.
Kurt runs a small club in Burbank, a Chicago suburb, at the Japanese Cultural Center. He's been a student since I opened my school in Palos Hills, IL in 1976. His credentials include experience in Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, fifth black in Kenpo, and he's a certified yogi. Kurt took the helm once I left Chicago in 1991 and has been keeping the guys together since. I value his contribution to my next book. I ambitiously thought I could get the book out by December but with the delays on K-501, that's not going to happen. Maybe spring.
Another project I am working on is Lessons with Ed Parker and it's coming along well. This book will include his stories and my experiences with him over the decade-plus I worked with him. I'm excited about it. I'd like to hear from you about what sort of things you'd like to see in a book like this. So far, I've written it as being based on my notes from my lessons and then expanded on those notes by using examples of actual stories and applications on the mat and off. I think you're going to like this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Spartanburg seminar

I was a guest of Coach Robert and his groups in the Carolinas over the weekend. He teaches in Spartanburg, SC and Columbus, NC. My student, Bruce Meyer, of Columbia, SC was there as was Keith Mathews of Canton, GA. Three states were represented and they were a great group to work with. The energy was positive and while we had a rather ambitious schedule, everyone hung in. Even the white and yellow belts stayed with the group through the sections on Short and Long Three. Great job, all!
It was my first time in that part of the Carolinas. The Blue Ridge mountains were visible from my hotel room and the leaves were changing. The air was nice and crisp, a departure from the steaming sub-tropical part of Florida I live in. Sure was nice.
The plan is to have me back in the spring and we'll have a date set soon.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Conflict resolution

This was taken from the Inner Idea online newsletter I get for fitness instructors. It's about conflict resolution and worth a few minutes of your time.

Presence: The Conflict Resolution Matrix
by Jim Gavin, PhD and Don de Guerre, PhD

We all have different styles of handling conflict. Embedded in these are our beliefs about ourselves and other people. Situational parameters also influence our responses. Scholars sort situations and people into categories by identifying key dimensions pertaining to the parties in conflict and the situations’ dynamics. The two most central dimensions relate to the importance of the outcome and the importance of the relationship. These factors vary from situation to situation and, consequently, so will your approach to conflict resolution.

Conflict Dynamics: The Basic Strategies
How invested are you in having things your way in a conflict? How important is it that the relationship remains viable? Let’s take marriage. You want your marriage to continue, and you really want to move to Seattle for that new job. Your spouse wants to stay in Poughkeepsie. That’s a tough conflict. Here’s an easier one: A perpetually truculent client wants you to buy a very expensive and, in your opinion, unnecessary piece of Pilates equipment; if you don’t, she’ll go to another studio. This is simple: You bid farewell.

Analyzing conflict using the importance of the outcome and the importance of the relationship provides insight into why people do what they do. The following four approaches to conflict resolution normally apply to variations on these two dimensions.

Detachment/Disinterest. You don’t care about the outcome or the relationship. You’re not going to lose sleep over the issue, no matter how it turns out.

An instructor is threatening to leave unless she gets a raise. She is easily replaceable, and the amount requested is miniscule. Whichever way it goes, you aren’t invested. Recognize, however, that she may have very different feelings about your relationship and the outcome—differences that could be consequential.

Accommodation/Appeasement. Keeping the relationship going is far more important to you than achieving your personal goal.

In this kind of conflict, you may accommodate the other person’s interests. You appease the person who wants your car, because he has a gun to your head. Even though your car is important to you, it is—relatively speaking—only a car.

Accommodation approaches can be habit forming. Being flexible about your personal goals is important, but putting yourself second to all others can be an ineffectual life stance.

Tough-Love Negotiation. You place equally high value on your goal and the relationship.

The move to Seattle isn’t going to happen unless your spouse comes with you willingly. You may think that tough-love negotiation is the ideal approach to conflict resolution. However, the temptation to push the eject button will be quite strong throughout the myriad challenges this process presents.

Goal-Centered Negotiation. You don’t care whether the other person likes you, whether the relationship continues or how badly the other person feels; you just want to win.

In the world of sports, we accept this approach with the proviso that certain rules are respected. It’s similar in business. You want to hire a yoga instructor being hotly pursued by the competition. You don’t care if the competition gets mad at you if she accepts your offer over theirs. Of course, ecology has something to say about this. The world is a very small place, so you can’t play cutthroat forever without the risk of “karma-uppance.”

Not the Whole Story
Now that you have some comfort with strategies related to conflict dynamics, let’s build on the basics. Three other factors influence our style of handling conflict: power, emotionality and time.

Power. We may believe that all people are created equal, but within organizations, all people do not have equal power. While power can be understood in terms of rank and role, it can also be defined by other aspects of a relationship. For example, what if someone has information critical to your success? How much power we perceive ourselves as having in relation to another person influences the strategies we choose.

It’s rare in a civilized world that one person has all the power. Employees can quit at inopportune times, spread nasty rumors and threaten legal action. We need to position people realistically, somewhere between powerless creatures and all-powerful foes.

Emotionality. Now comes a second juicy dynamic. Certain strategies are typically accompanied by more expressed emotion, and certain emotions can influence which strategies we use. We mentioned earlier that tough-love negotiation has some inherent challenges—one being the ability to express, tolerate and manage emotions. Think back to the Seattle job offer. Imagine how many lamplight discussions it might take to resolve this conflict amicably.

Even when appeasementis the approach, it’s likely someone will be pretty emotional. Having a gun to your head or an instructor saying negative things about you behind your back requires some emotional management. On the other hand, when you have an abundance of power and don’t care about the other person (goal-centered negotiation), it’s less likely that your emotions are outwardly churning.

Imagine you are emotionally detached or just going for the gold. But then a real-life human being with cuts and bruises gets inside your calculator and your heart. He tells his story, which encourages you to tell your story, which creates some openings, and—uh-oh—there you are in a more caring negotiation. Isn’t that what the whole Scrooge Christmas story is about?

Time. Completing the triad of factors influencing the matrix is that ever-present awareness of time. Back to the example of the yoga instructor you want to hire. You know she will get snapped up by the competition before you can say peanut butter, but your employees have, shall we say, diverse views. The clock is ticking. This is when you are most likely to say the following: “I’d love to hear your views, butas your director, I must go with my gut on this . . . because frankly, we just don’t have the luxury of time.”

Often, we may want to work it all through so everyone is satisfied and we reach commitment and consensus. Tough-love negotiationtakes time. You’re patient and hear the other person’s whole story. Then you respond carefully and in kind with your whole story. Conversely, consider the quickest scenario, which is that you simply don’t care. You are detached. Whatever!Decision made.

Somewhere between tough-love negotiationand detachmentis the situation in which you think you won’t need to deal with the other person tomorrow and it’s all about who wins. In this goal-centered negotiation, the process can go more swiftly; the person with the bigger this or the better that wins, although proving whose is bigger or better may take a little while.

Since life is full of conflicts, the better you can deal with them, the happier (and hopefully more successful) you will be. Your conflict management style may have less to do with logic than with your personal history and experiences. Before you engage the other person, know how much you want what is at stake and how much you are willing to “pay” for it. A discarded friend, employee, client or competitor could play a role in your future. Remember, the world is a small place. Time is money, but bad decisions are money, too. If you deem an objective important and you also value the person with whom you are in conflict, reaching a resolution will take time. That time will be well spent.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Form Four

The Form Four video is finished and I'll be sending it to the duplicator soon. People have been asking for this and I finally got to it.
What I did in this video is run the form four different ways. None are "fast" since I found that most people commented they can't follow form videos when they're done like that. I shot them from the four angles like I did in the previous form video so you can see it from the front, sides, and back views.
I show the variations and changes in the execution. I put the competition timing changes in one version, show two ways to do Thundering Hammer, and the cheater versions for people with bad knees and older students.
My last form video has gotten good reviews and it's not as costly as many. These are not instruction in that I don't teach you the form, that's for your instructor to do. But it will help you through as you're learning. Watch for it around Thanksgiving on my website at

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kenpo 501 update

This artwork by Ed Parker Jr is a variation of the cover he designed for my Kenpo Karate 501 book. K-501 is scheduled to be shipped to me on Nov. 23 and in distribution just after Thanksgiving. Pre-orders can be made on my website a I'm looking forward to having it out and in your hands.
Recently I've gotten several e-mails and phone calls telling me how helpful my written works have been for students of all levels. They've told me the books have been easy-to-read, full of information, and have opened their eyes as to how much information is in our forms. They said they are looking forward to their progress and thanked me for helping to preserve our system. That's why I wrote them. K-601 is about done and another book about Ed Parker will follow.
Thanks for the feedback.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Interesting weekend

I left the house last Thursday with a full schedule ahead of me for the weekend.
The Disney Martial Arts Festival was happening in Orlando over the weekend and I was the Project Officer for the National Check Pilot Standardization Course being held in Lakeland, FL. My schedule called for me to speak at the Disney event on Friday then run down to Lakeland for the weekend school.
The Festival tournament had about 1700 competitors registered when I spoke with promoter Rob Hartman. They had about 500 rooms blocked out at the hotel there, too. I saw people from everywhere including overseas. It's a huge event. I was going to speak as part of their business symposium, then was scheduled to teach a seminar on Friday evening. Neither event happened. It seems the peripheral events such as these just didn't come off. There's another one of these scheduled for Disneyland in California in February. I'm invited to teach there, too. We'll see.
I went to Lakeland on Friday for my school. We got set up, had a little staff briefing, then dinner. Saturday came and we had weather problems that threw the schedule off a bit but we adapted. We got back on track Sunday. It was a big deal that took months of planning. It involved people, airplanes, logistics, communications equipment, coordination the the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Air Force, and the Civil Air Patrol powers-that-be. I pulled it off. I'm telling this story because if it had not been for my experience in holding kenpo camps it would have been overwhelming. Martial arts doesn't just teach people to kick and punch. It truly does (or should) teach discipline, patience, and self-control. I've found myself in a different arena in dealing with people, aircraft, and large facilities but past experiences allow me to cope. By being a teacher I can pass these lessons on. By being a leader I hope to be a good role model, too. It's a legacy we need to pass on a teachers and martial artists.

Dr. Gyi

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Myaung Gyi, courtesy of Joe Palanzo when he had be teach at his recent camp."Doc Gyi", as they call him, is the REAL DEAL.
I was privileged to sit and talk with him privately a few times during the event. He is a PhD in psycholinguistics and has an interesting background beypnd the fact he is fluent in nine languages. He is widely known as a grandmaster of Bando, a Burmese art. One portion of it looks like Muay Thai, but like many arts, there is way more to it.I had seen bando back when I was a brown belt in Chicago and thought it was pretty exotic.
Dr. Gyi had been the chief instructor for the United States Karate Association (USKA) for 15 years. I remember the USKA from my days as a new black belt and it was one of the biggest karate associations in America. Odd that a bando man would hold that position? I found he had trained with Gogen Yamaguchi, "The Cat", a famous Goju-Ryu master. Makes sense to me. Gyi was the boxing coach for a university in Ohio for years, and he worked with the US military when he was young.
We spoke of other things and I'll pass that on here soon in a second article. I was impressed with the Doctor and I'm looking forward to meeting him again.

Professor John Sepulveda

Last week while I was away I got an e-mail from kenpo senior Mr. Steve LaBounty advising several of us that John Sepulveda had a serious accident. John had been thrown off his horse and severely injured his back, fracturing several vertebrea.
He is hospitalized but has spoken to Mr. LaBounty. We all hope he recovers soon and fully.
I first met John when he was at a promotion held at the West Los Angeles school. John was on the board with us, and it was at the test that Jeff Speakman was going for his third degree black. John's people did a nice job there.
It was not until later that I had a chance to sit and talk with him, only to find out we worked with some of the same people on our way up. As it turned out he worked for the same guy in California that I worked for in Illinois when that man relocated to the Midwest. That was interesting, and we had some stories to exchange.
I have always found the professor to be an up-front man, a good leader, and he is an excellent teacher and technician. He turns out good practitioners. We've had him down to Florida to teach at our events. John and I have crossed paths many times here and in Europe and we have an excellent rapport. He's also been on of the people I turn to to read some of my writing while in the draft stage, as I value his thoughts and advice.
Once again, the best wished from me and my associates for his recovery.

Monday, October 22, 2007

48 hours

It was just about the amount of time I had to travel to and from Baltimore for the WKKA camp. Joe Palanzo was at the airport to pick me up, which was a pleasant surprise considering that he had lots of people at his camp. We caught up a little in the car and when we got to the hotel I was on my own for a few hours.
In that time I saw Mr. Tom Kelly in the hallway and got myself introduced to Dr. Gyi. Mr. Kelly was Ed Parker's right-hand man for many years and we were up until midnight that night exchanging stories and thoughts on the art. Dr. Gyi and I spoke over the afternoon and during the next day. I was quite impressed with him and picked up many bits of information about Ed Parker and the arts. Dr. Gyi met Mr. Parker in the mid-50's and they were friends until Mr. Parker passed away. In fact, when Dr. Gyi taught his class and asked them to project an image in their minds of Ed Parker as a sign of respect during a salutation he was teaching, he knelt down and asked the class if they would kneel with him. When he finished he turned and wiped his eyes, saying that it always brings a tear to him when he salutes his friend.
I got re-acquainted with Joe Briedenstein, Ken Herman and some other people I hadn't see in a while. Joe's wife, Suzanne and his son and daughter were there as well. I hadn't seen the kids since they were very young and it had been years since I'd seen Suzanne. I was made to feel at home.
The visit was way too fast but I enjoyed it a lot. I was at the first camp 22 years ago and I hope to be at the next.

Friday, October 19, 2007

WKKA camp

I'm off to Baltimore for Joe Palanzo's Worldwide Kenpo Karate Association camp. I was pleasantly surprised to be invited. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new people. Dr. Myaung Gyi will be there. I've heard about him for years and am excited about meeting him.
I'll recap when I return.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Secret life of the brain

Dr Rowe sent me this link. It has great 3-D graphics and a research function. If you're interested in how your brain works, check this out.

The doctor is in

Marc Rowe found this snippet on how tai chi helps one develop greater sensitivity in your feet.

Journal Article
Does Tai Chi improve plantar sensory ability? A pilot study.
Richerson S, Rosendale K. Diabetes Technol Ther 2007; 9(3): 276-86.
Correspondence: unavailable Affiliation: Biomedical Engineering Program,
Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, USA. DOI: 10.1089/dia.2006.0033 What is this? (Copyright ©
2007, Mary Ann Liebert)

BACKGROUND: Aging adversely affects balance and
increases the propensity to slip and fall. Loss of plantar sensation due to
diabetic peripheral neuropathy and other diseases has been shown to further
increase this propensity to fall. The ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi has
been previously shown as a method to improve balance in healthy elderly
METHODS: The aim of this study was to determine if Tai Chi
intervention improved both balance and plantar sensory perception in healthy
elderly adults and elderly adults with diabetes and plantar sensory loss.
Elderly subjects (mean +/- SD age = 73.1 +/- 5.9 years, n = 18) were tested
for plantar sensory ability and several balance metrics before Tai Chi
training and again after 6 months of weekly sessions. Participants were
grouped by initial sensory perception scores (as measured by a vibrometer)
in order to make inferences on the effects of Tai Chi on sensory perception.
RESULTS: Plantar sensation results show all participants showed significant
improvement in sensory ability with the 6 months of Tai Chi training. All
groups also had a general improvement in all balance measures, with the
greatest improvement seen in those subjects with large sensory losses.
Hemoglobin A1C measurements also decreased as a result of the intervention.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the effectiveness of Tai Chi training as
a method of improving plantar sensation and balance in elderly adults and
elderly adults with diabetes with a large plantar sensation loss.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Physics of Kenpo

A few months back I was on an exam board in Fresno, California at Graham Lelliott's studio. Two of the candidates were brothers from Pennsylvania, Eric and Matthew Podchodzay. They are students of David and Suk Yee Smith and the Smiths are students of Mr. Lelliott.
The guys are young, strong practitioners and the Smiths did a fine job with them.What was a bit unusual is that they both submitted a written thesis for their black belt test. This used to be a requirement for all candidates, along with with a form thesis as well as all the standard material.
It took me a while to get around to reading them, but I did, and I'm glad I did.
Matthew wrote on "The Opposite Side" and Eric wrote about "The Physics of Kenpo".
What's interesting about reading a student thesis is that we get to see what came out of what we put in. How the student sees the information and how we see it is often two quite different things. That's not a bad thing. Remember that Socrates said "By your students you will be taught".
I was particularly interested in the physics thesis. Eric did a nice job of boiling down some of the essentials that kenpo people should be familiar with. While he did get into the symbology and so on, it was simple enough that most anyone reading it could understand it. And if you came away with nothing other than understanding that physics works on you no matter what kind of karate you do, you're ahead. My first kenpo teacher simply made up his own physics. While I didn't know what was wrong I knew something was. At least with the Parker system the physics are there and when the system is taught correctly a student should have a rudimentary grasp of what makes what work and why. That will take you a long way in making the art yours.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kid quits karate!

Shocking,isn't it? Steve White sent this in with a comment from his program director saying "Make sure to read the whole article.. it's a riot.. sad.. but a riot."

This is from The Onion. The link wouldn't take for some reason so I copied this. Maybe you can cut and paste it.

Karate Lessons Give Child Self-Confidence To Quit Karate
October 6, 2007 | Issue 43•40

ENGLEWOOD, CO—After months of being taught to develop courage, inner strength, and other values of the martial arts, Daniel Finkelstein finally achieved the self-confidence necessary to stand up to his parents and quit taking karate lessons, the area sixth-grader reported Monday.

Karate classes like these have given 11-year-old Daniel Finkelstein, left, abilities beyond his years to abandon things halfway through.
Finkelstein, 11, who was bullied into beginner's classes at Dragon Karate and Tae Kwon Do Academy by his father in July, reportedly drew on a number of recently acquired skills, including poise and self-assurance, when confronting his parents about how much he despised karate.

"Before karate, I used to let everyone—my mom, my dad, even my grandma—push me around," Finkelstein said. "They would tell me what to do and I would just roll over and do it, because they were bigger than me and I was scared."

"If it wasn't for the focus and determination I learned in karate, I would still be in karate right now," he added.

According to Finkelstein, having to punch, kick, and spar with boys twice his size gave him newfound resolve, which the once submissive child would use when he decided he no longer wanted to have to punch, kick, and spar with boys twice his size.

"I never thought I had it in me," said Finkelstein, who claimed he was prepared to use physical aggression only as a last resort to drop out of the martial arts class. "It was just like Sensei Steve used to say: 'Only by believing in yourself can you overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.'"

Added Finkelstein: "Thank God I don't have to listen to that crap anymore."

The white-belt also said the lessons he learned could prove valuable should he need to protect himself against any future involvement in swimming or violin lessons.

"It's like there's nothing I can't quit now if I just put my mind to it," Finkelstein said. "I bet one day I'll quit going to algebra class, just like my older cousin did."

"Sensei" Steve Guardino, Finkelstein's former instructor, said he had noticed a distinct difference in the boy since he began, and subsequently stopped, attending the karate course.

"When Daniel first showed up to class, he was like many of the other kids we see—timid, unsure of himself, and very insecure," Guardino said. "But look at him now: He's gone."

Finkelstein, who had little athletic inclination before taking karate, has now reported significantly increased energy to avoid taking part in activities he doesn't like.

"When someone suggests doing something lame, I'm the first one off my feet and headed out of that room," he said. "It feels amazing."

Daniel's parents, Samantha and Robert Finkelstein, said they were still shocked at the change in their son.

"Not only is Daniel more confident these days, but he's more assertive, better at expressing what he wants and doesn't want, and incredibly determined—it's like he's a whole new kid," Mr. Finkelstein said. "I knew we should've put him in soccer instead."

Monday, October 8, 2007

German Shogun

You just never know when something is going to pop up. Marc Sigle in Esslingen, Germany sent this to me. I was over there in June and this article in the German martial art magazine, Shogun, just came out.
Marc was just mentioned in a guest column in MA Success published last week. The author cited him as one of the German instructors with a successful school who travels to the US to import martial art and business knowledge.
I enjoy seeing the people affiliated with me get their mentions and I do what I can as well to see they do. Thanks to Marc for sending this in.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Years ago there was a kind of "in joke" amongst us who trained with Huk Planas. Huk is a fountain of kenpo knowledge and truly is a person one could look to for insights on the system. As such, he was often referred to as Yoda. So the cry was "Yoda! We seek Yoda!" at the camps at seminars. A few of the guys even went so far as to have a coffee cup made with artwork by Ed Parker Jr that showed Gil Hibben as Obi Wan Kenobi and Huk as Yoda. Not hard to see Gil in the cloak, and Huk with the Yoda ears was a scream.
So I had to laugh when a former student of mine got a little PR piece in the paper that said, referring to Huk "He's like Master Yoda and I, like a jedi". I mean, I get it, but now I have to wonder what the general public would think when they read that. My impression is someone might think he's serious and have to laugh as well. A Karate instructor comparing himself to a Jedi knight, a fictional character in a fantasy movie? The PR blurb was presumably designed to promote his school. Does this sort of thing do that? The rest of the blip was fine, but I think some of his credibility suffered with the last line.
One thing we all know and have to remember is that the media people often screw things up, or just change them to suit. I'm sure they thought the line was cute. He wrote it, it was in the original press release he sent to the paper. But I don't think it helped his cause, being the last line in the blurb. That sort of thing tends to make people remember the last line and not the meat of the article, which itself was good. And the last line was kind of dumb.
Sending your PR releases to the press is a good thing, but the content has to be scrutinized for length, content, timeliness, quality, etc. As in kenpo, take a bystanders perspective. Think about how they might see (read) the article and what would make them want to go to you. Would you want to go to a karate teacher who publicly compares himself to a Jedi?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Brainiacs, Unite!

Some of you may be interested to know that Mensa is having its National Testing Day on Saturday, Oct. 20. Mensa is the High IQ Society. Only 2% of the population qualifies for invitation by passing the admissions test. The test is a one-shot deal but you can also submit exam results from 200 other qualifying tests in lieu of taking the Mensa test.
The test is done in two-parts, and passing either qualifies you. The fee is $40 and it takes about 1.5 hours. Go to for information to find a local chapter and where their test will be held. You can take the test at other times, this is just their yearly push.
When you are accepted you get to join the other geniuses in sending them your membership dues. I keep my Mensa card in my wallet to remind me I'm supposed to be smart when I do something stupid.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Empty hands, full hearts

One of our black belts had a serious injury occur on the job as a police officer in the Atlanta area. While on duty, he was hit by a truck, resulting in a broken neck and back, among other things. It's been about a year and he's improving but he suffers from vertigo and short term memory loss. In the meantime, the county has dropped his family from medical insurance.
Hearing that, one of the guys contacted me and we started fundraising to help him out during a difficult time. The end result was that our affiliates raised about $1500. The Chicago group was very aggressive in this and raised $1100 of that through raffles and so on.
I want to thank everyone who contributed, and Mike Mavity in Atlanta for handling the logistics of getting the money to our guy. And to the Chicago boys - you guys are great! Thanks.

Ohio seminar

Steve Hatfield invited me out to his Panther Kenpo Karate studio in Mt. Vernon, just northeast of Columbus. Steve's group is always good to work with. They have always worked hard to inprove and keep getting better every time I see them. The subjects were club and gun defenses, popular subjects of late.
When I go to Steve's, he's always got this big sign out front, the one in the picture. And it always hits me the same way - when I was coming up through the ranks I never, ever, had an idea that I would be traveling like I do teaching the arts. It wasn't a thought that I'd see my "name in lights". I often wonder how I wound up doing this. There are lots of people who work just as hard. Many are much better at it than I was. And there were a bunch of us who heard the same things I heard. I said that once and someone said to me, "But you had different ears".
Regardless of how it happened, I'm glad it did. I'm happy to make my contribution to the art and its practitioners.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gathering of Mustangs and Legends

I was in Columbus, OH over the weekend and spent part of the day at the Gathering of Mustangs and Legends at Rickenbacker Airport. I'd flown a P-51D Mustang years ago when I was in New Zealand. It was something I'd wanted to do when I was a kid so it was a dream come true. I didn't just ride in it, I flew it.
This event was the largest gathering of flying Mustangs since World War II, there were about 90 of them on the ramp there. There were B-17s, P-40's, a Zero, B-25s, and two P-38s. Some of these were one of two examples of the aircraft of their type left flying in the world. This was a truly rare experience.
I was wandering down the flight line and came across the Mustang in the photo here. Not unusual except for this; I have a model of this very aircraft signed on its right wing by Gen. Chuck Yeager. This is Captain Yeager's third Mustang I'm standing next to.
I've been near Chuck Yeager twice in my life. The first time was when he was on the same plane to Australia when Ed Parker and several of us were on the way down there in 1988. I saw him again in 1999 in Lakeland, FL just after the first Gathering of Mustangs and Legends (it's only been done twice). He taxied up and got out of a Mustang just as I was walking that way with one of our Swedish exchange students, Helena Fernstrom. Helena snapped his picture after I told her he was the first man to break the sound barrier.
The Gathering was a truly memorable experience and one I'm glad I had the opportunity to have.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's backwards! Revisited

There was a comment posted on my article about students promoting teachers and I followed it back to the author's blog. I believe I know who it is, the name is Ironmonkey, and I read his blog, which had comments about my statements. We agree that the situation is deplorable for a variety of reasons.
This is not something new. I've seen this same thing happen time and again, both in our system and others. I've met many an instructor who doesn't know the forms past Short Three, and I mean doesn't know how to do the form. I know high ranks who can't run the forms, can't seem to remember them. I have met those who claim to do the Parker system yet are not familiar with the techniques. And guys who claimed to train at Pasadena who couldn't run the techniques on a body and said that's how they were taught at the headquarters school. Then there are the ones who were IKKA members and wore the patch and all but didn't know the system. And didn't really want to know the system. Some even looked at learning the systema as being an obstacle instead of an advantage. I guess that's the yin and yang of the situation.
This will not go away. I am convinced it's a human thing. After all, what do they call the person who graduates last in their class at medical school? That's right; Doctor. But at least they went to school. Some of these people are just putting on a rank that's not earned or deserved. And Ironmonkey says sometimes the rank is not worth the paper it's printed on. I agree.
My first real Kenpo teacher, Mike Sanders, made a point of saying that the black belt was just a piece of cloth, then he'd take his off and drop it on the floor with the statement "See? It's can't even stand up by itself". He said "Let your ability be your certificate."
There is a place for the rank system and it's value is much less due to people like those who do the things we're discussing. I see it throughout our culture, and that's why I say it's a human thing. People will take the easy route whenever possible. So, what to do?
Stick to your guns. Work hard. Earn what you take. Let your ability be your certificate. Apply the higher standard. Avoid "good 'ol boy" promotions. We're never going to get the Ed Parker IKKA back and umbrella associations aren't working at this time.
There's a bunch of reasons things are the way they are and I'm not going to point fingers. All I can do is work on myself and my people and try to keep a reputation for integrity and quality. I want their diplomas to be worth the paper they're printed on and I want to the people to be priceless.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

O Hee O

When I was in Australia with Ed Parker many years ago, we had just finished a demo at a grade school. The kids were coming up to us and wanting autographs and all that. One of them told me he had a pen pal in O Hee O. I just couldn't understand and asked him a few times what he said, to the point we were both getting frustrated. Then it dawned on me - OHIO!
I'll be going to O Hee O this weekend to teach at Steve Hatfield's studio in Mt. Vernon, just outside of Columbus. It seems that going through the weapons techniques is popular, so that's what we're doing.
There's a big deal happening up there this weekend as well in the Columbus area called "A Gathering of Mustangs and Legends". It's a "round-up" of many of the remaining flying P-51 Mustang fighters and their aces from World War Two.I've been in love with the P-51 since I was a kid and even flew one in New Zealand in 2000.
I'm looking forward to seeing the airplanes and my friends in Ohio.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cromwell Martial Arts

I taught a seminar in Middletown, CT, just SE of Hartford, this weekend. Frank and Debbie Shekosky own a nice studio there. This was my second visit and they and their students always make me feel welcome.
Frank actually comes to us downline of Steve White. Steve taught Paul Zaniewski and Paul taught Frank. So Frank is doing the system very close to the way we do it. Frank is also certified in Modern Arnis through Prof. Remy Presas and Arnis is always a nice complement to kenpo.
The Shekoskys have two beautiful daughters, Kimberly and Kelly. Kimberly is a purple belt. Kelly is three years old but she does a sinawalli combination that ends in a wrist lock, can do Delayed Sword (on a person) and can demonstrate choke and wrist grab defenses. She loves chocolate milk, too.
I'll be back up that way in the spring, with a date remaining to be set. If you're in their area, stop in and say hello.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My keeper

There's a lady in my life and her name is Janis. She's my keeper, the one who helps me keep all the stuff straight and puts up with the rather focused individual I am. Jan never gets up in a bad mood, she always has a smile on her face. She's a great cook. And she doesn't talk all the time. Of course, there's more to her but it's Jan who puts up with me being gone so many weekends to teach kenpo across the US and overseas.
Some of you have met her at the seminars and camps I've brought her to. She enjoys the travel (although she gets motion sickness very badly) and meeting the people I've talked about.
Janis doesn't do the martial arts except that she takes fitness kickboxing at Kyle Zwarg's studio and she has to verbally spar with me. I'm grateful to her that she doesn't gripe about what I do and how much time it takes away. She understands what I am and what I do, and much of why I do it. And she even encourages me to go out and ride my motorcycle with the guys. Either she's got a guy on the side, she's hoping some old lady down here will knock me off the bike, or she sees how it's a type of therapy for me. I'm banking on #3.
So when you see her, give her your sympathy - she has a tough job.

This is Jan's dog, Romeo. Those two are pretty funny to watch and I might keep them around just for the entertainment value.
Ow, NO, please, No, owww. Sorry!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's backwards!

There is an opposite and a reverse for everything. Yet, some things shouldn't be reversed. For example, airplanes shuld not land backwards. And students should not be promoting their instructors.
Ed Parker's Kenpo has been around since 1954, when he opened his firast commercial school, longer if you count his pre-studio teaching. That's a bit over fifty years, by my Chicago Public Schools math education. I tend to beleive that 50 years is a good amount of time to produce some competent instructors, pretty well distributed throughout the world. And if you count the number of 10th degrees, there are certainly enough to go around.
Why then, are there people who resort to promoting themselves under the guise of taking a promotion from their students? Can't find a teacher?
I pointed out this type of situation to Bruce Meyer, who read it and said "It's backwards. The students are promoting the teachers." Absolutely to the point. Other writers have said "Of course your students are going to want to see you promoted."
We agree that it's just not the way to go.
There is a mechanism for promotion in situations where it's just not possible to get tested and a group will elevate their best to the rank. It's called a quorum. That was more common many years ago when instructors, especially in kenpo, were few and far between. Now it's just an escape hatch for a lazy instructor who wants to be a fourth, fifth, or sixth degree without having to be trained and tested by a higher, more seasoned authority.
There are more kenpo instructors of senior rank now than ever and it seems there are more of these "association" promotions than ever. My point is, it's easier to get under someone to train you but these ranks are being assumed with little or no effort to hook up with someone with credibility.
Live in New England? Get with Steve White or Doreen Cogliandro. Middle East Coast? Joe Palanzo has a large group of competent people. Midwest? Kurt Barnhart in Chicago or Steve Hatfield in Ohio. Mountains? Paul Mills, Mike Pick. Northwest? John Sepulveda. Lower Midwest? Tom Kelly, Rick Fowler. West Coast? Larry Tatum, Graham Lelliott, Bryan Hawkins, Frank Trejo. And there are waaaay more that can get you on track. Make a phone call, save some money and either go to them or fly them to you.
I've seen too many guys who take a few private lessons, figure it's too hard, and decide to have their students promote them. I know the reasons - "Too expensive", can't travel", "I"m being held back", "I run a business and don't have time". Some reasons are legit, espceially the "we don't get along" one.
In the event you are genuinely stuck, there's a mechanism for that, too, and I've discussed that previously. But for most situations, going the route they've gone is just chicken***t. Do I sound upset? You bet. And so is anyone who put their time in, took their lumps, spent their time and money to earn that next stripe.
What do you think?

Chicago PDS

I taught a PDS in the Chicago area last weekend. The subjects covered were Zone Theory, "Broken" techniques, and Family Grouping/Grafting. There were students from white to 5th black there and everyone enjoyed themselves.
At the conclusion of each PDS I hand out a survey, you can't get your completion certificate unless you turn the anonymous sheet in. I've gotten overwhhelmingly positive responses at these seminars. At this one, a participant stated they felt it was a family atmosphere, and nothing was treated as a "dumb question". Another said they thought everyone was made to fell important - and that's why I like the small-group format.
Beyond that stuff, I always enjoy my visits back to the old neighborhood. The time goes way too fast and we laugh way too hard. The weather was fantastic, and Chicago pizza can't be beat. I'm planning to go back in December for one or two short seminars. And a beef sandwich.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"In it" vs. "At it"

Ed Parker used to say people would come to him for promotions based on time. Often it was when they heard a promotion board was being held and they'd show up. Many times it was the first time he'd seen them in years. There were times he would finish the test and decide someone on the board need to be bumped up as well as the candidates. Therefore, some people would show up hoping to be noticed and get promoted. He looked at this as being "in it" versus being "at it". He described it as how some of them were not practicing or teaching, they were just "in it". The one's he saw working out, teaching, going to seminars, and so on were "at it." Yes, there were times he promoted the "in it" people, and that sort of thing persists today.

In fact, I was recently told of one of my former students taking a promotion to another degree of black. There supposedly is a picture on their website of them being kicked with a caption stating "Five years in the making!". The implication here is that it took five years of work to achieve that degree. As the former instructor I can say that person took NO kenpo classes with me in that five years, two or three private lessons, and a smattering of tai chi classes. Six months after we parted, the promotion took place with an out-of-state instructor. That's an example of "in it", not "at it".

Our culture has been sliding into a feel-good, rewards for existing state. We are an instant gratification culture. It is affecting our martial arts and examples like this are increasingly frequent. It used to be that when someone said they took many years to achieve a certain level, people were impacted by the work and dedication. Now it's more like "What took you so long?" That's a shame.

We all have to make decisions about our art and this is one of them. Are you going to be "in it" or "at it"?

Lee Wedlake has been teaching Kenpo Karate for over 35 years and has written a variety of Kenpo Books about different kenpo katas and kenpo concepts. Mr. Wedlake has worked directly with Ed Parker and is generous with his knowledge and his time. He is available for Kenpo Seminars and camps.


Over the weekend I was in Chicago. At the seminar I taught there I promoted one of my long-time students, Ed Bilski, to fifth degree black. Ed is one dedicated practitioner, one of those people who has been "at it" for years, not just "in it".
He's been with me for about 25 years.

Mr. Bilski is an example of a good human being. I don't say that because of his martial arts ability. I say it because of how he's raised his children, how he treats his wife, Kathy, and how he interacts with people. He works hard, and he spends most of his free time helping others. Ed teaches a few people, and works on his daughter's hot rod Camaro. He's smart enough to know when he needs time for himself and he takes it to hunt, play music, and attend a seminar. He's a good student and friend.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to take his daughter, Tiffany, for her first ride in a small airplane. Today Tiffany has earned her commercial pilot license and is working toward being a flight instructor. The airlines may be in her future. Ed is proud, and so am I.

Congratulations, Ed!

Lee Wedlake has been teaching Kenpo Karate for over 35 years and has written a variety of Kenpo Books about different kenpo katas and kenpo concepts. Mr. Wedlake has worked directly with Ed Parker and is generous with his knowledge and his time. He is available for Kenpo Seminars and camps.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Doctor is in

More from Dr. Rowe. This research says that mental training can make our brains more efficient. And what we do as martial artists is the type of training that falls into that type of training. Emphasis added.

Mental training affects distribution of limited brain resources.
Slagter HA, Lutz A, Greischar LL, Francis AD, Nieuwenhuis S, Davis JM,
Davidson RJ
PLoS Biol. 2007 Jun ; 5(6): e138

The information processing capacity of the human mind is limited, as is
evidenced by the so-called "attentional-blink" deficit: When two targets (T1
and T2) embedded in a rapid stream of events are presented in close temporal
proximity, the second target is often not seen. This deficit is believed to
result from competition between the two targets for limited attentional
resources. Here we show, using performance in an attention-blink task and
scalp-recorded brain potentials, that meditation, or mental training,
affects the distribution of limited brain resources. Three months of
intensive mental training resulted in a smaller attention blink and reduced
brain-resource allocation to the first target, as reflected by a smaller
T1-elicited P3b, a brain-potential index of resource allocation.

Furthermore, those individuals that showed the largest decrease in
brain-resource allocation to T1 generally showed the greatest reduction in
attentional-blink size. These observations provide novel support for the
view that the ability to accurately identify T2 depends upon the efficient
deployment of resources to T1. The results also demonstrate that mental
training can result in increased control over the distribution of limited
brain resources. Our study supports the idea that plasticity in brain and
mental function exists throughout life and illustrates the usefulness of
systematic mental training in the study of the human mind.

Lee Wedlake has been teaching Kenpo Karate for over 35 years and has written a variety of Kenpo Books about different kenpo katas and kenpo concepts. Mr. Wedlake has worked directly with Ed Parker and is generous with his knowledge and his time. He is available for Kenpo Seminars and camps.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fresno PDS

Lee Wedlake's Kenpo Seminar
The seminar at Graham Lelliott's school in Fresno, CA was a success. It's always a pleasure to visit and work Graham and his group. Graham is a real people person and has been a friend for years. That said, his people are like him as well and you can't not have a good time with them.

Most of the group was from Fresno but we had some people who drove for many hours to attend. Tim and Deb Maynard came down from Concord, CA and Amy Long was there from Sacramento.

Afterward on that Saturday we had a birthday party for Graham. A party at Graham's is more like a county fair than a party. It was good to have a chance to hang out and talk with Doug, Juan, Tim, Deb, Amy, Pete, David, Coleman, Patty, Kim, and more.

On Sunday, the "old man" and I took a ride out to King's Canyon to see the sequoias. Graham has access to a Porsche 911SC, so you can imagine what fun we had with that in the mountains. He pointed out a coyote on the way back, which was the first I'd ever seen, being a city boy.

The plan is for me to go back in early December to follow up last weekend's weapons seminar with Form Six, building on what we did. Watch for a date.

Lee Wedlake has been teaching Kenpo Karate for over 35 years and has written a variety of Kenpo Books about different kenpo katas and kenpo concepts. Mr. Wedlake has worked directly with Ed Parker and is generous with his knowledge and his time. He is available for Kenpo Seminars and camps.