Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Bless You Mr. Hofman
Yin and Yang.
Light and Dark.
Good Trip, Bad Trip.
I have to say, back in my mis-spent youth, I experimented with mushrooms more than LSD. I always felt that the mushrooms were more natural and had a sharp bell-curve as far as when you peak and when you slide back down.
There is something very, very revelatory about letting go and loosing your sense of self (ego) and becoming A PART OF EVERYTHING. A part of the tree, the cloud, the animal.
Sure, this experiment should not be taken lightheartedly, though it often is. There is also substantial evidence that LSD (as well as Heroin) was introduced into college-educated activist circles to destabilize the revolutionary movement of the 1960's.
But let's take a moment to simply reflect on the man that discoverd LSD, and some of the positive aspects this powerful chemical can unleash in the Human mind:
Albert Hofmann, father of the mind-altering drug LSD, dies in Switzerland at 102
Apr 30, 2008 06:52 EST
Albert Hofmann, the father of the mind-altering drug LSD whose medical discovery inspired — and arguably corrupted — millions in the 1960s hippie generation, has died. He was 102.
Hofmann died Tuesday at his home in Burg im Leimental, said Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village near Basel where Hofmann moved following his retirement in 1971.
For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention.
"I produced the substance as a medicine. ... It's not my fault if people abused it," he once said.
The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.
He became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a laboratory experiment on April 16, 1943.
"I had to leave work for home because I was suddenly hit by a sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness," he subsequently wrote in a memo to company bosses.
"Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror," he said, describing his bicycle ride home. "I had the impression I was rooted to the spot. But my assistant told me we were actually going very fast."
Upon reaching home, Hofmann began experiencing what he called "wonderful visions."
Three days later, Hofmann experimented with a larger dose. The result was the world's first scientifically documented bad trip.
"The substance which I wanted to experiment with took over me. I was filled with an overwhelming fear that I would go crazy. I was transported to a different world, a different time," Hofmann wrote.
Hofmann and his scientific colleagues hoped that LSD would make an important contribution to psychiatric research. The drug exaggerated inner problems and conflicts and thus it was hoped that it might be used to recognize and treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
For a time, Sandoz sold LSD 25 under the name Delysid, encouraging doctors to try it themselves. It was one of the strongest drugs in medicine — with just one gram enough to drug an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people for 12 hours.
LSD was elevated to international fame in the late 1950s and 1960s thanks to Harvard professor Timothy Leary who embraced the drug under the slogan "turn on, tune in, drop out."
But away from the psychedelic trips, horror stories emerged about people going on murder sprees or jumping out of windows while hallucinating. Heavy users suffered permanent psychological damage.
The U.S. government banned LSD in 1966 and other countries followed suit.
Hofmann maintained this was unfair, arguing that the drug was not addictive. He repeatedly argued for the ban to be lifted to allow LSD to be used in medical research.
Last December, Swiss authorities decided to allow LSD for psychotherapy in exceptional cases.
"For me, this is a very big wish come true. I always wanted to see LSD get its proper place in medicine," he told Swiss TV at the time.
Hofmann himself took the drug — purportedly on an occasional basis and out of scientific interest — for several decades.
"LSD can help open your eyes," he once said. "But there are other ways — meditation, dance, music, fasting."
Even so, the self described "father" of LSD readily agreed that the drug was dangerous if in the wrong hands. This was reflected by the title of his 1979 book: "LSD - my problem child."
In it he wrote that, "The history of LSD to date amply demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can ensue when its profound effect is misjudged and the substance is mistaken for a pleasure drug."
Hofmann retired from Sandoz in 1971 and devoted his time to travel, writing and lectures.
"This is really a high point in my advanced age," Hofmann said at a ceremony in Basel honoring him on his 100th birthday. "You could say it is a consciousness-raising experience without LSD."
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.___
Associated Press writers Balz Bruppacher in Bern, Eliane Engeler in Geneva and Clare Nullis contributed to this report.
Source: AP News
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I have been on the search for concept books for a while. Sure, there are tons of books that show techniques, so many that we are often overwhelmed by the amount of information.
Concept books allow us to examine our body of work, the tools that currently exist in our "toolbox" and reveal to us new ways to apply them.
Such a book is "The Warrior Athlete; Body, Mind & Spirit" By Dan Millman. Millman is a former gymnast and coach and is the author of several other books on philosophy and self-improvement. I picked up two copies at a used bookstore, which is lucky because "The Warrior Athlete" appears to be out of print and I couldn't find used copies on Amazon. If you cruise the used bookstore circut, you may find it, and I think it's well worth reading.
As a comparison, I struggled through Peter Ralston's "The Principles Of Effortless Power". Ralston writes in a somewhat confusing and circular way that just didn't work for me. HERE is a link to that review.
By contrast, Millman has some very straight-foward ideas about mind-body awareness, described in a context easily recognizable to the western athlete. Even though Millman's art was gymnastics, he often refers to Tai Chi Chuan and Aikido. Millman's method is to increase emotional health, release unnecessary tension and experiance whole body awareness. All of these issues and many more are discussed, and they relate to martial artists as well as athletes in other sports.
Here's how Millman sums up one of his concepts:
"The potential for mental training through a natural whole-body approach to training demonstrates how athletics can be a complete educational process. But what I want to emphasize is, all this doesn't take place automatically. If training is not fully conscious or systemic, then mental qualities are only developed randomly and haphhazardly. You must be able to isolate mental qualities before you can develop them".
In this book, Millman provides training ideas that are very similar but far easier to understand than those contained in old texts on Tai Chi Chuan, for example.
It's a great book if you can get a hold of a copy, I'm suprised that it appears to be out of print.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
(D.R.)First the article on six-year-old kids in MMA fights. Now this.
Why not just give them swords and tridents and surround them with lions?
Sport on TV: Thailand's not-so-sweet science leaves sour taste
By Chris Maume
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Last year, four Plymouth women were in court for goading two toddlers into fighting each other. They were given 12-month suspended jail sentences. Quite why the hideous parents in Cutting Edge: Strictly Baby Fight Club (Channel 4, Thursday) haven't been charged with child cruelty I'm not quite sure.
In a parade of tattoos and shaven heads – and that's just the mums – the words "chav scum" came forcefully to mind as they put their kids through the rigours of kick-boxing. The opening shots were almost too much for this faint-hearted reviewer as Mia was cajoled into the ring by her father for her first fight. She was sobbing her heart out. She was five years old.
Another of them, Thai (geddit?) is a veteran by comparison. He had his first bout at two and a half, and he's been beaten three times – in 60 fights. He's 10. His mother, a former champion, says proudly: "I fought someone – I won't tell you her name – and I actually enjoyed splattering her nose all over her face."
Thai runs 15 kilometres and spars for 10 hours a week, and is taken to train and fight in Bangkok every year because there you're allowed to punch, knee and elbow the face and head (banned under our wussy rules, which seem for some bizarre reason to be designed to prevent excessive injuries).
For Sohan, nine, fighting is therapy. He's suffered all his life from eczema – "once I got out of the bath and the water was all blood" – and he has a lot of anger inside. His father has less altruistic motivations. "I've never had the opportunity to be a superstar," he says. "My son has. Sohan's living the life I should have lived."
The climax to the film sees Thai fight Conor, nine, at a Cage Brawl night in front of a thousand-strong crowd. "I don't mind getting hurt," Thai says. "You recover from it."
He's asked about time off. "Sometimes I think I'm doing too much, and then I say, 'can I have a day off?' And they say, 'no – you've got to do some more training.'" Conor's mum, meanwhile, signs the waiver which means she can't sue the promoters if her son dies.
The fighting, to be fair, isn't brutal. But the parents are. As Thai is outfought by Conor the underdog, his parents are furious. "Stop doing them shitty little trip-kicks!" his mum bellows. Conor takes a split decision, and sees a bright future.
"I want two Bentleys and a massive house worth £10m and a massive tent for my dogs. My house is going to be so big it'll be difficult to keep it tidy. I'm going to buy my mum stuff and my dad stuff – I'm going to buy everything for everybody."
It sounds sweet. But after an hour of watching kids punch each other's lights out, it left a sour taste.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Folks; This next article doesn't come from some paranoid Survival Rag, it comes from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. As has been said before, oil is what drives our economy. When Dick Cheney decided to invade and occupy Iraq, oil was at $20 a barrel. It has now hit near $120. Cost of transporting food, commercial fertilizers and supporting infrastructure is skyrocketing. Economist Paul Krugman calls it "The end of cheap food". Here, as we enter the SECOND REPUBLICAN GREAT DEPRESSION, stores are rationing rice, and flour and cooking oil may be next.
Self-defense includes feeding your family:
Load Up The Pantry
Wall Street Journal
I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food.
No, this is not a drill.
You've seen the TV footage of food riots in parts of the developing world. Yes, they're a long way away from the U.S. But most foodstuffs operate in a global market. When the cost of wheat soars in Asia, it will do the same here.
Reality: Food prices are already rising here much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund. And there are very good reasons to believe prices on the shelves are about to start rising a lot faster.
"Load up the pantry," says Manu Daftary, one of Wall Street's top investors and the manager of the
Stocking up on food may not replace your long-term investments, but it may make a sensible home for some of your shorter-term cash. Do the math. If you keep your standby cash in a money-market fund you'll be lucky to get a 2.5% interest rate. Even the best one-year certificate of deposit you can find is only going to pay you about 4.1%, according to Bankrate.com. And those yields are before tax.
Meanwhile the most recent government data shows food inflation for the average American household is now running at 4.5% a year.
And some prices are rising even more quickly. The latest data show cereal prices rising by more than 8% a year. Both flour and rice are up more than 13%. Milk, cheese, bananas and even peanut butter: They're all up by more than 10%. Eggs have rocketed up 30% in a year. Ground beef prices are up 4.8% and chicken by 5.4%.
These are trends that have been in place for some time.
And if you are hoping they will pass, here's the bad news: They may actually accelerate.
The reason? The prices of many underlying raw materials have risen much more quickly still. Wheat prices, for example, have roughly tripled in the past three years.
Sooner or later, the food companies are going to have to pass those costs on. Kraft saw its raw material costs soar by about $1.25 billion last year, squeezing profit margins. The company recently warned that higher prices are here to stay. Last month the chief executive of General Mills, Kendall Powell, made a similar point.
The main reason for rising prices, of course, is the surge in demand from China and India. Hundreds of millions of people are joining the middle class each year, and that means they want to eat more and better food.
A secondary reason has been the growing demand for ethanol as a fuel additive. That's soaking up some of the corn supply.
You can't easily stock up on perishables like eggs or milk. But other products will keep. Among them: Dried pasta, rice, cereals, and cans of everything from tuna fish to fruit and vegetables. The kicker: You should also save money by buying them in bulk.
If this seems a stretch, ponder this: The emerging bull market in agricultural products is following in the footsteps of oil. A few years ago, many Americans hoped $2 gas was a temporary spike. Now it's the rosy memory of a bygone age.
The good news is that it's easier to store Cap'n Crunch or cans of Starkist in your home than it is to store lots of gasoline. Safer, too.
Write to Brett Arends at
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Mushin Ryu Yawara
Here is an example of one of the best legal pocket weapons available, and this is a very nice if not a bit stylish presentation.
The techniques are based on Jujitsu (old school) and when the pocket stick is used it called "Yawara". Here is a piece of the Wikipedia description of Yawara:
(Wiki) "The yawara stick was popularized for police officers in the 1940s by Professor Frank A. Matsuyama.
Yawara is a system of martial arts, and was used interchangeably with Jujutsu. When looking at the kanji for Yawara and Jujutsu, you will find the similarities. The yawari, tessen (iron fan), or short stick is what is used to apply your Yawara or Jujutsu techniques. Origins of the Yawara movements were believed to have been derived from the sheathed knife techniques of tantojutsu."
My review of the book "Stick Fighting" by Dr. Hatsumi, which features similar pocket stick techniques is available HERE.
Note that careful attention is paid to nerve strikes with this small but potentially deadly weapon. A mere strike to a shoulder, arm or chest would not be as effective.
And here is my choice for the best, legal concealed pocket weapon- the lowly carpenters pencil. Don't even sharpen them, it just puts holes in your pocket. These big, squarish pencils are longer than the palm of a man's hand, are very durable and hard to break. You should be able to carry these things anywhere without question, and as you see, they can be used very effectively.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
There's something missing in this practice session. Can you Taiji people out there see it?
There is no use of "ward off" (peng), and "press" (ji). This is a criticizm that has been pointed out about my current level of push hands by my instructor. I, like these guys, am using my hands too much and not my forearms. They even have their forearms in the exact position against the opponents body at times, and don't use it. As my instructor tells me, if you only use your hands, you are already at the limit of reach. If you plan well and use wardoff with your forearm, you can continue to unfold your arm in a wave-like fashion and really, really extend through the opponent. Secondly, you can press with your palm against the inside of the wrist or forearm as it "pengs" outward for united power of both arms.
None-the-less, this looks like a fun session, at a speed where the student can understand and learn about strategy and positioning. I also do like that when the student pushes him, he grabs the wrist and elbow in the "play guitar" or "raise hands" posture as a counter.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Thanks to James Keating At MAAJAK
Tai cheese, anyone?
Sunday, April 13, 2008
A dairy farmer who believes a happy cow is a productive cow has discovered an unusual way to relax his herd and increase milk yields – tai chi.
Cool cattle: Rob Taverner performs tai chi in front of his cows every morning because he believes it relaxes them and they produce more milk
Rob Taverner performs the ancient martial art in front of his 100 cows every morning to get them in the right moo-d to produce lots of milk.
The 44-year-old organic farmer visits the animals at 9am each day to run through his ten-minute routine of slow movements and breathing techniques – dressed in his distinctive overalls and wellies.
He said: 'Tai chi is all about leaving your problems behind and getting into a better zone and my mood definitely transfers to the cows.
'Like all animals, they are very receptive to human emotions and can sense feelings such as relaxation, calmness and happiness.
'Some people think what I do is ridiculous but I have some very content cows and I would do anything to keep them that way. As any good dairy farmer will tell you, a happy cow is a productive cow.'
Lunch break: The cows enjoy a bite to eat during another relaxing tai chi session
Mr Taverner, who runs the farm near Exeter, Devon, with his 41-year-old wife, Helen, and their children Charlie, 16, William, 14 and 12-year-old Katie, said there were many similarities between tai chi and organic farming.
He added: 'Organic farming, just like tai chi, is all about maintaining a balance.
'Being an organic dairy farmer is hard work and I just want to make sure I am as relaxed and focused as possible. I enjoy it.'
Tai chi is a Chinese martial art involving a series of slow, controlled movements which can help developing strength, balance, posture and a feeling of calm
(D.R.)-- I like this guy on so many levels: His name is TAVERNER, He's an Organic farmer (which I have been involved in), and he practices Tai Chi.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Miyamoto Mushashi, a Ronin (masterless) Samurai had killed sixty men in sword duels by the time he was thirty-years-old.
In his classic book on strategy "The Book Of Five Rings" he describes "The three shouts":
"The three shouts are divided thus; before, during and after. Shout according to the situation.The voice is a thing of life. We shout against fires and so on, against the wind and the waves. The voice shows energy.
In large-scale strategy, at the start of battle we shout as loudly as possible. During the fight, the voice is low-pitched, shouting out as we attack. After the contest, we shout in the wake of our victory. These are the three shouts.
In single combat, we make as if to cut and shout "Ei!" at the same time to disturb the enemy, then in the wake of our shout we cut with the long sword. We shout after we have cut down the enemy- this to announce victory. This is called "sen go no koe" (before and after voice). We do not shout simultaneously with flourishing the long sword. We shout during the fight to get into rythm. Research this deeply".
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Well, I know it's been available for a while, but I finally got around to watching the movie "Zeitgeist", available at THIS LINK.
"Zeitgeist" deconstructs everything we know about modern life, including the origins of Christianity, previous world wars, the conspiracy behind 9-11, and the master plan for world control.
Much of the information is readily available through various sources, but it does tie things together in one two-hour disturbing package.
You know, the funny thing about conspiracy theories is that some of them are not theories. "Zeitgeist" is overflowing with actual quotes, news articles and interviews documenting the events that have steered the last few centuries. I am sure that if I surf the fetid waters of the internet I will find some myth-buster attempts to marginalize this video, but taken as a whole "Zeitgeist" is an impressive wake-up call for a somnambulant populace.
I'm curious what others think about this flick, I am very familiar with many of it's themes and messages. The first couple of minutes are a voice-over with a dark screen, the visual begins about three minutes in. If you haven't seen it, pour yourself a stiff drink and gird yourself for some disturbing images and information.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I've been thinking about how to put this post together for days now. For readers familiar with Dojo Rat, you know we have touched on the esoteric and somewhat occult aspects of the martial arts. I really wanted to introduce this post with a video of the Knife-fight scene between Paul and Feyd in the movie "Dune". If you haven't seen it, I can hardly describe it, except that Paul uses his voice -- a "KI-AI" to literally blow his opponent apart. Very Sci-Fi. Unfortunately, that video has been removed from the net, probably do to copyright issues.
The thing is, there really is something to it. Check out THIS ARTICLE, which talks about Master Mas Oyama in Tokyo. Remember, this is the guy that killed Bulls with his bare hands. (considered an animal rights violation by today's standards). This is a first-hand account of the power of the Ki-ai.
My mentor and senior instructor under Tae Kwon Do master Tae Hong Choi was very good at a deep, powerful Ki-ai. I myself sing a little, and play guitar. I actually trained in a church choir when I was a kid, and I'm pretty barrel-chested. I picked up that deep, from-the-gut Ki-ai and actually used it. I used in tournaments to accent my points. I always used it starting sparring matches, to judge my opponent's reaction. And I have used it twice to back down dogs that were chasing me. The first time, I was in California helping a girlfriend move. I went through a farm district on a light run, and found myself being chased by three dogs. They'll chase anything that runs. I couldn't outrun them, so I turned and let out a huge Ki-ai and stood my ground. The dogs turned and went yelping back to their property. It happened again several years later with two dogs in a suburban neighborhood.
Master Uyeshiba of Aikido was an expert in The Kotodama, or "Sacred sounds". The highlighted link explains some of this. Uyeshiba was said to have used it to disappear and reappear behind his attacker. When asked, he said "you can't use this too many times", refering that it took immense ammounts of energy to perform this feat and drew from prenatal Chi/Ki. I believe The use of sacred sounds goes back into antiquity, perhaps to Ancient Egyptian Hermetic theory. Of course, we know now that EVERYTHING is in a state of vibration. Water, rocks, glass, plants and animals. Everything. Now, If you can shatter a glass with an opera note, just what is happening?
Why not shatter a spirit?
Why not shatter an ego?
Why not shatter an attacker's aggression?
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Instructor Michael Gilman
A fellow Dojo Rat and I attended another three-hour training session with our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman Saturday.
This time, we worked on the short Da Lu form (Great Rollback) which uses elbow and shoulder strikes in a two-man form. It starts with the defender using a rollback against a palm strike to the face, locking opponents shoulder and arm. The person being locked steps deep into the rollback-guy's center with a elbow or shoulder, the rollback-guy adjusts and locks the elbow firmly. Then the pattern is reversed and continues, working in diagonals hitting all four corners of the room. I'll try to post a video of that later.
Here, Michael Gilman and assistant Stephanie demonstrate some of the push hands patterns. After a review of these patterns, we went from doing the push hands pattern then moving into the Da Lu form, and then back into the push hands pattern again.
It becomes very active and spontaneous, moving from Da Lu to push hands and back.
More on this later...
Michael Gilmans's website is lINKED HERE, stop by and take a look!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Lights, Camera, Dojo Rats, Action!
We'll have to brush-up on presentation a little, but we're back in video business again.
Here's a little drill on how to acquire finger-locks. As stated, the idea is not to hold somebody down, but to provide a momentary painful distraction to hit. Like the Ryukyu Kenpo guys say, lock to strike, strike to lock.
Try to snake your fingers in to prevent him from reacting and pulling back. As with all joint locks, make sure there is no slack in the structure of the technique, preventing him from wiggling out.