Congratulations! You got your black belt, now what?

In my home Dojo black belts are encouraged to study outside their own style. This doesn't mean learning a whole new style somewhere else, although that is fine, you should still be training in your main style and perfecting your skills; as a black belt is the top of one set of stairs and the bottom step of another set of stairs. It means to go beyond just doing techniques to thinking about techniques and the nature of combat. No one style has it all, no one teacher knows it all nor will every technique that is right for your teacher be right for you. We differ in body weight, height, strength, flexibility, speed, balance, reach, etc.

Every decade had its fads: from Judo in the 50's, Karate in the 60's, Kung Fu in the 70's, Ninjutsu in the 80's, BJJ in the 90's, MMA in the '00's, etc. Never mind which is best as each has something to offer and a black belt will be respectful to all styles (as much as possible, we are all human with our faults). However, in my opinion I think the best thing to come from the martial art world is the study of street crime and combat psychology; this kind of study goes beyond the physical and looks at the how and why.

There are many authors around these days that take the reader outside of the barefoot dojo into the gritty glass strewn streets. One of these is Marc "Animal" MacYoung and I am currently reading his book: "Cheap Shorts, Ambushes, and Other Lessons: A Down and Dirty Book on Streetfighting and Survival" published by Paladin Press.

Under the heading of "Animal 1, 2, 3, etc." I will be blogging as I read through the book on points where I agree with Marc. As I do not have permission to reprint anything from the book I will be using no quotes, and indeed, the idea is not to repeat what I read but to use it as a spring board to talk about things in my own words at points where I agree with Marc. I will not be writing where I disagree with him as you can read the book yourself and find yourself disagreeing with him on points that I would agree with, that's great! You are thinking and not just blindly following. I will also not be going by chapters, sometimes I will be commenting on several chapters in the same post and other times the subject of one chapter may fill several posts. I WILL be short however, and therefore encourage you to read the book for yourself, as I said, this is not a book review or a repeat of Marc's beliefs but a blog on what I believe is important.