Don’t be “that Dad…”

Sports. We all love sports. As we age, however, our time in the spotlight dims. We aren’t throwing touchdowns, scoring goals, and typically we live in the memories of glories past.

But then, we have children. As they grow, and happen to get involved in sports of their own we experience another type of high. Living through their play.

My eldest daughter has been playing basketball since 2nd grade. She is now in 8th grade. Watching her play, when games are close, you get a feeling like you’re watching game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Parents are SCREAMING from the stands. Instructing their kids on what to do.
“POST UP!”
“WATCH THE SHOOTER STAY WITH HER”
“TAKE THE SHOT TAKE IT!”

All I can say is stop. Stop it. Don’t be that parent. The games don’t really matter in the grand scheme of life.

It doesn’t only happen when the game is close either. Yelling at the refs, ‘coaching’ their children. It’s just not needed. The kids have enough pressure on themselves the way it is. Trust me I’m yelling inside, but my daughter doesn’t NEED to hear it in the moment. Her mother will yell at her from the stands. I don’t speak with her due to emotional damage ripped from a Lifetime Movie, but my daughter loathes it.

After her games, we will talk. She will ask me or say “I didn’t play well”. Now, during those times is when I’ll tell her what she did well and maybe needs to work on. Slow down your shot, be more aggressive, attack the ball more. That resonates more than yelling at her when she’s on the court.

I’ve seen some pretty terrible behavior from parents in the stands and 9/10 times their kids play reflects their parents shitty attitudes. They play dirty, they take cheap shots. That’s the only time I tell my daughter you have 6 fouls, use them.

Stop being “that Parent”…

BPD

Becoming a Dad Again

When my eldest daughter was born, I was the ripe old age of 26. I wasn’t afraid of babies, my mother was an OB nurse and I had taken care of babies before. I do remember being afraid of being a father though. I can remember sitting in the theater, watching Shrek 3 with my pregnant wife. You know the one, the one where Shrek becomes a father…. life imitating art as it felt.

Sitting in that theater I felt really apprehensive about the whole ordeal. Actually being responsible for a human life. I learned fast though that you will never be a perfect parent and you grow with your child in that regard. Of course everything turned out fine. Things got easier with baby number 2…and 3 as well.

Then life happened. My wife turned into a walking Lifetime movie fueled by Borderline Personality Disorder and those 3 kids and I were on our own for a long time. Life was scary, but being a dad wasn’t.

I do feel I lost a part of my 30s in an inexplicable way, dealing with what I was going through from 34 to now. In that time, however, I met and a wonderful woman with a young daughter of her own, with a similar experience to mine. We are now engaged and bought a house, making me a Dad of 4. Being a step dad is a whole other animal and will be the topic of a future post. This post, however, is about being a new dad again, because we are expecting baby number 5.

We knew we both wanted another baby, logistics aside as she is more of the ‘what if…’ part of the relationship while I handle the ‘what is now’ part. We had 3 girls and 1 son between us. Another boy would be nice, we thought. Cute little red plaid outfits and mini cargo boots. I knew from the second I got the positive test on Christmas, it was going to be a girl. Genetic testing and Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” playing at ultrasound confirmed my suspicion. I guess it’s a familial thing, as my maternal Grandfather cranked out similar numbers in offspring. Our little girl is due in late August and we are both overjoyed. There’s no feelings of apprehension this time around.

I’m not 26 anymore. I’m about to be *40*. For whatever reason that number is a milestone in our culture, although I doubt I’ll feel any different than I do right now. I do go into this baby though with a sense of finality. She’ll 99.5% most likely be the last, and so I will watch those last *firsts* with a different point of view. The last first bath, the last first giggle, the last first steps and words. Much like you can be with your first child, I’ll be taking way more pictures and videos then ever as technology has made that ever so easy and I’ll be aware of those ‘last firsts’.

Time doesn’t slow itself for sure. My dad always said it’s like a roll of toilet paper. It goes faster the more you use it up, and he is right. I always play the game of “when she’s 15 I’ll be…” and relate that to our other kids and sometimes focus on the numbers too much. If life has taught me anything it’s to enjoy today and take the time to focus on what is present, not what might be.

I’m going to enjoy every second of this last first.

Jeet Kune Do – Just WHAT is it?!

Bruce Lee (Photograph courtesy of the Bruce Lee Foundation archive)

If you were to ask 10 martial artists what Jeet Kune Do is, you’d probably get 10 different answers.

It’s a style developed by Bruce Lee.

It’s not a style! It’s having no style!

It’s a way of thinking!

Doesn’t matter it’s not BJJ and all fights end on the ground and I’d shoot in and…

If you can’t tell, this subject and these replies come up often on a few Facebook groups I’m in, so I thought I’d give my two cents.

Bruce Lee came to the US midway through 1959, an 18 year old kid with a background in Wing Chun and a passion for martial arts. I highly recommend the book Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly for more a detailed look at his life. Through refinement, teaching, studying and fighting, Bruce coined the term “Jeet Kune Do” while driving with Dan Inosanto in 1967. The Way of the Intercepting Fist.

Martial arts in the US at this point was not as it is today. Today we have MMA, popularized by the UFC, and an unlimited source of information provided by the internet. In the 50s and 60s however, Judo was brought back by US servicemen, as were forms of Japanese Karate and Korean Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do. Styles defined everything. The answers were hidden in secret forms and sparring often resembled a game of tag.

Bruce Lee dunked on all of this.

So, just what IS Jeet Kune Do, JKD, anyway?

A style? A concept? A way of thinking?

In my opinion, the answer to all of that is yes.

As Bruce Lee’s personal way of fighting, Jeet Kune Do is heavily influenced by Wing Chun, Western Boxing, and Fencing. It’s predicated on the concept of intercepting your opponents attack and at the highest form of the art, intercepting his intention to attack.

Here’s where things start to get thrown in a blender.

Original JKD vs. JKD Concepts

Unfortunately the world of JKD has turned into something Bruce Lee warned against many years ago. Infighting over linages and who is teaching ‘real’ JKD. There are people out there who will train in Karate and throw in 4 kicks from Thai Boxing and then say it’s “Their own JKD”.

There are instructors out there who can trace their training back to those first generation Bruce Lee students. Taky Kimura, Ted Wong, Jessie Glover, Dan Inosanto, Jerry Poteet, Daniel Lee, among others.

The Original JKD Camp teach the methods as Bruce Lee taught them, with recognition that Bruce Lee taught everyone a bit different based on their skill and body type or athleticism. They often say they are ‘preserving Bruce Lee’s art’, and they are.

The Concepts method of JKD can generally trace it’s linage back to Dan Inosanto. Guro Dan is an amazing man and martial artist. Encyclopedic in his knowledge, humble and kind.

Unfortunately for the world, Bruce Lee passed away in 1973 at a young age of 32 years old. While his personal method of fighting may have consisted of the arts of Wing Chun, Western Boxing and Fencing concepts, he never stopped learning and researching martial arts, the human body and the way that relates to combat.

Guro Dan, similarly, encourages his students to do the same. Built on a foundation of Jun Fan Gung Fu (JKD), Filipino Kali, Silat, Wing Chun, Muy Thai, and other arts, the Concepts method of JKD is more philosophical in nature, encouraging the student to find what works for them.

Again, this doesn’t mean take Capoeira and mix it with BJJ and call it JKD. To be ‘your own JKD’, you still need to adhere to the founding concepts of the art.

Simplicity. Centerline. Interception. Controlling distance, timing and rhythm via the 5 ways of attack.

If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing JKD. Original, Concepts or whatever ‘your JKD’ is

Brandon

Post Surgery and Recovery

Here we are, 10 days post surgery for my torn distal biceps. I couldn’t really write much before this, as my arm was in a hard cast at 90 degrees that went up to my palm. It made typing nearly impossible.

Leading up to surgery, I was nervous. My arm wasn’t in too much pain and I was managing pretty well all things considering. I was scared of the unknown of going under for a procedure though.

I arrived at the hospital for 6:45 and checked in. I was quickly taken back, prepped, asked my name and birthday once every few minutes and wheeled back to the OR.

This was an outpatient procedure, so as I laid in bed while everyone prepped around me, the nice man put a mask on me, telling me it was oxygen. I have a suspicion it wasn’t. The next thing I remember I was being awakened back in the Post OP area with my arm in said 90 degree hard cast.

I was foggy, but my girlfriend was there helping me up, as stubborn as I may be to try and do it on my own.

The pain wasn’t too bad. My forearm hurt the most, but subsided that night. The cast was more of a pain than anything. For a week I struggled with it but I have a great supporting …pardon the pun… cast. I got it off on Friday and that was a surreal experience. Into a brace I went, which locks my arm at varying degrees. Right now, I’m still at 90 with rehab on the horizon.

Having my hand back does make things much more manageable however. I did reach out to Icy Mike, from Hard2Hurt, on Facebook and he was kind enough to offer some advice to take rehab seriously, which I absolutely plan on doing.

Oh, and the one thing I can say I was relieved I purchased in the great toilet paper pandemic of 2020, was a simple bidet.

Peace – B

The Road Back…

So after finishing 6 weeks of the 10 Rounds workout program and gearing up to add a 3 day lifting program into my daily workouts, I have suffered a setback. I guess how big of a setback depends on perspective.

On Sunday I was at my cousin’s house. They’re putting up a pergola on their deck and it was time to get the roof in place.

The pergola is cedar so the wood itself wasn’t heavy. The roof consists of 6 aluminum panels that overlap, 3 on each side. We were putting up the 2nd half of the roof, with my dad and cousin on the one end and myself and their neighbor on the other.

Lifting the side up, I didn’t have much weight at all. It was at an angle that wasn’t going to work so we needed to bring it back down. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I had an underhand grip on the wood as we began to lower it. Suddenly it got much heavier than I expected and I felt a distinct *POP* in my elbow.

I instantly knew it wasn’t good and I grabbed my arm and just said “I’m hurt”.

My arm looked like Popeye. I went to the ER instantly and an appointment with the Ortho the next day confirmed what I knew. I tore my bicep at the distal end. The bicep attaches at the shoulder with two tendons and kinda meets at the elbow in one tendon. Distal tears aren’t that common from what I’ve read, but leave it to me.

A few things stood out to me. One is how little the bicep has to do with the actual curling motion of your arm. The other is that the pain wasn’t really, and hasn’t really been anything. Sitting here typing this and I’m in no pain. Only when I outstretch my arm and rotate it does it feel uncomfortable.

My surgery is scheduled for the 19th. The only ‘surgery’ I’ve had was my wisdom teeth so this is all a bit new to me.

From there, it’s at least a week in a hard splint and 4 months post surgery until I can resume normal lifting / load bearing. One of my favorite Youtuber’s on combat sports and training, Icy Mike from Hard2Hurt suffered this exact injury about 9 months ago, although he was doing something cool, like throwing a shovel hook, not holding cedar.

I have many feelings going through this. Frustration. Scared. Fortunate because it could have been worse.

I’ll be documenting it every step of the way here from how I’m dealing with home life, to training, to recovery.

Peace Out – B

The Last Dance

MJ and Company

Since we haven’t had sports since March, I’ve been waiting every week for Sunday night to devour 2 hours of my childhood. I was 3 when Jordan entered the league. I was barely 10 when I noticed the Bulls in the finals vs. the Lakers.

My household wasn’t big on sports. My brothers ran track and wrestled. My dad never really watched sports on TV or talked about them. I cut my teeth on Penn State Football, as if there was sports talk in the family that’s what it was about. I discovered basketball on my own. Something about seeing Jordan switching hands in mid air against a sea of purple captivated me. The Bulls, from a city I never been to, were MY team.

Fire up Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project….Ray Clay shouting “FROM NORTH CAROLINA …..”, chills every time.

From that moment on growing up and playing basketball with my friends we’d talk about Jordan and the Bulls. I was never very good, I was a decent shooter and could get streaky but I never tried out and played the game outside of the playground.

From 1991-1998 it was Jordan and the Bulls. I remember the first retirement blindsiding me and the entire country. I remember seeing Space Jam. I remember thinking Pete Myers could fill the void. I remember Pippen on the bench motioning Jordan to return while showing his Air Jordan logo to the camera. I remember the simple headline “I’m Back” and his first points being free throws in a game against the Pacers on NBC.

I just knew the guy was going to win. The Bulls were going to win the title and that was that. He said so on Oprah. I took for granted not only what I was watching, but the work and fire the Bulls, particularly Jordan, put in to make it happen.

There’s a lot of discussion about who is the G.O.A.T. LeBron or MJ. It’s not a question for me. The game has changed some since those late 80’s and 90s seasons. There’s flopping and defense isn’t what it was, but what MJ had was desire to not only win, but to beat you down and own you. To leave no doubt you weren’t on his level. That type of ice cold instinct and drive is what separates him from the pack. I didn’t see him fail against the Celtics and Pistons, but those fires forged the 6 title seasons and made him push his teammates to be better or get out. Kobe had it to an extent, tutored by MJ, but I don’t see that in LeBron.

When my oldest daughter started trying out activities, basketball was one we signed her up for, starting in 2nd grade. Going into her 7th grade year, she loves the game and has the physical attributes to stick with it along with the desire. She heard me talk about those Bulls teams but outside of some YouTube videos, she didn’t know much about it. She’s grown up in a LeBron James era where Steve Kerr is the coach of the Warriors. By pure coincidence, her brother who’s name is Jordan was born on the 23rd.

Sitting with her and watching The Last Dance, she can see just how dominate those teams were. You still see that fire inside a now 57 year old MJ as he talks about the game.

Shooting around with her in the driveway, we’ve added that fadeaway jumper to her game….back them down…fake one direction, pivot, jump….swish. She picked it up rather quick. I hope she also sees that MJ stare…the fire…the drive. I hope she never learns to flop.

Birthday in Quarantine

Here it is. April 27th, 2020. The last year of my dirty 30s… I can’t even begin to comprehend where the time has gone.

Which brings me to my topic today. Time and the changing of perspective. I’ve been a father now for nearly 12 and half years. As my first born has grown up, so have I in a number of ways. I was just about 26 and while she wasn’t an accident, the feelings of I’m in no way ready for this I remember quite vividly.

My then wife and I went to see Shrek 3 with my cousin and his girlfriend. It’s the one where he’s going to be a dad. I can recall sitting in that theater and relating to an angry ogre on multiple levels. I barely knew how to take care of myself, let alone a baby.

Months of over buying, over preparing followed, until December 18th, 2007. Adriana was born and from the second I held her, the questions that I had, the doubt, the worry and fears just stopped for a while. Now, of course they were still there, but I knew I’d do whatever I needed to to answer them.

She’s now almost 13 and I also have an 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son. Instead of worrying how I’m going to raise another human, it’s how am I going to deal with a pre-teen girl. So the worrying and learning never stop. Now instead of worrying if she’s sleeping enough or eating enough, I’m making sure she’s up at a decent hour and not eating too much junk food.

We grew up a lot together, her and I. I moved into my 30s, my ex-wife went absolutely bananas (That will be quite the post). I had to learn to not only become a dad, but then a single dad with primary custody of a then 7, 3 and 1 year old.

Thankfully I had a support system like no other but it was still a roller coaster.

So if you’re sitting there wondering just how to do it, what to do, when to change a diaper, I can say confidently you will figure it all out. You’ll also screw up a lot, but it’s all part of the journey.

The Struggle is Real

So, I’m making it officially official. I’m doing whatever it takes to improve my health. Notice I didn’t say “lose weight” although that is a big part of it. I’ve grappled with weight my entire life. For a short period around my Senior year I was down around 168 lbs. I remember working out some, but not a huge amount. I did Martial Arts classes 2 or 3 times a week and cut out fast food. I also remember eating a ton of grilled chicken. It don’t remember it being difficult then and I lost around 30 lbs.

So Now What?

Well, life happened. I stopped giving a shit and at my heaviest was in the 280 rage. Then, single life happened, involuntary. I started going to the gym, looking at the many diet options out there and trying to find what worked for me. Low Carb of some sort seems to be what I respond to. I was able to get down around 240 and have floated in that rage over the years. My target goal is 199 and I’ve started that journey twice over the last 2 years. Last year I was going strong and my mom passed away unexpectedly at the end of March. Grief, stress and a lack of eating had me for a blink at 228, but I started the year at 245.

New Year New Me!

Yeah, we all say it. I decided to get back on the horse and …..pandemic. But it’s ok. I also said this wasn’t just about weight loss and it’s not. It’s about flexibility, developing and training other skills in martial arts and just being more athletic. Trying to be the best version of myself, as that is really the only thing I care about. It sets the example for my children. I never met my grandfather as he passed away in his 50s from a heart attack. My mother, his daughter, tragically suffered the same fate at 67, a widow maker.

What I’m Doing About It

Well, exercise-wise I’ve been following a new BeachBody On-Demand program called 10 rounds. 5 days a week. 3 boxing, 2 lifting. I don’t buy into the coaching, the Shakeology or the MLM of BeachBody, but their On-Demand is cheap and has a bunch of great programs. I also try and stretch once a day before bed. General stretching and those more geared to martial arts. I have time periods carved out for doing Kali or fine tuning forms or just free flow martial arts training with my kids. We also go for a walk every day, about a mile round trip.

My diet, I’m working on it. I’ve not become obsessed to where I’m measuring things out juuussst yet. I’m keeping carbs pretty low, watching portions and I don’t drink sugary things. We’ll see how this goes, the end of the week will conclude week 3 of 6 of 10 rounds and I’ll weigh in from there. I keep an eye on weight, but I don’t obsess about it. It’s only one metric and that’s important to remember.

Training Martial Arts during a Pandemic

One of the biggest parts of my life since I saw Karate Kid in 1986 and discovering Bruce Lee shortly after has been Martial Arts.

I started my formal training in the mid 90s doing a mix of Shito Ryu and Goju Ryu karate. After a short layoff after graduation I began training in a style based in American Kenpo with a bit of street mixed in. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some amazing people and was looking to spread my wings into BJJ and then, the world stopped.

So what do you do when you suddenly have to stay six feet away from everyone not in your immediate household? Here’s some things I’ve been doing.

Physical Development

This is a perfect time to develop your physical attributes. Find an area or two that you want to improve on and focus on those things. It can be general things like strength, weight loss, and flexibility or specific techniques (kicks, punches or movements) that you want to improve on. Take your overall goal, divide it into smaller, less daunting chunks and attack that goal every day. If you have a weight loss goal like I do (another blog series upcoming…), don’t look at the final number. Take it in 5 or 10 lbs increments and focus on that. Same with flexibility, don’t go all out Van Damme on your first day. Focus on small, gradual improvements to avoid injury and discouragement.

Forms and Techniques

A lot of styles have forms. This is the time to learn the next one or perfect the ones you do know. Wing Chun has the Wooden Dummy Sets along with three empty hand forms, Kali has a number of patterns and flows, Karate has Kata, Tae Kwon Do has Poomsae. You get the idea. Once you’ve got the patterns down, break them down. Look at what the movements are trying to teach you.

Expand Your Knowledge

Many martial arts schools are holding classes online now using video conferencing platforms like Zoom. There is also tons of content online for learning new ideas and techniques. YouTube has great videos if you know what you’re looking for, but also some downright awful ones. I’ll post some of my favorite channels in another update this week.

Budo Brothers has some online seminars that are relatively inexpensive in areas like JKD, Kali and BJJ.

Ron Balicki’s MARS curriculum is available online with a free month trial. Ron is a world renowned martial artist and the son in law of Dan Inosanto. Seemingly a walking encyclopedia of the arts, I can’t recommend he and his wife Diana’s courses enough.

This is a perfect time to leave your comfort zone and explore new ideas and styles.

Bruce Lee injured his back doing a weightlifting exercise called ‘good mornings’ and was immobilized for more than 6 months. Out of that time he developed his art of JKD by researching and exercising his mind, jotting down notes that would later be compiled into the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Turn this into your own oppertunity to grow.

Quarantine Day 754

Well, not actually anyway but it does feel like that. Much like the movie Ground Hog Day, except I’m not Bill Murray. Instead I’m Ned Ryerson getting punched in the face daily. BING!

Ok, it hasn’t been THAT bad, but it’s been an adjustment. As this is my first blog post and I’ve yet to write my bio/introduction, which I promise is coming soon, I’ll give you a quick background on myself. I’m approaching 39 very quickly. I live with my 3 children, ages 12, 8 and 6, along with my girlfriend/common law wife at this point and her soon to be 7 year old daughter. That’s sixth, 2nd, 1st and kindergarten for those keeping track at home.

We’ve had to learn to adapt quick, as we just all moved in together in a new house and COVID put us in the pressure cooker. The first week or two was much like semi-controlled chaos. Kids and dogs everywhere. Dishes making other dishes. Crayons in your sock drawer. Put that down. Pick that up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Since then we’ve started pulling things together. My partner luckily teaches 2nd grade and we’ve brought some order back to our isolated lives. So I’ll give you some ideas what is working for us.

Chores

I can’t stress this enough. Without it, we run in circles picking up after mini versions of ourselves. While the kids always had their typical responsibilities, we needed to get more organized since we are now spending every minute of the day in the house.

We have a chore chart now with a list of daily tasks. Every week the lists rotate and they must complete the tasks on the list every day.

Set Bed Times and Wake Up Times

The temptation is there because we aren’t bound to an alarm clock to live every day like it’s the weekend. Don’t. Keep them *and yourself* to a semi decent bed time and wake up time. My 12 year old daughter would stay up all night TicToc’ing and not wake up until 11 otherwise. Keeping a semi normal schedule is vital, not only for bedtime, but for other activities in general including…

Home School

Before this madness started I bought a new wireless laser printer for the house because I anticipated the volume we would likely be printing. *Insert plug for the Canon model I purchased from Walmart here* Our kids get their assignments daily and I print out their packets. 860 pages later and counting… Being blessed with having a 2nd grade teacher for a partner, this is going well for us. She’s done a great job not only with her own online teaching, but keeping the kids on task and schedule. We like to have their work done by mid afternoon and keep them engaged in as many educational activities as we can.

For All the Other Times…

Get out and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We built a fire-pit in our backyard and love sitting around the fire listening to music and watching the kids roast marshmallows. We take daily walks around our development to get our mail and get our dogs out for a walk. We don’t want them wasting away on iPads and watching TV all day. We’ve had them do crafts, like painting some of the decorative rocks we have in our garden and just encourage them to get outside and play. My oldest daughter has learned to dribble a basketball between her legs and my youngest daughter found out she can throw a pretty good football spiral at 8 years old. My son runs around collecting magic wands and trying to conjure demons from the magical book of the Decedents. We do have family movie night often. We set up a relatively inexpensive projector and a blank wall and have our own Hi-Def movie theater with popcorn and the works. We’ve been watching a lot of Disney+ and classics like the Mighty Ducks and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids along with new releases like Onward.

Finally…

Make time for you and your partner if you’re lucky enough to have one. Kids, dogs, messes and isolation has divorce lawyers licking their chops I’m sure. Don’t let the chaos get between what brought you together in the first place. Have a special dinner one night. Plan activities just the both of you and don’t let the kids, dogs and quarantine divide you.

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