Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rambling on about what makes me tick

Where is our civilization going? And how fast is it getting there? These are some of the questions being discussed over on the ArchDruid report. I like reading his report because he offers a well reasoned, historically accurate view of the world. I used to read all the conspiracy sites, but other than convincing me that much of the information that passes for news is fabricated for one purpose or another, it did little good in the real world. By this I mean that even if you knew for a fact that space lizards had taken over the government, how would this knowledge affect what your day to day activities were?  I have some non-mainstream views of the world, but then again most people that do any significant work at Kung Fu are also non-mainstream too. I believe that peak oil is real, because the actual predictions made before the peak are consistent with what is actually happening in the world I can observe. There are other predictions that indicate infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible, so those predictions that involve infinite growth, or worse, infinite exponential growth (that the economy can grow at 4% compounded forever is good and healthy is one). So what is the value in these world views? The value is that seeing the world “as it is” will allow smarter choices, rather than being led down the garden path due to wishful and/or manipulated worldview. The current topic of discussion at the ArchDruid Report is the trajectory of our current civilization, and the American empire within it. He is making the argument that civilizations and empires have life spans, much as all other life forms on this planet. Much of the conversation has been on the subject of “but this time it’s different”, and the rebuttal that yes, this time is unique, just as every single person has a unique life, but we all are born, go through puberty, slowly age then get old and die. Some live a full life; some are cut short by accident or war. Our current situation is that we are a part of the American Empire  and that empire is showing a lot of grey hair, and is getting short of breath when it attempts things that in its youth just got its blood flowing.
So how does this help on a day to day basis in the real world, as lived by real people such as us? It helps to see through the smoke and mirrors, and get a better handle on where life will actually take us. The stock market is not reality, and its ups and downs are only somewhat related to the question whether or not supper is affordable. Here are some of my predictions, and what I am actually doing about them (the most accurate prediction is useless if you don’t act on it). First, energy will get more expensive, in all its forms, the response is to improve the energy efficiency of my home, and add solar panels to reduce what I have to buy. Replacing vehicles at this point is more than I want to pay, but by combining errands, I can reduce the miles driven. Second, healthy food will get more expensive, so put in a garden, buy in bulk, make friends with a master gardener. Third, the health care system will become more and more stressed, especially as the baby boomers retire. Here the best defence is to stay in shape, and eat healthy. I already addressed eating, so here is where the plug for Kung Fu comes in, get in shape, stay in shape. This is an ongoing process of course. Another prediction that is directly related to Kung Fu is crime. As the economy hits the bumps in the road (aggravated by peak oil) crime naturally goes up. Only a small percentage of those without paying work turn to crime, but it can still affect you along the way (I shouldn’t have to spell out the connection between Kung Fu and self defence).
Now, the decline in this civilization will take its time, probably several generations, but the catch is that the decline tends to be patchy and localized. Some parts of the country are doing great, and others are in trouble. Right now, Alberta is the place to be (until the bill for flood damage comes in), but my parents told me stories from the 1930’s, when our economy wasn’t so great. I would rather be prepared and not need to be, than discover that I needed to prepare and no longer have the time and resources.
Dennis Donohue

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why am I in Kung Fu?

Originally I would have said that it was to get in better shape, and learn some potentially useful skills, without the boredom of expending energy to simply move an exercise machine through its paces.
Lately, I have been reading a lot about Values, the cyclical nature of history and where our civilization likely is in these cycles.  The Chinese civilization has lived through many cycles of history, with peace and war ebbing and flowing with the dynasties of the ruling elites. Much of the history of Kung Fu is bound up in this dynamic.
   In my understanding of this, empires expand, and the core groups and favored vassal states get to reap the spoils of the empire, raising the standard of living of those groups. As the empires reach middle age, these spoils get less and less per capita. The next step is that the elites, trying to maintain their piece of the pie, drop the standard of living of the serfs, who then become restless. The dynamic then imposes more controls on who can have effective means to resist the additional taxation or complain about the rising inequality. Normally this involves a disarming of the lower classes so that a small number of warrior elite, such as the Samurai, can continue to extract their tribute.  This leads to effectively two sets of laws, one for the well connected and another for the little people. A single Samurai/Knight/Warrior could dominate a large village because he was the only one with weapons. The medieval martial artist could upset this dynamic, despite being reduced to agricultural implements and bare hands. But why was this better than simply switching one boss for another (better in the view of the little people, of which I am one)? The difference is in the values held by those same martial artists. Those without values above dog-eat-dog are recorded in history as Warlords, brigands, and other undesirable terms.
   My Values involve fairness, and do unto others as you wish those to do you”. Am I perfect? Not by a long shot, but I am trying. To me, a Master Martial Artist is never a victim, but is able to simply choose his response to whatever the world throws at him, realizing the world itself does not care if it is fair or not.

  I am in Kung Fu because it helps give me the power to choose, regardless of what the world does around me.
Dennis Donohue

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Cane Form

As the only Kung Fu related subject I can think of at the moment, here is a description of my cane form/application, with some of my thought processes. At the time of this writing, two out of three of my attackers are “lady thugs”
Walking out towards audience, there are 3 “thugs” leaning against a wall on my right.
The center thug pulls a knife and approaches threatening me. (Idea: have opponent say “give me your money”?) The cane is brought up in my right hand, circling the tip to maintain distance from the thug while retreating. Once separated from her friends, raise the cane to a horizontal two handed block. Provide a false opening under the block by raising it to head height. When the knife attack comes, step back with my left leg (protecting the heart) and hook the knife hand with the cane held in the left hand, simultaneously striking out with a right hand palm heel block, knocking this attacker off balance. Quickly reach down with the hook of the cane and catch, and then pull the ankle to drop the attacker. I step forward and drive the tip of the cane downward into their solar plexus (application:  opponent rolls on their side, strike the ground at the center of their body)
At this time, the other thugs prepare to attack. One comes in from the front and the other has circled to behind me.
A quick “pool cue” strike to the stomach of the closest (front) attacker, winding them, to buy time to deal with the one approaching from behind.
I turn 180, cane sweeping overhead in an arc, and deflect the knife hand of the third attacker, then cat leap to her now closed off side and strike her forearm to make her drop the knife. Next, poke her in the stomach to wind her, so that she staggers back, slightly bent over, and then I follow, wrapping the cane behind her neck. A hip throw with 180 degree turn (snapping of her neck, for the application let go with one hand to allow a break fall), facing the last remaining attacker (previously poked but by now recovered).
The cane is being held vertically at this point, sweep it across the body left to right, intercepting and dislodging the incoming knife. The opponent clutches hand in pain, and is slightly bent forward cradling the injured hand/wrist. I then step back, allowing the cane to drop into a large vertical circle, with a two handed downward strike to the back of the final opponent. (Application note: pull the blow at a diagonal so the cane just brushes the side of the back, with just enough force that the opponent can feel the strike, and then react by falling to the ground in a forward break fall)
At this time all opponents are either laying on the ground or are crawling off in agony.
Politely walk off the stage.
I hope that this has translated from the movie in my mind to the written word, and will allow insight into what I am trying to do up on stage.
Dennis Donohue

Monday, June 3, 2013

News Flash: Weight Reducing Fudge!

I have noticed that my pants are getting looser, and just confirmed with the scale. Since starting a steady and significant diet of Sihing Donohue’s incredible fudge, my weight has dropped by five pounds and the smallest hole on my belt is too large. I am so impressed that I am off to have another piece. And no, I doubt that joining the dragon dance in last weekend’s parade could have had any bearing on the results. Fudge Rocks!   
Dennis Donohue