Friday, December 21, 2012

More on concussions

Got an e-mail from Allison Morris on the subject and she provided me with this link. It's "Dr. Marc approved" and I think you'll find it very useful.

http://www.mastersinhealthcare.com/blog/2012/concussed/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New England Tour Recap

The weekend seminars at all four studios were dedicated to the memory of Mr. Parker. Each was started with a few words and the entire group running Short Form One together.

 Friday I was down at Holden Martial Arts in Holden, MA, where I taught two seminars. The Holden school was bought by Steve White and Lee MacDonald a while back and it's a nice facility. My first class there and the next day at Manchester Karate Studio were Family classes. We had a nice mix of parents and kids along with adults of all ranks. Both days we worked on some self-defense techniques with a focus on relating motion. The second classes were for adults and the subjects at both were weapon techniques.


I chose club defenses to start with and we worked on not only how to defend but also the Parker principles of use of a stick. Four beginner level techniques were the models and I expanded from there. Both the Holden and Manchester classes were pretty packed and there were students from three schools at each. Santa Claus even showed up at Manchester and told me he thought my lecture was interesting. (Our Santa is a "card-carrying" Santa who is involved in making and distributing wooden toys to 800 children and even has a workshop. I received a top. Hoping the TSA wouldn't take it.)

  The Saturday morning class was at Jim Peacock's Mont Vernon, NH studio. Body mechanics were the subject. It was one of those sessions where you get started and then look up at the clock to find you're out of time already. Everyone was surprised the 1.5 hour session went so fast. Mr. Peacock is one the fewer and fewer instructors who knew Mr. Parker, having met him when he was a green belt. He's got one of those great pictures on his wall of Mr. Parker doing an elbow sandwich on him and describing what he's doing.
  After that afternoon's classes in New Hampshire at MKS, Steve White, his son Ross, Tim Mackenzie and I rode down to Boston to meet Lance Soares and his wife, Anne. Steve selected the Green Dragon as the meeting place. It's down by Fanieul Hall and is reputed to be the pub the Sons of Liberty met before the American Revolution. Some nice history there. I was handed off to the Soares and off to New Bedford, where they have a studio. Lance and I had breakfast with his dad, Rich. I always enjoy the time with him.

  The first session was with the kids on falling and rolling. It was a pretty good sized class and they were well-behaved. The last seminar of the tour was on joint locking.

We had guests from three other schools there including two of Mr. Sepulveda's AKTS black belts/school owners, Sean Crehan and Tim Murphy. "KenpoJoe" Rebelo was there, too. I hadn't seen him in years. New black belt Chris Walsh was there with students from his dad's studio Connecticut, too. Speaking of sons, I had given Ross White his first kenpo lesson many years ago and it's a pleasure to see what a fine young man he's become.

  These are all clean, safe, well-run studios. The New England tour was a great way to wrap up 2012. I'l be back up in 2013, as will John Sepulveda. Tim Murphy hosts an AKTS event in New York in August at which many of us will be instructing, including Steve White and Sigung Steve LaBounty.
Murphy, Wedlake, Crehan, Soares

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Marines expanding use of meditation training

 
Mind Fitness Training found to help troops improve mental performance under stress of war
By Patrick Hruby-The Washington Times Wednesday, December 5, 2012
 
While preparing for overseas deployment with the U.S. Marines late last year, Staff Sgt. Nathan Hampton participated in a series of training exercises held at Camp Pendleton, Calif., designed to make him a more effective serviceman.
There were weapons qualifications. Grueling physical workouts. High-stress squad counterinsurgency drills, held in an elaborate ersatz village designed to mirror the sights, sounds and smells of a remote mountain settlement in Afghanistan.
There also were weekly meditation classes — including one in which Sgt. Hampton and his squad mates were asked to sit motionless in a chair and focus on the point of contact between their feet and the floor.
“A lot of people thought it would be a waste of time,” he said. “Why are we sitting around a classroom doing their weird meditative stuff?
“But over time, I felt more relaxed. I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”
That benefit is the impetus behind Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (“M-Fit”), a fledgling military initiative that teaches service members the secular meditative practice of mindfulness in order to bolster their emotional health and improve their mental performance under the stress and strain of war.
Designed by former U.S. Army captain and current Georgetown University professor Elizabeth Stanley, M-Fit draws on a growing body of scientific research indicating that regular meditation alleviates depression, boosts memory and the immune system, shrinks the part of the brain that controls fear and grows the areas of the brain responsible for memory and emotional regulation.
Four years ago, a small group of Marine reservists training at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., for deployment to Iraq participated in the M-Fit pilot program, taking an eight-week mindfulness course and meditating for an average of 12 minutes a day.
A study of those Marines subsequently published in the research journal Emotions found that they slept better, had improved athletic performance and scored higher on emotional and cognitive evaluations than Marines who did not participate in the program, which centers on training the mind to focus on the current moment and to be aware of one’s physical state.
The Army and Marines have since commissioned separate studies of larger groups of troops receiving variations of M-Fit training, the results of which currently are under scientific review and likely will be published in the next few months.
“The findings in general reinforce and extend what we saw in the pilot study,” said Ms. Stanley, an associate professor of security studies at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. “These techniques can be very effective in increasing situational awareness on the battlefield, in not having emotions drive behavior, in bolstering performance and resilience in high-stress environments. I’ve seen effects in my own life.”
Military meditation
A former Army intelligence officer, Ms. Stanley served in Korea, Macedonia and Bosnia. Subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she struggled after leaving the military and enrolling in graduate programs at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of prescription medication, she began to research mindfulness and quickly became convinced that the mental and emotional health benefits of meditation could help not only her, but also other service members.
Ms. Stanley wrote a paper for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), essentially arguing that meditative techniques similar to those used by Buddhist monks were both necessary and appropriate for today’s military — from drone pilots coping with information overload to infantrymen conducting dangerous and stressful counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
“The initial concerns form the military were, ‘Is this going to be a waste of time, and is this going to interrupt my finely honed rapid-action drills?’” Ms. Stanley said. “The concerns coming from the mindfulness side were, ‘If you teach them these skills, and they become more open people, will it undermine their ability to armor up psychologically? A few people even wondered if I was trying to make, quote, ‘better baby-killers.’”
Undaunted, Ms. Stanley sought support for a pilot program through her connections in the Army — the same Army that in the mid-1980s conducted a Trojan Warrior Project, in which 25 Special Forces soldiers nicknamed the “Jedi Knights” received six months of meditative and martial-arts training that helped them perform better than their peers on psychological and biofeedback tests.
She found an advocate in Maj. Jason Spitaletta, a then-Marine reservist who was a psychology graduate student in non-military life. Mr. Spitaletta read Ms. Stanley’s DARPA paper and brought it to the attention of his superiors, who agreed to participate in the 2008 study.
Over eight weeks of 12-hour days otherwise devoted to mock firefights and exhausting field exercises, 31 Marine reservists were taught breathing exercises and yoga poses, how to focus their attention and how to prevent their minds from wandering. More than once, they could be seen outdoors, sitting cross-legged and practicing meditation.
Amishi Jha, the researcher who evaluated the troops, found that the service members in the program ended up with improved moods and greater attentiveness — and that the individuals who spent additional time meditating on their own saw the biggest improvements.
“It’s like working out in the gym,” said Ms. Jha, the director of contemplative neuroscience for the University of Miami’s Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. “Right now, the military has daily physical training. Every day, they get together and exercise. But the equivalent is not given to the mind. The more [these troops] practiced, the more they benefited.”
Brain training
Why the cognitive boost? The answer lies in neuroscience. Previous studies have shown that habitual meditation:
• Changes the way blood and oxygen flow through the brain;
• Strengthens the neural circuits responsible for concentration and empathy;
• Shrinks the amygdala, an area of the brain that controls the fear response;
• Enlarges the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls memory
• In a recent, incomplete study of Marines taking an M-Fit course — the one Sgt. Hampton participated in — University of California at San Diego and Navy researcher Chris Johnson took blood and saliva samples from the participating service members and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan their brains.
• According to a report in Pacific Standard, the troops recovered better from stressful training, while their brain scans showed similarities to those taken of elite Special Forces soldiers and Olympic athletes.
“Basically, there are parts of the brain that work differently in high performers,” said Robert Skidmore, director of operations for the Alexandria, Va.-based Mind Fitness Training Institute. “It’s possible to train our minds to process things differently. With eight weeks of training, working memory capacity increases.”
Essentially the short-term, scratch-pad system we use to manage relevant information, solve real-time problems and regulate our current emotional state, working memory is roughly equivalent to random access memory in a computer and functions on a daily basis like money in a bank account: Use it, and it depletes until it can be replenished.
Heavy cognitive tasks, such as scanning an alley for armed insurgents, require working memory. So do emotional challenges, like dealing with the stress of leaving one’s family for an overseas deployment.
According to Ms. Jha, depleted working memory has been linked to emotional impulsivity, prejudiced behavior, domestic violence and alcoholism.
“It’s the core resource for regulating your own behavior,” she said. “It’s not like your psychological state or mood is separate.”
In the M-Fit study, troops who meditated regularly increased their working memory capacity; moreover, they were more aware of their physical responses to combat stress.
In a fight-or-flight situation — for instance, a firefight — the pupils dilate to take in more information. Blood flows away from the stomach and into the muscles, producing the familiar “butterfly” sensation. Heart and breathing rates rise. Stress hormones course through the body.
More importantly, blood flow in the brain is redirected away from the areas that control rational thought and toward the areas associated with instinct and survival.
“It’s really hard to access rational thought during high-intensity stress situations,” said Jared Smyser, 28, a former Marine who lives in Richmond, Va., and is training to become an M-Fit instructor. “All this stuff happens in your body because we’ve evolved to get away from predators. But it’s not really relevant in today’s warfare. You need to be calm, collected, making better decisions.”
According to Ms. Stanley, meditative training can help troops do so by increasing efficiency in the insular cortex, which allows people to rapidly switch between thinking and unthinking states of mind.
“It can be exercised when we are attending to sensations in the body,” she said. “So a whole lot of our course is teaching the ability to track those sensations. People come into the course thinking it will ruin their ability to respond fast in combat, but actually, we’re enhancing their ability.”
In the future, Ms. Stanley said, meditation may become as standard in the military as rifle practice, another way of making troops more effective and resilient. Next year, the Marines will incorporate M-Fit classes into an infantry school at Camp Pendleton, making the program a tentative part of its regular training cycle.
Mr. Smyser, who served in Iraq in 2005, said military mental training is overdue.
“It absolutely would have beneficial to me [in Iraq],” he said. “I was very skeptical at first, but I’ve seen benefits in my own life. I’m interested in working with veterans with PTSD. And if we teach this upfront, we might be able to prevent some of the problems we have to fix afterwards.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kenpo 201 German debut

Story time with Uncle Lee. These people have a great sense of humor.

Most of the group who made it happen. That's Marc's left arm, Nadja Wolz, Lenny Steinke, self, Claudia Neumann and Thomas Kozitzky.


News article. It's the first book on Kenpo in German.

Excerpt from December article for susbcribers

This articel is entitled "The Value of the Technique Extensions".

Mr. Parker told me that many of them were based on the thought that you’d developed a very strong base, both physically and in principles, and that some of the sequences at that point could not have been done at an earlier level. There are a lot of ideas presented in use of knee combinations, such as striking and pinning. There are some interesting motion reversals. More ways to buckle, sweep and take down are illustrated.  Sophisticated timing changes show up, too. And some of the techniques are just intricate and long. Being so, I look at them as a tool to be used if I were to start the technique in the middle. Often a long technique has a position in it that could be the opening move in itself. Mr. Parker was known to show two techniques as one.
Annual subscription is $29/yr. for access to over 100 back issues and a new one every month. Register for the Premium Membership at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kenpo and the Weihnachtsmarkt

Marc Sigle invited me over to Germany with a visit to their Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Esslingen on the schedule. Esslingen is an old town and much of the area has been preserved as it has been for hundreds of years. They recreate the market of the Middle Ages, complete with torches, food, drink and people dressed in character. Pretty cool. It's reputed to be one of the best of its kind in Germany.
   Marc picked me up at the airport and it was snowing, as it did most of the weekend. That was a switch from the Texas weather I'd left, where it was almost 80 degrees and sunny. We met up with his wife, Isabelle and his student, Lenny and had lunch at the market.
  Over the weekend I taught two children's classes, two technique classes (one on some knife defense and another on extensions), an in-depth basics class, one class on Short Two, another on Long Three and another two on the Two Man Set. That one was very well-received and I had Tommy Kozitzky and Marc assist. We had a special black belt class on Form Five, too.
   Phil Buck was down from England, he's a Gary Ellis black belt. Phil writes horror and his books are available on Amazon.
  Tommy Kozitzky and Claudia Neumann came down from Dusseldorf, too. Claudia has been instrumental in producing the German translation of my book on the base forms, Kenpo Karate 201. The weekend was the initial debut of the book, the first kenpo book in German. That was pretty special.
  As always, the food was good, the people were great and I got to work on my German some more.
We have sets dates for 2013, in April and November. Steve White will join me in the April trip.
  Thanks to Marc and everyone who participated!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Correction and apology

I've been mistakenly spelling Lenny Steinke's name with an extra "e" for some time. Lenny has been helpful in the new German translation of Kenpo Karate 201 and with my websites. Sorry about that, Lenny.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steve White in MA Success UPDATED

Steve is featured in the January issue of the magazine. It's a cover story! www.masuccess.com

News Flash

I have been in negotiations with a large martial arts book publisher to create a master forms text. The plan is to consolidate my books, Kenpo 201 through 601 into one. New photos and other changes.
More info as things develop. Should be out in early 2014.
The supply of individual books is starting to shrink and they won't be republished if this deal goes through. I'm down to the last 200 copies of Kenpo 301. If you want them, get them in the next few months. In fact, they're on sale on my site right now.
Lessons with Ed Parker will not be affected.

New England Seminar Tour

The weekend of Dec 14-16 I'll be in New Hampshire and Massaschusetts for a series of seminars, the last ones of 2012 for me.
I will be at Holden Martial Arts in Holden, MA on the 14th, Friday. Subjects and times not set yet.
Saturday I will be at Jim Peacock's studio in Mont Vernon, NH in the morning to teach Body Mechanics. That afternoon, I go to Steve White's Manchester Karate Studio for two sessions. One for the families, and another on Advanced Concepts. That evening Steve and I will probably be found somewhere in the North End of Boston at dinner with Lance Soares, who hosts at his school on Sunday.
Two sessions Sunday in New Bedford, MA at Lance's. One on falls and rolls for kids, another on joint locks for the adults.
That's a wrap for the year. Thanks to Steve White for coordinating and the school owners for hosting.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kenpo Karate 201 - In German

My book, Kenpo Karate 201, The Basics and Exercise Forms will soon be out in its German translation edition. This is huge for me, having a book in another language. However, it would not have happened without the help of several people.
  Marc Sigle has a studio in Esslingen, Germany and he's one of my students. I have been going there for some years now. Two people from the Dusseldorf area would come while I was there, they being Thomas Kozitzky and Claudia Neumann. At lunch one day, Claudia asked if I would mind if my book were translated into German, thinking it would really help German kenpoists. I agreed and she followed through. So, by December of 2012, it will be a reality!
  Claudia did a huge amount of work and was very conscientious in asking meanings for the translations, wanting to insure she was transferring my thoughts to German correctly. She even caught a few errors, making me wish I'd had her available when I first wrote it. We picked some German kenpo people to read it for further examination and a few more adjustments (I used some American English common phrases that didn't come across in Deutsch.) They were Marc Sigle, Nadja Wolz, "Lighting Lenny" Steinke, Udo Zehl and Thomas Kozitzky. New photos were shot and a new cover designed. The cover is unique to the German version and was done by one of my brown belts in Florida, Don McCullough.
  The book really is an international effort, in fact, the photos were shot here in Round Rock, Texas at Round Rock Karate Academy. It will be available in limited quantity as a hard copy but can be gotten as an e-book.
   Thanks all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MA Success articles

One of the industry professional magazines, MA Success, has published a piece I did on the passing of Mr. Tom Kelly on their November 2012 issue. They will also publish a short article on the Kenpo Senior Conference on the February 2013 issue. Here's their page. https://www.masuccess.com/masuccess.aspx
Steve White is scheduled to be the subject of a cover story in the near future, too.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The KSC Sunday wrap-up

Some people had to bail early due to Hurricane Sandy heading for their homes in the Northeast. But the hangover-less ones met at 8AM for the "Iron Monkey". I led this forms workout, which was to run forms and sets back-to-back from One thru Six and the Star Block and Finger Sets. With a too-short break, my student, Bruce Meyer suggested we run them from the top down, Six to the sets. So we did. It took about twenty minutes and we had all ranks working. I salute those of you who got in there and did it with us. As I came up through the ranks it was a rare thing to see a senior run an entire form at speed. Since there are those who say the seniors sit on their butts, I want them to know "t'aint so".
  Tommy Burks from Ft. Worth, TX ran an abbreviated knife class. Good stuff. It was a pleasure to have him there. I hadn't seen him since the early 1990s in Pasadena and we reconnected at SiBok Tom Kelly's funeral.
  Tommy was followed by Tommy. Thomas Kozitzky of Willich, Germany taught his first seminar in the US. He is the highest ranking kenpo black belt in Germany at 5th degree. He chose footwork challenges in techniques as his subject. The feedback I got was that he fixed some problems for people.
  Those two classes concluded the event. Goodbyes were said, certificates collected and out-of-towners checked out of their rooms.
  There was some time before going to the airport, so the seniors and others had some time to hang out and talk. Brian and Lee Duffy got John Sepulveda and SiGung to the airport while I had the opportunity to take Bob White, Ron Sanchez and Graham Lelliott downtown. We went to the State Capitol for a look around and learn some Texas history. Turns out Mr. White comes from a line that came from Texas. We didn't get to see much as there was an event there that included Dan Rather speaking, so it was crowded. The guys managed to get their hands on some jalapeno candy, which drew an interesting reaction.
TX State Capitol with Ron and Graham
   I was pleased to get some time to get to know Bob White better. We've been crossing paths for years but never really connected. Better late than never. Meeting Ron Sanchez was good, too, since I remember seeing the captain of the Bob White team just kicking butt at the IKC in the 70s and it was Ron.
  The event was a success. We originally planned to move this around the country, this Kenpo Senior Conference concept, and we probably will. But Steve White and I plan to hold KSC-Texas here in Austin again in 2013.
  The four seniors are definitely of like mind with a vision of the future of kenpo. The instructors behind us are doing a great job and the system is expanding to meet the needs today. The grappling/ground work is addressed through people like Steve White and Glenn Haley. Instruction technique is addressed by myself and people like Bruce Meyer. Freestyle applications well-covered by Bob White and his crew. Integrating Western Boxing was illustrated by Ed Cabrera. Understanding conceptual basics was well-done by Graham Lelliott and Tom Graves. The psychology of combat as taught by Ron Sanchez and SiGung Steve LaBounty was impressive. Contact manipulation and nerve center work by Brian Duffy and Marc Sigle, along with the weapon work and foundational work of Tommy Burks and Thomas Kozitzky go to show "We have it covered."
   Future KSC events will include internal aspects, anatomy/physiology, and we're planning to get one or two female instructors on the staff.
  Thanks again to our seniors and the other instructors who volunteered to be a part of the event and make it a success. Of course, without the support of those who came from near and far, we'd be almost alone out there, so thanks to you all for choosing to spend your money and your time with us here in Texas.

Comments and posts on the KSC


Quite possibly the best weekend I've ever had in Kenpo! Thank you to all the Seniors and all the additional instructors that shared their time and knowledge. It was a fantastic event!

Carol-Le Elliot - Missouri

One of the best weekends I've had in a long, long time! Truly inspiring to see all of the seniors at work!

Bill Damewood -  Florida

The Conference was perfect. I am always impressed by what you have to say. The weekend was an experience I will always remember. There is nothing better than being part of such a motivational group with the same cause in mind. Thanks for your help and guidance.

 

Pete Galvano -  Alabama

 

I'm very glad that I could be there and took a lot of insights back home - not only
regarding to Kenpo. Hope I will manage to put them all into practice. Listening and observing I feel, the word "lead by example" matches perfectly well with what you do, not only regarding Kenpo but also in the little things of everyday life. From what I have heard, I understand, that this must also have been the way Mr. Parker used to be an example. "Follow by choice" comes around by itself.

Claudia Neumann -  Germany

Saturday, November 3, 2012

KSC 2012, Pt. 4

The dinner Saturday night was attended by approximately 80. The dress was casual and I don't remember seeing any t-shirts and shorts being worn. I'd asked people to bring their state flag for their table and many did. Of course, everything is bigger in Texas and one table pretty much had a centerpiece with two Texas flags and what appeared to be part of a karate trophy. I saw a Louisiana flag and two German states along with their country flag.
As we were waiting for the room to fill, the seniors circulated to each table and had their photos taken with each. Each table got shots of the group of four with them and I thank the men for taking the time to do that.
Dinner was a Tex-Mex buffet and I expected the Texans to be pretty critical but all I heard was good.
After dinner Steve White said a few words to describe the Dr. Francis Rene award we were about to present. Francis Rene was a 4th degree who had passed away last year from cancer. He had been a friend of ours and knew everybody in the system. He was energetic and wanted nothing but the best for our system and it's people. We had polled a few seniors and based on their input, decided that Mr. Bob White would receive the award. Bob has been contributing to the system for many years and has a social conscience second to none. His work in the community, especially with the Royal Family Kids Camp, shows he is an example of what a martial artist should be. As Steve White described the award, which was an inscribed Gil Hibben knife, he choked up a bit. He later said it felt as if our friend was in the room. Bob White was gracious in his acceptance.

There were a few words from each of the seniors and then a short question and answer session.
    As with any other event, the hotel bar filled up quickly and some went downtown to 6th Street. It was close to Halloween and I was told the streets were full. That's why you may have seen the photo of Marc Sigle in his gi next to the people dressed like Superman and Superwoman.
Chicago and California participants

More on the Sunday close in the next entry.
 

Some random conference photos

Superheroes

Two tired boys from San Antone



Sunday morning Iron Monkey form workout
Saturday dinner

Northwest group w/Tom and Byanca Graves

KSC 2012, Pt. 3

The 9ths and their lieutentants.

Saturday morning saw the group meeting at 0845 for introductions and etiquette meeting. The day's schedule was four 1.5 hour seminars, lunch break, photos/autographs and then dinner.
 Mr. Sepulveda was the first teacher and his subject was Variable Expansion. I took the second spot and did a session on Principles of Instruction.
Steve White and I had decided that it was better to provide lunch than have people out looking for a place to eat, so we arranged it with the hotel. During lunch, the seniors met and discussed the future of kenpo and what we saw as out parts in it. One result of the discussion was that our lineages are becoming more cohesive. As we meet again in the future, a better picture will appear.
After lunch, Mr. Bob White taught entries and closing the gap. The final session was with Mr. LaBounty, "The SiGung" (teacher's teacher) on takedowns. He had some people in tears with his commentary. Closing his session he got into the heads of the participants with his "not me, not today" drill. You had to be there.
We had students of intermediate ranks all the way up to 8th blacks on the floor and working (yes, the 9ths work, too) during the sessions. You didn't see the red leaning against the walls.
2012 Kenpo Senior Conference
At the conclusion of the last session Mr. LaBounty promoted Mr. Gary Swan of San Antonio and Mr. Brian Duffy of Austin to 8th degree black. It was good to be present for this.

Next section will be about the dinner.

KSC 2012, Pt. 2

Steve LaBounty, Bob White, John Sepulveda, Lee Wedlake

Friday saw the seniors arriving, along with many of the volunteer instructors such as Tom Graves, Ed Cabrera, Bruce Meyer, Ron Sanchez and Tommy Burks. Classes started at 6pm.
 Glenn Haley lives in Austin and brought mats for the grappling sessions taught by himself, Steve White and Brian Duffy. As an example of what we were trying to show with combining the lineages, Glenn and Steve dove-tailed their presentations by coordinating. Steve did groundwork while Glenn did stand-up grappling. Brian Duffy's class was on joint manipulation. There was a lot of interest in the track, as we called it, and it was well-received. Thanks to Glenn for going the extra mile.
   Over in the striking track room, Ed Cabrera taught his blend of boxing and kenpo self-defense he calls the Fusion. Tom Graves intrigued people with his Expanded Knot concept for teaching related moves. Marc Sigle got on people's nerves, literally, with his pressure point segment. Ron Sanchez taught a very informative class on Pre-Fight Indicators, loaded with good material. In the Concept track,Graham Lelliott went thru the Universal Pattern and Motion Chart and Bruce Meyer focused on teaching children.
My plan was to be able to watch the various instructors but all I got was a few minutes here and there. What was notable was that in all these sessions I saw a lot of focus and nodding heads. Over the weekend I did not see one person sidelined and bored. I saw high-quality information being presented by the next generation of senior instructors.
The "lieutenants" who taught at the camp.
  By 10pm the session were over and old and new friends gathered to talk. The energy was high and would be maintained through the weekend.

Recap of the Kenpo Senior Conference, pt. 1

Steve White and I partnered up to make this event happen back in early 2012. Steve urged me to do this as we believed that after 22 years since Mr. Parker's passing that the four seniors we had teach were of like mind. The conference was named such because we wanted to talk with the seniors and see where, or if, this would go.
That's why we named it the Conference. This is not a resurrection of the Kenpo Senior Council/League of Kenpo Organizations. It is not intended to be an organization at all. It was an event. We did have our conference on Saturday and we are of like mind and will move forward as such. In the future you'll see more of our respective lineages working together.
People started arriving in Austin on Wednesday and Thursday. They came from Germany, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, California, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Washington state, South Carolina and Texas. Several associations were represented such as my PKS, the AKTS, AKF and NCKKA.
Steve White came down with Tim MacKenzie and Julie Stockwell. She and Tim helped out with registration and other things along with Janis Nyman. Graham Lelliott arrived from CA with Pete Valdez  on Thursday.
The Omni hotel Southpark is near the airport and was a venue that Brian and Lee Duffy use when she hosts the annual songwriter's conference in January. www.austinsongwritersgroup.com/ It turned out to be the perfect spot. The staff was efficient, rooms comfortable, meeting areas suitable and the food was good. The location lent itself to people being able to catch a quick cab ride down to the 6th Street party zone and other downtown attractions. The free shuttle made it easy for people to get there.
We have to thank Steve White's program director at his studio, Lee McDonald for the work he did on the flyers, t-shirt design and participation certificates.
Part 2 to come.

November article excerpt

The November article for premium subscribers to my site is due to be posted today, Nov. 3rd.
The title is Overlapping Terms and discusses why Mr. Parker used more than one term for the same thing.

Using two terms was his way of also getting you to see a term in opposite or reverse. His term, Horizontal Zones, is defined three ways. He provided a base definition, then fine-tuned it with others to say there are zones of defense and zones of attack. In this manner, you should see that the same zones are considered from the two perspectives, attack and defense. Maybe he should have just added that to the base definition. I don’t think he chose to because the definition would now become more lengthy and “encyclopedic” than a definition in a dictionary. He described our forms as being either dictionary or encyclopedia forms, and sets as an appendix. Therefore, there’s a consistency to his thinking.   
Subscribe at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Senior Conference

The Kenpo Senior Conference is almost here. There's a lot of buzz about it and I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting people whose names I know but have never met.
We have people coming from coast to coast and from Germany. Registration has been good and the Saturday night dinner is pretty packed.
Late registration is open a another few days at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/kenposeniorconference.
This is the t-shirt design. We ordered a few extras, so if you did not pre-order, you should be able to get one at the event.

Seminar at Marc Shay's

I was at Marc Shay's American Karate studio in Broomall, PA, near Philadelphia, last weekend. I spent the day teaching a seminar and some private lessons before having to head back to the Baltimore area, where I had attended a family get-together for Jan.
I started the day by working privately with Marc. He and I have a common experience in being studio owners and teaching Yang Tai Chi along with the Parker system. Marc's forms look strong. Being a "forms guy", it's close to my heart. I have accepted Marc as a direct lineage student after his completing my required one-year "probation". It was a pleasure to see his face light up when I "punched him in" as Sam Babikian watched. Marc is now working on his thesis for sixth black.
  The seminar was on "Pre-fight Indicators". Marc had asked me to do that based on a comment I make in my seminars. I ask people to think about what leads up to having to face an opponent and apply a technique. It was the first time I'd done that seminar, so I'm glad he asked. I'm told it was interesting. We'll have that subject covered here at the Austin event by retired police officer Ron Sanchez of Southern California, too.
  Just before the seminar, my student Brian Price of Leesport, PA, promoted Stephanie Hammond to third black. Brian is my "main man" in Pennsylvania. He's a strong, all-around martial artist and he trained Stephanie for third after her coming to him as a second degree. He had her run Form Six and some technique extensions she created in front of a packed house. I've known her since she was a teenager living in Florida, so it was good to see her progress.
  The seminar was pretty packed with several schools represented. Dan Meck was there, it's always good to see him.
Alex
Sam
   I finished the day with three more privates with Sam Babikian, Alex Collo and Jim Deery. They work as a team. They took notes for each other, something you don't see often. I'm happy to see their progress.
  It was a good visit, and too short. I had to go back to make an early morning flight out of BWI (too early). I'll be back up in PA in the late spring. Watch my site for dates.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Australia wrap-up

With Melbourne's Peter Tas
Jack Nilon and Peter Tas worked together to arrange a tour of several clubs and schools in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. I did nine seminars over 7 days to both youth and adult groups. Subjects included my "Great Escapes" and the rearrangement principle for the kids, Ed Parker's freestyle techniques, club defenses, "Broken Techniques" and technique interruption drills for the adults. I did private and class sessions, too. Pete had asked me to be a special guest at his juniors tournament on the first Saturday, too. I sat on the forms boards and was the center judge for the upper ranks in sparring. The tournament ran well and the kids took home a bunch of nice trophies. I ran a short seminar for the participants immediately afterward, too.
    Along the way I met many people I'd been contacted by online and was able to put faces with names. I saw some whom I'd met at a previous seminar I did in Sydney in 1999 or at Graham Lelliott's Wonder Valley camp in California. Good to reconnect as well as meet new people.
   The instructors who hosted seminars were Peter Tas in Melbourne, Tony Billman in Epping (near Melbourne), Tim Barnes in Adelaide ( place with a time-zone difference of one-half hour), Jack Nilon in the Sydney area and Jo Stenzel in the Brisbane area (she was helped out by Steve Broadbent there, too).

With Tony Billman
   I stayed with the Tas family the first few nights. Pete's wife, Jodie, was a marvelous hostess and put up with Jack, Tim Barnes, and myself. Pete is a bit of a shrinking violet (far from it), so it got a little nuts at times. Memorable quote from was from his daughter to Jack; "You've just been owned by a nine-year-old girl." Jack, Pete, Tim and I went to the Peninsula Hot Springs the day I arrived. Quite an experience and a great way to relax after a loooong flight. www.peninsulahotsprings.com/ The weather was perfect and it went down the tubes the following days, turning to rainy and colder.

   One of the days with the Tas family we went down to downtown Melbourne. Along the way we stopped at the beaches. We went up in the Eureka Tower to the 88th floor observation deck and the weather cooperated. We followed that with a visit to The Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial to the ANZAC veterans. It's worth a visit.  www.shrine.org.au/

Adelaide kid's seminar, Jack Nilon assists
 
Tim Barnes hosted in Adelaide. He's a chemistry professor at the "Uni" there. Aussies abbreviate almost everything and "uni" is the university. I'd never been to either Melbourne or Adelaide before and it was a treat to see the areas. Tim and his wife, Tracey, put Pete, Jack and myself up for a night, then we were back to Melbourne. They have a beautiful little girl who will be a heart-breaker and probably win a Nobel Prize.
  Tuesday, back in Melbourne, we went over to Tony Billman's Australian Kenpo Concepts. Tony's instructor is Tommy Chavies. Mr. Chavies is an excellent technician. I'd met him at the Pasadena studio and we've crossed paths at the IKC many times. Good man, and his rep, Tony, looks to be doing it right.
  I stayed with Jack, and his brother, Adam, and their mom in Sydney. I caught up with Adam and some of Jack's mates. It was good to see how they're doing. Jack and I went to do some ATV/quad-bike riding out along Peat's Ridge. First time for me. Jack told people I was throwing dust and dirt at him but I believe he was ahead of me most of the time. Good fun.
   We jumped another airplane up to Brisbane (Aussie security is nothing like the the TSA) and met up with Peter Tas again and Steve Broadbent "Broadie". Steve and Pete work under Graham Lelliott, and they love him. Steve's wife, Merry, was now in the mix with us and she gave as good as she got. The Friday night seminar was at Jo Stenzel's Studio MMA www.studiomma.com.au and the turnout for both seminars was good. She had a small barby afterward with steaks and sausages, so we could talk with the troops. We joined her again at her home with her husband, Ted, the next night for more good food and conversation.
  Broadie took us to Mt. Tamborin for a look around. It's on the edge of the rainforest and has an artsy downtown area. The road going up is pretty intersting and I saw lots of motorcycles heading that way.  Afterward we went down to the Gold Coast, next to Surfer's Paradise. It's a lot like Ft. Lauderdale. The Brisbane area looks a lot like south Florida.
   Nilon took the entire time off work to be with me through the trip. That gave me lots of time to look at his material, watch him teach, check his time-in-grade and see how he worked. I promoted him to 4th degree black. He's now got his assignment for his 5th black thesis and moving forward.
Melbourne seminar
  Peter Tas took a lot of work time off, too. He was with me in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. He, like most of the people I met, are hungry for info and want to represent the system well. Pete took the photos you see here, too. More later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago seminars

Last weekend I was up at Kurt Barnhart's clubs in the Chicago area. I ran an introduction to basic Russian Systema class on Friday at Robert Garza's studio in Worth. Sensei Garza is the man I go to for work in Iaido. We had a judo student and another from Shotokan in the class and they said they really enjoyed it. I got to go a little hands-on with Sensei Filberto who teaches the Danzan-Ryu class there and he's got great flow.
  The Saturday classes were at the Japanese Culture Center in Burbank. The first seminar was on the forms, the second on family groupings. Ed Bilski, Oz Rivero and Zoran Sevic dropped by. Always good to see the guys.
  Friday night we ate over at The Patio, one of my favorite places for ribs. Two of my old-time black belts were there; my cousin Mike Schumacher and Jim Tucker. The usual suspects joined us, too. On Saturday Pete and Barb Tomaino hosted us at their home for dinner. Barb makes some Mexican food that I miss greatly and sometimes even hallucinate about. These Chicago boys are insane. I haven't laughed so hard in quite a while. And their wives are right there with them.
  After Sunday breakfast at Chuck's (don't miss this place in Burbank) it was off to the airport. You're right if you think we spent a lot of time in restaurants. Chicago has some great food. And the pizza IS better than New York's.
  Thanks to all who participated and to the Barnhart's. The time went too fast.

Kenpo Senior Conference

Here's the proposed schedule for the event here in Austin, TX on Oct 26-28.
Register at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/kenposeniorconference

Kenpo Senior Conference Schedule                         May be altered as required             

Friday Oct 26 evening schedule
S= Striking Track Omni A
C= Concept Track             Omni B
G= Grappling Track           Omni C

You may switch tracks at any time but the track sessions will be assigned to one room.

6pm
(G) Steve White, 8th degree from Manchester, NH  Kenpo counters to common grappling attacks
(S) Ed Cabrera 4th degree from Tampa, FL 
Kenpo Fusion
(C)Tom Graves 7th degree from Seattle, WA        Expanded Knot Concept

7:05
(G) Glenn Haley 4th degree from Austin, TX   2nd Point of View where the Opponent is a grappler
(S) Marc Sigle 4th degree from Esslingen, Germany    
Integrating Pressure Points
(C) Graham Lelliott  8th degree from Clovis, CA Ed Parker’s Motion Chart and the Universal Pattern

8:10
(G) Brian Duffy 7th degree from Austin, TX   Joint Manipulations in the weapon techniques
(S) Ron Sanchez  5th degree from CA    Pre-fight indicators
(C)  Bruce Meyer 6th degree from Columbia, SC  Teaching Children

Saturday Oct 27 schedule   Omni ballroom

8:45 Opening remarks and bow in
9am – 1030         Mr. Sepulveda  Variable Expansion
10:45 -  12:15     Mr. Wedlake  Principles of Instructing
1:30 – 3pm          Mr. White  Closing the Gap/Technique Entries
3:15 -  4:45          Mr. LaBounty
Rough and Tumble strike-downs and wind-downs
4:45-5pm             Closing Remarks and bow-out

Dinner Buffet 7-9pm
Presentation of the Dr. Francis Rene award
Question and Answer period after dinner

Sunday Oct 28   Omni ballroom
8am Iron Monkey forms workout
0830  Tommy Burks 8th degree from Ft. Worth, TX  2 man knife drills

Private lessons if previously scheduled with the instructor

Noon - Check out and “head for the ranch”.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Fun

Lenny Steineke in Germany and I were brainstorming on a project and he came up with a new Kenpo crest based on an idea I suggested. All in fun.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hanging at Rancho Cortez




Driving the hay wagon team with the Belgian horses.


I got my niece, Serena, to come visit me in Texas recently and I took her for two days down to Bandera, "The Cowboy Capital of the World".  We had a lot of fun at Rancho Cortez with Larry and his people.
Unbeknownst to me, Serena caught me throwing a rope on the video.
On the hay wagon.
 
Larry got Serena to sit on a bull and even stand up on it, despite her claim to Level 5 panic.
They keep you busy at the ranch with trail rides, some lessons in the arena, campfires and storytelling.
I like working with the horses a bit and Julio was showing me how to catch them in the morning, get their lead lines on, feed them and get them ready to saddle. Larry took some time to get me a bit better at controlling the horse with some drills in the arena.
Had a great time. If you ever get to Texas, check them out. www.ranchocortez.com
  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September article

The "Iron Monkey" is the subject of the September article for subscribers on my website. Here's an excerpt about this training method.

When you run your forms at speed with power, you get a great workout. Your lower body is working hard in stance and transition. As a forms competitor I ran my competition forms over and over to not only sharpen execution but to have that leg strength required to be consistent through a long form. A common mistake is to have stances at the end of your form that are not as sharp and of the same dimensions as on the front end. The Iron Monkey is a wonderful tool for working this. Since your upper body works with the lower you get an outstanding cardio-vascular workout. Since the entire sequence takes about 11-12 minutes, it’s just about the recommended length of time for an effective workout. Twenty minutes is optimum. Getting to Six and then doing them back down gets you to 20 minutes.
This, and over 100 more articles and historical material, can be accessed through www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake. A Premium Membership is $29/yr and can be added to your kenpotv membership.

Bob White invitational

Bob White is having his event in March.
www.bobwhiteinvitational.com

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Texas seminar at Oscar Steele's

I taught in the Dallas area last month at Oscar Steele's studio in Coppell. Three seminars, one for the kids, another on the freestyle techs and my Defending the Third Person seminar.
It was a pleasure to be invited, they're a very nice group. Two black belts came down from Plano, too.
I got some great feedback. It seems we all enjoyed ourselves. Looking forward to going back sometime.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ninjas

A 63-year-old former engineer may not fit the typical image of a dark-clad assassin with deadly weapons who can disappear into a cloud of smoke. But Jinichi Kawakami is reputedly Japan's last ninja.
As the 21st head of the Ban clan, a line of ninjas that can trace its history back some 500 years, Kawakami is considered by some to be the last living guardian of Japan's secret spies.
"I think I'm called (the last ninja) as there is probably no other person who learned all the skills that were directly" handed down from ninja masters over the last five centuries, he said.
"Ninjas proper no longer exist," he said as he demonstrated the tools and techniques used in espionage and sabotage by men fighting for their samurai lords in the feudal Japan of yesteryear.
Nowadays they are confined to fiction or used to promote Iga, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Tokyo, a mountain-shrouded city near the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto that was once home to many ninjas.
 Kawakami, a former engineer who began teaching ninjutsu -- the art of the ninja -- ten years ago, said the true history of ninjas was a mystery.
"There are some drawings of their tools but we don't always find all the details," which may have been left deliberately vague, Kawakami said.
"Many of their traditions were passed on by word of mouth, so we don't know what was altered in the process."
And those skills that have arrived in the 21st century in their entirety are sometimes difficult to verify.
"We can't try out murder or poisons. Even if we can follow the instructions to make a poison, we can't try it out," he said.
Kawakami first encountered the secretive world of ninjas at the age of just six, but has only vague memories of first meeting his master, Masazo Ishida, a man who dressed as a Buddhist monk.
"I kept practising without knowing what I was actually doing. It was much later that I realised I was practising ninjutsu."
 Kawakami said training ranged from physical and mental skills to studies of chemicals, weather and psychology.
"I call ninjutsu comprehensive survival techniques," though it originated in war skills such as espionage and guerrilla attacks, he said.
"For concentration, I looked at the wick of a candle until I got the feeling that I was actually inside it. I also practised hearing the sound of a needle dropping on the floor," he said.
He climbed walls, jumped from heights and learned how to mix chemicals to cause explosions and smoke.
"I was also required to endure heat and cold as well as pain and hunger. The training was all tough and painful. It wasn't fun but I didn't think much why I was doing it. Training was made to be part of my life."
Kawakami said he was "a strange boy" growing up but his practice drew little attention at a time when many in Japan were struggling to make ends meet in the hard post-war years.
Just before he turned 19, he inherited the master's title, along with secret scrolls and special tools.
Kawakami is careful not to claim the title of the "last ninja" for himself and in the sometimes sectarian world of ninjutsu there are doubters and rival claimants, with the disputes centring on the authenticity of various teachings.
Kawakami says much of the ninja's art lies in catching people unawares, rather than in brute force.
"Humans can't be on the alert all the time. There is always a moment when they are off guard and you catch it," he said.
It is all about exploiting weaknesses that allows the ninja to outfox much bigger or more numerous opponents; distracting attention to allow a quick getaway.
It is possible to hide -- in a manner of speaking -- behind the smallest of things, Kawakami said.
"If you throw a toothpick, people will look that way, giving you the chance to flee.
"We also have a saying that it is possible to escape death by perching on your enemy's eyelashes; it means you are so close that he cannot see you."
Kawakami recently began a research job at the state-run Mie University, where he is studying the history of ninjas.
But, he said as he showed an AFP team around the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum and its trick house with hidden ladders, fake doors and an underfloor sword box, he is resigned to the fact that he is the last of his kind.
There will be no 22nd head of the Ban clan because Kawakami has decided not to take on any more apprentices.
"Ninjas just don't fit in the modern day," he said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More podcasts

I have uploaded two more, one about Mr. Tom Kelly, another about the Kenpo Senior Conference.
Three more are recorded and ready to go soon. They include an Ed Parker story about what he'd be doing if he were not doing what he was. The others are about age, I guess triggered by thinking about the passing of Sibok Kelly and related to this Ed Parker story. You can hear them through iTunes (for free) or use the link on my page at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remembrance for Sibok Updated

There will be a service in Wichita, KS for Mr. Kelly.
Friday August 17th at 10am. Location: First Pentecostal Church 1755 E. McAurthur (McArthur and Hydraulic)
Looks like Steve LaBounty, Bob White, John Sepulveda, Gary Swan, Tommy Burks and others will be there.
I have written something about Mr. Kelly that John Corcoran at MA Success magazine says he will print in their November issue.

August article

Here's an excerpt from the August article for subscribers on my website. It's on triangulation of the body.

Triangulation shows up very well in the formation of the forward bow stance. The front and rear leg positions create two sides of the triangle and the floor is the third. The position of a punch or strike makes an open-ended triangle. Your chest is the “base”, your arm is one side, and the other is open. It’s an isosceles triangle. If you change it to a scalene triangle, in which there are no equal sides or angles, you can hurt yourself. Punches are typically taught with your hand lined up with your center, at the point of the isosceles triangle. If you’re off-center the bracing angle goes away and your shoulder can’t take the force, resulting in injury in many cases. Even if you don’t get hurt it tends to disturb your stance and position.
$29/year for a subscription to the monthly article including all the back issues. www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake and look for the premium membership.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sibok Tom Kelly, 9th degree

A kenpo legend passed away yesterday at his home. Tom Kelly was Mr. Parker's right hand man for many years. He was on the American team that trounced the European team and those fights are seen in a video called The New Gladiators.
  Mr. Kelly was called Sibok, a Chinese term for senior student. He was the senior. Mr. Kelly was Mr. Steve LaBounty's first black belt. He was Huk Planas's first kenpo teacher. He served as the Executive Vice-President of the IKKA and was the tournament coordinator for the Internationals.
  Sibok is credited with creating the Kicking Set, now called Kicking Set One. He added the tradition of turning belt knots to the side. I'm told he created or influenced some of the other sets, too. It was he, along with Huk, that helped Mr. Parker create the first manuals for the 1970 curriculum that all others are based on today.
  In the years after Mr. Parker passed he worked with many groups but had a strong association with Mr. Joe Palanzo and the WKKA. He could be found at their yearly gatherings in Baltimore. A few years ago I was asked to be there and had hours of private conversation with him.
  I had an invitation out to him to be part of our upcoming event here in Austin, TX in October. I knew he'd been ill and had been kept informed of his condition through Mr. LaBounty and one of Mr. Kelly's students. He had called me a few weeks ago and I missed him. I was unable to reach him afterward and I regret that.
  My condolences to his family, and those in our community who knew him.
 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kenpo TV update

My webmaster has been working to reorganize the videos within the various levels on the site.
The plans is to group the basics, the forms, the techniques and the terminology/principles into four blocks to make them easier to find. The search box helps, too.
I have sent him several more Kenpo 401 extension technique application clips, too. I'll be shooting more videos this weekend in Ft. Myers, as well.
The playlist function we had on the original site will be coming back by your requests. That's down the road, though.
I have about 50 more videos to upload for all the levels and they'll be coming at you as we get the reorganization done.
Thanks for your patience. Your comments have been very positive and I appreciate your support.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Survivors Club book review


The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood

This book refers to another I recommended entitled Deep Survival by Lawrence Gonzales. Over the years I’d come across some of the subjects addressed in this book but couldn’t find the reference again, so I was happy to find them here. One, in particular, is the chapter on luck. I’ve mentioned it in seminars and conversations and Sherwood goes into some detail on the research. Luck has been found to be largely a product of attitude and actions, qualities we try to impart to our students.

He writes about survival stories and interviewed the survivors to see what they think were the keys to living through the events. He finds researchers all over the world working on determining if there is a formula to figure out who lives or dies (there are). He writes about the will to live, resiliency, being prepared, why people freeze in bad situations, how faith affects survival and much more.

Sherwood has also created a website with stories and more. In it you can take a survivors test to see which of the five types of survivor you are. I am a Thinker. Interesting test.

This is one of those books that’s worth reading twice. If you’re interested in hearing what a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge has to say, get it.

Published by Grand Central Publishing. ISBN is 978-0-446-58024-3.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kenpo Senior Conference

We are three months away from the event here in Austin, Texas. The hotel is starting to run out of our block rooms. If you have not booked yet, you should ASAP. October is football season in town and rooms get scarce and expensive. We got a good rate for the event at a nice hotel not far from the airport and interstate.
This event is going to be a landmark on the kenpo scene, so don't miss out. More details on my Facebook event page or go to www.wedlakekenpotv.com/KenpoSeniorConference.

Which one are you?

There are two types out there -  information seekers and rank seekers. Which one are you?
   The information seekers are out there working it. They take notes in class, they go to seminars and take extra lessons. They read and research. They ask questions.
   The rank chasers do that to a much smaller extent. They get enough to slide by. They often put more effort into buttering up their teacher than getting on the mat. They love buddy-promotions. Some of them get a rank in one system and use that certificate to get one in another system or association and even manage to get it raised a notch or two if someone buys the story that rank in one is worth more in another.
   I personally know a man who now claims 10th black in our system. What's bad enough is I also know he was given his 6th in a promotion on a sidewalk. Where the other subsequent ranks between came from, I don't know.  Once one instructor signs a certificate that they should not have, it sometimes gets used to get more. It's a slippery slope.
   There's another man claiming 10th who says a well-known senior gave him a diploma for high rank. When that senior was questioned about it he admitted he "didn't mean to". Well, too late.
   Then there's the seminar instructor who gets flown in and as part of the package he promotes the host with no test.
    I hear the old excuse that so and so did it, so I did. Remember what Mom said? If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
   Many years ago I was told I should be one rank higher than I was and that their group would give it to me. I refused and told them that my rank would come from my teacher.
   One of my 3rd degree black belts was invited to teach at another school of a related system. When he got there he was told he'd be introduced as a 5th or 6th. He politely protested and they did not do that. But they did say they'd give him that rank in their system. He declined that as well. That's integrity.
  I've seen lots of people jump at this type of opportunity and it's a shame. The carrot of advanced rank is hard to resist for some. However, it's not just our industry. There's a market out there for mail-order or online doctorates and divinity degrees.
   I remember Huk Planas responding to the question "How long does it take the average person to get a black belt? and he said, "The average person doesn't get a black belt." You can argue semantics on this but you see the point. Less people get to the top. Some just don't have what it takes. We all have limits. The process is what shows us what they are and if there's anything we can do about them. In a society of instant gratification and no losers, we see a tendency to short-circuit the system and now we have self-promotions galore. Where does it stop?

They're Back!

These t-shirts and the We Do Bad Things To Bad People shirts should be back in the online store this week. You can order now even if it says "out of stock" and we'll fill it for you. Here's the address, www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake/store