The sword and the spear

It was yesterday evening, during a blade class, that a student asked me a very deep question. I enjoy these very much as they free me from what I am doing into something new, weather in thought, movement or both.

The questions was, “Is this movement for attack or defense?” and here is my answer.

Attack and defense are mental distinctions. A movement, a pose and a word can be either or both or even none. The level of movement our bodies ad minds can achieve is restricted by our emotional awareness.

The blade moves forward in a seemingly obvious attack but then spirals into a dynamic shield and causes the opposing attack to dissipate. A stick is swung at your your head and you step forward to intercept the wielding arm in a combined attack and defense. An angry teenager spits at your direction in a dirty underground railway and start moving your way, you smile at them and tell them you too have some nasty infection and they scurry away.

Attack and defense and what lies in between are all emotional stamps we place on our actions and choices. Each movement can serve both and none and it is our privilege to go inside and remove those emotional and mental blocks from our head so we are free to maneuver and operate instead of react and plow onward.


Movies paint a picture of virtue and might. Of good and evil and of discernible visuals.

Life is about energy preservation and the attacker being smarter than most movie villains seeks the most vulnerable position for the pray before attacking.

After all, statistics are here for a reason and adding percentages to not getting caught or killed seems to make sense.

Do the work to awaken the awareness in every move you make and every breath you take

  1. Talk with a friend as you walk down the street and jab each other as you speak with paper clips or thin branches of wood and try to break them on the other persons body. A successful broken or bend paper clip or branch is a marker for a stab or slash and being able to engage both hemispheres and different regions of the brain will aid in making you more able to handle what is coming any which way.
  2. Take a few coins or small notes of money and go outside. Take care in your movement and find people in need to slip them the money without them noticing. Take greater care not to be seen by others as you do this as they may think of you as a thief of worse. This is a great drill in learning stealth in two ways. The one is not showing your intent on the approach and the second is in not changing your rhythm as you hide your act of kindness. Be safe as you do this as being in need does not assure us the receiver will not take offense of be a bad person.
  3. Circle your partner as you keep a practice knife hidden on your person. Have them escape the location if they sense the draw of the knife and do fifty pushups if they mistake the movement for a draw (it is a win win situation in the long run) switch places every three attempts or guesses.
  4. Close your eyes and have a friend place one hand on you. Let them move you around gently and to move their hands on you freely. Note your breathing and equilibrium and they in turn will stab you or slash at you with a training knife when they feel you are turning rigid or dogmatic in motion. This will teach you to move within the lead of a contact or a crowd and save you from trying to have words with Ms Destiny. Go with it but do it your way.

Getting real

Getting real

  1. What makes a drill a reality drill and how we can improve on what we get from our training.
  2. How to breath in daily life to become better aware and conscious of our direction and freedom.
  3. Perspective – a comparison of what really matters in life with a lesson from Kibera Kenya.

Be safe but not too safe.

Sharon Friedman

Games are the best teachers

Fun games to strengthen and bring more movement awareness to kids and adults with heart

1.       The broken cement truck – one person starts transitioning between being on all four limbs facing the ground and facing the skies as one or more use their feet and legs to try to keep him in one of those states.

2.       Ground glue – one person brings themselves as close to the ground as possible with all their parts and one or more use their hands to peel them off as they move to maintain contact with the ground.

3.       Wave surfing – One moves to pass through a line of people holding hands together as they move to bring him back from whence he came.

4. Medusa – one group or person is moving toward the watcher/medusa. Whenever the watcher hears something, they turn swiftly and if they catch the movement, they get to change places.

|What are we not hearing?

Much of the intuition and sixth sense comes from seeing and hearing and smelling things that we only somewhat acknowledge.

It is not that we are asleep, it is we are conditioned to handle one thing at a time and thus we lower our high brain functions.

We can easily negate this practice by working two at a time stimulus drills and the reward is exponentially greater than just a martial practice.

Before this though, I ask you to consider how you think before considering what you think! Our thoughts come and go but the process lingers. It is the process which leads us from A to B and that is where we must place our focus. Each and every one of us has setbacks. Dwell not on the failure to succeed in a particular time and manner, Dwell on the thought processes that got you to that point and alter them. Learn to ask different questions of yourself and the world. Independence is a process.

And now, to the work:

  1. Create two stimuli such as light and sound or voice and music. Engage in a particular movement when both are present (it can be talking to a partner while doing a calm movement drill) and as one of the stimuli is gone, you engage in a take down and disengagement.
  2. Notice your partners breath pattern and their hand movement. Engage in walking together and read the changes in both as they prepare to attack you by drawing a knife. Release the first response that comes to mind as you are moving and allow yourself the mental space (in the drill environment) to actually think.
  3. Place yourself and a partner on hands and feet. Play in pushing each other with your limbs, head and body and have a third party calling either X or Y. Relax your body on the X and tense it on the Y as you push and pull and learn how the body moves in different tension levels and how to workaround it to maintain your freedom above all.

All the rage

we train on controlled environment for safety and to gain self control. Achieving higher levels of self control comes from destabilizing from inside so we unravel the ability to ride the wave of rage both up and DOWN.

We all have things that bug us, that annoy us, that bring the rage in us.

Use them,

Have a partner slap the back of your head while you contend with the rising emotion and perform your chosen task from getting up and sitting down to avoiding getting struck by a third party.

Think of a bad memory, from getting run over by a tank (long story) to a crying baby at night and again, let the emotion run its course and use that energy to do what needs to be done instead of holding it bottled up and letting it surface in another manner.

Imagine a foe in front of you from a bad teacher in your past to Ra’s al Ghul. Let the emotion of hate, loathing and rage come up and use that energy to better move and navigate the thoughts inside.

Within all these drills, one thing remains.

Breathe with the emotion instead of trying to control it.

What we hold, holds us in its grip. Remember this.

And a special note from my son:

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There is a simple shortcut to getting a lot more from practice.

Ask yourself and ask those you train/work with, what is the purpose of the work ?

For a soldier it can be a mindless job to carry a pack and walk silently in the night but a proper leadership will give a true purpose to this movement in terms of a raid, keeping his skills and fitness growing and having become better at some of the attributes needed for the job.

A martial artist which can be a soldier, a father or any other profession must also have a purpose to the work in order to progress in all human capacities.

Are you working to better transition from position A to B ? Are you working on seeing opportunities you have missed out of lack of knowledge in previous work ? Are you working to time yourself better in movement for striking ?

All these are valid but you must ask yourself before and during each time you train (If you ever stop) what do you want to get done this time ?

Just asking this and preferably out loud, will speed up your growth and do not limit this to just your martial art practice.

And be specific. Being better is a cloudy answer.

breath drills for deeper work

  1. breath hold – Practice pushing a resisting person from A to B while holding your breath. Listen to your body and thoughts as the discomfort builds and let it go. You can add it almost to any drill in various ways. Contact me for more 🙂
  2. The long exhale – Inhale softly and start exhaling slowly and evenly. Start doing a movement continuously from footwork to contact drills and release your spine and torso as the pressure lowers in your abdomen. This is a great drill for posture and alignment under pressure and will bring you to yourself when the heat rises.
  3. The fast switch – This is an action reaction drill – breathe and perform a movement and as you are prompted by contact/sound or anything else move straight from inhale to exhale or in reverse and continue to move. This takes the breath taking out of surprise and helps keep transition smoother and smoother.
  4. The reverse – We tend to speed up beyond what is needed when scared or startled 🙂 Breathe very fast in and out and as you are attacked (in a drill) slow down to normal breathing and continue to move freely. Sometime all it takes to stay calm is to go a little be to the other side.

Train smart so you will not be hit hard.