Monday, August 31, 2009

Poll results

Most people said they would like to see a follow-up to my last book. I'm working on the concept now but this is going to take a while. Thanks for your input.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guess who?

Who is this woman with Doug Kimme? You guys from Chicago will remember Doug from the Southwest Highway school in Oak Lawn. Those of you who don't know him, Doug was a student of mine for years and was a Combat Controller in the Air Force. He's said the teaching methods he picked up from me and his exposure to Ed Parker back then contribute to the effectiveness of his instruction when he teaches SWAT teams.
You can vote on her identity in the next poll.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Article to be published

I have been advised that the article Dr. Rowe and I wrote on sleeper holds will be published in the Sept/Oct issue of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts on Sept 4th. Copies will be available at the studio or you can find them at Barnes and Noble.
My thanks go to Danny Sullivan, Peter Galvano, Ed Cabrera, Jack Nilon and Genie Byrd for posing for the photos. (A start of a new career on the catwalk possibly?) Thanks also to Mr. Ron Chapel and Mr. Tom Kelly for their input on escaping the hold.

The doctor is in

More on concussions. There are specific references to wrestlers and boxers in this article. Instructors should read this carefully.
Sports Imperative: Protecting Young Brains


Published: August 24, 2009

Attention players, parents, coaches, trainers and doctors. The injury experts have a message. You’ve probably heard it before, but the moment is right to hear it again: If young athletes want to preserve their brains after a head injury, however minor, the typical jock advice to suck it up and get back in the game is not only bad, it’s potentially life-threatening. Now, before the playing season starts, is the time for baseline testing of athletes involved in sports where head hits are common. With pre-injury results in hand, coaches and doctors are far better able to determine whether a concussion has occurred and if and when the brain has recovered. It is also time to abandon the notion that a seemingly minor hit that causes a player to see stars or become briefly disoriented is “just a ding.” It is not “just” anything — it’s a mild concussion that must be taken seriously. "If in doubt, sit them out” is the strong recommendation of Dr. Robert C. Cantu, one of the nation’s leading experts on sports-related concussions and their consequences. Dr. Cantu, a co-author of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association position paper on managing sport-related concussion, emphasized in an interview, “No athlete should be physically exerting himself if he has any concussion-related symptom.”

Lasting Consequences
Last year, The New York Times published 15 articles on the occasionally devastating results of repeated concussions. The cases involved high school and college students as well as professional athletes. Nearly all had returned to play before they had fully recovered from a direct or indirect blow to the head, and a second or third hit put them on the bench for good. The consequences of a repeat concussion were often long-lasting and sometimes permanent: persistent headaches, fatigue, difficulty paying attention, memory problems, mood swings and personality changes. In a few cases, the result was death. At least four American high school students died last year from football head injuries. Most suffered from what is called second-impact syndrome, a rare but catastrophic dysregulation of brain activity that can occur when a young player sustains another hit before the brain has recovered from an earlier concussion. In nearly all cases, such tragedies can be prevented if players, parents, coaches and doctors learn the critical importance of recognizing and heeding the symptoms of concussion and giving the brains of injured players a chance to heal fully. The symptoms of concussion may include headache, blurred vision, fatigue, fogginess, poor balance, sleep disturbance, nausea, dizziness, irritability, sensitivity to noise or light, memory problems or inappropriate emotions. Dr. Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine, says anyone responsible for an athlete’s well-being should use the 25-item Graded Symptom Checklist (see accompanying article) to assess the seriousness of a concussion and monitor recovery.
“First and foremost, anyone who is still symptomatic from a concussion should not be allowed to return to a contact or collision sport,” Dr. Cantu wrote this year in Current Sports Medicine Reports, published by the American College of Sports Medicine. For high school and younger athletes, whose young brains are more vulnerable to severe damage, those with symptoms of a concussion should not be allowed back in that day’s game, he said, even if they say they feel fine and appear to be symptom-free 20 minutes later. And a young player who suffers a repeat concussion would be wise to remain on the sidelines for at least a week after all symptoms are gone. In the interview, Dr. Cantu stressed the importance of giving an injured brain a chance to rest, physically and cognitively. Not allowing sufficient rest can make the symptoms worse, delay recovery and cause permanent damage when brain cells die because they haven’t had time to recover.
“It is generally accepted that three mild concussions in any one season should terminate an athlete’s further participation that season,” Dr. Cantu wrote. “Furthermore, there should be at least a three-month symptom-free period before resuming participation in a contact collision sport.” Football players are not the only ones likely to sustain sports-related concussions. Athletes who play ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer, as well as boxers and wrestlers, are also at risk. Even basketball players are vulnerable to concussions. The risk in soccer comes not from heading the ball but from collisions with other players or the goal post, said Steven P. Broglio, a certified athletic trainer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who recently studied head impacts during high school football games.
And it is not just male athletes who are at risk. If anything, girls who play the same sports as boys are more vulnerable to concussions and take longer to recover, studies have shown, even taking into account the probability that girls are more willing to report symptoms. Younger athletes, too, are at greater risk of concussion and recover more slowly than those of college age or older, Dr. Cantu said. Counting only the reported cases of concussions among high school athletes, 137,000 occurred in the 2007-8 school year, according to data collected by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Many more are believed to have occurred but were either unrecognized or unreported.

Special Helmets
In an effort to alert coaches and trainers to a head hit warranting investigation, players at several colleges and some high schools have helmets fitted with a telemetric system that can almost instantly transmit wireless signals to computers on the sideline about the intensity and location of a hit. The system, called HITS, was developed by Simbex, of Lebanon, N.H., with support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It is marketed by Riddell, but is still primarily a research tool to help coaches, trainers and doctors identify players who may not report symptoms for fear of being taken out of the game.
Dr. Cantu estimated that the incidence of concussions in football is “probably four to five times higher” than is now being recognized on the sidelines. Dr. Broglio, who has studied the HITS helmet in high school football, noted that “53 percent of concussed high school athletes are suspected of not reporting their injuries to medical personnel.” An individual telemetric helmet now costs about $1,000. But Rick Greenwald, the president of Simbex, said in an interview that the human development institute had provided money for developing a lower-cost version that could be widely used at the high school and youth sports levels.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thank you, Lance

Third degree black belt Lance Soares was here in Ft. Myers for training for a few days. He's working toward his fourth. He's pictured here with Ft. Myers firefighter/paramedic Bill Damewood, alos a third degree. These are some big boys and I'm glad they are the good guys. Lance is a paramedic, too. He taught a class for the beginner/intermediates while he was here, so our people had a chance to meet and work with him. He gets to train with Steve White and his crew of excellent practitioners up in New Hampshire, too. He's passionate about our art and I'm glad to have him with us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Josh Waitzkin

I've written about Josh Waitzkin before, the former world chess champion and world tai chi push-hands player. Here's a link with an interview with him forwarded by Steve White.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yes Virginia, there is an Elbow Set

I found old video of myself doing an elbow set I learned way back in the late 70s. I haven't done it in years but it came back quickly. I learned it from Mike Sanders, who told me he got it in Salt Lake. It's one of those sets you may have heard or read about but never seen. I plan to teach it to my people here and maybe on the seminar circuit. What a blast from the past.
  It's got some "strange " stuff in it. One move rolls the knuckles together as you deliver inward elbows. Another are the vertical strikes that slam into the sternum. The other elbows except the obscure and flapping ones are in there. Reminds me of a thesis technique one of Marc Sigle's students created and named it "KFC", after Kentucky Fried Chicken, and said "all the wings are in there".

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Into thin air

I found this in some old e-mails and thought some of you might be interested. A friend and I were coincidentally talking about altitude sickness a few days ago in relation to our soldiers fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan. I'd had a touch of it when I went to bodyguard school in Colorado years ago. Here's the article.

Introduction by David Dobbs, Editor, Mind Matters

"The mountains," wrote climbing enthusiast Sir Francis Younghusband, "reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits." Yet those who earn these gifts pay a unique price. As neuroscientist and weekend climber R. Douglas Fields relates below, a recent study used brain scans to examine both the effects that both one-time and cumulative high-altitude climbing have on the human brain. The findings are not elevating for those of us who love to climb._____

Brain Cells into Thin Air by R. Douglas FieldsNational Institutes of Mental Health

Washington, D.C.

"Mount Everest is very easy to climb, only just a little too high." - The Observer, Jan 25, 1953. Three attributes of a good mountaineer are high pain threshold, bad memory, and ... I forget the third. - R. Douglas FieldsClimbing Mount Everest is not so difficult; the hard part is getting down intact. According to a recent brain imaging study, almost no one does. Of thirteen climbers in the study who attempted Mount Everest, none returned without brain damage. The study also scanned the brains of climbers who attempted less extreme summits. For those of us who love to climb, the results are less than elevating. It seems that almost no one, whether the weekend warrior chaperoned to the summit or the seasoned mountaineer, will return from the high peaks with a brain in the same condition it was in beforehand.What Goes On in a Climber's Brain?The first scientific study of the effects of high altitude on the human brain were made by nineteenth century Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso, who made direct observations on a man whose brain was partly exposed as a result of an accident. Mosso, peeking into the man's skull, observed vague changes in swelling of the brain, but the crude methods available at the time limited his analysis.Now a similar experiment has been done with modern noninvasive brain imaging. In the study reviewed here, "Evidence of Brain Damage After High-Altitude Climbing by Means of Magnetic Resonance Imaging," neurologists Nicholas Fayed and colleagues at the Clinica Queron and Miguel Servet University Hospital in Zarogoza, Spain, gave MRI brain scans to 35 climbers (12 professionals and 23 amateurs) who had returned from high-altitude expeditions, including 13 who had attempted Everest.The results on the Everest climbers are the most stark. Of the thirteen climbers, three had made the summit, at 8480 meters, three had reached 8100 meters, and seven topped out between 6500 and 7500 meters. Though the expedition suffered no major mishaps and none of the 12 professional climbers suffered any obvious signs of high-altitude illness, only one of the 13 climbers returned with a normal brain scan. The brain scans showed that all but one climber suffered cortical atrophy and enlargement of the Virchow-Robin spaces. These are spaces surrounding brain blood vessels that drain brain fluid and communicate with the lymph system. Widening of these VR spaces is seen in the elderly, but rarely in young people. The amateur climber's brain had also suffered subcortical lesions in the frontal lobes.Signs Acute and SubtleA person's tolerance to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) varies according to differences in innate physiology and physical conditioning, which can help the body and brain better tolerate the exertion and physiological stresses of high-altitude mountaineering. But no one is immune to hypoxia's effects.The first stage of high altitude sickness is called acute mountain sickness, which can cause headache, insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. The next stage up in seriousness is high-altitude cerebral edema (that is, brain swelling), also known as HACE, which is potentially fatal.Both are rooted in the body's reaction to low levels of oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the brain directly impairs or damages brain cells. In addition, the walls of blood capillaries in the brain and elsewhere begin to leak at altitude, and this leaked fluid causes dangerous swelling, pressing the brain outward against the rigid skull. Sometimes the optic nerves swell so badly they bulge into the back of the eye, degrading vision and causing retinal hemorrhages. Meanwhile, blood, concentrated from dehydration and thickened by increased numbers of red blood cells, more easily clots, and this clotting, along with the hemorrhage from the thinned capillaries, increases the chance of stroke. A climber suffering HACE may experience amnesia, confusion, delusions, emotional disturbance, personality changes, and loss of consciousness.This acute high-altitude disease has long been known to cause brain damage. But one of the sobering things about the Fayed study is that none of the Everest climbers experienced high altitude cerebral edema, and the only acute case of mountain sickness was a mild one suffered by the expedition's amateur climber. Yet even all the professional mountaineers showed lasting brain damage -- presumably suffered on previous ascents to the high mountains, because their MRI scans were abnormal before the Mt. Everest ascent and unchanged after.How High is too High -- and Will It Get Better?Of course, Everest is extreme. What about ventures to lesser high altitudes? Fayed and colleagues also studied an eight-person team that attempted Aconcagua, a 6,926-meter summit in the Andes. Two climbers reached the summit, five ascended to 6000-6400 meters, and one reached 5500 meters. Yet three members experienced acute mountain sickness and two displayed symptoms of brain edema -- probably because they ascended more rapidly from lower altitudes than did the Everest climbers. All eight Aconcagua climbers showed cortical atrophy on MRI. Seven showed the enlarged Virchow-Robin spaces, and four showed numerous subcortical lesions. Some needed no brain scan to tell them their brains had been injured. One of the climbers suffered aphasia (problems with speech), from which he recovered 6 months later. Two complained of transient memory loss after returning, and three others struggled with bradypsychia (slowed mental function).The body is remarkably resilient--does the brain recover from these mountaineering wounds? To answer this important question, the researchers re-examined the same climbers three years after the expedition, with no other high-altitude climbing intervening. In all cases, the brain damage was still evident on the second brain scan.Still, Aconcagua is one of the world's highest mountains -- in the top 100. Mont Blanc, in the Alps, is less extreme. With a summit at 4810 meters, it is climbed each year by thousands of mountaineers who probably do not expect injury to their "second favorite organ," to use Woody Allen's nomenclature for the brain. Yet the researchers found that of seven climbers reaching the summit of Mount Blanc, two returned with enlarged VR spaces.Because Why?The study suggests that chronic exposure to high altitudes is not required to experience irreversible brain damage. In fact, amateurs seem to be at greater risk, since they are more likely to suffer acute mountain sickness or high-altitude cerebral edema. At the same time, the experience needed to become a well-acclimated professional seems to take its own toll; compared to the amateurs, however, the professional climbers in this study suffered greater cortical atrophy overall, which suggests an ever-increasing cumulative toll.Mountain climbing is growing in popularity, and with good reason. It can provide experiences of a lifetime; a communion with Nature and with friends that feeds the soul; intense and enduring rewards surpassing those found within the bounds of routine; and adventure and challenge that builds courage, stamina, and fortitude. It also gets you into incomparable mountain wilderness -- though that is vanishing under the transforming pressure of a warming, polluted atmosphere that is melting the alpine snows and under the repellent litter and human waste strewn along paths to even remote peaks. Sadly, many urgently sense that the singular "it" residing in George Mallory's pithy raison d'ascent, "Because it's there!", may soon be gone.Approximately 5000 climbers ascend Himalayan peaks every year, and many thousands more climb high in the Alps and Andes. Many spend huge sums to mount expeditions or pay enormous fees to be guided to the summit. This fascinating but sobering research by Fayed and colleagues makes it clear that these climbers are paying for the privilege with something more than hard-earned cash. They're paying with brain tissue.R. Douglas Fields (shown here climbing the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite) is a frequent contributor to Scientific American and Scientific American Mind and chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institute of Child Health and Development, where he investigates neural development and the interactions between neurons and glia.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Comcast internet

The Razzberry Award goes to Comcast. They knocked out my internet intermittently over the last few weeks and finally completely this past week. Of course, they said it's my fault - my computer, virus program, etc. I turned off the virus program, even switched computers - no luck. When I told them I was dropping them it suddenly became problems with their lines and they were falling all over themselves to come out.

I switched to DSL. It's about as fast, surprisingly. If you have a problem contacting me it may be due to the transition to new address.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The doctor is in

This is an interesting article Marc Rowe sent me. The part about kids and television is significant.

Mindful daydreaming
The Globe had a very interesting article last summer about the creative potential of daydreaming. It came as no surprise to me that there are two different kinds of daydreaming — with or without mindfulness. With a degree of background mindfulness, daydreamers can allow the mind to wander around a subject and notice creative insights. Without mindfulness the mind just wanders all over the place. I often employ "mindful daydreaming" when I’m preparing to teach, because in a relaxed and creative state I tend to come up with better ideas.

A wandering mind can do important work, scientists are learning – and may even be essential
By Jonah Lehrer August 31, 2008
ON A SUNDAY morning in 1974, Arthur Fry sat in the front pews of a Presbyterian church in north St. Paul, Minn. An engineer at 3M, Fry was also a singer in the church choir. He had gotten into the habit of inserting little scraps of paper into his choir book, so that he could quickly find the right hymns during the service. The problem, however, was that the papers would often fall out, causing Fry to lose his place.
But then, while listening to the Sunday sermon, Fry started to daydream. Instead of focusing on the pastor’s words, he began to mull over his bookmark problem. "It was during the sermon," Fry remembers, "that I first thought, ‘What I really need is a little bookmark that will stick to the paper but will not tear the paper when I remove it.’ " That errant thought – the byproduct of a wandering mind – would later become the yellow Post-it note, one of the most successful office products of all time.
Although there are many anecdotal stories of breakthroughs resulting from daydreams – Einstein, for instance, was notorious for his wandering mind – daydreaming itself is usually cast in a negative light. Children in school are encouraged to stop daydreaming and "focus," and wandering minds are often cited as a leading cause of traffic accidents. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. It’s a sign of procrastination, not productivity, something to be put away with your flip-flops and hammock as summer draws to a close.
In recent years, however, scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming very differently. They’ve demonstrated that daydreaming is a fundamental feature of the human mind – so fundamental, in fact, that it’s often referred to as our "default" mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Instead of focusing on our immediate surroundings – such as the message of a church sermon – the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings. As a result, we’re able to imagine things that don’t actually exist, like sticky yellow bookmarks.
"If your mind didn’t wander, then you’d be largely shackled to whatever you are doing right now," says Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "But instead you can engage in mental time travel and other kinds of simulation. During a daydream, your thoughts are really unbounded."
The ability to think abstractly that flourishes during daydreams also has important social benefits. Mostly, what we daydream about is each other, as the mind retrieves memories, contemplates "what if" scenarios, and thinks about how it should behave in the future. In this sense, the content of daydreams often resembles a soap opera, with people reflecting on social interactions both real and make-believe. We can leave behind the world as it is and start imagining the world as it might be, if only we hadn’t lost our temper, or had superpowers, or were sipping a daiquiri on a Caribbean beach. It is this ability to tune out the present moment and contemplate the make-believe that separates the human mind from every other.
"Daydreaming builds on this fundamental capacity people have for being able to project themselves into imaginary situations, like the future," Malia Mason, a neuroscientist at Columbia, says. "Without that skill, we’d be pretty limited creatures."
Teresa Belton, a research associate at East Anglia University in England, first got interested in daydreaming while reading a collection of stories written by children in elementary school. Although Belton encouraged the students to write about whatever they wanted, she was startled by just how uninspired most of the stories were.
"The tales tended to be very tedious and unimaginative," Belton says, "as if the children were stuck with this very restricted way of thinking. Even when they were encouraged to think creatively, they didn’t really know how."
After monitoring the daily schedule of the children for several months, Belton came to the conclusion that their lack of imagination was, at least in part, caused by the absence of "empty time," or periods without any activity or sensory stimulation. She noticed that as soon as these children got even a little bit bored, they simply turned on the television: the moving images kept their minds occupied. "It was a very automatic reaction," she says. "Television was what they did when they didn’t know what else to do."
The problem with this habit, Belton says, is that it kept the kids from daydreaming. Because the children were rarely bored – at least, when a television was nearby – they never learned how to use their own imagination as a form of entertainment. "The capacity to daydream enables a person to fill empty time with an enjoyable activity that can be carried on anywhere," Belton says. "But that’s a skill that requires real practice. Too many kids never get the practice."
While much of the evidence linking daydreaming and creativity remains anecdotal, rooted in the testimony of people like Fry and Einstein, scientists are beginning to find experimental proof of the relationship. In a forthcoming paper, Schooler’s lab has shown that people who engage in more daydreaming score higher on experimental measures of creativity, which require people to make a set of unusual connections.
"Daydreams involve a more relaxed style of thinking, with people more willing to contemplate ideas that seem silly or far-fetched," says Belton. While such imaginative thoughts aren’t always practical, they are often the wellspring of creative insights, as Schooler’s research shows.
However, not all daydreams seem to inspire creativity. In his experiments, Schooler distinguishes between two types of daydreaming. The first type consists of people who notice they are daydreaming only when asked by the researcher. Even though they are told to press a button as soon as they realize their mind has started to wander, these people fail to press the button. The second type, in contrast, occurs when subjects catch themselves daydreaming during the experiment, without needing to be questioned. Schooler and colleagues found that individuals who are unaware of their own daydreaming while it’s happening don’t seem to exhibit increased creativity.
"The point is that it’s not enough to just daydream," Schooler says. "Letting your mind drift off is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining enough awareness so that even when you start to daydream you can interrupt yourself and notice a creative insight."
In other words, the reason Fry is such a good inventor – he has more than twenty patents to his name, in addition to Post-it notes – isn’t simply because he’s a prolific daydreamer. It’s because he’s able to pay attention to his daydreams, and to detect those moments when his daydreams lead to a useful idea.
Every time we slip effortlessly into a daydream, a distinct pattern of brain areas is activated, which is known as the default network. Studies show that this network is most engaged when people are performing tasks that require little conscious attention, such as routine driving on the highway or reading a tedious text. Although such mental trances are often seen as a sign of lethargy – we are staring haplessly into space – the cortex is actually very active during this default state, as numerous brain regions interact. Instead of responding to the outside world, the brain starts to contemplate its internal landscape. This is when new and creative connections are made between seemingly unrelated ideas.
"When you don’t use a muscle, that muscle really isn’t doing much of anything," says Dr. Marcus Raichle, a neurologist and radiologist at Washington University who was one of the first scientists to locate the default network in the brain. "But when your brain is supposedly doing nothing and daydreaming, it’s really doing a tremendous amount. We call it the ‘resting state,’ but the brain isn’t resting at all."
Recent research has confirmed the importance of the default network by studying what happens when the network is disrupted. For instance, there is suggestive evidence that people with autism engage in less daydreaming than normal, with a default network that exhibits significantly reduced activity during idle moments. In addition, more abnormal default networks in autistic subjects correlated with the most severe social deficits. One leading theory is that atypical default activity interferes with the sort of meandering memories and social simulations that typically characterize daydreams, causing people with autism to instead fixate on things in their environment.
The exact opposite phenomenon seems to occur in patients with schizophrenia, who exhibit overactive default networks. This might explain the inability of schizophrenics to differentiate properly between reality and the ideas generated by the imagination.
Problems with daydreaming also seem to afflict the aging brain: Harvard researchers recently discovered that one of the main symptoms of getting older is reduced coordination in the default network, as brain areas that normally operate in sync start to fire at different times. Scientists speculate that this deficit contributes to the inability of many elderly subjects to control the duration and timing of their daydreams.
"It’s very important to use the default network at the right time," says Jessica Andrews-Hanna, a researcher at Harvard who has studied the network in older subjects. "When you need to focus" – such as during stop-and-go traffic, or when engaged in a conversation – "you don’t want to let your mind wander off."
What these studies all demonstrate is that proper daydreaming – the kind of thinking that occurs when the mind is thinking to itself – is a crucial feature of the healthy human brain. It might seem as though our mind is empty, but the mind is never empty: it’s always bubbling over with ideas and connections.
One of the simplest ways to foster creativity, then, may be to take daydreams more seriously. Even the mundane daydreams that occur hundreds of times a day are helping us plan for the future, interact with others, and solidify our own sense of self. And when we are stuck on a particularly difficult problem, a good daydream isn’t just an escape – it may be the most productive thing we can do.
Jonah Lehrer is an editor at large at Seed magazine and the author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist." He is a regular contributor to Ideas.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blasts from the past

From time to time I am contacted, through the wonders of the Internet, by students who trained with me many years ago. It's fascinating to see what some, the kids in particular, have done with their lives.
I got an e-mail yesterday from Pat McGerty, a feisty South side Chicago Irish kid I trained almost 30 years ago. Pat had gone on to West Point and now has his son doing Kenpo with a good friend of mine, Tom Saviano, John McSweeney's #1. Pat credits me the following;

On a personal note, I trained with you when I was 16 - 18 years old. For a number of reasons, I believe the two years I spent with you and in your school provided skills, structure, and role modeling that were the most critical skills and experience that I have had in my life.

Pat is an example of what I have aimed to do in my adult life as a karate teacher, which is to have a positive impact (no pun intended) to help them live successful lives, regardless of age.

I have numerous others who have become doctors, engineers, one nuclear physicist, two snipers, professional musicians, a high powered lawyer who also was a member of Cung-Le's fighting team in San Francisco, and many who run businesses. No less of an achievement of they and others is that of being good parents. And their kids now train in the arts.

It's good to hear from them. I congratulate them all and look froward to the future achievements of the juniors in my class today.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Doc Gyi

You've read some of my comments on Dr. Gyi in the past. Tony Perez in Australia found this from way back when and sent it in.
I've often thought about the dogma arguments of practitioners as being like the arguments he writes of. Click on the article to enlarge and read.

New English website address is the new web address for my old friend Gary Ellis in Plymouth, England. Gary is the most senior Parker black belt in England, having been promoted directly by Mr. Parker to black in 1980. It was my honor to promote him to 8th degree in May of this year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Additions to the website

I have added the original IKKA thesis requirements for both written and form theses to my website Members Only section. Register on my site, and it's $29/yr with monthly updates. There are well over 100 articles in the section. A recent new member wrote to say he found one article alone was worth the price and it was loaded with good instructional information.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The doctor is in

Learning Takes Place When You Get Things Right

THURSDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- It is often stated that people learn from their mistakes, but new research sugests people may figure out more from their successes than from their failures.
In experiments with monkeys, researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that only correct actions resulted in changes in brain cells.
"We have shown that brain cells keep track of whether recent behaviors were successful or not," professor of neuroscience Earl K. Miller said in a news release from MIT. When a behavior was successful, brain cells became more finely tuned to what the monkey was learning. But failure produced little or no change in the brain, nor any improvement in behavior, the researchers found.
The study, published in the July 30 issue of Neuron, offers new insight into how the brain uses environmental feedback to change in response to experience.
In this study, monkeys were shown alternating images and were rewarded depending on whether they shifted their gaze to the right or the left. The monkeys used trial-and-error to determine the appropriate responses to the individual images.
"If the monkey just got a correct answer, a signal lingered in its brain that said, 'You did the right thing.' Right after a correct answer, neurons processed information more sharply and effectively, and the monkey was more likely to get the next answer correct as well," Miller said in the news release.
But after a monkey made an error "there was no improvement. In other words, only after successes, not failures, did brain processing and the monkeys' behavior improve."

Mt. Vernon, Ohio seminar

The seminars and black belt testing at Steve Hatfield's Panther Kenpo Karate in Mount Vernon went very well this past weekend.
First, congratulations to Mike, Julie and Joel for passing their tests for first degree black. They did a fine job. Mr. Hatfield and his staff are producing good quality black belts.
Joel Hatfield also hand-crafted a nice pagoda-shaped stand out of wood holding an engraved metal Universal Pattern, which was presented to me at the conclusion of the seminars on Saturday. It is very nicely done and I look forward to having it for display.
Participants came from all over Columbus, one flew in from Chicago (thanks for lunch, Bam- Bam Jr!) and another was in from Canada. We worked on the combination punch defenses, and based on the body language of the group, they were pretty intent.
As always, it was a pleasure to spend some time with the group there in Mount Vernon. I'd forgotten my camera, so if any of you were there and have a photo, please forward one to me so I can post a picture or two. Much appreciated.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You thought karate is dangerous?

I don't have a publication source for this but it's interesting.

1. Cheerleading Leads List of Dangerous Sports for Women
Cheerleading is by far the most dangerous sport for females in high school and college—high school cheerleading accounted for over 65 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries in women and girls over the past 25 years, and such injuries more than doubled from 1990 through 2002 while participation grew only 18 percent.
College statistics are equally grim at just over 70 percent of catastrophic sports injuries. A study in the journal Pediatrics says the reason for such a high rate of injury can be tied to the fact that cheerleading has “evolved from a school-spirit activity into an activity demanding high levels of gymnastics skill and athleticism.”
Schools and colleges are becoming more aware of the dangers of cheerleading. In 2002 for example, the University of Nebraska banned cheerleader pyramids and gymnastic stunts following a $2.1 million award to a cheerleader who now has only limited use of her arms and legs after landing on her head while attempting a double back flip. A spokesman for the university said, “In football you have helmets and pads. Cheerleaders do their stunts on hardwood floors or turf. We consider that risk without reason.”
An update in 2008 to the record-keeping system for cheerleading injuries brought everything into focus. According to the most recent annual report of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, between 1982 and 2007 there were 103 fatal or disabling injuries of female high school athletes, and 67 of those occurred in cheerleading. The next most dangerous sports for females were gymnastics with nine such injuries, and track with seven. The report defines any severe or fatal injury as catastrophic.
Author of the UNC Chapel Hill report Frederick Mueller said, “If these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.”