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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Steve Hatfield Promoted

Steve Hatfield first came to me for a seminar with Mr. Parker in Chicago around 1982. He was a black belt in Kenpo and wanted to see the creator of the system. As time went by he wanted to train in the Parker system and Mr. Parker recommended me to go to. Steve lives in the Columbus, Ohio area and Chicago was reasonably close for him to come see me. He made that long drive many times over the years to take privates and attend seminars with Mr. Parker, Frank Trejo, Huk Planas and Joe Palanzo.
He had opened a studio, Panther Kenpo Karate, and was (and is) committed to getting the best education in Kenpo for himself and his students. Along the way I introduced him to chi-kung and he got his exposure to Russian Systema and Filipino arts. Steve has availed himself of what those methods have to offer as well and found it helped him get a better understanding of himself and Kenpo as well.
Mr. Hatfield has had me to his studio for many years and made several trips to Florida to train in the 20 years I was there. In that time I've seen the progress of his students and how he has grown as a martial artist and teacher.
Taking all this and more into consideration and reading his succinct 7th degree essay, I had no problem with moving him up to that rank this past weekend. While I was there to sit on an exam board and teach some seminars I promoted him in front of an audience of his students and their families. Al McLuckie, my long-time friend and outstanding martial artist who lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana was there, which just iced the cake.
  My congratulations to Mr. Hatfield and his students who passed their exams for 1st and 2nd black this weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Promotion Quorum

I was introduced to this concept way back in the early 1970s. It came up because there just were not the number of practitioners and instructors there are today and it was a mechanism to get one of a group moved up to the next level.
    For instance, a black belt might have a small group of people he or she has trained and then that instructor moves on. Job relocation, military service or even death. It leaves the group with no senior.   
   Typically there is one of the group who rises to the top. Often, efforts are made to find another teacher or a group that can promote. If that fails, and it does, the quorum is used. The group agrees that one of their number is moved up. A group of browns may elect one to go to black and it's based on a number of criteria. The major one is that that person is the most knowledgeable and likely the best practitioner. Attitude is considered as well as leadership.
    What follows is an effort by the leader, with the help of the group, to find a source for more information and therefore progress. They find a teacher or association that fits their goals and needs. The person who was moved up may have to re-test or will be required to have their previous material refined with the goal of moving them and their people forward with future testing.
   Is this difficult? Yes. Egos, money, time, distance, stylistic differences and more enter into the picture. Is it worth it? Yes, if the right choices are made.
   The downside is that the group possibly connects with a teacher or association that really just wants their numbers and membership dues. Or that the group is really looking for easy rank and recognition.
   The quorum almost isn't needed anymore because there are so many more people doing martial arts and qualified instructors are not so few and far between. When I entered the Parker system the nearest qualified IKKA instructor was Joe Palanzo in Baltimore, about 1,000 miles from where I lived in Chicago. Yet many people took the high road and sought out and went to train with these qualified people that were hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Alternately, they brought those instructors in to their city for a weekend. It cost a lot in time, effort, money, and more. But it paid off and today there are more well-trained, knowledgeable people teaching.
   What we see today is frequent promotions without a senior overseeing the promotion and no attempt at a quorum. Promotions come from students or association members. There's really no excuse for that with the aforementioned access to qualified seniors. There are reasons but no excuses. The reasons are that those taking the ranks don't really want to have to go through the hoops. It's easier to start your own group or just put the rank on.
   If you look at the US today and plot on a map where the seniors are you can see the distances are just not that great that it can't be done.
  Northwest -  John Sepulveda (has people in through Colorado, Washington, Georgia, S. Carolina, New York, Massachusetts)
  West Coast - Steve LaBounty and Graham Lelliott (Central California)
  Bob White, Ron Chapel, Frank Trejo -  SoCal
  SW - Dennis Conatser (AZ)
  Mid-south Brian Duffy (TX) has people in OK, TX and even South America
  South -  Huk Planas, (Louisiana)
  Midwest -  Kurt Barnhart (Chicago)
  Joe Palanzo - Mid-Atlantic
  NE - Steve White (New Hampshire)
All these instructors and I have people all over the country and we're easy to access. And we're not the only ones. And I know there are people scattered here and there and they travel to get training. With the plethora of camps and events it's not hard to meet people from the major groups and see what it takes to become a part of them.
  Where it gets sticky is telling who is for real and who is not. The internet helps and you should be sending e-mail inquiries and making phone calls, just like if you were signing up for class in the first place. There is no way around this that to get somewhere and train. It's going to take a lot and it's going to take time. Humans like to do things the easy way and just bagging all that and putting the rank on yourself is that easy way. You want the knowledge, it's not easy or cheap. Like Mr. Parker said, "If you gotta pull teeth to get it, it means more to you."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


 Two of our guys, Greg Schreffler of GA and Aaron Kentros of FL. You have my thanks for serving our country.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Functional Anatomy for Martial Artists

Doc Rowe and I took our time but we have Part Two scheduled for Saturday, August 4 in Ft. Myers, FL.

Functional Anatomy for the Martial Artist, Part Two

A team-taught seminar on how hands, wrists and chest structures work and what can happen when they are subjected to force. The yin and yang of this is how you can hurt yourself by improper body mechanics or how the martial techniques may be applied to injure the joints or chest.

WHO: Kenpo professor Lee Wedlake and Marc Rowe, M.D. will team teach this seminar. Dr. Rowe is Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Pittsburgh and a retired surgeon with years of practice of Yang tai chi.

WHEN: Saturday, August 4, 2012. Noon to 5:30pm

WHY: Students in our tai chi and kenpo classes expressed interest in the basics of functional anatomy we taught. It is important to know how your joints are designed to work best to prevent damage from repetitive, incorrect movement or trauma induced by impact and twisting as is taught in martial applications. This is needed to protect oneself in training or to gain insight as to what is actually happening when you apply defensive techniques.

HOW: Participants will get classroom work through lecture and PowerPoint presentation mixed with supervised hands-on practice of technique application. This makes it much easier for those unaccustomed to such hands-on training to gain insights into the “why” we do what we do in a safe, controlled environment. 

WHERE: Location: Imperial Dragon Kenpo Karate, 12451 Metro Pkwy, #104, Ft. Myers, FL 33966

Registration and fee: $80/person. Space limited, pre-registration required. You can register by e-mail or phone.  Or  PayPal to lee@leewedlake.com.

Recommended Text: Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book by John B. Hansen. Buy from Amazon for under $15 or download the pdf elsewhere.

After the seminar: We plan to meet at Tim’s Magic Wok, Daniels and Six Mile Cypress.

More information contact Lee Wedlake at lee@leewedlake.com or 239-839-9380.

Kenpo Karate 201

My book of this title is on sale on my website for the rest of the month. www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake
It's also being translated into German and should be out this year. I'm excited!

Mt. Vernon, OH this weekend

I'll be at Steve Hatfield's Panther Kenpo Karate this weekend. Mr. Hatfield hosts me every year and this Saturday I'll be doing seminar at his studio in Mt. Vernon, near Columbus. The adults will be working on the club defenses and I'll do a class for the kids, too.
   Steve has been with me since the early 1980's, he's one of the old-timers. He was with me at Mr. Parker's funeral in 1991 after driving through a snowstorm from Ohio to fly to California with me.
  You can reach him at 740-392-3846 for info on the seminar.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July article excerpt

Here's an excerpt from my July website article entitled More Random Points.

Jim Deery in Pennsylvania asked me about street freestyle. I’m glad he did because it’s a training method we don’t use enough. It’s the bridge between doing the standard technique patterns and sparring. Spontaneous self-defense is a degree of it, too, and even that doesn’t get done enough either. I think when people practice spontaneous (or extemporaneous, as Mr. Parker called it) they don’t have the attacker working very actively throughout the technique. It’s more that they throw one or two things and you pick them off and work. Street freestyle typically allows you both to throw when the opportunity presents itself.
Yearly subscriptions are $29 and there's also a free newsletter you can sign-up for at my site. www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake

Friday, July 6, 2012

Something to think about

I've been reading about a CIA operation to stop nuclear proliferation. There's a line in there that the CIA was more interested in gathering information than taking action. I've heard that said about martial artists as well. John Graden, who studied with Joe Lewis, said Mr. Lewis would say "Less yak and more smack". I've met many a kenpo person who is guilty of talking the techniques to death and even Mr. Parker commented on it. Nothing susbstitues for time on the body.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Podcasts on knife work

I've posted two podcasts about my background with knife training and how I see the Parker knife techniques.
It's a shame that we have instructors out there telling people they don't work.
Links at www.wedlakekenpotv.com/leewedlake