A Screed on Autism, ADHD and the Martial Arts

by Terry 7/25/2008 3:56:00 PM

I posted a short screed on Autism, ADHD and the Martial Arts. It really is just a rant of my opinion and observations. Some people may disagree. All I can really argue is if you have doubts or concerns about having an autistic or ADHD child try martial arts – do not let your doubts prevent trying martial arts. Whether or not the child can keep up is not the issue. They may take longer to reach proficiency in some areas, but the benefits on self esteem, self control and long term mental and physical health are tremendous.

I won’t argue there are extreme cases. And those are just heart wrenching in there is often little anyone can really do. Or rather much that can be done but little to heal the grief and pain. And if this is the condition you face, I am not professing any miracle. But, I am not arguing for the extreme cases, only the cases that are quickly called autistic or ADHD which 30 years ago would have been considered high-energy or short-attention children. I was once one of those.

I was seriously failing school until I figured out I could manipulate the system to alter my curriculum to make it interesting. I had a GPA of 2.4 as high-school freshmen and turned that into a 3.5 GPA by the time I graduated. I earned my BSCS with honors and a 3.9 GPA. In elementary school the teachers wanted me in the remedial programs, where I simple got bored. I required too much effort to stay interested in what was being taught. I learned from that and use that knowledge now. I try to keep kids interested in what they are doing.

I am trying to figure out how to do that with science. I am on track to starting a science club by end of summer. I want kids to see the fun in science. The sciences (and, frankly, reading science fiction by authors like Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven) are what drove me to succeed in school. I have the same passion for martial arts. I just ordered Kono Magazine for Kaitlin with keeping here interested in the martial arts as the primary reason (Roland Osborne is enacting the same idea with Kono Magazine, http://www.konomag.com/Kono_AboutUs.pdf). I will use my garage chemistry lab to keep her interests in science alive as best I can too.

Hmm, that was a lot more than I expected to rant on about.

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Birthday and Belt Test

by Terry 7/25/2008 3:15:00 PM

Tonight is another belt test and another birthday; mine, I am 0x27, 21+18, or 39. I am not much on birthday celebrations, but there is always a dinner gathering at a local restaurant after the belt test and with 70 of my closest martial arts acquaintances I am sure there will be some celebratory activities. I am just happy to be able to do so many of the things I like and have the people in my life that I do. I do not wish for any other gifts. I have fortune in moderation.

Last night, in the ‘youth’ belt test, instructor Leni and I had the younger kids demonstrate the Bo Staff form we have been learning for the last server weeks. The parents were suitably wowed, which is cool. It always surprised me how many parents do not stay to watch any of the classes. The belt tests offer an arena for the parents to see their children’s progress.

After the kids’ demonstration, Leni and I performed the same form in unison, out of visual range of each other. This requires audio queues, which we are still working on, to stay synchronized. The affect came off quite well nonetheless, considering we execute the form at much higher speed than the children and have only practiced synchronization a few times. Afterwards at dinner that evening, the parents paid us nice complements on our teaching skills and on how our own martial arts skills have improved over the last few months. What could be a better gift than being told by a parent you are appreciated for how you teach their child?

Tonight we do the same thing again, but with adults and a small group of the youngest children. The five and six year old kids (mostly) have never seen the adult best test, and tonight they will do their test at the side-by-side with the adults. This will be great fun for everyone. I love to hear the kids’ excitement and see the look of awe on their faces. The adult group really includes the teen-agers too. The teens have the energy and flexibility to wow the kids with high jumps and fast kicks. There is also Instructor Steve, 6’4” (193 cm), once a Marine, and high-intensity. He usually does some feat or another that makes the kids both laugh and shout “wow!” at the same time. I think between all the adult talent the young kids will be thoroughly jazzed. There is always cake at the end of the belt test too. I am sure a lot of parents will have fun putting their kids to bed tonight.

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Belt Testing This Week, Practice Tonight

by Terry 7/23/2008 5:00:00 PM

Thursday and Friday evenings are belt-testing events and DMW Martial Arts. The school's Black Belt Club members who will be testing will show off their Bo Staff skills they have been practicing for the last two months. Having watched two classes of students (children in one class and teens and adults in the other) and seen the classes go through Kamas, Sais, Nunchaku and Bo practice segments, I have to say that the Bo has been one of the most difficult for people to become comfortable with. We have practiced with the Bo twice as long as any of the other weapons for approximately the same apparent level of skill by the students.

For me, the Bo has been difficult. I have been practicing with the staff off-and-on for a year and I am only now looking competent in my first Bo-form (part of Roland Osborne’s Millennium Curriculum). Tonight I will practice one more time with the younger class. I am not sure how we will have the classes demonstrate their talents Thursday night’s test. This will get worked out tonight, I hope. Instructor Leni and I have been trying to put together our own demo and I hope to work on this tonight as well. At least I feel like my own skills are coming together.

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The Work and Teach Death March

by Terry 7/18/2008 9:48:00 AM

Last night marked the end of my evening teaching for the week. I am still working my regular fulltime job during the day, and taking my workout at lunch. I still have two classes to teach on Saturday morning, but my evenings are free again. Well, free in that I do not have to be at DMW Martial Arts to teach. I have to spend time with my family so they will not disown me. Last night was the end of the death march. Today and Saturday are like maintenance sessions by comparison.

I have been slowly incorporating material I learned from the 2008 Martial Arts Super Show. I have tried to add at least one thing from every session I took at the Super Show into at least one class. The wealth of info is spectacular. Three good sources of information I recommend, sans being able to attend the Super Show, that anyone can draw from are Kimber Hill, David Kovar and Roland Osborne. Through DMW Martial Arts I have access to various materials from their training programs. The Super Show has been great to help focus me on material I want to add. Part of my death march this week is because I am trying to incorporate material so I will not forget it as easily; hear it, say it, do it. My last class yesterday was the Leadership class. I surprised myself on how much I recalled just reading from my hand-written gibberish. Now it is not only better seated in my head, but I have a class full of students who will remember bits and pieces and hold me to it. If that holds true, I will have succeeded.

I am still happy the death march is over. My voice is raspy from yells, talking over parents and general use. I otherwise don’t talk all that much, as my wife, Karen, would likely and frustratingly agree.

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Back from the Martial Arts Super Show, 2008, Orlando

by Terry 7/15/2008 2:18:00 PM

I am back from the Martial Arts Super Show, this year held in Orlando, Florida. Karen and I, along with Instructor Leni, attended by invitation of DMW Martial Arts’ owners, Instructor Dan and Instructor Marcia. Mrs. Leni and I both are instructors at DMW. The three of us attended a broad variety of seminars at the Super Show. I will have much to write about as we consolidate our notes. For the moment, I am trying to get my head above water.

This week Mrs. Leni and I are teaching all the classes at DMW while Instructor Dan and Instructor Marcia take some vacation time. I still have to work full-time at my ‘real’ job. I am about maxed-out on bandwidth at the moment. Life is good while I am strong.

Posts are likely to be short, if any this week.

In the meantime, if you have or know kids in any martial art, or know any kid who is interested in the arts, check out Kono Magazine.

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Getting ready for the Martial Arts Super Show

by Terry 7/8/2008 10:40:00 AM

This week has been consumed getting ready to go to the Martial Arts Super Show (http://www.masupershow.com/) in Orlando, Florida. Martial arts are my hobby. I still have a full-time job that I need to attend to before I go on this vacation. Naturally, I have been out every night with Karen and Kaitlin before I go, not leaving me much time for anything else. I leave early Wednesday morning for my flight. Seattle to Orlando is an all-day trip, so my travel days will be entirely consumed by sitting in a plane or an airport. I need to get a book or two for the trip.

I am debating whether I should pack my laptop for the trip. Normally it is not a question, but I hate the hassle of participating in ‘Security Theater’ brought to us by the TSA. I guess I will decide once I pack my bag tonight. I am trying to pack light; no checked bags. On my last trip to Orlando, two months ago, I checked one bag for my eight-day trip. I spent over an hour waiting for the bag at the airport, which was distinctly not-busy. This trip I hope to get off the plane and go straight to the hotel shuttle with as little delay as possible.

If I do pack my laptop, I hope to journal the show. I will post in the evening if the hotel offers internet access.

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Six Weeks to One Hundred Push-ups

by Terry 6/20/2008 9:59:00 AM

My friend and fellow black-belt instructor at DMW Martial Arts, Steve, sent me this link recently. http://www.hundredpushups.com A six week program to doing 100 push-ups. It is a progressive repetition plan which if followed will help you be able to do 100 consecutive, well-formed push-ups. I am going to recommend this to the students in my Leadership class next week. Among many other requirements for reaching a black belt at DMW is being able to do 100 consecutive push-ups in 2 minutes. There is no magic to doing it; it just takes practice, patience and time. The current crop of black belt candidates has until the end of summer to prepare for the next black belt tests. This six week plan would help them reach their goal.

When I planned for my black belt tests, I attacked the physical performance requirements as methodically as I could. When I could, I would end every workout with push-ups and sit-ups until I reached or exceeded the requirements. I was not so good at running. I got a late start on my running because of a knee injury, and maybe a bit of sloth as I hate running to begin with. I can say that the running portions of my tests were the most difficult for me.

I have never been much of an athlete growing up. I would still not call myself an athlete. I did reach my athletic goals nonetheless, even starting into the martial arts in my early thirties. As the saying goes, if I can do it…

I am hoping to come back from the Martial Arts Super Show this year with more tips and effective plans to help students reach their goals. Not every plan will work for every person. Having a variety of plans in my repertoire will help me help others find a plan that will work.

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I may have the perfect candidate for my science club

by Terry 6/13/2008 11:34:00 AM

I may have the perfect candidate for my science club. In my martial arts leadership class last night we were discussing qualities of a leader. When we talked about ambition, I asked for examples of ambition.

One teen girl in my class said she wants to pursue an education in forensic chemistry. She is a straight-A student, and a black belt candidate. She has demonstrated a healthy sense of ambition. I can see her getting her black belt early next year. I will ask her parents how they feel about allowing her to work chemistry labs in my garage before I approach her. I suspect the parents will be okay with the idea, assuming provisions are in place for her safety in a lab and personal sense. It helps that the parents know me from years of martial arts classes, but attending labs in my garage is another level of trust for a parent which I need to address.

On a side note, building my lab these last two weeks has gone to the wayside. Traveling to Atlanta last week and work and martial arts have consumed my time this week. I am hoping my wife and daughter are thinking about the chemistry lab requirements for Father’s Day. Really, any gift they give me would almost be a gift to them too, wouldn’t it?

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Sleepless night in pain – stretch!

by Terry 6/13/2008 9:25:00 AM

I played substitute the last two nights at DMW Martial Arts. I covered the ‘Black Belt Club’ class the last two nights teaching Bo staff drills. Scott, the instructor who had been teaching these classes broke his leg hiking last week. Normally, instructor Leni teaches this class, but she was unavailable for the earlier class, so to be consistent, I taught both.

Bo staff is not my best weapon. Forms with the staff, for example, I have the most difficult time remembering. I am good with technique in general, with and without weapons. So I spent most of the class doing various drills going back to basics in weapon handling and technique with specific combinations and moves.

Last night, in the first minute of class during the warm-up, I strained my lower lumbar muscles in my back. Have I mentioned the Bo staff is not my best weapon? That should have been a clue to me. I finished the class, and the following class on Leadership skills gritting my teeth in pain. I hope the students don’t think I am mad at them, as they had no idea what I did to myself.

My night was largely sleepless. Sitting hurts, laying down hurts, standing hurts, walking hurts. Stretching helps. I will take today off from a martial arts workout and just stretch at home. I have no classes this weekend. I see a weekend of stretching. Stretching is better than drugs, for me anyway, for back injuries. Stretching gets me through the otherwise sleepless nights of pain.

I first injured my back sixteen years ago or so, when I worked at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington, as a building-maintenance engineer. The short story is when a fire alarm went off on the roof of the building, I was moving a manhole-cover six stories below street level; I swung the manhole-cover back in place and ran up 27 flights of stairs. That combination sprained my lower lumbar. The advice of the doctor I had at the time was to take the pain killers and muscle relaxers and not worry.

It took me twelve years to realize that was not good advice. That realization is, in part, what lead me into martial arts. Stretching and strength building of the abdominal muscles has been a blessing coping with periodic re-injury. I will forever be at risk of re-injury, but the strength and skill I have built in martial arts has made recovery faster and more bearable. Stretch. Stretch. Stretch! It makes recovery faster and more bearable.

I have re-injured myself vacuuming the living room, lifting Kaitlin from her crib, and so on. Last night, I simply jumped straight up from a standing position. So, in this case, I don’t blame martial arts for the injury. I will take a few days off and stretch on my own. I should be good to go next week.

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I may be going to Orlando again this year

by Terry 6/10/2008 1:49:00 PM

Yesterday the owners and instructors at DMW Martial Arts, Dan and Marcia, invited me to attend the Martial Arts Supper Show in Orlando, Florida, this July. I am genuinely surprised by this, and flattered. I think it is pretty cool to be included as a teaching instructor at the school. Another instructor and friend, Leni, was invited too. This is an opportunity to view martial arts as a business and get some specialized training. I have yet to discuss the details of the trip, what training my instructors wish me to attend and weather Karen can attend any of the events (I really hope she will come too). I am excited to see what is offered. I really would love to get some basics on weapons I have not studied yet, teaching techniques and meet some people.

I would also like to see what merchandise is available in the martial arts industry, particularly in the mid-range cost and quality. For example, many of the weapons I have seen in catalogs are either cheep in cost and quality or outrageously expensive and unknown quality (presumably high quality). What I would love access to is the ‘middle class’ product line; that is, the goods of fortune in moderation. I want, for example, a line of weapons, like a set of Kamas, which are durable and sturdy at a moderate cost. I want a practice and demo weapon that is not light as a feather and breaks easily like many I have used and seen. I do not want cool glitz that flakes of in practice.

This will be a fun trip. Depending on how much stuff I need to pack I may not bring my laptop, although I hope that I can so I can report items of interest daily. We shall see. First I need to work out the details and actually go on the trip.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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