Archive for June, 2010
Can’t get this track out of my head (for good reason):
Darkseid generally does not rely on physical combat, despite his great might and being a highly trained Apokoliptian warrior; he is a master schemer and strategist possessing a superhuman intellect.
In addition, Darkseid possesses superhuman strength, stamina, and durability equivalent to the corresponding traits of Superman. He also, despite his great size, possesses great speed, agility, and reflexes as he has been able to startle Superman with his speedand it has been stated he can react in microseconds. He sometimes possesses the ability to increase hi s size.
Darkseid possesses the powers of telepathy and telekinesis, and has also shown the ability to create psionic avatars. Darkseid is also, being a god, virtually immortal. He has lived for several hundred thousand years at the very least.
Darkseid’s goal was to eliminate all free will from the universe and reshape it into his own image. To this end, he sought to unravel the mysterious Anti-Life Equation, which gives its user complete control over the thoughts and emotions of all living beings in the universe. Darkseid had tried on several other occasions to achieve dominance of the universe through other methods. He had a special interest in Earth, as he believed humans possess collectively within their minds most, if not all, fragments of the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid intended to probe the minds of every human in order to piece together the Equation.
They broke me.
Now before you go off and say that it’s because I’ve never been pushed hard enough in the past – let me tell you something. I’m a machine. I’m 30 years old and I have more in the tank than these 18-year-old punks at the gym. They try to run past me sprinting on the straight-aways, but I push back and leave ‘em in the dust.
And before you say that I’m bragging and boasting, I’m actually quite humble when it comes to my training. I’m always pushing myself harder and harder. I’d never met the wall – until yesterday at the gym.
My cardio/conditioning coach had us start off with the usual sprints, plyometric stair jumps, push-ups, burpees and medicine ball throws. I opted to stay and work on more cardio while the others went to piddle away at the heavy bags. More sprints, more medicine ball throws. Then he told me 25 high jumping knees. I said no. I sat my sorry ass down and hung my dizzy head over the trash can. …and I sat…for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only 5 minutes. Craig told me I was done…don’t worry about it. But I was worrying about it. I stood up, banged out the 25 high knees and went to hit the heavy bag.
It took me another 10 minutes of light bag work to get back to my usual self. Then Craig and I did some light sparring for 30 minutes thereafter.
No bruising from the sparring, though. My ego is slightly, however.
“One thing being raped did to me: It caused me to be sometimes rude to strangers. Not out of anger, though, but out of fear.”
(When you are working variations it is incredibly important and difficult to stay realistic. I think one of the reasons martial arts systems become so complicated is a form of inbreeding: You counter technique A with B, so they start working on a way around B and come up with C, which makes one vulnerable for D but E prevents that and… all of which predicates on a bad guy being trained in your system, countering based on your system and attacking with your system in the first place. The ‘what if’ chain usually breaks on one of the first two links. Not recognizing this, systems inbreed to inefficient complexity. But it works in-house.)
The pious pretence that evil does not exist only makes it vague, enormous and menacing. Its overshadowing formlessness obsesses the mind. The way to beat an enemy is to define him clearly, to analyse and measure him. Once an idea is intelligently grasped, it ceases to threaten the mind with the terrors of the unknown. (Perdurabo* a.k.a. Aleister Crowley)
*Perdurabo (Latin: “I Will endure to the end”)
Stuck in some fuckin hick town. Rednecks abound. I wonder what the threshold point is before the cold stares of a couple of these racist hicks, turn into something manifest, something that I can tangle with. So far two particular bikers looked at me channeling the sentiment that I was unwanted and this is their terrain. How am I to respond to just looks?
I sit here in some random coffee shop, pounding on a keyboard to shoot a quick glance up from my computer. A couple of old and pretty infirm looking bikers pretending not to pay too much attention to me now, but their microgestures betray them. How are they to know that I got obsessed looking at Eckman’s work on interpreting expressions a few years ago?
I take a break to sip my tea. A gentleman’s drink. Only barbarians drink coffee and my barbarism ended this morning at about 11. Cute girl stops to talk to the bikers. Not sure what the conversation is about, could care less.
Shit, someone I know just walked in. Gotta appear normal.
My brain is twitching. There is a small ion sized piston firing in my head. My fingers are fidgeting and when I pay attention, I notice that my right hand shakes ever so slightly. These subtle signs remind me that I haven’t trained in a few days. Cognitive function is sharp and the sunshine helps energize me more.
I should train and not be too concerned with what is happening on the oustide.
Focus on the inside.
It seems since my teenage years, I’ve been flirting with greatness. Greatness, to me, means something in the form of sport or activity. Something to do with pushing my personal physical limits and seeing what comes out on the other end.
But life is funny. I often feel that the reason I’m not in a committed relationship with greatness (other than the fact that I can easily make up my own excuses) is that when I’ve decided on a path, something else comes ’round the corner and seems to ask me if I’m serious about my next endeavour.
Many greats before me have said, “Stay the path.” But in this case, which has also been repeated, it seems that if I commit to a relationship of greatness I may also continue my Flirting With Struggle.
So I must choose. Money or passion. Stop struggling financially or start putting in ‘work.’ I’m only one man and burnout is a reality…but could we have it all?
(Al Peasland stars)
Why is it so common for relationships to become fragmented between a teacher and his student? I’ve seen it happen in Wing Chun Gung-Fu a few times over. Quite a few of the well known Sifu’s out there have split from their original teachers, usually under estranged circumstances.
Relationships sour and it seems that some people can become quite vindictive of the situation. Perhaps this is because the relationship in Gung Fu is based on trust. A teacher places enormous trust in a student. And like a father living vicariously through the triumphs of his son, a teacher similarly looks at his students triumphs as a way to reinforce his own methods.
Perhaps tensions arise when the student becomes a capable martial artist and enters into a mode of free thinking with a desire to evolve. Perhaps teachers consciously or subconsciously perceive this as a threat or grow bitter, thinking that the student will now attain the glory that the teacher never received. Perhaps the student abandons the teacher to grow in other aspects and seeks out other martial artists for further development.
I came close to this situation in the late 1990’s training under my Wing Chun instructor, Leung, Kwok-Keung during a Saturday morning session in his garden. My opponent was a fellow student who clearly had a grudge against me. We were engaged in sticking hands and he caught me in a position where my arm was hyper-extended. Not content with letting go, he paused and then crunched my elbow suddenly. The sound was audible, the pain excruciating. I continued the session but my elbow swelled and weeks later I still had problems with mobility.
I grew bitter during the recovery phase. Bitter against this renegade student and bitter against my Sifu who I felt was obligated to protect me, or at the very least, to have vocalized his disapproval. I took a break from training. In fact, I stopped training Wing Chun altogether for a period, taking time to reflect and catch up with friends who I had avoided ever since starting my Gung Fu voyage in 1993. A few months passed and I came to the realization that I was using frustration to avoid seeing the real issue; that I was scared. It was fear of confronting the same student during training that had kept me from training and as a result I had conjured up a variety of excuses to avoid going back to training.
Some months after that event, I met with Sifu for a meal during his birthday celebrations. The other students were seated around a large table and this rival student was also there. Sifu, stood when I entered the restaurant and ushered me outside for a chat.
I overcame any resentment and returned to training shortly after. Ultimately, It was by forcing myself to face the fear that I was able to improve as a Gung Fu man. It was by confronting my fear, personified as a fellow student, that I had one of my greatest learning experiences, as well as one of my life’s major triumphs. I adopted a “nothing to lose” attitude and was able to hold my own against him.
Despite this, I regret the months that passed where I had masked my own inadequacies by blaming the other student as well as my teacher. His patience in allowing me to have my space gave me a much needed opportunity to mature.
Clearly, quite often the teacher – student relationship hangs from a most fragile thread. It is up to us, as students in Gung Fu to recognize that before we cause conflict to tear the thread, we should look inwards and address our own insecurities first. I was loyal to Leung, Kwok-Keung from that day on. I shed tears at his bedside the night he died.
No.10 is the best.
Ernie Barrios is the coach behind his Advanced Body Mechanics Ving Tsun. Having an ‘extended Wing Chun family’ in several countries, he teaches his method of Wing Chun inspired by the Wong Shun Leung lineage as well as his exposure to other martial arts. Interview below:
For those in the community who don’t know you, please tell me what you teach, how long you’ve been teaching and how you got involved in the martial arts.
It’s hard to define what I teach. Any good teacher tends to be an accumulation of their experiences. Whatever particular curriculum they chose is just a container or canvas for their expression. I personally hate labels and titles as they are used more for marketing and separating us than for the conveying of knowledge. The current ‘’language‘’ that people seem to be enjoying my expression of is within the canvas of WSLVT [Wong Shun Leung Ving Tsun].
You have been teaching or learning to teach since the day you started learning , so we have all been ‘’teachers ‘’ all our lives.
And like many from my age group, we fell in love with the images of old martial arts movies – that visual language left an imprint on us as children…it seems like some more then others (laughs).
Why do you call yourself a coach?
Simple – I am coaching, developing and training others. If you’re referring to why I don’t use the term ‘’Sifu,’’ well first off I don’t speak Chinese nor am I teaching in Chinese. Also I’m a grown ass man and I’m not trying to play dress up or make believe just for the ‘’ mystery’’ and control factor. I don’t want to be anyone’s daddy-figure or belittle anyone into ‘’following’’ me.
I remember seeing some of your first videos and how your crew was sparring with gear on. I even remember the motorcycle helmet! How has the sparring influenced your Wing Chun?
Sparring is just a simple extension of the training methods. You’re just introducing different variables: distance, timing and the greater need for adaptability. Problem is, people think that sparring is fighting and some how get emotionally connected to it like it really means something. It should be treated no differently than any other aspect of your training .
What difference do you see between what sparring teaches and ‘closing’ or finishing teaches?
Closing and finishing are not the same. Are we killing people? Are we constantly maiming or knocking out our sparring partners? Of course not. So really I can’t answer. Sparring is just adding more complex variables. There are many ways to intelligently spar: Progressive isolated sparring, where you break down certain aspects or tools and add in pressure and variables incrementally; or stress over load sparring, where you shock the nervous system and try and develop a tolerance to sudden or overwhelming violence, etc
Over the years, you’ve trained with many Wing Chun folks. What do you normally see as a deficiency when coaching? What do practitioners of our chosen style need to work on?
This is very easy to answer. There was fighting before there was Wing Chun. There was Wing Chun before there was Chi Sau. Somewhere along the way they turned Chi Sau into a form non-realistic fighting and it’s gone downhill ever since.
What have you been up to lately?
Still training hard, still trying to improve myself all over as a person. I love working with the guys in the ABMVT [Advanced Body Mechanics Ving Tsun] family. I’ve been on the international seminar circuit and just had a hugely successful WSLVT summit in the UK where I got to speak and teach along side David Peterson, John Smith, Alan Gibson and Kev Bell …that was amazing to be a part of! Also had the first annual ABMVT seminar in NY. I will be working with a new group in Chile and returning to Argentina in a few months. I’m in talks to do more seminars in Denmark, Germany, Manchester and Spain And, lastly, teaching many IPTPs [Intensive Personal Training Program] here at home. So I’m pretty busy (laughs).
What developments or growth have you seen in your Wing Chun and the community over the past 10 years?
I have drawn myself away from the general ‘’Wing Chun’’ community. I just can’t stomach the politics, puffed up egos and outright bullshit marketing (laughs) …If it were not for a select few that I respect and can still hold real discussions about training and evolution with, I would probably have faded into the sunset long ago. There are so many wonderful people out there trying to learn Wing Chun, but sadly there are just as many shuck and jive dudes trying to hustle them out of every penny. The good thing is with the transition of younger people going to MMA and getting educated on what real coaches are supposed to do many of the so-called Sifu’s, Masters, Grandmasters, etc are losing their mystery-hold on their flocks of sheep. People are waking up and realizing they are not learning much. This will cause coaches to step up, put in real work, to stay in shape and train with their guys – set an example and really be the martial art, not just tell stories about the past.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now as far as your training and coaching is concerned? Where does your focus lie?
I don’t see myself past this moment. My focus is to continue to develop the people that put their trust in me. When I have nothing to give or I am no longer inspired, I will stop and move on to what might inspire me elsewhere. Life is a sequence of changes…embrace the changes.
And most importantly, are you phasing out the hip-hop in your videos in favour of some blues-guitar music?
(laughs) Well, to be honest, I was the first as I started the whole trend. I started the whole black and white letter box, over contrast, and hip hop videos. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but damn! These guys that are trying to do it need to find their own styles. (laughs) Ok, more serious. As I said it’s all an expression. I grew up on listening to and performing Hip-Hop. I’m an old school B-Boy. If you were not living it you won’t get it (laughs) and I like to mix my passions together. I have been getting turned off to all the ‘’electronic digital‘’ lifestyles, so I picked up a guitar and I’m learning acoustic blues. Something simple. No need for a band or electricity. I suck no doubt, but it has become my little ‘’Zen’’ so you will see that come out in the videos. As I said, the videos are just an extension of my need to be creative and expressive. I’m not out trying to sell DVD’s or fill a school (laughs).
Nah my friends and family know who they are (grins).
When punching air, I’m a natural.
When punching the heavy bag, I’m a natural.
I know so because I’ve been told so by a few key folks in my life. But there’s a problem: applying the knowledge in the proper context – I’m not a natural. Actually, it’s quite awkward.
My opponent dances around the ring, moves out of my range, slips my punches and stuffs my jabs. I have no power, I jam myself up and I don’t sit down on my punches. So what’s all this talk of me having ‘it’ or being born a natural?
‘You’re a natural,’ I feel, means that if I put in a ton of work into it I might come out with something resembling greatness. If I just sit on my big fat ‘natural-ness’ I’ll be going nowhere fast for the rest of my life.
I’d expected Iraq to be a new level of danger and, with it would come a new level of insight. I learned a lot– about different cultures and working with a translator and how things look much different up close than they do on the news from the other side of the world. But I didn’t learn more about the big mystery, about violence. Just that you can sleep through machine gun fire after a few exposures and most people, even trained people sheep into herds when they get worried..and in that herd most will be looking towards the center and a few, a very few, will have their backs to the herd, watching the perimeter.
It’s now been almost a year since I have had to grab someone and take him down or make him leave. About ten months since anyone has even shot in my general direction. Nine months without carrying a firearm every day.
I’m still training, still teaching… but I feel an insecurity developing. At some point, will the lessons from training and play start to seem more relevant than the fading memories of real life? Will there come a point when I become afraid to say “I don’t know” and make some shit up? Will I become the type of instructor that I despise?
Most instructors didn’t start spreading bad information. Most, probably, didn’t know any better. They learned by rote from their instructors and innocently passed on what seem like obvious absurdities. Some knew the truth and with the rosy vision of distance tell the story a little better, a little cleaner than it happened. The rosy vision becomes truth to the students who can’t know better, who have no frame of reference to judge. A few experience violence but find their perspectives shifting and don’t want to teach the harsh realities of what they learned. They want to teach a moral vision of the way the world should be instead.
Could I go down any of these routes? Or another route that I can’t yet see? People are driven towards comfort and safety and it is much more comfortable to tell students what they want to hear… and what they want to hear is almost never the truth, no matter how much they believe otherwise.
Teaching would be so much easier if I pretended to have all the answers.
It’s inevitable, as I grow older, as I drift away from the bad people and places that have shaped my perspective, that my perspective itself will shift. Does it inevitably shift to a shallower, more romanticized view of violence? Will it be enough to count the scars and remember the smells? Will I even recognize it when I start to drift off into fantasy?
All questions. No answers.