Ridin’ the Storm Out

Storm_from_Therapy1It started off as a perfect day. The skies were blue and it wasn’t even too hot. Checking the weather before I left the dock, I could tell that we had a chance of rain late in the afternoon, but the chances weren’t very high so I wasn’t too worried about it. We loaded up the boat and left the dock late – around 2:45PM – and headed downriver to Rick’s on the River at Fairview Beach. The ride was as smooth as glass, and it seemed like the day couldn’t get any nicer. After about 40 minutes, we arrived at Rick’s, and I went up on deck to drop the anchor.

A dirty little secret of mine was that my anchor rode on this boat previously had no chain, and frankly I wasn’t too worried about it until last weekend at Tim’s 2 when my anchor started slipping. This prompted me to finally add chain to my rode a few days before our departure, and I was excited (in a geeky kind of way) to get to use it on this trip. Unfortunately due to our late start we missed rafting up with some friends. They were concerned about the weather turning, and decided to head back to the marina. I thought they were being a little over-cautious, but who am I to judge? So down the anchor went.

With the anchor set, it was finally time for a beer and some relaxation. It was my friend’s birthday, so after a while we decided to go ashore and enjoy the bikini contest and food at Rick’s. It took a while, but we were finally able to signal the water taxi and get picked up. I knew the day was getting a little late, so once we got to our table, I checked the MyRadar app on my phone to see where the weather was at the time. To my relief, the storm system was still way out west of Charlottesville, so I knew I could relax for a while. Not really…

After watching the bikini contest and getting some lunch, I decided to check the MyRadar app again. To my horror, the storm was MUCH closer and stronger (mostly red now on the radar app) than I figured it would be! The dark clouds had not yet arrived here, but a quick look upriver told me that the radar was not lying. What’s worse – we were cut off from returning upriver to the marina!

Storm_from_Shore2I’ve been through thunderstorms before in a previous boat years ago. I remembered it was not a fun experience, and it was the last thing I wanted to go through again. Knowing that my options were now severely limited, I decided that the best course of action would be to leave the boat anchored and ride out the storm on shore. The only problem was that I had some items in the cockpit that I didn’t want to get wet, so I was going to have to make a quick trip back to the boat to square it away. My plan was get aboard, put away the gear that didn’t like water, put up the canvas, and let out a little more anchor line. Then I could go back ashore knowing that I did all I could.

I got to the water taxi, and told the driver that I would only be aboard my boat for a few minutes while I made preparations for the storm. He understood, and we made our way back to my boat. After dropping me off, I watched him drive the water taxi a little ways off to wait for me. Knowing I had a way to get back ashore, I confidently started going about the business of storm preparation. It didn’t take long, and once I had all the canvas up I turned around to signal the taxi that I was ready to be picked up. That’s when I realized he had already gone!

I thought maybe he had gone to pick up other people, so I climbed up on the bow of my boat to flag him down. It was then that I realized that he was nowhere to be seen! This was not good, because there was still a HUGE crowd at the dock that were still waiting on him to take them back to their own boats. The people on the dock were on the verge of panic. I got on the phone with my friend who was still on shore, and he started looking for the taxi as well. After a good 10 minutes, the taxi finally appeared and loaded up people from the Rick’s dock.

By this time, the water had started to get pretty choppy and I could tell that the taxi driver was having a real hard time transferring people onto their boats. I was still on the bow of my boat facing shore when I saw the taxi driver head back to the marina. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t coming for me – until I finally turned around. Bearing down on me was the dreaded storm front – a giant angry savage wall of doom! It had moved in so fast, and the sight was so shocking to me, that it took me a moment to realize what I was looking at. I was screwed. I was in the exact place that I DIDN’T want to be in!

I quickly scrambled down off the deck and cranked up the engine. My thought was: If the anchor should somehow fail, at least I could maintain position and steerage. With all my prep work complete, all I could do now was sit there and wait for the storm to hit. There was a few other boats still at anchor and I could see people huddled inside, but I began to notice that most people had weighed anchor and were steering into the coming storm with minimal power. I thought this was probably a better idea, so I started to go back on deck to pull up my anchor too, but it was too late – that was when the storm finally hit us.

Storm_from_Therapy3It started with a violent blast of VERY cold air, and the wind just didn’t stop blowing! In no time, the water became choppier than I’d ever seen it before. From my position at the helm, it looked like 5-6 ft waves, maybe higher, that were crashing into the bow of the boat. The anchor line strained, but somehow held steady. I looked around at the other few boats also anchored and they seemed to be holding as well – or maybe we were all dragging at the same rate? The shore didn’t seem to be getting any closer for the moment, so that was a small relief.

Soon the storm found it’s rhythm and we were getting thrashed by the wind and the waves. It’s a disconcerting thing when you see your bow actually go under the waves numerous times. I wondered how long the boat could take it, and I was worried that the anchor would let loose. I then realized that I may be in a bad spot. The boat was thrashing so hard now that it was impossible to get out on the deck and weigh anchor. If the anchor were to drag or let loose completely, I’d have to drive the boat forward into the wind and waves, while somehow avoiding running over my own anchor line! Too late to consider that now – the die was cast and there was nothing left to do but hold on tight and pray.

Those of us still at anchor got the privilege of enjoying a nice 1 hour of non-stop violent pitching, rolling, and thrashing before the storm finally let up. When it did, my friends were able to get the taxi to bring them back to the boat. I was able to get up on deck and weigh anchor, and we headed slowly upriver home. The ride back to the marina gave me plenty of time to think about what all had transpired, and what lessons I had learned from this horrific experience:

  • Always pay attention to the weather, and respect the destructive power of nature. A storm can sneak up on you pretty quickly!
  • Always err on the side of caution when determining if it is time to head back home
  • Never forget that if you have to rely on a third party for transport to or from shore, that transport may not be entirely reliable.
  • If you get caught in a storm with no escape, it may be better to weigh anchor and steer into the wind and waves under minimal power until the storm passes.
  • It is probably a bad idea to remain rafted up during a storm.

Thankfully mine, and the other boats that were anchored with me at Rick’s made it through the storm with no damage. Sadly, other friends of mine who were at Mattawoman Creek were not as fortunate. I’m just glad that nobody got hurt. That was a huge storm, and not one that I will soon forget!

My E-Cig Stuff

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 5.19.17 PMMany people have asked about my e-cig setup and where I get my gear.  So here it is:


Replacement Coils (for the Kanger)

iJoy 650mah Variable Voltage Battery (get at least 2 of these)


And now you’ll probably want to mix your own juices.  I buy my components from Wizard Labs.  You’ll need at least:

Vegetable Glycerin USP – 120ml
60mg Nicotine solution – 250ml
(And whatever flavors you want…)


Go forth and vape!

The Hardest Test

blerch_cosplayAbout a year ago I earned my first degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo.  It was a really fun journey, and this was a major milestone!  Unfortunately, I somehow got it into my head that the journey was over and I no longer had to worry about staying fit and healthy.  As a result, you could say that I put on a few pounds.  Like, a LOT of pounds.  I also haven’t been back in the dojo in months.  This isn’t good.

In a recent article on his website, Master Santillo wrote about the necessity of viewing your blackbelt test as a daily occurrence.  This resonated with me, as I know I have not been worthy of the belt for quite some time.  In fact, I’ve been in a funk for the better part of a year and the view sucks from here.  So, I’ve made a decision to get back on the horse and suffer my way back to good health!  This should be interesting.

I love a challenge!

Yin Shou Gun - Shaolin Staff

Yin Shou Gun – Shaolin Staff

I found a form where even the most basic of it’s movements blows my mind. To me, that’s the best thing in the world! Now I get to obsess over this form for the next 4 months (at least), just to even get close to doing it right. That’s just plain awesome!

If you find yourself getting frustrated while learning a form or technique, step back and consider yourself lucky! Think about how much better you will be once you reach the point where it starts looking right! Mastery of forms and techniques is a lifelong goal, not something to be attained in a week or so.

We value the things that we must work hard to attain!

George’s Beer Wall of Fame

About 6 months ago I re-discovered beer.  What that means is, I chanced upon a craft brew that I actually liked.  This was a total surprise to me because I always looked upon beer as a “drink for the barbarians.”  The beer that won me back over was Heavy Seas Below Decks, an english barleywine-style beer aged in bourbon barrels.  Since then, I’ve been trying different types of beers, hating most but loving some.  So I decided to write this pointless post about the list of George Approved beers.  This means that if you want to make me smile, all you have to do is present me with one of these!


Heavy Seas – Below Decks (Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine Style)

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Piraat

Piraat Belgian Ale


St Martin – Brune


Weyerbacher – Insanity (Barrel Aged Barley Wine Style)

Dogfish Head - Urkontinent (Belgian-style dubbel)

Dogfish Head – Urkontinent (Belgian-style dubbel)


Delirium Nocturnum – Belgian Ale


Ettaler – Curator Doppelbock


Legend – Brown Ale


Heavy Seas – Holy Sheet (Barrel Aged Uber Abbey Ale)


Terrapin – Wake n’ Bake


Weyerbacker Merry Monks (Belgian Trippel)


Three Philosophers (Quadrupel Ale)


Hobgoblin Dark English Ale

Hoegaarden Wit Blanche

Hoegaarden Wit Blanche

Wee Heavy Scotch Ale!

Wee Heavy Scotch Ale!

Not much Budweiser here!  Anyways, as I discover more, I’ll post them here so that all may bask in non-junk-beer glory!  Also, here is this awesome periodic table of beers, for your further education!  🙂



What Good are Forms?

Grandmaster DeMasco's Sai FormPart of the process of studying a martial art is the learning of forms.  I think the value of a form is commonly underestimated by newer students.  The new student may think to themselves, “I’m here to learn about fighting! Why do I need to do these silly movements?”  Or another may be, “What good will Kata 1 do me in a fight?”  What the new student may not understand is that the study of martial arts is not just about fighting – it’s about so much more!  Without getting too deep into that greater subject, I’m going to attempt to explain why I love forms, and why they are so useful.

Contrary to the belief of the new student above, a form is more than just a collection of movements. Every form is a lesson in itself.  They can be used to teach us to use our bodies in new and unfamiliar ways.  Like our kempos, each form that we learn should introduce and emphasize new concepts.  Sometimes these are new strikes, other times these are blocks, stances or more general principals.  The form also demonstrates how these movements could work together to achieve a goal (like defeating your opponent).  At first these movements may seem alien, but after much practice they become second nature.  This is important because in a fight when the adrenaline is pumping, one of the first things we lose is fine motor control.  It’s the muscle memory of the martial artist that gives him the edge – the ability to recognize and perform a technique without having to think about it.

Because forms teach us to move our bodies in new and unfamiliar ways.  This means that while we are learning, we must think about what we are doing in order to do it right.  The more difficult the form, the harder it is to memorize and perform.  This appeals to my geek-self because I love a challenge, and I love to use my mind.  I don’t mind taking a year to learn a form correctly, because learning and improving is part of the fun!

Powerful strikes and blocks are a necessity in martial arts, and forms allow us to practice our technique and power at the same time – something we can’t practice on our partners in the dojo!  Imagine breaking your partner’s nose, sweeping their leg, and stomping on their throat in group class, over and over again!  (I’m sure that there are folks who work with me that may have imagined this scenario numerous times, but I digress…)  That’s something you can only do once per partner, which means that you would quickly find yourself partnerless and unable to practice anymore.  Luckily for us, the air doesn’t mind being struck multiple times in many different ways at maximum power!   This is great news because we never want to get into the bad habit of not delivering powerful devastating strikes.

I started studying kempo because I couldn’t stand the idea of going to the gym.  For me, the thought of lifting weights or running on a treadmill (going nowhere) for an hour ranks one step above dowsing myself with gasoline and lighting a match!  If the gym was my only option for getting a good workout, I’d look like Jabba the Hut.  The dojo turned out to be the perfect workout venue for me, and probably saved me from an early heart attack.  Unfortunately the dojo isn’t open every day, which means some days I would be left with no George-acceptable method of working out.  This is where forms come in very handy!  I use forms to trick myself into working out.  A form done properly, with good technique, low stances and maximum power, should be exhausting.  Chain a few together and you have a real challenge!

Learning and using a form happens in phases.  The student must first memorize the basic movements of the form, which may take a long time.  Next the student adds technique, power and speed to the form, making it better.  Finally, once the student no longer has to think about the movements and techniques when doing the form, that form will start improving the student!  I still find areas where I can improve even my earliest forms, and that’s awesome!

So while you may find it frustrating to devote so much time and energy to learning a form, just remember that you are really just building a very powerful tool that can be used to give you a great workout and make you a better martial artist!

Alexandria Running Festival

runThe dojo was closed on Monday and I knew I’d be getting a little slothy, so this past weekend I decided to run in the Alexandria Running Festival.  My wife and nephew Daniel were doing the Half Marathon, but that’s a little beyond my 10 mile limit, so her sister Aimee and I decided to just run the 5k.  I only have a couple comments about this run:

1. For something named the Alexandria Running Festival, the organizers and the city made sure that we ran the most boring and non-scenic route possible.  Although the half-marathon got the pleasure of running through Cameron Station and Ben Brenman park, the race was mostly routed down Eisenhower Avenue – not exactly the prettiest part of Alexandria.  Of course we 5k runners only got to experience the desolation of Eisenhower Ave, and nothing else.


2. Unlike other running events where crowds of people got together along the route to cheer on the runners, this event had exactly TWO people cheering, and one of them was my wife!  The lack of a “cheering section” really did affect the general mood of the event.  Of course, because it was mostly on Eisenhower Ave – the industrial side of town – there really wasn’t many places for people to gather and cheer.  Maybe next year we could be routed through parts of the city that people would actually want to run through??

3. A 5k run is really just a warm-up.  I’m not exactly Bruce Jenner, but I’m starting to need more distance in a run than just a few miles.  I think I’ll institute a 10k and above policy and see how that works out.

All in all, it was a fun day.  I’m glad my wife and nephew got to do the half-marathon that they’ve been training for, and Aimee and I had fun doing the shorter run.  Sure beats sitting around and watching TV all day!

You can view some of the photos of the event here!

Slacking Off? Not a Good Idea!

tourneyburpeesIt seems that I’ve made a terrible mistake.  Last year during a Potomac Kempo tournament I was able to do 355 burpees in one hour.  Leading up to that time, I had been doing burpee tabatas after every group class.  After that event, I kind of slacked off on the whole burpee tabata thing.  Sure, I’d do one ever so often, but it was becoming more and more rare.  I can’t remember exactly when it was, but at some point I stopped doing them altogether!

This past tournament we did a similar event where we had to do burpees for only 20 minutes.  While I was able to crank out 127 of them, I certainly didn’t feel good about it.  I remember being very glad that this event wasn’t for a full hour, because I didn’t think I could have handled that.  Looking back, those tabatas probably allowed me to survive that previous one hour session last year.  This time, because I was out of “practice,” it hurt a LOT more.

Not only that, but I’ve also noticed that I’m getting “winded” easier than before, which is also causing me issues with running.  The other day I ran out of steam after only a couple miles!  This forced me to take a hard look at the status of my fitness, and come to the only conclusion possible:

I’ve been slacking off, and getting less fit as a result.

That just won’t do.  I’ve worked too hard to get into some semblance of fitness, and there’s no way I’m going to give that up.  So I decided that I’m going back to my daily burpee tabatas, and doing a triple tabata on Tuesdays at the end of every Academy class.

Those who are familiar with our Academy classes (and regular classes too) know that this is going to be a difficult commitment to adhere to, but it must be done regardless of my exhaustion.  As always, I’ll be relying heavily on the support of my peers in class to drive me to continue, and keep me honest.  Luckily, everyone at the dojo is very cool, and I’m pretty sure they won’t let me weasel out!

There.  I said it.  It’s official now.

Support the Alexandria Seaport Foundation

after_burpeesOn May 5, Potomac Kempo will be having it’s Spring 2013 Tournament at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Old Town Alexandria.  This will be the second tournament in which we promote the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.  This is a great local charity who is making a difference in the lives of the people living all around us. From their website:

“The Alexandria Seaport Foundation (ASF) seeks to build and enrich the lives of youth, with special emphasis on those whose circumstances have made them at risk or disconnected from the mainstream. Through hands-on teaching techniques, a focus on job and life skills and caring adult mentoring, we empower young men and women, from middle school into young adulthood, to get on a path toward living productive lives with meaningful jobs.  Through the building and use of wooden boats, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation helps young people turn their lives around and provides families, community groups, and schools with meaningful educational, social, and recreational experiences.”

The point of this post is that you now have a great opportunity to support this foundation!  During the PK Tournament, I will be doing burpees for 20 minutes.  (What’s a burpee?)  You can choose to sponsor me on a per-burpee basis, or just pledge a fixed amount of money.  While donating a fixed amount is a good thing, the per-burpee option is more exiting and gives me an incentive to work real hard!  For example, if you pledge $1 per burpee and I end up doing 20 burpees during the event, you will have donated $20!  How awesome is that?

I’ll update this page after the event with the number of burpees that I was able to crank out during the event, and ASF will give you a follow-up call to collect after the tournament!  🙂

 Number of Burpees Completed in 20 Mins: 127

Truth and Logic or Emotion and Fear?

This was originally written by Kelly Cobean, a friend and coworker.  It has been reproduced here with his permission:

First and foremost, my heart goes out to all of the victims and their families. My prayers are with them in this difficult time. I hope the coward(s) that perpetrated this senseless act of violence is/are caught, tried, and sentenced to a swift death.

With that said, I hope everyone can UNDERSTAND what this picture is implying and check their own thinking about what it means to be a responsible, ruggedly self-reliant American. This picture isn’t about bombs or guns, it’s about logic and how we take responsibility for our actions and how we hold others accountable for theirs. Are we acting out of truth and logic or emotion and fear?

A gun is a tool of sport, protection and resource in law abiding hands. Conversely, a pressure cooker and some scrap metal is a tool of pain, death and terror in the wrong hands. Because we cannot control the actions of anyone but ourselves, we cannot throw away or allow to be taken away, our right to defend ourselves against evil. We cannot trade liberty for security. It does not work and history has proven it to be a costly trade time and time again. But it is the agenda of the left.

Would a gun in the hands of a law abiding citizen have stopped the bombing? Maybe not. Would it have stopped any of the mass shootings? Possibly. Nothing is certain, but why not protect the chance it might have instead of eliminating it? We mitigate risk every day when we put on our seat belts, equip our homes and offices with fire extinguishers and see our doctor for a check up. Is keeping a gun in your home, or carrying one on your person such an outlandish step to take? It may seem to be right up until you need it, then it becomes the best decision you ever made. The question is, when do you get serious about being responsible for you?

With 350+ million of us in this country now, it is estimated that there are 437 citizens for every police officer. Too often the police, heroic as many of them are, arrive just in time to draw the chalk outline. It’s not their fault, they are not God, they are not omnipresent. YOU are responsible for you RIGHT NOW. It’s up to you to determine whom they draw the outline around. Focus hard on maintaining your freedom and protecting your rights. The world is a dangerous place, there is no denying it and there is no changing it

It is even more dangerous when you are defenseless against it.