Martial Secrets: Philosophy

Continuing the theme from the last two weeks, this is #3 in a series of four articles based “Smith’s Rules of Design” from the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics”:

3. Transferring Technology is Good; Transferring the Skill to Improve the Technology is Better.

If you are an instructor you have the responsibility to transfer the skill of improving technique to your students. If you are not, you are remiss in your duty to your students. You know that old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?” Well this is the same. You as a teacher must have the desire and the vision to teach your students the skills of discernment and exploration.

By discernment, I mean the ability of the student to understand what is going on and to use good judgment. And to follow along that line, exploration is defined in terms of seeking the next horizon. These two make a potent combination. Instilling these two skills means that you students can venture and learn anywhere and will know the difference between, the good and the garbage.

HOUSEKEEPING: Remember I am changing programs soon. To continue to get this blog, you will need to sign-up under “Followers” in the lower right hand corner of this blog – it is easy to do and keeps you in the loop. Thanks for your support- Kris

Sterling HaydenImage via Wikipedia

Sterling Hayden 1916 –1986 was an actor and author. At six feet five inches his forte in acting was the western, and many great film noir. He was in Dr. Strangelove , and The Godfather and many other films. Hayden, always considered acting a way financing his adventures. Read his words from his autobiography, “Wanderer.” and see if you have any resonance with his comments.

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. “I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

Here is a short interview by a French company – stay with it it goes to English for those of you who don’t speak French, (like me).

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Last Friday I jumped on a plane in Seattle at midnight and by 8 a.m. was in Independence, Missouri. Meeting up with Eric Parsons, the head instructor of the Blue River Martial Arts Club, we found ourselves at the business end of a couple of months of preparation.

Earlier in the year I had said that I felt the need to help others and offered to do a fundraising seminar to raise money for a good cause.

So Eric saw an opportunity and decided to respond to my offer. The college where he teaches math, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) has a “Single Parent Book Loan Program” designed to help single parents defer the cost of expensive books needed for their courses. This is truly a case of teaching somebody to fish rather than just giving them fish; or, more simply, helping people who are helping themselves. In a world rife with reasons not to do something, MCC saw the value to their students and cleared the way.

A few months earlier I had talked to my publisher YMAA about my idea and before I could finish the pitch of what I had in mind, David Ripianzi, YMAA’s owner, was saying, “Great, great, how do we get involved?” YMAA brought their publicist into the mix, the really fun and delightful Barbara, and sent several DVDs to be given out as door prizes. The event was also promoted on their website and through emails, and Barbara contacted local newspapers as well.

Saturday was a day of fun karate and fun people, and all directed towards helping others. I felt pretty good and blessed being associated with all these folks.

This was an easy thing to do for everyone. We all know someone that is in need, or a small, local organization that could use a little help and all it takes is a few friends sharing their talents and time to do something of real value. I invite you to think of you how you might share your own talents or time in a similar way.

Ok let’s bring this all into one big king rat. Here are all the places you can contact me, source media, see video, read excerpts from my books, and listen to the Martial Secrets podcast, etc. :

Books and Media

This link will take you to a page with all my books clustered within You can scan all the books; read previews; and, if you like, write a review.

Blog – The Striking Post
Well, you are here aren’t you, but have you plumbed all the entries? With over 50 entries you might want to hit the “Older Posts” at the bottom right of this page or jump in The Way back machine by clicking here.

Kris Wilder Myspace: Watch video samples from my video “121 Killer Applications”, meet my many friends, like Marc Animal MacYoung, (you should read this blog), Datu Kelly Worden, and Antonio Margarito, boxing’s Tijuana Tornado, and get little more background on yours truly.

Just go to Facebook and search for KRIS WILDER (I’m the one in the gi). Stupid doodling at its finest. Find out that I love the Raiders and Canadian Football, and can’t stand the Cowboys (I refuse to link them).

Podcast – MartialSecrets
Got 15 – 20 minutes? Want to hear about subjects like teaching the arts, a little philosophy, and some other good stuff? Then the new MartialSecrets podcast just might interest you.

Making Promises and Keeping Them

Promises are not big in my book, and I have heard a lot of them. “Oh, I promise I’ll send the pictures from the seminar.” “I promise I’ll pay you.” “I promise, promise, promise…” The question I have is, “Why do you need to promise? Isn’t your word good enough?” I meet a lot of people and I do some form of business with a number of them frequently. However, I have to tell you, when I hear the words, “I promise” I just write it off. Seriously, I just forget about it, because if they needed to promise that means they simply have not followed through in the past and are unlikely to do so now.

Look, I am not trying to set myself up as some paragon of virtue. I have made more mistakes than there are stars in the heavens. I just take the “I promise” statement as a cue to just forget about whatever they just said. It makes life easier, and besides, my head is already too cluttered.

Welcome to “Society of Squealers, Part Deux.”
So I am having a conversation with Marc “Animal” MacYoung and we are talking about the two points that I made in my last blog entry, “Society of Squealers,” those being:

1. You hide (have anonymity) from the moment at hand
2. Squealing means you give your power away

Marc says to me, “Sure, but the third part that you left out is important.” “Tell me more,” I say. He goes on to explain in very clear terms that what squealing does as a societal institution is it creates a servant class. It is almost like the scene in the movie “Tropic Thunder” where Tom Cruise as a Hollywood producer commands the key grip, via satellite, to punch the director and the key grip does it. We laugh because it is seems outlandish, but is it really?
In the last blog I used the example of the notice on the back of the seat at Qwest Field telling me I can squeal on somebody who is ruining my game-watching experience. How about I put on a toga, sit in the Roman Colosseum and command my servant to remove a supporter of the blues (me being a green) for ruining my sporting event? Is it any different? The servant is in my employ, and my hands stay clean.

Yes Marc “Animal” MacYoung ( is right, and he went a little further by asking the question, and I paraphrase; “What is going to happen to these people when they don’t have a servant to do their dirty work? What happens then, when never having truly experienced confrontation they are faced with something they need to act on?”
So add number three:

3. Squealing never makes you develop skills of your own as you hide behind the pinafore skirt of authority.

As a result of squealing I have no skills in judging a threat; my ability to measure (notice I didn’t say confront) is never developed because somebody else, the servant class, is paid to do my dirty work, to brush up against the threat.

Martial Artists are different. I have said it before and will say it many more times. We expect more from ourselves so be nice, treat people well, don’t be a bully, and if you see that maybe that is your true nature, well, good for you for seeing a less-than-flattering aspect of yourself.

Me? It took a long time for me to see that often I didn’t listen very well back in the day. Sometimes I had the kooky idea that what was said didn’t mean anything, or that a new policy was for other people. So being the far-from-perfect individual I am, it took several smacks to get the point through my head.

Then I decided to change my behavior. Yup, just like that, I sought out articles on “How to Listen,” read a book or two, and applied what they said.

What? Really, just like that, you can change. Yes, just change. What we think about, we do, what we do becomes habit, and what becomes habit becomes us, is how the old phrase goes.

So if you have something that you would like to change, apply that Martial Artist difference we possess: that drive that makes us keep coming back to the dojo, reading everything we can, going to seminars, squeezing the last bit of information we can from any source we can get out hands on. Repetition, and, well, repetition. Take that desire and intensity and spread it around into other aspects of your life.

One evening after training at the Jundokan International dojo (sure, I can name drop with the best of them) I was invited to Chinen Sensei’s home (oops, let me pick that up too) and we and talked, oddly enough, about karate. After about a half hour, Chinen just looks at me and says, “You teach too much; you need to go deeper into what you have.”

What he was saying was simple and often overlooked: something that is designed for everyone rarely reaches anyone. Come again?

I was teaching too much material, and as a result studying too broadly. My art was suffering, my students were suffering and we did not even know it. So I returned home and went to work. I pared down the dojo syllabus, stripping off much of what had been added over the years by so many instructors before me. A codified set of movements, and officially named moved written into the canon of the art; I chipped away at them all.

After the list was completed, I dove into the forms for more study. Oddly, the deeper I studied the farther the bottom of the information receded from me. All of a sudden, I was deep and not broad. My focus was now not so much on pattern as it was on the simple turning of my knee, the pushing of a foot, or the alignment of my spine.

And I am stronger for it.

So I pass on Chinen Sensei’s advice to me to you now. It might be right for you or it might not: you are the judge of what is best for you.

Time and Time Management

Here is a little trick I picked up from where I don’t know and then changed it a little bit to suit my needs. Each year, sometime in November, I write down my goals for the coming year. They are broken down into three categories: Mental, Physical and Spiritual. Then I put three things, sometimes less, but never more than three, in each category. Put it on a three-by-five card and stick it in my desk. I have been doing this for a long time. I remember at work showing the list to a co-worker and she was amazed that I did such a thing (this was around 1989) and still brings it up today when we meet for a lunch or such.

I would strongly suggest you give it a go as well. I try to make the three items specific, but I don’t restrict myself. Sometimes a general statement is fine, but you should move down through the general statement to find the core of the general statement, and create an action item you can wrap you hands around. To use an example of mine, I started with “Be More Patient,” and then moved to the question, “How is this demonstrated?” I went with, “Keep you mouth shut; the world is not going to stop turning if (insert subject).” So my card says, “Patience; be more quiet.” This list might also include something simple like, “Submit “The Little Black Book of Violence” to the publisher by September 1st 2008.”

You get the picture. I chose November to write down my yearly goals because that is when I first started; with what month are you starting?

“Hey, I was up in you neck of the woods,” said Big Jon Crain, an Isshin-Ryu karate practitioner from the other end of the phone. “I was up in the Okanogan and was looking for a dojo to work out at and I walked into one and who was running it but Dan Keith!”

Big Jon Crain taught me how to break rocks and Dan Keith I had trained with back in the early eighties, now these two connected. When Dan walked into the dojo he said, “Jon what are you doing here?” (They had met at Martial University, a now-defunct yearly seminar I used to run) and Dan had Jon teach a weapons form to his students.

Earlier that week I was having dinner with Matt Stone and a Vince Hardy (YiLi Chuan Kung Fu) and they had hooked up with Lawrence Kane, my co-author on several books, to do a fundraiser for a very ill teenage boy. A couple days before that I got one of my parents saying, “I train with Sifu Dejesus; I’m in your latest book!” Sure enough, he was right there in the pages from the shoot we did at Sifu Dejesus’ school.

What makes this work – Isshin-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Tae Kwon Do, Gung-Fu – how is it all linked up? Jon will say it was Martial University, I say it is good people meeting good people. Each person mentioned is an open-minded seeker in the arts – that is good in my book. Not one of them has forsaken their base art, not one of them is threatened by another’s art, and not one of them has an agenda other than the art(s).

Here are the keys, in my opinion, to having a strong and open architecture:

1. Little ego. Everybody needs an ego to survive, but can you make it small enough and pleasant enough to be around?

2. Be quiet. Are you learning or broadcasting? If you mouth is open, other than to ask a question, you aren’t learning.

3. Good manners. If you would not behave that way at a dinner party then don’t do it.

4. Laughter. Each one of these people has a sense humor about themselves.

Every person mentioned in this post follows these basic guidelines and if asked they might have an addition or a change but frankly, I do not think they even know it because it is just part of them.

Yes, fire them, send them packing. I know that sounds harsh but really, ask them to leave. If you are a business you have the right to refuse service carte blanche, no questions asked. If you work with a health club or such it is a little more tricky as they will complain about you, but just stick to your guns.

Now I am not suggesting being a jerk about it. However, to be frank, I have made the mistake of extending the courtesy that, “With a little more work this student is going to come around,” and that was not what happened. What did happen was I gave an inch (of courtesy) and they took the proverbial mile. You need not make a scene of the firing, but you can just pull them aside. I have stood outside the dojo on the sidewalk and fired students, and after hours in the dojo when other students have left. Here is the formula.

  • Be swift.
  • Use few words.
  • Explain why they are being asked to leave.
  • When done, shut up.

Here is an example.

I have spoken to you several times about injuring other students, I have worked with you on your control, and have given you time to correct your behavior, and that has not happened. I cannot place other students at risk. Here is the remainder of your dojo dues for the month. You cannot train here any more. I wish you well.”

Correcting a mistake is usually painful and difficult but it has to be done and done by, in this case, me as the instructor. You see, I made a series of bad decisions. I started training somebody I should not have, and then I let him or her hang around.

I remember when something like this happened in the dojo when I was a green belt. My instructor handled it a different way. After several warnings, he took the guy to the back of the dojo and said, “You’re strong when you face lower ranks; I am tired of you injuring my students… defend yourself.” And then pow, pow, it was fast and when it was done my sensei reached down, took the brown belt off the student and said, “This is mine. Now, get out of my dojo.” Ah, the old days.

The Osmonds, yeah, I know I am older – I prove it by remembering that hit by that toothy, bubblegum band of brothers from the early seventies. However, a bad apple will spoil the whole bunch soon enough if it is not soon removed from the other apples. Yeah, a little lesson from the Osmonds and nature. Any person that has been involved in sports or business can tell you about the “Office Gossip” or the person that is “Locker Room Poison.”

Lou Piniella (a future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame) managed the Seattle Mariners baseball club from 1993 to 2003. There was a guy on the team during that time that became Locker Room Poison. This player, his name is not important, was good, not great. He added to the team on the field with his play but he talked out of turn to the press about what he saw as problems on the team…gossip, and it was not good. Think the press ran with those stories? You bet they did. Did it take Lou Piniella long to figure out who it was? No, no it did not take Sweet Lou long at all. Oh, he tried to fix the problem, but it was just this player’s nature; he kept talking to the press in negative ways about the games, and the players. Not a man to put up with much of this sort of thing, Piniella then began to search for a replacement, As soon as this player hit a bad patch, he was replaced on the field, and then quickly traded to get him off the bench and out of the baseball team’s organization.

Lou Piniella removed the rotten apple as soon as he could from the metaphorical bunch to stop the rotting process. So, as the song goes, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.” But if Lou Piniella wrote the next line it would be, “Yeah, but he is out of my locker room as soon as possible.” Skilled leaders recognize this bad apple phenomenon and address it quickly and with little mercy.

Many years ago, I was at a seminar and the instructor stood up in from of the class, shredded a local newspaper, and threw it to the ground. She said, and I paraphrase, but I am very close, “Quit reading this garbage.” Honestly, the first thing that went through my mind was, “How am I supposed to know what is going on?” She proceeded to explain that it was all negative, and then turned her vitriol to television. At that time, I was so immersed in the dance of the media that I just thought she was being crazy, kooky in her rejection of it.

Since I am not always fast on the uptake, I rejected her comments just as she had dismissed the newspaper and television. A few years later, I was on her program. My television is now a monitor that I salvaged from a failing business. It gets no reception and I do not have it hooked up to cable. The subscriptions to the newspapers have long since lapsed.

At first, it was difficult. I was not able to have conversations with people about what happened on TV last night, nor was I hyper-knowledgeable about the local and world news. Honestly, it took me a year, maybe a year and half to break the hold the media had on me. However, when that tight-fisted grip was broken I found myself happier, more relaxed, and healthier. “Really?” you say, “Happier, relaxed, and healthier?” Yes! Much more, thank you very much. I have found that I devote more time to reading, writing, martial arts, and spending time with friends and family, and all of those things I do with far more joy.

If I could make one recommendation to you it would be to get rid of your TV, not physically, but kill the broadcast. Order movies and films from the library, Netflix, or your local video store, fill your mind with good stuff, fun stuff, or educational programming, drill down into a subject, and study. Use your TV as a tool to your advantage.

And here is your money-back guarantee: You will, without fail, gain a new, lighter, and more joyful perspective on life.

The Madonna vs. Descartes

No, not the “Madonna” I am talking about is the pop icon Madonna and her book from 1992 titled “Sex.” A controversial book, it featured strong adult content and was pretty much lame, in today’s vernacular. Then you have René Descartes the (1596 –1650), an influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. He has even been called the “Father of Modern Philosophy.”

Now jump ahead to 2008 and me in a used bookstore. I find Madonna’s book for sale for somewhere around fifteen bucks and then I find René Descartes’ “Discourse on Method” and “Meditations on First Philosophy” for a total of seventy-five cents. Yeah, it is harder to read Descartes and there are no pictures. However, my real point here is, look at the value versus the price. The bookstore is going to sell books for what the market place is going to bear, selling what it considers more valuable for a higher price and what is considered of less value, well, for less. That is Economics 101, right?

I bought the two books by Descartes, and now in the evening I read his words, listen to his thoughts and try to grasp what he is telling me. It is slow going, requiring work on my part, and I feel like a thief who stole from a bookstore that did not know what they had. Or did they?

Talk amongst yourselves.

At a bank with my son and one of his friends one afternoon, a young (22-ish) guy starts going off on the teller. He is raising his voice and his buddy is getting in on the action as well. Apparently, they are trying to cash an out-of-state, third-party check using expired identification or something.

The teller calls the bank manager and the dance continues. Now the young guy starts ripping loudly into a bunch of obscenities, and people are feeling threatened and uncomfortable. I turn to him, separated by a fat velvet rope, and say, “Hey, I’ve got kids here…” and before I can finish he spits out at me. “Shut your f*#king mouth…punk; this is none of your business.” “You made it my business when my kids can hear it,” I say, and the monkey dance is ignited (refer to earlier post “The Monkey Dance”).

Now here is where it gets weird. The manager, who has just had his teller verbally assaulted as well as himself, turns to me, a fourteen-year account holder and says, “Sir you need to leave the bank.” Now, I am incredulous at this and reply, “I am the one person that is protecting you and your clients from being assaulted. I suggest you call 911 right now.”

The manager looks at me like, “Oh, good idea.” As he dials the number, the guy who was trying to cash the check, well, he told me that it was a good thing he had to go, otherwise he was going to do something to my punk ass.

As the teens, say today, “Whatever.”

The moral of the story? When the monkey dance begins, there is no perspective, no rational thought. This young guy in the bank is going to throw down with how many cameras taking his picture? The manager holding his identification in his hands, and the guy is most likely in possession of a bad, or stolen, check? Not rational at all. But then again, that’s how the monkey dance goes.

You know the story: Hollywood, or a large promotion at work, changes the person. You see it in real life and portrayed on film and the small screen. The story of the lost way is so ubiquitous that it is in myth and sacred documents alike from every culture on the planet. You know the tell-tale comments people often say that indicate the lost way: “Power changed them,” “Success has spoiled them,” or “I don’t know them anymore.”

I have to say that I don’t believe power changes people. Instead, power allows them to act the way they want to act. What you get to see is people behaving in ways that are consistent with their true nature, unrestricted by the gravity of the rules that once governed their universe.

True leaders take on acquired positions of power with humility, respect, and an eye toward responsibility because they know themselves and they know that with power comes greater responsibility, which then comes more opportunities for failure.

These true leaders’ outer trappings may change but internally they are the same person they were before their promotion to department head, Master Sergeant, or Black Belt.



A 60-year-old Rainier Beach man seriously injured in a dispute over a neighborhood traffic circle died Thursday night at Harborview Medical Center. James Paroline had been in a coma since being punched and hitting his head on the concrete during the altercation Wednesday.”

Marc “Animal” McYoung calls it Escalado; Rory Miller calls it The Monkey Dance. It is real and here is a real example of the Escalado / Monkey Dance.

  1. 60-year-old man, James Paroline, petitioned the city to put in traffic circle at high accident intersection.
  2. Paroline tends flowers in traffic circle and puts safety cones by his garden hose to keep people from driving over the hose – effectively blocking that side of the intersection.
  3. Three girls roll up; demand he move the cones, Paroline refuses.
  4. Name calling.
  5. Girls attempt to move cones.
  6. He shoots them with water from garden hose.
  7. Shoving ensues.
  8. Girls call Brian Keith Brown, a 28-year-old, two-time convicted felon.
  9. Brown drives to the scene, confronts Paroline and punches him in the face. Paroline hits head on pavement and dies in the hospital.

At any point between the numbers 3 to 9, this incident could have been avoided. Somebody could have broken up the dance, but – they – just – could – not – do – it.

Paroline is dead, Brown is charged with 2nd degree Murder (In the United States that is “Non pre-meditated killing.”), he surely is going to prison ( as he is a twice-convicted felon), and the young women who fanned the flames, well, they go home, and sleep in their own beds with no comprehension of what transpired.

Here is a little exercise. Take a look at those events in 3 through 9 and at each moment think how could you have defused it. Does that mean swallowing pride, maybe, will it be seen as weakness by the other, sure. If you give a little room with the other person in the dance, will you need to take more, yup. Will names be cast, count on it. Bottom line, somebody needs to be the adult.