Wow! It has been a great couple of weeks. 80's action movie level awesome
Starting with the events chronicled in the last Budo Blog I recently turned 40. Coming off the gratifying high of achieving my Batman by 40 goals I vowed not to rest on my laurels and to push on further. Project Beyond Batman (more on that to come). In mid July I was forced to put my money were my mouth (and or blog) was by entering the Minneapolis / St. Paul Tough Mudder.
If you have never heard of the Tough Mudder, it is an endurance event series in which participants attempt 10–12-mile-long (16–19 km) military-style obstacle courses. Designed and created by British Special Forces to test mental as well as physical strength, obstacles often play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. The main principle of the Tough Mudder revolves around teamwork. The Tough Mudder organization values camaraderie throughout the course, designing obstacles that encourage group participation. Participants must commit to helping others complete the course, putting teammates before themselves, and overcoming fears. The events are untimed, and an average 78% of entrants successfully complete the course.
The first Tough Mudder challenge was held in the United States in 2010. To date, more than 1.3 million people worldwide have participated in Tough Mudder events.
My sister Kay had running the Mudder with her son Kelly (a Mudder Legionnaire) as a bucket item list. She invited me, our brother Kent and his son Ben to join them. the K-Team.
If I am going beyond Batman how could I possibly back down form my sister.
I achieve more when I compete so running the mudder wasn't enough. I asked Kelly what a good time was. He said under 3 hours was a good time. So that is the goal I set for us. Just completing the course is easy in comparison to completing the course in a competitive time (not completing stops being an option).
K-Team finished in under 2 hours. That is how we roll!
All obstacles completed, no walking, helping each other, helping other mudders.
Not just because of her kick ass shirt, Kay was defiantly the Captain America of our team. She brought us together and she kicked the courses ass. I'm proud of all of us but especially her.
Only a week after the Tough Mudder I was off to St. Louis for the USMAA National Training Camp.
I always enjoy training with those guys and was happy to be invited back to teach.
Also, I may have forgotten to mention this but I was the reigning Barny Fife Top Cop Award for excellence in the field of greatness trophy winner. I had to return to defend my title.
Here is some video of what I taught
A new twist this year
My senior students are getting to the point where I can no longer promote them .
I haven't tested or been promoted in several years
Embracing the roots of the combatives I teach, I have recently re-kindled my my love for martial arts
To help me achieve more through my school I decided to join forces with the Katamedo JuJutsu Organization.
Part of that process was a demonstration / skills testing for the grade of 6th Dan in Judo, JuJutsu and Aikido
It was a tough test. The review board was comprised of men I respect. Many of whom have been training longer than I have been alive. Even more, some of these men have written the hand book or testing protocols still used by major Judo organizations to this day.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog things have been hectic lately. I was scheduled to test Friday evening. I figured Dillon and I could use the down time on Thursday to review the demonstration portion.
We hadn't had time to go over it yet.
Before lunch Thursday Omar Ahmad advised me that things have changed and I was up tonight.
This is Omar dressed as Wolverine and Bane breaking my back
The demonstration and test went well, I was promoted and accepted into the organization.
After the test, I was told that during the review panel discussion it was said:
Many martial artists come before the review board and ask for a promotion
Clearly, I did not come here to ask
I came here to take my promotion from them
All false modesty aside, it felt pretty good to hear that. 10 year old ninja movie loving Kasey that still lives inside my head was really stoked. It took a lot of effort not to smile in front of the review board before I was dismissed.
Michael Abels, David Bleeker, Omar Ahmad,Steven Jimerfield, Michael Makoid, Larry Hamby, Gary Rudenick
Before I go on bragging on myself I have to say that none of that would have been possible with out the help of family and friends.
After putting me through the Tough Mudder my sister Kay and her husband Jim hosted us in the St. Louis area and were very generous. Dillon took off time from work to be my Uke only a week before his own rank testing at the Kyokushin Karate Gashku. Alex Bleeker also helped me as Uke. Rudenick Sensei, made the trip all the way from Minnesota listening to Dillon and I talk like Batman and Bane. Omar helped me through the process, and I am also very grateful to the entire Board for the opportunity.
Thank you all, sincerely.
As rewarding as successfully completing a difficult task is (Batman by 40/Mudder / Promotions Test) that wasn't even the best part of these last couple week.
The best part was getting my ass kicked by three guys pushing 70, and a couple of heavy weights that excel in addition to their size and strength, not because of it.
Why was that the best?
After turning 40 part of me feared that that the best of journey may be behind me.
Rolling with Mike Makoid, Steve Jimmerfield, and Gary Rudenick (all in their late 60's / early 70's) I realized how much more I have left to learn. I was also happy to come to the conclusion that if I take care of myself I still have at least a solid 30 years of training (doing something I love) in front of me. Not too many people can say that.
It reminded me of my youngest daughter. She is this unique amazing little person. Neither my wife or I ever used "baby talk" with the kids. I always talked to them like adults. Now that the youngest can talk, it is cool getting to know her as a person. It is also interesting seeing how speech allows her to interact with people and learn about the world around her.
Rolling with the older Judoka at training camp I started to touch the magic. (that sounded way straighter in my head)
I felt like a child that has just become conversational. I am hopeful that my learning can become exponential, like my daughter's
Makoid Sensei said:
We are martial artists, not street thugs. We are thinkers always learning, ever adapting never stagnant. As such we are doing things our teachers never dreamed of. We have an obligation to our students to find ways to get them to where we are now faster than we did it our selves.
For me, the magic that I am chasing, what I want to understand so well I can pass it on to others, is what Makoid Sensei called "Old Man Judo"
You don't have to be old to do it. Nor does it necessarily need to be Judo.
The best word I can use to describe that magic is effortlessness.
Effort required for effortlessness -
Every Aikidoka wants the magic that Ueshiba did towards the end of his life.
They try to copy his movement at that stage. However, I feel that effortlessness was only possible because of all the hard work from his youth. Ueshiba was a bad ass. You can't mimic effortlessness you have to earn it.
Kyuzo Mifune, was known as the empty jacket. Even though he was very small he was all but impossible to throw. Like trying to wrestle an "empty jacket". He had the magic. Effortlessness, sometimes called Ju, sometimes called Aiki.
Mas Oyama is not known for Ju, or Aiki. Even though he was trained in Judo and Aikijujutsu. He may be best known for fighting bulls. Or for fighting a 100 man kumite. On the surface that seems like a lot of effort, extreme effort, and clearly it is. My point being if Oyama did not have an understanding of this effortlessness I doubt he would have lasted through all 100, much less dominated like he did. What may appear hard comes from soft. (Don't get cute with that)
Recently I have been working Kyukoshin Karate with Dillon. Somewhere in my mind was the idea the Karate had to be stiff and rigid. A point I have been working on, is breaking that idea. Staying relaxed (soft), subtle power generation + structure = Old man Karate
In doing so I now hit much harder than I ever have before. Getting closer to our shared goal of being able to hit someone so hard they shit out their own skeleton
Like Mifune, and Ueshiba, Oyama didn't just wake up one day with the magic. He trained like a maniac. He lived alone, training in the mountains for years.
Everyone would like to be the small guy who tosses the huge Marine across the room.
Very few are willing to put in the work and time to be able to do that, much less do it effortlessly
You can't mimic effortlessness you have to earn it. Lots of people are envious of Omar's size and strength. They forget that for a better part of a decade he spent 5-7 hours a day 7 days a week training Judo. That effort allows him to capitalize on his size and strength, not rely on it.
Also one of the reason Dave is so impressive. He is a large powerful man. He looks like a Grizzly Bear. But he is smooth, almost gentle. That allows him to keep his mass in reserve. He can be gentle until he decides to not be gentle. He is skilled in addition to his size not because of it.
These men put in extraordinary amounts of work to obtain effortlessness. Obtaining this magic is what I am most excited about on my own martial arts journey. Also, as Makoid Sensei said - we have an obligation to our students to find ways to get them to where we are now faster than we did it our selves.
One way I see is by focusing on principles. Makoid Sensei gave the example of a young teacher and an old teacher. A young teacher wants to show the world all the things he knows so he teaches 300 techniques at a a seminar, and the students maybe remember one. An old teacher shows one or two principles. The students can remember one or two principles. Once they know the principles the students can do 300 techniques. I would add also that because they know the principle they can create their own technique spontaneously as circumstances dictate.
Tearing down barriers we create
Principles are universal and work across the spectrum. Just as I mentioned with Karate. If relaxation and natural movement improve Judo and Aikido performance, for the principle to be sound it must also improve Karate performance. Building barriers between the different aspects serves only to diminish them.
For me to surpass my teachers I must break down those separations and focus on universal principles.
Case in point. Makoid Sensei was teaching the principles of a throw (I learned a lot from Makoid Sensei in case you couldn't tell already)
All throws require 5 things:
- Grab / Contact - Kumikata
- Move - Sabaki
- Offbalance - Kuzushi
- Fit in - Uchikomi (and or entry - Tsukuri)
- Exicute - Kake
Where things got really interesting for me is when he started talking about..
Stuff them in the hole
Makoid Sensei suggested thinking about if you were in a mystery novel - where would you put the body?
When you are throwing you and your opponent have a shared center of gravity and a combined base.
Every combined base has an inherent hole. If you move the opponent to the hole, where they can not resist you with out changing the base you throw them without effort.
If they are able to change the base you simply take them to the new inherent hole they created.
If you get to know this instinctively you can adapt as necessary and can effectively throw anyone - effortlessly.
This is the first time I heard this applied to throws but it sounded so familiar.
Duh, it is the exact same concept I train for ground escapes. Rory Miller has an entire ground movement class based on this concept.
Again, things I knew from one aspect that somehow I created walls in my mind separating / isolating the principles from other aspects.
Principles are universal, they apply across the spectrum
Endeavoring to persevere
So how does one balance / justify physciality with effortlessness
How do you, why would you embrace physical culture if you are pursuing the magic of old man judo?
1- I feel you can't own the principles required for effortlessness with out learning the lessons taught by hard physical training.
2 - It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
3 - To ensure I am still functional, and mobile at 70
Endeavor to preserve.
As a Police Officer I respond to a lot of medical calls. I've seen what 70 can look like. Scary, something I never want to see in the mirror. I have also seen pushing 70 as represented by Makoid, Rudenick, and Jimerfield Sensei (Sensei is the plural of Sensei)
I must continue to embrace physical culture to maintain a body able to continue training that long. I want to rock my 70's.
Beyond Batman - 70 is the new 30
Here are some pictures of Frank Miller's Batman from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
I include them here because in the book Batman returns from retirement at around 65 and looks like this..
So clearly, I want to look like that at 65.
Speaking of, here is a video of Rudenick Sensei knocking out a few easy "old man" push ups
Here is a clip from Batman Beyond with Bruce at 75 or so
In summary train your body like a young man so that you live long enough to learn to fight like an old man.
Great trip. I accomplished what I set out to do. Learned a lot, and grew closer to friends and family.
When I returned to Minnesota I learned that a local area Police Officer was murdered in the line of duty.
The Mendota Heights (MN) Police Department lost Officer Scott Patrick in the line of duty while on a traffic stop.
So how does one balance / justify physciality with effortlessness?
How do you, why would you embrace physical culture if you are pursuing the magic of old man judo?
I need to be able to sprint to cover. I need to be able to drag my partner to safety. I need to be able to respond in a crisis. I need to be fit to do my job.
On those days I feel I have done enough, that I deserve a break I just need to remember....
These guys are always training.
The only way to defeat evil violent men, is with good men who are better at violence.
I am a Cop. I am also a Martial Artist. I am not street thug. I am a thinker always learning, ever adapting never stagnant. I am capable of things my teachers never dreamed of. I have an obligation to pass on what I have taken to those who need these skills the most.
I had breakfast with a friend (also a Cop and trainer). He asked me how this death has effected me.
I told him about a question I was asked during the promotions test. The question went along the lines of ...A Shodan (Black Belt) is an advanced student, 3rd-5th Dan are usually teachers, but they are still taking more from the art than they give. At 6th Dan you are expected to give back more than you have taken. How do you plan to give back?
That is a tough question, and a difficult task to accomplish as I have taken quite a bit.
My answer went along the lines of striving to get this information, these skills out, not just to people who come and find me to train but to seek out those who do not train, but are the most likely to need what this training has to offer.
I mention this here so there is record of it and those of you that read my blog can keep me to my task.
Cops don't train. Military don't train. Women who are on most victim profiles don't train.
I will always enjoy training with all who come to the Dojo, but I will actively seek out the above mentioned groups and make training opportunities for them as convenient as possible. Remove all their excuses not to train.
Back to Cabot's question, how does it effect me? It hardens my resolve. Trying to get cops to train can be like smashing your head on a wall. It sure would feel good to stop. To just say fuck it I will take care of myself.
More is expected of me, I expect more of myself. I will not quit.
When an Officer dies it is sad but puts things in perspective for me. I will not quit.
Cops can't quit in a fight. Submission is death. I will not quit.
It is weird after a cop dies. There might be 5 minutes where the fuck the police posts on face book go away. You don't here much about the militarization of Law Enforcement for awhile. Less questions on why cops would possibly need armor or armored vehicles in social media, and people coming up and thanking me, shaking my hand.
That is nice, I'd prefer you just remember this feeling next time you see the media painting Law Enforcement in the worst possible light to make a sexy story.
You will never have to thank me.
Train hard, train smart, be safe