Commentary on myriad subjects, ranging from pop-culture, movies, music, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/MMA (that's Mixed Martial Arts for you uninitiated out there), books, and the personal.
16 May 2009
Training Kali Tudo(tm) Week Two
As many of you know, Tim and I have been gaga over some ideas the Dog Brothers have about working the angles in the stand up game (thats upright fighting, kicking punching while standing, for you uninitiated). The material is called Kali Tudo and is the brain child of Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny. This was our second week of working the material in earnest with in our classes and with our fighters. Happily I can report, that it has been as eye opening for them, as it has been for Tim and I.
I will be posting pictures and video of us training and sparring the material later this week. So far, the Zirconia, and the Drive by seem to what we are picking up the quickest. Though Tim had success with the Dracula, and both he and I were on point with the deceptively powerful, and powerfully deceptive Chasse. Tim also caught me chasing with Trigg 102.
Now many of my martial arts readers will be wondering what the hell all that means. And I could explain it here in my blog. But if you want to know that you have choices to make. Either go buy Denny's Kali Tudo tape, or come train with us. Or, even better, do both.
Clicking on the title of this entry will direct you to a troubling article about a 13 year old child with treatable Hodgekins Lymphoma who, along with his family, is refusing treatment (chemo and radiation) in favor of "complimentary" and "alternative" medicine. Were it an older person, say 18, clearly an adult capable of making their own personal decisions, this is a non-story. Foolish to be sure, but not stretching the limits of decent guardianship.
In any event, this story is deeply instructive I think, in that it demonstrates the limits of Gould's pet notion, that non-overlaping Magisteria of religions and science may exist but if they do they are the exception and not the rule. Here it isn't Christian Science, or Jehovah's Witnesses that are causing the problem, as they often do, but a Native American Traition, Nemenhah. They believe that chemotherapy is wrong because it is, "self destructive and poisonous." The boy who is the center of this sad tale is on record as saying, "I want to live a virtous life, not just a long one." If he doesn't acquiece to treatment, he may only get a shot at the former
What I am left wondering is this. At what age we can expect people to make these kind of decisions for themselves, and should we intervene when people are behaving in ways that are clearly not in the best interest of those they are charged with caring for and raising who are themselves to young to act on their own behalf? Is thirteen too young? 15? 10?
An experience in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), often comes by way of Dan Inosanto. Not universally of course, but enough that it isn't really worth mentioning in most situations. If you have come by your JKD by the lineage of Guro Inosanto you have often seen, at least, lots of thirty-six inch long rattan sticks. Often there will be more to see, knives and other edged weapons of various lengths, perhaps a staff or two. These are the weapons of the Philippines, and Guro Inosanto has been instructing people in their use for years. I come by my Jeet Kune Do in this way (my instructors were products of Larry Hartsell and later Paul Vunak) and so I have had more than a minor amount of time in the FMA (Filipino martial arts). Many people in the JKD concepts schools of thought, utilize the FMA as attribute training, and as a weapons base. Stick and knife work require, and develop hand eye coordination, foot work, simple motor coordination, and reaction time in excess of empty hand work. As such the training alone (whether you ever actually fight it) is inordinately helpful as a training aid. It can also be deeply functional and germane to one's over all self defense applications. Knives and sticks, as well as other impact type weapons are not in short supply. FMA training has, the argument goes, broad applicablity. And so it is. Knife and impact weapons do not enjoy infrequent rates of incidence in assaults, either here in the US or abroad. Having familiarity with them can only help your self defense be more robust and effective.
The Dog Brothers, a California based Kali group, have taken it upon themselves to form the first real Kali laboratory since, I am going to guess, the 1940s. That is to say, they don as little protective gear as possible and try to use their material in against opponents trying to use the same skills. The equipment varies with the skill level, and the most skilled use only a light fencing mask, and baseball gloves. What the Dog Brothers have done for Kali has been, I think, invaluable. Their methods have introduced not only a cornucopia of useful techniques, but they, and their methods have also allowed a large number of escrimidors to develop that critical fighter's eye. This in itself is a revolutionary accomplishment.
A promo clip of Kali Tudo (tm) I
The movements of the empty hand are the movements of the stick or the knife. It is this maxim, found throughout FMA, that one of the founders of the Dog Brothers, Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny, seeks to explore in this new series of instructionals. It is also a maxim of which many of us who practice the FMA find ourselves most skeptical. Well, I have certainly been skeptical. However, I have yet to have been disappointed with a Dog Brothers endeavor and if they were offering some new insight on FMA applications, I thought it might be prudent to at least give their new material an open minded examination. They did after all make me a vastly better Kali player than I was before exposure to their ideas and techniques. I can happily report that I am quite happy with my decision.
Kali Tudo(tm) is a two disc set, and the bulk of the instruction is found on the first disc. The second disc has some important material, but consists mostly of extras, an interview/conversation between Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny and Eric "Top Dog" Knauss, an interesting fight with a Filipino boxing champ, and some pretty funny clips of Dan Inosanto in a kung fu movie. There were some minor editing glitches, movement but no sound, or vice versa. Such problems are altogether infrequent and do not detract or otherwise interfere with the instruction.
For me, sans hyperbole, the material has been invaluable, and minorly revolutionary. There are no new punches or kicks, no magic bullets or anything. Its all jabs, and crosses, uppercuts, elbows, well you get the idea. There is something Denny refers to once or twice, but I don't think he explains, the downward 8 blitz. I think I know what it might be, but am not entirely sure. But there is something special about taking standard material and casting it in a new light. This is where Kali Tudo is its most successful and enlightening.
Work the angles -Saying among fighters and con men. The brilliance of Kali Tudo isn't in the specific tools, it is in Denny's identification of a problem. Namely that few fighters work, or know how to work the angles. That is to say in the dueling situations found in boxing, thai boxing, and MMA fighters stand directly infront of one another in every exchange. They move, predictably back and forth, and occasionally circle. But in attack, they are quite linear in their approach.
Kali is about attacking on angles, and it has a system of foot work designed to achieve openings on angles. Some boxing gyms and other martial arts have similar footwork, but probably nothing that is so systematic. The whole of the Kali foot work is designed to take you out of range of, or off the line of, an opponents direct attack, while letting you crash in on an unprotected angle. Denny demonstrates, with the help of his assistants, how this footwork is used in empty hand applications (which are applicable in an MMA cage, or on the street). It is this material, and this understanding that really makes this series a cut above the average DVD on Kali empty hand fighting. The rest is icing on the cake (and it is very good icing).
For me this material exposed a stultifying linearity in my own approach to stand-up fighting that was a long time coming. I am small framed heavy weight, who trains striking with larger opponents. This has cultivated a certain counter-striker style in me. That is I tended to counter on the initiation, or during an opponents movement. I did't often lead because walking head on into the firing line didn't work well for me. I've never given much thought to the angles or how I might attack on them. So for me, Kali Tudo has been revolutionary. It has shown me how I might incorporate the footwork from my experience of Kali into to my empty hand fighting in deeply useful ways. It can probably do the same for you.
This first DVD in the series is easily a 10. Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny is an articulate instructor, who has given a great deal of thought to the presentation of this material. The DVD is full of useful drills, and peppered with quality techniques you might not have seen before. Also its material on the unmatched lead (where you and your opponent are standing with opposite leads), and its angular attacks was worth the price of admission. (clicking on the title of the blog will take interested parties to the Dog Brother's website)
Health Scares, and a silly, uncritical, exploitative media.
How many times do we need to go through this nonsense? I am not sure what the frequency of the major health scare is but it cannot be less than one or two every couple of years. SARs, Ebola, West Nile, Mad Cow, and now to the great pantheon of non events I suspect we will be adding Swine Flu.
Even NPR hasn't been above this kind of sensational reporting. Newscasters all over were discussing the spread of the disease in Mexico (At the time they were breathlessly reporting that 700 cases had been confirmed in Mexico, I don't remember how many deaths) and then more breathless curiousity, and speculation about what would happen in the US when the Swine Flu really got its legs under it here. No mention whatsoever was mentioned of the generally better standards of cleanliness and quality of life found here in the US vs Mexico. This is incredibly germane to the discussion. What was clear by the tone though was that we really needed to be worried. But the numbers in the US at the time of the reporting. At the time of that airing, they reported 126 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu, and one confirmed death. That is .79% of the total infected at that time. The death itself, while sad, fits the profile of most flu deaths. It was an infant. We get no demographic details either. The very young and the very old tend to be the most susceptable to disease in general and the flu, and other respiratory pathologies specifically. I kept waiting to hear why this flu was going to be the one to really worry about, but such details were not provided. Just more of "OH MY FUCKING WORD! SWINE FLU!"
The problem with all this exploitative ratings grabbing "disease journalism" is that it is going cause the public to potentially miss the boat when the CDC, or NIH or some other such body actually has a press release we should all care about. I worry that people are going to grow a bit weary of being scared out of their skins every couple of years and having no substantial health crisis to show for it.
So CNN, MSNBC, FOXnews, NPR to name just a few, do you think, before you start running around screaming "HOLY FUCKING SHIT MY CHRIST WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE OF DISEASE X, Y, OR Z," you might just try taking a step back and get all the facts in order? Would it be possible for you to educate the public on what the statistics actually mean? Quite being twittering, know-nothings that are too too lazy to do a proper bit of reporting.
Addendum What percentage of the US was infected with H1N1 when I heard my first story on the subject? At the time there were about 165 people confirmed to be infected. What percentage of the US population is that? Assume 270 million people in the US. (165/270 million)100 gives you the percentage. Go do it. At the time of the story one person had died in the US from the disease. (1/270 million)100. Should we be worried yet?
A biologist trapped in the mental health field. I am interested in Evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation. In addition to that, I am an active competitor in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (I am a purple belt under Marcello Monteiro, a third degree black belt under Ricardo De La Riva). I like hikeing, birdwatching, camping and all things outdoors.