Climate Patriots

Two interesting, new terms to me, climate patriots and “environmental security”. These guys are right on and our best hope for bringing climate change awareness (and action) to Middle America.

Climate Patriots is a short video that provides a military perspective on energy, climate change and American national security.  The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate conducted a series of interviews with former military leaders to discuss the challenges posed to the U.S. armed forces due to the impacts of climate change and our energy posture.  The video features:

  • Senator John Warner (R-VA), Former chairman U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee;
  • Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy (Ret.), CNA Military Advisory Board Member;
  • Former Captain James Morin, U.S. Army; and
  • Admiral John Nathman, U.S. Navy (Ret.), CNA Military Advisory Board Member.

Fighting funky boxing gloves

Not the good 70’s funk, but the funk that comes from lots of sweat + no airflow.

I found a new use for the ski boot dryer I’ve been using to keep my bike riding gear funky-free. It also makes a great way to dry your boxing gloves, which would never see good airflow otherwise. Recommended.

Living with an EPI dog

Our new security system, er, I  mean, German Shepherd dog, has a condition fairly common to GSDs known as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. The dog’s pancreas does not work properly and requires supplements to help them absorb their food properly. The EPI is partly why our dog is on the thin side and definitely why her coat is brittle; she’s just not getting the nutrition she needs from her food.

We’re going to approach this two ways with our new rescue dog. First, we’re switching her (slowly) from kibble to a (controversial with some) raw food diet. Second, we’re switching her from the current EPI supplement that came with her to a homeopathic, more natural version, called Canine Enteric Support. Our local vet is thankfully certified as a full vet plus trained in a number of holistic medical techniques. And he’s an enthusiastic supporter of the raw diet for dogs. I thought he might throw me out of his office when I mentioned our interest in feeding the dog raw; instead he says that’s the #1 thing to bring her health back.

Were’s starting out getting the raw dog food via mail order until I can build a reliable source among local chicken friends who process meat birds. I suspect both changes will greatly increase this dog’s health.

Newest addition to our security system

…who also happens to lower our stress levels. After several months on the rescue waiting list, we finally found a good fit and got to bring home a five year old very-bright German Shepherd dog this past week. The few commands she did not already know, she’s learning quickly.

She was nervous at first when we arrived home and dropped two doggie bombs inside the house (ugh). But true to her security nature, she wisely placed them directly underneath the window. Pity the home invader who steps through *those* windows.

She’s a bit thin due to a special medical condition, so in addition to additional obedience training, we’ll focus on helping her gain muscle weight in the coming months. She’s already fitting well into the family, following the kids around the yard as they play and garden. I feel completely comfortable even when they are not in direct sight, knowing they have a tall-for-her-breed German Shepherd standing by.

And I can now finally relax when someone forgets to lock a door at night. Just the sight of her enormous water bowls at each door should cause any unwelcome guest to pause and move along to the next house.

Go Bags: do you really need them?

Frequent business travelers are familiar with the idea of keeping an always-packed bag ready to go. Thankfully, I’ve now progressed to a point in my career where I have more control over my business schedule. I no longer need a Go Bag, as we called them. Or do I?

If you think of the many emergency scenarios which might force you and your family to vacate your home at a moment’s notice, there are actually quite a few. Anything from a chemical spill on the nearby highway to a fire on your neighbor’s roof can force you to abandon your home and all the preparations it contains to help you weather an emergency and be available to help others.

But recently I learned another reason to have a set of well-equipped, well-marked Go Bags ready to throw in the trunk. I received a phone call from a friend that said, “Dude, are you watching the news? Your house is on it. I’m watching a feed from a helicopter.” Ha ha, what a jokester. Although a couple of helicopters had been hovering for over an hour, passing back and forth around the forest near our home. I thought they were just doing survey work. Hmmm, maybe my buddy is not just pulling my leg. I don’t subscribe to TV, so I had no idea what he was talking about. He relayed what was happening while I called it up on the internet.

At the end of my driveway (it’s long and you can’t see the beginning through the forest), we had 50 officers from the local and county police, ATF and FBI, plus some US Marshals in a stream of unmarked and normal patrol cars, including a full-blown battle wagon. Really, it looked like a tank. This is a photo of it sitting at the end of my driveway by our trailheads. The officers and agents fanned out in the forest that surrounds us, looking for an armed robber’s weapons cache. Because weapons were involved, these guys were wearing full body armor, camo, and carrying assault rifles. Great; just what I wanted in my back yard.

What to do when the battle wagon rolls up your driveway? Thank the officers for doing their job, grab the kids and Go Bags, and get out of there.

So, what makes a good Go Bag? Google will return lots of helpful lists for you, but in general, put into 1-2 bags everything you need to camp comfortably outdoors, without power for several days, and you have the beginnings of a good Go Bag. I’ve added a few items for minor medical emergencies and items specific to our climate/terrain. Store the bags near your vehicle so you can grab them on the way out.

Since this incident, local friends have stopped raising their eyebrows in skepticism when I mention things like emergency preparedness and self defense. They’ve started asking detailed follow-up questions about how they can also become more prepared. I suppose I have a felon to thank for that.

Alternative to self defense :: self offense

I joined a second dojo a few weeks ago. The teacher there has extensive experience with boxing, Brazilian Jujitsu (what you do once you’re on the ground for newbies like me), and training students for the sport of MMA. He knows I’m not there for the sport, but the real life applications, and throws me an additional insight from time to time (“here’s what you’d do if you are on concrete…”).

The other aspect I like about this second dojo is the emphasis on full speed, full contact. With fairly complete body armor and *lots* of verbal communication with your partner, we can safely ramp up the sparring while staying in a learning mindset, avoiding that triggered reaction of closing off your mind and going into fight-flight mode.

I’m beginning to think of this less as “self defense” training and more of “self offense” training. Given the scenarios I’m training for (someone trying to abduct my child, etc), my objective is to hit first, even though I am the second to move. A professional trainer named Jerry Lee Peterson came up with this concept first, I think. The idea is the the Bad Guy(s) have made the first move, but through superior conditioning and training, I am the one to land the first significant hit.

Similarly, Paul Evans explains that self-defense is very different than a counter-attack. A defense merely delays the oncoming attack from overwhelming you, whereas a counter-attack stops the attacker by attacking him…which is quite different than defending against him.

Am I ditching my first aikido-based training? No way; it is still the foundation of everything I’m doing, given it’s pure focus of diffusing the negative situation with a positive outcome. How could potentially disabling someone by smashing them in throat and then nuts for a quick “stun and run” be considered positive? Because it is better (legally, ethically) than the alternative. There is a reason the police train in aikido tactics for control and restraint.

Now that I am spending more time on BJJ, I’ve found some interesting thoughts that BJJ instructors are saying about aikido and how one flows into the other.  You can see it in Roy Dean, who holds a black belt in both aikido and BJJ.  And Ari Bolden, who holds a black belt in aikido, Japanese Jujutsu, and a purple belt under Eddie Bravo. These are genuine Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioners demonstrating an appreciation for aikido. That’s got to say something about the art.

And finally, a bit of aikido geek humor

Hard to imagine an aikido competition without the image of two competitors within an arms length telling each other, “Go ahead, grab me. No, you grab me. NO, you grab me.”

The new and improved American “empire”

Dr. Thomas Barnett is a seriously smart fellow. I hope his ideas spread far, wide, and deep into our society so we can see change along the lines that he offers.

Note a couple of items:
1. This speech is at TED, which typically leans heavily towards the Left side of the political spectrum and eschews war and violence. But despite his aggressive, military-tough talk, he gets a standing ovation after his conclusion. His sense of humor certainly helps, but those folks (and myself) were applauding his research and plan.
2. Dr. Barnett replaces an international American Empire (based solely on a Leviathan Force) with an international American System Administrators Force. Given that our empire is crumbling fast, it is a brilliant transition. There are lots of other folks talking about our crumbling empire, but this is the best roadmap that I’ve seen to divert us from that destructive path.

MMA for self defense, not sport

When describing my 3X weekly training sessions I do during my lunch break, I’ve found the easiest, most accurate description is “MMA for self defense, not sport”.

For those that even know what MMA is (“mixed martial arts”) they immediately understand the reference to it not being for sport. In regulated MMA bouts, there are many things off limit, like the gouging of eyes, striking of throats, and kicking of groins. Exactly the type of techniques you want to use in a real life self defense scenario!

For those who know martial arts, I can usually make reference to studying MMA from an aikido perspective and they at least begin to understand why. I’ve been asked if this is Hard Aikido. It’s really not. Hard Aikido appears fairly effective (and darn cool), but it still involves just too many complex moves, and suffers against attacks that are based in grappling.

The Hard Aikido moves are beautiful – a true art – but the spheres involved are just too large. The aikido that my sensei is drilling into me uses very small spheres, usually transitioned to by something in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, Muay Thai, or Wing Chun, depending on the distance of the original attack. Spheres? What are spheres, you ask? Learn more.

For those who have no idea what MMA refers to, they still understand the “self defense, not sport” reference refers to my lack of interest (but not respect) for progressing to higher levels (belts) or doing sport competition. It’s simply me, my sensei, and a desire to learn very practical techniques to protect my family and friends.

I put together the attached diagram to quickly describe what our training is beginning to look like in a flowchart manner (because I’m a dork for diagrams). It’s based off a quick flowchart my sensei drew (as an artist, he also tends to diagram alot; we have a whiteboard in the dojo).

As you go through life, you practice continuous, calm awareness, noted on the left side of the diagram. When a situation progresses from normal (green) to cautionary (yellow) to immediately dangerous (red), my hope is that I train my mind/body to respond automatically in those high stress situations.

Scientific writers describe this auto response as an “autonomic reaction” – an automatic response of the mind and body at a subconscious level. Aikido writers refer to this “move second, strike first” concept as harmonizing, or welcoming the attack. Your awareness to an attacker (moving first) enables you to blend with the attack (moving second) and still land the first blow (striking first). The blow might be a parry done while spinning to one side, but if done in the correct “always thinking forward” mindset, the first strike disables the attacker’s would-be blow.

Of course, the primary goal would be to evade those situations anyway, even before they hit the caution stage.

There are thousands of techniques in the various martial arts that we *could* study, but won’t. Unless you are logging decades of concentrated study inside a dojo, all those techniques just won’t work in a high stress situations when your “fight or flight” adrenaline has taken over your brain and body functions. But if you know a few relatively simple and fast techniques very, very, very well, the mind/body should be able to protect you and your loved ones when it goes into auto-drive.

This is what I am striving for in my training.

Weapons training :: videos

I get asked often what type of “weapons training” I am doing that does not involve guns. The basic answer of “I train with a stick” usually solicits blank stares in return. Look up a few videos on YouTube like these to see how powerful a practiced stick defense can be:

Arnis (shows transition from stick fighting into unarmed self defense):


Take a moment to look around you and realize just how many “sticks” are within reach as you go about your day. For me, there are usually plenty available (a.k.a. rake, walking stick, tree branch, baseball bat, rebar, shovel, etc).

Warning: take a note from Kip in Napoleon Dynamite. You might not want to train to be a cage fighter by just watching videos. Head to your local dojo for real instruction and full armor/speed practice.


Ouch. Bruises in odd places.

Nothing like training on mixed martial arts with a bias towards real self defense to help you discover new ways to bruise your body.

This bruise looks suspiciously like the thumbprint of my sensei.