Charles Neville: The Death of a Kung-Fu Brother, Brilliant Musician and Member of My Website

Charles Neville
Charles Neville

We lost a kung-fu brother this week.

I was very sorry to read in the New York Times about the death of Charles Neville, one of the Neville Brothers, one of the greatest bands to come out of New Orleans. Aaron Neville is one of his brothers.

Charles bought several of my DVDs and joined my website when it launched, 10 years ago this July. Each month, I would get a notice that he had paid his monthly fee, but I never really connected his name to Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers. He remained a member until less than two years ago, and I wondered if he was in poor health. I knew he was in his 70s.

He called me on the phone a couple of times over the years, before I realized who he was. I talked to him like I do all of my website members.

The last time he called, he had forgotten his password to the website, so I created a new one for him. He said, "I haven't been on the website in a couple of months because I've been traveling, playing music."

Almost as a joke I asked, "Are you related to the famous Neville Brothers?" He replied, "Yes, I'm one of the Neville Brothers."

I almost fell out of my chair.

Charles Neville played the sax for B.B. King, Bobby (Blue) Bland, Johnny Ace and more. He overcame a drug addiction and eventually studied taiji and meditation, and that brought him to my DVDs and website.

He was 79 years old. I hope his internal arts and qigong helped him ride through the ordeal of pancreatic cancer a little bit. I was honored to think that he and I were connected, and that he supported my efforts and studied my material. In the video below, from 1994, Charles is in the white shirt with the saxophone.

Rest in peace, my man.

 
 

My Interview on the Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio Podcast

Sifu Ken Gullette WhistlekickIt is strange to be on the other side of the microphone. I am accustomed to doing interviews for my podcast, so it was a different feeling to be interviewed by Jeremy Lesniak for his Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio podcast. I was honored to be asked. My friend Jonathan Bluestein, who was interviewed a few weeks ago, recommended me to Jeremy.

Here is a link to the show. I almost postponed it because I had been battling a lung issue for almost two weeks, and with only one lung, I could hardly speak without coughing for several days. The heavy breathing is very obvious, and the microphone picks up every bit of it!

Here is a link to the show:

https://player.fm/series/whistlekick-martial-arts-radio-podcast-shifu-ken-gullette


Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interviews with Tai Chi Instructor Ian Sinclair

Ian Sinclair2
Ian Sinclair

Ian Sinclair is a tai chi instructor in Orillia, Ontario who studied with Grandmaster Shouyu Liang and Sam Masich.

I interviewed him almost two months ago for the Internal Fighting Arts podcast. It was a long conversation, so I broke it up into two parts. 

He tells stories about training the Grandmaster Liang, we talk about fighting applications of tai chi, and the importance of practicing basics. We also talk about the controversial "fight" between MMA fighter Xu Xaodong and Tai Chi "master" Wei Lei last year, when Wei Lei was defeated in just seconds.

Here are parts one and two of the podcast interview with Ian Sinclair. You can listen online or download the mp3 file to your computer. It is also available on iTunes.

Part One of the interview with Ian Sinclair:

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-35-ian-sinclair-part-one/

Part Two of the interview with Ian Sinclair:

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-36-ian-sinclair-part-2/

I enjoyed the interview. He is a nice guy and a dedicated martial artist. His websites are sinclairmartialarts.com and relaxharder.com


A Bully Depends on Your Fear: The Most Effective Way to Deal with a Bully

Kenny-Sept-1967-web
I didn't look very tough at 14, and that's why bullies targeted me, but I was rocking that Beatles haircut!!

He was 16 years old; taller, heavier and stronger.

And he wanted to beat me up.

I was 14, a skinny, friendly kid with glasses who was a magnet for bullies back in the days when boys settled arguments by fighting.

He was the son of the sheriff of Jessamine County, Kentucky, and he had a couple of young toadies who followed him around.

A couple of my cousins were with me, leaving the drugstore in downtown Wilmore where we had been drinking Cokes, looking at comics and lusting after Helen, the pretty girl who worked there.

Back in the 1950s and '60s, dogs and boys ran free through the streets and farms around Wilmore because, by God, that's how the good Lord made us. We walked on the train tracks, explored the graveyard, went swimming at local creeks, and even walked across High Bridge, a dangerous feat especially when trains were coming.

Our parents didn't care where we went as long as we went outside and left them alone. We were always ready to oblige.

"Kenny, Don't Ever Run from a Fight"

On this day, as we left the drugstore, the bully and his followers began taunting us, then challenged me to fight behind the drugstore.

I did not want to fight, but what could I do with my cousins watching?

The words of my dad rang in my head. "Kenny, don't ever run from a fight."

My dad was born in the 1920s and joined the Marines near the end of World War II. He was the nicest, friendliest man I ever knew, but he had a limit if he was mistreated. He would fight back.

As a kid, I took his advice to heart. I was not going to back down.

We went behind the storefronts where no adults could see us. The bully began circling me in the gravel and dirt as our friends cheered us on.

I was trying to figure out how to get out of this alive. Then he punched me in the face.

The Hard Punch of Reality 

Fear gripped me. He is taller, heavier, and stronger, I was thinking. If I punch back, he will kill me.

He slapped at me and scratched my face. He got me into a head lock and I managed to escape. He kept hitting me and pushing me for what seemed to be half an hour. I could feel the scratches and welts on my face and head.

Eventually, I knew that I had to hit back. Either way, I might be whipped. 

It is said that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing what needs to be done despite your fear.

I remember thinking, "Okay, here goes...."

The bully stepped in and finally, I uncorked a punch to his face as hard as I could.

Pow!

He stumbled backward, pain and surprise in his eyes.

"You hit me!" He held his face with one hand and unleashed a string of profanity that I hadn't heard since my dad hit himself on the thumb with a hammer.

Yes, I did hit you, I thought, and it felt really good. I advanced on him, but he backed away, covering up and wailing like he was scared to death.

He took off running with his toadies.

The Birth of a Legend

My younger cousins stared at me with a hero worship usually reserved for Superman or, in Wilmore, the mere mention of Jesus.

At that moment, I deserved that look. I had defeated the town bully, the sheriff's son, with one punch.

The legend spread through Wilmore. Kenny beat up the town bully. Gullette boys could hold their heads up with pride.

It was not my first fight with a bully, and it would not be my last. But as I look back on all those fights, I see a common thread.

A bully acts angry and tough to instill fear in his target. When he identifies someone who is afraid, he chooses that person as his target, thinking that the target will not fight back.

And the bully always has his friends behind him, weaker guys with their own personality issues who run away when the bully gets taken down.

Bullies Feed on Fear

I was always friendly, always ready to joke around, and bullies typically saw that as weakness. But there is one thing they did not understand.

I tried to avoid the fight as long as possible, but once I began fighting, I really loved it.

Nothing was more exciting than putting your own safety on the line against a bully.

Fighting another person is the ultimate macho one-on-one competition.

Even now, at 65, a cage fight is mesmerizing to me. I find MMA fights to be ugly and brutal, but I am drawn to them if I happen to see one on TV. It brings out something primal in me.

The last thing a bully wants is to fight someone like me. 

When my daughters were in school, girls began getting mean. Only "trashy" girls fought when I was a kid. In middle school, a girl threatened my oldest daughter, Harmony.

"You have my permission to hit a bully," I told her. "You might get in trouble at school, but you will never get in trouble at home."

Harmony took after me. She was very friendly and never met a stranger. But eventually, she stood up to bullies at least a couple of times and it worked.

Remove the Fear and Change Your Reaction

You see, the worst thing about dealing with a bully is the fear they instill in you. The only thing you have to fear about a bully is your own emotional reaction. If you react to a bully with fear, you give them exactly what they need. They thrive on it. They depend on it. 

When you change the way you react and remove the fear, you take away the fuel that drives their actions.

Bullying gets more complicated as you get older. In relationships, bullying can take the form of emotional control or domestic abuse. Once again, the bully does not believe he or she will face a backlash from their targets.

At work, bullying can be more insidious, with verbal bullying, giving you impossible deadlines or tasks, and the invisible bullying that can happen when someone poisons your reputation behind your back. 

In the workplace, bullies understand you can't hit them back. 

I have seen them all. I cannot explain why they behave this way. A lack of self-esteem, abuse they endured as a child, or simply mental instability or internal demons they cannot control. It does not matter if you are the target.

In the workplace, bullies know they have economic power over you. If they sabotage you, it can be much more damaging than a punch to the face. It can be life-changing.

Here is a great article about dealing with bullies in the workplace.

Bullies love Facebook. If you write martial arts posts, or put video up showing techniques, bullies come out of the woodwork like roaches, belittling you from the safety of their keyboards. I have a one-strike-and-you're-out policy. One drive-by bullying comment and you are blocked forever. I will take away your control, remove the target, and lead you into emptiness.

How to handle bullies -- online and in the workplace -- would make a great podcast. I'm going to work on lining up an interview with an expert.

We study martial arts for a reason. We study so that we never have to use our skills, but if suddenly we find ourselves to be the target, or we see someone else become the target, we are ready to set aside fear and do the right thing.

Violence in school is taken much more seriously now than when I was growing up. But bullying has not stopped, and administrators still don't do enough to stop it and put the hammer down on the bullies. If my daughters were back in middle school, my advice would be the same if they ever feared for their physical safety. You may get in trouble at school for hitting back, but you will never get in trouble at home for defending yourself or someone else from a bully.

I never saw the sheriff's son again, but the story of our fight behind the drugstore echoed through Wilmore, Kentucky for years.

 


Do Good - Be Kind - Four Simple Words that Can Change the World

Do Good Be KindYour philosophy of life does not have to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes, the simplest of messages can have the biggest impact.

Let me explain.

A Facebook friend of mine, Abby Cheesman, posted a link a couple of months ago that struck a chord in my heart.

The post told about a simple campaign that was trying to spread a message with only four words:

Do Good. Be Kind.

When I saw the baseball jersey with these words printed on it, I had to have one.

Abby's mom and dad, Peg and Brad Neilson, who were in my tai chi class this winter, gave me one of the shirts at the end of a series of classes. They also gave Nancy a shirt.

In the couple of months since, these words have haunted me every day, but in a good way. I wake up and think about how I can accomplish this every day.

How can I do good, and how can I offer kindness to others today?

Since the 1970s, I have tried to live according to philosophical Taoism and, to a lesser degree, Zen Buddhism.

Do Good Be Kind Ken NancyThe center of my personal philosophy is to "connect" to all things, and to remain centered at all times.

If you are truly connected to others, to the world around you, doing good for others becomes natural. You treat others as you would treat yourself. You do not do good because you hope to be rewarded with something -- money, eternal life, etc. -- you do good for moral reasons, for goodness' sake.

Likewise, being kind to others is rooted in being connected and centered. You cannot treat another person with cruelty if you have your act together. You only behave in a mean way when you perceive yourself as better, or as special, or perhaps even as worse than they are, and your mean actions are masking a feeling of inferiority.

It is complicated to explain how to connect to all things, and how to remain centered at all times. It also takes a lot of practice.

That is why "Do Good. Be Kind." hit me like a two-by-four. In its simplicity lies perfection. This is really all you need. 

If you seek to do good in each action you take, and if you seek to be kind to every person you encounter each day, you will connect and you will be centered.

In the real world, however, we do fall short. There are times when anger is appropriate. I study and teach self-defense because, even if our goal in practicing kung-fu is to master ourselves, we understand that there may be times when we must defend against those who are not kind, are not good, and are not centered.

But most of the time, the choice is ours. How do we behave each day? We can decide for ourselves.

So each day now, I ponder these four words. As I go through today, I will look for every opportunity to Do Good. Be Kind.

I hope you will, too. Think of the ripple effect we can have in the lives of others, the Butterfly Effect that an act of kindness could have.

It's worth a try, isn't it?

A philosophy is useless if it is not put into action. So let's live our philosophy today. Do Good. Be Kind.

Visit the website -- www.dogoodbekind.life -- and check out their mission and their apparel. It was started by Christopher Kurtz of Peer Thru. He and his wife Brittany run the nonprofit for Do Good. Be Kind. Please help spread this wonderful message.


Suck It Up, Buttercup: Success in Martial Arts Requires You to Be Uncomfortable

Tai Chi Class 1Last October, I offered a free tai chi class for people aged 40 and over. I stopped teaching older students a decade ago because I wanted to focus on the martial-oriented side of the internal arts. But we used to have a lot of fun with the older friends we made, so I started this new, free class to make new friends, have fun, and teach the Chen 19 form. Some of the students were nearly 80 years old. The oldest student was 83.

When you have practiced a form for 20 years, it seems easy. It was clear the very first night that even a beginning, short form like the Chen 19 appears like a deep, yawning abyss in front of someone who has not studied it before. The idea of actually getting through the thing seems impossible when you are learning the first movement.

As we went through the opening movement, I began coaching them through the simple stepping out and raising the arms, then dropping the energy while lowering the arms.

We practiced it a few times and then I said, "Okay, practice the opening movement on your own and I'll watch."

Reaction - DeerSuddenly, the entire class looked like a herd of deer in the headlights. Most of them had no idea what to do. Most of the others could not step out and then remember to raise and lower their arms.

It had been more than a decade since I had taught a group of beginners. The enormity of the task hit me like a roundhouse kick to the head, and I believe it hit them, too.

Oh Crap! This is Hard!!

In the past 20 years of teaching, I have seen a lot of students show up for their first martial arts class, eyes shining and with eager faces, ready to discover the mysteries of self-defense and Chinese kung-fu.

I have also seen a lot of students fail to return for their second martial arts class.

There is a good reason for this. Martial arts pushes people out of their comfort zone, and when they get a glimpse of the hard work and physical and mental challenge ahead, it's far too easy to run back to an easier life.

Very few activities push you out of your comfort zone like martial arts. It isn't like running or lifting weights. With running, you simply try to run a little farther or a little faster than the last time you laced up your running shoes.

With weight-training, you add one more rep or a few extra pounds of weight.

But martial arts pushes you in more ways. If pushes you physically. Your legs are burning and exhausted, you are sweating and gasping for air, and your arms are sore and feel like they weigh a ton.

Martial arts also pushes you mentally. You are asked to learn movements that rewire your brain and make you feel uncoordinated.

Look at how uncomfortable it is to learn a new form. It can take years to learn one Tai Chi, Xingyi or Bagua form and do it well. 

No Comfort for the Achiever

I have seen my teachers being corrected by teachers such as Chen Xiaowang, Chen Xiaoxing, Ren Guangyi and others, as if they are beginners.

Ken-Gullette-Chen-XiaoxingI have been corrected by those same masters, and others such as Chen Bing, Chen Ziqiang and Chen Huixian. Each of them made me feel like an uncoordinated fool. And I would collapse from the physical pain and fatigue as they made me hold stances until my legs burned and would not hold me up any longer.

It isn't easy for our egos to take such a beating. 

But that's what excellence requires. 

Each time I left a class feeling as if I had been humiliated, but feeling as if I had taken a baby step forward in my insight and skill, I was excited, bouncing off the doors of my car as I was driving home. Yes, it was not easy for my ego or my body to take, but the payoff was worth it.

Success in martial arts is awarded only to those who are willing to put themselves in an uncomfortable place for a long time.

Practicing the same movements year after year is too boring for many. Practicing the same body mechanics, the whole-body connection, the smooth unfolding of internal strength through the body -- the slow, step-by-step progress year by year -- it's just too much.

Darren Hardy, the former publisher of Success magazine says, "Comfort is mediocrity. Success is hard. Enjoy that fact. It eliminates the weak."

The Difference Between Successful and Unsuccessful

Hardy says that the things we have to do to be successful are the same for both successful and unsuccessful people. Both groups of people HATE doing the uncomfortable things that are required to achieve your goals.

But there is a big difference between successful and unsuccessful people.

Even though they don't want to do what is uncomfortable, successful people do it anyway.

It really is true, and it is true not just for martial arts but for any goal in your life.

As I was reaching my fifties, I adopted a tougher conditioning program as I prepared to compete and spar in tournaments. I would go 12 rounds on a heavybag -- three minutes per round with 90 seconds of rest between each round. During the first round, I would punch as fast and as many times as possible for three minutes. The second round, I would kick as fast and hard as possible. 

This was very difficult. I wanted to pour a glass of wine and watch TV, but I got in shape, and continued to win sparring competitions until my mid-fifties. 

Do you want to succeed at something? Do the things that most people won't do. 

Chen Xiaowang practiced Laojia Yilu 10 to 20 times a day for many years. Imagine spending that much time each day practicing one form. How boring! How uncomfortable.

But what a master he became!

Small, Consistent Steps Over Time Equal Results

My class of older Tai Chi students reached the end of the Chen 19 just four nights ago, after five months of practice (with a little time off during the holidays). As we practiced the last move, the closing of the form, I turned to the few remaining and said, "See? That wasn't so bad, was it?"

I could see the recognition in their eyes that they had achieved something special.

Out of 75 people in the first class, around eight or nine remained for the end. But they now have something the others do not have.

Do you want to succeed in martial arts? Decide what you need to practice today and do it. You don't want to spend an hour practicing? Do it anyway. You are tired of working on this form? Work on it. You think you are good enough at these body mechanics? Good enough is not good enough. Drill deeper, think deeper, and break down your movement again. And again.

Your success requires a constant state of discomfort, of going farther and pushing harder than the person who simply wants life to be easy and comfortable.

As Chen Xiaowang says, "If it were easy, everyone would be master."

--by Ken Gullette 

Try Two Weeks Free on Ken Gullette's Membership Website -- Take Years Off Your Development Time and Save Thousands of Dollars with More than 800 Step-By-Step Video Lessons -- Basic to Advanced -- in Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua. Check it out via this link. 

 


Zhan Zhuang and My 96-Year Old Buddy: An Idea for Your Elderly Friends and Family

Earl Hansen
Me, Earl, Minnie and Nancy when we delivered a 95th birthday card to Earl in 2016.

My neighbor Earl is one of my best friends. He is also 96 years old. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that he could benefit from the practice of Zhan Zhuang -- "Standing Stake" or "Standing Pole."

If you do Zhan Zhuang as part of your practice (I call it "Standing Stake"), you can teach it to elderly people in your life.

We moved into our current home almost four years ago and Earl, who was 92 at the time, walked across the street to introduce himself to us. His mind was sharp and he had a great sense of humor. His wife had died two years before. He fought in the Philippines during World War II, came home with PTSD, but got help and lived a happy and successful life. His three sons all live within a mile.

During the first year we lived here, I was friendly with Earl and would sometimes cross the street when he was outside to talk to him.

But during the last three years, Earl and I have developed a close friendship. My home office looks out toward his house. We sit out during warm weather and my dog Minnie and I visit all the time. When I have health setbacks, he calls to see if I'm okay, and I keep my eye out for him. We have each others backs.

Earl and I go out for lunch sometimes, and he always tells me how glad he is that I am his neighbor. I told him recently that he has become one of my best friends in the Quad Cities. He replied, "We have a good thing going." 

I've never had a "bromance" before, but I think I have one now.

My home office looks out at Earl's house across the street. He says sometimes, he looks over at our house and wonders what I'm doing. I told him I do the same. Instead of looking at him as the old man across the street, I connected with him, and discovered a friendship that has added tremendously to my life.

During the past year, I've seen Earl get weaker, and I have been worried. He fell a couple of times, really banged himself up, and now he walks with a cane, and sometimes uses a walker in his house. This is a man who was using a push mower on his yard a year ago.

So a couple of weeks ago, I taught him how to do "Standing Stake." It's an important tai chi exercise that is used for meditation, but also for strength-building, especially in the legs. When you first do it, you can feel wobbly after just a minute or two. The idea is to add a little time each day.

Earl-Minnie-2-13-2018
Earl giving Minnie a belly rub yesterday.

Yesterday, Minnie and I visited Earl and he said he had been doing Standing Stake every day. He stands next to the walker and does it while watching TV. He has worked up to 15 minutes, and he says he feels stronger and is now walking around the house without his cane. He thanked me for showing it to him.

During the past nine years, I have been in the hospital a few times. The hospital drains the strength out of your body. When I was able, I got out of the bed and did Zhan Zhuang in the room to help build leg strength. It really works, and it even works for people who are unable to do strenuous cardio exercise.

If you know someone who is aging and getting weaker in the legs, through age or illness I believe Zhan Zhuang can help keep their legs strong.

Who knows, next I might teach him some Silk-Reeling exercises. Most of those are the same as taiji without the space requirements.


A Peaceful Approach to Self-Defense -- the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Paul Linden

Paul Linden 1
Paul Linden

Is it possible to love your attacker? Can you find the fun within misery?

Paul Linden has a unique perspective on self-defense. He is the chief instructor at Aikido of Columbus (Ohio), and the Columbus Center for Movement Studies. He holds a sixth degree black belt in Aikido and a black belt in Karate. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in physical education. He is an instructor in the Feldenkrais Method of body awareness, and he developed the "Being in Movement" mindbody training.

Since his late fifties, Paul has also been faced with a challenge that has required the practical application of both philosophy and his knowledge of body awareness. Fourteen years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

Paul Linden is my guest on the 34th edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast. 

Listen to the program online or download it through this link to Audello.

It is also available on Stitcher and iTunes. 

Dr. Linden will hold a 6-day workshop called "Embodying Power and Love: A Workshop on Body Awareness & Self-Regulation" in Columbus, Ohio on April 16-21, 2018. See his website for details by following this link.


Martin Luther King Jr Was a Real Kung-Fu Hero

American ShaolinIn the book, "American Shaolin," author Matthew Polly described his adventures as he moved to China to live with Shaolin monks for two years.

He trained with them, ate with them, and became their friend.

Often, he would watch kung-fu movies with the monks.

In their culture, the hero of the movie was usually the man who would continue fighting even when hope was lost. 

You are fighting for a good cause, but you know you are doomed to defeat. You fight anyway.

I was 15 years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Growing up in the racist South, I reflected my white culture and I thought he was a troublemaker. I'm sure I dropped the "N" word many times if his name came up.

MLK was not a troublemaker. He was a hero in the truest sense of the word.

By 1968, he had been beaten, arrested, jailed, and threatened with his life because he had the audacity to protest when black men and women were turned away by restaurants, stores, the voting booth, and generally treated as animals.

When I was a child, black people did not come to "our" public swimming pools. I never saw blacks in "our" restaurants. And they sat in the balcony at the movie theater, not on the main floor with "us."

I remember seeing "Colored Only" water fountains in Georgia.

We treated black Americans as inferior. 

MLKAnd then, through nonviolent protest, Martin Luther King and his brave friends such as now-Congressman John Lewis, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Abernathy and others, used kung-fu on the white culture.

They allowed the hateful energy of the whites to be seen in all its ugliness. Instead of fighting it, King and other black protesters did not contend. They absorbed the hateful energy by taking the punches, the kicks, the firebombs, the attack dogs, the hoses, the insults and the injuries -- and they showed white America what was lurking inside its heart.

They turned that hateful energy against their racist attackers.

Hearts and minds began to change across the country. 

On the night before he was murdered, Martin Luther King Jr. told an audience that he had been to the mountaintop and saw the other side. "I might not make it there with you," he warned.

He knew what might be coming. And he fought anyway.

The following day, when he walked out of his room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, the shot rang out and he was dead.

It took a few more years and some college experience before my heart began to change, but it did. I began to realize that a LOT of what we are told as children is simply not true, but we are not old enough to reason, so we model the behavior of our parents, grandparents and friends.

MLK 1Two years ago, Nancy and I visited the Lorraine Hotel. It is part of the National Civil Rights Museum now. 

As I stood near the spot where he was gunned down, and stared through the glass at his room, which has been maintained exactly as it was the moment he was killed, I was struck by the heroism of the man.

We can practice martial arts all of our lives; we can compete in full-contact matches and we can consider ourselves pretty heroic.

Very few of us will even come close to the level of heroism displayed by Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who did not practice martial arts.

I occasionally see social media comments by martial artists, including some teachers, that are racist, or xenophobic, or intolerant in a variety of ways with a variety of targets, and I realize that an important part of the arts has escaped them; the connection with others, the philosophical thread that binds us to our fellow human beings.

One instructor I met preached Taoist philosophy and being connected to others, then he would fire up a cigarette and use the term "chinks" instead of "Chinese" when he talked about Chinese people. I still occasionally see intolerant social media messages that he posts, and I realize that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think, you can't make him connect with others, and you certainly can't make him a hero.

These misguided martial artists do not realize that the concept of defending the weak against attackers means a lot more than stopping a husband from beating his wife, or stopping a bully from attacking a weaker kid. 

A martial arts hero defends the unarmed black man who is being shot by a bad cop; the woman who is subject to harassment at work; the gay young man or transgender woman who is taunted and insulted because they are different.

A martial arts hero connects with others, and defends the weak even when hope is gone.

Hardly any of us reach the level of heroism that was displayed by Martin Luther King, Jr. When hope was gone, he fought on. Fifty years later, he is remembered, but his work is not done.

There is a lot of hatred still out there. There are people who could use your help.

Are you really a hero? 


The Importance of Fascia in Martial Arts Movement: The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Dr. Ginevra Liptan

Internal Fighting Arts - Ken Gullette Logo 300Fascia is the most important part of your body that you probably have never heard of, or at least you haven't heard very much about it.

In the past few years, as medical science has taken a closer look at part of the body that doctors typically ignored for centuries, a picture is beginning to emerge.

Fascia is a web of connective tissue that is made of collagen, elastin, and other tissues and cells that lies under the skin and runs from our heads to our feet. It forms a continuous network that covers and connects organs, muscles, even nerves. 

Fascia allows us to move as a single unit -- a crucial aspect of tai chi, xingyi and bagua. 

It turns out that tai chi and bagua in particular are outstanding activities for stretching the fascia and keeping it healthy. 

During the past year, I have read some things by internal arts and qigong teachers that make it sound as if they knew about fascia all along. Well, they didn't. So I searched for someone at a level of medical education above a physical therapist, massage therapist or TCM provider -- someone who could tell me about fascia from a medical perspective.

Liptan
Dr. Ginevra Liptan of Portland, Oregon.

After months of searching, I found Dr. Ginevra Liptan, a medical doctor who is board certified in internal medicine and also practices a holistic approach to health that combines Western medical science with "alternative" therapies. She founded the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia, and as she has battled fibromyalgia herself, and researched treatments for her patients that involve the fascia, she has become well-versed on the topic.

Dr. Liptan is my guest in the final Internal Fighting Arts podcast for 2017. You can listen online or download the file here:

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-33-2-fascia-with-dr-ginevra/

During the interview, she talks about a video called "Strolling Under the Skin." Here is a link for that video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky0BmGP5nbU&feature=youtu.be

Also, at the end of the interview, we talk briefly about "cupping," as it was done in the last Olympic games (remember Michael Phelps and his big red dots?). Here is a link to a presentation on fascia -- if you go to exactly one hour in, the discussion of cupping and fascia begins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raCBeQ-gXfs&index=1&list=FLxi0PwWp4KesVlONtxxgb_A

The research I have done for this interview, and the interview itself, has made me look at parts of my practices and workouts in a new way, especially certain movements and moving qigong exercises, and how effective they are for maintaining healthy fascia.

Tai chi has shown to be effective in maintaining flexibility, balance, coordination, among other benefits. It turns out that fascia and tai chi work together in excellent ways.