Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beyond Batman - Batman by 40 18 months later

I posted the Batman by 40 blog in December of 2013

Now in June 2014 a couple weeks before my 40th birthday it is time to put up or shut up.

If you will recall back in December of 2013 (This is starting to sound like an episode of "How I met your mother") I was looking at the fitness portion of military.com and came across the Spec Ops fitness challenge

There is a new Special Forces / Special Operations fitness test making its way around the Team areas and creating a fun and competitive event for many of our Army, Navy, Air Force, USMC Special Operators. It is called the Upper body Round Robin (UBRR). The test consists of seven upper body exercises, a speed and long distance run. The UBRR provides a minimum standard for passing which are reasonable scores as you see below, BUT if you want to be competitive with the best of the best you have to push yourself far above the minimums. See events and grading scale below:

The UBRR (Upper Body Round Robin) Events:

Event                                             Min. Standard                                      Grading Scale for Min. Plus
1 Minute of Pushups                      40                                                        +2 Pts Each Rep Above Min
1 Minute of Situps                         40                                                        +3 Pts Each Rep Above Min
Pullups                                          6 - Not Timed                                      +3 Pts Each Rep Above Min
Dips                                             6 - Not Timed                                      +2 Pts Each Rep Above Min
Bench Press 80% Body Weight    6 - Not Timed                                      +3 Pts Each Rep Above Min
20 ft. Rope Climb in Body Armor 
or Weight Vest - 25#                    1                                                           Pass / Fail
1 Minute Kip-ups                         6                                                          +2 Pts Every Rep Above Min
4 x 25 M Shuttle Run                   Max 24 Secs                                   +2 Pts Every 1/10 of a Sec Under
5 Mile Run                                   Max 40 Mins                   +2 Pts Every Full 15 Sec from 35 to 30 Min

If you do not meet the minimum standards in EVERY event you will fail the entire test. The least you can score is 900 points.  By adding your extra repetitions / time per exercise you can create a team competition or have a way to grade prospective candidates seeking to enter these Special Operations Teams. A good score is considered 1300 and above with some scores getting about 1500 in many of the Spec Ops units.

At the time I exceed all of the minimum standards….except run 5 miles in 40 minutes.  I had just run a PT test and had  to bust my ass to run one 8:15 minute mile, much less five of them in a row.

That did not sit well with me

So I decided I was going to beat the Spec Ops fitness challenge.   In order to achieve that I’m going to have to tweak some things.  Basically I am going to have to become Batman.

So I started adapting the Super Soldier Project into operation……

Batman by 40
  • 225lbs
  • 40 Min 5 mile
  • 6 min 1 mile
  • 15 pull ups in one minute
  • 60 push ups in one minute
  • 60 sit ups in one minute
  • 20 dips in one minute

What did I do to reach those goals?
Well, that will actually be several chapters of the book.  I'm not going to get into the specifics here, that would make this blog  far too long.

However I will begin an ongoing "Becoming Batman" blog series detailing general aspects of the program.

What I would like to address in this blog is the use of Batman or any other hero to inspire.

Super heroes are defined as characters with skills, abilities or powers, fighting against evil.

I seek the means to fight injustice. To turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.”
- Bruce Wayne - Batman Begins.

By most definitions, characters do not strictly require superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes.

Terms such as crime fighters or adventurers are sometimes used to refer to those such as Batman and Green Arrow without powers who share other superhero traits

Heroes serve to inspire us to be more than what we are.
To become the best that we can be
Plenty times I wanted to quit (especially on the treadmill or running in the snow)

Batman doesn't quit
So then neither do I 

As I made progress, and saw results achieving my goal became more important.  It was easier to refrain from or eliminate things that deterred from that progress

Nothing succeeds like success

"Hey we are going out for ice cream want to come"
No thanks
"What are you going to have for desert?"

The closer I got, the more real it became, the more I wanted it.

What would Batman do?  Heroes serve to inspire, that became my mantra

It's raining out I don't feel like running
It's been a crazy day at work and the DVR is full of cool stuff, the couch is just downstairs and the Dojo is so far away
This bed is so soft and warm, sleeping in would feel so good maybe today can be a rest day

That is what Batman would do

How do you become Batman?
There really is no secret.  The short answer is, make a plan that you can stick to, then stick to the plan.

On days you don't feel like sticking to the plan find inspiration.

It doesn't have to be from Batman or even a Super Hero.  Here is a picture of my Sister after crushing a 7 mile run in 1 hour.  You can see she draws inspiration from Captain America and Batman.

But I draw inspiration from her.  She isn't a genetic freak gifted with amazing athletic abilities.  She busts her ass and eats clean everyday.

 Make a plan that you can stick to, then stick to the plan

You may never reach your goals.  Sad but true.  However, in your attempt to reach those goals whatever they are, you will make much more improvement in the attempt than if you never try to do anything great.

“The key isn't winning -- or losing, it's making the attempt. I may never be what I ought to be, want to be -- but how will I know unless I try?

Sure, it's scary, but what's the alternative? Stagnation - A safer, more terrible form of death. Not of the body, but of the spirit.

An animal knows what it is, and accepts it. A man may know what he is -- but he questions. He dreams. He strives. Changes. Grows.” 
― Chris ClaremontWolverine

So, Did I make it?

Now 18 months and a whole lot of hard work later (Drum roll please)......................

Batman by 40 Results:
  • 195lbs
  • 40 Min 5 mile
  • 6 min 1 mile
  • 33 pull ups in one minute
  • 62 push ups in one minute
  • 69 sit ups in one minute
  • 34 dips in one minute
C'mon guys it's me of course I did it.

I am the goddamned Batman!

Besides reaching the Spec Op goals I set for myself, here are some other pretty cool Batman stuff I have done

  • There is a signal used to call me when I am needed to apprehend a criminal too dangerous for the police to handle on their own.
  • I have driven heavily armored assault vehicles retro engineered for crime fighting
  • I wear a utility belt containing weapons and gadgets to fight crime
  • I’ve crashed through windows
  • I’ve smashed in doors
  • I’ve smashed through walls
  • I’ve entered locations before the SWAT team and handled the situation to minimize risk to others
  • I’ve repelled off buildings
  • I’ve repealed off buildings up side down
  • I’ve climbed buildings to stoically observe criminals from the roof tops (brooding optional)
  • I've used explosive powders as a distraction (theatricality and deception)

As cool as all of that is it doesn't really mean shit
What have I done for you lately?

The world will always need a Batman

Project Batman Beyond:
It would be easy to sit on my laurels now
Steve Jimerfield always says you should retire more fit than when you were hired.
Hell, he didn't even really start working out until he was 50

So Project Batman Beyond has two facets
One is to maintain this level for the next decade.

The only way I can figure to do that is to make constant progress.

Two is to train worthy replacements to take up the mantel of the Bat when I am gone

Stayed tuned for results

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Knock knock
who's there?
Becca who?
Because I'M BATMAN!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dragon Slayer

The other day at the Violence Dynamics Semester Course we were discussing asocial violence and predators.

Because, if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a pop culture guy, I quoted a recent episode of “Fargo the Series”

Here is the set up:
Billy Bob Thorton plays Lorne Malvo, a predator.  A professional criminal / hit man.  What makes this character cool is he is an agent of chaos.  Sure he does plenty of criminal activity himself.  But he likes to get people to do things that they might not normally do, and then  watch their worlds burn around them.

Colin Hanks plays Deputy Gus Grimly, a rural Minnesota law enforcement officer.  Grimly is low man on the totem pole at his department, even working part time as animal control when/if the regular animal guy calls in sick.

Grimly (a single father) is working overnight and talking with his daughter over a walkie-talkie when a car runs a stop sign and goes flying by him.  Grimly pulls the car (driven by Malvo) over.

Grimly asks Malvo for his driver’s license and proof of insurance.  You can hear his daughter’s voice over the walkie-talkie from his squad car.
Malvo responds, we could go down that road, or you could walk back to your squad car and pretend you never saw me.
Grimly asks why should I do that?   Malvo looks back at the squad car from which Grimly’s daughter’s voice can still be heard and says…

Because some roads you shouldn’t go down.
Because maps used to say – There’d be Dragons here.
Now they don’t.
But that don’t mean the Dragons aren’t there.

Grimly let him go with a warning.

A couple days after the class Lise asked me – Hey, you started as a rural Minnesota law enforcement officer.  What would you have done if you pulled someone over and they laid that dragon line on you?

I hope I would have said something cool like – Hey that is cute, ever hear of a fella named St. George? 
There is a reason maps don’t read – There’d be Dragons here anymore.
Step out of the vehicle please.

Lise replied, yeah you are not animal control.
No, no I am not.  But all professionals started somewhere.

There are still dragons out there, don’t be fooled (the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist).
There will always be dragons.  There will always be a need for Dragon Slayers.
Everyone starts somewhere and Dragon Slayers will always be needed.
So, how does one go from “somewhere” to Dragon Slayer?
  • Competence
  • Tools
  • Experience
  • Attitude / Mental baring
  • Teamwork

When I first starting writing this confidence was the first quality I listed.  However, the more I thought about it, I felt a need to change it.

Confidence in and of itself is worthless.  Especially now when an entire generation has been constantly told that they are special and everything they do is wonderful.  False confidence can be fatal.

Confidence earned through merit is a different matter entirely. 
Competence - the ability to do something successfully – breeds useful confidence.

Do you have the skills necessary to take the Dragon down? (Do you have fangs?)
What skills are needed?  I have used this analogy several time during the course of this blog but I still feel the best way to summarize the skills necessary is to examine a sample use of force continuum.
1.      Presence
Physical Fitness
2.      Verbal commands
Communication Skills
3.      Contact Controls
Touching or Seizing the offender
Escort Compliance
Standing Controls
Pain Compliance
Joint Locks
4.      Compliance Techniques
“Soft Hands”
Take Downs
5.      Disabling Techniques
“Hard Hands”
Impact Techniques
Striking / Kicking
6.      Potentially Lethal Force
Weapons Techniques
Impact weapons
Edged Weapons
Improvised weapons

Professionals have to have skill sets at all levels of force.
Even if you are not a professional user of force, that does not mean you will not have to face a Dragon.  You will need those skill sets too.

Competence is ingrained over time.  It is developed by a daily investment in yourself.  Competence is the result of a particular lifestyle not just a hobby or even a profession.

Do you work those skills on a regular basis?
Are you 1% better today than you were yesterday?
What have you done today to be a better hunter?

"Saving people, hunting things. The family business."
—Dean Winchester

C’mon you didn’t think I would have a blog about hunting monsters without a "Supernatural" reference did ya?

Do you carry the tools necessary to hunt?
If you are a law enforcement officer or hold a carry permit, do you carry a firearm with you?
Is it uncomfortable?  Is it inconvenient?
If something happened that you could have stopped had you been prepared could you live with yourself?

An excerpt from “Gun owner’s last prayer”
... Let NOT my last thought be, if I only had a gun,…

An amature sees a potential threat and wonders could I take him.  A professional sees a potential threat and devises the best way to take him.  Having the tools necessary gives you more options

Not just weapons.
Phone  - call first responders.  Take photos, film video
Clothes – can you run / fight in what you are wearing

One of my favorite episodes of Justice League Unlimited is titled "The Once and Future Thing- part 1"
Reader's Digest version:
Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman end up in the wild west of America in the 1880's
As soon as they arrive they are jumped by outlaws.  After they kick the outlaws asses they take their horses.

They also take their clothes to be less conspicuous

Wonder Woman complains that the boots hurt.
Batman replies,"Dianna you routinely fight crime in high heels"
She counters, "High heels that fit"

My point is, and I tell this to my daughters - I am clearly not a women's fashion expert, but if you can't fight in it don't wear it.  If you can, cool beans.  Wonder Woman can pull off fighting in high heels, me not so much.

 "Look at her shoes, if a fashion magazine told her to she'd wear cats strapped to her feet." - Giles

C’mon you didn’t think I would have a blog about hunting monsters without a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reference did ya?

Other Gear / Tools
If you get cut / shot can you patch your self up until more / better help can arrive?

  • Israeli bandage
  • Tourniquet

Have you been trained in basic buddy care / self care?

Do you carry enough cash to get things in an emergency like:

  • A cab
  • A hotel room
  • Food / water
  • 1st aid supplies

Batman is clearly bad ass.  But much less so without the tools of his trade.

You probably can't pull off wearing a utility belt in public.

However, consider putting together an inconspicuous "go bag" with all the things you need to slay Dragons, and keep it with you.


My first DUI (catching one not being caught if you were wondering) was a lot like that seen from Fargo that started this blog.

It was my first job.  I was young and inexperienced.  I was all by myself working in a city in rural northern Minnesota.

Call came in over the radio.  Be on the look out for this make and model car possible DK driver.  I was getting a sandwich for dinner at the gas station.  The only restaurant open in town during the winter.  Sure enough a car fitting that description went right pass.  I threw my sandwich in the passenger seat and followed to observe driving behavior.

Wouldn't you know he crosses the fog line then crosses the center line back and fourth like that.  I turn on the lights and sirens and call it in.

I get out of the squad and start my approach as I had been taught.  He rolls down the window and leans out (spidey sense tingles) "What the fuck you want?"

I pulled you over because you were swerving between lanes is everything OK?

"I swerved to miss that deer didn't you see it?"

His breath reeks of booze

No sir I didn't, have you had anything to drink tonight?


Would mind stepping out of the car and taking some sobriety tests

"Fuck you I ain't taking any tests"

Shit just got real - adrenalin hits me.  I am going to arrest this guy.  Looks like I'm going to have to fight this guy.

"If I'm wrong the tests will prove it and you can go on your way" 

"Fuck you I ain't taking any tests"

Then I don't have much choice your are under arrest get out of the car.

No response

I open the door and attempt to guide him out

He locks onto the wheel real tight.

I yank him out of the car put him into the snow on the ground and cuff him.  My heart is beating a mile a minute.  My first really real hands on with a bad guy.  Shit now what?

I am kind of smart enough to get him in the car, notify dispatch, and start towards the law enforcement center.

Luckily for me a County Deputy lived in town, was working that night and listening to his radio.  He offered to meet me at the LEC to run the intoxilizer.

Did you read him his rights?
Did you read the implied consent?

OK this is what you need to do.

At a time when my brain wasn't working so well, that Deputy made sure everything was square by the time we got through testing and booking so everything was legit.

There was a moment between the intoxilizer and moving him to booking that the suspect tried to get behind me.  I moved so he couldn't and escorted him to the Sally Port.

Later, the Deputy said he noticed what I did there, and that I would be just fine.  I had passed his test I guess, because from then on he kind of took me under his wing and taught me a lot about copping that I never learned graduating with honors from Mankato State.

Next time I had a DUI I wasn't nearly as adrenalized and I handled my own business.  

Moral of the story?  If you are going to hunt Dragons learn the craft from a Dragon Slayer.  If someone is willing to mentor you, be your "Rabbi" take full advantage of their time and experience.

[Also understand if you do this the Universe will require you to pay it forward and Mentor some other dumb ass kid down the road]

The second moral of the story is every time you hunt Dragons and live it gets easier to hunt Dragons.  You retain cognitive function longer.  You get good at it.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The difference between me and the character from Fargo is I understood I had a duty to act.  

On the show people died because he let Malvo go.

Even though pulling that guy over was scary at the time, had I not pulled him over, people could have died.
If I pulled him over and then let him go because dealing with him was difficult / uncomfortable, people could have died

That was something I was not going to let happen.
That was something I could not have lived with.

Which leads us to...

Attitude / Mental baring

In a later episode the Deputy Gus Grimly character admits that he never wanted to be a Cop.  He tried to be a mailman but the Post Office wasn't hiring.

That is fine.  Postal workers help people.  They get to know the community.  They have a good government job with decent benefits.

Law Enforcement Officers are not - can not be Mail Carriers that happen to wear armor and weapons.
Sadly there are plenty of Officers like Grimly that should be Mail Carriers.

Every few years I help teach a an active shooter class.  Part of that class is a frank discussion on what is required of responding Officers to effectively end an active shooter scenario.

The world learned hard lessons from Besaln Russia


One of those lessons being the longer armed response waits the more time the enemy has to harden the target and do horrible things to the people inside.

That means the first shooters on scene have to get in there and well, start shooting.

That is scary.  You may die.  But all the time the shooter is shooting at you he is not shooting kids.  You give more time for more shooters to get there and do their jobs.  So on and so fourth until the attacker (attackers) is no longer a threat.

Statistically in the U.S. when the assailant meets force the confrontation ends quickly.  Many times with the assailant taking their own lives.

When you look into the abyss the abyss looks back.  These guys didn't want a gun fight.  They just wanted a high body count.  If they wanted a gun fight they would go to a Police Station or a gun range.  When folks start shooting back it is a different ball game.

At this class we ask the Officers to take a hard look at themselves.
Are you willing to run towards the sound of gun shots and if necessary die to save innocent lives?
I overheard one Officer say under his breath no way would I go in there, it's dangerous

Clearly that guy is not a Dragon Slayer
Clearly he is a mailman with a gun

If that is how you feel, that is fine.  That is smart.  But stop being a cop.  Go get hired by the postal service
Not everyone can be St. George

Professionals have a duty to be
In many versions of St. George's legend he saves an innocent young girl from the Dragon.

I have a house full of innocent young girls.

I expect the Officers that would respond to my daughters' school to go in and slay that mother fucker before it can lay a finger on my girls.  If I expect that, I can give no less to the people I am responsible to protect.

I wonder if that mailman with a gun could live with himself if gods forbid innocent children were killed (or worse) because he would not act.


Everyone dies...

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a
friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all
people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy
of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only
in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones
to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are
filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

 - Chief Tecumseh 

For further discussion on living your life (getting your shit together) that the fear of death can never enter your heart, please check out this previous blog:

Risk of death from another perspective - Blog

Don't read any of the above as advocation of throwing your life away stupidly.
One of the best ways to slay a Dragon is bring friends.  Lots of friends.  Lots of friends with guns.

Team Work

As cool as the above picture is, unless you have a mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones, that picture is the results of shitty tactics.

You may not have a choice.  If you are dealing with a Dragon because they were hunting you, you most likely will have to slay them on your own.

However, if you have the option  / resources use team work.

Calling for back up is not a pussy move.  It is smart.  So is stalling until back up arrives and the odds swing to your favor.

Even in the aforementioned active shooter situation you usually go in teams of at least two if not four.

Batman doesn't have a mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones.  But he is pretty smart...

Let's review - how do you become a Dragon Slayer:
  • Competence
Understand the skill sets you will require and work those skills every day.
  • Tools
Carry the equipment you will need with you.  Always better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
  • Experience
It gets easier.  Create a habit of doing what needs to be done (see building competience) especially if it is difficult, scarry, or you just don't feel like doing it.
  • Attitude / Mental baring
If you are a mailman be the best mailman you can be.  Don't do a job that requires you to slay Dragons.
Maps used to say – There’d be Dragons here.
Now they don’t.
But that don’t mean the Dragons aren’t there.

Anyone reading this may have to deal with a Dragon.  As bad and scary as they are they are still just 7 liters of blood in a skin sack.  Their spinal cords are only protected by thing rings of fairly fragil bone.  You don't fight a Dragon, you slay a Dragon.

I mean have you seen Billy Bob Thorton?  The only reason he is scarry is he is willing to and enjoys using violence.

The only way to stop evil violent men, is for good men (and women) to be more skilled (and willing to use) violence
  • Teamwork
Be smart use the resources and personell available to you.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Monday, May 12, 2014

Time Travel

I was watching “Once Upon a Time” with my daughters the other night.  In that particular episode two characters travel back in time and get stuck there.  One even jokes that they need to find Marty McFly.  Ironically enough a few scenes later she accidentally prevents her parent’s first meeting and must spend the rest of the episode putting the time line back on track so her parents fall in love and she doesn’t blink out of existence.

Got me thinking about time travel
No I didn’t crack my head on the toilet and come up with a flux capacitor.  More along the lines of “Somewhere in time”

I remember watching this movie as a kid.  If you haven’t seen it here is the low down
Christopher Reeve plays a playwright.   After the premiere of the first play he has written he is approached by an elderly woman who places a pocket watch in his hand and pleads, "Come back to me."  Years later he develops a crush on an old timey picture in an old hotel.  Does some research turns out the old broad is the gal in the picture. 

Yadda yadda tries to hypnotize himself into visiting the past and fails.  Then he finds an old hotel guest book from 1912 with his signature in it and realizes that he will eventually succeed.
Tries again with this time because of the guest book, his absolute faith in his eventual success becomes the trigger for the journey back through time.

More of a romantic drama than a sci fi adventure but I remember it because it was the first time I was exposed to the concept of a temporal anomaly.
If he never went back in time she would never have had the watch.  If she never gave him the watch he never would have gone back in time.

Does your head hurt?

Another thing that has always fascinated me about time travel (at least how time travel is depicted in fiction) is the ripple effect.  How changing one seemingly minor event in the past can have a profound effect on the future.

As mentioned before when Marty accidentally interfered with the event that lead to his parents falling in love he nearly destroyed his family and changed the effects his family’s existence had directly on the world and also on everyone that they came in contact with and the influence of every decision they made.

Along those lines, the ripple effect is one of the problems I have with the show “Continuum”

Rachel Nicols plays a Protector (Military / Police) from a future where an amalgam of big business (Corporate congress) rules the world.  She accidentally gets sent back in time along with a terrorist organization that wants to use the ripple effect to destroy the corporate congress.

She has to struggle to keep the time line as it was so her family still exists if/ when she can find a way back.
The terrorists want to stop these big corporations.  Imagine how different the world would be today if someone went back and stopped Apple from ever being founded.  You wouldn’t be reading this blog on your IPhone.  Hell, there might not even be such a thing as a blog.  

How could this time line exist without access to the Budo Blog?  I shudder to think.

My problem with the show is there is a third group of time travelers called free lancers.  They are a nearly 1000 year old organization dedicated to protecting history and preserving the time line (kind of like Timecop but without mullets).

Instead of being exactly when and where the terrorists and the hero appear in this time line and killing them instantly so they can have no ripple effect, they allow them to have weekly adventures fighting echo other. Lame 

OK back on point.  Where am I going with this?
So besides being a sci fi nerd why did I bring up those time travel stories?

Two points I want to hit on:
  • ·         Ripple Effect
  • ·         Belief that it can be done

We discussed how the ripple effect is described in popular media.  Changing one seemingly minor event in the past can have a profound effect on the future.

Time travel exists.  

We all do it every second of every day ever forward into the future.

We can’t go back.  However we can imagine where we would like to be in the future and find a way to get there.

If you could go back in time, say 5 years – what would change?  What information would you give a past version of yourself?

Where do you want be in 5 years?  What changes do you need to make, what information do you need to get there?

We can’t go back, but we can create our own ripple effect moving forward.

If the end of the ripple is who you want to be / what you want to be doing 5 years from now.
What are the pebbles in the pond that would cause that particular ripple.

Pun fully intended

Work that backward to changing  seemingly minor events.

What would you have to have in place 2 ½ years from now to be who you want to be / what you want to be doing in 5 years?
In one year?
Next month?

Like in “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure” - remember to put a garbage can here.  It only works if you go back and put in the work to have all things in place when you need them.

We can’t go back but we can put those things in place for our future selves.

Set you goals.  Develop a road map to get there.  Work the plan.


Changing one seemingly minor event in the past can have a profound effect on the future.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit”

What do you need to repeatedly do to be who you want to be / what you want to be doing in 5 years?

Have you done that today?
If not, why the hell not?

Asking myself those selfsame questions I have decided that every day I need to spend at least 1 hour on:
  • ·         Fitness
  • ·         Writing
  • ·         Business
  • ·         Family time

I also need to do dry fire drills regularly not for an hour, and not every day, but regularly.  I have also found that I need to pay constant attention to my nutritional intake or it catches up with me.

Like the old saying - A moment on the lips a life time on the hips.

If you don’t have a plan it is easy to fall into behavior patterns that are not affecting the change you want.  No pebble in the pond, no ripple.

For myself I have found it easier to stay on track if I start each day with a to do list.  Then fit that list into a time line for the day.  When I am done with the things I have to do I can play with the things I want to do as a reward.

Put in the work every day and watch the ripples.

That reminds me of an article I read in “Aikido Journal” years ago

{Side note and shameless self-promotion (which kind of proves my point) – this blog has been featured on Aikido Journal Online http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/02/03/reality-based-scenarios-by-kasey-keckeisen/ }

That article asked how do you become strong in Aikido.  The author asked that question of several high ranking Aikidoka for different training backgrounds.

One replied you must perform misogi.  (Misogi is a Japanese Shinto practice of ritual purification by washing the entire body.  Usually under a water fall)

Another replied you must deeply contemplate Osensei’s teachings and read all his writings.

For every “master” they asked there was a different answer.

Except from the Yoshinkan guys.  Every Yoshinkan guy they asked responded almost verbatim.  
There is only one way to become strong in Aikido.  Show up at the Dojo on a regular basis and train hard.

That brings me to the second point I wanted to hit on (like your mom)

Belief that it can be done
Absolute faith in your eventual success.
Whatever it is you want show up every day and work for it.
Know deep down in the marrow of your bones that it can be done.  All the work is paying off, even if you can’t quite see it yet.

Nothing succeeds like success.  Set small reasonable goals.  Accomplishing them conditions your mind that it is possible.  Continuing in reasonable increments of difficulty until you are there.

Dedicate yourself.  Everything you do can bring about that future ripple.

Granted, we all are all just human.  You will need rest days, cheat meals, mental health breaks.  But they should serve to re-energize you to get back into the struggle for what you want.  Not take you in the opposite direction.

I want future me to thank me for all the work I put in.  

Not to curse me for sitting around day dreaming about what could be, without working to make it a reality.

Nearly a year and a half ago I decided I wanted to be Batman.  I defined what it meant to me to be Batman and developed a plan to get there.  Now I am about 6 weeks away from the deadline I set and I am on schedule to meet those goals.

I didn't always have absolute faith in my eventual success.  There were plenty of times (especially while running) I wanted to quit.  But I didn't.  And every time I didn't quit I got just a little closer to being Batman.  

All those just a little closers added up.  Now I'm almost there. 
Stay tuned for results.

Nothing succeeds like success - absolute faith in my eventual success.
I know that not all that long from now published author financially independent Kasey will look back at this blog and smile.

Did he some how write this blog?  Without this blog would he ever come to be?
Now my head hurts.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Decide what you want and put in the work to get it.  Let nothing stop you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Strong Roots - Useful Fruits

Hey everybody welcome back to the Budo Blog and thanks for reading.

Couple things bouncing around the old noggin recently
  • Roots
  • Expansion and contraction
  • Obtaining knowledge, refining that knowledge to its base principles

The purpose of Operational Disciplines Training (ODIN) is to get a trainee to an effective level of proficiency in the practical application of personal protection as efficiently (see also quickly) as possible.

From zero training and experience to competency in 9 to 10 weeks
Or from Dojo / Dojang training to practical application (not nearly the same thing) in 9-10 weeks

To do this I have drawn heavily on the WWII Combatives training methods / protocols.

20 hours of training is more than WWII ear Operatives / Commandos received

Their training was refined down to the most efficient means to accomplish the tasks required of them in the environment those skills would be used.

I have been having a lot of fun developing the ODIN program, and seeing people learning through play.

The process of developing a program has forced me to grow as a teacher.  If I am honest with myself I have neglected many aspects of running a school (paper work, tracking students’ progress, monitoring enrollment, and drop out of students) to focus on what I find important, and what I enjoy doing,

In organizing ODIN and with advice from Randy King I have come to realize that if I am going to attain the success I want I can no longer ignore those aspects of running a school.

To help get my poop in a group I have been working with my friend Omar Ahmad and the USMAA

[Side note – shameless self plug, if after reading this blog you would like to experience the type of training I am describing I will be teaching at the USMAA national training camp in St. Louis this July
Check out this link for more details - http://stltkd.com/usmaa.htm ]

Cool thing about the brain, taking information you know and organizing it in other ways creates more and deeper pathways to that information.
Knowing it is one thing
Being able to teach it is another
Being able to write about it - teach with out being with the student is another
Teaching others to teach others is yet another.

As such organizing what I know into a logical system that other people can follow and teach got me thinking.

I had been training in martial arts for nearly 20 years before I started refining what I had learned down to what is most needed, what can be readily taught to and retained by the student, and focusing on the principles that makes those things work.

If we make an analogy of the end product of that refinement as the fruit, then we must acknowledge that the fruit could have never have bloomed without strong roots.

I am proud of the ODIN project and I have seen students make great strides.  However, I have also noticed that the students that pick it up the fastest also have strong roots in traditional martial arts.  If those roots have ingrained skills with out building blinders.

Those students  are able to make bridges to previous learning and more easily understand the core principle or concept that make 1000’s of techniques work (as opposed to memorizing another 1000 techniques)

This observation along with several conversations continued the thinking that knowledge organization started, and when I think I blog.

I can’t be all things to all people all the time.
If I try it will be to the detriment of all – “The hunter, who chases two rabbits, catches neither one.”

ODIN is for quickly achieving proficiency.  I must fully embrace this and market it as such. 

Budo is for surpassing proficiency and attaining mastery.  It is as necessary and can be as fun as ODIN.  It simply has a different delivery system and target demographic.

How can both be done without being detrimental to each other?

Different strokes for different folks and a solid Venn diagram.
What do I mean by that?  Let me start with a story.
Funny thing happened to me on the way home from the Dojo…

Last Tuesday’s ODIN training was on asocial violence and counter ambush tactics.  We discussed the “interview” and how a predator will use social skills to set up a predatory ambush.
The interview is a term to describe how  predators get close to you and determine how easily you will give up what they want, and if it is worth the risk. 
What the predator wants:
  • ·         Proximity
  • ·         Knowledge of you as a victim
  • ·         Distraction
  • ·         No Witnesses

Be aware of anyone trying to get TOO close.
People get close to you all the time. 
  • ·         On a bus,
  • ·         Busy streets,
  • ·         Crowded restaurant. 

That is a fact of life and is unavoidable. What you need to notice are patterns. 
Everybody crowds everybody in a busy bar.  People don’t crowd at an ATM at night.  If someone is trying to get close to you but isolate you from others (wean you from the heard) be cautious

Knowledge of you as a victim
  • ·         Testing how you control your space. 
  • ·         How do you send the signal that your space has been invaded?

If you pretend not to notice if you shrink you are sending the message that you are a good choice as a victim. 
Meek and silent may prevent social violence, but it will encourage asocial violence. 
Hence important to know the difference and make the distinction quickly.

  • ·         What time is it (gets you to look at watch)
  • ·         You got a light (ties up one hand in your pocket)
  • ·         How do I get to…(engages your brain in a cognitive process)

I made the point that someone holding a map and asking for directions has the perfect set up to close distance and distract you.
A student asked something along the lines of  - “Are you saying we should never help anyone”
I replied that you have to assess the situation and trust your intuition.
I’d be much more inclined to help Lise than I would to help Clint

That is Lise ( The one with less facial hair)

That is Clint.  Clint gives Bane nightmares.

But even if Lise was giving me the creeps I have to allow myself to be rude.  Lise can slip a knife in my ribs just as easily as Clint.  Even easier if you underestimate her.

Thursday night we had a proto type run of the Budo class I will describe later (Thursday’s class focused on Aikido and it’s Daito Ryu and Kenjutsu roots – it was a blast)

My girls love coming to the Dojo, and because my subterranean semisecret training facility is hidden underneath a bar, and because they didn’t have school the next day I treated them to popcorn and chocolate milk after class. (In the bar because I'm classy like that)

Ironically enough as I am packing 3 little girls into my truck in a now all but abandoned parking lot outside a bar (Avoid places where violence is likely to happen)  I see a big bald tatted out guy approaching us.  

We make eye contact and he keeps coming.

{If someone is trying to get close to you but isolate you from others (wean you from the heard) be cautious}

I think no fucking way is this really happening, am I going to have a great story next week on how I justifiably used force on a criminal that happened to hunt in an apex predator’s back yard?

When Neck Tats (that is the name I gave him in my head) got to the line I mentally drew in the sand,  I hopped out of my truck and asked him what he was he was doing.

{How do you control your space?}

He asked if he could borrow my phone
I simply told him no

{How do you send the signal that your space has been invaded?}

He asked if they (The Legion) was still open
I told him yes and they even have a public phone he could use.

Was this an interview precursor to an ambush?  The world will never know, because there was no way I was going to let that guy close to me or my little girls.

I often say that anytime you allow things to get physical there is the potential for things to go lethal.  So don’t fight over anything you are not willing to kill or die for.
Nearly everything in the world I am willing to kill for was in my truck (My daughters not my comics) so fuck yeah I was willing to go physical.  However in calmly showing that I have seen this guy, recognized what he might have been doing, and confidently using social skills to deter potential asocial violence I sent subtle but real not to be fucked with signals to Neck Tats that precluded the need for any physical confrontation.


Whoopty f’n doo  - what is the point of this story, what does it have to do with this blog?

I faced a potential violent confrontation after class in the Dojo parking lot.

If someone with absolutely no training came to an ODIN class and gods forbid needed to protect themselves on the way home from that first class, I want them to be able to pull off whatever they were taught.

It doesn’t take much training or skill to punch a guy in the dick, but it sure works well

To get to proficiency that quickly many things from traditional martial arts training must be stripped away.  There is simply not enough time, and people interested solely in self protection have no interest in those aspects anyway.

(Different strokes for different folks)

Some of the things that I am capable of doing, some of the things that I do instinctively (and therefore sometimes forget to teach) are only possible because I have been training in Japanese martial arts for 22 years.

There is a product I can provide for those interested in traditional martial arts training.

An organization, defined requirements, skills testing, rank.
All of that, but more importantly martial art for the simple pleasure of martial art.  Being able to do certain things (difficult things) with your body that others without training are incapable of doing.  Just for the fun of it.  As I mentioned previously Thursday’s class was a blast.

How can both be done without being detrimental to each other?

ODIN training is based on fundamental principles without the trappings of martial arts

Budo is traditional martial arts training, with the caveat that it cannot ingrain bad habits or sport mentalities that would be detrimental to practical application.

Just as I want ODIN students to be able to use their skills that very day.
I want all of my Budo students to be able walk into any Judo, any Yoshinkan Aikido, any Kyokushin Karate, and / or any Kenjutsu Dojo in the world and hold their own, know their shit, handle their business. 
To do this I have borrowed heavily form a variety of sources but two in particular.

1) Mixed Martial Arts.
Anyone who trains in "just" MMA generally sucks at MMA.
Those who are most successfull have a day of:
Muay Thai
Jui Jitsu (Yes I misspelled it, that is the way MMA guys spell it)

And then a day of MMA to work all aspects together

2) The Air Force Combative Measures Instructor Course (From 1959 until 1966)

The 155 hours course consisted of the following:
·         36 hours fundamental Judo
·         12 hours Aikido
·         12 hours Karate
·         12 hours Air Police techniques
·         12 hours air crew self-defense
·         18 hours Judo tournament procedures
·         5 hours Code of Conduct
·         48 hours training methods.
There was also a 20 hour combative measures course and a 12 hour combative survival course for air crew members.

In order to deliver the best quality product to interested demographics I have adopted the following training format.

Kyokushin Karate

10 weeks of the year ODIN – Violence Dynamics / Permit to carry
The rest of the year Keishoukan Budo (how all these aspects work together)

ODIN – Super Hero Training

Keishoukan Budo (Traditional Roots Training)
·         1 week Judo
·         1 week Aikido and Kenjutsu
·         1 week Karate

1 week ODIN – Violence Dynamics / Permit to carry
1 week Judo
1 week Aikido and Kenjutsu
1 week Karate

I run 10 week Quarters.  Like the Air Force Combative Measures Instructor Course that should give students the following :

[Things your Sensei never taught you] – 18 to 20 hours
Understanding use of force law
Force Articulation
How your brain works – this is your brain
How your brain reacts to stress caused by conflict – this is your brain on violence
Social Violence
Asocial Violence
Conflict Strategy – Avoidance
Conflict Strategy – Escape and evade
Verbal Skills  - Deescalating social violence
Verbal Skills  - Deterring asocial violence
Logic of violence - Understanding criminal behavior
Threat assessment
Reading terrain
·         Self care
·         Talking to the police
·         Psychology of survival                                                        

Scenario Training
Firearms Training

Judo – 18 to 20 hours
Keishoukan Budo – 36 hours
Yoshinkan Aikido – 18 to 20 hours
Kyokushin Karate – 36 hours

I have had a lot of fun organizing things this way and rediscovering aspects of my training I haven’t played with for a while.

The traditional roots Thursday class follows a format:
30 min warm up.  That warm up has to cover specific basics and skill sets required for that art.
That leaves 90 minutes to be broken into 6 -15 minute training blocks.

Limiting the teaching to 6 topics forces you to prioritize and value asses training.
What is the essence of the art you are teaching?  How do assure that if your student visited another Dojo that teacher would be impressed with their skills?

I can’t teach 1000’s of techniques, so I am forced to focus on the principles, that once mastered allow students to understand every technique.

ODIN is for proficiency
Budo, beyond the fun of martial arts training is for surpassing proficiency and obtaining mastery.

If you have no interest in martial art ODIN training is complete and sufficient in and of itself
If you are only interested in martial art Keishoukan Budo can provide a quality product.

The Venn diagram -
If you are interested in both, the Keishoukan Dojo is uniquely equipped to provide training that provides functional personal protection skills first and foremost, and also provides an outlet for a lifelong study of the martial arts.

In a way I’ve come full circle

I’ve spent years gaining knowledge, then refining that knowledge down.

Now I’ve come to see that, that refined product can be enhanced by reviewing the previous training with new eyes.

Keeping with the ODIN vibe let’s look at the Norse tree of life

Full circle
Strong roots - Traditional Training
Trunk - Fundamental Principles
Branches / fruit – what you can / choose to do with those principles
Circle – return to the source seeing the roots with new perspective after having used them in application

And it all starts again, but now you know which roots when tended to yield the best fruit.

With that tree of life cycle in mind , what I am excited about, the experiment I will be conducting is…
Can I use this training methodology to surpass my teachers?
How fast can I get a brand new student to proficiency?
How fast can I get a student to with previous other martial arts training proficient in practical application?

How fast can I get either of those students past proficiency to mastery?
How fast can I get them to surpass me?

So I can't and won't be all things to all people all of the time.

I will provide ODIN for those interested in Personal Protection
I will provide Budo training for those interested in Martial Arts Training

I will also encourage those interested in either to eventually cross train in the other for the betterment of both

Full circle

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe