About Dragon Kenpo Karate
"Scientific studies show that tai chi improves and possibly prevents chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, it improves balance, immunity and reduces stress. In fact, tai chi improves practically any aspect of health."
Dr. Paul Lam of Tai Chi Productions,
Training (and Life's) Ups and Downs by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Student of the Year: Mike Sokoski
Question to the Coach by R. Michael Sweet, 2nd Degree Black Belt
Introduction to Diabetes by Steve Amoia
Featured Article: Diabetes and Tai Chi Therapy by Bill Douglass, World Tai Chi Day
Just for Fun by R. Michael Sweet, 2nd Degree Black Belt
New Member Biography by David Walker
Evolved Combat by Bryan Marty
Closing Comments by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Training (and Life's) Ups and Downs
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Every now and then, we notice as we work towards our goals, that somehow we don't seem to feel the same as we did when we first began. We know what we're supposed to do or work on but for a reason, which is difficult to pin down, we seem to be able to get into it like before.
Most long-time martial artists can relate. Staying motivated and being able to motivate your students is another skill which comes from taking the long view. When we talk about the long view, it's not a year or two perspective. It's much much longer.
When you begin any serious project (like teaching people life changing concepts) we tend to look at what is happening right now. So we've got a few students and things are looking good. More often than not, we see instructors unable to keep things going and without a plan for success (important note here "Ask for help!") it seems they are doomed to failure. Keeping the tempo of classes up and the interest of students seems impossible and before long we hear about another instructor who has decided to pursue "other interests".
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Truthfully, it takes a brand of determination that is rare and a "take no prisoners" mindset. This doesn't mean saying "Well, I'll do my best and see what happens. blah blah blah". It really means "There is no challenge too great, no problem so big and no issue so insurmountable that will allow me to accept anything except total and complete success." The person with that way of thinking will find a way to make it happen, no excuses.
So now... What about you? Are you ready to do what it takes? Or maybe you're going to "give it a try" (that's wussy talk boys). Have you set your sights on the prize that you want or maybe you find it's safer just to not get your hopes up?
Step up and choose what you want from life and life will make you work for it. Nothing is sweeter than the moment you realize this important idea. Success is in the journey, it's not a place we arrive at. Now get back to training!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Student of the Year
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Mike Sokoski has been selected as the 2008 World Dragon Kenpo Student of the Year by Coach Ron Pfeiffer. Congratulations to Mike as he continues to study Dragon Kenpo and Tai Chi in Lake Geneva.
Question to the Coach
by R. Michael Sweet, 2nd Degree Black Belt
In Dragon Kenpo, are there any stripes or markings on the belts of Black Belts for instructor certification or 2nd Degree Black Belt or Brown Belts?
I can tell you what we use here. Each instructor usually has their own ideas about belts and markings and such.
3rd Brown - Camo Belt.
2nd Brown - Brown Belt with a black center stripe.
1st Brown - Solid Brown Belt.
2. The Red Belt is worn by full instructors until reaching 2nd Dg. Black and then back to a simple Black Belt.
3. I would suggest a single gold colored bar for each degree of black if an instructor wanted to "dress up" his/her belt.
Hope that answers your question.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
Introduction to Diabetes
by Steve Amoia
While the cause of this disease has not yet been discovered, diabetes occurs when our bodies do not properly metabolize or produce the protein hormone of insulin. This hormone, which is produced by the pancreas, is integral in the conversion of food, sugars, and starches to fuel our bodies.
According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 24 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Contributing factors could be environmental and/or genetic; however, individual choices can place one at risk. For example, insufficient exercise, poor diet, and excessive body weight.
Your doctor can perform two tests to determine whether you have diabetes or "pre-diabetes:"
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG)
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
According to the American Diabetes Association, the FPG test is more economical and efficient for all parties concerned.
Types of Diabetes
- Pre-diabetes: It is estimated that over 57 million Americans may be at risk.
- Gestational: Occurs after pregnancy, but sometimes develops into (mostly) Type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1: Failure to produce insulin. This occurs in less than 10% of diagnosed cases.
- Type 2: Insulin resistance. In the
, this is the most prevalent form of the disease. Most of the diabetes Type 2 is weight related. Another smaller portion is due to the content of the food we eat, and the resulting body content. Bread and starch are converted into sugar and suppress insulin. USA
- For Type 1, insulin injections are required on a daily basis, along with dietary modifications.
- For Type 2, you have to monitor blood sugar levels through dietary modifications and exercise. Then medications may be introduced.
- For more information about treatment options, please click here.
The American Diabetes Association has a unique tool:
"MyFoodAdvisor™ is a unique calorie and carbohydrate counting tool that can help with diabetes management and nutrition. Tracking what you eat can help manage your diabetes and in turn prevent the onset of complications. Learn about different types of food and make meal planning fun and easy with MyFoodAdvisor."
As you will read in this month's edition, Western medicine is not the only way to treat diabetes. Our featured article by Bill Douglas discusses the role of Tai Chi to control diabetes. You can also watch a Tai Chi for Diabetes demonstration video at the top of the blog. Dr. Lam also has co-authored a book which is featured in the sidebar.
Diabetes and Tai Chi Therapy
by Bill Douglas, World Tai Chi Day
Editor's Note: Our featured article is reprinted with the kind permission of Mr. Douglas and http://www.worldtaichiday.org/. They also have a medical research section about new developments with Tai Chi and Diabetes.
I was quite surprised when I began searching for research on Tai Chi's benefits for diabetes . . . it was very difficult to come by. Because on its face, Tai Chi seems to possibly offer many benefits to someone with diabetes. Tai Chi is known to stimulate microcirculation in practitioners, and is a highly effective stress management technique, and very gently burns a significant amount of calories. In fact, Tai Chi may actually help the body find homeostatic chemical levels. For example, in a study on sex hormones Tai Chi was found to have a "balancing effect" on the hormonal chemistry of participants, lowering the abnormally high estrogen levels in older men, while raising the abnormally low estrogen levels in older women.
These findings in other research led me to believe that there had probably been substantial research done on Tai Chi & Qigong's benefits for those with diabetes, given that these findings in other studies at least initially suggest Tai Chi & Qigong may offer much to the diabetes patient. But, as I said, it doesn't appear there is much out there in terms of "tai chi & qigong as an adjunct diabetes therapy," at least from Western institutions.
However, a couple of Chinese medical institutions studies had very exciting results. A Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology study found that blood sugar could be lowered successfully by doing QiGong exercises. 42.9 percent of patients in the study were able to take less medicine while having more staple foods. Also, a
Unfortunately, less than one half of one percent of NIH funding goes to research all alternative or "complimentary" health techniques. Meaning that yoga, meditation, herbology, homeopathy, etc. etc. all share that tiny, tiny slice of the NIH funding pie. Until the NIH provides adequate attention / funding for Tai Chi & Qigong (Chi Kung) research, many of the benefits people with various maladies have enjoyed from Tai Chi & Qigong will not be enjoyed by the millions of others with such conditions. Because physicians will lack the knowledge necessary to inform their patients of Tai Chi & Qigong as a possible viable therapeutic option, until adequate research is done.
Never the less, you might ask your doctor to do some research on this for you. But, for now, let's look at current recommendations for diabetes therapy, and then compare Tai Chi benefits systematically to see if it might be a good therapeutic match for diabetes. As always, I remind everyone not to self-treat. These articles are meant to stimulate a dialogue between you and your physician, and your physician and medical research institutions to lobby on your behalf to get powerful natural health therapies like Tai Chi fully researched so that you have the maximum possible options for your health protocol.
In an article posted on Post Graduate Medicine Online, Drs. Adam B. Mayerson, MD; Silvio E. Inzucchi, MD, state that "Diet, exercise, and the attainment of ideal body weight are the central components of any therapeutic [type 2 diabetes] regimen . . .". Tai Chi is proven to be an effective exercise that not only provides cardiovascular benefit (roughly equal to moderate impact aerobics), but surprisingly given Tai Chi's gentle low impact nature, burns a significant number of calories, in fact more than surfing, and nearly as much as downhill skiing. To achieve such caloric burning benefits, and cardiovascular benefits, with such a gentle exercise as Tai Chi may be important to those with diabetes.
The health site Top5plus5.com's information on diabetes explained that the type of exercise a patient practices is crucial to their well being, stating "Patients with active diabetic retinopathy should not participate in exercises involving straining or heavy lifting since these activities can provoke eye damage. Patients should also be aware that nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels can lead to a loss of sensation in the feet, with a subsequent increased risk of blistering and ulceration. Patients with progressive heart damage from high blood sugar should be warned about the risk of sudden heart failure and death."
Tai Chi may offer promise regarding heart health so important to diabetes sufferers. On
Again, one should never self-treat, and should always approach all possible therapies in conjunction with their physician. Our articles at World Tai Chi & Qigong Day are meant to stimulate discussion between you and your physician, and hopefully between your physician and health institutions. Our hope is that this will lead to a more realistic apportionment of medical research funding towards Tai Chi & Qigong (Chi Kung), and other natural health therapies. One caution is, we hope that researchers will approach Tai Chi & Qigong with a desire to find out "why it helps many people" rather than with an agenda to prove that it doesn't work. The way that studies are done is just as important as if studies are done.
Our vision for the future is that physicians too, will begin to discover for themselves what Tai Chi and Qigong health technologies have to offer on a personal level as Tai Chi is increasingly offered through medical universities to aspiring nurses and physicians. The future of healthcare should not be a war between alternative therapies and standard therapies, but an expansion of standard therapies to include whatever works best for the patients. Many in the medical field are great advocates of such a vision, and World Tai Chi & Qigong Day celebrates their efforts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong. Bill's been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org/
Just For Fun
by R. Michael Sweet, 2nd Degree Black Belt
Editor's Note: Mr. Sweet authored "For the Love of Forms," for our May 2008 edition.
In previous editions of the Slayer, I have talked about the value of Dragon Kenpo as a means of self-defense. I have also written about the exercise benefits of different martial arts katas and forms. When Coach Pfeiffer ask me to write something about our training for this edition of the Slayer, I thought it might be useful to write about the one thing that I have not spoken much about. It is, for me, one of the most important aspects of the Martial Arts. In fact, if the arts had no self defense value whatsoever, I would still practice them. Just for fun! That's really what matters. Martial Arts are fun to practice! I enjoy learning new forms and techniques. I don't feel like my day can start until I have done my martial arts stretches and my Tai Chi. I enjoy the routines. I feel good when I perform the movements. I have heard people say it is great for one's health, but sometimes, I don't care. I just like it. I feel like a dancer who continues to dance for the sheer joy of moving, or a musician who keeps coming back to the piano, long after the crowds have stopped listening.
Tai Chi is something I normally do in the early morning. It is my quiet time. It is my alone time. Dragon Kenpo, on the other hand, has been a family thing. My son is my training partner. The important idea is that we have fun together. In a time when families are under all kinds of stress, and it is a battle to find quality family time; working for the next belt rank in Dragon Kenpo has given us something we can do together.
Video Recording of Training Sessions
Even family members who are not in the program have been involved. I have done my testing with Coach Pfeiffer by video. Now, that is an experience to be remembered! I learned a lot more than martial arts. It was fun, but sometimes in a challenging way. This is where other members of the family got involved. We had my daughter working the camera with all the problems of sound and lighting. We learned to work together. We also learned the techniques a lot more thoroughly by recording them. We frequently had to record them several times. We would laugh and laugh about how silly we looked, or over some glaring mistake we made in the techniques. You can practice the techniques so much, that the mistakes you are making seem normal…. Until you actually see yourself on film. We learned together from our mistakes and had a good time doing it!
Kenpo as Fun
Once, after a particularly grueling Dragon Kenpo recording session, one of my children borrowed the camera and video taped herself singing a karaoke song… right over my belt test. At the time, it did not seem funny! Today it is one of my favorite videos because, as any parent knows, the kids grow so fast that every photo of them eventually becomes a treasure. We had not backed up the tape though, so we had to start over. So if you want to have fun, try Dragon Kenpo. Just be careful! Martial Arts can be very dangerous if not properly supervised. Be safe and considerate, especially if you are working with young people! Remember, if you are stressed out worrying about a belt test or something, take some time to slow down. Try doing Dragon Kenpo, "Just for fun." You will probably learn twice as much in less time.
R. Michael Sweet can be contacted at email@example.com
New Member Biography
by David Walker
I have always been interested in self defense, and here are some things that I have done:
- Department of Defense Federal Police Officer/Sergeant
- Federal Protective Service Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement/ Acting Area Commander
- ICE Certified Defensive Tactics Instructor
, Fort Benning GA
- S.P.E.A.R. System, extreme close quarter combat tactics Certified Instructor
- Street Combat/Kenpo Karate: Certified Black Belt
- ISSA, Certified Specialist in Sports Conditioning
- ISSA, Certified Fitness Trainer
- ISSA Certified Fitness Therapist
Power Lifting Background
I have been competing in power lifting since 1989. My first competition was at the Helenkon Air Force Base in
World Champion in Drug Free Power Lifting
In October 2008, I competed in the bench press at the World Drug Free Power lifting Federation (WDFPF) in
The Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Out of all three lifts, the bench press competition was the biggest. I had never been to a meet where there were over 320 bench pressers from around the world. The building where they were hosting the competition was packed. I weighed in at that morning, and didn't compete until after that night. Trying to stay up and ready that long is some times tougher than actually competing. You have to make sure that you stay hydrated. Muscle fiber is composed of over 70% water; consequently, to be dehydrated would be disastrous. Especially in power lifting. I told my wife when I got home that the thing that I liked most about competing in this World Championship is that when I was given the best lifter award, I could actually say that at that time on that day and under very strict international judging I was pound for pound the best drug free bench presser in the world. I allowed myself to celebrate that night and was back in the gym the next day. The people in
My stance on traditional martial arts is as follows:
If an individual is determined to achieve their maximum capabilities in being effective in hand to hand combat, a traditional martial arts approach and philosophical outlook will do nothing but hamper their progress and deny them the necessary knowledge to advance their training. Classical karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon do, and many other base styles, have become more of a problem in today's martial arts community due to their philosophical lies, unproven techniques, and "filler activities" that produce minimal results in the aspect of combat and street situations.
No Proof of Claims
The most unnerving attribute regarding traditional martial arts schools is the constant insisting that their martial art is the best with no proof to base their claim. In the 1900's, the Gracie family's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations constantly proved their style in street and no holds barred competition. At the time, they also proved their style of Brazilian Jujitsu was not only effective but devastating in dealing with so-called traditional martial arts masters. Thus, there is no problem in declaring a style superior if the practitioners of that style prove themselves in challenge matches.
This is not what happens with these schools. They just proclaim their style's mastery without backing up their statements with any substance. In addition, the constant lie or belief that a single martial art is all one needs in protecting themselves, when that same martial art only encompasses one aspect of fighting. (Tae Kwon Do, for example, has target levels, no below the waist kicks, and no ground work). The very audacity of these statements made by martial arts schools across the nation blind so many practitioners into believing that just by executing their traditional style, it will save them from anything that they encounter on the street. Finally, my last complaint about traditional martial arts philosophical lies is the fact that they cannot be questioned, and that the logic they prescribe should be taken as gospel truth. This very concept baffles me due to the fact that many of their systems have been devised from ancient times, and have never evolved into today's modern hand to hand combat/street scene. Moreover, they have not evolved their system or even changed it for that matter, and refuse to change on the extreme arrogance/ignorance that their system, in fact, "needs no change."
Unproven techniques are also hampering the traditional martial arts community. From thrusts that are supposedly cutting through an opponent's solar plexus and ripping out their spine, to the so-called "death punches," to flashy kicks that look amazing but render very little power. These techniques have become more for show rather than for effect. Another concept where traditional martial arts schools have either failed to evolve or have become watered down for families, is in their training for their basics and with sparring. Often during basics, instructors make their students walk straight up and down the floor in drills that are supposed to train their muscles to respond correctly to attacks designed from that specific style. I am not saying that this practice is "unproven", but I question the effectiveness of these constant never-changing drills. Without being devised in a more practical way, such as the students moving in more dynamic and realistic fashions, they will never grasp the concept of what they are doing. This to me is my biggest concern with these groups: The lack of understanding martial concepts.
Having 10 year old black belts who are supposed to have real martial concepts when they cannot properly defend themselves in any real life circumstance is a poor example of an institution. It negates the meaning of a "Black Belt" from that particular school. This leads me to my next point on the effectiveness of some of the traditional martial arts training in regards to their sparring. Often, one of two things happen here. The students use protective gear and spar for points to specified target levels (Olympic Style TKD, AKA Karate), or they have no contact at all and still maintain target levels. A fun sport indeed, yet this completely nullifies the entire point of moving dynamically to try and strike each other in places that one would cause the least amount of damage and not allow take-downs. Many bad habits are learned here (people fight with their hands down) because if one doesn't have to ever worry about being kicked in the legs, one will often not defend his legs from attack. The same can be said about the face or being taken down to the ground. A person won't defend it if they never have to worry about it.
"Filler activities" are also a concern to people who really want to take their combat skills to the next level. In a traditional martial arts school, students will have many "fillers" that will prevent them from evolving their skill. Forms and patterns are by far the biggest waste of time for a fighter or someone who is looking for self-defense. Forms are not so much as unproven as they are useless for a reliable self-defense system. In the sense that they do absolutely nothing to further your reaction to an oncoming attack. Which in the real world is what one needs to be effective in street situations.
Board breaking is another filler that not only wastes time, but again does nothing to further one's evolution in combat or real world situations. It looks impressive but does nothing but better your ability to break wood. For those who would say that breaking boards is like breaking ribs on the body, I do not disagree, but I would pose this question: How many boards could a person break if those boards were moving or, even better, hitting back? Your timing and velocity of strikes on boards mean absolutely nothing, because the concept is the reality of a moving dynamic force (a person) not an unmoving unyielding object (a board). Hence, the ability of a person to deliver a blow that would break 6 boards is completely nullified by the dynamics of a moving object, and cannot be counted on to save them in a street situation. In closing on this topic, people need to practice how they play. Which means that performing patterns will make you better at patterns. Breaking boards will make a person a better board breaker. Training in a realistic approach will make a person better in reality. It makes sense.
In conclusion, the philosophical lies, unproven techniques, and filler activities found in traditional martial arts will only hamper one who wants to evolve their martial arts training. Let me be clear. My intentions for writing this article are not to deter people from practicing traditional martial arts. There is much to be learned from the discipline, the principles, and the control a person learns especially in their youth. My intention is geared towards the people who want to evolve their combat and training, and maximize their efficiency whether it be in the ring or just for they're own self defense purposes. The only way one can evolve is to go out and find what works for them. and what is real in the martial arts world when there is so much myth to decipher. My experience leads me to believe that a person should train what works and what has been working, and throw the rest of it out. Similar to the late Bruce Lee's philosophy. My other intention is for people not to feel guilty to try out new things. From the no-Gi lovers leaving traditional BJJ, to the traditional Kung Fu student who wants to start training MMA, there should be no guilt but only encouragement from their school.
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.
Is your school having an event? Let the Dragon Kenpo community know by placing it in the Slayer News! We are here to help you and your students get the most out of your training.
Please remember to keep your information updated so that the World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self-Defense can serve you in the best way possible!
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