A New Read

From the book Fields Of Blood by Karen Armstrong: “One of the many intertwined motives driving men to the battlefield has been the tedium and pointlessness of ordinary domestic existence. The same hunger for intensity would compel others to become monks and ascetics.”

I’ve said how true martial artists are among the most religious of people. They contemplate, in practice, issues of living, pain, suffering and death on a regular basis. That necessarily invites more profound critical thinking and opens the door to higher consciousness.

The book is a heady read, one that I’ll take my time with.

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All Around Fighting

For several years now I’ve been training an eclectic mix of martial arts for myself.  In a single session I often train Kickboxing, Reality Based Self Defense, Kali , Jiu Jitsu, Silat, and Karate.  That’s why my training sessions have to be about 2 hours long, after a warm up.

I’ve trained these exclusively at times, meaning all I did was Kickboxing or Kali or Systema  to the exclusion of the  others, for weeks, months, or years.  Now, after almost 50 years in the martial arts, I am comfortable mixing all of them to my joy and delight.

I’m not a professional competitor, I don’t own a chain of schools, I don’t pay dues to masters above me, I’m not locked in to any particular style, and I’m not adoringly worshiping of any instructor.  Some will view this as disloyalty to my “masters” and consider this standing as “not traditional.”  Well, if you’ve read any of my other stuff you’d know I don’t value tradition as much as some.  I think that often along the way students and teachers of the martial arts miss the point that, to paraphrase something else “The martial arts were made for man, not man for the martial arts.”376063_289617814408826_327184943_n10176159_744530215584248_2897955722894680788_n

Sure, it’s good to have a solid foundation in any one of them, realizing the benefits of the style or training, and recognizing the liabilities of each.  Training a particular martial art’s skills sets make for solid skills that those who try to do it all at the beginning lack in. Look at MMA’ers who have done nothing but MMA.  Yes they kick and punch and throw and choke.  But so often their kicks look amateurish, clumsy, unbalanced.  Their punches look like schoolyard haymakers and nothing else.  They look for volume and brute force, not precision.

Then look at someone like Cung Le or Geroge St Pierre.  Cung Le has one of the best looking and most effective lead leg side kicks in the business, and George all round demonstrates abilities that only come from exclusive Karate training.

But these are professional athletes who will do whatever it takes to win in a competition.  They are also subject to protocols us civilians are not, like starting face to face in a ready stance, having a referee who will restrict them to the rules, having a particular space to fight in.  We need to recognize some subtle differences between training martial arts for fight sports, and training martial arts for self defense.  1044576_529145147122757_405149113_n

 

 

 

 

I’ve had my fun training for competition, won and lost.  I’ve had a couple of real life encounters, won and lost.  Losing a real life encounter is a lot different than losing in a tournament.  Hell, the entrance to each is a lot different.  In real life there will probably NOT be a get ready face to face start.  Your real life opponent may be a better boxer than you.  You, a good stand up boxer may find yourself on the ground in a flash at the start.  You, a good Judo/Jiu Jitsu person may be attacked by multiple attackers.  In a multiple opponent scenario “pulling guard” on one person can be suicide.

Random violence is chaotic.  I’ve learned that much.  I’d hate to be the instructor who spent lots of time on an upward block against a stiff armed front punch from a static training partner, so that it “looks good,” then the student out in the world easily gets sucker punched and “Philly dumped.”

Instructors need to think and choose what they want to teach and train.  So I train a variety of skill sets. Each with its own progressions, but in no particular order. 529515_398388640198409_789226797_n

In any training session with me you may do some boxing, knife tapping, take downs, ground work, self-defense scenarios.  Does that sound chaotic? When you step outside the dojo, I don’t know what you may encounter, if anything, and hopefully never.  When you step outside the dojo, even on the first day with me, I want you to be at least familiarized with more than one of the many chaotic possibilities you may encounter.  We can’t cover them all every time, but we can certainly go over more than just a rising block against an uninspired front punch.

For those who’ve asked; No I don’t teach Shorin Ryu Karate. I don’t teach Tae Kwon Do.  I don’t teach an exclusive brand of Filipino Martial Arts, I don’t teach American Kickboxing, etc.  I teach skill sets from these and other martial arts that I’ve trained along the way, and I’m still learning.

If you’re looking for a black belt in something or other, a certificate as a guru, I don’t offer those, you can buy them or make them up for yourself like many have done.  If you’re looking to train all around fighting and random self-defense skill sets for your own personal edification; then I may be the one to call!

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RICK VARGAS

Kali Silat & Self Defense Training Group

(386) 320-3075


Role Models!

Children are often asked who their role models are.  In elementary and middle schools many children have to write an essay of who their role model is and most children will say it’s a parent.  I think my son wrote one once about me!

I believe they say that because it’s an  easy answer, and they know it’s an expected answer.  Can’t loose with that one.  I don’t doubt that in some cases it is true.  Parents who heroically provide for their families, and the children who see the struggle and accomplishments will hold on to that for inspiration.  Parents who are accomplished and obviously have a higher quality of life than others around them have,and values that tend to live on in their children.

But for average households, or for unaccomplished households it’s honestly not the case.  It’s a false equivalency to link admiration and love, as often happens.  Like it’s obligatory to have your parent as a role model or else it means you don’t love them.  Often children admire a friends parent’s more than their own, due to the other’s character, lifestyle, or accomplishments.  That doesn’t mean  they love their parents less, it just means that the ladder they need to climb for personal development is elsewhere.  Off the top Robert Ryosaki comes to mind.

I can’t think of another way to say this but I’ve come from communities where “white people” things were often envied and derided at the same time.  I still see that today  in a lot of those same communities.  That perspective puts up a box around the child to insure that he will maintain a particular culture; foods they eat, music they listen to, etc.  That box which maintains and perpetuates a particular culture comes with unnecessary baggage and a lock.  Fear.  Fear of the different, fear of success. Fear of failure.  Fear of admiring a different role model.

James Bond was my role model.

As a young child I saw a James Bond movie.  He was fearless, heroic, educated, skilled, and worldly.  I was living in Puerto Rico at the time and was 8 or 9 years old.  In James Bond I saw what I wanted to be, to  aspire to.  It was not the being a Secret Agent part.  It was everything else I saw.  He was smooth, poised, spoke well, was charming, loved by women, respected by men, spoke other languages, was comfortable in other cultures and countries, could fly a plane, knew fine art and science, could do karate, dressed sharply.

I knew that didn’t come easily.  I knew that to be that way you had to learn, study, practice.  You had to, in what NLP today calls “modeling” start with the example before you, and build on it.  My karma was not to be afraid of stepping outside the box.  I pursued the sophistication that lay outside my box.

But those things didn’t exist in my community.  My community was largely unsophisticated.  Good hearted, hard working people that didn’t  know fine art, didn’t speak other languages, had no interest in martial arts, many didn’t even drive, and were very content in their box.  In a young child like myself at the time, those aspirations were considered quaint.  In an older child they are considered a distraction, or worse yet, a rejection of your culture, your box, your community.  That often brings alienation.

I’m sad to say the paradigm of the cultural box is alive and well in a lot of the same communities.  And more young people than not are buying into it.  Sometimes celebrating sometimes resenting their narrow constraints, and deriding the greater life around them, which they would enjoy having as well.  It just seems that they would like for it to come into their box rather than go out for it.

They don’t want to learn language and communication skills. They “ax” a question and “conversate.”  Heaven forbid learning Cantonese or French.  Music, only “reggeaton and bachata in our house” classical? folk? No way!  Food, “Ugh. How can those people eat that curry stuff?”  Job/career, auto mechanic or grocery clerk.  Spirituality, “all I know is Jesus is God nigga!”  Love, “I can’t date white people, they can’t dance salsa.”  Stray beyond these confines, try to expand your consciousness and experience and, well there’s a nonsensical term I’ve heard applied; you’re a “come mierda” you eat shit.  I know, it doesn’t make sense.

I loved my parents and family.  But they alone could not direct me to living my life to the fullest.  I found a picture of what I considered a greater quality of life outside of our box.  I would wish for the young people in our communities to become more sophisticated, more worldly, to experience more of what life has to offer, without fear of rejection and derision from their communities.  Otherwise the world and life will pass them by, and they will continue to envy and mock what they envy, when all it takes is realizing that the box doesn’t exist, it’s self created and can be self erased.

James Bond was my role model.

Even they way he introduced himself was distinct. Your name?  “Bond, James Bond!”

No matter where you are, there is a role model expressing a greater quality of life available to you.  It’s not for everybody.  But if it is for you, don’t be afraid of your community, your box.  Be brave, go beyond where those around are.  You will not be alone.  You won’t be the first on the journey, and you will have one less regret in life; you won’t regret not having stepped out of the box.

 

Testing My Recovery From Injury

So I tore a hamstring.  Had a morphing black and blue on my thigh for 3 weeks.  Spent time nursing it hot and cold, anti inflamatories, wrapping it up, and absolutely NO stretching of either leg for a month.  It started to feel better and I started to work it.  It’s feeling about 90 percent!