A Day to Remember

GoodNewsEveryone

A happy shout-out to everyone who can now legally get married.  Today is a great day!

Just as an aside, my marriage to my wife seems to be holding steady, despite all the rhetoric surrounding Gay Marriage undermining traditional marriage.

Now, go throw a party or something.  You’ve earned it!

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Oh, Goody. Another Martial Arts Post

This one will have a little bit of a twist, though.

“On the evening of March 9th (1914), St Andrew’s Hall was packed to capacity with a crowd largely sympathetic to the Suffragettes’ cause. The Bodyguard carefully surveyed the crowd from their vantage point, a semi-circle of chairs set up on the stage directly behind the speaker’s podium. Garlands of white and purple flowers decorated the edge of the stage and banners bearing the Suffragette mottoes, “Deeds Not Words” and “Votes for Women” were strung high above them.

The Glasgow police had taken no chances, surrounding the entire hall with a cordon and also stationing 50 constables in the basement. The atmosphere was tense, even more so when the appointed hour of 8.00 came and went with no sign of Mrs. Pankhurst. Many members of the audience doubted that she could possibly break through the cordon, no matter how many Bodyguards she might have to help her. Thus, when she suddenly appeared on the stage, the effect was like magic; though, as with the most apparently sophisticated illusions, the principle was simple misdirection. After spreading a rumour that she would attempt to breach the cordon, she had in fact arrived at the hall early and in disguise, paid for her ticket like any other member of the public, and taken a seat close to the platform.”

From Escapes and Adventures

People these days tend to forget the various Women’s suffrage movements across the globe were less than peaceful things.  In this day and age – at least in the civilized parts of the world – most people tend to take the idea of women voting as a given.  Why the hell shouldn’t they?  In the early 1900s (and still in some parts of the globe), the idea of women voting was anathema to a huge part of the population, including a lot of women of time.  Like most changes in power, this one had to be seized and wrenched free of the grip of people who just plain didn’t like the idea of women voting.  And the people who had the power had (and still have) very little compunction about using that power abusively.

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The reasons against Women’ suffrage were as multifarious and specious as the arguments against racial equality, gender equality, and gay marriage.  They ranged from the simplistic notion that women simply couldn’t understand the issues at stake and, therefore, were incapable of making good decisions.  The beauty of this argument was the self-fulfilling nature of it.  Women got a different education at the time and it was usually lacking in things that didn’t involve teaching kids, folding laundry, or doing dishes.  So, if a guy were to ask a woman what she might have thought about the League of Nations, she probably didn’t have much of an answer  because she’d never had the opportunity to learn enough to form an opinion.

Thus, it was pretty simple to say, “Women just can’t understand the issues at stake.”

Of course, if you asked the average Joe on the street in the early 1900s what he thought of the League of Nations and you wouldn’t get much of a response from him either.  To be fair, take the average person on the street right now and ask what they think of the United Nations or NATO and you’ll likely get some insane conspiracy theory, but not everyone can be an expert can everything.

So, what does this have to do with martial arts?  Well, quite a lot actually.  But first, let’s a take a stroll through history and look at a little system called Jiu Jitsu.

Martial arts can largely be categorized into a few broad categories: striking arts (Kenpo, Karate, Wushu, Krav Maga), grappling arts (Aikido, Kuai Jiao, Judo, Jiu Jitsu), and weapons arts (Kenjutsu).  Grappling arts trend toward using throws and joint locks and, like all systems, have their ups and downs.  Jiu Jitsu was developed back in the Samurai days as a form of unarmed combat against fell Samurai.

Samurai primarily relied on weapons like the katana, naginata, bow and arrow, yari, things like that.  As a result of their weapons use, Samurai tended to wear armor designed to protect them against those very weapons.  Their same armor that will protect you against a sword does a pretty good job of protecting you from a fist or a foot.

Go ahead, Fist of the Northstar, punch one of these guys.
Go ahead, Fist of the Northstar, punch one of these guys.

Striking arts are pretty much useless against an armored opponent unless you’re one of the agents from the Matrix.  What does work against an armored opponent is a throw.  The cool thing about throwing someone is armor really doesn’t do much against being slammed on the ground hard.

This doesn't have anything to do with Jiu Jitsu or women's suffrage, I just thought it was really cool.
This doesn’t have anything to do with Jiu Jitsu or women’s suffrage, I just thought it was really cool.

Another cool thing about throwing someone is, contrary to what pro-wrestling may imply, when you learn how to do it correctly tossing someone around doesn’t require much in the way of strength.  Learn to do it right and you’ll be using your opponent’s weight and power against them; essentially encouraging your opponent to throw himself (or herself).  Joint locks work basically the same way.  Learn to use good technique and a joint lock doesn’t take much effort.

Now, what does Jiu Jitsu have to do with Women’s Suffrage?  Remember the part about people with power exercising that power?  When you really piss off the establishment they have precisely zero problems with beating your ass down.  Those cops in referred to in the first couple paragraphs of this post were there to stop Emmeline Pankhurst from delivering a speech about how women should be able to vote.  They would have gleefully beaten her down and arrested her for wanting to have a say in how her life was run.

One of the women that had a problem with this philosophy of beating hell out of women was a woman named Edith Margaret Garrud.  Garrud was 4’11” and didn’t back down from a fight with the cops.  She was married to William Garrud (quite the badass himself, by all accounts) and together the learned, among other things, Jiu Jitsu from the first guy to teach Jiu Jitsu in Europe: Edward William Barton-Wright, the same guy that developed Bartitsu (the martial art used by Sherlock Holmes).

Bartitsu, the gentlemanly art of beating holy hell out of people with your cane.
Bartitsu, the gentlemanly art of beating holy hell out of people with your cane.

Garrud had no qualms about teaching other women Jiu Jitsu and it soon became known as Suffrajitsu.  Needless to say, the cops of the time were less than thrilled about this development; they wanted to bust up these women not get tossed around like rag dolls.  The police spent a great deal of time and effort tracking down Garrud and her Bodyguard group (referenced in the opening paragraphs) but never managed to stop her.  Blood was spilled, heads were busted, and cops were tossed around like rag dolls.  Garrud, Pankhurst, and the rest of the Bodyguard knew they were outnumbered, knew they’d be busted (literally and figuratively) if they were caught, but went forward anyway.

The story of women’s suffrage is long and brutal, full of escapades and adventures, heroes, heroines and villains.  It was a hard-fought battle, and right finally wrested from the iron hand of tyranny only through dedication and no small amount of violence.  In the end, women have won rights to vote in most places; there are still some countries that don’t afford women much in the way of any rights, let alone voting rights, but most of the world finally wised up and decided to treat women as humans.  And there’s no doubt Edith Margaret Garrud had a hand in dumping the old ways on their heads.

Boom.
Boom.

For those of you who are writers there are lots of tales of valor and dastardly acts of cowardice to explore (see the links at the bottom).  For those of you who are martial artists, this is one of the rare times in modern history when fighting skills actually changed the world.  Sure, learning to defend yourself is great when you’re jumped in a 7-11 parking lot, but it’s a pretty rare occurrence when hand-to-hand combat actually makes a difference in the world these days.  And, let’s be frank here, going to hand-to-hand with the cops is a whole different thing from stopping a guy who wants your wallet.

Events like this are what a lot of martial artists dream of; we’re regularly taught to not go out of our way to start problems but in this case the problem was already there and fighting skills helped change a world for the better.

Which leads me nicely to the picture that kicked off this whole post:

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Some links about Women’s Suffrage and Edith Margaret Garrud

From Suffrajitsu, “Escapes and Adventures”

Suffrajitsu, The Amazons of Edwardian London

Baddass of the Week, Edith Garrud

Wiki on Edith Garrud

Wiki on Women’s Suffrage, including a list of countries that need to get thier shit together.

From the Indie Bookshelves: Top 10 Books of 2015 (at the Halfway Point in the Year)

Even beyond mine, there are some great books in this list.

Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion

From the Indie Bookshelves: Top 10 Books of 2015 (at the Halfway Point in the Year)

by Patrick Hodges

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about how I love doing  book review swaps – and if you don’t know what that is, let me ‘splain. I contact another independent, self-published author, just like myself, and the two of us agree to read each other’s works in exchange for an honest review to be posted on Amazon and GoodReads.

Patrick Hodges Top 10 2015

As of this morning, I’m up to 65 reviews for my book, Joshua’s Island, a great many of which did, in fact, come from fellow authors. Which means, if you follow my path of logic, I have read a LOT of books over the past six months. Since the start of 2015, I have read 50 books – not one of them by an author you’ve likely heard of.

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Writing On The Go

You know you’re a writing geek when you’re ostensibly on vacation but still get up every morning to go sit in the lobby of the Hampton Inn and listen to the same tired tripe on Fox News while you drink your coffee and hammer just a few more words.  The few more words turns into a few more and a few more and few more and the next thing you know you’re a page or so into the story and your Fruit Loops are six kinds of soggy.

Oh, well.  The nice thing about the Hampton Inn is their near endless supply of Fruit Loops and their 24 hour supply of coffee – both things any writer needs.

My traditional tool for writing is an aging but relatively faithful ASUS ROG G-73.  It’s been upgraded over the years, stripped to the bare frame, rebuilt, and reinstalled more times than I care to think about.  It came stock with Windows Vista (may its name be forever spat upon), was upgraded to Win 7 (good OS, probably Microsoft’s best), upgraded to Windows 8 (not as bad as everyone says once you get Stardock’s amazing Start8 installed), and now runs a dual-boot configuration of Windows 8.1 x64 and Kubuntu Linux.

It’s a beast of a laptop.  If I don’t keep it plugged in I can usually pull a whopping 30-45 minutes before the battery gives up and goes home crying.  It’s covered with stickers that I’ve found over the years and then some my son decided to put on when he was four or five that I absolutely cannot get off, but it’s a pretty boss and bodacious system.

Writing machine
Writing machine

The downside to it, other than the battery life, is it’s not exactly a small laptop.  I had to hunt for a while just to find a backpack it would fit in and I can probably brain people with the power brick.  Normally this isn’t too much of a problem but on our last trip to a wedding (Johnny and Eva, if you come across this we had a great time!) I decided to try something new and exotic.  A few months ago I decided to upgrade my tablet to something larger because I’m getting older and my eyes weren’t happy with my little Nexus 7.  After some scrounging on eBay I found a nice ASUS Transformer tablet that came in under $100.

I call it Mini Me.  Even though it's really a mini Eric's laptop.  Don't question it.
Say Hello to my little friend

The cool thing about these Transformer tablets is they have an optional detachable keyboard.  Thanks to the magic of eBay, I also found one of these and – miracle of miracles – it actually matched the tablet.  End result:

Bam!  So, there's a reason ASUS called it a Transformer tablet.
Bam! So, there’s a reason ASUS called it a Transformer tablet.

Now I’ve got a little laptop that has an extra battery in the keyboard that gives it a battery life of around 24 hours or so.  Documents to Go gives me Word functionality (I’d still like to see Scrivener on Android), Dropbox means I can get to my stuff wherever I need to, and a fully functional keyboard gives me a nice, portable writing platform.  If I had a cell modem I’d be good to go.

What did I write?  I worked on Zona Peligrosa and almost made it to the point where Jack Bradford guns down a couple of meth-head thugs.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it’s done right.

Interview with author Eric Lahti – contributor to charity anthology “You’re Not Alone”

An interview with yours truly by the talented Christoph Fischer

writerchristophfischer

Youre Not Alone 3d inamge (1)Today I’m welcoming Eric Lahti, another great writer whom I’ve met through our work for “You’re Not Alone”, an anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care. This is part of a series of blog posts to introduce my colleagues in this endeavour. The anthology is available for pre-order and will be released on July 11. 

Twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, show your support by liking the new page on Facebook and expressing an interest in buying the book.

You’ll find the book on your Amazon for per-order via these links:
http://smarturl.it/YoureNotAloneAnth
http://bookshow.me/B00Y5RCOOE

You’ll find the Facebook page here: 

https://www.facebook.com/yourenotalone2015

And here is the fund, in loving memory of Pamela Mary Winton

https://macmillan.tributefunds.com/pamela-mary-winton

41XzrM9ZbyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_“The Henchmen” by Eric Lahti is a hugely enjoyable read. Lahti provides a cast of memorable and entertaining characters that could carry a series without…

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Book Review: Not What You Thought by P.A. Ruddock

The full title is Not What You Thought? and Other Surprises… A Collection of Short Stories, but that would have made for a seriously long post title, so I hope Paul forgives me for truncating his title.

Not What You Thought is a collection of stories ranging from flash fiction levels up to more traditional short story levels all tied together in a neat package themed around leading you down one path before revealing you were actually going down a completely different path all along.  It’s like pure evil in book form, something this guy would write.

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And it’s absolutely fun.  Every last page.  Every little forgotten alleyway of the mind it takes you down, every dusty path into every run-down shop in your head that turns into a Super Wal-Mart when you least expect it; it’s all fun.  And more than a few caught me by surprise even though I sat down with the full knowledge that Not What You Thought was full of twist endings.  Think of these stories as what M. Night Shyamalan used to write before he completely lost it: Unbreakable (one of my favorite movies), The Sixth Sense, and Signs not the abhorrent The Village or that terrible one where the trees convince people to kill themselves.  In other words, the good twist endings that make you go:

THAT'S RIGHT!
THAT’S RIGHT!

It’s got some great reads and a few real gems in its digital pages.  While I was reading I found myself laughing out loud (a rare thing for me) and pondering the meaning behind the story (a much more common thing for me).  At times Not What You Thought is funny, other times it’s a pensive tale of the afterlife, still other times revolve around a dream or the sudden and inescapable desire everyone has to mess with telemarketers.

The problem with reviewing stories like this is you can’t even really bring up the plots without giving away the whole kit and kaboodle.  Trust me, though, there’s some great stuff in Not What You Thought.  As a bonus, it also has some great guest authors (Tom Benson – Lesley Hayes – Peter Nena – John M.W. Smith – Matthew Williams), who put their own spins on the twisty turny tales.  Read the first one at least, it’s available as part of the Kindle preview, and you’ll be hooked.

notwhatyouthought

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