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.