Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Seven Signposts along my Sojourn of Septillion Steps ...

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
~Ferris Beuller

As the year is nearing its close, I'm getting reflective and decided to take stock of where I am at in my sojourn of septillion steps. For any new readers, I named my blog "Sojourn of Septillion Steps" due to my cheesy alliterative schtick applied to 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." LOL at me!! It is also my label of my Life...

This cheesy alliterative schtick is also the reason for today's entry's title :) I ended with "signposts", but was deciding if it should be "spots" or "stops" LOL

Below are some of my reflections and signposts/spots/stops ...

1. "Self-defense"

My "self-defense" expanded from strictly martial arts to include Survival (specifically Urban Survival as I live in NYC), Trauma Care, and Firearms.

Current events of natural disasters (2014's Superstorm Sandy, the 2017 hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, etc), riots from civil unrest (Freddie Gray, Dixie Flag, etc) or terrorist acts (9/11/2001) has made me rethink what 'self-defense' means to me.

I predominately train with sticks and impact weapons. Too many stories of bad guys with knives lately. Slowly but surely, I have started some knifework training.  To learn how to defend vs a knife, one should learn how to use a knife. If I am dealing with blades, I should also be learning Trauma Care. Actually I take that back, even if I don't train with blades, I should be learning trauma care.

I am also seriously mulling over acquiring a shotgun for home defense. Should I have to protect my castle from intruders, one of the best home defense tools is a shotgun.

I credit the broadening of my definition of the term 'self-defense' to 3 Friends/Instructors (listed in alphabetical order):
  • Marc Denny via the members-only Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association private forum and private video lessons
  • Don Rearic - his site is one of the earliest sites on the Internet back in the mid-to late 1990's that taught Survival as well as Self-Defense and related Tools
  • Terry Trahan - his teachings has also helped me broaden my definition of self-defense

In the future, I intend to write an article or a few on Urban Survival. Perhaps your 'self-defense' is only limited to anti-muggings, anti-raping, etc. It is not too late to broaden your definition of self-defense like I have.

ADDENDUM:  I pretty much finished writing up this post on Oct 30th and had it scheduled to post tomorrow Nov 1. Today, Oct 31, a terrorist act happened in lower Manhattan. I'm 30 mins away by train and am safe but both Stickgrappler Jr and Princess Stickgrappler #2 go to a high school where the terrorist incident happened right in front of the school! Stickgrappler Jr luckily was home already and Princess Stickgrappler #2 informed me that the school was on lock down via texting. The school also disseminated the news via email to the parents' distrbution list efficiently and rapidly. About to meet her on the train at 7pm and go home together. Crazy thing is that the DBMA NYC Training Group meets at a park a few blocks from the incident. Due to Halloween, our regular Tuesday training was rescheduled last night for Thursday.

Briefly, the terrorist drove a Home Depot rental truck plowed into people on the bicycle lanes as well as pedestrian lane. Killed 8 people with 13 injured, some in critical condition. Suspect was shot but alive and apprehended.

"Tomorrow is promised to no one."

Stay aware and safe my Friends!

2. Stickfighting

My stickfighting improved. I would be disingenous to myself and cannot deny that to myself. The worst kind of deception is Self-Deceit. I always think of myself as a beginner because I know what 'very good', 'good' or 'good enough' is. I truly don't think I'm 'good enough' yet. But I will say, after watching videos of my stick sparring, I have noticed improvement.

"Progress not perfection."
~Denzel Washington (as Robert McCall in The Equalizer)

I don't quite move like a pregnant yak anymore. (Anyone know that reference? :)

Ages ago I had a dream of perhaps pursuing full Dog Brothers status. But Real Life was a challenge and I ended concentrating on college, career, marriage and family. 2 years ago, Steve Sachs (Candidate Defender Dog) reached out to me via the Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association (BTW, if you are interested in Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA), and do not live near a qualified instructor, the DBMAA is an excellent resource!). Knowing I lived in NYC and of my DBMA interests, he informed me that he was starting up a training group and if I would be interested in joining. Despite various Real Life scheduling conflicts, where I was prevented to attend every session (sometimes with long absences), I am happy to report I have noticed some improvement under the guidance/teachings of C-Defender Dog!

At 52 years of age, I am seriously thinking of revisiting my dream of full Dog Brothers status. "Real Contact Stickfighting" is stickfighting with minimal protection, usually just a fencing mask, and gloves ... compare that to WEKAF's "Full Contact Stickfighting" which is usually fully protected with kendo-styled armor. Realizing that real contact stickfighting is for the younger, I am mulling over my dream of ages ago.

3. Zen/Mushin

I do meditation but I am the first to admit that it is not enough to say "I meditate". I also have read up on Zen especially as related to the ancient Samurai and how they embraced Zen Buddhism and added it into their swordsmanship training. I don't know if I truly can call myself a Zen Buddhist based on readings.

At the recent Terry Trahan knifefighting seminar I attended, during a drill, I noticed how focused I was. I noticed I didn't panic and I remained calm throughout the drill. I don't know if I can honestly say my meditation and/or Zen readings helped me. I don't know if I was calm because I was cognizant that I was in a safe seminar format and that it was not 'The Street'. Thinking about it that night when I got home, another possible factor that helped:  the open-field DBMA training/stick sparring. Perhaps it was the combination of all the factors mentioned (or not). Be that as it may, I had focus, remain calmed and achieved my objective.

4. Stickgrappler Jr.'s Sojourn of  Septillion Steps

Stickgrappler Jr. started wrestling as a freshman in high school!! WOOHOO! A few years ago, we had him enrolled in a neighborhood karate dojo. Signed up for the month which consisted of 4 lessons, 1x a week. He was adamant and didn't like it. He dropped out after 2 classes. So imagine my surprise that he signed up for Wrestling at my suggestion and likes it. Ecstatic that he has embraced wrestling as I feel it will help in all aspects of Life!

5. Burnt-out from blogging

"Absorb what is useful; reject what is useless; add what is specifically your own."
~Bruce Lee

From January through September 2017, I had 48 entries which already surpassed 2016's 31 blogs!

However, prior in 2015, I had 106 posts which dwindled from 2014's 383 total entries and that was eclipsed by the 1.5+ avg posts a day for a grand total of 555 in 2013. The numbers speak for themselves. Burnt out from blogging - I joined my artist friends in Inktober as an impetus to get up off my butt! Burnout is burnout so action is the prescription! If you missed some or all of my Inktober posts, please check out my first Inktober Day #1" ... there are links to the rest of my drawings for the Inktober project. Due to the knifefighting seminar I attended, after the first few pictures, I focused exclusively on various aspects of knifefighting.

Acknowledging my blogging burnout (the first step to overcoming a challenge is to acknowledge the challenge), and having concluded my form of participation in Inktober... I will join some friends who are real writers (as well as published writers) in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am not a novelist nor a writer proper, I'm not even a legit blogger. I'm an information junkie and a martial arts geek. I got 'famous' (if you can call it that) in the past when I collected what I thought to be useful martial arts/self-defense information and centralized it to my old site. I'm an archivist, a librarian if you will and if you have a loose definition, I'm an amateur historian with my focus on the martial arts and self-defense.

I may continue to draw a few pictures here and there and not daily like I did for Inktober. My friend Maija Soderholm mentioned on Rory Miller's NaNoWriMo Facebook post that a picture is worth a thousand words.   *LIGHTBULB MOMENT*

So I'm absorbing the idea of writing 50,000 words in the month of November. I'm rejecting the novel stipulation/prerequisite. And I'm adding specifically my own by blogging perhaps everyday and drawing a few pix here and there :) If I don't blog daily, then I will strive to get 50,000 words in via text and/or pictures. Let's do some math, 50,000 words in 30 days averages 1,666.67 words day. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I should draw a picture, and write 667 words to accompany the picture.

As always, I have many ideas to blog about, but the hardest challenge to overcome is what Steven Pressfield calls "Resistance" in his great book, "The War of Art". Resistance is the Enemy. I must persevere and overcome Resistance! As the cliched Nike logo espouses, "Just do it!"

I would be honored if you followed along my progress in writing 50,000 words in the month of November!

6. Animated GIFs

I've slacked off from making animated GIFs :( The GIFs are one of the popular features of my blog.

I love making GIFs... I get into a Zen state when I'm in the GIF-making process. Upon reflection, I realize I didn't watch movies and TV like I used to and more importantly, my interest in MMA has waned. Some of my favorite MMA fighters are older and either retired, or fighting past their prime. An aside, I feel some of the PRIDE and UFC veterans should retire. So I wasn't as prolific as I used to be in making GIFs.

Instead of watching movies/tv, I was reading and watching instructionals and looking towards my "Self-Perfection". I derive much pleasure from making GIFs and miss the process. I will be making GIFs here and there and getting back into that Zen state I love to be in!

7. Email subscription

I had forgotten that I had set up an email subscription to this blog option ages ago. It turns out that a Facebook Friend is a longtime subscriber to my blog via email (Thank you Michael "R" K.!!!). He mentioned that he liked the email subscription option I offered.

If you are like me, an info junkie, and you surf various websites to copy and paste the content into a MS Word document, or a note-taking app/program like Evernote/Google Keep/MS OneNote, you may be pleased to find out about the option to subscribe to this site via email. Content is delivered straight to your inbox!

More info here:

Wish me Luck! Thank you in joining me on my Sojourn of Septillion Steps!

I remain very truly yours in the Martial Arts and Self-Defense,


(This section I will not add towards November's tally as well as the header picture I used above... I will only use hand-drawn pictures or animated GIFs I've created towards Nov's totals):

This post:  1,936 words
November running tally:  1,936 words
Words left:  48,064



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps