Engaging Your Training

Martial Arts:  Training


Sometimes keeping the training engaging is as simple as changing the landscape.

#msmb #kalimundo #ptta #ptkwf #webelieveinlife #traineveryway #traineveryday #ptk #silat #grappling #capoeiraangola #boxing #mma #wellness #fitness #health #outdoors #community #martialarts #selfdefense

Combat Geometry

Martial Arts:  Methodology


By Njoli Brown

Combat Geometry:  I’d heard that language used quite a bit but it always seemed somewhat abstract to me. When I arrived at my first Semangat Baru silat class with my roll of blue painter’s tape it was very clear that geometry was the law in that space. We measured out strides 2.5 foot lengths, worked tirelessly off the langka (tiga, sliwa, etc.), and methodically investigated balance, angle, body position and timing. I’ve enjoyed this style of penjak silat because of its emphasis on close quarter fighting. I’ve continued in this practice because of this both practical and academic attention to detail and the way it has informed much of my teaching pedagogy.

 

#msmb #semangatbaru#kunomartialarts #webelieveinlife#traineveryway #traineveryday #health#wellness #fitness #science #itsnotmagic#martialarts #selfdefense #community#poc #indonesia #penjaksilat

The Practicality of the Classical

I hear a lot of commentary that some of the classical elements of PTK don’t have the same amount of relevance as the more contemporary iterations. I look at elements like “seguidas” as vocabulary which enhance my “Tri-V” practice. The difference between “I want water” and ” I want a glass of cold water.” The more familiar I am the greater capacity I have (with practice) to integrate it into my applications, both sparring and otherwise. The 3rd set of “seguidas” focuses primarily on stick grappling. Not as a work unto itself, but to familiarize us with positions and opportunities so they are more recognizable when they arise or when we are able to tactically maneuver ourselves into that range. #msmb #kalimundo #ptta #ptkwf #webelieveinlife #ptk #kali #fma #grappling #silat #capoeiraangola #health #wellness #fitness #mixedmartialarts #selfdefense #martialarts #fighttraining #sparring

Opinion: A Duty to Self Defend

Black, Brown, Colored:  Martial Arts / Opinion


By Clarence Jackson

There have always been threats to Black life. There have always been threats to human life. In America those threats became one of the most dominating factors of life. With all of the White Supremacist actions we should remember the KKK never left, the hate groups and the hate, the politicians that support them, their institutional support systems are all part of American tradition. I invite you to consider that you are being irresponsible if you are an African American and are not devoting a considerable amount of time to the study of self defense by the many trained professionals that offer it.

I have spoken with numerous police officers about their difficult jobs and been told time and again that you should arm yourself. If you call them they try, but it takes time to get to you. Officers and military have been offering training for years. Good, solid working people trying to raise families and thrive in this world need to not only be able to protect themselves and ensure the lives of their children, they need to be networked to ensure the safety of communities. Decent hardworking people should not be victimized by anyone. Including people inside of their communities, but we certainly can’t continue to be surprised by the underbelly of American society. Love each other, grow food, participate in society and live well, but safeguard your life in the American way. And always remember self defense is always paired with legal study, knowing the laws, I would even argue knowing lawyers, officers and possibly politicians to ensure that you are not only properly following the laws, but connected enough to it to create the best options for safely navigating any aftermath in the horror of having to defend yourself.

Top Reasons to Make Massage Part of Your Martial Arts Practice

Martial Arts:  Massage


By Njoli Brown

About 3.6 million people actively participate in the martial arts industry in the United States each year.   Some of those people, over some short period of time.  But many others determine to make their martial practice part of their lifestyle. The fatal mistake can often be an incomplete understanding of the physical benefits of the practice along with the necessary responsibilities we have to take on in order to maintain our bodies and perhaps to grow forward.  This is where self care and, perhaps more specifically, massage comes in.

Muscles undoubtedly receive huge benefits from massage.  But did you know, an array of research supports the understanding that massage:

  • Reduces heart rate.
  • Reduces recovery time.
  • Lowers anxiety.
  • Increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients all over
  • Improves connective tissue healing, which promotes muscle elasticity.
  • Stabilizes cortisol levels (a stress hormone, similar to adrenaline).
  • Improves muscle flexibility, which reduces and prevents injury.

The rewards end up being both physical and psychological, increasing our capacity to think clearly, maintain psychological balance, recover quickly and utilize our muscles to their maximum potential.  Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 6.59.20 PM
Massage is also a tremendous support of tendon health.  We cannot isolate tendons from the rest of the physical structure.  Tendons are fairly resilient if we’ve managed to bank some muscle health. Because of the limited capacity of tendons to contract or relax, they rely on the pliability of muscle. Imagining the burden we place on them by allowing that muscle tightness to present constant tension, we can imagine how tendons under this level of stress are more prone to rip or tear.


ALL tendon problems are due to problems with the muscle. If the muscle is unhealthy or not working optimally, it’s the tendon that’s going to take the damage.  So while it’s important to keep tendons happy, it’s as important or even more important to keep the muscle and interwoven connective tissue structures happy.

Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 6.54.33 PM
The martial artist is the human animal in need of the optimal access to his/her tools.  Vertebrate animals exploit the elastic properties of their tendons, saving metabolic energy as tendons stretch and then recoil.  Whether in the arena of sports or in a self defense practice we are constantly working to manage or energy in order to have it to draw on when most vital.  Tendons store and return elastic strain energy while losing and regaining kinetic energy. They also, recoil elastically much faster than muscles can shorten, enabling us to jump further to strike and retract with more rapidity and to change direction more quickly. This elasticity affects the control of muscles, enhancing force control.

Mental health, muscle health, tendon health.  Along with the over all sense of internal wellness, we can see there are very pragmatic reasons to make massage an essential part of our martial practice.

 

We’re back! BLACK BOX FS spring session

We’re back! BLACK BOX FS spring session is coming! This quarter our focus is GRAPPLING: Take downs & maintaining top position. BLACK BOX is the MSMB lab for developing well-rounded cqc skills and testing them in application. Beginning March 21st… Get in touch for more info contact@msmbnyc.com *As always, free for our MSMB comprehensive members.
#msmb #traineveryway #traineveryday #webelieveinlife #blackboxfs #kali #silat #capoeira #boxing #wrestling #grappling #cqc #fightscience #health #wellness #martialarts #selfdefense #womeninpower

Grading Up: Ranks Without Ranking

By Njoli Brown

This present continuous practice is nothing other than just that, just committing oneself to continuous practice for no other reason than to practice continuously.”

Dogen in “Continuous Practice” –
(Translation by Francis Dojun Cook in the book “How To Raise an Ox”)

Most recently MSMB had the opportunity to promote students through the Pekiti Tirsia Kali ranking curriculum in association with PTK Elite.  It has been a pleasure to see their growth as students and to see them undertake and overcome increasing challenges both in training and in life.  Through this process, it had me truly reflecting on the value of rank testing and the importance of doing it well, justly and academically.

24313066_1815938585083611_5796395572561629866_oNow, truth be told, I do hold a lot of more seemingly abstruse elements to be equally as important in the progression of studentship — empathy, mindfulness, dedication, compassion, fortitude, humility, etc.  But here, I’d like to talk about the importance of the skills element of the pedagogy.

This year there was a decision among Elite Family instructors to really drill down and go layer by layer through the rank requirements, specific skills, language, historical knowledge, deemed essential both by our teachers and by us, collectively.  In making these determinations we were looking to do a better job of making sure that , not only were we developing skilled practitioners or doing our part to protect the legacy of our predecessors but that we were giving our students access to mater24302166_10155929671212520_5244908863842982036_oial which, perhaps, none of us have fully deciphered.  Material which could then truly be theirs to explore and investigate.  In the martial practice everyone brings their own personhood and thus unlocks elements only accessible to them, elements revealed through work and diligence.  These are all the spaces between wherein students often teach their instructors.

By utilizing a clear platform for ranking, it also calls on me to continually develop myself and work on my own weaknesses.  It requires me to regularly test myself and delve deeper.  In part because of my own curiosity but, as well, because It would be my greatest fault to leave a student short-changed because of my own incapacity to reconcile with challenges I face in my own study.

Ranking is a funny thing.  It is both objective and subjective simultaneously.  The more esoteric aspects of a teacher’s pedagogy, I’ve put aside for the sake of this exploration but they are easily as essential, particularly if your institution is also concerned with developing teachers, leaders, comrades.  People age, the body becomes ravaged, illness, injuries, we know them all.  But, in this world of martial craft, nothing sabotages the weight of a leader’s presence in the field more then demonstrative ignorance of his/her craft, and nothing empowers a student more than to have strong foundations from which to build investigative inquiry into self and the world.

Questions:

  • How can I judge someone else’s journey?
  • As an instructor, what is the honest status of my “student mind?” 
  • Am I clear about my expectations as an instructor and/or as a student?
  • Do I ask discerning questions for the sake of learning or for proving?
  • How do I evaluate the connection between my internal and external practice?

Earn Your Keep (the follow up…)

By Njoli Brown

Every summer I spend about a month and a half out in the Northwest.  I’m getting my hiking in, connecting with family and friends, yeah, hard life.  But I also consider this the time where I earn my keep.  I hit my boxing training a bit harder, I work my silat, try to make the rodas and capoeira classes I can and I double up my gym time when I’m not in the mountains.

Back in NYC I have a fantastic group of students and colleagues who’ve been generous over the past few years to work with me as I develop and to dedicate their time to learning what I have to teach.  Now, I’m lucky in having some fantastic teachers who’ve spent years giving me the tools and the kind of support it takes to let me feel confident imparting their gifts.  But all this being said, the worst thing an instructor can possibly do, is rest on his/her laurels.  How many of us have seen the result? Too many.

Now this is obviously taking into account those with debilitating injuries, mental or physical conditions (ie age, disease), etc.  Even so, I recall an event where my capoeira teacher taught his workshop from crutches.  I also know a student who spent her year of physical recovery translating articles and interviews of old mestres from Portuguese to English.  I figure, the least I can do is model the kind of consistent growth I ask of my students.

So, what does that look like.  No, it doesn’t have to mean an extra 4 days a week at the gym or a complete overhaul of your training regimen.  But what it does mean, is taking a good look at the holes in your game and exhibiting the kind of diligence it means to clean them up. Conditioning slipping? Perhaps show up that 20 minutes before class to jump rope (low impact on the knees and high return on the effort).  Be okay with showing your students what it looks like to work before you work.  Feel like you’re losing those fast hand mechanics?  Get yourself to a boxing gym and ask folks who know the science to help you clean up your technique.  Speed is as much muscle elasticity as it is strength. When was the last yoga class you hit.  Local community center… free.  Maybe I’m hurt and out to the physical game for a while but am I innovating in ways to train my mind?And maybe, just maybe, you need a reminder of what it’s like to not be good at something.

Push yourself, find the time and earn your keep.
*Thoughts? Suggestions? Definitely kick them down.

A Sister in Brotherhood Spaces

By JL Umipig

It’s been 2 years now since I arrived to Central Park on a spring evening and was welcomed by Guro Njoli and two of my brothers of Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK) Vin and Chris. And I recall so distinctly why I returned after that first moment- it was the feeling of being held in a process of betterment and strengthening through comraderie. From day one, my brothers of MSMB and PTK held me to a caliber of that encouragement to better and strengthen my being.

I a20161126_105810m one of the few Womxn who consistently trains with the brothers of PTK Elite and MSMBNYC. In two years I have watched sisters come through and I emphasize to them why I continue to train which consists of the reasons that most people do, to have consistent physical regiment for my fitness and health, to be able to defend myself when the time comes, and to strengthen my body and confidence. But also I continue and commit to PTK and MSMB because of what I felt in that initial moment that I began learning with this circle: the camaraderie and mutual betterment of self as a practitioner that I feel growing with my brothers. There is a real pride we have for the betterment of one another, the push to excel as a family unit, detached from competition amongst those in our crew. They push me to go hard, to be able to hold my own amongst anyone, no matter their size or their strength level.  There is a belief that I feel from the respect my brothers hold for me, that when we train, our genders have nothing to do with our ability to train hard, and be able to step up to the challenges of body, mind and spirit that our practice teaches us to stand up to.

Our guros hold us all to our strengths, and also hold us to strengthening our weaknesses. I see how each of them in their teachings see the value of each individual in the group, and I watch the camaraderie between them that is model to us all. It roots our circle, the way they are able to respect and hold one another in collaboration and in unique styles of giving knowledge to our training. And as the little sister in the crew they rarely mention my gender, only with the recognition of how to apply their teachings to the very real degradation and violence Womxn face on the daily and how to use the learnings for my protection and ability to be prepared should I be confronted with the realities of misogyny and gender violence in this world. They teach me to use my size to my advantage, and help me understand my power to survive.

When we talk about Kali, we orient the learnings around the ability of Pilipino ancestors to fight and survive in battle with their colonizers, who were often larger and more equipped than them. These teachings of Pilipino Ancestral practices and traditions is the other reason I stay. My guros value this and respect the roots of the a20160625_114602rt, they help us understand the context and it brings me closer to my ancestors in a new way of understanding. I feel them in my movements. I feel their spirit of survival and resistance. And they and my brothers make room for me to share my learnings and cultural practices and values as a healer, activist and artist in connection to our training- another way they welcome what I have to contribute to our circle of my strengths.

“Respect everyone, Fear no one” our MSMB mantra is core to the way we train, is core to the way we learn, is core to the way we build camaraderie. Every time I come to train, I feel valued, respected and cared for as a member to this circle of warriors. I believe that is how my ancestors intended this practice to be upheld. So I bring myself fully to every training and every gathering, ready to step into my power. Sure, every now and then the testosterone is real, the frustrations of having to deal with my femininity being sometimes a hindrance because I can’t hide I am a Womxn physically and there are instances of societal stereotypes that surface (that’s real), and the moments of having to step it up extra notches to have new members that are men see me the way my brothers who I’ve trained with from the beginning is real as well. But what outweighs all of that is that my brothers will always remind me I am valued, that I am seen and I am held and so the humanization is real, the honoring is real and the love that makes me feel Family in this circle of brothers is real.

 

Jana Lynne (JL) Umipig is the creator of “The Journey of a Brown Girl” www.thejourneyofabrowngirl.com  Director, Producer, Actress, Educator and Organizer she currently resides in NYC. JL image5has worked with different community organizations developing curriculum and programs that integrate theatre and visual arts with activism and leadership development, working with schools, community organizations, detention facilities, and rehabilitation and support group centers. She believes in the power of the arts to activate and move the human spirit for individual toward community empowerment and transformation.  She creates with the intention to connect human experience and spirit between all communities.