What is a Langkah?

Langkah (Indonesian) - noun: literally step, move, pace, action, measure, stride, leap, foot, footstep, gesture, tread, footpace

In Indonesian martial arts, Pencak Silat, it commonly refers to geometric patterns on the floor used to train footwork and develop an understanding of the role of the lower body in maintaining balance and a base from which to generate power.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

It's the Idea Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

While I'm really just getting started as an author - e.g.: someone who gets paid to write - I've been writing for quite a while. I've been writing fiction for at least 25 years. Most of it never saw the light of day, wound up mouldering on a shelf or in a drawer or gathering metaphorical dust on a hard drive somewhere.

When I mention writing to people, one of the most common questions I hear is some variation of, "Where do you get the idea?"

While each story is different, there are, for me, a couple of common themes. Some stories come to me in a flash. I get an outline kind of idea and have the start, finish, and pivotal points, then it's a matter of fleshing out that skeleton.

Usually, though, stories start with something simple. Something which would, under other circumstances, be trivial or, at most, a curiosity. Something stirs a question in my mind and, in an effort to answer the question, I end up building a story. I don't know if this is common for other writers but I suspect it is and have heard similar comments from others.

An Example

I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a short story titled Unspoken Secrets. I'll use it as an example for this process.

A few days ago, I forget what I was actually looking for, but I stumbled across an image of a pale faced girl with dark hair and heavy bags under her eyes. Her mouth was sewn shut, thick black thread stitched through the lips.

Ouch.

Then the question arose. Why are her lips sewn shut? Did someone do it to her? A form of torture?
Or did she do it to herself?
Wow. That's some commitment to keeping a secret.

I sat down at my computer and typed, "Gail doesn't talk. Sometimes she screams but she doesn't talk."

This brought more questions to mind. I wrote them down.

"Why doesn't she talk? She has a secret."

"What kind of secret? Why would it make her scream?"

From there, I started answering questions. Some answers led to new questions.

I built the story using questions and answers as my stepping stones.


The Story

Unspoken Secrets is a story about Gail Margrave, a ten year old girl who hasn't spoken a word in two years. Not since her eighth birthday when she discoverd a mysterious gift on her pillow.

She has a secret. A huge secret. It cost her the friendship of her best friend and, ultimately, made her a pariah in her school. She decided it was better to stop talking than to risk sharing the secret ever again.

What's the secret? You'll have to read the story.

When it gets picked up by a publisher, I'll let you know where you can read it.


The Wandering Guru

"Ideas come from everything” - Alfred Hitchcock


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Biset Monograph

Overview

I have never found a translation for the word "biset" outside of the translation that's common to the Silat community. This leads me to believe that it's a word that's specific to a particular region, language, or dialect of Indonesia but that is an educated guess on my part. In the Silat community I have heard several common translations including: "reverse sweep" and "backward foot drag". Both of these are descriptive enough to indicate the basic essence of the motion.

As with the sapu, there are two basic methods: biset dalam and biset luar. Refer to the sapu section for more details on dalam and luar.

Basic Solo Training

Like the sapu, the first place an AGPS student really encounters the biset motion is on the Foundation Langkah. I'll again use one triangle from the Foundation Langkah for illustration.

The biset is interesting because if you listen to your body it will, more or less, tell you how to do the sweep. Start in a right lead with your right foot on A and your left foot on B with your structure aligned along the A-B line (refer to the Structure section of the Walking Langkah for details on the basic structure).

Your motion begins with your upper base. Rotate your upper base to your left, your lower base remains stationary; don't move or pivot your feet. At about 45 degrees you should feel your left hip begin to bind. Follow the suggestion of your body and, as you continue to rotate your upper base, allow your left foot to pivot so it releases that bind. As your upper base approaches 90 degrees you shift the majority of your weight to your left foot. Complete your rotation to 90 degrees, allowing your hips to rotate and drag your right leg into position to maintain your structure. You should end in a left lead with your left foot on B, your right foot on C, and your structure aligned along the B-C line.

When working on another person, a common mistake is to overextend the sweep. People feel that they have to make a significant amount of motion but, really, you don't. In the basic model your foot only travels about two feet. That's one of the things you can learn from the solo training on a langkah.

As with the sapu, I have seen many variations of hand work to accompany the biset. In AGPS the basic model employs two elbows. To tie these hand motions to the previously illustrated biset, as you rotate your upper base to your left, you fire a right horizontal elbow. In the solo expression, we do this as a compression elbow into our left hand. In application, it's more commonly an impact/pushing elbow that disrupts the opponent's upper base.

From that elbow, as you allow your left foot to pivot, you unfold your right arm and, as your lower body completes the sweep you fire a left vertical elbow that impacts your right falling hand just after your lower body sweep is complete.

Neither of these elbows is intended to have powerful body mechanics. The first elbow is intended to disrupt their upper base. It might have some solid power behind it but that's not it's purpose. Too much power will usually blast your opponent out of the structure you're trying to train. The vertical elbow, in application, is intended to meet the falling energy of your opponent's neck or head so it doesn't require a lot of body mechanics to be powerful. It just needs a solid structure behind it so the impact of your opponent's body doesn't disrupt your structure.

There are several variations of this basic biset but most of them are done with the same motions and mechanics. The exception is what we refer to as "Quarter Biset." A quarter biset is, technically, a biset but its mechanics resemble a sapu more closely than they resemble the basic biset.

Basic Applied Training

The basic biset done in AGPS uses an elbow structure to set and anchor your partner. I'll discuss this variation first then expand on it a bit to illustrate some other options and variations.

Like the sapu, it's important to remember that we're not sweeping a point or a line. We're sweeping the entire area of the triangle. So if you refer to the diagram at the right your partner's foot will be in the middle of the triangle formed by C-TR-RC, not on any of the points. For this discussion your partner has a right lead. His right foot is in the center of the triangle and he is facing point C.

People often think in terms of the partner facing the center point of the C-RC line. This is valid but a little awkward and, in my experience, it encourages a bad habit in the training. If your partner is facing the center of the C-RC line and you plan to move your foot along the TR-RC line then, when you step into position, you tend to go around your partner to reach the TR point. You don't want to step around our partner or your opponent, depending on the context. You want to step to a position where you're in good solid structure and, in doing so, you want to disrupt your partner's structure. Stepping around him means, by the nature of the concept, that you're disrupting your own structure to accommodate his structure.

For now we'll use a static starting point for illustration so your partner has his right foot in the middle of the triangle and is facing the C point with his right arm extended.

Put your left foot on the C point of the triangle and your right foot on BL with your structure aligned along the BL-C line. Bring your left arm up to the inside of your partner's right arm.

Now, maintain this structure, as you step with your right foot to point TR. This step should be from your Walking Langkah so it starts by pivoting your left foot, then stepping along the C-TR line with your right foot so your right foot ends on the TR point. As you step, bring your right elbow up horizontally so it lays across your partner's chest. Make sure it crosses your partner's center line so your hand is on the left side of your partner's chest and the tip of your elbow is on the right side of his chest. At the end of your step your right hip should be touching your partner's right hip. Ideally you don't accomplish "hip-to-hip" by adjusting your body; you accomplish it by manipulating his body. As you make this step maintain the structure of your upper base so it disrupts your partner's upper base.

Now, still maintaining the structure of your upper base, rotate your upper base toward your left. This will further disrupt your partner's structure and disrupt his balance more. Your partner, at this point, will likely take a "reset step" with his left foot to try to maintain balance. Most people take this step. Now, pivot your left foot while continuing your upper base rotation, then let your hips pull your right leg through the sweeping motion, dragging your foot from TR to RC along the TR-RC line. The contact point between your right leg and your partner's right leg should be in the upper leg, not the lower. You're not sweeping his foot. You're sweeping his lower base.

That is the basic biset from the Foundation Langkah. The Foundation Langkah, and the Langkah Tiga that it is derived from, only contain sixty degree angles. This is actually a weak angle for the biset. Using forty-five degree angles for the sweep is much easier and more effective in general. I believe the biset was originally taught on these angles for two reasons and these are the reasons I initially teach the biset on this weaker angle.

First, it's a learning tool, it's more difficult to find and get the biset on this angle which means that when you do get it, you've got it. When you start using the forty-five degree angles for the sweep it becomes very easy.

Second, for safety, the biset on the sixty degree angle is, generally, easier on your training partner. They tend to wrap around you and are able to use you as support during their fall and it's easier, almost instinctive, for you to control their fall. The forty-five degree sweep tends to cut their lower base out from under them and drop them very abruptly. It's much harder to do this nicely. It's good for a combative situation but can be rough in training.

When you're training this on the sixty degree angles, it will be frustrating. Work through it and it gets easier. When you start using forty-five degree angles it will be that much easier. Don't let yourself "cheat" and force the technique. This is true of all your training. If you're grunting or working hard then there's likely something wrong with your structure. If your partner isn't resisting then you should be able to move him with light touches. Your partner shouldn't give the technique to you but he shouldn't resist either. Not at first. Resistance comes later.

As Guru Ken always said, "You've got to develop your tools before you test them." Ultimately you want to test your tools. You want to be able to use them against a resisting opponent who's trying to take your head off. Don't rush to get there, though. Rushing will build poor tools. If poor tools work, it will be due more to luck than to training. We accept luck when it goes our way and work with it but we should never rely on it because it might not be there or might even be against us in any given situation. Build your tools well in training. Develop them slowly and pay attention to details so your tools are solid and dependable. Then "heat treat" and "stress test" them.

Note on the "reset step"

Sometimes your partner or opponent won't take the "reset step" to catch his balance. Most people take that step intuitively and nearly unconsciously but not everyone. Sometimes, in training, people override that intuition because they think they're not supposed to step or they think it offers more resistance. Some people just aren't wired to take that step. If they don't take that step, then there's no need for the lower body sweep. Simply continue rotating your upper body 180 degrees and let your feet pivot with the rotation. This then becomes an "upper body biset.”




The Wandering Guru

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I, Vigilante

A creepy man sits on a bench by a playground behind the restaurant down the street from my house. Though he has no children of his own, he sits, watching the children play.

He watches with his dark, evil eyes in his pale, pale face and his oh so creepy smile. He sits and waits for children to join him on the bench. I think it excites him and I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit, I tell you. He wears gloves. So he doesn't leave fingerprints when he touches the children? How many has he touched? How many has he corrupted? How many has he …?

Why don’t they do something about him? I’ve called the police. They tell me I’m imagining things. I tell them they’re crazy. The guy is there, plain as day, for anyone to see. In fact, you can’t miss him, with his red hair, bright yellow jumper, red striped shirt, and large, terrible red shoes.

Something must be done and if they won’t do it, I'll take it into my own hands. My axe is sharpened and I’m ready to go. I’m coming for you, you pervert.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sapu Monograph

Sapu literally translates from Indonesian as "broom." In the context of Silat it is a sweep where your foot is moving forward - or, technically, to the side in front of you. There are two broad categories of sapu: sapu dalam and sapu luar. Dalam means "inside" and luar means "outside." So a sapu dalam means you are sweeping from inside their structure and sapu luar means you are sweeping from outside their structure. The concept of inside and outside can get a little hazy as you start looking at variations of these sweeps. When you're training solo, though, there is no dalam and luar. The basic mechanics of the sapu are the same regardless of whether you are inside or outside of your opponent's structure.

Further, there are two basic alignments for the sweep. These alignments, like dalam and luar, are defined by your position relative to that of your opponent or training partner. The terms I use in AGPS are the same terms I got from Guru Ken in Sikal. They are "L-Line" and "Side Line." I'll detail these alignments in more detail later in the variations section.

Basic Solo Training


The basic mechanics of the sapu in AGPS are first trained on the Foundation Langkah. I'll use one of the triangles from that langkah to describe the basics of the sapu. The basic triangle is the Langkah Tiga used in Pentjak Silat Serak and many other Silat systems.

For the basic sweep your left foot is on B and your right foot is on C and you're in your basic structure. Shift your weight to your left foot and move your right foot to Point A with heel down (on the ground) and toes up (lifted off the ground). As you sweep, your right foot will move from A toward B as it lifts so you'll end up with your right foot off the floor at about knee level in front of your left knee. This motion is also accompanied by a pivot of your body so you end up facing A along the A-B line. This pivot should happen on the center of your left foot and it is tricky. From there you step your right foot back down to Point A and you should be back in your basic structure with your left foot on B and your right on A, facing A and aligned along the A-B line.

That, in a nutshell, outlines the basic lower body mechanics of the sapu. There is a lot of detail still to be addressed in that relatively simple movement.

First, the pivot on your left foot. Don't think of the sweep as being a movement of your right leg. Instead, focus on your hips and your core. Pivot from your core and let it cause the pivot on your left foot while it also pulls your right leg through the motion of the sweep. This is probably hard to understand from a textual description but, as with punching, core motion is pivotal to power generation. If you sweep only with your leg you don't have much power.

Second, people assume that their opponent's foot is on Point A and they are sweeping that point. While technically possible it's horribly inefficient. You aren't sweeping a point, nor are you sweeping the A-B line. Your opponent's foot should be inside the triangle and you are sweeping the entire area of the triangle. This means that the commonly seen "boot-to-boot" sweep (as Pak Vic referred to it) is not the goal. When you initiate your sweep your foot should actually be a few inches from your opponent's foot.

Third, and this is probably the most difficult to overcome in the transition from training to reality. In the basic model you start the motion by moving your right foot from C to A. While you can do the sapu in reality in this way it is a relatively weak sapu. When you move your foot from C to A you're actually breaking the sapu down into steps. The more powerful expression of the sapu starts from Point C and moves in a rising arc from C to its position in front of your left knee and the pivot happens in the midst of that arcing motion. In this way the sapu is more of a kick through their supporting structure than a hook and drag of their foot.

Why this dichotomy between training and application? I believe it serves two purposes. By beginning with the broken down version it becomes easier to focus on your structure and balance at each portion of the movement and throughout the movement in general. It also lends a layer of added safety to your early training. If you start off trying to train the sweep as a kick then you run a higher risk of injury to both you and your training partner. I want to put the more powerful version in this text, though, to make you aware of it. I advocate breaking the movement down initially in the more traditional way that it's taught but don't get mired in the mindset of having to do it as "1-2-3." Keep in mind that it is, in fact, one continuous motion and you are simply breaking it down into its components as a training tool.

I've seen several variations on what the upper body is doing throughout this motion. In AGPS the upper body motions, tied into the lower body sweep outlined above, are as follows:

Your right hand drops to your right waist, palm facing the floor, and your left hand moves across your face so its back rests against the right side of your face. This happens before you move your right foot from C to A. As your lower body performs the sweep your right hand will rise as your left hand drops and they form the outside arcs of a circle between them. As your right foot settles back on Point A you fire a left uppercut (sangsot), slapping your left forearm with your right hand.

Basic Applied Training


When you start training with a partner you become much more aware of the dynamics of dalam and luar and the roles of the various motions - upper and lower body - of the basic motions outlined above. I'll start by tying the sapu directly to the basic structure and triangle already described.

You start with your left foot on B and your right foot on C, facing B and your alignment oriented along the B-C line. Your opponent starts with his foot in the center of the triangle. If he puts his right foot into the triangle then you will be doing a sapu dalam. If he puts his left foot into the triangle you will be doing a sapu luar. The difference between dalam and luar is dictated by where you are in relation to your opponent's structure but the mechanics of the sweep don't change. For now I'll start with a sapu luar so his left foot is in the center of the triangle.

Remember, you're sweeping the entire triangle area, not just a point or line. Don't focus on his foot or your foot. You're going to move your leg through his lower structure. So, following the outline I already described, lower your right hand and place it in the crease of your training partner's hip, the inguinal crease. Your left hand crosses to the right side of your face. It might be striking or covering against attacks but for now, in this basic example, its primary purpose is to prevent your training partner from rotating his right shoulder toward you as you perform the sweep.

Sink your weight into your right hand. This accomplishes two things in this particular example. First, it disrupts your opponent's structure and his balance. The common term for this aspect is that you have "set" your opponent. The second thing this hand does is serve as an "anchor." Your anchor maintains the structural/balance disruption and creates a barrier that guides the effects on your opponent after the sweep.

For now you want to sink straight down. This should set your training partner, causing his center of balance to shift so it is mostly on his right leg but not completely. There should be a kink in his structure at his hips so that his butt is hanging over empty space. If you have ever seen anyone sit down while their leg is in a cast, the position you've put your training partner into will resemble that moment just before the person drops into the chair.

If you force too much weight into your training partner's right leg then his left leg will be empty and able to move freely. When you try to sweep he can simply lift the leg and maintain his balance. You want some weight left in his left leg. Your hand at his hip, the anchor, acts as a barrier preventing his structure from compensating. When you sweep he will try to reorient and catch his balance but the anchor will prevent it and cause him to fall in the direction of the energy in your anchor. If you are sinking straight down then your training partner should sit straight down. If you are pushing away from you then your training partner will likely stumble away from you and might or might not fall. If you are pulling toward you (not a very common problem when anchoring on his hip, much more common if you're anchoring on arm/hand) then you might get the sweep but your training partner will fall toward you and if you're not structurally sound he might knock you off balance or even knock you down as he falls.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walking Langkah Monograph

Overview

The Walking Langkah is a straight line, at least six feet long, with short hash marks every two feet. It is used to help the student develop the basic structure and learn how maintain that structure while advancing.

Basic Structure

The basic structure in AGPS is drawn from the de Thouars lineage of Pentjak Silat Serak but has influences from several sources within that lineage.

Your lead foot should be centered on and parallel to the central line of the langkah. Your rear heel should be on the first hash mark and centered on the central line of the langkah. It should be turned 45 degrees from the central line.

Your body leans forward so there is a straight line from the crown of your head to the heel of your back foot. Your weight distribution should be 60% on the lead foot and 40% on the back foot. Your center line should be directly over and parallel to the central line. Or, put another way, your hips and shoulders should be perpendicular to that central line. This is the basic structure that is used for the sapu and biset sweeps.

The structure is not a "fighting stance." It is used to give a solid but mobile platform from which to disrupt your opponent's balance and effect your sweeps so it is used in the close range where you have the most access to these tools.

Advancing

To learn the basics of moving while maintaining this structure you advance along the central line of the langkah. The advance is done in a specific way that enables you to maximize your stability through the motion.

I call the central line of the langkah the "line of intention." This is the line you are moving on and you want your structure to support the domination of this line. As you move you want to be as stable as possible on that line. Your balance always has vulnerabilities but you want to minimize them on the line of intention because that's where you're most likely to encounter resistance.

If you advance on the line by walking as you normally do then, in mid-stride, your advancing foot will not be on that line of intention. This will cause your center of balance to shift slightly off the line and make your balance and structure vulnerable on that line.

As you advance you want to keep your balance and structural integrity solid on the line of intention. To do this, pivot your lead foot forty-five degrees so your toes point away from your back foot. When you pivot, pivot on the center of your foot instead of the heel or toes. As you pivot, sink a bit to minimize the stress on your lead knee. This pivot and sink will open a space behind your lead knee that is directly over the line of intention.

Shift your weight forward, maintaining your lean and not letting your hips or shoulders rotate, and bring your back foot through that space behind your lead knee. Ideally your knee, shin, and foot will actually touch your the back of your lead knee as you advance. Step to the next hash mark on the line then adjust your back foot so its heel is centered on the line of intention.

Initially, your hands are in front of you, palms together, on your center line and you leave them there as you advance. This can be a useful guide for preventing yourself from rotating your hips or shoulders as you move.

As you progress you might do other things with your hands, like run jurus or throw strikes. When you start you'll simply turn around when you reach the end of the line of intention and advance in the other direction. Later you can use the turn around from the jurus.

Notes

Mirrors can be useful for checking your lean and the line from crown to heel and/or for watching your center line to prevent it from rotating as you advance. As useful as they are, though, there's a significant problem with mirrors. The very act of watching yourself in the mirror can disrupt your structure or distract you from what you're really working on. If mirrors are your only option, though, they are better than nothing.

The best method I have personally found is a video camera. If you want to check for center line rotation you can set the camera directly in front of you, looking down the line of intention. When you watch the video it is usually pretty easy to spot when you shift your center line off the line of intention. If you set the camera to one side or the other, perpendicular to the line of intention, then it's very easy to check whether you're leaning too little or too much and to see if there are any kinks in the line from the crown of your head to the heel of your back foot.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life on the road

The most common reaction I get when I tell people I live in my van is a sort of blank stare of disbelief, like they’re waiting for the punch line. It’s rather humorous.

Some people think I’m homeless but I’m not. I have a home. It’s parked right there, the dark blue minivan. I have an official address in South Dakota. I can get mail - though it may take me a while to actually receive it - and I am gainfully employed.

I bought my van on March 14th. It took me a couple of weeks to get situated in it - and I’ve still got some work to do before it’s where I really want it - so I’ve been living in it for about 2 months at this point. Even when I’m staying at someone’s house, I usually sleep in the van. I’ve had some people think it’s strange but, really, it’s not.

In the van, I have my bed. I’m not “making do” when I sleep in my van. I’m sleeping in my bed in my room. I have my computer and a workstation set up in the van for writing. In fact, about the only thing I can’t do in the van is take a shower. I usually go into gas stations and rest areas to use their facilities because it’s cheaper but I do have the capability and tools to … take care of business in the van.

I won’t claim it’s as comfortable as, for instance, an apartment. The flip side, I can’t move my apartment from state to state. I love the mobility. I love having my stuff with me wherever I am.

I may decide to settle down and get an apartment or something at some point but right now I have no plans to do so.

I have plans, over time, to get the van more organized and even more comfortable - though, really, it’s not uncomfortable now at all.

Over all I love it. It’s a grand adventure.

I plan to sit down with my calendar within the next week and work out a more efficient schedule for next year. This year I have driven from Arizona to the midwest (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) or the other direction three times. It’s not a horrible drive but it does use a lot of gas.

I plan to look at my commitments for next year and plan my travels around those commitments then start putting out feelers which coincide with my travels so I don’t end up making multiple cross-country treks during the year.



The Wandering Guru

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine


Monday, June 2, 2014

Don’t Wait

"If your travels ever bring you to my area, let me know. I'd love to train with you some more."

This, or some variation of it, is something I hear very commonly. I understand it and while this may sound like a rant, it's not. I'm not upset by these people or their request. I just want to point out the reality of the situation.

If I'm in your area then it's because (a) I've got something scheduled there already or (b) I'm passing through on my way to another scheduled event. As such, if you wait for me to be "in your area" you'll likely never get to train with me because when I'm in your area my schedule is already full. We might be able to meet up for a meal or something and I'm happy to do so but I'm not likely to have a spare hour for a last minute private lesson. I'm not saying it's impossible. It is possible and it has happened, and asking certainly won’t hurt. If I have the time then I’m happy to do it. Don’t expect it to happen, though, because, more often than not, I won’t have the time.

Another aspect of this request I want to address is the "let me know" part. I know a lot of people all over the United States - in fact, I know a lot of people all over the world. I have trouble even listing all the people I know in, for instance, Florida. When I head for Florida, I'd love to visit and see all the people I know and teach all the people who are interested. I can't, though. I may not even remember you live in Florida. Even if I do, I may not have enough time in my schedule - this goes back to the previous point too. So if you find out I was in your area but you didn't hear from me, don't get upset.

Over time I hope to get more organized and might be able to do more of this "let me know" type of thing with enough advanced notice to make it worthwhile but, really, the bottom line is, if you want to train with me, don't wait. Don't wait for me to be in your area. Don't hope I remember to contact you. Don't hope I just happen to have a hole in my schedule where I can slot you in.

If you want to train with me then contact me and set a specific date and time. We'll discuss the fee and get everything set. There's no guesswork, no hard feelings, no missed opportunities.

As I said, this might sound like a rant. It’s really not. I'm just pointing out the realities of the situation. It's coming out now because, being as mobile as I now am, I hear this kind of request commonly. However, it's always been true. It's true of all martial arts instructors or, really, anyone who provides hands on assistance - whether it's a personal trainer, a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant. You don't meet an accountant at a party and say, "Hey, if you have some spare time give me a call so you can help me with my taxes."

It's not about the money. It's about the scheduling realities. The only way to insure you get time with me is to schedule it in advance. There may be times when we're able to do impromptu training sessions but they should be considered icing on the cake. They're not the standard. They happen through luck and coincidence, two things which should always be taken advantage of but never be relied on.

So, here are a couple of examples of how conversations might go:

Example 1
"Do you have any plans to be near Antelope Junction in the next year?"
"Yeah. I've got some stuff lined up near you in April." I check my calendar. "Specifically, I'll be in Antelope Flats from April 3 through April 25."
"Great. That's only about 40 minutes from me. Let's schedule a couple of privates during that time."
"Sounds good."
We set the specific dates on our respective calendars and begin hashing out the details.

Example 2
"Do you have any plans to be near Antelope Junction this year?"
"Nope. Nothing yet."
"Great. Can we arrange something? Maybe I can host you for a seminar and we can arrange a couple of private lessons for me around the seminar."
"Sounds good."
We set the specific dates on our respective calendars and begin hashing out the details.


The Wandering [and busy] Guru

"The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." - Stephen Covey


Sunday, June 1, 2014

A surprise visit from my dead brother

Earlier today I was training at Guru Ken's farewell seminar and we were going to do some kerambit training. I opened my gear bag and reached into the pocket where I keep my kerambit trainers. Lo and behold, there were a matched pair of kerambits in the pocket. They belonged to my friend/brother, Rick.

If I remember correctly, he designed them. At the very least, he commissioned them and had them custom made for him. They are a beautiful matched set with damascus patterning on the blades. They are beautiful and very well made.

The thing was, I had forgotten I had them. Forgotten they were in that pocket in my gear bag. Rick died last year and I've processed all the grief and pain. Obviously, there will always be a sort of nostalgia in memories of him, though. Seeing those blades today, remembering how proud he was when he got them. He sent me a photo of the blades when he got them and was so excited. So when I saw those at the seminar today it was like he'd just walked in to join the training and had punched me in the chest for old time’s sake.

Inspiration

A kerambit maker has asked me to design a kerambit for them. I'd given it a little thought but hadn't come up with anything today. Now I have an idea. I'll use Rick's kerambits as a starting point. As I said, I'm pretty sure he designed them himself and they were custom so they're 100% unique. I'll ask some folks I know in the kerambit business to look at them and see if they recognize the design just to be sure. However, I plan to modify the design a bit anyway so even if it's not his designI won't be infringing by using them as a starting point for my own variation.

I'll put together my design and figure out a name for it which pays homage to Rick - something like "Rum's Ripper." I know he'd love it and it feels right.


The Wandering Guru

"There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.