Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jim Casters Obituary

Jim Casters, died on the 18th of April at the age of 42 just as he’d begun serving his trademark baked Alaska. It backfired…literally. Jim attended the Cordon Bleu College of culinary arts in Paris, France as a young man and worked his way up through the kitchens to become the personal chef to Mythic Entertainment’s board of directors, whom he was in the process of serving at the time of the accident. After the recent release of Mythic Entertainment’s Warhammer Online it’s believed the explosion was an attempt at divine retribution as millions across the world paid their money and were handed an utter piece of crap in return, all to the board of director’s net benefit.

The directors, being soulless wretches spawned from the flames of Hell to a man, were not even singed by the fiery conflagration. Jim was a devout Catholic and pillar of the community. He donated money to various charities and spent his free time working in soup kitchens for the homeless, bringing his world class fare to those living both high and low. This fine man was incinerated instantly.

Memorial services followed by a last supper according to the last menu Jim ever prepared will be held at the Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Church on the corner of Wabash Road and Lake Drive this coming Sunday at noon.

The following is on a more personal note from all the friends, family, and admirers this remarkable man left behind: Cheers Jim. You’re in a better place now. You’ve angels to do the preparation and washing up. May your bĂ©arnaise never curdle and your soufflĂ© never fall.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How to Defend Against a Double Lapel Grab in Bushido

Defending Against a Double Lapel Grab
Step 1:
Begin by allowing your attacker to grab you with both hands by the front of your shirt or jacket. This is usually in preparation for a head butt or knee to the groin.

Step 2:
Place your left palm on the top of your attacker’s right forearm, just below the elbow. Grasp it firmly and sidestep a pace to your left.

Step 3:
Slip your right arm underneath both your opponent’s arms. Raise your forearm vertically and lock your arm in place level with both your opponent’s elbows. This will lock his elbows in place and prevent your attacker from being able to attack or pull away.

Step 4:
Sidestep further to the left so that you’re behind your attacker’s right shoulder. Release your left hand from his arm and instead wrap it around the left side of the attacker’s neck. Your hands should close enough together for you to be able to clasp them, do so. You now have your opponent in a headlock.

Step 5:
Tighten your arms around the attacker’s throat to choke him. Simultaneously take a half step back and lower your stance to pull your opponent backward off balance. This will also aid in choking him, so you need not exert much pressure to get results.

Step 6:
Support your opponent’s weight in the crook of your left arm. Release your right arm and disentangle it from your opponent’s arms, which may still be grasping your lapels, though it’s not likely. At this point he should be ready to fall backward if you were to step away. However as you have done no harm, your attacker is likely to simply get back up again.

Step 7:
Curl the fingers of your right hand inward and raise it high into the air, palm facing down with the forearm aligned vertically above it like a pile driver. Drive your palm down into the attacker’s groin an instant before releasing him from the crook of your left arm. Remember to lead with the heel of your palm. This should be the point of impact.

Do not attempt this technique unless you are absolutely sure that your own life is in danger. This particular defensive move has the capacity to choke an attacker to unconsciousness or even death if performed overzealously.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Defend Against a Club Thrust using Bushido

Bushido Martial Arts is based, as one can guess, on the Japanese concept of Bushido, “The Way of the Warrior”. This code dictated every aspect of a samurai warrior’s life: how he should act and think in any situation. Bushido Martial Arts reflects this in that it works to teach a comprehensive martial art, based mostly on defense, but with a solid martial mindset. It also covers self defense against improvised weapons and unorthodox attacks. One such attack that many forms of self defense do not address is a simple thrust with a club or blunt weapon delivered to the midsection or solar plexus. Most people think that an improvised weapon such as a club would be used by swinging it. But a hard length of wood or metal driven into the midsection is both unexpected and incredibly effective at rendering you, the victim, helpless. To that end, here is a guide on how to successfully defend against such an attack.

Step 1:
Allow your attacker to approach and commit to thrusting his club at your midsection. As he is just beginning to lean forward, take a step back and to the left to allow the thrust to sweep past your right side.

Step 2:
Cover the tops of your opponent’s hands with your own as the club passes. Make sure to clamp the thumb of your left hand over your opponent’s right hand so he will be unable to let go of the club.

Step 3:
Use the heel of your right foot to drive a kick at your opponent’s left knee. This is not meant to break the knee, though this is an option. Instead it is meant to get your opponent to straighten his legs and stick out his hindquarters to escape the kick. This will in turn force his upper body forward and off balance, making it easier to take advantage of.

Step 4:
Sweep the end of the club in your left hand in a forward circular motion. The point of this is to force the rear of the club, which is protruding from the bottom of your opponent’s right hand, over the top of his wrist. Then all you need do is twist the club so that it is straight in line with your opponent’s right arm to lock his wrist. As he is unable to release the club or change his grip because your hand is covering his own, he will be forced forward, to the ground, on his knees, to alleviate the pressure on his wrist. It will also make him let go of the club with his left hand to steady himself on the ground.

Step 5:
Pivot to your right, sweeping the club along the ground in a semi circle as you do so, it might look akin to a truncated golf swing. In order to keep his wrist from breaking, your attacker will be forced to jump forward, landing flat, spread-eagled on the ground. At this point you can pull the club from his other hand and use it to strike him if you deem it necessary.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Counter a Rear Choke Hold Using Bushido Martial Arts

The Japanese concept of Bushido, which translates as “The Way of the Warrior”, was an all encompassing code on how a warrior should live his life and act at all times. It preached constant alertness and ready for battle at any moment, using whatever methods and material may be at hand to defend oneself as well as one’s charges. A comprehensive form of self defense known as Bushido Martial Arts has recently been developed which promotes the same concept and mindset. It does not take exclusively from any form of martial art, nor does it follow any rules of combat as it assumes the user is defending his/her own life. Though many of its self defense techniques are intuitive, it often helps to have instruction to point one in the right direction. For that reason here is a guide on how to counter a choke hold from the rear.

Step 1:
Begin with your opponent approaching you from behind and wrapping his right arm around your throat. He should lock his elbow shut as tightly as he is able and grab hold of his right wrist with his left hand to complete the hold.

Step 2:
Lean back into your opponent and reach up and behind. Clap your hands over your opponent’s ears. If done forcefully the overpressure created causes great pain to the outer pinna of the ear as well as the eardrums. Obviously you would want to do this only lightly if practicing with a sparring partner.

Step 3:
Switch the placement of your hands. Cup the back of your attacker’s head just above the junction with the neck in your right hand. Use your left hand to dig the index finger and thumb into the hollows on either side of your attacker’s throat just below the jaw. Pull your attacker’s head toward you and dig inward to strike two pressure points that run along the underside of the jaw. This will cause you attacker great pain. The pain will force you attacker to throw his head back in an attempt to get away.

Step 4:
Allow your attacker to throw his head back, guiding it to your right side with your hands as he does so. Turn to the right using your left leg as the pivot point. Simultaneously rotate your arms as well as your attacker’s head around to your front. Doing this will trip your attacker around your body, simply guide him down to the ground with your hands were they are. You may want to speed things along by forcing him down with the flat of your left palm across the front of the throat.

Step 5:
Finish your attacker with an overhand chop to the throat if you feel the situation warrants it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Perform Usetsu in Ninjutsu

Hand to hand combat techniques taught in Ninjutsu focus on self defense and harmlessly flooring an opponent to give the ninja time to escape his attacker. A technique from the Kukashinden Ryu Shodan portion of Ninjutsu training called Usetsu is particularly effective at achieving this goal. It directly translates as “right turn”, though the significance of this is unknown. Essentially it is a response to an opponent grabbing you and attempting a punch by immobilizing his wrist and forcing him to the ground.

Performing Usetsu
Step 1: Begin by standing naturally with your hands by your sides. Your opponent will immediately take the offensive by grabbing the front of your shirt with his left hand. This is in preparation for a punch to the face with his right hand.

Step 2: Place your right hand over your opponent’s left hand, holding it against your chest for the time being. Sidestep to your right as your opponent attempts a punch while simultaneously lashing out with your open left hand to catch your opponent’s right arm along the inside of the elbow.

Step 3: Throw the attacker’s right arm out to the side while wrapping the fingers of your right hand around your attacker’s left fist. Turn his left hand outward so the underside of his wrist and forearm is exposed.

Step 4: Turn your body to the right so your left shoulder is closest to your opponent. Grasp the inside of your opponent’s left elbow with your left hand, pushing forward and up so the joint of the elbow is pointing upward and raised above the level of his shoulder. Step 5: Turn 90 degrees to the right while dropping down onto your left knee. Twist with your upper body in the same direction as you do so, guiding your opponent’s elbow down and around. Your opponent will be pulled into a backwards fall as you do this, forcing him to release your shirt in the process, ending the technique.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to Perform the Block and Arm Bend Techique in Ninjutsu

Performing the Block and Arm Bend Technique
Step 1:
Begin by facing your opponent, making sure to keep at least three feet between the two of you at all times. Keep your arms up and ready to act and your weight evenly distributed between both legs. Let your attacker lunge with a punch thrown from his/her right arm.

Step 2:
Dodge backward at a diagonal to the right to ensure the punch falls short of its mark. Push the punch aside by sweeping the back of your left hand against your opponent’s extended wrist.

Step 3:
Allow your opponent to follow up with another lunge and punch, this time thrown from the left arm. Again step backward at a diagonal, this time to the left. Sweep the punch out to the right using the back of your right hand in a mirror of the first block. In case you’re wondering why you’re doing this, it has two purposes. The first is to warn the attacker that you are a competent fighter and willing to defend yourself. As you are simply trying to prevent yourself from coming to harm, it never hurts to give your opponent the chance to stop attacking. Secondly, it lulls your opponent into a false sense of security. Should your attacker be intent on harming you, they will not expect your response to their third punch.

Step 4:
Allow your opponent to attack for a third and final time with a repeat punch thrown from the right arm. This time do not step back. Instead talk a half step inward and to your right, inside the attacker’s guard. Block the attack in the same manner as always, sweeping the arm out to the left using the back of your left hand. But this time turn and step inward toward the arm as you sweep it out. Thread your right arm over your attacker’s extended elbow. Lock elbows and then press your fist against your chest to take control of your opponent’s arm.

Step 5:
Use the back of your left hand to push your attacker’s arm back and lean forward at the waist. This will force your opponent’s arm back beyond the level of his/her body, throwing her off balance. Slip your right leg behind your attacker’s right leg and pull it backward toward you while continuing to push your opponent’s arm back to topple him/her and finish the technique.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Perform Tatsumaki in Ninjutsu

Contrary to popular opinion, the ninja warrior of Japan was not the invincible machine that the media paints him to be. A ninja was primarily an espionist, a spy, and at times an assassin. He was a warrior primarily in the sense that he fought to win political disputes by different means. His place was not on the battlefield, but in the city, observing and reporting back to the masters of his clan. All the necessary skills which were required to make an effective spy are taught under the name Ninjutsu, or Ninpo. They stressed stealth over visibility and brains over brawn. Combat was not focused on as a ninja would only need to fight if his presence had been discovered by those he was spying on, which was ultimately an indication of failure. As a result the Ninjutsu training regimen mostly included defensive techniques in which the combatant reacts to an attack and floors his opponent as quickly, quietly, and safely as possible. This gives the ninja operative time to escape as he would only be fighting if he were discovered. One such technique is known as Tatsumaki. This is an alternative to a failed attempt at a Kata-Ho. The Kata-Ho is a simple arm bend and throw in reaction to a series of straight punches. Should the attacker manage to foil the Kata-Ho, the Tatsumaki is the immediate follow up.

Performing Tatsumaki
Step 1:
Stand naturally at least three feet from your opponent. This is an actual stance known as Kammai. It is used in order to prevent an enemy from knowing you are ready to react to an attack. Only subtle changes in posture are used. Edge your feet apart slowly and put your weight up near your toes so you can push off quickly if you need to. Keep your hands open and by your sides, but be ready to bring them up immediately. Your opponent will adopt an aggressive combat stance known as ichimonji. He will sink low on his knees while keeping his back straight. His left hand will be out in front of him at full extension with the hand forming a vertical blade pointed at you. The right fist will be balled and held horizontally at waist level. Your left hand should be extended in a manner mirroring your opponent, but keep your elbow bent slightly.

Step 2:
Sidestep to the right and back immediately as your attacker lunges with a straight punch from the right fist. Hold the right fist directly against the chest and raise the left fist, forming a bar with the lower forearm held out horizontally with the ground. As the left arm bar rises it will push your opponent’s punch up. Snap the lower arm from horizontal to vertical to shove the opponent’s arm out to the side.

Step 3:
Attempt to go into the beginning of a Kata-Ho by latching onto the wrist of your opponent’s still extended right arm with your left hand. Step in to attempt to wrap your right elbow over the top of your opponent’s elbow. Make sure to keep an eye on your opponent as you do so as this is the point where the Kata-Ho can fail. Your opponent may attempt to strike you in the right side with a punch from his remaining left arm.

Step 4:
Step back to get outside of your opponent’s range while keeping hold of his right hand with your left. Extend your right arm and swing it outward to catch against the elbow of your opponent’s left arm, stopping the punch cold. You will have to hit hard to achieve this effect and may suffer some bruising from it later.

Step 5:
Twist hard counterclockwise at the waist, swinging your right arm. The back of your fist should skim along the top of your opponent’s arm, over the shoulder to let the bottom of the fist slam as hard as you can directly into the side of the neck. This strike is effective at knocking an opponent to the ground as it temporarily pinches the spinal cord in the neck. This momentarily cuts any control your opponent has on his body below the neck, dropping him instantly.

How to Perform Oni Kudaki in Ninjutsu

Oni-Kodaki, the Demon Crush. No it’s not nearly as gruesome or horrific as it sounds. In fact it causes no harm to an attacker whatsoever. In truth it’s a simple Ninjutsu counter-defensive technique utilized when an attacker has grabbed the front of your shirt with the intention to punch or kick you while holding you immobile. Such a move is reliant on the very human tendency to shrink back or pull away when grabbed, effectively leaving you at the perfect distance from your opponent to be beaten silly. To perform the Oni-Kodaki, you meet their expectations, stepping outward, then immediately change direction, moving in toward your opponent, forcing them off balance and driving them safely to the ground. With that done you can either try to talk to your attacker, continue to attack if you see fit, or run like heck.

Performing the Demon Crush
Step 1:
Allow your opponent to advance and grab you by the lapel or front of the shirt with his left hand. You must act quickly to take your attacker off balance and prevent his follow-up attacks. This means you have no time to assume any stance other than your natural one. Immediately step back and to the right, pivoting clockwise at a 45 degree angle to half face your opponent. This will put your opponent forward, off balance, as well as line you up for your countermove.

Step 2:
Slip your arm up underneath your opponent’s arm from the outside while stepping forward with your right foot, bring your right shoulder into contact with your opponent’s left shoulder. Once your entire right arm is slipped up from underneath, turn your palm downward and slip your arm over the top of your opponent’s arm so that they are elbow to elbow. This motion will transfer your opponent’s hold to the outside of your sleeve.

Step 3:
Pivot on your right foot so that your shoulders meet and you are now facing in the same direction. Lock your elbow shut and raise your arm, forcing your opponent’s elbow up and backward, causing him to arch his spine as he his pulled off balance.

Step 4: Step back with your left foot to pull your opponent completely off balance. The only thing holding him up is your elbow locking into his. Drop down to your right knee to pull your opponent safely to the ground to finish the technique.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Depressive Rant: Killing Time

That’s all any of us are doing, just killing time. I don’t want to come off sounding like some whining Goth writing bad prose. There’s no romanticism or allure of the concept, just a logical inevitability which cannot be denied.

We come into this world and exist in a state of preparation for 18 some odd years or more. During that time our care, environment, and needs are seen to and carefully managed by parents or guardians. Two things can arise during this time as a result of this state of affairs. We can resent being controlled and rebel against this sense of helplessness. This may be demonstrated by petty illegal behavior, breaking rules, acting out in school or at home, underage drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, etc. This is a senseless defiance of those who we see as the controlling powers and very childish. The other thing which can happen is that we accept the situation for what it is and use that inherent support structure to focus on achieving some sort of goal. In a society as money driven as ours, this goal is typically obtaining some high paying vocation.

At the ends of the period of care the young adult is free to set out into the world and do as he wishes. Before I continue let me pose to you a question. Of those two types of individual described, which do you think will have an easier time of things? The prepared and focused goal-seeker, or the rebel?

If you said the goal-seeker, you’d be wrong. It’s all down to a matter of acclimatization. The rebel has not specific goal or intent and is thus able to adapt to his situation as circumstances change. What’s more, his yearnings for freedom as a child are now realized. The goal-seeker on the other hand is unable to change his plans and cope to changing situations, so hung up on his dreams, hopes, wishes, etc. He sees the myriad freedoms, activities, and ways of life open to him as distractions. The oak stands firm against the gale winds of the storm. The supple willow instead bends before the wind. Eventually the oak will shatter before the force of the wind, but the willow will only ever sway.

Let us also look at the futility of goals. Please do not misunderstand me by thinking they are unattainable, that’s not the case. I’m saying that although goals may be achieved, they are ultimately worthless. Take me for example. As a boy I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to pen stories and publish books. I was told that I would make no money doing this, though I was never technically told not to.

Today I am a writer. Though I make a decent, steady income, I’m no happier or fulfilled than I ever was. I’ve been successfully published several times, though have not yet been able to write a full length book. This is principally because I have no understanding of human nature. As a result I am completely unable to write decent dialogue or banter between characters. This has slowed my attempts to flesh out and complete my full length novels considerably, though not deterred me from trying. I suppose I could say that my day to day work leaves me with no time to devote to those long term projects, which is largely true. Though I suspect I would just make up another excuse for myself if I had all the time in the world.

A goal is nothing more than an arbitrary personal milestone. Having achieved it changes nothing save that you get to ask yourself: What now? I became a writer and looked around. I was still me (more’s the pity), the world was still the same. So what was the point in all that hassle then? It’s nothing more than a futile attempt to give our lives meaning. Save yourself the trouble, accept that life has no meaning and don’t bother. After all, it’s just a way to kill time.

Now let us look at the rebel’s way of life, my own brother being a perfect case in point. He lives with his girlfriend in their own apartment. They have lots of friends and, despite the fact they are dirt poor, are fairly happy. If you ever met him, you would wonder if he had the mental capacity to complete a sentence. He’s not dumb per se, just got his head so high in the clouds it’s a wonder his feet touch the ground. He had no plan, no goals, and no aspirations. He burnt through his entire college savings fund in less than a month on parties and friends, who subsequently ditched him when he ran out of money. Somehow he always lands on his feet through and enjoys meandering through life. This is because that without goals, he keeps himself open to any opportunities that come his way, rather than dismissing them as irrelevant. While he enjoys the way that the journey takes him, I look forward to its conclusion with increasing impatience, though both of us are under no illusions to the fact that what we do on this earth is ultimately meaningless and fleeting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Perform Musha Dori in Ninjutsu

Many martial arts and self defense courses emphasize hurting or causing pain to an attacker as a deterrent. This does not jibe well with people who consider themselves pacifists or simply don’t want to cause anyone else pain. Unfortunately such pacifists are subject to attack or attempted muggings like the rest of us. Come to think of it, it would probably be easier to steal from a pacifist as he won’t fight back. In any case, there is any answer to this problem. Ninjutsu combat and self defense techniques emphasize temporarily dropping or disabling an opponent without doing any physical harm or inflicting any pain. For example, Musha Dori, meaning the trapped warrior, is a great way to pre-empt further violence once an attacker has grabbed you by the lapel, collar, or front of the shirt with the intention to do you harm.

Performing The Trapped Warrior
Step 1:

Begin standing naturally with your hands down at your sides as your opponent approaches and grabs you by the front of your shirt with his left hand. This is usually a way of keeping you within range for subsequent punches, so it is imperative that you act before you opponent can follow up with an actual attack.

Step 2:

Raise your right arm underneath your opponent’s extended arm. The back of your lower forearm should be pressing firmly against the inside of your opponent’s wrist for later use.

Step 3:

Pivot to face and press up against the length of your opponent’s outstretched arm. As you do so, slip your left arm beneath your opponent’s outstretched arm. At the completion of this step your lower arm should be vertical and your upper arm horizontal. Cradled within the crook of your elbow should be your opponent’s upper forearm a few inches above his elbow.

Step 4:

Pivot to face your opponent, back to your left if you originally turned right in step 3. As you do so, pull your left arm toward your body while pushing away with your right. This will pop your opponent’s hand off of your shirt, forcing the elbow to snap shut. It will also turn in your opponent’s elbow, raising it upward and causing him to pivot away from you and arch his back in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the elbow joint.

Step 5:

Guide your opponent to the ground by dropping to your right knee to finish this technique.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking The Fight to The Enemy

The following is a list of items that I request be put in my coffin as well as alterations to the state of my body to be completed upon or before that date of my burial (Translation): I want some modifications to be done to my body as well as the clothes I’ll be dressed in when I’m buried as well as having a few items buried with me.

1. One .45 Semi-automatic combat pistol.
2. One shoulder holster rig under jacket containing item 1.
3. Thirty-five .45 acp frangible rounds available at (the sign of the cross inscribed on the slug of each bullet)
4. Thirty-five .45 acp armor piercing rounds available at (the sign of the cross inscribed on the slug of each bullet)
5. Ten .45 acp semi-automatic magazines containing items 3 and 4 to be placed in side pockets of the jacket.
6. One throwing hatchet,(my favorite one) repaired with the blade and axe handle inscribed with the name JEHOVA and the sign of the cross. To be placed through my belt at the right side of my hip.
7. Two military canteens containing holy water taken from the river Lourdes. Strapped on my belt to the rear of my right hip.
8. One rosary tied around each of my wrists.
9. One large crucifix tied around my neck.
10. One airtight pouch containing wafers of the Holy Host. As many as can be carried without the aid of a backpack.
11. One small first aid kit in the inner right breast pocket of jacket
12. Tanto knife sheathed and tied at left hip. Inscribed with crosses along both sides of the blade.
13. Two packs Winchester brand cigarettes, one cotton handkerchief, and one disposable lighter to be placed in breast pocket of shirt.
14. Three pieces of white chalk, and three black Sharpie markers to be placed in let pants pocket.
15. Small bible to be placed in left inner breast jacket pocket.
16. Straight combat blade, inscribed with the cross on both sides of the blade, in sheath at right side of hip, in front of hatchet.
17. Small boot knife in outside of left boot.
18. My double handed broadsword with edges ground sharp, length of the blade inscribed with the name JEHOVA with crosses in between each letter. Held in leather scabbard, strapped over my back, outside the jacket.
19. Flask of Evan Williams Bourbon in back pocket of slacks
20. Three ampoules of holy water blessed in the name of Saint Michael in right pants pocket.

1. Standard black trousers. 40X32 Polo brand Chinos for preference. They last longer.
2. Black blazer, size 50 long.
3. White long sleeve dress shirt, unsure of the size.
4. Black leather belt.
5. Necktie featuring Christian theme. With cross tie-pin.
6. Black dress socks
7. Fingerless leather gloves.
8. Glasses
9. Size 11 triple wide black steel toes combat boots, shined to mirror finish.

Body Modifications
1. Large Celtic crosses tattooed on both back and chest.

After reading this list you’re probably wondering “what the hell is wrong with this guy?” I’m inclined to agree, but after studying several religions and their viewpoints of the afterlife, it’s not so inconceivable to think that a person can take things with him and can take the fight to the next world. The Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Etruscans, and Hittites all believed that the afterlife was a real and solid place which one could take physical goods to and from.

In Greek, Roman, and Mesopotamian belief it is thought that once one takes things of the underworld into oneself, only then is a person doomed to remain there. The best example of this would be Persephone when she was pulled into the underworld by Hades. While there she ate 3 pomegranate seeds. After her rescuer arrived, it was found that she could not return to the world of the living because of the underworld food she’d eaten. I intend avoid this fate for as long as possible by taking with me food and drink both rendered holy by the Lord our God. I know some consider this blasphemy on my part as these items are considered sacred. To you I say that the lord wants us to be holy and pure in all things, why shouldn’t our diet be one of them? If this ploy works maybe I’ll have had enough time to make my way to a more hospitable environment. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a way back from the grave. Don’t think so, but I don’t so how that’s not possible.

As for the weapons, their use is evident. I’m not the best of Christians, nor am I particularly strong in faith. But having been brought up Catholic I know that only a handful of the most pure souls that have ever existed upon this earth have been able to avoid hell, or at the very least, purgatory. I know I’m probably destined for one or the other, so I’d like to be able to at least try to defend myself with whatever weapons I can get my hands on. One thing I never saw in any of the frescoes and paintings of hell where the damned are depicted being tortured by demons was the damned fighting back. By now we’ve got to outnumber the demons in hell, and what worse punishment could they bestow upon us if we try to defend ourselves? They’re already in Hell, things can’t get much worse.

I know what is being laid down is blasphemous to some, but if I’m wrong and we can’t really take it with us, then I’ll ultimately have lost nothing. Something to think on.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to Perform Hicho Nokara in Ninjutsu

Ninpo or ninjutsu is more commonly referred to as the art of the ninja. Funnily enough, the term ninja is not commonly used in Japan. The word shinobi is preferred. Though many people think training to be a shinobi involves learning how to fight, this is not the case. Much of ninjutsu involves psychological warfare, navigation, stealth techniques and other arts of deception. Remember that the shinobi was a spy; he would only fight if his presence was discovered. And even then his combat style would be reactive, a quick dodge followed by a counter intended to floor an opponent long enough to give the shinobi time to escape. This technique is known as "hicho nokara." It involves defending against an attacker attempting an uppercut by assuming a “kicking bird stance.”

Performing Hicho Nokara
Step 1:

Begin standing at least three, preferably four feet from your opponent. Your opponent will assume an aggressive combat stance known as ichimonji. He will drop down low on his knees. His left hand will form a vertical blade pointed at you, his arm at full extension. The right fist will be balled and held horizontally at waist level.

Step 2:
Stand with your legs close together. Keep your weight on your back right foot which is turned sideways so that the inner flat and ankle are facing your opponent. Plant the ball of your left foot down directly next to the right foot, with the toes facing your opponent. The back of your heel should be raised so high it presses into the side of your right ankle. This should look a bit like the way a heron or egret will stand in open water. Cross your right arm over your chest, fist pressing against your left pectoral muscle. Your left hand should be extended in a manner mirroring your opponent, but keep your elbow bent slightly.

Step 3:
Wait for your opponent, who will lunge forward. The uppercut from an ichimonji is a bit different than a Western uppercut. Instead of being aimed at the chin, the under swinging punch is aimed at the solar plexus near the top of the abdomen. Immediately push off with your left foot, keeping the heel raised, and take a half step backward with your right foot to get outside your opponent’s optimum range of attack. Keep your weight on your back foot and immediately pull your left foot backward to resume your bird stance. As the uppercut is driven forward, turn your left hand palm downward and cross your body with the lower forearm. Drive the hand down at the appropriate moment to catch your opponent’s upturned right fist. Hold onto your opponent’s fist to immobilize his right arm.

Step 4:
Push off with your rear foot and raise your left foot at the knee, swinging it forward to kick with the heel into your opponent’s upper right leg or midsection.

Step 5:
Continue the kick by stepping forward with the same foot and placing it behind your opponent’s right heel. Extend your right fist from its coiled position across your chest to backhand your opponent across the side of the cheek or neck. This is meant to wrong foot and disorient your opponent.

Step 6:
Step forward with your right foot so you are straddling his right leg, with one foot in front and one foot behind. Place your right hand on the front of your opponent’s right shoulder. Twist your upper body counterclockwise, pulling your opponent’s right arm back while pushing his upper body backward using his shoulder as the contact point. Your opponent will trip over your rear foot and topple backward to land on his rump or back, finishing the technique.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Becoming a Demon

A raging sense of self hatred warring with an all consuming pathological apathy does not lend itself to a good night’s sleep. Throw in a bowl of homemade chili and a glass of Absinthe and who knows upon what weird Morphean shores one will wash up.

Despite all this, I slept the sleep of one who has lost all interest in the affairs of man and sought solitude in the depths of the mind.

I dreamt I was dead and free of all mortal concern. But not for me were the harp and wings intended. Not for me was the gift of eternal peace. I was damned, consigned to Hell for spurning the gift of life and its many tainted opportunities. It was not my fault; I had been born into a world overpopulated with filth. The prodigal and the vain, the debaucherous and the predatory. They had destroyed the world long before my arrival, cluttering it with the products of their own self important delusions and ensuring that no New Eden could be built.

And so I withdrew, seeing any attempts to progress in the world as futile. I became a hermit, only trying to control my own little world and leaving mankind to wound itself moronically as it repeated the mistakes so well illustrated by history.

And so upon the hour of my death I was damned en masse alongside countless others. Our crime: failing to “make the effort”. But I have to say in my own defense. In a world of the lost is the man with infinite hope a leader? No. He is an unlearning fool, doomed to have his spirits crushed time and time again.

I arose from by birth caul into the world of shadow full grown, naked, and very confused. I was cold, shivering uncontrollably. It was dark, I could see no more than an arms length before me, but even that was far too much to bear.

I was shoulder to shoulder with others like me, naked and bewildered. They pawed at one another in anguish. For you see, they were on fire.

The fire did not cast light, emitting only smoke which filled the air and wrapped us all in our own cloaks of darkness. I was on fire, but I was not being consumed. I did not feel heat either, but a cold in my chest so intense it burned. Our bodies were simply projections of our minds and could not be harmed. It was our souls that were aflame.

And so we languished for an eternity in the blink of an eye. Our mouths were open as we screamed, yet the sound was muffled. It seemed as if it was coming from some great distance. Our flesh was not real, we had no tongues to mold our cries, and no lungs to give them breath. We had no ears to truly hear either. In truth the sound we were making was quieter than a gnat’s heartbeat.

I called out again and again for friends and family, anyone we could think of whom we’d considered loved ones in life. Our pain was not physical, it was mental. We were filled with fear and horrific loneliness, desperately wishing to be comforted by the embrace and presence of a friend or companion.
This is what it was to exist without love, without a purpose, and without a higher being. Man without the love of God, by whatever name you call him, is a shell of himself, without purpose or peace. Though we were packed together as tightly as sardines in a tin, we were, each of us, alone in our own private Hell.

We were driven by the emptiness within to act out. The predatory among us brutalized the rest as the burning itch behind the eyes grew, right where it could not be scratched. Assault, battery, disfigurement, rape, cannibalism; they were all committed with desperate abandon. But the damage done was fleeting, healed in moments. The pain of it could not be felt either.

Demon archetypes battered shades aside as they waded through the press. Demons, djinn, devils, fiends, cenobites, beasts, the fallen; call them what you will. They were unnamable and indescribable things whose existence was wholly devoted to violence, torture, and anguish.

As they neared, the sheer malevolent hatred emanating from them warped minds. We hallucinated countless diabolic scenarios of imprisonment, torture, dissection, fear, helplessness, and pain.

We endured this time after time without choice or hope. As time passed my heart hardened and grew cold. The demons’ visions affected me less and less as any sense of morality and the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong eroded away.

I began to brutalize other shades. I knew it was pointless as they could not feel it, but it was till something to do. It became a pastime, a hobby, and eventually an art. The demons pointed me out amongst themselves for my viciousness and cruel creativity.
I became like them. A demon.

The pain within me still did not recede. If anything, it drove me to greater heights of brutality against the other souls. I no longer saw myself as like them. Instead I saw the chance to punish those who had destroyed the world with their arrogant ways, dragging me and others like me into the Pit in the process. In this way were demons made.

Having purpose, I became more terrible than the other demons, a beast among beasts. I existed for the next scream of fear and the next look of insane terror on the faces of the cattle.

I found myself a foot soldier of the infernal army, a legionnaire of Hell. I destroyed any who stood before me, sinners and the pure alike. The lust for destruction grew, drowning my mind in an orgy of violence and bloodletting. As the beast grew, my soul was consumed. All that I was before the evil took hold was slowly smothered. As my soul was destroyed and only the mindless demon remained, I found the peace that I’d been searching for since birth. Peace through oblivion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

All Aboard The Midnight Crazy Train

Mental Anguish. It’s a term used to indicate in Psychology and modern parlance to indicate perceived pain or discomfort arising from the mind and one’s emotions. Alone, the term anguish is used to indicate immense pain and suffering. This previous connotation colors the term “mental anguish”, causing most people to bring to mind mental suffering on a biblical scale when the term is used. In most cases this is not so.

In reality many people experience a low level of mental anguish as a result of day to day stress. It’s so minor that they usually do not even realize it, but it manifests itself in their behavior.

You may wonder why someone snaps at you in passing or commits some petty act of vandalism or destruction. Littering for example, or kicking at a small animal as they go by. If you were to stop that person right then and there and ask them why, the odds are that they would not know. It’s because they are in pain.

There are also people out there who are either better able to perceive this pain, or experience it to a greater degree. I became one of these people as soon as I was old enough to express it.

As a child I developed both mentally and physically very quickly, though still cried often. I also could not bear to be separated from my mother, the poor woman, for any length of time. At that age one’s mother is like unto a God to you. I guess I thought she would be capable of banishing the evils lurking in the corners of my mind, waiting to pounce. To some degree she did, the power of belief lending credence to her presence via placebo effect.

As soon as I could formulate the words, I complained about the “hurt and badness in my head”. After several CT scans turned up nothing, they realized I was referring to mental pain. Cue the child psychologists, padded stage left.

For the longest time I wondered why I was being taken to see these people, no one ever told me what they were supposed to do. I didn’t know why I was going to see them, and no one would give me a straight answer why. It was always “He/She is going to try to make you feel better, sweetie”. Thanks for the sentiment and all, but that’s not really a helpful answer. I thought I was going to get a backrub, I remember that the last time I had one I felt much better; too bad it did nothing for my head. After I my first visit I felt cheated, I sat listening to that man prattling on for an hour, answering all of his inane questions about my “life” and I still hadn’t gotten my backrub! What was I supposed to say to the guy anyway? I was less than a decade old; I didn’t have a “life”. I had no friends because I lived in the arse end of nowhere populated by non English speaking immigrants and rednecks with family trees that didn’t branch. As such my social life was restricted to my own family. I knew nothing else, so I was content with it.

The bottom line was that I was in mental anguish without cease, and I still am. The child psychologists never discovered any issues worthy of dealing with, so they did nothing, though they were happy to take my parents’ money regardless. After that came the psychiatrists. For those unfamiliar with the difference, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who prescribes medications to deal with mental illness; a psychologist has a PhD and seeks to treat his patients through reason. I’ve been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds since I was ten. I’ve got nothing to show for it save minor nerve damage from being given adult doses of medications that had not been extensively studied, meaning my hands and entire body shakes and twitches endlessly, completely destroying any ability to play a musical instrument or shoot straight. For someone who dislikes other people as much as I do, the latter is a real crime.

The truth is that I don’t dislike people in theory, but am in too much mental pain to put up with the requisite social niceties that seem to tie everyone’s lives up in knots. When I see two friends talking, I listen. Not for gossip, but because I’m curious about what they have to say. The vast majority of the time it’s nothing of value or interest, to myself of those parties involved. So why bother, I ask myself. If anyone would care to explain the allure of social interaction I am all ears. If you’re serious with me, I will take everything you have to say just as seriously.

Anyway, I’m off on a rant. Let me get back to the matter at hand. On a daily basis, I am very short with others and myself. This is not out of any anger, though most people perceive it as such. Mental pain is no different in it’s affect on behavior than physical pain. Though it is not addressed with such importance because it is not accurately perceived or identified, by the sufferer or those around him. For most of the day I’m able to get by through focusing on the important matters; money, work, household upkeep, personal upkeep, and entertainment. During the night, when the rest of the city sleeps, I have no such distractions. That’s when the pain gets through my mental defenses.

I’ve talked it up so much but have done nothing to describe it. Personally I experience several sensations. The first is a pressure in the solar plexus, not painful, but binding. The second is a heaviness in the skull, like a fog or wad of cotton cluttering up my brain and slowing my mind. The third is an infuriating itch at the center of the forehead, just above the bridge of the nose. But it’s not on the skin; it’s on the inside, behind the skull, where it can’t be scratched. I understand that this is not at all uncommon among Americans.

On a side note, I thought it pertinent to say that many cultures perceive mental pain differently. During my attempts at graduate school I learned that most Africans experience mental anguish as a prickly heat in the chest, while the Japanese feel it is a burning pain in the legs. Interesting how something entirely psychosomatic manifests itself differently, based on values and beliefs apparently.

In any case, the final and worst pain which only appears at my darkest moments in the small hours of the nights is the screaming. It’s difficult to describe in that there is not sound and nothing which was perceived. It’s like being woken from a sound sleep from a sudden loud noise. The noise itself is not registered; we never hear the sound that wakes us unless it continues whilst we are conscious. However we are aware that a noise did occur. It’s like that; somehow I know it’s screaming without actually having heard it.

The echoes of unheard screams ring in my mind, having ignored my ears entirely. It is ceaseless and maddening, and increases in intensity when there is no work to be done. That’s why I write. Not because I enjoy it, though there are times when it is very satisfying, I must admit, but because it’s the only thing which keeps the screaming from getting to me. It’s still there, it’s always there. I cannot change that. It’s similar to the way people in the military have been trained to resist torture, by placing their minds elsewhere for a time. Writing is the best way I can distract me from myself.

Before I learned this method I was a screaming nightmare, I would pace like a caged animal and press my hands to my ears until my skull creaked. I drank and took all sorts of pills. Thanks to the psychiatrists there was no shortage of those. Unfortunately I am a very big man with an Irish/German/Scottish constitution. I metabolize chemicals obscenely fast. The only time I’ve ever been dead drunk was when I drank the entire bottle of Jack Daniels. I don’t have the money or the wish to do that every night as I am of no use the next day. I pounded my head into the walls in a frenzy, trying to drive out the pain or crush my skull, I cared not which. In truth the only reason I’m not doing that now is that I’m focusing on writing this.

I have noticed in recent pop culture the startling interest in depression, mental illness, pain, and suicide. Some call it emo, though frankly I don’t care what it’s called. It may be popular, but it’s not healthy. To all those who act like they are depressed or pretend they have some sort of mental disorder, this is a warning. You play along the shores of a vast ocean. It roils and rages indiscriminately. Madness can be infectious. Those who are not in mental pain should not pretend otherwise, lest they be lost to that ocean without the knowledge of how to swim through it unharmed. Most people with mild mental illness that have not been institutionalized are still alive because they have learned coping strategies over many years of hardship and pain. This does not lessen the pain; it simply allows them to function in a world which cares nothing for anyone’s suffering. There are far easier ways to get attention; just asking for it for example.

To all those who are truly emotionally ill and in need of help, you will not find it in the form of a doctor or a pill. Taking yourself out of a functional situation and placing yourself in the stasis of a treatment facility does not work as it does not address those functional issues and problems you will face in the real world. This is the biggest reason that people who are institutionalized, either by force or voluntarily, experience relapses. Those facilities which actually attempt to treat their patients rather than simply medicate them, rendering them docile but unable to care for themselves, do not have individualized treatment procedures which account for the necessities of daily life and its routine. The bottom line is that people who go into mental hospitals tend to stay there. It is up to you to find a viable alternative. Good luck, and remember you are not alone, though you will always feel as if you are.