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‘In the Moment’
Life Lessons Learned from Sparring by Sifu Brian William Jewell
© 2021 James LaFond
The 15 chapters of this experiential record of self-testing and adaptation cover 82 pages and tell the story of one man’s quest to “walk down the street.”
Brian is a small guy—even smaller than I—who I sparred with I think, in 2014, at Jim Frederick’s American Kempo school at a boxing clinic conducted by Arturo Gabriel. Brain isn’t some nut trying to devolve into barbarity or raise the Old Gods, but a level-headed guy with normal physiology who grew up in a the worst precinct in Baltimore County—the savage step-child of Baltimore City—and possessed the simple ambition to be able to defend himself.
This ideal self-actualization, of being a man who could fight back against the savages that constantly assailed the residents of Essex in the 1990s until this very day, what would have made Brain the ideal citizen of earlier civilizations, put him at odds with our current zeitgeist, especially when he was involved with the Guardian Angels. Despite this background, Brian stays cleanly focused on the mission statement of Life Lessons Learned through Sparring and writes a book for an improvement-minded reader with a liberal education and no desire to fall afoul of the Law.
The men who have been easiest to cross train with in my experience have come from the Chinese Martial Arts. And so I discovered with Brian, at a boxing clinic populated by Escrima and Wing Chun people, where he demonstrated the control necessary to put in a lot of work without either one of us getting hurt.
In Life Lessons Learned Through Sparring Brian presents his induction into combat training through the little known art of Tao Chuan Po Kung-Fu and carries his narrative through the conceptual process of combat training: such as covering the facts that you will be hit, that standing still is courting disaster and that at some point you will end up on your ass.
For me, as combat arts nerd, I very much enjoyed Brian’s recounting of his experiences, such as the following recollection:
“Problems can arise when this mental exercise is taken from a different angle. When I decided to get into competition, my Ba Gua instructor gave me some advice on how to prepare mentally for the tournaments. He told me to imagine that I was big a cat and that they were a mouse. He also told me to imagine that I was a strong wind and that they were made of straw.”
The experience of the self-defense devotee, who wants to live in peace in a violent world, is honestly and tactfully exposed in Brian Jewell’s narrative reflection of over 30 years devoted to the one single activity that would eliminate most violent crime if Americans were not creatures of sloth and cowardice too lazy to even defend their own persons—the determination to train to fight back against those who would attack us.
Thanks, Brian for this copy of your latest book.
‘A Far-Seeing Place’
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