About Dragon Kenpo Karate
May 2008: The Brain
"Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joy, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs, and tears." --- Hippocrates
Table of Contents
Opening Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Featured Article: Your Brain on Endorphins by Phoebe Nelson Oshirak, RN
Mindset by Ed DellaCroce
The Brain and Bodily Movements by Steve Amoia
For the Love of Forms by R. Michael Sweet
Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Staff Biographies Link
Opening Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
As many of our members know, I am actively involved with the University of Wisconsin Parkside in a mini course offering of Tai Chi and Self Defense. These usually are put on twice a year in Tallent Hall on campus. Our last session (and oh yea they already invited me back due to the rave reviews the students submitted) ended on April 29th and the students were glad. Oh glad you say, and why? Well we had agreed a couple of weeks earlier that if there was enough interest in continuing that I would find us another venue. Since we had at least 20 students between the SD and TC, we have been able to rent space at the Lakeview RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie and the training continues. Our first night, Jill Leable brought a cake which had the name of the new school, Midwest Tai Chi and Self Defense Club. All the students who attended that first night are being recognized as Founders of our new school.
Paula Carson, Kristina Edstrom, Charlie Edstrom, Kathy Falcon,
Giulia Hoke, Gina Hoke, Nina Jaras, Jill Leable, Dale Malsch,
Lynn Moore, Jesus Quevedo, Cecilia Quevedo, Mark Reitman,
Kate Renwick, JoAnn Schwart, Brenda Sherman, Mike Sokolski,
Joseph Tobin, Sona Thomas, Barbara Vass, and Diane Wilcox.
Time for another Family Camp!
After taking the Lake Geneva Self Defense Club on a primitive camp trip last year, the parent committee has taken over and through fund raisers made enough to take about 30 families to the Wisconsin Dells and the Great Wolf Themed lodge. The dates are June 6th and 7th with some of us going up a bit early and others staying a day or two extra. We will have registration at 9am and exams are to begin at 10am. When completed, we'll break for lunch and then have some fun at the indoor water-park and perhaps a group of us will hit the go-carts like we've done in the past. That evening will we have a Flag retirement ceremony and present student rank awards as well as presenting the annual Parent of the Year Award. If this sounds like fun, you better start making your plans for next year!
September and Another Tai Chi Weekend!!
The first weekend in September is scheduled for our 3rd Annual Tai Chi Instructors Training Seminar. Now even if you are just interested in improving your Tai Chi skills, this would be a great weekend for you. Although the focus will be on the 31 movements of Tai Chi for Arthritis, there will be some advanced work on the 73 Forms as well as testing opportunities for our World Dragon Kenpo members. This is an intense weekend of training, and according to past participants, a life changing event. I sincerely hope to see many of you there, and if you need lodging or other information you know how to email for it. If you don't know, just click on firstname.lastname@example.org and put Tai Chi Weekend in the subject line.
Just because World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self Defense is on track for another great year is no reason to get lazy!! Talk to at least one person per week about your (remember this is your school) membership in WDK and the benefits of our program. If you are at least at the Orange Belt and want to start a training group, email your request for Assistant Instructor status and get to kickin'!
All the Best,
Occasionally, our members have asked what's the best way to help others learn about our school and program. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Students! Just refer them to one of our websites, as some of you know we have a few. Also, our school depends on member referrals to grow. Our tuition is the lowest of any school because we don't have advertising expenses, etc. Use these links for referrals:
Coach Ron Pfeiffer can be contacted at email@example.com
Your Brain on Endorphins - The Natural High
by Phoebe Nelson Oshirak, RN & Tai Chi Student
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The other day I watched a public service commercial on television. It showed an egg being dropped into a hot pan and frying. The commentary was: “This is your brain on drugs.”
During my years in the nursing profession, I learned a good deal about drug and alcohol addiction. It is all about getting “high” and feeling better. It is about escaping pain and the unpleasantness of our reality. It makes me wonder why we don’t choose the natural drugs our body produces that have the same effect without the consequences.
These drugs are free, legal and readily available. They are called “Endorphins.” The word endorphin is a combination of words that mean “endogenous morphine.” Endogenous (Phonetically: N-dodge-en-us) meaning self-made or produced within. Endorphins, a natural form of opiates, are chemicals that have morphine-like effects. They are found naturally in the brain in very small amounts but they are powerful nonetheless.
Perhaps you have heard someone comment on the rush or natural high they feel after a rigorous workout. Often referred to as “Being in the Zone,” once experienced, athletes seek this experience again and again. It can be addictive. Exercise is only one method of triggering the “glow” of our natural endorphin production. We have all heard the expression “No pain, No gain.” Pain is an endorphin producer. Pain causes the body to produce endorphins which in turn help block our pain receptors. Physical stress, women in childbirth, marathon runners, acupuncture, exercise and having sex are only some of the activities that trigger endorphin release.
Unfortunately, not all of us can be Olympic athletes or endurance runners, and there is definitely a time and place for lovemaking. However, exercise in many forms is ours for the taking almost any time and anywhere. Generally we exercise to maintain our bodies and minds, not because we particularly enjoy it. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to enjoy the benefits of endorphins. 15 to 20 minutes of moderate activity can release these endogenous drugs into your system. Some of us have had the good fortune to experience a nearly-euphoric state during a workout which changes our attitude about exercising. From that moment forward, we aspire to recapture that euphoria. From my own experience, Tai Chi and power walking can produce a natural high. Believe me, I have had some “soaring” moments walking on the treadmill at the local YMCA. Usually, at a very low point in my workout, when I literally have to “will” my body to continue, I suddenly shift into what I describe as overdrive. I feel as though I am lighter, almost floating. There is a wave of new-found energy, my mood elevates and fatigue wanes. I am awash in a feeling of well-being. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Natural High. Unfortunately for me, it is not an every day experience. But when it happens…well, there isn’t any drug I can think of that could make me feel better.
As Aldous Huxley wrote in his 1931 novel, "Wanted, a New Pleasure."
“If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant...then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become a paradise."
Well, folks, you don’t have to sniff or swallow anything to experience the “novel pleasure” Mr. Huxley longed to find. We simply have to start moving… and keep on moving… until our amazing mind and body delivers our own “paradise” in the form of endorphins. Call them what you will. I call them my drugs of choice.
Phoebe Nelson Oshirak can be contacted at Ophoebe0077@aol.com
by Ed DellaCroce, North Carolina State Director for WDK
In the past, I have written many articles concerning mindset. This
subject will never become outdated. To this day, Martial Artists continue
to die on the streets because their survival attitude has been altered.
By nature, humans are survivors, capable of doing whatever is necessary
in a given situation. Unfortunately, our present day litigious society
has slowly re-conditioned us to become the opposite. The mindset which
once caused us to react instinctively now causes us to pause and ponder.
After all, we are a civilized society, aren't we? Faced with a robbery
on the streets, an average person attempts to mentally reason the
situation. Since no one we know would kill for a wallet, we assume the
dirtbag holding us up would not, either. It is at this point many find
out they were wrong, dead wrong. Folks, today is the day to examine yourself.
How do Police officers make a life or death decision to shoot in three
seconds or less? Simply answered, they train. Pistol range practice is
meaningless if an officer is not mentally capable to react. At some
point, they had to make a decision that they would perform in a certain
way when faced with danger. Officers interviewed after shootouts have
remarked, “I don't even remember pulling the trigger.”
Many Martial Artists train and fight under controlled dojo conditions.
While sparring, we would never think of crushing our partners trachea.
The conditions we train and fight under become our second nature. If we
are not able to fight realistically, then what is the solution? We can
start with our mindset. We must learn to develop a new thought process.
If you are not mentally willing to, then keep believing in Santa Claus.
The world of do or die reality does not exist for you.
These writings are my opinion based on my own personal experiences. I
have been there and done that. I now have over thirty three years of
Military and Civilian police experience. As a teenager, I was also
mugged. The ______ who robbed me told me to co-operate and he would not
hurt me. That's funny, I kept getting punched in the stomach as he said
it. The nightstick looming over my friends head also made me cautious.
At one point, I said to myself, run or die. So I ran. Both muggers chased
after me. My so-called friend ran for his life. I was not caught because
mentally I made a decision to survive. Soon after that, I reevaluated my
mindset and studied self-defense techniques.
Forty years ago, it was uncommon for a child to murder their own parents.
In today's society, for some, it is a normal event. The world has changed
and for survival we must too. Practice "What if?" scenarios with yourself.
Sit down with a friend and ask, what would you do in this situation? For
some this may be difficult, especially, in moral terms. You have an obligation
to yourself, family, and friends to survive in a bad situation. Without
the mental drive, your training is useless. You must believe in yourself.
Your will to survive must be far stronger than your attacker's
drive to harm or kill you. Consciously be aware of your surroundings.
Don't become paranoid, but learn to become wise. The reality is bad things
happen to good people. Friends tell me, “If it's my time to die then so
be it.” I know death is a part of life. That does not cause me to tempt
faith and cross a major highway blindfolded. Use common sense. An
automobile seatbelt is a safety precaution. Your mindset is your
survival precaution. We must mentally be able to do whatever is
necessary. Would you be able to use deadly force against an attacker, or
hesitate because of moral values? Rapist and muggers have no rules,
yet when it comes to self defense, many citizens do.
To use deadly force is a decision each person must decide upon.
Personally, I still live by the rule, “I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”
Ed DellaCroce © 2008. All rights reserved.
Ed DellaCroce can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
All anatomical images and quoted material are courtesy of The Brain From Top to Bottom.
"Motor" is an apt term for the part of our brains that controls bodily movements. The Motor Cortex, or Area 4 of the precentral gryus, was discovered by the American-Canadian neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield. During operations to assist patients with epileptic seizures, Dr. Penfield stimulated areas of the cortex with electricity to determine which areas could not be removed. This special type of brain surgery was called the "Montreal Procedure." When he stimulated the precentral gryus, he noted localized muscle contractions on the opposite side of the body. Hence, the right brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. For example, when we suffer a stroke, only one side of the body is affected.
Map by Dr. Penfield
"The most striking aspect of this map is that the areas assigned to various body parts on the cortex are proportional not to their size, but rather to the complexity of the movements that they can perform. Hence, the areas for the hand and face are especially large compared with those for the rest of the body. "
What Happens When the Motor Cortex Becomes Injured?
"If someone's motor cortex is destroyed (by a stroke, for example), he or she loses the ability to make precise movements, especially of the hands and fingers. Learning of new movements is not strongly affected by damage to the cerebral cortex."
The Role of Dopamine in the Basal Ganglia
This part of the brain is often where movement disorders begin. It is also one of the areas of the brain with the least amount of scientific research with regards to its overall functions.
"People who have Parkinson's disease, characterized by trembling and by difficulty in initiating movements, show a deficiency of dopamine in their basal ganglia. Because these structures play an important role in determining various aspects of movement, their malfunctioning results in the motor problems associated with Parkinson's disease."
This area is similar to a thermostat. It regulates functions of movement and muscle memory in the brain. When we learn a technique in Dragon Kenpo or Tai Chi, the procedural memory is stored in the Cerebellum.
"The cerebellum also acts as a learning and memorizing machine, thanks to its modifiable neural connections that continuously compare everything they are programmed to do with the results that they are actually achieving...
The cerebellum therefore apparently learns how to calibrate its commands to the muscles in terms of strength and duration in order to correct in advance for the effects of these interactions along the path of motion."
There are three steps that occur to produce a voluntary movement:
1. Selection of an appropriate response.
2. Physically planning the movement.
3. Execution of the movement.
"For example, suppose that you go to pick up a glass of water that you think is cool and refreshing, but is actually boiling hot. As soon as you touch the glass, you pull your hand back immediately, by reflex, without thinking about it. But suppose that next, your child tries to grab this glass, which you already know is hot. In this case, because your child's safety is so important to you, you can consciously overcome the reflex to pull your hand away. Instead, using your voluntary motor control, you grab the glass yourself and put it where your child can't reach it."
"The concept of "copyleft" is a method of providing free access to the results of original work and of encouraging people to reproduce and even modify this work on an equally free basis."
Due to this concept, World Dragon Kenpo was able to reproduce the detailed images, along with subject matter expert quotes, for this article. A debt of thanks to Bruno Dubuc and The Brain From Top to Bottom.
Steve Amoia can be contacted at email@example.com
For the Love of Forms
By R. Michael Sweet, Certified Instructor
Dragon Kenpo does not require forms (pre-arranged sets or routines) to be performed for promotion. It is, however, understood that the techniques of Dragon Kenpo are a starting point of our study of the Martial Arts. Like many DK practitioners, I enjoy practicing forms on a daily basis. A brief Internet search will show that there are almost as many forms as there are martial arts schools. I thought it might be useful to newer martial artist, to have some general idea of what forms are out there, and how they may be used to enhance and enrich your martial arts training.
The Korean based Tae Kwon Do forms are referred to as Poomse and consist of the Palgwae, Taeguk, WTF Black Belt, and ITF forms. Like the Kata of the Japanese arts, the Poomse can provide an excellent supplement to training and conditioning the body in the physical movements required in the Martial Arts. They are particularly good for training the legs. I personally practice the form “Koryo” (sometimes referred to as “
The Chinese martial arts, commonly referred to as Kung Fu, include many interesting and (sometimes complex) sets. Technically, Tai Chi is a type of Kung Fu but, in the common vernacular it is generally thought to be a soft style, and Kung Fu is referred to as a hard style of Chinese Martial Arts. Like most DK students, I use the Tai Chi for Arthritis exercise of Dr. Lam. I also practice the very popular 24 movement Tai Chi set, and a set designed by Bruce Tegner called Circle Tai Chi. They are all excellent for training in coordination and balance.
American Kenpo sets are also available for viewing on the internet. Ed Parker himself can be seen doing some of the routines as he taught them. American Kenpo Long Form 4 is considered to be his signature form. Although I greatly admire, and have played around with the American Kenpo sets, I do not regularly practice them. The American Kenpo sets are designed to be practical self defense sets. For this type of training I practice the DK techniques, as well as sets which I designed on my own.
Remember that all martial arts forms are supposed to mean something. When you learn them they will be easier to remember if you understand what each movement is supposed to represent. Don’t try to learn too many. It is better to work on a few forms and do them well than to do many forms without understanding. Also, since DK doesn’t test forms, it frees you up to practice them without pressure. If you try them, I think you will eventually do them for the love of forms.
R. Michael Sweet can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
If you have an article that you would like to submit, you may respond to me or Steve Amoia. Just send your submission within the body of an email. Comments and questions about our publication are encouraged, and you can direct them to me by email. Please proofread your submissions, and shorter rather than longer articles are preferred. WDK reserves the right to edit any submission.
Important Notice To All Members
All Student/Instructor members are reminded that advancement and promotion are not automatic. Contact Coach Pfeiffer or your local instructor if you have questions or to request advancement information.
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The articles within this newsletter are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self-Defense.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer can be contacted at email@example.com
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