Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perishable skills

Practice is what we need to keep our knowledge and skill fresh. Without it, they diminish. I took the Healthcare Provider CPR class a few days ago. It wasn't but 4 months ago I took my two year basic CPR refresher. The rust builds quickly but it came off fast. I'm slowly working toward my CPR instructor card and this certainly helped.
    This brought to mind why I became an instructor in more than one discipline I studied. First, I love to teach. The sharing of knowledge and watching people grow is a huge reward. It seems that every time I get into something I'm told "You should be an instructor". I heard it when I took up competitive handgunning, when I learned to fly, when I went to motorcycle safety courses, even CPR.
   Anyway, the second reason I became an instructor in some of those disciplines is because I wanted to stay fresh. Being an instructor normally means you work in both roles; that of student and teacher. You have to be a student to keep perspective and to increase your knowledge. Teaching helps keep your skills from deteriorating.
   I believe too many people teach but don't keep learning. Learning will help keep what you have fresh but does little for increasing knowledge. Yes, I know Socates said "By your students you will be taught". But that does not prevent you from getting some instruction and keeping the process of learning engaged, because those wheels get rusty, too. Being a student also keeps your perspective on what students experience and that's valuable.

Harvard likes it

Harvard University says tai chi is good for you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Opposite and Reverse

Many kenpo people like to talk about these two terms. But, like anything else, you have to remember that not only for every physical move is there and opposite and reverse but also for concept, principle and definition.
   Down here in Florida we have an instructor who has recently taken to wearing a red belt with black stripes instead of the standard black belt with red stripes to "show the opposite and the reverse" in his words. It makes me think.
   He's reversing the color scheme, sure. But he's not showing the opposite. The opposite of red is green and the opposite of black is white. Maybe it should be a green belt with white stripes or white belt with green stripes. Wait, no, that won't work. The opposite of wearing a belt would be NOT wearing a belt.
  Just thinking.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leader or Follower?

Read this article at http://brainblogger.com/2010/03/06/why-some-human-brains-become-leaders-while-others-followers/ and decide. I don't agree with much of it and apparently neither do some of the people who wrote comments, which are interesting in themselves. I spent a lot of time reading about leader and followership. This is rather simplistic but worth a few minutes to get some perspective.
    There are many other articles there at http://www.brainblogger.com/ you may find better written and more interesting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A challenge is on

I recently posted a note from Robert Wallace in South Carolina asking for help getting gear for a class he's running at a boy's school there. These are kids with problems and we all know martial arts can really help these guys. Tony Velada in Chicago and Tony Perez in Australia have responded and are sending uniforms. How about you? See my recent post entitled "a request to help some kids" on 11 August.
  Thanks to both Tonys.

More items uploaded

I just uploaded some podcast interviews with Steve White (link at http://www.leewedlake.com/) and more  original Green belt videos are coming online at http://www.kenpotv.net/.
   I did a four-part interview with with Mr. White in which he talks about abour kenpo in New England, how he grew his school from part-time to one with 400 active students, and more. I encourage anyone with a school or club to listen to him. There's historical info in them about how Parker kenpo took hold in New England and that there's a difference in it and what is called "New England Kenpo". Steve also discusses his philosophy of growing a student from beginner to black.
   On KenpoTV you'll find the majority of the gun and knife techniques coming on view in the next ten days. I just finished shooting the rest of the original Green belt techniques and they'll be coming up soon, too. We'd missed one two man technique and that's been done, as have the rest of the kick defenses and combo punch techniques. More chi kung and instructor materal is coming, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The doctor is in

This is big news for fibromyalgia sufferers. Dr. Rowe sent this along.

Chinese practice of tai chi may be effective as a therapy for fibromyalgia, according to a study published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A clinical trial at Tufts Medical Center found that after 12 weeks of tai chi, patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, did significantly better in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical functioning, sleeplessness and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises and wellness education. Tai chi patients were also more likely to sustain improvement three months later.
“It’s an impressive finding,” said Dr. Daniel Solomon, chief of clinical research in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the research. “This was a well-done study. It was kind of amazing that the effects seem to carry over.”
Although the study was small, 66 patients, several experts considered it compelling because fibromyalgia is a complex and often-confusing condition, affecting five million Americans, mostly women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since its symptoms can be wide-ranging and can mimic other disorders, and its diagnosis depends largely on patients’ descriptions, not blood tests or biopsies, its cause and treatment have been the subject of debate.
“We thought it was notable that The New England Journal accepted this paper, that they would take fibromyalgia on as an issue, and also because tai chi is an alternative therapy that some people raise eyebrows about,” said Dr. Robert Shmerling, clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, co-author of an editorial about the study.
“Fibromyalgia is so common, and we have such a difficult time treating it effectively. It’s defined by what the patient tells you,” he added. “It’s hard for some patients’ families and their doctors to get their head around what it is and whether it’s real. So, that these results were so positive for something that’s very safe is an impressive accomplishment.”
Recent studies have suggested that tai chi, with its slow exercises, breathing and meditation, could benefit patients with other chronic conditions, including arthritis. But not all of these reports have been conclusive, and tai chi is hard to study because there are many styles and approaches.
The fibromyalgia study involved the yang style of tai chi, taught by a Boston tai chi master, Ramel Rones. Dr. Solomon and other experts cautioned that bigger studies with other masters and approaches were necessary.
Still, patients, who received twice-weekly tai chi classes and a DVD to practice with 20 minutes daily, showed weekly improvement on an established measurement, the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, improving more than the stretching-and-education group in physicians’ assessments, sleep, walking and mental health. One-third stopped using medication, compared with one-sixth in the stretching group.
Dr. Chenchen Wang, a Tufts rheumatologist who led the study, said she attributed the results to the fact that “fibromyalgia is a very complex problem” and “tai chi has multiple components — physical, psychological, social and spiritual.”
The therapy impressed Mary Petersen, 59, a retired phone company employee from Lynn, Mass., who said that before participating in the 2008 study, “I couldn’t walk half a mile,” and it “hurt me so much just to put my hands over my head.” Sleeping was difficult, and she was overweight. “There was no joy to life,” she said. “I was an entire mess from head to foot.”
She had tried and rejected medication, physical therapy, swimming and other approaches. “I was used to being treated in a condescending manner because they couldn’t diagnose me: ‘She’s menopausal, she’s crazy.’ ”
Before the study, “I didn’t know tai chi from a sneeze,” said Ms. Petersen, who has diabetes and other conditions. “I was like, ‘Well, O.K., I’ll get to meet some people, it will get me out of the house.’ I didn’t believe any of it. I thought this is so minimal, it’s stupid.”
After a few weeks, she said she began to feel better, and after 12 weeks “the pain had diminished 90 percent.” She has continued tai chi, lost 50 pounds and can walk three to seven miles a day.
“You could not have convinced me that I would ever have done this or continued with this,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a cure. I will say it’s an effective method of controlling pain.”
Dr. Shmerling said that though tai chi is inexpensive compared with other treatments, some patients would reject such an alternative therapy. And Dr. Gloria Yeh, a Beth Israel Deaconess internist and co-author of the editorial, said others “will say, ‘It’s too slow, I can’t do that.’ ”
But she said it offered a “gentler option” for patients deterred by other physical activities. “The mind-body connections set it apart from other exercises,” she said, adding that doctors are seeking “anything we can offer that will make patients say ‘I can really do this.’ ”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Student Visit

Now and again instructors will get a visit from a former student who drops in to report on things. In my career I've gotten many such visit and had another recently. A week or so ago one of my young black belts came by before he shipped off to Germany with the US Air Force. Austin Cooner was one of those kids who started in the junior program, moved up to teen and then into the adults. In the meantime he worked on graduating from high school with an International Baccalaureat degree. His father, Jeff, and sister, Olivia, started taking kenpo, too. He and dad have a close relationship and went mountain climbing together, summiting some pretty tall peaks.
   Austin enlisted and recently graduated top of his class in the USAF Air Traffic Controller school, which qualified him for a choice spot. Austin dropped in, in uniform, to say hello. He thanked me for being a positrive influence in his life and credits his martial arts training with helping him develop the necessary discipline to accomplish what he has. It's pretty satisfying to hear.
   I've heard from many students like Austin, some as much as 30 years after they trained with me. One is an international lawyer (Khoa Do in San Francisco, and he fought on the Cung Le team there), Tony Velada in Chicago, now an IT guy for United Airlines, Terry Hyland, who is an FBI agent, and Chad Dugan of Ft. Myers, who is not just a nuclear engineer but finished medical school lately. One of my junior browns, Kal Judah grew up to go to the Air Force Academy ( I gave him his first flight in an airplane) and Pat McGerty of Chicago went to West Point. The list goes on.
   I'm glad to have contributed to their success and could not do it without their parents. So if you have a mentor in your life that you haven't told them what they mean to you, do it. It may mean more than you could ever know. Too often, as instructors, we don't know what we did and it's great when you tell us.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Podcasts update

Sice uploading my first podcasts in late June, I've found they've been downloaded over 1300 times. This past week Dr. Rowe and I did some on impact injuries to your breathing apparatus, catgorizing them three ways. You can affect breathing by shutting off the nerve signals, by choking off the air or by impact. I describe how KenpoTV works, too. Listen at
or through i Tunes at

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Learn how to learn

Dr. Rowe and I were discussing something and we agreed that people often don't know how to learn. We're told to go study but not HOW to study. Here's an example.
   He and I are working on the dynamics of breathing; the functional anatomy, chemical reactions and such. I need to know more. What do I do? Marc likes pictures. So he draws stuff for me (and you. See my website newsletters.) Then he adds a narrative. We follow up with discussion -  "I'm gonna teach you something".
  He gives me homework. I can go to Google and type in "respiration". I get loads of items. I can narrow it down if I need. I can also go to Google images if I need pictures, Google video to see animations. I go to Google scholar and the technical stuff from studies such as what the doctors write is there (read the abstracts).
   Got the info. Make time to watch or read the material and take notes. Write down questions. It takes discipline. I found that the Chinese don't call someone Master until they have mastered Five Excellences. What I also found is that to do that you need some serious time management. Thomas Jefferson supposedly took 20 minutes a day per subject. That's a pretty effective time allotment, I've found. If you think abut it, it makes sense. You don't get bored with trying to read mathmatics for hours. You switch gears and keep things fresh. This may not apply to a college student with a big test coming but it will work for the rest of us.
     I hate being called Master because I am not a master of kenpo or anything else. I am designated as such in three disciplines, but that's other people laying that on me. The kenpo world calls me master. In the aviation world I am a master flight instructor. In my work with the Civil Air Patrol I have a master level in two areas (specialties). But I know I need to know more and be better at it. So I pursue further education and that requires discipline to study and to know what to study. That's why I need a schedule.
   The Dana organization prints a newsletter about studies of the brain. In a recent issue there was an article about how today's communication vehicles are actually changing the way we think. Instead of focusing we jump from place to place to gather information. It's affecting our ability to concentrate. Just what we need...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Breathing, Part Two

I've added a second part to last month's article on breathing on my website Member section. Here's an excerpt.

Getting a sense of just how much more deeply you can breathe using both does the same as using maximum range of motion for learning a punch. You start to know how much you have and can get through “big” moves and then learn to condense them. You get the same amount of power in a shorter stroke. Now you can start to see what your lung capacity is and then begin to control your breath. This will be handy when you exert yourself and need to resort to a breathing technique to recharge yourself as you tire. In other words, you can use partial capacity for some of the exertion, enough to get the job done, and when you need more you change the breathing. This relates to the “second wind”. It’s part of a series of metabolism changes. It’s pretty complex and I’m not the guy to talk to about it. You can watch this to see the metabolic changes. It’s a little lame and has ads in it but you’ll get the idea. http://videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/10323-matter-and-energy-glycolysis-and-cellular-respiration-video.htm

Let’s talk about reverse breathing. This is a complicated subject and I’m going to address it briefly. Normally you read about it in relation to internal martial arts. What they want to get you to do is instead of letting your belly stick out as it does with diaphragm breathing, they want you to keep it in. Very simply, this tends to pressurize air in the lower lung and cause it to permeate cell membranes and force some oxygenation. It’s way more complex than that and beyond what I want to cover here.

Go to http://www.leewedlake.com/ to join the Member section for $29/yr. There are almost 200 articles in there to help you enhance your education of kenpo and related subjects.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Request to Help Some Kids

This is from one of my guys running a program for at-risk boys.

The following is information about the Kenpo program that I've been providing to the young men at Glenn Springs Academy - formerly Spartanburg Boys Home - since early June. One of my PL students (John Gramling III) got this program off the ground as a piece of "Mission Work", and raised the money to provide a small income for me to teach Mondays and Fridays. I've invested many other hours into helping these "youth at risk" outside of the regular class time the past two months, due to being so inspired to help them. As I have told them more than once - "I am here to help you have a better life than what you've lived so far." These 14 guys (and staff members) work hard for me and have responded well to my efforts to help them GROW into better behaved, more productive citizens in our society. Here is their web address with all the info you need: http://www.glennspringsacademy.org/index.html

John and I are trying to raise outside contributions to provide uniforms, belts, T-shirts, training equipment, etc. for these students - as all they have in this world is what caring people provide for them - along with some meager support from the state. But I've spent plenty of time with them in their little "cubby hole" rooms, and as Exec Director Scott Scheel and I agree - they deserve all we can provide for them. Some of these guys have told me they've been in DSS or DJJ since they were two years old. Some have been removed from their homes by the state because their "home lives" are so bad. Anyway, I am a big believer in "full disclosure", and therefore will be providing a quarterly report for everyone - beginning the end of September - showing the names and amounts of money contributed - along with the total amount raised, along with line item expenditures as to what the money was used for. If you can support our program with $20 or $200 or whatever - anything will be appreciated. If you do not want your name listed on the quarterly report, just include a note to post you as an "anonymous contributor". You can make checks payable to "Robert Wallace", and send them to me at:
310 Evins Road
Pauline, SC 29374-2810

Thank you very much for your time in reading this information, and considering supporting our program. Please contact me with any questions you may have.
Coach Robert 864-576-2525

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Slap 'em!

Many martial arts have resuscitation techniques taught as part of their system. Hmm, missing in Parker Kenpo as part of the standard curriculum. (I have to say that many of us fill that gap with required First Aid/ CPR/AED/other training such as traditional Chinese medicine, Danzan-Ryu ju-jitsu and Judo kappo, etc.
Mr. LaBounty in CA, Kurt Barnhart in IL, Steve White in NH come to mind.)
Below links were sent to me by Bujin Kenpo brother Nelson Kari in Illinois as part of an e-mail exchange we had about an accupressure point. I was reminded that they slap the feet to bring someone back from unconsciousness. 
In kappo jutsu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappo
They also used to slap the sole of the feet with a stick to reanimate an unconscious person.
     Naturally, I had to run it by Doc (Marc Rowe). Marc's a retired pediatric surgeon and he immediately commented that it's a technique they use to get a baby breathing. No, they don't hit them with a stick. They thump their foot with a finger snap. My lady, Jan, immediately knew this when I mentioned it, she having been in the medical field, too.
   Now they question is why it works. Turns out there's a point in the foot that sends a message to your cerebral cortex. Go figure.

Friday, August 6, 2010

KenpoTV is here!

You can put down the torches and pitchforks, the online learning site is here! Go to http://www.KenpoTV.net/. Here's the scoop.
A recurring monthly charge on your credit card of $45 for an all-access Charter Membership for the first 100 members.  OR, a basic membership is $30/month and you can upgrade at any time to get even more information in our other packages. You may cancel at any time.

Trial package on the guest home page is FREE ! See a selection of videos from the various sections for beginner, intermediate, skilled and advanced levels as well as basics, principles, sets, and Instructing for Instructors under the "Recently Featured" tab. They're marked "free videos".
What’s Inside?

General Rules and Principles lay the groundwork for Kenpo motion. Other rules and principles are incorporated in the technique segments.

Drills/Basics/Freestyle detail components of the singular moves. The basics are described in detail and context. Drills are helpful to develop skills and are easily learned and practiced. Instructors will find them to be popular classroom tools.

Techniques - Each technique has three dedicated segments. One shows the technique “in the air”. The basic instruction segment shows how it is applied along with instruction on targets, weapons, basic theme, principle and terminology. The segment labeled “A Closer Look” adds more related information such as family groupings and common variations. Kenpo 101 includes the first 42 self-defense techniques of the original Yellow and Orange belt curricula set down by Ed Parker. Kenpo 201 has more from Purple and Blue. Green and Brown is in Kenpo 301 and Kenpo 401 teaches extensions.

Instructing for Instructors will give teachers insight into effective instruction. Too often those responsible for passing on knowledge have received little or no training in how to teach. An entire science, pedagogy, has grown up around the subject of teaching. These tips cover laws of learning and forgetting, how people learn and ways to transmit information effectively.

Playlists have been created to group certain subjects together for ease of reference, such as Web of Knowledge groupings. The "search media" box in the upper right corner is also very useful. On your media page you'll see the Kenpo 101, etc, groupings.

Right now I have 625 videos up. We still have techniques to add. Information will periodically be added to the site. 98% of Blue is shot and will be uploaded in the next week. Instruction on Forms 4, 5 and 6 has to be shot as do the Staff and Spear Set segments. Chi kung is on the list and so are the rest of the freestyle techniques. Guest instructors will be included. We’re far from finished!

Please pass this e-mail along to your Kenpo friends and students. That 100 person Charter Member offer won't last long.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


More 'casts have been recorded and uploaded. The most recent are on power principles and the functional anatomy of breathing. Dr. Rowe and I are working on some about the implications of impact to the breathing apparatus of your body.
     Since I launched them on June 24 the recordings have been downloaded almost 1,000 times. Looking at the stats, it looks like you're enjoying the technical material. The podcasts on the basics priority, analysis of the original Orange belt techniques are top downloads.
     The feedback I've gotten is good and you're using them like I thought you would. On your iPod at the beach and the like.
   You can listen to them over your computer or through iTunes. The links are on the home page at http://www.leewedlake.com/. There's no charge and you don't have to have iTunes to listen, just use the first link if you don't.
   Always looking for suggestions on subjects. E-mail me at lee@leewedlake.com.

The big grin

Sam Babikian promoted to 4th degrre at Marc Shay's studio in Broomall, PA on August 1st, 2010.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Weekend seminars successful and some promotions

Three airlines, two cities, in three days. I visited Steve Hatfield's Panther Kenpo Karate in Mt. Vernon, OH and Marc Shay's American Karate in Broomall, PA over the weekend. Steve and I tested some of his people on Friday and Monte McCammon was promoted to third black. On Sunday I promoted Sam Babikian of Media, PA to 4th black. Sam hadn't been promoted since 1991 and has been working under me for the last three years. Congrats to them both!
   I taught seminars for Steve's juniors and then two man defenses for his adults. What's notable about Steve's people is they always have their notebooks out- and they use them. This is something Mr. Parker always encouraged and I seem to remember it being required at Pasadena at one time.
   Mr. Shay's group asked to do some basic groundwork and joint-lock countering. I'd done a class like that in Chicago earlier in the year and the guys loved it. It's just a little basic "rolling" but enough to familiarize people with some grappling principles.
   Steve Hatfield also showed me a book he's been included in. He writes poetry and is one of ten poets to be published in the Apple Valley Poets collection. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=apple+valley+poets&ih=12_5_0_0_0_1_0_0_0_1.0_231&fsc=-1&x=17&y=19

Monday, August 2, 2010

Use your head

Brains will win every time.
Entering a classroom at MCAS, ( Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Ariz., a female Marine captain encountered a clearly apathetic audience. She was selected to provide a full hour’s instruction in Iraqi electronic warfare capabilities to 150 Marine aviators who showed by their body language deep skepticism about her ability to teach war fighting skills to an all-male class of Marine Fighter Pilots.
She began by noting that her voice had just been tested to see if it was suitable for some new cockpit recorder messages for Marine aircraft. Unfortunately she had not been selected to be the new “Bitching Betty”, but it was only fair to warn the audience, however, that an analysis of her voice pattern revealed that her particular voice had a tendency to lull to sleep any male homosexual within earshot.
The assembled officers shot upright in their chairs. 150 sets of eyes were wide open and locked on her and stayed that way for the rest of the period.
Colonel W. Hays Parks, U. S. Marine Corps Reserve