We train skill sets from various martial arts with Filipino Kali and Silat predominating. I call it MASS training, Martial Arts Skill Sets. I’ll tell you which art or practice what you’re doing comes from. If you like something you may want to go elsewhere to learn more of that, that’s ok.
  • It’s not Sport Based, so you don’t have to compete or “beat” anyone. It’s personal development based, and self defense oriented.
  • It’s not for Children,16 with parents approval, 18 and up. Currently my students are in their 40’s through 70’s.
  • It’s not athletic or fitness based. Fitness is important, you may need to outrun an attacker. I don’t run a killer conditioning class. You won’t have the luxury of a warmup and stretching during an assault or ambush, you’ll need to act as you are with what you have. It’s geared to the average person, it’s a thinking person’s martial arts training.
  • Time: 10AM Saturday Mornings. But call to confirm before coming, sometimes we train off location, outdoors, sometimes we reschedule.
    Place: Black Lightning Martial Arts in Debary, Fl
    Fee: $15 per session

    Instructor reserves the right to decline anyone’s participation at any time. This is serious stuff, not for play, not for people with a bad attitude or unsavory character.  I make that determination.

Death and Funerals

Português: São Paulo - O presidente Luís Ináci...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At a recent passing, someone said “why is it we only get together when someone dies?”  Good question.

I have some thoughts on it.  In my community friends and family feel a great obligation to be present at someone’s funeral. There’s also this judgment that if someone doesn’t show up, they didn’t love that person enough, or love those present enough  to come share this occasion with them. No excuse is made for finances or different point of view.

I’ve missed a few funerals in my time, mostly due to money and distance issues.  I know I’ve been judged by some religious people for that.  However, I’ve never felt the disdain or disapproval of the dead, only the living.

I read this recently: “More than a ritual for the deceased (who is not necessarily affected by what rites we perform once he or she has passed on), funerals help those left behind make the necessary changes to adjust to being separated from loved ones.”  I think that’s a good and just reason for getting together when someone dies.  Though it probably should be ongoing help, not necessarily a one day activity.

Your presence at the physical remains of someone dead is of no merit to you, or them.  They are no longer there, so the notion that they “see” how much you loved them because you are present there is preposterous.  The show is for the living, those others that are present at the funeral.  I believe your love for them is not represented by your presence there, since love is largely an immeasurable idea.  It is the same love at 3 feet of distance as it is a 1,000 miles.  So don’t judge love by distance or money.  Don’t judge someones else’s priorities of life negatively in relation to a death.

Someone’s death is often a last minute and unexpected event. Not everybody is “ready” to go at a moments notice.  We get together at funerals to support the survivors of the deceased and that’s cool.  I like that.  If it’s no hardship to you to do so.  Last minute unexpected events like this can cause the living extended harm.  Yet, some judge your unwillingness to undergo hardship at that time more harshly than at any other time.  If you don’t want to spend time, loose money, take off from work to attend a graduation, or someone’s promotion, that’s OK.  But don’t dare miss a funeral!

I have a few words for them.  Let’s go to the bible.  Jesus said “let the dead bury the dead.”  Jesus said that in regard to someone claiming it was such an important obligation to fulfill, to be at someone’s funeral, that you should pass up the things of life, or the living, for the sake of a funeral. Look it up.

If you can and want to, do it.  If it is profoundly meaningful to you, do it.  If it is out of peer pressure compulsion, stay home.  If  the expenditure to attend a funeral is a hardship, if it will take money from your living properly, like your groceries, or tomorrow’s necessities don’t do it.

I understand grief. Grief is a personal thing.  I have grieved up close and from far away. I have also grieved for those who are alive and in suffering.  I have not grieved competitively, or for approval.  My deepest grief has been in isolation, privately, and when resolved, I have moved on. Because I have grieved in solitude I have been judged as unfeeling, and I have felt that, then laughed it off.

My final words on this are don’t stress and strain about having to attend a funeral.  Honor or grieve in your heart, that’s where it matters, not with attendance at the funeral.

Only those who are there out of a shallow sense of propriety will judge you unkindly for  it. They are the dead burying the dead.

Desiderata, And Commentary

Commentary at the end…


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

Over the years my wife and I have come back to contemplate this simple poem.


Happiness (Photo credit: 4nitsirk)

We are well read in religion, philosophy, and personal development, and find this is one of those rare messages that can transcend dogmatic barriers, and touch anyone’s soul.  It has an air of intimacy, like a wise old grandfather whispering to you some practical, inside information. Indeed, I believe this short poem alone can guide one to being a godly, spiritual, or ethical person. Yet, it contains no promises of either immortality, riches of any sort, unconditional healing, or other ease of living.

Almost every line has been a favorite of mine at some point or other. One of the regular standouts for me;  Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  So many times we want spiritual wisdom, strength, and answers, desperately, in a time of crisis. But otherwise have no time to explore and develop when things are neutral or well. Nurture… these words are uplifting, relaxing, and motivational all at the same time.

It is one of the treasures of wisdom I like to share with friends and loved ones.

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A soldier came to the master and asked is there really a heaven and a hell?  “Who are you?” Demanded the master. ” I, am a Samurai!”  “You!  A soldier?  What idiot would have you as a guard, you look more like a beggar!”  The soldier grasped and began to draw his sword.  “So, you have a sword, big deal, it’s probably too dull to cut anything anyway.” As he drew his sword the master replied “Here, open the gates of Hell!”  At this, and seeing the master’s discipline, the Samurai was illumed with understanding, so he sheathed his sword, and bowed.  “Here, open the gates of heaven.”  said the MasterMy paraphrase from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

Weapons are instruments of fear, they are not a wise man’s tools.  He uses them only when he has no choice.  Peace and quiet are dear to his heart, and victory no cause for rejoicing.  Tao Te Ching 31             

First, establish yourself in the way, then teach, and so defeat sorrow.To straighten the crooked you must first do a harder thing – straighten yourself.   You are your only master.  Who else? Subdue yourself, and discover your master.  Teachings of The Buddha The Dharmapada, 12

For him who has conquered the himself by the Self, the Self is a friend; but for him who has not conquered himself, the Self remains hostile, like an enemy. The highest Self of him who has conquered himself and is peaceful, is steadfast in cold, heat, pleasure, and pain; thus also in honor and dishonor.  The Bhagavad Gita 6, 6-7