Dangerous Games for dangerous times

Our brains are composed of layers. They have names which carry meanings for every breathing human. The trick is to have the layers working together and not against one another. conformity, Fear, anger, pain. All of them are tools and energy to be used or discarded at the right time. We all make these choices. Make them conscious and often.

1.       “Mind the gap” – In the London underground there is a yellow line and a gap between the platform and the rails. There  is an announcement before each train arrival “Mind the gap”. Now to the game, Place a line using chalk a stick or whatever works. One person has to stay on one side of it and one or more move to Defenestration the former over the line. Winner gets to switch roles.

2.       “Looky looky” – One person aims to catch the eye and attention of another person or a group as the counterpart uses the distraction to snatch a member of the group or attack in some way you decide on. The gypsy are masters of distractions and street hustles. Much can be learned from observing their practices.

3.       “The Policeman” – One person acts aggressively toward the target (yelling STOP, body blocking and acting with presumed authority or in some uniform as an example) as the counterpart uses the distraction to attack the less monitored vector of the target.

4.       “Bottleneck” – The attackers aim to restrict the movement and vision (angle, height, field of sight) of the target so as to create an optimal attack scenario and capitalize on it. (For example: walk in a line as to have the target stop to assess what is happening and when they are stopped and reconfigure their route, the attack springs on them)

5.       “Human cage” – One person or two are walking as the attacking group surrounds them and aims to press them in the closed confine into a desired location. Both sides practice nonverbal communication, distance, and much more.

6.       “The safe space” – One person with no weapons on them sits or walks. The other or others aim to sneak attack on him using improvised arms from broomsticks to dust (use caution not to go over the line between learning and burning) People have a false sense of security in most modern societies and recent culture shifts. Nothing could be further than the truth.

7.       “The beautiful flowers  get picked first” – A group of people go down a route. The attackers take aim of the one best dressed, best looking or with a smug grin on their stupid face. Change the parameters of the attackers and have the attacked group assess the situation before the physical contact begins to best protect the members or sacrifice them if we are discussing the smug face. No one likes a smug face.

An antidote to fear

Take an attack and watch each and every martial art have their own response to it. Many have similarities and all have their own twists on the answer to the question, Will this be my last day?

When asked a question, we also answer it with our own filters of what exists. Our own paradigms of how people work and how we perceive ourselves. The strongest cord heard in the cacophony of voices affecting our answers to challenges and stimuli is our own FEAR. The fear from pain, the fear from losing what we have and the fear of change.

I suggest an antidote to fear

Take a partner. Have him shove his fist in your face so there is no fear of the unknown range or contact. Breathe and chose home to move from there.

For example, exhale and release the muscles of the spine and hips to move in the same direction the fist is heading to receive the contact but not the impact. One can twist to roll on the impact and bend to avoid it and the possibilities are endless.

This is just a physical interaction. The true test lies in recognizing the fear, doubt and other emotions that affect us into reaction and absorbing them from subconscious into consciousness takes the hooks they have on our psyche and turns them into energy to be used in actions of our own.

Many fear the unexpected actions of an individual or a group. It is a sword swung by hands not your own. Instead of welcoming the new, many who have obtained a semblance of power, choose to demonize free thought, speech and action and force feed the masses the allowed ways under the guise of authority and intimidation. This happens a lot in the martial art too where the head of an organization allows little to no discourse and evolution that does not stem from them. It is always the part of the individual to claim their freedom to think, feel and act on their own and add their own music to the symphony. Whenever we have a society or a group that allows the ideas and heading to flow in only one direction. We are on a way to a bleak and dangerous future of not being allowed to voice our thoughts and do what we wish.

In any action we make a multitude of choices.

Physically we choose our posture, alignment, breath and where we direct our eyes. We make many choices we are not aware of in some levels of consciousness and are at times surprised by ourselves. Many hold their postures and mimic the people around them as a social construct and others adept to the language and tone chosen by their surroundings and who they perceive as mates. There is value to that to a degree in the strength of a group and there is weakness in following something or someone outside yourself.

Remaining in the realm of martial art is easy. Many think of it as something that happens in a constructive manner in a clean dojo and in clean uniforms. True martial art in my understanding is on the battlefield and the only clean thing there can be your heart and even that is rare.

The art of war concerns itself with victory in the most efficient and affective manner. It is a cold and calculated way of achieving a goal and it has no morals on its operating system.

Remember the ones who wage war on your freedom have this on their mind. This starts in the dojo and schools, continuous to allows speech and into tyranny.

As a teacher, one of the greatest moments I can have in class is when a student asks a question, finds their own way to solve a problem or better yet, realizes it is not a problem but a ladder we all climb.

Freedom is the cure for fear.

Freedom has its own dangers but the danger is the ladder.

Be the danger.

The push vs hit question

The mechanics of pushing and pulling are simple and obvious. We create a platform of tension whether dynamic or static using our frame and from that we use body and limbs and sometimes our heads to apply pressure extending and contracting our muscles and through our joints and bone structure. Things are more complex as we address our connective tissue which has its own set of sensory and movement capabilities, resulting in a mesh or matrix of ripples in tension resulting in our movement from infancy to our ends.
Now to the point. Pushing is both mechanical and emotional. We brace and use our posture and movement to either push or pull things and people toward us and away from us. Moving past this part of us we become detached and able to move unconcerned by the outcome and free from outside manipulation whether emotional or physical.
We learn to push and pull first to allow the body to understand, pressure, contact, distance and angle. We learn to push because we must become aware of our fears to release them. We learn to push also because it is a fun drill and as humans we need contact to be healthy.
Then, we learn to move as if there is no one there. To feel where our contact sinks in without excess pressure and to move with awareness within several points in our bodies and with our eyes relaxed from following so we can finally see what is happening without trying to force reality to bend to our egos and emotions.
How can we do this ?
First focus on breath. Breath and move instead of moving and then following with breath. Let the breath lead each movement in practice both alone and when moving with a partner. Allow the breath to move separate from our base desire for success. Success once achieved, becomes poison holding us in a rut of trying to repeat what was helpful for a moment which already past. Letting go of success and the desire to succeed lets us ironically succeed much further and enjoy the process without the start and stop of attempt and with the dance like continuum of detachment.
Second focus on alignment. A calm mind resides in a calm body. We cannot fight our own demons as we just layer them into a wall inside ourselves and eventually they will poison the well and tear us down. We can let them go (tension, bad posture, habits which do not serve the moment, emotion) by acknowledging the tension, acknowledging the focus in the eyes tracking something that a moment from now will not matter and letting it go. The body and mind must find a different pattern to replace it or a change in thinking pattern must come to replace what hurts us. Otherwise, we are harming ourselves in the long run.
Lastly, play must replace work to advance and create the authentic motion and emotion which are the seeds of natural movement. Placing goals with dates can work for a while but setting a direction with no end will keep us learning and progressing forever.
The strike will sink and the will to hurt will dissolve on both sides when the mind and body are ready.

More drills and games to help realize this coming soon.

Pressing tension

We are so used to pain and tension that we do not even know how it is possible to live without it. One example is the high level of tension in the legs and how it affects the hips turnout and our mobility and general health. The way to press this excess out of the body is not pleasant to say the least 🙂 Yet the outcome is worth it.

Do as few movement drills `before and then after this set of drills and note how the shift in tension affects your movement, awareness and impact acceptance.

We begin with static holds, we progress to gentle rocking in place and then further and deeper with narrower placed pressure (less contact and same mass or for example side of foot instead of sole of foot) and later on we move intuitively as we feel the tendrils and arches of pressure and how one interacts with the other.

Static holds:

  • Apply pressure to the center of the muscle belly and slowly edge toward a third up and down. Start with flat pressure by a fist, sole of foot and so on and then proceed to edgier pressure and always avoid going too fast. Slow becomes fast with good breath and attention.
  1. Sit with both legs straight and together and with toes pointing up. Have a partner apply pressure on the middle of the rectus femoris. Focus on breathing and communicating with your partner. Some will feel nothing but the pressures while others may scream in pain. Enjoy both ends of the spectrum and move slowly on the arch of the muscle while avoiding any pressure on the knee joint from above.
  2. Sit with both legs bent so the sides of the legs is on the ground and one knee is in contact with the sole of the other. Have a partner stand or apply pressure on the Iliotibial tract and again focus on breathing and on paying attention.
  3. Squat with your feet flat on the ground and your spine upright. Have a partner stand on the upper third of your rectus femoris ( have him or her balance using your head or anything else in the area. Breathe, note the shift in the hips and enjoy the process as well. After 30-60 breaths, descend and watch as the body naturally adjusts.
  4. Lie on your front and bend the knees so the toes point to the heavens. Have a partner apply pressure downward as you breathe and press from the hips upwards.

For more, come to class or be in touch 🙂

Meditation with a meat hook

There are lessons that can be taught by words and others that require experience to blend together, thought, feeling and sensation.

One such lesson is that of the meat hook or any hook once it sinks in our flesh or makes that needle like entrance in our skin.

I recall no fondly moving through the brush during my time in the army. The thorns and stones and mud and occasional hole made moving with our gear unpleasant at best. Having to hold my rifle in one hand, the radio antenna in the other and needing three more hands to climb, descend, push and pull was a very surprisingly consistent type of torture until a very clear moment when I stopped fighting the brush and started to blend in.

Nothing changed in the brush, it still stung, rip and tear at me. I let go of the part of myself trying to force my way to it and the dance began. I bled a bit less, move a lot more silently and a type of respect started to build.

Starting the journey with an actual meat hook is somewhat unsafe. Take a clothes hanger, an S shaped piece of metal without tips and start pulling and pushing on a partner while avoiding the eye holes and behind for a while. Start so slowly as you can talk while doing so and have a physical and verbal conversation as you go about it.

Let the hook guide the partner to the ground, let it turn them around, let it shift and control what the eyes present to the partner and also have as much fun with it as you can.

Let the hook come in contact with you and move another part of the body than the one in touch with the hook first. Keep breathing when the feeling of being dug into makes an appearance. Start working from the ground, move with the wall, do it inside a car you are responsible for and move with care for all parties involved.

Let the hook come at you and guide it back to the partner. Let the hook come at you and attach it to something in your surroundings. Let it come and draw your own tool from hammer to rope.

Nothing goes beyond the basics done well.

Keep safe,

Keep breathing

Stay in touch


In praise of TENSION

Tension is vilified. Tension is maligned. Tension is vital to everyone’s life.

Working with tension is vital to all martial. Resisting partners, heavy tools, hard ground. All these promote our awareness to our own tension and when to use it and when to discard the tension or in my own phrasing, the structure of tension. We tend to brace when something flies into our frame of sight. We sometimes cower or round the spine to instinctively protect the digestive system we cannot do without.

Work from tension helps us become aware and then control and then reign the structure of tension and alignment in our bodies and in our minds.

Partner play

  1. Tense up and let your partners hit you as you focus on breathing and paying attention. It pays dividends to notice how the tension of impact goes through a tense body.
  2. Tense up only parts of the body and repeat the getting hit drill.
  3. tense the lower body and breathe continuously. Relax on each impact of the partners pushes and strikes. and let the contact move through the body to the ground.
  4. Tense up just the behind and have your partners strike your upper body. Relax upon impact and let your breath and sight shift when you are touched to have the contact slide on you rather then penetrate.
  5. Squat down on both feet flat on the ground and tense the back and sides of the neck. Keep breathing and have your partners push you. On impact, release the tension and roll from the squat to the ground and back into the squat.

Strength movements:

  1. Stand on one leg, squat down taking 10 breaths to the down movement and then rise on one breath. Repeat 10 times per leg.
  2. Hang a rope over something sturdy. Hold it with both hands with one at chest level and one straight upwards. Pull up on one inhale and down on 4 exhales. Repeat 10 times per hand.
  3. Lie on the ground and hold something sturdy with both hands behind your head. A sturdy partner will do as well if you cannot locate a pole, a building or something else in sight. Raise the body straight up to a shoulder stand in one breath and lower it straight in 10 breaths. Repeat 20 times.
  4. Lie down and place both hands on the top of your head. Rise into a neck bridge and hold it for 120 breaths where the spinal muscles are tensed on the inhale.

Enjoy and share with your partners.


We all practice the knowledge of space when walking, driving, dancing and fighting.

Getting to know your own space while in combat gives us the ability to welcome a contact, move away and time the alignment, tension and movement to maintain freedom in a fight or a contact.

From the first step each of us took, our eyes began to study space and timing. We continue the practice and learning with static work and then move to the dynamic.

  1. Stand up in front of a wall. Place a hand on a wall extended but not locked and repeat for the front, the sides and the back. Play with the starting distance so you start a foot away from the wall and move to place a hand or fist on the wall by knowing the distance. Move from different angles, heights and side. Move another foot away from the wall and again, play with movement to place your fists, hands, elbows, shoulders and more. Continue playing with starting location and use your breath to add speed without adding tension and let the breath lead each movement starting from the body.
  2. Once the eyes and body are aligned with static work, we continue to moving with a partner. Start with the partner walking around you in a circle. Breath continuously to remain relaxed and time placing hands, fist and feet on the partner as they walk without adding any pressure. Keep the contact light and move with the contact to avoid becoming fixed with your eyes.
  3. Have your partner walk toward you and move the least amount so they just miss you by a hair. Do this from different angles and add speed with breath awareness and also pay attention with your body angle. Play with the angles and keep your legs under your hips to avoid becoming a position while maneuvering.
  4. Add placing hands and feet on your partner or partners to the play as you go. Never sacrifice mobility for position.
  5. Close one eye at a time and repeat the play. Play with your head angle and position and continue to look as you move instead of tracking what is moving. Your eyes and mind are capable of encompassing much more than most allow. Let them see for you and take in the entire picture. This is one of the keys to remain free in a melee or with resistance.
  6. Sit down and repeat the play. Find freedom with your eyes and motion by focusing on different heights in the walking partners and alternating constantly. Move with your breath and as you are down, view the horizon but do not let it confine you. Let the head move with the movements of the body.

This is a first step. Once force is introduced to the work, be diligent to breath continuously and to be aware of the tension building in the body and pose. With each breath, rebuild yourself. Simple but not easy.

The lesson of the drum

I often tell my students to avoid acting like a drum. Reacting is also a choice and we can choose otherwise. The drum is passive, makes sound only once hit and makes sound due to the tension of its surface.

Like the drum, all of us at times are tense, reactive and it is visible both physically, emotionally and mentally.

Physically, we are able to go past this reactivity through many ways, each must choose what fits his needs at the moment.


  1. Begin with tensing the body where you would brace once pushed, pulled or twisted. Hold your breath and release the tension and start breathing as a partner or a device ( an object hanging on a rope and swung …) makes contact. Begin from a standing position and alternate as you grow accustomed to how the body works counter clockwise and how one always has a choice between the two ends of the spectrum and beyond.
  2. open your eyes wide and spread your view side to side and up and down and then in circles until the eyes are relaxed and see without excess fixation. Now have a partner or an apparatus strike you slowly at first, with you aiming to maintain your eyes relaxed, your breath even and your body alignment without flinch or brace. The goal is to recognize the affect of fear and not knowing as the body cowers and braces with awareness and choice. One cannot rush this, avoid replacing tension with tension. Use your eyes and body to see all that is there instead of just the threat. Create a path instead of drifting between options.
  3. Tie a limb to a tree with a thick rope or have a partner hold or grab you. Begin with tensing and relaxing as you are without trying to pull out or twist. Continue to move the non tethered parts of the body, one at a time and then in union. Differentiate between the perceptions of what is holding you back and what internal freedom is.


  1. When you are at rest, you know you have energy and resources to enact if need be. This is the time to build the faculties further so you are not overwhelmed when pressure rises. Find yourself at rest, perhaps before going to sleep and lie down comfortably. Feel your pulse either with your hand or by awareness in your chest and start breathing in rhythm with your pulse. Start counting one pulse to one breath phase (inhale/exhale) and climb up as far as you can with syncing matching length of inhale and exhale to a longer count of pulse.

1 inhale per pulse counts, 1 exhale per pulse counts

1 longer inhale per 2 pulse counts, 1 longer exhale per 2 pulse counts

1 even longer inhale per 3 pulse counts, 1 even longer exhale per 3 pulse counts

and so on.


  1. Think of something horrible. Monitor your heart rate and breath as you do. Go over the motions of how you would feel and act under a tragedy and again, monitor yourself as you do. Repeat for something positive. Balance is important.
  2. Place yourself in a cowering position and tense up. Aim to think positively and shift between body positions becoming aware how alignment and the body pose affects us internally. Make the connection how both inside affects outside and vice versa.

Be safe but not too safe 🙂

The magic of wrestling with a sword

Many times, we attempt to recreate something that already exists. Many martial arts today have gun disarm drills they invented, knife defense and attack they invented and much more that was already in existence the first time a man took a rock in his hand and threw it at his brother.

Studying what worked for people who fought for their lives for millennia helps us deepen and further our own knowledge and temper our own experiences with that of our forefathers.

I suggest to you ten drills to rediscover ancient knowledge. Mo magic exceeds honest work.

Lie on the ground with your sword. Have your partner or partners come at you with their tools. Get moving with your breath, body and sword to avoid being cut down and cut them down as you go. Smile, it relaxes the face and frees the mind from worry of things that have yet to happen.

Close your eyes and stand on one leg. Hold your sword in your hand and with each breath, feel your balance shift and adjust. Have a partner push and pull on you with a stick or a rope loop. Breathe and move as one with the sword and maintain your balance through conscious movement. Let your footing start at your hips instead of at your legs.

Stand a sword stroke away from your partner and cross swords. Breathe and relax your hand, arm and shoulder tension so as to move the blade from the movement of the body. Let your partner move as they care to and sink inwards to cut or thrust with your blade. Here focus on moving from your own volition instead of being a drum making sound only when hit.

Hold your sword in your hands and have your partner grab the tip of your sword. Aim to stab and cut them as they move and work the contact to avoid being cut and thrusted upon. Focus on being the entire blade instead of having the point of contact pressed to your consciousness.

Hold your sword in your hands and have the blade of your partner placed on your body. Move from your breath to first avoid placing resistance on the blade and from there let the body movement decide the next step. Practice so you can answer several questions at the same time. Do not limit yourself to defense or offense.

Take a sword and have both you and your partner place hands on it as you both kneel on your knees. Breathe and both work to either be the only one with blade at hand or on drawing a dagger from your belt if you choose to. Never let the blade consume more of you than required.

Stand with your feet under you and start moving your blade. Have your partner aim to strike you and you in turn aim to avoid his blade, not only with your body but with your blade as well. Free your mind from conversation and exist without leaning on outside circumstance.

Place your blade on your partners blade. Keep them touching as your partner aims to break contact and slide and move on their blade as they make their intent known. Why do this ? To understand the mentality behind contact and no contact so when the desire to regroup hits you under pressure, you will not suffer a dissonance between your survival and your instinct.

Tense your body, from your skull muscles to the muscles gripping the ground at your feet. Let go and breathe continuously. Have your partner dart their blade at you using both thrusts and cuts as you avoid focusing on them or their tools with your eyes and movement. See the gaps in space and movement and find their timing without molding a response. Be active in touching with your blade or body while not letting their actions lead you. Freedom is always won, never without intent.

Be either in a blade on blade or with both sides touching the blade and practice the art of invisibility. Breathe as you would and let go of all intent and tension to free yourself from the current motion to become something new. An example for this can be to let go of struggling over the control of a firearm to grab a boiling kettle and emptying it on the front of your attacker or letting go of a knife to push an assailant into a moving truck. disappearing is choosing when and where to be and when and where not to be.

Stick ups Rope rolls Sideways squats

There is a terrible way of linear training and strength training which hampers how we progress and maintain our health throughout a very nonlinear life.

Here are three examples of nonlinear strength and movement which will enhance your health, strength and ability to handle life’s rungs.

The Stick ups

Take a sturdy stick which can bear your mass without snapping. Sit down on your behind and place the end of the stick on the ground. Use one hand to press it downward in order to raise your body to a standing position and then ease downward to sitting. Repeat playing with angles, holds and remember to always breathe.

Rope rolls

Loop a sturdy rope overhead on a strong enough hold. Hold the rope ends in each hand and bring yourself upwards by looping the rope on your arms and thus shortening the distance. Relax yourself back down by releasing the loops under your control. Remember to always breathe.

Sideways squats

Stand with your feet under you. Relax the angle of one hip and relax the leg coming from it. Let it continue naturally until you are either squatting down or laying down. Raise yourself in the same manner. Let your eyes see what the body movement present before them and always breathe.