Old Meets New

At Grapplearts, Stephan Kesting and Alex Kask of the Bichu-den Takeuchi-ryu compare and contrast Japanese and Brazilian Jiujitsu, noting some of the differences in the classical approach in terms of armed environments as well as tactical considerations.

Awareness of the roots and history of jujitsu can only grow our understanding and appreciation of the art, in particular as it relates to a combative or personal defense application.

BTW, BJJ may have a more direct influence from classical jujitsu than simply through judo – specifically from the Takeuchi-ryu.



Polishing this Sword

The Swordsman

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;

Its frosty edge has never been put to the test.

Now I am holding it and showing to you, sir:

Is there anyone suffering from injustice?

– Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Jia Dao.


As printed in Liu, James J. Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967, p. xii. See the Wikipedia page regarding the youxia, or Chinese knight-errant.

I have owned this book since my Chinese martial arts days, and recently revisited it for a project I’m contemplating, and discovered the Wiki entry linked,.

Liu wrote that this poem:

“seems…to sum up the spirit of knight-errantry in four lines. At the same time, one can also take it as a reflection of the desire of all those who have prepared themselves for years to put their abilities to the test for some justice.”

Get Up, Get Out

Rules of the Drill:

You start seated, back against the wall. Two attackers try to crush you and keep you from moving off the wall, and away from them. You try to get up and away. No striking allowed in this one, though we do the same with gloves on, or one attacker gloved and hitting and the other trying to hold you down.

For time. Make it realistic, like 20 or 30 seconds.

This drill is easily integrated into mainstream jujitsu practice, as of course, School of Budo did here.

Gray Wolves and Higher Jeopardy

Another great piece at MTI – about not conflating ‘wellness’ with fitness. 

While this is Truth, the Reality is something different. The forces of political correctness bring with them an attitude of reducing standards in the interest of allowing access, and wouldn’t deign to allow anything like a high jeopardy performance test. In the last twenty years I have seen fitness standards previously in existence reduced or eliminated to allow for more people to “pass,” increasing the risk for both those that are given – versus earning – a pass, and everyone else around them.

This state of affairs will not change until we change the way the public thinks about law enforcement. Demands more physical and technical ability alongside those de-escalation skills, and higher levels of fitness so that de-conditioned and unskilled officers don’t get overwhelmed and feel they have to shoot people because they can actually fight and control a situation, and aren’t gassed within a minute’s time because they have no base in combat conditioning.

“Wellness” is simply more politi-speak used in place of fitness standards, under the guise of addressing an obvious issue, without actually doing anything about it.  And thereby not offending anyone, or being forced to hold people accountable, or to exclude them.

Bureaucrats, versus leaders, specialize in this kind of thing.

It shouldn’t be. Fitness is a neutral concept. Its benefits and applications don’t change based on color, gender, creed, or senescence. Being fitter is being a better version of oneself. Fitness is recognized as a public health issue of great importance, yet as an officer safety issue is pretty much ignored.

A fitness standard is a fitness standard, period, and it should apply in ALL first responder professions. It should be high jeopardy, because what they do is high jeopardy – mainly for other people that rely on them.

This is particularly true for specialized teams with even higher jeopardy.  The old dogs need to pass the SWAT physical standard just as do the eager pups. The “Up and Out” policy the author describes is relevant only when the aging tactical officer can’t keep up. While it is certainly true that some teams may have those “legacy” members, it is a very different thing to have a few gray wolves still leading toward the front of the pack.

In fact, that is exactly what we want, gray wolves that can still lead the way, because trust me – just about the last thing you want on a professional tactical team is the “younger athletes on the front lines.”



While athleticism has nothing to do with tactical acumen, as the article says, fitness absolutely does equal armor. Fitness training is training resilience, mental and physical toughness, commitment, and will power. All of these are force multipliers for the tactical professional and first responder.

Over the years more than one officer has told me they would do well in a survival situation because they “had the Will to Win.”

And how, exactly, did they know they had the Will to Win, if they didn’t even have the will to work out?

First Teachers


Lately I’ve been reminded of the importance of First Teachers….and First Lessons.

In learning theory,  the Law of Primacy tells us that we tend to remember best what we learned first. Our first teachers lay patterns of thought, conduct, and practice that can become very deeply rooted. So when choosing martial instructors, firearms instructors, or tactical/self defense instructors it is important to choose our teachers well, to avoid being led down the wrong path and later having to spend  countless hours unteaching, rebooting, or rooting out, the programming a bad – or unknowing – first teacher installed.

I have found this to be true in the different disciplines I have practiced, both in myself and now, down the road a bit, in observing other teachers and students. That being said, the saying that there are “no bad students, only bad teachers” is foolish. Of course there are bad students – I’ve been one myself.

And we all know that “some people, you just can’t reach.”

Some teachers I knew were bad, and moved on fairly quickly. Some were fine, good even, but they just weren’t for me, or did not bring me closer to my goals at the time.


Others I thought were bad, or weren’t for me, until I learned that it was me that was the bad egg. Sometimes, when we learn to see what we could not have seen before – we get closer to that bird’s eye view of the map the teacher was laying out – we might realize in our obstinacy, or pride, or foolishness that we could not or did not place our trust in the teacher.

Such trust is very important. Without it, real learning cannot occur. The student will always doubt, and the teacher, even if subconsciously, will glean this doubt and realize the student isn’t ready for – or worthy of – real learning.


And so we go. I’ve stepped off more than one path, and sometimes I’ve found I’d been right to do so. Others I later learned were leading exactly where I wanted to go – but I got off the map, and had to find an alternate route to get back there.

Thankfully, the principles of learning also tell us that what was learned last – most recently – is also best remembered. So if we have got back on that proper path, or toward that goal, we are learning what is best remembered.

In every sense of that term.