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Archive for April 2009

Learning vs. Practicing

PracticeI enjoy learning new things. It’s just part of my character. I’m not a big fan of practicing. So to drill the same thing over and over again, does not hold my interest.

The unfortunate fact of life is that you can never be great without practice, and lots of it. With talent alone you can be good, but to truly excel at anything you’ve got to practice.

Repetition grinds action into long term memory. These long term memories serve as domain knowledge in order to give you perspective on other learning experiences. Without practice the knowledge will not be stored in long term memory.

Martial arts provides a good example. If I practice a jab for an extended period of time, I will have a great deal of domain knowledge about jabs, more so then someone that practices a variety of techniques. I will also be able to evaluate other techniques against that knowledge. There is a balance to this and identifying your goal is important. If your goal is to be the the guru of jabbing, you’ve got to practice techniques within that domain.

It’s the same with martial art styles in general, if you want to be an expert in a given system you have to practice that system, the more you practice within that domain, the more expert you become. When you practice in different systems you gain perspective at a different level, your expertise becomes more general. The brain handles narrow domain knowledge better then broad, the factors become too many to effectively evaluate a particular technique. Your knowledge becomes more general.

Thus, you can never be at the top of a domain unless you relentlessly practice. If the domain is to broad, you’ll never be able to process all the experience to reach a level that you would have if you stuck with something more specific.


Written by Dan

April 28, 2009 at 9:37 am

Posted in Life, Martial Arts

Tagged with

The under rated sport of San Shou

Everyone is trying to figure out the right balance between brutal, no rules, fighting and a sport that’s interesting and enjoyable to watch. The current trend of UFC/Pride/Etc… makes for much more interesting viewing then a traditional boxing match. The biggest problem, is the ground work.

For an experienced martial artist I love watching the ground work, the chess game that ensues when fighters go to the ground. The problem is for people that don’t have the knowledge of ground work, they just see two guys wrestling around, not seeing the maneuvers for position and the threats of locks and chokes.

So Chuck Norris creates the World Combat League which has a bunch of rules to keep the action going, here’s the short list: No Throws, No Takedowns, No Ground Fighting, No Clinching, No Holding, No Stalling, No Passivity.

wclLooks like kickboxing to me and there are too many rules. I get that it’s meant to guide the fighters to more action, to keep the crowd engaged. But it’s too much, it feels contrived.

San Shou on the other hand has a nice balance, here are it’s rules: no elbow strikes, no chokes, no joint locks, and clinches are broken quickly. It makes for a rock-em sock-em fight, with dramatic exclamations of sweeps and throws. Who knows, maybe soon we’ll be seeing San Shou on The Ocho.

Written by Dan

April 23, 2009 at 9:40 am

Posted in Martial Arts

Tagged with ,

Boosting performance in tournaments

As I was reading this Times article I remembered a guy I used to go to tournaments with would take a spoon full of honey before a sparing match to give himself a little energy boost.

coffeeReading the evidence from the article, a small bit of caffeine can make a large difference in performance. I would think this difference would be more relevant in activities that require a large burst of action in a short period of time, such as 3, 2 minute rounds.

With all the energy drinks on the market, and the ease of getting them. What’s to stop everyone from doing this at tournaments? How can you compete if you don’t do it?

Having been there, I know that a small boost can make the difference between first and second place. Personally, I’m done with tournaments, it’s fun and a great experience, but it’s not much of a measure of you as a martial artist.

The idea of doping added to biased judges, and inter-dojo politics, might mean that tournaments are going the way of the Dodo, or simply be out of reach for the hobbyist martial artists.

Written by Dan

April 17, 2009 at 8:30 am

Posted in Martial Arts

Tagged with , , ,

Zoom H2


My H2 Zoom arrived yesterday. I excitedly ripped open the packaging to find a box. So, I tore through that box to uncover…a box! This box wasn’t just the plain brown sort though. It had a big picture of the H2 in all its glowie, glorified, goodness.

I’d read some reviews claiming that the H2 felt very cheaply made, because it’s very light and plastic. They weren’t wrong. I did have some concerns about this before purchasing, but the praise about it’s audio quality and options for recording (for it’s price) out-shined any reservations. Let me tell you, the H2 did not disappoint. It’s pretty intuitive, even for someone who doesn’t know much about audio, per se. Some people really complained that the screen was barely readable. I must argue this point, because the screen was crystal clear. Small? Yes. Unreadable? Hardly.

The H2 Zoom has 4 microphones and 4 different mic configurations. Stereo Mode, 90 degree 2 channel mode (front-back mics), 120 degree stereo (using the back mic), and 4 channel mode let’s you record and then actually take the resultant files and convert to 5.1 surround sound. All four modes worked great. Overall, I’m very impressed with how quickly and easily you can setup and record with the H2.

While you can organize and pseudo-edit your files right on the H2, that stuff is really nothing fancy. Nice to have, but not required. The real benefits are that you can record in WAV or MP3 (including VBR giving you a whopping 8 hours recording time on the included 512MB card), a built in normalize function, the ability to add marks to your recordings on-the-fly, and being able to monitor your recording levels. Additionally, you can turn on the auto gain function, which will override the microphone gain switch and auto adjust your gain levels during recording. Nice for those times when your podcast co-host unexpectedly screams into the microphone (I think Dan would have liked this for me back in the day :P).

All in all, for about $160, this device is a really great deal and will serve well at the upcoming Gathering of Tribes where Dan and I will put it to the true test as we podcast interviews with some of the martial artists that will be coming from all over the country to pound us into the dirt.

I will admit, I’m still a tad nervous about the plasticynous (yes, it’s a word, I made it up) of the H2. We’ll see how it holds up in the dojo.


P.S. – Here’s a completely unedited H2 Zoom, 320Kbps MP3 Test.

Written by Sterling

April 13, 2009 at 7:30 am

Posted in podcasts

Tagged with , ,

One eye jab and it all goes to hell

During a recent UFC match I saw one of the guys get poked in the eye. The whole fight stopped. Now, I’m not sure, there may have been a little acting involved, but a hard, well trained fighter got stopped in his tracks with a move a 12 year old girl could have pulled off.

The whole sport vs. martial art thing came into focus. I think the difficulty has been that the MMA guys are dangerous people, they train hard, they are (usually) in amazing physical condition. They also continually test their techniques, to a level that martial arts cannot. This is not a group of individuals that I’d want to get angry.

Now imagine a world where those same guys train just as hard, are just as disciplined, but train in a martial art that includes the intent to mame or kill. Although the techniques cannot be tested, it’s good to have an awareness of them, and they can be practiced in a controlled and safe setting.

As with every great debate, there is truth on all sides. And I believe that the majority of the Martial/Fight community respects and learns from each other. Unfortunately it’s those that are the loudest that have the most visibility.

Written by Dan

April 9, 2009 at 8:21 am

Posted in Martial Arts

Tagged with , , ,

An introduction to my obsession with GTD

On my old blog I posted several times about my obsession with the Getting Things Done (GTD) process.

For those of you unfamiliar with the principal, it’s a process for managing your time and what they often call “the fire hose of life”. It’s a system that everyone implements a little differently, what I call “working the GTD system”. This is where the blog comes in, occasionally I’ll post something about how I “work” my system here.

Now, I realize that you shouldn’t post about what you’re going to post, you should just post it. I didn’t want those that are use to getting martial art posts to be confused about the topic change.

In discussions with Sterling we feel this blog is really about “stuff we want to blog about” more then any specific topic. That was the spirit of the podcast, and I think it makes sense that it’s the spirit of the blog as well.

In brief my current system includes:

  • gmail for collection (using SMS to send myself notes when I’m not on a computer)
  • for next actions, project lists, and ticklers.
  • google calendar for appointments
  • evernote for reference and list keeping

I’ve tuned my system to a well oiled machine. It’s all free/cheap and all web based, so nothing is tied to a specific computer.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about using a paper based system, and I’m tempted to try it, but for now I’m sticking with the technology.

Written by Dan

April 6, 2009 at 8:15 am

Posted in Life, Productivity

Tagged with ,

Dojo busting

*start rant*
I’m not a fan of dojo busting, I think it’s disrespectful and ignorant (can’t you sense the impending but?), but… The Systema guys make me crazy. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a legitimate martial art (whatever that means), it’s the promises they’re making. I get the impression that many of the sub-systems within Systema are trying to advertise that they are comparable to Krav Maga, MCMAP, or Silat Sharaf. I’ve met and worked out with some of these guys, they seem a little psychotic, and take the practical nature of their arts very seriously.

I’ve ranted about this before in Martial Arts Stuff Ep 10, but it grinds my gears every time I see it. And maybe I’m way off base. You never know if you think something sucks because your too ignorant to see it, or too smart to be taken by it. I’ve got to believe that after being in the martial arts for 25 years, I can smell bull shit when I step in it. I’ve never had a problem with the arts that are “less than” combat oriented, but it’s dangerous to sell someone self defense that won’t work when when they need it to.

  • end rant*

Written by Dan

April 2, 2009 at 8:00 am