About Dragon Kenpo Karate
15 September 2008: Muscular Systems
"Naturalness means easily and comfortably, so all muscles can act with the greatest speed and ease. Stand loosely and lightly, avoid tension and muscular contraction. Thus, you will both guard and hit with more speed, precision and power." --- Bruce Lee
Opening Comments by Coach Pfeiffer
Featured Article: Interview with Coach Ron Pfeiffer: Tai Chi for Back Pain and Other Modules by Steve Amoia
The Advantages of Finishing by Jerry Munday
One Student's Story by Michael Sokolski
Treatment for Back Pains and Spasms by Steve Amoia
Important Life Lessons by Paula Carson, Kenosha Tai Chi
New Member Biography: Bryan Marty
New Member Biography: Logan Gabriel
Closing Comments by Coach Pfeiffer
The Welcome Ambassadors for the Burlington Chamber of Commerce and Sharon, Nicco and Dave Angelici, Bill, Matthew and Michael Murray, Mike Sokoski, Laura Barkwell, Stephanie Ross, Chris Miller, Mike and Kathy Weisnewski. Not pictured, Jill Leable, who was instrumental in the opening of the school.
On September 3rd, we unveiled the new Midwest Tai Chi and Self Defense Club in Burlington, Wisconsin. We have been busy preparing for the grand opening for about 3 weeks, and with the help of our friends, students and some local businesses, we had a very nice opening. The Burlington Chamber of Commence held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the School and local minister Jeff Graff said a prayer with all who attended.
We had a raffle ticket for each person who came along with a survey asking what other days and times would be best. After the ribbon cutting there were Tai Chi demos featuring Mike and Kathy Weisnewski, Laura Barkwell and Mike Sokoski, self defense and Nunchaku demos with Jeff Hansen, Mike Sokoski and yours truly, followed by brief discussions by some of our students as to why they study martial arts. After having some cake and tea, lessons began immediately with Tai Chi at 5 p.m. and Self Defense training at 6:30 p.m. All in all, it was a good day and people left with a very positive feeling about martial arts and our new school.
All the best,
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
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
by Steve Amoia for Slayer News, September 2008
A few years ago, Coach Ron Pfeiffer became certified by the respected expert, Dr. Paul Lam of Tai Chi Productions, during a seminar sponsored by the Arthritis Society. Since that time, Coach Pfeiffer has augmented his Dragon Kenpo instructional classes with these new Tai Chi modules. Since our theme this month is muscular systems, I asked Coach Ron to provide us with a status report, along with a refresher on the health benefits of Tai Chi. Since back pain and spasms are a common ailment, we will focus part of this discussion on those areas.
When did you first begin to study Tai Chi, and how did the certifications by Dr. Lam assist you in the instructional process?
A few years ago, I began the study of Dr. Lam's Tai Chi programs. That was after some investigation into who I would want to mentor me in this important healthful training. What I found was concise instruction and clear explanations of what was to become one of the most important changes in my martial art direction. My first teacher was Caroline Demoise. The thing I remember most was her question to me after our first training session. She asked "So Ron, I can see you've been doing this for quite awhile. How long have you been practicing?" To which I replied "A couple of weeks..." You see, my past training prepared me well for tai chi. I had an understanding of fastness within slowness and hardness within softness. So moving in a smooth and controlled manner was second nature to me. As I tell my students, "Would you learn cooking from an auto mechanic?" So learning Tai Chi from a martial artist, instead of some other exercise form, just makes sense."
How does Tai Chi differ from our studies of Dragon Kenpo?
Dragon Kenpo is the Yang (hard) of martial training, it's focus on stopping a criminal attack is unwavering. Tai Chi is the Yin (soft): The slow, even, and continuous movements complement our bone breaking DK by working on the internal movements. It really is a great combo.
As all of us age (take note; the Baby Boomers are retiring, guys), the movements and concepts within Tai Chi allow for a simple, effective exercise using the entire body. Flexibility is enhanced due to the continued development of our range of motion. This occurs in my teachings mainly during our warm ups and Qi Gong practices (we'll discuss Qi Gong next time around). Muscle tone is gradually improved over time by the students controlling his/her movements. As strength increases, then effort can increase as well. For example, if the legs are stronger then a slightly lower stance will increase the workout.
Let's take a look at back pain and spasms. You told me that over 95% of the developed population suffers from these problems. What are some daily changes and/or exercises, whether at work or at home, that can help us before we study Tai Chi formally?
One of the most important thing is to gain an awareness of the structure of your back. During training we show the student how to do this, and how to activate those muscle groups and supporting structures so strengthening to prevent injury can occur. Steve, I guess you're just gonna have to come to Wisconsin for a few private lessons!!
What types of movements in the Tai Chi for Back Pain program address proper spinal alignment and good posture?
Many of the movements do this but primarily the form Waving Hands Like Cloud. Students should remember to always do this form turning at the waist, and avoid moving the arms from the shoulders. Tai Chi for Back Pain is simply a change in the Tai Chi for Arthritis movement order with a focus on the muscles of the spine.
For those with chronic back problems, how soon can they reasonably expect to see improvement via the Tai Chi for Back Pain program?
When beginning anything new always speak with your doctor and keep him in the loop. He will be glad the person is interested in doing something, and not just waiting for the back pain to get worse or go away on it's own. Remember that if you don't change what you have been doing, how do you expect to get a better result? Most students see improvement and feel improvement in 60 to 90 days. They need to be reminded to practice but not over practice. If they experience pain during practice they should stop and try again the next day.
How can we purchase the CD/DVD programs for the various Tai Chi modules, and can you certify WDK members if they attend in person seminars?
Most of the training is available through Dr. Lam. World Dragon Kenpo Students are welcome to inquire about Tai Chi Instructor/Leader status within our school. The ideal method would be for someone to commit to spending at least a few days here to receive personal training from me and attend some of the classes I teach. This would give them a good grounding in how to teach, as well has how to organize a program which attract interested students.
All the Best,
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Editor's Note: Mr. Munday has been a frequent contributor to Slayer News. To view his past articles, please click here.
I recently completed the online requirements provided by Ron Pfeiffer from White belt to 3rd Degree Black belt. Upon completion, I was asked to write up a short article on my experience. I was surprised to find that the completion rate for the online program is low. At this point, I would like to throw out a word of encouragement. If you have put the energy into signing up and beginning the program, follow through and finish. The advantages may not be immediately apparent, although there are many. The most obvious is the fact that it's incredible inexpensive.
Where else can you get Kenpo instruction for only ten dollars a month?
You will also have a video library available to you anytime that's easy to access with no waiting to rewind or review even the smallest portion of the video. As an instructor, I often use the techniques in these videos as a jumping off point to develop counters and other variations to use in class, as well reviewing the videos repeatedly can reveal how these techniques are related to the classic katas.
All isn't roses here though; there are two disadvantages to the series. First, you can not directly query Coach Ron on his footwork, hand positions, or why he has made a particular move. But he has never failed to answer an e-mail. The second and most debilitating is that you must motivate yourself to complete the course. This last point goes hand in hand with one of the basic premises of original Dragon Kenpo system; that of self motivation and concentration. Those of us who went through the course when run by Ed Hutchison remember the 12 audio tape series that accompanied the videos. Among other things, these tapes spoke of concentration and self-motivation. In short, this video tape series teaches more than just Kenpo techniques. It also gives you the chance to exercise your ability to be a self-motivator, and develop your concentration, observation, tactical and mental fighting skills.
One Student's Story
by Michael Sokolski
Editor's Note: Mr. Sokolski's experience again emphasizes the health benefits of Tai Chi.
In October 2007, I took my first Tai Chi class at the Lake Geneva YMCA. I started taking the class mostly because I thought Tai Chi was interesting. I knew a little about the benefits from a bit of research, and I was looking for a minor health improvement. Little did I know, the path I had started down would change my life. When I started my training, I was very shy and lacked self-confidence. The thought of talking in front of a group of people terrified me. Looking back, I'm surprised I signed up for the class.
In my first class, everyone was very nice and made me feel welcome. Over the coming months, I noticed that my health was improving. I felt less tired at the end of the day and was able to deal with the daily stress better. Even my balance had improved. Over the winter, I found that my immune system was getting a benefit from the Tai Chi. I got fewer colds that season than I normally do. All of these changes were great, but the biggest surprise was yet to come.
In Spring 2008, Coach Ron announced to the class that he had started teaching a short-term class at UW-Parkside and if any students wanted to show up they were welcome to. Surprising myself, I volunteered to show up to the class at Parkside to assist Coach Ron in teaching that class however I could. I couldn't believe it. I was volunteering to be up in front of a class. The idea of it terrified me, but I was able to push aside the fear, get in front of the class, do Tai Chi, and talk to the class. In doing Tai Chi, I had gained some of the self-confidence I was lacking.
Since then, thanks to the self-confidence I have gained and the attitude changes that have followed, I started taking Coach Ron's self defense class at the YMCA. This has helped move the mental changes even further along and has started physical changes as well that will change my life for the better. When the class at Parkside had ended, we moved it to the Recplex in Pleasant Prairie on a long-term basis. I've assisted Coach Ron in that class as well, and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Thanks to the martial arts, I've improved myself mentally and physically and I will continue to make changes in myself for the better. I've made some good friends and have had a lot of fun. I've started to help others improve themselves through the martial arts and I hope to be able to do so for a long time to come.
by Steve Amoia
Back pain and spasms are a common complaint. Let's take a look at their causes, symptoms, along with treatment options.
Causes of Back Pain
Most of us, regardless of age or athletic ability, will suffer from back pain and spasms during our lives. Due to its sudden onset with acute pain, it is one of the most frequent causes of missed work. According to Dr. Vijay Vad from the above referenced video, who is the official PGA and Pro Tennis Tour medical consultant, "One of the main reasons that we experience back pain is because we sit in chairs. It's really that simple. Even though millions of years of evolution have designed our spines to do otherwise, we eat, travel, and sit in chairs for hours at a time..."
"Sitting on a floor crosslegged, as the standard in many developing countries, is much better for our backs. This forces the spine into perfect alignment, and maintains flexibility of the hips..."
"A relaxed balanced posture is the key for a pain-free back."
Dr. Vad is the co-author of an interesting book, which may be purchased at Amazon.com, entitled, "Back RX: A 15-Minute-a-Day Yoga- and Pilates-Based Program to End Low Back Pain."
Main Symptoms of Back Spasms
Since back spasms are the most prevalent form of pain in this region of the torso, let's examine some of the key symptoms:
"The main symptoms of back spasms include severe pain emanating from the back in the absence of motion, significant discomfort in the back upon movement of the legs or arms, and/or pain associated with rotation of the spine. Such symptoms are usually accompanied by a sensation of a lack of mobility of the spine. The discomfort and feeling of immobility may last from a few seconds up to several minutes, go away, and then return again after a brief respite. Spasms which appear suddenly during activity may disappear when a resting position is assumed; anecdotally, lying down seems to be more relieving than sitting."
Source: Sports Injury Bulletin, Lower Back Spasms.
Rest and ice are the key components of this therapy. Pain is a warning signal to stop the activity or cease using the back muscles. Ice acts to lessen the swelling of the affected areas when used as a topical analgesic. After a few hours of rest, you can begin to apply ice treatments in the following manner. These, along with prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs by your physician, can accelerate the healing process:
"You should keep the ice on the site of injury for about 12 minutes at a time, with 20-minute 'recoveries' between applications. Ideally, you or a helpful friend can perform 'ice massage' on your affected area, using the nub of ice from a styrofoam cup (which has been left in the freezer for enough time to freeze its water) to gently work coldness into the hurting area; reveal the icy nub within the cup by peeling away its topmost styrofoam. Massage for about 12 minutes, take a 20-minute break, and repeat. At least six 12-minute massages per day should be performed to ease pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or a COX-2 inhibitor) may be prescribed by your doctor to control the inflammation at the spasm site and reduce pain. Note, though, that COX-2 inhibitors may not represent appropriate treatment if the back spasms are the result of ligament damage to the back. Recent research suggests that the use of COX-2 inhibitors might be linked with retarded healing in injured ligaments ('A Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitor Impairs Ligament Healing in the Rat,' The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 29(6), pp. 801-805, 2001).
Your doctor might also prescribe muscle relaxants, which may ease the hyper-contracted state of the back muscles involved in the spasms. Such easing can decrease pain and increase mobility in the back, which are good things, of course - as long as an individual does not attempt to return too quickly to normal activity. Quick returns might further injure the problem area."
Source: Sports Injury Bulletin, Lower Back Spasms.
If your pain is severe, or you have any other concerns, please consult with your health care provider. The suggestions in this article are for illustrative purposes only, and not a recommendation or an endorsement for any specific treatment plan.
by Paula Carson, Kenosha Tai Chi
I started Tai Chi in March for a number of reasons. I'm middle-aged and need to do some type of exercise for my overall health. But I already have some arthritis and back pain issues, so I didn't want something that would hurt me before helping me. Also, as a nurse manager of critical care, my stress level gets out of control. Overall, I needed to start taking care of myself.
After a few months, I was feeling better (no more knee cracking) and encouraged all of my staff to take deep breaths when stressed. Other than that, I couldn't say I had noticed a drastic change in my health (no weight loss or buffed muscles :)). Then in June, my 15-year-old son suffered a major health issue. It took all of my energy to deal with his treatments, doctor appointments, and still stay on top of things at work. I pushed my Tai Chi classes aside and also my practice time. After two to three weeks, things had settled down, and I planned to go to my next Tai Chi class. Then, I threw my back out and spent the class time at home in bed. Then it hit me: I had not had any back trouble since starting Tai Chi.
Unknown to me, I had been strengthening my core and back muscles. Now three weeks without Tai Chi, and I was right back where I started. It also occurred to me that by not taking any small time out for me, I couldn't help anyone else, either. Though my summer has been chaotic between work, my son, and vacation time, I try to take a little time each day for me. Sometimes, all I do is rehearse our new moves, but I now know it is helping me. It's amazing how something relatively simple has made me healthier.
by Bryan Marty
Hi everyone, my name is Bryan Marty.
I have trained in martial arts since I was 7 and have evolved tremendously in my short 21 years on this earth. Finally, I can say that I am truly training in what makes me happy. While a child, my father allowed me to begin training in Chung Do Kwan Style Tae Kwon Do. It was fun, no contact sparring, until black belt, and I learned how to discipline myself. I stayed content with this traditional form of martial arts up until I was 16 years old. At that point in time, I began to question the effectiveness of style. Was it as superior as my instructors at the time proclaimed it to be? I had no idea.
Where I grew up, there was no place to test out your skills in NHB (No Holds Barred) competition without going to jail and it wasn't my thing at the time, so I was left to wonder. Then, one day, my friend Katie Brugger invited me to one of her Kenpo karate classes in Lake Geneva WI. This was the first day that I met Ron Pfeiffer, and his philosophical outlook was hard for me to grasp at the time, but it ultimately blew my mind. His perspective on everything truly gave me the confidence to continue on and question my martial arts training in what and what does not work.
Around this same time, my friend had lent me some videos of fights that had taken place in the early 1990s. They were of the first two UFC's. This was my first introduction to Royce Gracie and his style of Brazilian Jiujitsu. I would have loved to try it out at the time, but there were no Brazilian Jiujitsu classes in my area so I again was left to wonder. After I graduated from high school, I joined the U.S. military, and from 18 to well into my 19th year, I took a hiatus from training in martial arts focusing much of my attention on work and other types of workouts. I was strong, athletic, and extremely confident with my skills. One day, I was inside the gym where we trained, and some members of my unit were really going at it in combat. It looked like a good time, so I decided to join in. I was completely and utterly dominated in every aspect. These weren't even close, and the ground work and the technical skill that had been executed on me was a wake up call. Little to my knowledge, those two guys were some pretty serious amateur fighters, and they let me know a lot about what and how I needed to train to become effective. From that point, I began to search for an effective training style, and fell in love with MMA. I trained Brazilian Jujitsu 5 to 6 days a week with a wrestling emphasis, and also developed a Muy Thai approach to my striking that evolved from my years in Tae Kwon Do. Most importantly, however, is that I am now truly happy with what I am practicing. I have the confidence to know that the skills I have work against anybody.
My good friend and mentor, Coach Ron, has also given me this tremendous opportunity to express some of my feelings and concerns with the martial arts community. I would like to thank him and his staff for this open forum, and also like to acknowledge this as an honor.
Thank you again.
by Logan Gabriel
When I was 14 years old in 1987, I began my study of Martial Arts. Like many of the kids, I got my first taste of the Martial Arts from Bruce Lee movies. After watching "Chinese Connection" and "Enter the Dragon," I begged and pleaded for classes. I worked my way up to Blue Belt in Fred Villari's Shaolin Kempo, and then dropped out because I began to slack off in my musical studies. That was my first and foremost priority.
Since I was 8 years old, I have been playing Classical Guitar. Now, I teach and perform regularly in the States and abroad. My time is very important to me: This is why I like Dragon Kenpo. It gives me the opportunity to train in Martial Arts on my own time.
I am currently a yellow belt in Dragon Kenpo, and my martial arts training has helped me immensely in my musical training. One of the most influential books I have read was "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi. It's amazing that when I mention this to students or a class the looks I get. I know what's going through their minds, and it's how does a book on combat strategy help with music? The long answer could fill the pages of a book, but for now the short answer will do. There is one saying by Musashi that brings it all together: "To know one thing is to know a thousand things." At first, this could be a very philosophical discussion; however, we can get just as much discussion if we don't get philosophical but stick to the obvious (and not so obvious).
Playing guitar relies upon muscles that we normally do not use. From the time we are born, we use large muscle groups to perform tasks. This is a great thing because large muscle groups are able to do more work with more efficiency. It is natural for us to sit, jump, squat, run, walk, throw, and lie down. All of these use those large muscle groups. Tthe next time you get the chance, watch a baby as it eats some finger foods. The baby reaches using the whole hand.
I did this experiment once when my eight year old was just a baby. I put a pile of cheerios on his high chair and watched his use his whole hand to grab a pile of Cheerios and fill his mouth. Then I cleared his high chair, and put just one cheerio on the tray. Because there was only one, he failed at using the whole hand. He knew that he had to use a less natural approach, and use fine motor skills in order to use just two fingers to pick up this small snack. It was amazing. It took him awhile to figure it out but he did. This is an excellent lesson for musicians.
The first lesson is adapting to the task at hand. Use only what is necessary when it is necessary; economy of muscular exertion. Now to tie that in with Musashi by knowing this one principle of muscular exertion, we can apply it to a score of things Now, I know this is a very basic and maybe even too obvious, but it does get the point across. I have enjoyed playing in other countries, but unfortunately, it has all been performances and I haven't had the time to really check out the martial artists overseas. However, next year, I am going back for my annual tour of England, and I will be booking a few extra days to hunt down a Kenpo school and train for a day or two.
If you like classical guitar, please visit my MySpace page.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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