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Tim Macias

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Everything posted by Tim Macias

  1. For my last night of training, the General took us back over to the sport boxing gym for another go at the pads and even a round of sparring. With the General - and most of the gym - looking on, Tyler and I did rounds with the pad holder from the other day. Some of the techniques the General has been trying to get us to do the last few weeks almost came out more naturally; but honestly, if the kick was too fast, I still was not able to get my body to react fast enough. I was mostly concentrating on my waist rotations and weight transfer. Both of which will take many, MANY more months of work before I don’t have to think about them, and can just do them naturally. Also tonight, we got to spare with one of the gyms advanced students. They told us he was a decorated Western and Thai boxer. And dang, were they correct. While he was just playing with us, see what we could do and if we would buy into his game, the gym’s boxer was lightening fast and had footwork that could put most dancers to shame. I have a very playful sparring game to begin with, but the gym’s boxer was just as playful and it was hard not to buy into it. This was not favored by the General. He wanted us to sit back more, wait for the attacks and defend. While the General was very forgiving of my tendencies, he often yelled comments and corrections my way during each round (I honestly didn’t hear many of them thought, Swear). More so than anything, the General wanted to see how we defend, he didn’t want to us make mistakes attacking and be countered on. Which honestly, happened a fair amount. The gym’s boxer was playful but patient and I found myself getting ancy. I was able every now and then to pull of some of the block the General favors, along with a few other kicks and punched we practiced. Above else, it was fun. Always room for improvement though. Tomorrow I will get on a plane and head back to California. I have no words which I think do justice for the experience I’ve had hear. Three years ago, if you had told me this is where I’d be, and this is what I’d be doing, I would have you that you are crazy. When Kevin pitched me the idea, I wasn’t sure how serious to take the suggestion. But here I am. Martial arts is by far the best thing to ever happen to me. I owe so much of who I am and the things I’ve had the opportunity to do to martial arts. Martial art is quite literally like having a super power. Much beyond being to physical impose yourself on someone, martial arts allows you the power to be confident. To go into the unfamiliar and come out the other side better for having done it. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of those who offered their words of encouragement and support. Especially, thank you Tyler, Mai, Kevin and Sylvie. I could not have done this with out you all! I talk to you all again when I am back in California.
  2. Today the General took me over to a sport Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. This gym belong to one of his friends, a former Lumpini champion. The General was looking for two things: One to show me and discuss how other gyms teach compared to him. And two, to have me hit pads to check my technique and feel what it’s like to try and use Lertrit in a sporting setting. Full disclaimer, I was told this wasn’t a hard Muay Thai training camp, but placed emphasis the conditioning and health aspects of boxing. I still thought the pad holders here were very nice and did their jobs well. There was give and take with tonights session. On one hand, it was super fun to hit pads! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to hit pads; as a coach, I spend most of my time holding pads for everyone else. To get to sit back and just do the strikes called for, was an extremely enjoyable experience. On the other hand however, I really wanted to display the General’s techniques. The main problem I was having, and the General was seeing, was my inability to consistently demonstrate the Lertrit basics we’ve been practicing. I’ve only been with the General for three weeks, this has not been enough time to get my body to absorb his teachings. In my head I’m thinking about all the things he wants me to do, and sometimes I think I’m doing them. But overall, I just wasn’t consistently able to show all the things I wanted to be able to show the General. The General was admit that I try and defend kicks with his signature elbow block. You can see the General demonstrates this to Sylvie in the video she did with him. After missing and not seeing the opportunity to do this technique, I was able to put it into use in later rounds. Mostly due to the limited time I have been practicing, I’m not able to properly turn my waist when I do this block. The waist turn in vital. Turning the waist while blocking this way is the element which adds power, dispersing the power in your opponents kick and damages their leg; rather than you damaging your elbow or arm. There is also a variation were I kick while blocking this way. I manage to do this relatively well, once. The General can be heard/ seen clapping and smiling. Overall, I am very happy with how tonights training went. I was slightly disappointed in not being able to show the General everything he wanted to see. But by no means do I think he was upset. It’s all learning and he is a very understanding man.
  3. More brain liquifying from the General as we ended the weekend. However, today was special because the General had us padded up from head to toe and throwing (more or less) live punches at one another. We started off slow enough, with one of the General’s assistant trainers holding pads, and every now and then coming back at us with some simple strikes. Soon enough, the General gave us the go-ahead to start throwing punches at each other. He didn’t so much use the phrase, “spare”, as much as he said “combine, combine”. Meaning, the General wanted to see what ideas, concepts and/ or lessons we could piece together in the moment. Both Tyler and I really enjoyed how the sessions progressed. What would happen, is the General or his assistant trainer would notice something Tyler or I would do in a situation. We then would get the appropriate corrections in the form of an impromptu drill(-ish, thing). The idea was to rep the concept out in a functional manner. We moved through a lot of technique, and once again it proved to be much more mentally straining than physical. Although after a few hours of this kind of work, the physical did catch up with us. The afternoon ended with Tyler and I doing a small demo for the community class - made up of mostly retired age people. The General was looking to accomplish two things from what I could tell: to show is students what they were working up to. And the test Tyler and I bit and see what we could recall in the moment. The community class is mostly structured in a way which teaches the class fundamental forms - similar to Karate Kata. Most of the student are retirement aged and mostly do the class for their physical health. Seeing the form in a practice sense is something they have only seen the General do in short reenactments; let alone in a function sense. The General also wanted to see what Tyler and I could recall in a more fast past setting. The recall being the difficult part here. For me, the recall would happen in three phases: I would miss the first opportunity to use a technique, not recalling at all; then I would miss the second opportunity, because of a late recall; and then MAYBE on the third opportunity I might make an attempt at a specific technique. The part that made me feel accomplished about today though, was even just thinking about using a technique. Often the first encouraging break through when I teach a student something new is just the fact the realized they could have done a technique or they realize in the moment where they went wrong. I felt this break through today. Super fun.
  4. Thank you for clarifying. We are striking just below the knee, for the sake of training. I think the General would prefer to actually strike the knee; how about that?
  5. Today the General continued to add yet another Muay Thai Mother Move. While it is sometimes frustrating to practice, the overall experience is fun, because you can see the progression of all of the basics we’ve been taught over the last few weeks. While there are official names for each mother move, they are in Thai and I can neither say nor spell them. But what we practiced today was a counter to a kick. Although not sport legal from what little I know about sport. But I don’t practice for sport, a fact that always makes the General smile when I reming him of such. The beautiful part about the General teaching us this lesson today, was how we needed to call on three separate basics, and be able to execute almost simultaneously to make them one smooth motion. The move involves blocking or dissipating the force of the incoming kick, catching the opponents leg, then finally elbowing their leg. Each one of these steps involves a basic the General showed us leading to day, easy enough each in their own right. The difficult part was stringing them together. There were many frustrating parts about todays lesson, but we kept trying. We have similar movements and block/ strike combinations in San Soo. These types of moves are all about timing. There is a sweet spot between mechanical and rushing each move. While it looks like you are doing each move at the same time, they are actually being done one right after the other, or I like to say, right on top of each other. Sometimes I tell students, its not about doing the moves faster, but shortening the time in-between each move, if that makes any sense? Also, WAY easier said than done. The general laughs whenever say it, like he doesn’t think I’m serious, but I tell him maybe in 10,000 reps I might start to understand. The General often spends much of his time explaining the same idea or motion to us over and over, asking if we understand. At this point in my marital arts career, there is little I don’t understand conceptually. I tell the General, my head understands, but I my body doesn’t know yet. He laughs. I tell him again, maybe in another 10,000 I can start to get it.
  6. While I don’t think it was his intention, the General all but melted our brains tonight. Honestly, he did melt our brains tonight. Intentional or not, the General is very eager to show us as much of the Lertrit style as he can. Because I am only spending a short time in Thailand, the General is pretty much doing an intensive seminar every time we meet with him. Each session is much more mental taxing than physically - both Tyler and I are are trying to soak up as much information as we can while also trying to bypass most of the habits we’ve developed in prior trainings. As we enter the home stretch of my stay in Thailand, the General has introduced, “The Mothers Moves” or the Muay Thai tricks, as he sometimes refers to them. The mother moves are counter attacks seemingly applied to end a fight. From these mother moves, there are exponentially more offspring moves which make up the other styles fo Muay Thai. All of the basics we’ve learned till now make up the foundation for which the mothers moves should rest. Without the basics, the Mother Moves will be less effective, meaning not effective at all. Pretty much all of the training leading till now has lead to this point. If I am remembering correctly, there are 15 mother moves. Each mother move could be it’s own weekend long seminar, yet we were introduced to four tonight. Is this why my brains feels like an egg?
  7. Because the General wasn’t available for training tonight, I ended up watching a lot of the video Kevin just posted of day 11. Just a view notes you might not be able to pick up from the video posted above: The first technique the General has me practice during out session, hook(ish) punch to a “back-hand”. Just about every art (including San Soo) has their variation of a back-hand, or back-fist, or any vernacular thereof, so here is the Lertrit variation. The General talked about throwing this back-hand after an opponent veers their head back to avoid a hooking punch. As their head returns to center, and to also regain your feet after missing, the idea is to step forward and narrow your stance and hit them with the back hand. A prime example of the kind of flow the General is always talking about. The kick the General has me practicing about 45 min into the night, he refers to as a half kick. As explained by General, this kick makes contact with the upper part of the shin and is a mid range kick. The General says it’s to be used when you opponent is close far for a standard shin kick, but also too far for a standard knee. It’s awaked as all be on a bag, but when someone is standing in front of you, it makes perfect sense. It felt wicked to just touch him with, let alone to someone who wouldn’t understand its being thrown. One of the last techniques of the night, about 1:25 min in, the General starts having me practice a straight, down elbow. Soon enough he has me jumping into the strike. Jumping into a strike is fun and I love when he asks me to do this. However, the thing he corrects me on every time I jump into a technique, is to land softly. “I don’t want to hear you”, the General insist. I really like this correction for two reasons: One, I love the way it comes out - I don’t want to hear you - it makes me smile. Two, this was a constant correction I received in ballet. And usually unless you’ve done both, there is often a gross misunderstanding how close ballet is to all martial arts. Land softly when jumping, it shows you have control over your body.
  8. The General is doing his best to do two things. Hold us accountable for what he is teaching. But at the same time, he wants to show as much as possible because I am only in Bangkok for a short while. You can tell when the General is teaching that to former is more his style than the latter. Especially because Lertrit is so detail oriented. Rushing the process only short changes the next technique after. Much like I talked about yesterday, everything for the General comes down to the basics. Accordingly, if one of your basics is lacking or incomplete, then the rest of your technique will be less effective. The General is giving me a lot of credit because of my background, but you can tell it's a struggle for him deciding rather or not I understand enough of one concept to move on to the next. While I usually understand, this is not the same thing as getting by body to do it. The General often speaks in terms of making thing happen naturally. He often uses this idea interchangeably with flow. I like the concept of flow much better. This is something close to my heart and was cemented into my brain in San Soo. Much like San Soo each move - each punch, elbow and/ or knee - should flow effortlessly into the next. Rather I missed my target, my opponent moved away or I am fighting multiple opponents, I should be able to recall anyone of my techniques and pick the one which is most appropriate for the situation. It's much like freestyle rapping versus writing out your bars for a song or performance - think like improve. Similar in dance: choreography is much easier to me than to social dance, where I have to come up with the right step in order to let my partner know what I am doing. This ability to flow is something I have when I practice San Soo, bit of course I have been practicing for that flow for more than decade. Flow to me, is the mastery of your style. There is no thinking involved. It has become natural, as the General will say. This is why the basics are so important for him, because if your basics are not good, you can not flow.
  9. I love that you brought Kali into this conversation! I have been exposed to Kali on a number of occasions while training San Soo and while training with some in Humboldt. Both my Master San Soo instructor and our Humboldt self-defense instructor have trained in Kali and with Danny Inosanto, as well as some of his students, now teachers. I was happy to watch the video you included, as many of those patters look familiar. Dare I say, I can replicate one or two of them. I really relate to you observation concerning drills. This is how I learned much of the martial art I know - San Soo, BJJ, Western Boxing - as well as many of the sports I grew up playing. The drill teaches you all of the prerequisite muscle control one will need to execute a technique properly. The General does have some drills, although I don't think he imagines them this way, also, we haven't quite gotten to the point of understanding the basics to be able to move forward into drilling. If you look at some of the padded work Tyler and I do on Day 5, I think you'll see how the General likes to drill. Thank you for bringing this up and showing support!
  10. The General say Muay Thai is very, very difficult; unless you know and understand the basics. I love when the General talks about basics. This is because it’s how I was raised in Kung Fu. My San Soo instructor is often criticized for his emphasis on basics. Such criticisms often come in the form of, “His Kung Fu is great, but he only shows the basics”. Sad for these individuals though, because their schools and/ or their students are rarely as successful and well trained as those who are focusing on the basics. For the General, basics come down to what we have already talked about in earlier post: Breathing; Waist; and Weight transfer. But also three more considerations he emphasized in tonight training: Precision; Speed; Power. Precision - The General discusses this in a matter of how you strike finishes. Go straight to the target, he says. No past, or through, go straight to it. This is by no means a new idea to me. I very much pride myself on being able to throw a strike exactly where I want to and have it land exactly how hard I want it to. Where the General often corrects me, is in my tendency to recoil from the strike. I will throw my punch as hard as I can, but to avoid hitting my partner with a full blow, I stop and pull my strike back just as hard and fast as I threw it. Rather, the General has us go straight to the target and not recoil. Practices hitting exactly where your target is, the General says. Speed - The idea is of speed is only difficult as I learn. I am a very, VERY slow learner. And I’d rather go very, very slow in throwing my strikes, as to make sure I am addressing every nuance from the Generals instruction I can. I want to turn my waist, transfer my weight, and be sure I am breathing as he has instructed. However, the General can only tolerate it this pace for one or two reps. Then he will tell me faster, or to GO. While he is very forgiving of me only having been under his instruction for less than two weeks, he explains that if I am turning my waist correctly and transferring my weight, the speed will take care of itself. Power - Power is the most difficult, because power comes from technique. This is a point I stress to my class and students very frequently: to not try and throw hard, but to let the technique do the work, and power will follow. However, here in Thailand, with the General, I am practicing a very different technique than I am used to, and because I have not begun to perfect the General’s way, I have very little power. Much like speed, power is the product of flawless technique. With the waist turn for example, if I do not turn my waist properly, I end up punching with me arm and not my body - no power, the General says. But if my waist turn, like a rubber band stretched to tension, my arm whips out for my body, and BOOM, power. You can see all of the these basics come together in the Buffalo killing strike. There is a more proper name for this strike (I’m sure Kevin and/ or Sylvie will help me here), but it is a strike that moves somewhere between a hook and a swing punch. But instead of making contact with the knuckles, the General emphasis making impact with the back of the hand. The knuckles, and consequently the hand, are very fragile. Breaking ones hand is often the result of poor punching technique, or someones face being much too strong. In order to avoid breaking the hand, the General (we too in San Soo) will instead hit with more more resilient parts of the hand and/ or body. Kevin has documented this punch before, and when the footage goes live, you’ll be able to see it. But the Buffalo killer is a prime example of the basics of Muay Lertrit coming together.
  11. The General is a very busy man, with a lot on his plate. It’s quite impressive. Being said, we did not have him teaching us today. Rather, the assistants working with him at the WMA (World Muay Thai Alliance) told Tyler and I to practice with each other in a separate room from the community class. This gave Tyler and I time to compare notes and elaborate on our learning processes. What came out today while Tyler and I were comparing our notes, was how similar so many aspects of Lertrit feel to my style of Kung Fu (San Soo). This comes back to an earlier point I tried to make about things being similar, but different. A saying that has become popular between the General and I. In the past I’ve used language as an analogy for learning martial arts. In the early stages of learning an art, one learns the alphabet. Latter, they learn words. So enough how to put together sentences. And before long, conversation is possible. In some instances some martial arts are as different as Thai and English. Other times, martial art styles feel like the same language, but spoken in a different dialect. San Soo and Lertrit feel how I’ve heard others compare Portuguese and Spanish. Please keep in mind I speak neither of these language, only bad California English and am going of what I’ve heard from those who do speak these languages. Both San Soo and Lertrit are true martial styles. There is no sporting application to them. They are meant to incapacitate someone. Also, they flow from once strike to the next. Similar to dancing, once you know how each move can lead to another, there is no break between any two motions. You can simply move from one strike or manipulation to the next from any position you find yourself in. While there are time when my San Soo habits are not helpful in Lertrit, what is helpful is understanding how to flow. The General uses both the word flow and natural. The move should be natural, is what the General will say, it should flow. It's like learning to speak a fluently, rather than in a broken sentence structure. In San Soo and Jiujitsu we talk about flow. Flowing from one move to the next as seamlessly as possible. If you mess up, you just keep going, flow to the next thing you know. The General will talk about a missed punch flowing into an elbow. In jiujitsu, a failed arm lock can flow into a choke. Similar, but different.
  12. I wish I could contribute to this breathing conversation in the manner which I think you all want me to. But, one: there are sweeping generalizations being made, and two: I have no idea. A thing I’ve noticed about training, is the vague generalization of all other arts, except the one being engaged in. For example, in just being in Thailand, there is an insistence of the endless styles of Muay Thai, but when discussing other arts, there is the reduction of all other styles into one, generalized practice. As if there is only one Karate, Taekwondo or Kung Fu. My style of Kung Fu is an obscure sub-branch of another sub-branch, both of which have few similarities to what was portrayed in Kung Fu movies popularized in the 60’s and 70’s. I can not speak for all of Kung Fu, just my horse hair thin piece of it. And really I have no idea why the breathing patterns occur the way they do. I accept all the above notions. There are considerations for protecting ones organs, as well as energetically moving through a technique. Truth be told, I breath the way I do, because it’s what I was instructed to do. I have only been practicing for 13 years. This is only a small fraction of the lifetime others have been practicing. My instructor for example has been training longer than Bruce Lee was even alive; and the General has been practicing for longer then my instructor as been alive! I have not yet reached the understanding of any one concept to be able to question it. My job at this adolescent stage in my martial arts study, is to do what I am told. Maybe in 40 or 50 years, I'll be able to question things. What all of this makes me thing about is this idea that a black belt is one’s culmination of training and learning. Rather, I support the idea from a Jiujitsu black belt; a black belt is your qualification to begin learning. Similarly, Jimmy H Woo, who is the head of my San Soo lineage, said, a Master of Kung Fu is two things: a master of themselves and a master of covering their mistakes. I see this this last point in the General every now and then. Not often, but one or twice in a session, the General losses his balance ever so slightly. What the General, or any Master for that matter, is the best at, is not letting you know. And what the General has consistently talked about as a strength of Lertrit, is it’s ability to recover. If you miss a strike, or an opponent moves on you first, you can recover and make the best out of a situation.
  13. Thank you for your comments, notes and encouragement! I told the General yesterday, maybe in a few thousand reps all I'll get one correct. Then I'll need another thousand before the next one comes. I'm not looking to just get it right, I want to get to a point where I can't do it wrong.
  14. Just like Tyler said, he talks about golf often. He uses the same analogy when talking about weight transfer too. Yesterday he was evening using Tiger Woods as an example.
  15. 1. Breath 2. Use the waist 3. Transfer weight The General says this is what he must get me to do before I go or if I am going to teach effectively. These task are deceptively difficult, especially the breathing. It’s not that these are new concepts to me; it’s the way in which the General ask you to use and do them. There is a beautiful subtlety to the way he does them which is obviously the product of how long he as been doing it. 1. Breathing - I’m very aware of my breathing. I thought I did it quite well. There are breathing exercises I preform with some regularity and I when I roll jiujitsu I take a lot of pride in using my breath effetely. However, the General’s specific breathing strategy is proving to be tricky. The general emphasizes his breaths at almost opposite points then I’m used to. They’re shorter and the exhales come on the recoil of the punch - rather than at the impact of the strike. 2. Use the waist - If anything the General asks me to do that seems “new”, it’s the way he uses his waist. I’ve understood and even taught my own students the importance of turning the hips during a kick or punch, but I’ve always started this movement from the feet. The feet push through the ground first and the hips turn second. Rather, the General says the power comes from the waist (and the transfer of weight). During our lesson today, it was noted that often it’s the legs or the arms which turn the waist, which is not good according to the General. Rather the waist moves first, and then the arms and legs will follow. 3. Transfer weight - This is by far the most beautiful thing the General does. There is an effortless transfer in his body weight as he strikes. The only other shift in body weight I can compare it to, is ballet. I took ballet a few years ago, and it’s by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There is no jerk or dramatic shift as the General moves. The only indication is a slight lift on his heals. It’s not a push off the ground like I’m used to. It’s a shift of his weight from one leg to the other. The General likes to say, “it’s the same, but different”. He usually prefaces with asking me if I know what he showing me. This is my least favorite question, in any art. I don’t think I KNOW anything. I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve practiced a lot, but knowing is something different. So when the General ask me if I know something, I try to respond with something like, “similar”. The General will smile and say, “it’s the same, but different”. This phrase is bigger than just our training, it actually encompasses my outlook on this trip. I’ve been to a few places. All over California, a tour through Europe, and now Bangkok of course. There are elements to each city that are always similar. There is crime, there are high rises, there is good food and bad; and so on and so forth. But each city has it’s own style, its thing which makes it unique. Bangkok is the same as any other city I’ve been to, BUT absolutely different (in the best possible way). Lertrit is the martial manifestation of Bangkok, if you will. It can look just like sport Muay Thai, but it is very different. There are subtleties which go almost unnoticed if they aren’t pointed out. But they make the world of difference. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone offering their support and encouragement! tm
  16. [admin edit: some of the photos in this thread were lost due to a probable attack on our website, unfortunately. We recovered most of the thread. Thank you to everyone who supported us through this.] Hello all. My name is Tim. I live in California and in a few days I’ll be leaving for Bangkok, Thailand to train Muay Thai Lertrit under the guidance of General Tunwakom. I contacted Sylvie some months ago about her participating in interviews for my masters thesis. I ended up spending hours talking with her husband Kevin. The next thing I know, I’m buying a ticket to Thailand. When Kevin proposed I come to Thailand to train with General Tunwakom, I was somewhat skeptical about the proposition coming to fruition, let alone the project turning into a full feature on their websites and media channels. But they made it happen for me. I am so very thankful for the faith both Kevin and Sylvie have in me and the opportunity they have presented me with. Thank you, thank you, thank you to both of them! I started training martial arts at age 17 and it’s been an all consuming venture since. I’ve trained in various disciplines of boxing as well as Brazilian Jiujitsu, and Kung Fu. Currently I’m a Jiujitsu blue belt in the Carlson Gracie organization and I hold a 7º black belt in Kung Fu San Soo. I’m not a fighter by any means however. Fighting as never been an interest of mine. I just like moving. Despite my recent academic achievements, I had an incredibly difficult time in school - I didn’t learn to read until the 6th grade and spent most mornings of my youth throwing heavy objects at my mother in an attempt to avoiding going to school. I sought refuge in sport. I've never been a natural athlete though, I had to write L and R on my shoes for during my first year of high school American football to know which direction to move (left or right), but moving my body was mediative and made me feel like I was a person. It’s what I love about martial arts - the meditative repetition of learning something, not until you get it right, but until you can’t do it wrong. I’ve learned more about my self and the world in the hours spent learning a punch or kick than doing anything else. It was my faith in martial arts which took me back to school. After achieving my black belt I thought: if I could apply half of the effort I put into getting my black belt into school, then it would be no problem. It was true. I always found away to make school about the things that interested me - food, skateboarding and of course martial arts. My master thesis seeks to blend theoretical sociology with martial arts. Which brought me to Kevin and Sylvie. They have presented me with this opportunity I feel is much bigger than me just traveling and training. I don’t know how to process the whole thing. Sitting here trying to articulate my thoughts has been has difficult has writing my thesis. I have all sorts of anxieties and fears about traveling and my skills as a martial artist. What if I miss my flight? What if my kicks are really bad? What if I say something dumb on video!? But anymore, embracing the things that make me anxious, embracing the things I’m afraid of are my favorite things. They make me better as a person. I’ll need to plan well so I don’t miss my flight. If my kicks are bad, I’ll throw 1,000 more. If I say something dumb, I’ve already said a million dumb things, I’ll try better. I expect I’ll be uncomfortable and cry at least once. I also expect I’ll learn much more than Muay Thai. I hope to make all my instructors proud, both the ones who have taught me to punch and kick as well as the ones who taught me to think and write. I hope I have fun and give the General peace of mind that he’s teaching the right student. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who will take the time to read this and comment back. More to come. tm
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