Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Day the World Changed

Ten years ago, the world changed.

Ten years ago, terror came into our homes, and things that had been the realm of subject matter experts and news reports became real.

Ten years ago, we learned how vulnerable we could be -- and just how much people can step up to meet a challenge.  Police officers, fire fighters, security personnel all did their jobs under conditions no one could have envisioned, in New York City, and at the Pentagon.  "Ordinary" people -- office workers, travelers, people who had been minding their own business on the streets -- also rose to the challenge, in NYC, in Arlington, VA, and in the air over Pennsylvania.

Remember them, remember their courage, and remain vigilant so that those who strike at the most vulnerable from hidden locations never again succeed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Stance:  the positioning of the body for combat.

Steps are transitions between stances; stances are where you end up after steps.  Confusing, huh?  In Bando, we have two categories of stances, formal and combat.  Formal stances are rather strictly defined postures used to learn and categorize weight shifts, directions, and body alignment.  They provide the structure to support techniques.  Dr. Gyi  would say "You cannot fire a cannon off a bamboo platform."  In Bando, we have three main formal stances, each with three variants.

Combat stances are less formal and more fluid.  Again, there are two main types of combative stances.  The first is your personal fighting stance.  This is your "ready position" for fighting.  I often describe it to students as an "idling car at a red light."  The engine is running, the car will go -- just as soon as the light changes.  I teach my students certain key elements that must be present in the fighting stance principles of hand position, which hand leads, and so on.  The second form of combative stance is the functional application of the formal stances.  They're not quite as technically perfect as the formal stances, but they should be recognizably related to them.

Ian Abernathy wrote a very good article about the principles and development of stances in training.  I encourage you to read it.  Ian Abernathy: My Stance on Stances  One of the key ideas in it is to understand the role of stance and stance training, and how it relates to functional fighting.

Friday, April 29, 2011

What happens when two AREN'T tangoing...

There's no one sort of violent attack; violence occurs a spectrum.   However, it's important to distinguish violence from what Rory Miller calls a "monkey dance."  A monkey dance is about status, not really hurting someone.  There are unwritten rules in a monkey dance, and you violate those rules at the risk of social sanction.  The college jock who beats the stereotypical nerd senseless doesn't gain status; he's laughed at.  Here are two examples of monkey dances getting stopped short...  There may be inappropriate language in either; view at your own risk or turn your speakers off.

In both cases -- you see the Monkey Dance building, and then one of the people stops playing.  I'm not justifying or defending the actions of anyone involved; I don't know enough of the circumstances.  But in both, you see one person escalating, putting on a show.  Then the other person has enough -- and stops the whole dance.

If you remain calm, and recognize when a Monkey Dance is starting, you have opportunities to stop it.  You can escalate to more force, quicker, and end the dance that way.  It's sometimes the right thing to do.  But... you're not limited to pulling out the big guns, either.  You may be able to disengage or defuse the situation without force, too.  And it's important to at least make the effort -- when it is safe to do so.

Friday, January 28, 2011


"Simply by your presence, you can effect change."

Some years back, my teacher, Joe Manley, brought this motto to our class, and it's been on my mind lately, what with a seminar coming up and a few comments folks have made in my presence.

For many years, I avoided missing class for a simple reason: I was absolutely sure that the one class I missed would be the class that had the lesson I absolutely needed. 

We'd often repeat material over the years, and sometimes it would get frustrating.  After all, how many times can you work on the front kick?  Well... I don't know.  I'm still working on it, and working on getting it right.  So I guess the answer is "at least one more time!"  Working with Joe would break out a new piece or new element or just tweak something, and my kick would get better.  Joe would address this issue with a story from his own training...  He would go to train with Dr. Gyi, and they'd work on something... and it'd be the same thing they worked on last time.  It finally dawned on Joe that if they were still working on it, it must mean that they don't have it right yet... and he began to focus his training on getting it right -- and Dr. Gyi could finally move on!

Let's look at that motto again... "Simply by your presence, you can effect change."  Presence.  What's that mean?  Being there.  Effect.  The dictionary definition is interesting.  It can mean the result... or it can mean that you've altered the result.  Change.  Change can be the result -- or the process of becoming different.

Simply by being there, you both bring about alterations --- and you alter the outcome of the activity.

Don't fall into the trap of "I already know that" or "I don't need that lesson."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seminar Announcement

On January 29, 2011, Piedmont Bando of Northern Virginia has the honor of hosting Bando Grandmasters Joe Manley and Lloyd Davis for a seminar on the fundamentals of Bando and free sparring.

The seminar will be held at the Manassas Battlefield Holiday Inn on Balls Ford Road in Manassas, beginning at 10 AM.  The seminar fee, to cover costs, is $70 for non-ABA members, and $60 for ABA members in good standing.

Contact us if you have any questions.