Monday, May 05, 2008

TDA Interview - Bob Patterson of Striking Thoughts

Striking Thoughts blog

Bob Patterson's Striking Thoughts has been one of the must-read martial arts blogs on my list for a while. His blog features his thoughts on various aspects of martial arts from the perspective of someone who's picked up after a long layoff, and is on the verge of 1st Dan in Taekwondo. Bob has prior experience in TKD, some Wing Chun, and PPCT [Ed. Pressure Point Control Tactics] while working in corrections. In this, the second of our monthly interview series, we decided to get to know this interesting blogger and martial artist better. I interviewed him last week, just after what he calls his "last TKD tournament." Enjoy!

TDA-Nathan: Bob Patterson of Striking Thoughts. Welcome to the TDA Training Interview! As we begin, I want to make sure you know that Rick wanted to be here, but his wife should have delivered their new baby as of a couple of days ago, which is probably why he hasn't done his MMA Weekly Wrap-Up. He expressed his regrets and wanted me to welcome you here.

Bob: Well thanks for having me and congrats to Rick if she did!

TDA-Nathan: Thanks. I'll pass that along to his lazy butt (he should be working at TDA right now!). Anyway, first question. Can you tell our readers about your blog - something we don't know?

Bob: I can tell the new readers something they may not know... it started out as a non-martial arts blog that focused on politics and religion. Then when I got serious about the martial arts as I approached my mid-life crisis I gave that all up and turned it into total martial arts.

TDA-Nathan: When did that happen?

Bob: Going on probably two years ago maybe? For a while I tried combining martial arts with politics and religion. Problem is both camps complained and the politics and religion folks are less reasonable. ;) Martial arts won.

TDA-Nathan: LOL! Makes sense. I think anyone who's read Striking Thoughts has enjoyed your journey to Cho Dan in TKD. What made you resume your TKD training. I understand you've learned Wing Chun, some boxing, practical application of force/DT/PPCT, but I wasn't sure where the TKD came into play. Can you 'splain?

Bob: 15 years ago I made it to 5th gup at a "mcdojo" that had all the fancy equipment. A ex-high school wrestler buddy and I were messing around one night and he mopped the floor with me. After that I quit. I then bounced in and out of martial arts. The PPCT came when I was with the dept. of corrections along with the boxing. Then I focused on school. Kung fu for about a year while I was working at a college but the professor who taught it left. By then I was 37 (?), had the itch, and was looking for the next art. Funny thing but I swore Taekwondo off as a total joke 12 years prior. Well the school Taekwondo club had a call-out for new members and I showed up on a lark. About a month into it Sabum v. 1 let me spar with him. Bear in mind he won a gold medal in the junior Olympics. Well he murdered me. He took it easy 'til I tagged him with a jab. After that he knocked me on my ass at least five times and I could not do a damn thing about it! He had my attention and I stuck around. Now here I am close to cho dan! Who'd have thunk it!

TDA-Nathan: That's great. I know you're on the verge of your Cho Dan exam, and will make official what you've earned in sweat and, unfortunately, blood. Share with the amazing TDA readers [kissing up to my peeps here - please ignore unless you're one of them] what surprised you the most about your TKD training, studies, and practice.

Bob: That there is some viable self-defense techniques in Taekwondo. If you ask me if I think it's the best self-defense art I'd still say no. But you have to factor in that from a self-defense perspective it's "defensive" almost totally. i.e. wait 'til someone attacks you. So while that may not be the "best" like, say, Krav Maga, it's pretty darn good for John Q. Public who does not want to be John Rambo and get sued. The second thing speaks to my age: I lost a lot of skills I had 15 years ago. So it's forced me to work within my physical limitations and age. This has been the hardest part, I think.

TDA-Nathan: That leads us into, what advice would you share for someone about our age (40) who's starting out in TKD or any other martial art? Did your motivation change from when you started up again till now? And why are you always whining about injuries??? I though black belts were invincible!!!! :'(

Bob: HA! Beware the ones who tell you they are and move on to the next school where the instructors are honest! Even 9th dan grandmasters are not invincible. It's funny but now that I feel the physical skills slipping I have the fire to get this thing done. Back then I'd start and stop but never got serious. You don't realize what you have 'til you start to lose it. Now it's beat the clock and I plan to go down swinging. As for someone at 40 who wanted to start? First make sure your doctor says you can. Then take it very slow and expect the gains--especially at first--to be very slow. Heck the first three months back into this I was so beat up I almost quit. I tested for my second belt with cracked ribs and did not tell Sabum. Don't be stupid like me! Take it slow, stretch almost nightly, and supplement the training with some kind of callisthenics or light weights. Also make sure your instructors are willing to work with your age. Most good ones are will not expect you to do what an 18-year-old can because they too are probably as old (or older!) than you.

TDA-Nathan: Good advice all around. I, however, must agree with you. I AM the invincible black belt exception... Except when I get hurt. Or hurl on my grappling opponents. Anyway, you've had the "benefit" of some experience in a corrections/criminal justice environment - AKA: jail. What did you take from that experience (not only from a martial arts perspective). Did it change your views on human nature?

Bob: My bruises will defer to your invincibility. ;) I also must advise you that as a former medic too many punches to the head can affect your judgment [Nathan- I have no idea what he meant by that]. Four years of jail (I worked there!) taught me a few things: 1) Under the right conditions most people can be violent. 2) Your head will get you farther than your physical skills. Back in the day I was a lean 170 and outclassed by inmates who spent all day on the weight pile. However, most of the time you can even reason with a thug and avoid fights. The thing is a lot of these guys had AIDS, hepatitis, etc. So most fights led to some sort of bodily fluid exposure. Same can be said for the street if you are mugged. Yeah maybe you can beat them up but maybe not if they have a weapon. Even if you do what if you punch them, cut your fist on a tooth, and get AIDS? That's permanent and not worth a wallet. That all having been said if you have no other option be prepared to get hurt and give them all you got.

TDA-Nathan: Glad you escaped and are using the blogging halfway house for rehabilitation! We're, unfortunately running out of time, so only time for one or two more. As you reach the conclusion of your TKD studies, I know you've mentioned wanting to move to a "softer" art. Have you considered BJJ or Aikido (keeping in mind that we both know what soft means and doesn't mean in a martial arts context!)? What have you located in the area?

Bob: BJJ is out. I fear it'd be too hard on my body. I've seriously considered Aikido or Chin Na. I'm leaning towards Chin Na. I've located a school that has a curriculum that can get you to what would be black belt equivalent. I'd been advised by a few bloggers including Dojo Rat that Chin Na would be a good choice. If I complete the program or only last a year--if I move to Kung Fu, Tai Chi, etc. they all have some Chin Na. Plus, I'd still be learning how to break limbs. ;). Plus I started kung fu then stopped. So I want to close that circle if I can.

TDA-Nathan: Sounds fun. And congratulations and best wishes in whatever you do. I want to express my appreciation for a couple of things. You're consistently good blogging has probably inspired the other bloggers in our community, and those who've shared your experiences vicariously through your fine writing. You should be congratulated on the site and new design - excellent. Second, I want to thank you for the Martial Arts Blogs Toplist. I think you've got the strongest and most complete collection of MA blogs on the net, and getting them all to participate is an accomplishment worthy of our appreciation by itself. It (the Toplist) gives all of us a way to quickly find new information or inspiration to train or blog about training. Well done, sir. Is there anything you'd like to share with the TDA Training readers before we sign off?

Bob: First, thanks for the kind words. I'd advise anyone to read this to spend some time on that Toplist and check out some of the blogs. I have to say that I'm a strong believer in self-education. Part of it--even through the martial arts--can come through books. However, you can also follow a few of the good blogs and learn a lot. I think it adds a level to your training and will make you a better martial artist. Also, if your instructors know that you took the time to study their art they'll be quite pleased! With that I bid you and your readers a very good night!

TDA-Nathan: Thanks and good night. See you on CoCA and Striking Thoughts!

For more information:

Striking Thoughts

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