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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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Who Knew?

The Goldbergs, in so many ways, parallel's my experiences in the 80s. In S01E23, Adam explains how his dad was a simple man with simple interests and a simple, direct, approach to parenting. He said, "He wasn't a complicated or, frankly, that interesting but, every once in a while, he would accidentally reveal something about himself that would make you feel like you didn't know him at all."

Now, my dad was far from uninteresting but, for the most part, he wasn't very complicated. As Adam Goldberg said of his father, "Yep, some people glorify the past, but not my dad. To him, it's like it never even happened." That's an exaggeration, but I can see where he gets it. In the episode, Mr. Goldberg says, quite casually, "I was in a plane crash once." Then he says, "Nap time." and heads for his favorite chair. His daughter, looking at photos, says, "Dad, is this you with Lou Reed?"

He replies, "Yeah. We waited tables together."

When his daughter asks for more info, he just says, "Eh, it was a whole thing." and walks away.

I had some experiences with my dad to rival those.

When I was in my early 20s, I trained Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate. I heard a funny story about a man named Bill Wallace. Bill "Superfoot" Wallace is a Karate legend. I told my dad this humorous story, and dad replied, "Yeah. Bill was like that."

I said, "'Bill was like that.' What does that mean? You act like you knew him."

Dad said, "I did. We hung out at the same bar for a while. He was a drinking buddy."

"You and Bill 'Superfoot' Wallace were drinking buddies?"


"Dad, I've been training in martial arts for most of my life. Why have you never mentioned this before?"

"You never asked."

I sat in stunned silence for a moment, then asked, "Did you know Bruce Lee?"

"Nope. Never met him, but I was friends with Leonard Pickle."

I said, "Leonard Pickle? You mean my instructor's instructor?"

"Yeah. Good guy. Sparred him once, in fact."

"What? Wait? You 'sparred' him?"


"I never knew you trained. What do you mean you sparred with Mr. Pickle?"

"I didn't train. Not really. I was friends with the close-quarters combatives instructor in the Air Force, and I worked out with him in his back yard for a couple of years, but it wasn't formal. I mentioned that to Leonard one night while we were talking, and he invited me back to his place to spar."

Another time, I showed dad the video of a friend of mine teaching how to build a debris hut. Dad said, "Sure. I've made a lot of those."

I said, "What? You have?"

"Sure. There were a bunch of those in the hills around your grandma's house. Everyone who hunted those hills built them, and we all maintained them. That way, if you got caught out in a storm, you could crawl into a shelter and stay warm and relatively dry. If I wanted an early start, I'd go sleep in one near my tree stand."

As an adult, I heard many stories from my dad or about my dad that surprised me. I realized he was chock full of skills and experiences I had never guessed he possessed.

The Wandering Guru

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Freaks and Geeks

A friend recommended I watch Freaks and Geeks. It stars Linda Cardellini (Mad Men), John Francis Daley (Bones), James Franco and Seth Rogen (The Interview), Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), Samm Levine and Martin Starr, who are somewhat lesser known than the rest, but still familiar faces.

It's set in 1980 and focuses on the lives and attendant dramas of a group of high school kids. I didn't hit high school until '85, so a lot of the details are different from my experience, but it still rings a lot of bells.

All the kids wanting to be like the cool kids, but none of the kids really know what "cool" is, even the cool kids. They're all stumbling through, doing the best they can, trying to figure out who they are and where they belong in the world around them.

What I find interesting, though, is how much things like "girl" and "woman" are used as insults. It's certainly true to the time. I remember being called those things, feeling insulted, and being terrified of being perceived as such.

What a strange world that was. Even stranger to think some people still live in that mindset.

What I find most bizarre, in retrospect, is the fact that my first martial arts instructor was a woman. I started training with Melinda Baer in 1978, and she was something of a badass.

I also grew up watching my dad and various uncles treat women with respect. Looking back on it, I wonder how I ever considered it an insult to be called a "girl."

Peer pressure was an amazing thing to experience.

I'm only at the third episode, but it's obvious it's not going to be all fun and games. This show has humorous moments and, overall, it's a comedy, but it's already touched on some heavy topics. I don't know if it will address any of them head-on or not since it only lasted one season, but it's definitely a good show with a lot of potential to go beyond "good."

The Wandering Guru

"All my new friends think I'm some goody-two-shoes and all my old friends think I'm throwing my life away. What the hell am I supposed to do?" -- Lindsay (Linda Cardellini),Freaks and Geeks, S01E02