My other lifelong special interest: Martial Arts. I've been training since 1988. The primary things that drew me to Martial Arts were: 1) the geometry-in-motion movements and 2) patterns. If a style did not have what I considered an effective combination of the two, I would simply ignore it and continue collecting the styles that did. I've been quite fortunate to have encountered (mostly by chance) some amazing instructors over the years. Me being the "aspie" that I am, I would not limit my study time to just the training sessions (about one hour per-day or per-week).. I would replay each session in my head, repeatedly.. as soon as I got Home, I would transfer everything I learned to paper.
It was through this method (along with video), that I was able to apply universal concepts (similar to Ed Parker's Kenpo if-then, reverse motion). There are many things I can say about my Martial Arts experiences, but, like all special interests, it's a capsule locked inside my mind in an endless loop of sorts. The annoying thing about special interests is that (speaking for myself) I can only go from one to the other, consecutively. I can't do it concurrently. In other words, I can't be into Martial Arts editing a Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling reference video for YouTube then go to drawing a super hero then go to working on my website. It's all in modes. Once locked-into a mode, there's no getting out until.. it's time to do so (see my other sections regarding threshold and special interests and hyper-focus).
I'm sure the folks I trained with---on more than one occasion---didn't realize some of my odd mannerisms, very specific questions or lack thereof, and intense drives were the result of having an autistic student in their midst. I struggled immensely with specific instruction given to me (much like I struggled in regular school while growing up). I was also incredibly uncoordinated and clumsy (poor motor movement is another typical symptom of autism). Thanks to Martial Arts training, I learned balance, coordination, control, left versus right, inner-outer/linear/circular motion.. all of which contributed toward my gradual compensation.
The funny part is, I had NO idea I was getting the compensatory benefit from Martial Arts training---apart from it feeding my special interest---but, the reward was far more than the challenges I encountered.
Kajukenbo and Judo
Albuquerque, NM (1988)
In 1988, I began taking an interest in Martial Arts. Even though I had been physically bullied, often, in early school years, I was not as interested in self-defense as I was in learning techniques. I owned every Bruce Lee, Sho Kosugi, Van Damme, and Steven Segal movie, and I wanted to learn how to do what they did. My Dad (and Uncle Eugene) had trained for a time with the 1969 Black Belt Hall of Fame Man of the Year, Sam Allred in Judo/Kajukenbo during their High School years at West Mesa High School. Dad also was trained in The Air Force's Combatives Program (AFCP). I learned as much as I could from him, and this kicked-off my special interest since then. The below photos are of me training with Dad, my uncle, and some West Mesa HS yearbook photos of Sam.
Aikido (Ueshiba Style)
Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Aiki-kai/O'Neil Center (1990 to current)
In 1990, we moved to Phoenix, AZ for two years, and I "stumbled upon" Aikido classes being offered via The Arizona Aiki-kai at The O'Neil Center. This was my very first formal Martial Arts classroom environment. I would learn the techniques, go Home as quickly as possible, replay everything in my head like a video, and transfer it all onto paper as drawings. Because of that approach, everything "stuck" in my head, and I became our instructor's assistant. It was a small class, and I barely noticed any stress-related anxiety during this time. I loved the techniques and science behind Aikido. Admittedly, there are many alterations I would make in order for it to work in a modern self-defence situation, but the techniques DO compliment other styles---especially the concepts like Unbendable Arm, pivoting and other footwork, flexibility exercises, blending of energy, etc..
Hinzman's Fighting Arts (NHB)
Phoenix, AZ (1990/91 to current)
In 1990, we moved to Phoenix, AZ for two years, and I had the honour of "stumbling upon" an EXTREMELY gifted Martial Artist/competitor/Guardian Angels Safety Alliance Regional Coordinator/Self-Defense Trainer. I captured our training session on video, went home, and dissected every movement and concept. I discovered there were hidden circular and linear motions within what he taught me. There were also significantly-simplistic techniques (thanks to his background in Jeet Kune Do, Hung Gar/Fu Jow Pai Gung Fu, Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, and Gene LeBell's Grappling). My special interest in Martial Arts only GREW because of this. My hypo-sensitivity to pain was quite apparent as I never felt pain while being tossed on hard surfaces (there were NO mats).
Albuquerque, NM (1992 to current)
In 1992, I gained a new training partner who was excellent in Judo and Ving Tsun (Wing Chun Gung Fu), and we trained once-per-week. We would cross-train. As a result, Combat Self-Defense was born (combining grappling with all previous striking concepts). We even opened a school in 1993 called Valley of the Sun Martial Arts Center, and, in 1994, I did a bold thing by myself and traveled to Denver, CO to train with The Guardian Angels Safety Alliance (the showers were shared in one gymnasium---I avoided showering with anyone else the entire time I was there). I learned a great deal, and it was a very interesting experience, but all of the interaction and sensory overload was far too overwhelming, and I had to shut it all down.
Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling (Wigan-Lancashire Style)
Salt Lake City, UT - Altitude Combat Sports (2009 to current)
In 2009, I took a special interest in Catch Wrestling, which is an Old English grappling style that is one of the parents/grandparents to MMA, Amateur Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (the latter also coming from Judo). I had never seen techniques of such precision like this before. It was a near-lost art that was once so prominent in the late 1800's and early 1900's even in The States. I did something quite daring and traveled up to Salt Lake City, UT to train with Coach Jake Shannon and the legendary CACC Coach, Billy Robinson. My literal interpretation of spoken instruction got me into trouble with my coaches on more than one occasion, but the techniques they taught.. stuck. My hypo-sensitivity to external pain was apparent several times when a training partner attempted to crank an Achilles Lock on my right leg, and I felt nothing and did not tap-out as a result. This may sound like a useful thing, but it's actually potentially damaging---e.g. I injured my right ankle because I didn't feel anything until a Heel Hook was fully applied by my training parnter---far too late to avoid injury by that point. The anxiety-induced psychosomatic muscle pain was minimal but still noticeable.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Combatives
Louisville, KY - Gracie Jiu-Jitsu of Kentucky (2014 to current)
In 2009, I met two training partners, and we would train in a basement. As our group grew in size, so did my anxiety (I didn't know it was anxiety at the time). I cut back my training time, thinking there was something degenerative occurring with my muscles/joints.
In 2014, I decided to go back to a formal class room environment as a student. I absolutely loved the school I joined. Unfortunately, muscle pains, extreme fatigue, and intense sweating returned in far greater degree than ever. It was here that I realized something was wrong. Little did I know at the time that I was experiencing psychosomatic responses to stress caused from social/general anxiety. When I was home, I was fine. When I was in class, the above-mentioned symptoms would kick-in about 15 minutes into each hour-long session.. and would not alleviate for three to four full days later.
Baguazheng and Qi Gong
Louisville, KY (Current)
As of 2017, I've decided to focus on internal Martial Arts. In concordance with a far more Taoist philosophy, I've managed to alleviate the previous muscle pains and anxiety that used to accompany my training sessions (among other events). I was once quite skeptical of internal energy/breath training but have since become a believer. It seems logical to me to have a complete EXTERNAL and a complete INTERNAL practice since that is the rule of Yin-Yang (harmonious balance). This doesn't mean I give up external training by any means.