Thursday, December 21, 2006
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
If only for a moment we could take a break from our hectic lives and contemplate what God did for us some 2000 years ago.
Wonder at how Joseph and Mary travelled such a long, long way. Their journey was just the beginning...
As you prepare and celebrate Christmas, take time to give thanks to God for what he did for us then and what he is doing now.
Merry Christmas and may God grant you peace, if only for a moment.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
If you're a big fan of CNET like I am, then I'm sure you've enjoyed the many articles by James Kim. He [along with Misawa] were the sole reason I became interested in MP3 players. I can't tell you how very sad I am that he's gone. Being a husband and father of two children, James did what he had to do; he was willing to do anything to ensure their survival.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
After taking some nudging from my wife, I went to an urgent care clinic to have an x-ray done on my left foot. So, on Saturday morning, I stumbled out of bed at 6 a.m. to be the first in line. All went very well.
As I signed in, the front desk nurse asked me what I did. I told her about tae kwon do class, a week ago Thursday, and kicking the bag wrong. There was just a little pain. She then asked why I waited so long. I simply told her that I'm a male. We're very stubborn. She laughed as I waited for the doctor to call me back.
The preliminary nurse called me back to check my weight, vital signs, and ask me why I waited so long with a broken toe and possibly a broken foot. I gave her the same answer, "It really isn't that bad. My wife told me to have it checked, since I'm a diabetic, and blah, blah, blah." Something was said pertaining to stubborness and being a male, but I forget. Anyway, she, too, laughed as I waited for the doctor.
The doctor comes in, and after mild chit-chat about male stubborness and not listening to my wife when I should have, she grabbed my foot and proceeded to play the little piggy game with it. "This little piggy...". Okay, that really didn't happen, but it sure felt like it. After a few minutes of examining my foot, she believes it isn't broken. But, to be on the safe side, she orders an x-ray.
After about ten minutes, and several foot x-rays later, the doctor gave me the news: I don't have a broken toe or foot. I have a severe contusion. In layman's terms, I jammed the heck out of it. She (the doctor) was amazed that I didn't break it with all the bruising and swelling. I was discharged with instructions to elevate and ice-down my foot, along with taking ibuprofen every 8 hours as needed, and listen to my wife.
1. Listen to wife to avoid "nasty stares" and snap-kicks to the butt.
2. Pull toes back when kicking a bag of any type. As John Vesia mentioned, pads are preferable, but I need to learn technique first.
3. Go back and study number 1 again.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Last Thursday, though, God humbled me with a broken big toe. How? During Tae Kwon Do class, I was instructed to do a left front kick to the heavy bag. "No problem.", I thought. I was having a wonderful lesson: My kicks were snapping and powerful. My punches could've knocked out a heavy weight fighter. I was relaxed and not as stiff as previous classes.
But I forgot one key component with my left foot; I forgot to pull my toes back. So, I slammed my big left toe into the heavy bag with as much power as I could muster. Yes, it snapped like a twig. At first, I thought I had jammed my toe and kept on with the class. By Friday, it was black and blue all over.
And through it all, I've laughed. I even sparred on Friday night, with a broken toe, and had fun. I'm thankful to a God who teaches us, in small lessons, to "lighten" up when trials occur. Besides, laughter is the best medicine.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Wild At Heart
Waking The Dead
The Journey of Desire and,
All of which were wonderful and I've used them for bible studies and applications in my own life. I've met people who have attended his conferences and loved them. Yet, there is always someone who just doesn't seem to 'get' it.
Eldredge uses a lot of imagery and metaphors for his works. For that matter, so did King David, Solomon, and Jesus. All of whom want us to draw closer to God the Father. Contemporary writers such as C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton were the same way.
So, why the disparagement with Eldredge? Is it due to his brash contempt for 'dead' Christians or churches full of bobble-heads? His remarks against fool-hearty, know-it-all Christians, perhaps?
Allow me to point out Scripture that clearly confused a Pharisee through the use of imagery:
3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Gee, just imagine the look on Nicodemus' face when he heard this from Jesus.
Using imagery and metaphor is nothing new. Through all of Eldredge's works he NEVER takes away from who God the Father and Jesus the Christ was, is, and always will be. Maybe though we should do as James mentions:
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I don't have a good feeling about this at all.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency that the country wants "peace but is not afraid of war."
Do we honestly believe North Korea will listen to anyone with regards to ending the threat of nuclear war?
Friday, October 13, 2006
Imagine if this hit Atlanta in October!
Okay... imagine if this hit Atlanta at anytime during the winter.
Which brings me to say, please go through your closets and donate any old jackets or winter clothing to those in need. Thank you.
If you watched the game, it was an incredible sight. Aponavicius was high-fived and hugged every time he made the play. His proud parents receiving hugs from fellow BC fans. He enjoyed the moment.
I could go into a diatribe on why we should enjoy our moments more. But, alas, I think we're supposed to know that. Right?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Is it me or is North Korea looking for a fight? I've read several AP reports where North Korean leaders are snubbing China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. North Korea wants the United States to meet on their terms and demands. It ain't gonna happen.
But unlike Iraq, which has gone wayward thanks mostly to politicians, a defensive blow to North Korea would be decisive, i.e. parts of North Korea would be leveled. Read General Bell's comments to see for yourself.
Don't get me wrong: I'm tired of war. I'm tired of seeing husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers go off to war. BUT, I strongly believe in decisive self-defense.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Warner wants to do all these things because he'll always have that urge to connect with people.
Warner is a wonderful person who is not afraid to call Jesus his Savior. I believe he could be a great Quarterback coach, whether in the pros or college. Whatever Warner does, he will make a positive impact.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
As many of you already know, an attack occurred yesterday at a high school in Colorado. The attacker, a deranged man between the ages of 30 and 50, held six female students hostage for over 4 hours. According to one report on FoxNews.com, the attacker may have sexually assaulted some of the hostages.
After police lost communication with this sicko, (which was done via hostages, not the attacker), they made the decision to storm the classroom. After a brief barrage of gunfire, the attacker then killed a 16-year old student before killing himself.
Granted, I probably don't have all the information on the exact details of this situation, BUT, I have a big problem with what the police/sheriff's department did or did not do.
If you've already discovered the problem, then good for you. If not, then let me point it out to you.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, 4 hours.
4 hours that the attacker used for his own pleasure.
4 hours that he could've killed every one of his hostages.
4 hours that the police had communications with him via the hostages.
Now I don't know about you, but 4 hours is way TOO MUCH TIME! Forget negotiations. We're living in a time where negotiations no longer work with psychos. Negotiations ended the moment the gunman used hostages for his communications. The sheriff, or whomever was in charge, should've sent men in from the beginning.
Sure - it's easy to point out deficiencies after the fact. But after Columbine, there should be no excuses why this went down so badly.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I believe in good sportsmanship and a positive attitude even if I lose or my team loses. But the reaction from the University of Oklahoma, and their fans, is very poor at best.
University of Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter Monday to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, saying the officiating problems was beyond an "outrageous injustice," and asking him to pursue having the game eliminated from the record books and having the officials involved in the game suspended for the remainder of the season.
Not only this, but the instant replay official is receiving death threats for blowing the call. Death threats for making a mistake!
I wonder if this poor display of sportsmanship and attitude would be the same if a blown call were made against a smaller, less known university. A university that simply appreciated just playing the game of football.
Monday, September 18, 2006
John Vesia, over at Martial Views, has an excellent post on multiple martial art styles and why we should consider them after we've been grounded in a particular style.
I used to be a huge proponent of just one single style, i.e. Daito ryu. After studying Daito ryu for eight years, I branched out to other styles such as Aikido, Kendo, Judo, and now Tae Kwon Do. No single style is the best. The each have their own benefits.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Respect is given - Respect is earned.
I could go into a tirade detailing how people have forgotten this lifelong lesson. However, ashamedly, there was a time in my life when I was the same way. What happens that we lose the will to give respect?
It is the same as our struggle with sin. We simply choose our sinful nature, then our life in Christ. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7 his struggles with sin. He has the capability of doing good, but his sin overtakes him:
"I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time." (The Message)
I recently posted my disappointment with young martial artists and their lack of respect at a large tournament. I am reminded by Christ himself how easy it is wander away from Him. We tend to put character away in the closet, for a while, and then let it back out.
So, what do we do? Here's Paul's answer:
"I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different." (The Message)
First, get right with Christ and, second, remember to be respectful to all.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Great story from the perspective of struggling with sin and with diabetes.
However, given the options, I've found life in place of what was killing me. As I continue to walk this path I'm reminded of Jesus' words: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."
As I've mentioned before, Jesus understands the challenges and struggles in our lives. We must keep persevering to "finish the race".
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Normally I don't do this kind of thing, BUT, this is a matter of importance. I received an Intercessor email over the weekend stating that John Eldredge was thrown from his horse. John has been and will always be a huge inspiration in my life. His books are excellent. Here is an excerpt from the email dated September 3rd:
Earlier today John was thrown from his horse and landed pretty hard. At the moment here's his status. His nose is fractured in two places and may, intime, need surgery. His left wrist has a "minor" fracture, his right wrist is severely fractured... at the moment, as I'm typing, an orthopedic specialist is hoping he can set some of the bones... surgery may be needed (not sure about whether it'll be an immediate need or in a couple of days)... this is the most serious and painful of his injuries. John was knocked unconscious but the cat scan shows no head injuries. His right foot is in pain and yet to be diagnosed. Obviously, we're asking Christ to heal, protect, guard, restore and comfort John.
Please keep John Eldredge in your prayers.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Friday, September 01, 2006
My wife and I have gone through a number of wonderful changes. God has a way of pouring out a bucket of his blessings when he's ready, not us. In the last 4 weeks, we've purchased and moved into a new home (we're still unpacking). My wife is now a kindergarten teacher at a local Christian school (she loves her calling!). Our boys attend the same school (they love it!). I began a new job in downtown Atlanta with wonderful people. I am now taking Tae Kwon Do and successfuly tested for a green belt. (yes, this old dog can learn new tricks...) And, my diabetes is doing excellent. Praise God!
ALL IN 4 WEEKS!
God has a way of throwing you a ball and seeing what you're going to do with it. Remember the parable of the talents? We are living proof that you must hold strong to your faith, through the uncertain times, and live your calling with passion. A big, "Thank You", to all of you who have kept in touch, helped us through the desert, and prayed for us.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Lately, I've been helping a good friend by working in the kitchen of her school and have been very humbled. My 'diabetes' is doing excellent. The relationships I have with family and friends are going very well. I have a renewed love for the martial arts and hope that one day I will be able to become an assistant teacher like I used to be.
With the upcoming school year approaching, I thought I would do a story or two on dojo/dojang etiquette. Something very simple for beginners. I will follow these articles with stories on what it means to be a "martial artist": the tenets and why they are so very important, not only in our training, but in our daily lives as well.
Last, but never least, please pray and give thanks to our men and women of the U.S. armed forces. They continually have a tough job and need our support.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Three weeks ago I made the decision to go off the 'ol insulin pump.
I did this for a number of reasons:
1. I was exercising in the heat and losing my infusion set when my skin became too sweaty.
2. If I swam for more than 20 minutes, my infusion set would come off as well.
3. My blood sugar numbers were a little off due to all the aforementioned craziness.
4. I needed a break from being 'tethered'.
When my oldest son and I attended his Junior Olympics - Tae Kwon Do training camp, at Lake Allatoona, I knew my infusion set wouldn't do well in 100+ degree heat. And, yes, I do use a skin poxy to enhance the tape stickiness. But...it doesn't hold up to a sweaty body.
Before I went back on shots, I consulted with my doctor and she listened to my concerns. She then ordered an A1c and put me on Lantus (With the suggestion of my sister, who is an insulin dependant diabetic as well.). My A1c was a 6.7 and my doctor was fine with the new regimen.
I currently take 25 units of Lantus at night time and test my blood every 3 hours until bed. So far, so good. God is very good to me. I am currently averaging a 110 blood sugar. I'm exercising more since I don't have to worry about the infusion set.
There's an old expression that goes something like this:
When life gives you lemons, make sugar-free lemonade.
When you need to make changes to your diabetes, do it right, e.g. see your doctor, and have a positive attitude.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I’m going to attempt a not-too-harsh critique of what I observed at the U.S. Junior Olympics – Tae Kwon Do (TKD). If you were one of the many competitors, please take this post as a teaching tool and not one of shame.
Let me begin first by telling you how a young martial artist should behave at ALL times. They should be disciplined (honorable), respectful, self-controlled, show a positive attitude, and an indomitable spirit. Martial arts instructors refer these character traits as “tenets” of the martial arts.
The Apostle Paul made this remark in 1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
I strongly believe your character wins you respect from others.
Being present at the JOs for five days, at the Georgia Dome, I witnessed the behavior of many competitors, coaches, and instructors. Overall, only a handful of those displayed the tenets as mentioned above. Even event security personnel unknowingly displayed many of the tenets. As I was respectful to security, they returned respect and they were very, very helpful.
Here are witnessed examples of how martial artists, young and old, should NOT act like:
1. Students, with their doboks and belts on, ran carelessly through the Georgia Dome with little care for anyone else. No, they weren’t going to their next event. They were goofing off.
2. Coaches and instructors had no respect for the volunteers on the floor. “Rude” is the word I often heard. A specific case happened to my oldest son, who had a run-in with a rude ‘master’. My son volunteered for 12 hours and was told by many volunteers, and his own Masters, how respectful and wonderful a job he did. I almost lost my cool with this so-called, ‘master’, who committed the offense. But, thankfully, my family and TKD families calmed me down. If you want to be rude and a jerk, do it to an adult, not a child!
3. In addition to the above, tournament leaders were disrespectful with volunteers and competitors.
4. Referees and judges were not respectful to one another.
I find the above examples very disturbing in light of a world who needs to see us for who we are: disciplined (honorable), respectful, self-controlled, with a positive attitude, and an indomitable spirit. We must continue to live through these tenets and always rise above mediocrity.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Today’s post will describe the positives of sport Tae Kwon Do and why it is needed in our culture.
Since the 70’s, thousands of commercial Karate and Tae Kwon Do dojos/dojangs/studios have opened in strip malls across
However, the number of young persons who are rapidly becoming obese is also on the rise. Sadly, many of these children begin to suffer from premature health problems: diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis to name just a few. In addition, many suffer from bullying as well.
Now here is where I put two and two together.
Many of these children have turned to sport Karate or Tae Kwon Do, not only for self-defense reasons, but for health reasons as well. These students become very, very active and thus physically fit. As I witnessed from the U.S. Junior Olympics-TKD (JOs), many competitors were just as fit, or more so, than a kid who plays on a soccer league. Remember, the point of this post are the benefits of sport Tae Kwon and not a fanatical comparison between a soccer player and sport Karate competitor.
From an athlete’s viewpoint, sport Karate/Tae Kwon encourages students to work hard for competitive purposes. They train constantly for their sparring matches. Kicks are repetitive and generally only one or two styles, e.g. round-house or front-snap kicks. There is very little punching: Points are given more for the athlete’s ability to kick to the target area.
At JOs, there were several instances where a coach or instructor would warm-up their students a good hour before a match. They would do a series of kicking drills, then rest. The cycle would then repeat until the actual match took place.
Knowing that these kids are getting lots of exercise is wonderful. Many seemed to really enjoy the competition, especially the sparring. My hope is that these same kids are taught the character of the martial arts and why they should continue to live a healthy lifestyle.
Tomorrow’s post will focus on what I witnessed at the U.S. Junior Olympics-TKD and the reflection upon sport Karate/Tae Kwon competitors.
Monday, July 10, 2006
For the past 5 days, my family and I have taken part in the 26th U.S. Junior Olympics – Tae Kwon Do (TKD) event at the Georgia Dome.
I will post a few quick thoughts first, then expound on a few thoughts later.
As many of you know, my oldest son has been training hard these past few months. He has followed a diet lacking in fried foods and diet soda. I got by with very little fried food, BUT failed with the diet soda. I did manage to go 6 days without diet soda and I didn’t suffer the least bit. Maybe I should take a hint.
My son trained physically – running a half mile everyday, swimming everyday, pushups, situps, sparring, and poomse (form). He lost 12 pounds around his waist and looks great. He says he feels great, too. He has trained under Master Terry Wassink, Masters William, Candy, and Mitt Lenix, all of whom are true martial artists. He survived three days at an outdoor TKD training camp.
Never once did he lose heart or his attitude.
My son IS a young warrior in my eyes purely for those reasons above. I know at nine years old, I could not have done what he did and have the same character. As you can tell, I am VERY proud of him. So no matter the outcome of the Junior Olympics, he is a champion to me.
Now, here are some quick thoughts from the perspective of being a parent and martial artist.
At first glance, I thought this event was going to be very similar to other tournaments we had participated in. It quickly became very clear to me that I was wrong. This was an athletic/sports affair rather than a competition between martial artists.
At second glance, the TKD ‘athletes’ were just that: athletes. I kept looking for someone who exuded those characteristics of a martial artist: discipline, respect, patience, self-control, and indomitable spirit. If these students were in hiding, during this event, I can understand. I probably would be, too.
Now please don’t get me wrong; athletes can show those same characteristics I mentioned. But at this particular event, they were hard to find. Funny, I received more respect from the security personnel than I did from many of the athletes.
I also became more aware of the differences between the martial art – Tae Kwon Do – and the sport. Not only in character but the physical differences as well. I was reminded that TKD is often referred to as, “tae kwon”, in the sport context.
Sparring is different in the sport, than the art. In the art, sparring allows the student to sharpen their skills in a “realistic” fight situation. Even in traditional TKD tournaments, sparring can be very aggressive. Sport sparring is simply who can kick the fastest and score the most points, while not necessarily using power against your opponent. For the purpose of these athletes, speed was all they needed to win.
From my writing, you could surmise I’m being a little sarcastic with the sport TKD. Yet as I mentioned before, I will expound on this later as both sport and art have their place and their students.
In tomorrow’s post, I will discuss my observations with sport TKD and the benefits it has with kids.
Monday, June 26, 2006
The last four days have been spent camping on I was honored by being in their presence and serving them in any way possible. I had a wonderful time with them, the students, and my oldest son, who will one day be better than me.
I was honored by being in their presence and serving them in any way possible. I had a wonderful time with them, the students, and my oldest son, who will one day be better than me.
I’m going to write this entry as a person who has been in the martial arts for over twenty years. Please understand my point of view and feel free to challenge/disagree with me.
Traditionally speaking, students of the martial arts have always helped their instructors with everything from cleaning the dojo/dojang to providing the instructor water. Whether class was taking place or not, the student provided assistance to the instructor. The student, in turn, developed a heart for service, discipline, trust, and loyalty.
Today’s young martial artists need to know that being a martial artist is more than just learning and practicing the art itself; it is much more. A true martial artist lives by their character and their heart. They practice discipline, patience, respect, loyalty, integrity, a positive attitude and much more. Their character is present not only in the dojo/dojang, but at home, school, church, and in public.
During the camp, I witnessed students as young as nine years–old display the characteristics of a true martial artist. They persevered through tough obstacles and kept a positive attitude despite light workouts in high heat. They NEVER complained. A few of the teenage students were the same way. They really enjoyed the camping experience, the stories, and fun we all had. To witness these students smile, after a ½ mile run in 90 degree heat, is wonderful. These are the students who are becoming martial artists and understand what it takes to be one. Lastly, they offered their services, to their instructors or fellow students, to aid them with tasks and still never complained.
Yet to the students who did show the character of a martial artist, there were those who did not. These students complained and their attitude was poor. They never once offered to help the instructors or fellow students. They couldn’t wait to go home and return to their comfortable settings. Many missed their fast food and sleeping until noon. Some were even unappreciative and disrespectful with the instructors.
We all make choices in life.
We choose to make a difference.
We choose our attitude.
We choose our character.
Finally, a little bit of humor.
One of the many wonderful gifts a martial arts instructor(s) can give to their students are stories of the good ‘ol days. For example, I loved to listen to Master William Lenix tell us his past experiences in the kickboxing ring and the fighters he’s met.
Lo and behold, the young students (9 – 14 year-olds) in our group didn’t recognize such names as Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis, Howard Jackson, Don Wilson, Bill Wallace, Jhoon Rhee, Gene LeBell, Wally Jay, or Ed Parker, just to name a few.
Monday, June 19, 2006
I did receive a gift from my family.
Do you recognize this guy:
Yes, that's Chuck Norris as Walker Texas Ranger - The Final Season on DVD. Tonight, due to the excitement of my two boys, we're having a Walker-thon. There's nothing finer than some down home bad guy butt-kickin'! Of course it doesn't hurt that Norris and cast pray to our Lord as well. Life IS good.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
My youngest son began studying Tae Kwon Do this week at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. He is trying so hard to be like his older brother, who is a green belt/black stripe. He also constantly looks over to my wife and me for affirmation.
I'll be the first to tell you that I am one of those parents that cheer their children on in anything they do. I do this act respectfully as I certainly don't yell and scream like some fools do.
Well...last night was our youngest son's second class. He's already speaking a little Korean-terminology, being respectful, and learning his front kick, punch, and low/high blocks. As you can imagine, I was beaming. I was a father on cloud nine.
At the same time as the TKD class, JFBC was hosting a "Gang Task Force" presentation in the room across. The presentation included police officers from the county.
But, before they went into the presentation, they looked in on the class (TKD) and pointed at our youngest son. These fairly large fellows were very impressed with his discipline. They kept smiling while pointing to his stances, blocks, and kicks. Oh, and these guys weren't making fun of my son, oh no. They were impressed at how disciplined this very young boy could be. Police officers love respectful, disciplined persons no matter how young or old they may be.
Okay, enough bragging. I'll come down from my cloud now...
Thursday, June 15, 2006
1. Grrr - The Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution against alcohol. What about a resolution against gluttony? I guess they think it’s okay to be fat.
2. The mass media has already forgotten the death of that ruthless tyrant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and returned to their berating of Ann Coulter. Um, I'll take dead terrorists for a $1000, Alex.
Um, I'll take dead terrorists for a $1000, Alex.
3. Kudos to the Supreme Court for siding with law enforcement in their recent decision. The high court stated as long as law enforcement has the necessary warrant, they do not need to knock first before entering a suspect’s residence and arresting them. Justice Stephen ‘Shlep’ Breyer dissented. He believes the police will abuse this rule and thus could care less if a suspect flushed their drugs down the toilet or, God forbid, a suspect shot knocking police officers, possibly killing one of them. Yeah, who cares about the police, right Justice Breyer?
4. Seems to me that our wonderful new Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, doesn’t have the public’s general interest in mind. He claims to be closely watching interest rates and consumer pricing, all in hopes of preventing inflation. But, according to the last economic report out of
5. Kudos to President Bush for visiting the
A good friend of mine reminded me of how sensitive we Americans have become with respect to hurricanes. Heck, a class 1 hurricane now calls for an immediate mass media frenzy. Who cares about the ‘local’ weather! All we want is hurricane news. “The sky is falling!”
I remember not too long ago when a hurricane hit the Charleston, SC area. I was on the beach, on Kiawah Island, and gathering sea shells in 60 mph winds. The sand whipped my face, but it was fun! My wife wanted shells and, by golly, she got shells. It was the only time a police officer laughed at me. Ahhh, good times.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
'It's every man's dream'
A finding by researchers at
The compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland. The protein acts like a switch that turns on various cancers.
Dr. Richard Atkins, chief executive officer of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, said the experiments are encouraging and "perhaps men could take it in pill form someday." He noted an ingredient in tomatoes, lycopene, has previously been linked to prostate cancer prevention.
"It's every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer," he said. "However, the 17 beers and four large pizzas needed to get enough xanthohumol and lycopene to help prevent prostate cancer is unfortunately not advised."
Associated PressAnd I just love pizza!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I'm doing all these exercises as well since I'm taking some time off. The hardest part has been the diet: No chips, no sweets, and no diet soda. I'm dying! :-)
The martial arts are as much about physical fitness as it is discipline. My son has heard me tell stories of hard workouts and character building. Most importantly, he is learning to make wise choices that affect his life.
Lastly, he is also becoming a Chuck Norris fan. We've watched a few "Walker: Texas Ranger" episodes and he's noticed the choices between those who do good and those who don't. It helps that Chuck Norris is a Christian and he uses Jesus' name (to pray) in his shows.
Oh, and one more thing, congratulations to Rich Franklin on his UFC 58 win over David Loiseau. Rich fought four rounds with a broken hand. I first saw Rich in a UFC training show. I admire him for training hard and knowing Christ. This is Rich's website banner:
Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.
I'll be back soon...
Monday, May 22, 2006
- Fellow diabetics do great things, e.g. local and federal law enforcement, tri-athletes, and adventurers.
- Babies, with diabetes, grow to be teenagers who are very, very responsible with their disease and their lives.
- The tragic results of complications due to neglect. Most have blindness, heart disease, and amputations.
For every story of neglect though, there have been stories of triumph. People with diabetes climbing large mountains, winning Olympic medals, becoming renown physicians, or great parents. There is no end to the possibilities.
Lastly, I’ve seen a number of folks diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve been to hospitals so many times, that I don’t care to remember them all. None of those affected me as much as seeing my own baby sister, who was in her twenties at the time, get diagnosed with this disease. She went through a little hell, but all-in-all she’s doing wonderfully now.
After living with diabetes for almost 30, I’ve had no complications aside from an occasional infection, flu, or cold. I greatly enjoy watching my oldest son train for his Tae Kwon Do and my youngest son having such a adventurous spirit. My wife is the love of my life. She’s been through many a good and bad day with my disease. She knows that I can become quite ‘moody’ if my blood sugar is too high or too low. Therefore, I do my very best to keep my blood sugar levels under control.
I truly believe that one day diabetics will be able to do anything from piloting the space shuttle to being an elite special forces soldier. I also believe this disease will be cured. Researchers are getting closer and closer to ending diabetes for good. If the FDA can allow the development and market of an inhaled insulin, just think of what the future holds.
But first, stay in control of your diabetes and be responsible for your choices. Do your best everyday and have a positive attitude. Sure, some days aren’t going to go your way. But, there is a tomorrow and there is a better way. Never limit yourself. Don’t ever give up!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Throughout my active teenage and adult years, I’ve had troubles controlling my diabetes. In 1987, I began taking 4-6 shots a day to get under control. Then in 1999, I finally took the dive and went for an insulin pump.
Insulin pumps have come a long way since their inception. They used to be larger than an adult’s shoebox. Now, they’re as small as a pager. I’ve even been asked if mine was a new form of the Blackberry.
The insulin pump works similar to an intravenous pump. A small plastic needle, or canula, is inserted into my abdomen. I receive a constant flow of insulin during the day and take extra amounts when I eat a meal. I change the insertion site every 4-5 days. The only complications I have are when I swim for a long time or profusely sweat; then the insertion comes out. All in all, it beats taking 4-6 shots a day.
My A1c, or average blood sugar levels, have improved as well. I range from 6.8 to a 7.0, which is personally fine for me. I don’t hold firm to the belief that a lower A1c is the best, e.g. A1c levels below 6.0.
I use a Medtronic Minimed Paradigm 511 and generally take 35-40 units a day. When my blood sugars run low, I temporarily suspend the pump. And speaking of blood sugars, I test my blood sugar 5-7 times a day. I use a Lifescan OneTouch Ultra as my blood machine. It only takes 5 seconds.
Every now and then I’ll meet someone wearing an insulin pump and talk them about it and their diabetes. Many diabetics are very conscious of their pump and are quiet about it. I have known a few diabetics who don’t want their disease made public, for fear of who knows what.
What does the future hold for insulin pumps?
Word has it that Medtronic has made a combination insulin pump AND blood machine. I don’t know if I particularly care for this type of machine, but I’m impressed that companies, like Medtronic, are trying to make the lives of diabetics better.
In Part 5 (my last), I will address young diabetics and the importance of keeping healthy and living without complications.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
As a young adult, I wanted to be a police officer or federal agent. I wanted to be someone who made a difference in society and fight the bad guys. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Too many restrictions against diabetics, at that time. (Not anymore.)
I was also short and stocky. I had to work out double-time to get in shape and try to prevent low-blood sugars (hypoglycemia). The martial arts were a big help in this area.
However through all this (family, friends, and exercise), I was still bitter.
I had even met other diabetics, who said my diagnosis was unique, and they completely understood my bitterness. That didn’t help as well.
Along with bitterness, there is it’s cousin, anger. I can get angry very fast. Back during these troubled times, it didn’t take much for me to go over the edge. I was irresponsible and sometimes, uncontrollable. If someone were to chide me or start trouble, I would finish it.
Thankfully, I’m not that way anymore. That type of anger only creeps up now if someone were to harm my family. So, what happened to me that subsided the bitterness?
Easy, I met Jesus the Christ.
I met Him through my oldest son (who was almost 3 at the time) and long story short, I laid my bitterness at his feet. Now when I have a bad day with my disease, and occasionally I do have them, I try to calmly take care of it and let the anger go.
And what about Aikido? How does Aikido fit into all of this?
Well, glad I asked!
Aikido allows me to dissipate my anger by redirecting it. Aikido, and Daito ryu for that matter, allows me to have fun and conversation with students from other martial art schools. Aikido allows me to become aware of my emotions and give them to God. Not a Shinto god, mind you. The Lord God and Father of the Christ.
God understands me better than I do myself. I believe God works wonders everyday that we fail to see. Even wonders with ourselves. He alone gives me the ability to be a confident warrior, loving and honorable husband, and loving, grace-filled daddy.
Diabetes is still a priority in my life. I take my health seriously. I still love a double cheeseburger, bratwurst, and a bite of chocolate, but not as often as I would like. I stay away from alcohol and exercise when I can. I love Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and drink 60 ounces of water a day. I despise running, although it does great for my blood sugars.
In Part 4, I will discuss my experience with an insulin pump and why I absolutely love it. (Hint: It beats taking 4 to 6 shots a day!)
Way to go, Adam!
Let this be a wonderful lesson on grace - God's grace and forgiveness.
Monday, May 15, 2006
As my family members were going nuts and shaming LaRoche for his 'laziness', I gave him grace. I was disgusted as fans were booing LaRoche. Sure, we all make mistakes. We all do dumb things that we wish were magically taken away. But let's really examine this situation for a moment...
Did LaRoche's mistake cost the Braves the game, yesterday?
No, it did not. The Braves only mustered 1 lousy run against a lacklaster Washington team. If we compare apples to apples, the Chicago White Sox came from a 7-run deficit, last night, to beat the Minnesota Twins, 9-7. Yes baseball fans, it can be done, so stop your whining.
Was LaRoche the only Braves player to appear 'lazy' during the game?
Nope. I counted two incidents where the Braves should have made a double-play, and didn't 'cause they were too slow. Not only that, but Braves pitcher, John Thomson, should have regained composure and retired the side. No excuses.
Did LaRoche own up to his mistake and take responsibility for his laziness?
Yes he did! He not only apologized to his team members, but told Braves Manager, Bobby Cox, to bench him for a week. Most big-headed, pompous athletes would never do that.
Today, most people are judging Adam LaRoche for simply who he is: A professional baseball player who cost the Braves a ball game. But Adam LaRoche is much more than that. He's a responsible person and humble enough to know he can and will do better in the future.
When I was ten, my parents and I learned the difficulties of the flu virus. The flu and diabetes do not get along. In 1980, there weren’t too many diabetic ‘tools’ to help keep it under control with the flu (portable blood testing or small insulin pumps). And, therefore, I would dehydrate and wind up in the hospital.
On this particular occasion, we were living in Denton, Texas and I had two (not just one) excellent pediatricians. It was late February and my parents were taking me to the emergency room for fluids. I was cramping really bad, due to the high blood sugars, so the ER physicians gave me codeine through my IV.
Unbeknownst to us, I was highly allergic to codeine. I broke out in hives and began vomiting all over again. Needless to say, I had to spend the night in the hospital to stabilize.
During the night, I was told my regular pediatricians were out of town and they had just hired a new doctor to join their group. He came into my room, introduced himself, and wanted to give me a large dose of Regular insulin to cover my last high blood sugar readings. His nurse already had the syringe drawn up.
Now by this time, I was a little sensitive to Regular insulin. Large doses were NOT recommended to me. So upon hearing that this new doctor wanted to give me a large dose, I disagreed with him and I requested to call my parents (who had already gone home for the evening).
In short, my dad did not take this news kindly at all. He informed the new doctor of my insulin sensitivity and told the doctor that I should be given a smaller dose. The doctor, apparently wanting to show his authority, argued with my dad. Not a good move on his part.
My dad told the doctor that he was coming back to the hospital and they would discuss the matter further. According to my mother, this was my dad’s way of saying, “I’m coming to kick you’re a@@, so you better watch out.”
As you can tell, I didn’t receive the large dosage and had a great blood sugar reading the next morning. I went home afterwards.
Subsequently, the new doctor was severely disciplined for his behavior and told never to treat me again.
Diabetics face battles similar to this one everyday.
But new doctors aren’t the only trouble-makers. Insurance companies and school nurses can cause just as much, if not more, trouble for insulin-dependant diabetics.
Before the Americans With Disabilities Act, diabetics were told they wouldn’t be covered by insurance companies due to their, “pre-existing condition”. This verbiage says that, since you were born with this disease, we can’t nor won’t help you treat it. Depending on what state you live in today, insurance companies can still turn you down using the pre-existing condition clause.
It’s 2006 and you would think insurance companies would give just a little, right? The Americans With Disabilities Act allowed states to override insurance companies who turn you down. The state of Georgia is one of those. However, the state cannot set the costs to the patient. So, insurance companies can rake you for your disease. As a diabetic, I can be charged as much as $5,000 a month for insurance coverage. Sad, isn’t it?
Let’s move on to school nurses, shall we? School nurses are wonderful for treating a child’s minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. They can even contact parents if a child is experiencing a fever or stomach virus. But add “diabetes” to their daily grind, and they run into trouble.
Back before the days of diabetes education, thanks in large part to The American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, school nurses wanted NO responsibility in taking care of a student with diabetes. It was like having the plague. (Mark, can your disease spread?) And if school nurses made a big enough stink about it, they tended to get their way.
There were a few school nurses who were very gracious and helped me whenever I needed it. But, few indeed.
Many states now have legislation giving protection to students with diabetes in schools. Now, school nurses MUST offer help to diabetic students. This isn’t always the case as every now and then I read an article, where a school nurse refuses to care for a diabetic student. Sad...very sad.
I’m sure students, who suffered from food allergies, dyslexia, asthma, or epilepsy, received the same treatment as I did.
Battles can leave gaping wounds that take time to heal. As I became older, I relied less on school nurses and more on my ability to take care of my disease. I knew my body and disease better than anyone. My friends have all by been very supportive and sometimes enjoy the humor 'behind' having diabetes.
In Part 3, I will discuss my anger and bitterness with diabetes, and using humor to resolve it.
Friday, May 12, 2006
In addition, these stories will blend my diabetes, martial arts, and life in Christ. Yes, they all go together. (I still believe the Israelite judge, Samson, knew some form of martial arts to defeat 1,000 Philistine men with just the jawbone of a donkey. Only God could’ve made that happen.)
Oookay, let’s move on.
As I previously mentioned, my diagnosis is almost 30 years old, so the dates are a little fuzzy. I will do my best.
In early December, 1976, I was a seven year old boy living in Monroe, Wisconsin. I was in the first grade. As I recall, I began feeling as if I had the flu. I began vomiting and couldn’t stop. My parents tried everything they knew to control this “flu”, which included clear fluids. My pediatrician believed I had the flu as well, and recommended more clear fluids. It would just have to run it’s course.
The vomiting didn’t stop; it got worse. I couldn’t even keep water down. I seem to remember my parents taking me to the emergency room of St. Claire Hospital, in Monroe.
Immediately, the ER personnel must have seen that I was dehydrated and put in an I.V., which probably contained some form of glucose. I subsequently went into a coma.
Now I could go into details of what happened to me while I was in the coma, including a near-death experience. But I’ll save this for another day. Yes, I was briefly in Heaven. No, God wasn’t ready for me at that particular time.
During this time, my pediatrician was baffled as to what was going on. I was unresponsive and my veins had collapsed. The only thing he knew to do was to contact an old friend of his, who was a pediatric specialist, at the University of Wisconsin. (Go Badgers! Sorry. I had to get that in.)
This doctor came straight from Madison, went over to my bed, smelled my breath, and immediately knew that I was in a state called, “diabetic ketoacidosis”. My parents witnessed this firsthand, so that is where I get most of this account.
I pulled out of the coma during a surgical cut-down, on my vein, in my right ankle. I still have the 3” scar to prove it. According to the doctors, they had me awake briefly to monitor my consciousness. It was here that I experienced my second “heavenly” encounter, but the details can wait. All in all, I was in a coma for probably a couple of days to a week, if that.
The specialist who diagnosed me with diabetes told my parents that the insulin producing cells, in my pancreas, were shot. He was going to try a new procedure, by injecting large amounts of insulin in me, in an attempt to revitalize some insulin production in the pancreas. Sad to say, it didn’t work. But, the insulin worked wonderfully.
For the next week, I was poked, prodded, and forced to eat foods that would gag a bear. The blood testing occurred every 15 minutes including vial draws every hour. For a meek 7-year old, this was very traumatic. I wailed, constantly. My parents tell me that everyone, including the Catholic priests that prayed over me, wept and often left the room in distress. I was being raped by a disease that no one could take away.
The blood draws happened in the early morning hours as well. Two nurses would come in and hold me down while another drew blood. I was in hell. There are really no words to describe the actual pain and horror that took place.
After a week of this testing, I finally stabilized. I met with my diabetes specialist and dietician to begin understanding this disease. Basically, I would now need insulin to keep me alive for the rest of my life. My diet would need to change as well. No more sugar sodas or sweets.
Life was better for a time. I became more tolerable to the pain and even met Santa Claus while in my hospital bed. You can only imagine what I wanted for Christmas.
It was now December 23rd and a crucial decision had to be made: Christmas was just two days away and my doctor spoke to my parents about letting me go. But first, they had learn to give me insulin shots every 4 hours.
I remember a nurse handing my father a syringe and an orange to practice administering insulin. He was very distraught. I told him it was going to be all right. After his practice on the orange, I was next. My father is one of the toughest men I know. This was the first time I saw him weep.
My dad passed the test to allow me to go home. Two days later, I celebrated Christmas in my home.
In Part 2, I will discuss living with diabetes, as a child, and the battles my parents took on against insurance companies and schools.
Diabetes will never conquer me and I refuse to ever give up.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
As a traditional martial artist, I sometimes get angry over the lack of patience martial artists display. Children are usually the number one culprit, but, I've seen adult practioners impatient as well.
A number of months ago, while watching my oldest son during his TKD class, some of the students for the next class began "acting up". They were told twice by the instructor to stop or they would be doing push-ups during their entire class time.
They kept on misbehaving regardless of the warnings. When the instructor finished my son's class, she came over and disciplined the students for their improper behavior. The disorderly students enjoyed an hour's worth of push-ups and situps.
In another situation, I was a student of Kendo for 2 years (some 18 years ago). Kendo ("Way of the Sword") was taught by members of the local Japanese embassy. The sensei was teaching us strikes to the helmet, or men in Japanese.
Two adult students began acting up during the technique demonstration. They failed to pay attention. When it came time for them to practice their strike on the sensei, they hit him with a full-force strike to his head with their shinai. Thankfully he was wearing his head gear.
After these two students completed their technique, they began celebrating that they were the only two in class who could hit the sensei. As you could already gather, they weren't supposed to. If they had been listening and patient, the sensei wouldn't have gotten his bell rung. The other Japanese sensei, in the class, came over and thrashed the two students for their foolishness.
Patience is a skill that takes time to learn and should be practiced daily. I'm not perfect, but I do believe martial artists should try to understand and display the discipline of patience.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
I don’t believe any one particular martial art style is better than the other. I used to think jujutsu was the best, until I listened to other stylists and the love they had for their art. You are only as good as the time you spend learning. The more you learn, the better you become.
Here are few interesting questions I have been asked in my 24 years in the martial arts:
Q. Have you ever been in a bad situation where the martial arts have helped you?
A. Yes, but very few. I tend to stay away from stupid people and stupid actions.
Q. Is it true you have to register yourself as a “lethal weapon” with the state you reside in?
A. Um, lemme see… No. That’s like telling an attacker to wait, so I can get out my .45 and shoot him.
Q. What weapons have you trained with and what do you prefer?
A. I have trained with the bo and jo staffs, nunchaku, tonfa, sai, blades (of all shapes and sizes), guns, bokken, and katana. I prefer the one that will get me out of a bad situation quickly.
Q. What is the best martial art?
A. The one you will enjoy for the rest of your life. Don’t just take up a martial art to learn self-defense and leave it behind. The martial arts are a lifestyle with many, many benefits.
Q. Do you have a favorite martial arts actor or artist that you admire?
A. I used to be a huge Steven Seagal fan until he divorced Kelly LeBrock, and claimed he was some reincarnated Buddha. (ohhhkay, sure…)
I now pay attention to Chuck Norris. I watched every episode of “Walker: Texas Ranger” and was extremely proud of him when he proclaimed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior (he actually became a born-again Christian through the help and support of his wife). Is Norris still an effective martial artist? Sure! Why not? (Even though his infomercials crack me up! Oh, and let's not forget the many ways Chuck Norris can kill an attacker...Hilarious!)
Q. What is your opinion of board-breaking?
A. I originally did not think too much of it, believing it didn’t prove anything. However, since watching new and experienced students break boards and seeing their confidence level rise, I think it’s wonderful. I still remember Bruce Lee’s quote in “Enter the Dragon”, “Boards don’t hit back.” What a great movie!
Q. Have you ever been hurt while training?
A. Yes, but not because someone was undisciplined or by a “dojo bully”. I actually got hurt by a good friend (who was black belt in American Kenpo), while he was doing an Aikido technique on me. He was going a little too fast. He also managed to punch me in the nose. If you can’t laugh about it, don’t bother becoming a martial artist! And, no, my nose didn’t break, but the tendon in my right thumb was almost torn. I still trained with a brace on.
Of course, there was also that one time I almost hit this same friend, in the groin, with a full fledged punch. (He got me in a front strangle hold. I got within an inch before I stopped.) That’s another story…
As you can tell, I love talking about the martial arts and how wonderful they are. I admire many artists, young and old, who persevere. I love hearing stories from students and teachers alike, who have studied the martial arts for a long time.
Discipline: respect, listen, and patience – Are you ready for today?
God’s grace and peace to you all.
“The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name.”
Martial Arts Web Links:
Daito ryu Jujutsu – A good historical site.
Aikido Online – Very informative with stories and demonstrations.
Aikido Center of Atlanta – Good site for those of us who have been around Atlanta-Aikido circles for awhile.
Wikipedia - Free encyclopedia tool for further information.
Martial Views – John Vesia’s blog on the martial arts. I read a few of his entries and thoroughly enjoyed them. Check out his site and his links.
If ever you need additional information on the martial arts, please feel free to contact me through my email address.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Many tried to make me sign a contract as soon as I set foot in their ‘studio’. To me, this was an insult to the martial traditions. On one particular instance, I got angry with a Tae Kwon Do/Jujutsu teacher who challenged his senior student against me. The teacher demanded I sign a contract, after working out with his students. I refused. The senior student was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do/Jujutsu and I guess he was looking for a challenge. So…I obliged him.
Rule number 1: If you’re serious about a challenge, you better be serious about your attacks.
This young man (probably 19 years old) did a nice demonstration of tornado kicks, side kicks, front and back kicks, and a round-house kick. I smiled as he finished. His last words were, “So, can you beat that?”
Rule number 2: Someone’s going to get hurt.
I punched him in the gut with a shuto strike, knocking the wind out him. I then grabbed his right hand and put him in nikkyo (inverted pressure on his hand). Gasping for air, he tapped out. I let him go.
Rule number 3: As soon as you defeat the challenger, bow, grab your bag, and walk out of the dojo, butt-first.
I could tell the angry stares, from the instructor and his students, was a direct sign for me to get outta Dodge.
I went home very discouraged.
This kinda thing went on until about 1994 or 1995. My wife recommended that I contact some of the local colleges to see if they had any public classes. I contacted both Kennesaw College and Georgia Tech to see if they had anything. No luck. I then desperately phoned Georgia State University’s, Department of Recreation, to see if they had a Jujutsu or Aikido club. And, they did!
The sensei of the Aikido club was Roy Coker. I left a message for Mr. Coker to call me. I didn’t have my hopes high, but I was curious. Mr. Coker called me two days later. We talked about our different backgrounds and then he invited me downtown (Atlanta) to workout with the club.
Side Note Number 1: As a black belt, it is respectful to always ask the instructor what color belt to wear before class begins. Don’t automatically assume that you should wear your black belt! Tradition states you should wear your white belt until you prove yourself worthy OR the instructor gives permission to change to black.
Side Note Number 2: I first learned about Aikido several years earlier while doing some lineage research on Daito ryu Jujutsu. I was intrigued to find that Aikido is a derivative of Daito ryu. The modern sensei of Daito ryu, Sokaku Takeda, taught Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.
That next Saturday morning, I was at Georgia State University (GSU) to begin my study of Aikido. I felt excited yet comfortable. Mr. Coker did an excellent job of making me feel welcome among the students. We did some warm-ups, then Sensei Coker asked if I wanted to do ukemi (break-falls), with him acting as nage (defender) and me as uke (attacker).
I learned that the Aikido style, that Sensei Coker taught, was a soft-style similar to Ueshiba’s. The techniques were very similar to Daito ryu, so I caught on quickly. Soon after, Sensei Coker asked me to demonstrate Daito ryu techniques and explain the differences between it and Aikido. I did this for about 30 minutes.
At the end of class, Sensei Coker asked me to wear my black belt and become one of his assistants. We became very good friends and attended many Aikido seminars together. I was blessed to meet such Aikido sensei as Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, from the New York Aikikai (direct student of Ueshiba); Rodney Grantham Sensei, from North Carolina (who founded the Aikido Center of Atlanta); and George Kennedy Sensei, who is the head Sensei at Aikido Center of Atlanta.
In 2000, Georgia State University made a decision to end the Aikido club. They wanted only GSU students and faculty to teach/run the club; no outsiders. Thus, Sensei Coker was forced to end the club. I last heard from him in 2001.
I don’t consider myself a ronin anymore. For in November of 1999, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and haven’t the want for martial training since. Besides, I now have two boys who are now walking in their father’s footsteps.
My oldest son, who is nine, is now a green belt at TLC Tae Kwon Do (TKD) at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. He loves it and his teacher, Master Terry Wassink. She does a fantastic job of teaching TKD with the primary emphasis of knowing Christ. All classes begin and end with prayer. Master Wassink’s instructors, Masters William Lenix and Candy Lenix, are wonderful Christians as well. We consider Master Terry, Masters Lenix (including their son, Master Mitt), and classmates, family. We care for them very much. My son takes TKD training with much discipline and is always eager to learn.
I will never forget the first time my oldest son tested for his yellow belt. Master William Lenix asked him his goals for TKD. He replied, “I want to be just like my dad, who is a black belt as well.”
And thus, a new journey begins.
Bullying still affects me when I see it in the news or hear about it personally. There’s something now ingrained in me to take up the fight for the innocent. I’ve never backed down from a challenge and refuse to let a bully get their way. (Remember Rule Number 2?)
My oldest son experienced bullying a couple years ago in school. My wife did her best to calm me down after telling me the situation. She knew the lion in me was about to get loose. Thankfully, she handled the situation very well by nipping it in the bud. Nobody bullies this lion’s cubs. Nobody.
After studying the martial arts for many years, and knowing Christ now for many years, I can honestly say that both go together very well. When my wife and I looked for a martial art for our son to do, Christ had to be first. I was very concerned (and I still am) that the martial arts often drift into false religions.
We chose TLC Tae Kwon Do for both it’s Christian emphasis and motivating students to do their best. Our son’s confidence level has improved very much, while also maintaining a level of discipline (respect, listening, and patience).
I will have to admit that I sometimes have a hard time watching my son spar (light contact fighting), whether in class or in a tournament. I find myself sitting on my hands and gritting my teeth trying not to overdo the coaching. Master William Lenix, who has been in the martial arts a lot longer than I, tells me to let my son do his thing and don’t push him too hard. Yes, he really knows me.
Part 6: Web links to my martial art and more darn opinion.
(I mean, c’mon, all martial artists have opinions…)
Monday, May 08, 2006
When I was 17, I was about to begin my senior year of high school. I had a fantastic junior year: I had studied bujutsu for 4 years now, had 2 varsity and one junior varsity letters on the swim team (swimmer and as a manager), and had really good friends. Life was very good.
In August of 1986, my father broke the news to us. He had been transferred by his company to metro - Atlanta, Georgia, and we would be leaving in a few weeks.
My world came crashing down. I had to say goodbye to all my friends, Sensei Koga, his wife, and his other students. (No, I was never alone throughout my training. And, yes, most of the students were Japanese.)
Everyone took this news extremely hard, but life doesn’t stop for anyone. And, I believe God has a plan, for His purpose, even though we don’t see it through the pain.
Sensei Koga’s last words to me were, “Always be ready for today.” Unfortunately, these were words I would soon forget.
We left Chicago, during the last week of August, and headed South. Loneliness, despair, and depression all encompassed me during my senior year at my new high school. I didn’t make many friends and life was generally miserable.
Fast forward to March, 1988. I’m a freshmen at Kennesaw College, as it was known at that time. I generally took classes in the morning and was home by 2. Unbeknownst to my family, I receive a call from Sensei Koga to meet him at the Sheraton – Atlanta Airport – Hotel. He gave me a date, time, and room. I was to come with my workout clothes on.
This lone event was a glimmer of light in my mundane life. I began training again as the meeting would be in two weeks on a Tuesday at 9 am. Forget school – this came first. WRONG! I may write about this later…
When I arrived at the hotel, I asked the counter attendant for directions to the room. My heart was beating rapidly as I briskly walked to what was a large, empty meeting room. As I opened the door, Sensei Koga, his wife, and five students greeted me. Imagine my surprise! I felt like I was dreaming.
After a few minutes of playing catch-up, Sensei Koga told his other students to get dressed. I was a little puzzled by this, but not worried. Sensei, dressed in his gi with hakama, took a seiza near the left-side of the room facing across. As the students walked in, they too were wearing gis with hakamas. They took their seiza positions on Sensei’s left side.
“What a great day for a workout.”, I thought. I sat seiza on the opposite corner of Sensei, facing the front of the room. This is custom for a student in jujutsu and Aikido circles. One never sits next to Sensei unless invited.
“Are you ready for today?”, Sensei asked me. My stomach began to churn as I feebly answered, “Yes.”
“Good. Let’s begin.”, he said with a gleaming smile. He seemed more confident in me than I did with myself. I was a fish out of water. I was gonna get the snot kicked out of me.
Sensei motioned for me to sit seiza in the middle of the room. He then motioned two students to attack (uke). As they approached at full speed, I managed to stand, and took one by his arm and throw him into the other. As they rolled, I turned around to see Sensei motioning the other three to attack.
The cobwebs were quickly removed as I took the hand of the first, twisted it back (Sankyo) and used him as a shield from the others. This worked until someone grabbed the back of my neck. I let go, of the previous attacker, and turned opposite the direction of the grab (to my left). When I did this, the attacker was left wide open as I grabbed the side of neck and threw him forward.
Two others came at me and managed to grab my wrists. I inverted mine, put pressure on their forearms, which sent both attackers to the floor. Another came at me with front and round-house kicks. As he got close enough, I blocked one of the kicks, pushing it sideways and grabbed his ankle, flipping him for a break-fall.
One more attack came as he was swinging his fists, at my face, a la boxing style. I sidestepped, and performed a technique similar to an iriminage (or clothes-line for you wrestling fans). The force caused the attacker to break-fall.
“Enough!”, Sensei exclaimed causing all of us to stop. By now I, and my fellow students, were profusely sweating and breathing hard. He gave us a five minute water break.
As I returned to seiza, Sensei came over to me with a bokken sword (wooden katana sword). He handed it to me with instructions to defend myself. If you study bujutsu long enough, the techniques with the bokken are very similar to the aforementioned jujutsu techniques. This time, however, Sensei would be the attacker.
The motions of the sword are an extension of the body and are very fluid. There are no sudden, quirky movements. Besides, with a katana blade, it only takes one slice and you’re dead. Thank goodness for wooden swords.
Our movements together resembled that of a well choreographed dance, but with swords. The cutting was met with a clash and clash met with a technique. Twice Sensei almost had me in a break-fall, only for me to step out of it. After a few minutes, he came down with the sword, from atop his head. I entered into his movement, avoided his cut, and cut him in the lower-belly.
Sensei smiled and gave me the biggest hug. “You earned this shodan.” Sensei then presented me with a black belt and gi. (The presentation was very traditional.) To me, it was a symbol of honor, courage, and a reward for hard work.
This day will be forever in my memory. From that day on, I was to never see Sensei Koga again. Two years after my exam, IBM moved Mr. and Mrs. Koga back to Japan.
For those keeping an interest in this story, the actual style I studied under the umbrella, ‘bujutsu’, is called, “daito ryu jujutsu”. You can find more about it, here.
Part 5: A Ronin Finds a Home
Side Note: Many of the terms I used are from Aikido, not Daito ryu. I will explain this later.
With any path you take, whether it’s in school, a career, relationships, or a hobby, it takes discipline. Being a Christian takes discipline. Discipline, for me, meant learning three things: respect, listening, and patience.
Try teaching today’s 13-year old the three components of discipline I just mentioned. Not an easy task.
But Mr. Koga knew what he was doing. For every lesson, I did a series of warm-up drills. Just enough to get my heart going and bring on a light sweat. Then, he had me sit in seiza for twenty minutes to simply ‘listen’.
Listen to what? Listen to my breathing, listen to my surroundings, and listen to Sensei. Patience was taking the time to calm myself, or get centered, and be prepared.
This practice, which is also called the act of ‘centering’, is still practiced today in many martial arts.
After twenty minutes, I then began learning how to roll forward and backward. I was like a flat tire. “Thump. Thump. Thump.” After 4 months of continuous training, I wasn’t as flat as before. In addition to these exercises, I began learning break-falls and foot work.
Break-falls are meant to teach you how to land softly when you’re thrown. Foot work, in bujutsu, is almost the equivalent as stances, as found in linear martial arts (Karate, Tae Kwon Do), but with a sliding, gliding action. Imagine you’re ice skating on a mat. Very similar.
Lastly, Sensei had me running and biking to build up my endurance.
No questions asked (because I really didn’t know any better at the time), I did this regimen for over a year.
Side Note: To this day, I have incredible hearing. I can hear sounds and pinpoint where they are coming from and from what. I can hear whispers from across a room. My wife has learned that if she wants to whisper something to our boys, she takes them outside (usually it’s to tell them my birthday or Christmas gift :-) .
After proving myself to Sensei Koga, I was ready to begin…(drum roll, please) more break-falls, more rolls, and more time in seiza. Yeah, more of the same. But instead of doing all this within an hour, it was increased to two hours. This regimen went on for six months.
All throughout my training, I was burning for revenge. I wanted to show any bully that I wasn’t going to take it. For I could now do a great break-fall from 3 feet and roll mightier than a storm cloud. My foot work was as sharp as a razor.
You get the picture. But, despite all this, I was disciplined.
During my training, I entered the world of high school. The kids were a lot taller, and some, more mean looking. I just happened to take a few classes with juniors, and seniors, who took me under their wings and protected me. They also just happened to be football and basketball players. What a strange turn of events.
Some of you may remember the episode of, “Tom and Jerry”, where Jerry is given a whistle by Spike and told, “If you ever get into trouble, just blow the whistle, and I’ll come runnin’.” Yes, I was given the whistle.
Funny thing, though, I never had to use it. In fact, here I was training and training and more training, but never really had a problem throughout high school. I did have one minor altercation, but the kid who committed the offense was quickly warned never to do it again. Score 1 for the small fry!
Of course there was that time I was flattened by a girl in PE (flag football) and she was very apologetic about it. It turned out, her brother was the starting quarterback on our high school football team. He was also a captain on the swim team. When he found out what she did to me, he laughed and we all became friends. He also recruited me for the swim team. Go figure.
Side Note: I made the junior varsity swim team, during my freshmen year in high school. I swam with the late Ronald Goldman, who was murdered. Ron was a good guy and helped me along. He, I, and two others won our medley relay, against Barrington High School, to win the meet. I still have the swim team picture of us.
The next part of my training concerned techniques, for which I won’t go into detail with. I will post links, in the last part, to give further information. In Part 4, I will discuss my shodan exam, and becoming a ronin (a wanderer).