Knocking Down the Pins: CTS Training Simplified

Huh, sometimes I even amaze myself…

My boy, K.Wags, thinks that folks use the term “amazing” far too often. I don’t really disagree, but I’m convinced the analogy that I came up with in class last week fits all the criterion.Amazing

Surprise? Well, let’s be honest, the ensuing words of wisdom came directly from me, so…

Wonder? Wonder? More like WONDERFUL. Stay with me here; I have come up with an astounding, startling and breathtaking “Tale to Astonish” which compares our training model in the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) to a brand new version of bowling that would totally be totally fun and easy to learn.

Our staff at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy, and, really, all of us teaching and training CTS throughout the country, are very proud of, and love to pontificate about, our open training model, as set forth by our leader Zach Whitson, the creator of the system. This model provides for progressive resistance as one develops specific ‘attributes’ necessary for street survival and growth in the system. For example, at the beginning level, we train a set of passing drills that are fundamental to the application of CTS in the real world. Later, we develop a set of locks and takedowns that can plug directly into the passing drills when trained correctly. At the advanced level, we will train more advanced interceptions, enhancements, and counter attacks that will come in handy after students have committed to years of maturation and evolution in the system. This got me to thinking…

I imagined an AMAZING new game, something that will take your little ant-sized CTS game and expand it to a GIANT game…

Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_49 (2)

Prepare to be ASTONISHED by an AMAZING analogy of how your development in the Counterpoint Tactical System can work:

Imagine the game of bowling and it’s system of strikes and spares for increased scoring opportunities. In the traditional version, a perfect score of 300 is achieved by knocking all the pins down on every throw. Ten frames, twelve consecutive strikes wiping out all the pins. That is 120 pins in total for those scoring at home. Through the magics and trickery of how the score is kept in bowling, this equals 300 (#obviously).

Go Mike!




This strikes me (#punintended) as a difficult way to learn to accomplish a ‘perfect’ affectation of the idea of knocking down ten pins. I would rather get great at knocking down one pin first, then two, and so on. Take it on faith that if I knocked down one, then two, then three, etc. finishing with three strikes in the tenth frame, that cumulative score would add up to 75, for knocking down 75 pins. Makes sense, right? This is a common score for your average seven-year-old league bowler?!?!?! What if the game was set up with one pin in the first frame? Knock it down and it counts as a strike (a ‘perfect’ accomplishment); in the second frame there are two pins and knocking them both down counts as a ‘perfect’ strike, and so on. Now, by knocking down the same 75 pins, you have achieved the ‘perfect’ (300) score.

Go you! (the CTS practitioner)


Master Z, as the founder and primary promoter of the CTS method, asks us all to pick up an ever increasing load. So does your boss, your spouse, and so do your kids. That’s how the world works. If you want it to be real, guess what, it’s gonna get harder (#yourewelcome). In turn, your accomplishments will have more value.

So, it’s pretty much understood that the most difficult part of training is getting started. Many think they have to accomplish everything right away, rolling perfect strikes every time. What I’m saying to all you new players out there is, take it one frame at a time and keep knockin’em down.

Hmmm, what if I actually trained to hit someone with a bowling ball?

See you on the mat! RH


Cacoy Changed My Life

On February 5, 2016, the revered Supreme Grand Master Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete passed from this world and dispersed his eternal light into the universe. I’ll never stop feeling the warmth of his presence and I will never stop hearing his laughter. It has been ten years since I first met the man, the myth, the legend—Grand Master Supremo Cacoy changed my life forever.

Flashback: June 2006, U.S. Kenpo Kai, Miami, FL:

I paid respects to my instructor Zach Whitson and was introduced to his immortal beloved Dian for the first time (that was a privilege in and of itself). I paid the mat fee for myself and my daughter Marissa to my good friend Sandor, and thanked him for the opportunity to train with such an esteemed eskrimador as SGM Cacoy. Marissa and I shook off our shoes, secured doble olisi from our bags, and took a deep breath; Manong Cacoy was sitting in a chair in front of the mirror and we were going headlong into history. “Hello, Grand Master, my name is Russ Haas, and this is my oldest daughter, Marissa. We are students of Master Zach…” From that moment forward I was captured in this esteemed man’s world orbit, and it was a most honorable place to be.

The laughter, oh, the laughter; I’ll never forget. I tell the story regularly: We were working one of the most ubiquitous of Cacoy Doce Pares techniques, the disarm he calls “Rule of Thumb.” The sequence—as it was being taught on that day by the great Grand Master—marched its way into the Eskrido throw that is referred to in Counterpoint Tactical System as “inside wrist lock.” Now, let me set the scene: I am 6′ plus and 300 lbs plus, and my daughter Marissa was 4’11” and maybe 105 lbs soaking wet. We spent the entire day training together directly in front of SGM Cacoy as he sat in his chair by the mirror. So Marissa dumps all 300+ pounds of me—HARD—using the wrist lock that he had just taught us, and Cacoy JUMPS from his chair and yells “1932! 1932! That was when I first do (sic) that!” I’ll never forget how much Cacoy enjoyed seeing my ass dropped to the mat by my little girl….

Flashback: July 2007, Ryer Academy, Pittsburgh, PA:

It became clear that one seminar per year from this amazing eskrimador was not going to cut it, so I hit the road to see my friend Josh in Pittsburgh to get an extra look that year at the MASTERY of Cacoy. As I entered the mat space, I heard, “Russ!” SGM had spotted me from across the room. Now, mind you, he was 8,600 miles from home and I was 1,100 miles from home, and I had met him maybe 2 or 3 times in my life at this point. For him to recognize me at that time, especially given my penchant for changing appearance, was a true honor. I think we both felt like we were right where we belonged. Being on the mat with Cacoy was like being home…

I’ll never forget the disarming demo that Cacoy showed that day:

I’ll also never forget the Espada y Daga demo that Cacoy presented in Miami 2008:

When you’re in the presence of a Master, you know it. I have been so privileged to have had so much mat time with an eskrimador of this level. SGM Cacoy changed my life. He taught me the importance of longevity, laughter, sincerity, and thoughtfulness for my mind. He showed me that more practice, creativity and sparring in my martial arts training will make me better. His presence made me understand that there really are, truly, spiritual people in this world.

Flash to the future: Anytime, anyplace: 

We will never forget the wisdom. We will never forget the laughter. We will never forget the sincerity. We will practice our technique until HE would be satisfied… and more. We will never stop training. The world will know Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima and it’s Supreme Grand Masters’ inimitable refrain “Now, you try…”

Mubuhay Cacoy!

Long live Cacoy!









How JKD Training led me to CTS

In my last post I talked about How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS, I took a look at the time I began training in earnest and started to believe, and achieve some legit goals in martial arts, but there is much more to the story of my Kenpo Genesis. (That was the name of episode one, stick with me here on the Star Wars theme. HEY, I hear a new one came out; I bet it bombed…)

Anyways, shortly after I began training at my Kenpo school in West Boca, my instructor came across a Jeet Kune Do instructor that ruined his life. He would teach seminars and even train us (the staff) privately. My first instructor, for his part, was a determined Kenpoist (in that, he was determined to be sure that Kenpo was the answer to all his problems, from wanting to be a martial artist, to wanting to have some money) before he met Sifu Neil. Neil had answers to questions that we didn’t even have, and I was in a ball of confusion


Mind. Blown.

Episode II: Finding the Flow

My training in JKD allowed me to move faster and more sure in my Kenpo and my Kali. I was being creative in my movement, less choreographed, and was finding the flow that all martial artists (should) strive for.

The first thing that I noticed about JKD is that it had less esoteric techniques. Jab, cross hook, cover, took the place of the memorized, preconceived/conditioned responses found in Kenpo. One of the issues that I always had with Kenpo is that it tried to give you too much. In an effort to use some of the more ‘fancy looking’ basics from the Kenpo that he learned from his teachers, Ed Parker had inserted some freakishly flamboyant motions into his system of American Kenpo Karate. My first attraction to JKD was the charm held in it’s simplicity. Secondly, JKD possessed a less mechanical motion. Initially, I assumed, this was a product of it’s simplicity, but soon came to understand that it was the training methodology.


Stickfighting like it’s 1999…

I really liked the folks that I trained Jeet Kune Do with at American Dragon Martial Arts Academy, and the instructors, Sifu Neil and Sijay Helena were good teachers. Classes were usually broken down into three parts: First we did our calisthenics and trained our basics with hand targets and/or body shields for 15-20 minutes. Now that we were warmed up, we would practice Jun Fan Kickboxing interactive drills while wearing protective gear (45-60 minutes). There was always a theme to the drills, and they were designed to develop certain attributes, much like we do in Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) today. We would finish most classes practicing Jun Fan Gung Fu (essentially, Bruce Lee’s version of Wing Chun Gung Fu). While training at American Dragon, I also participated in their, Filipino Kali Classes and Muay Thai Kickboxing (best. cardio. ever.).

Here’s a video of MMA world champion Anderson Silva training the same stuff that I was doing at the time:

My training in JKD lasted nearly three years (Jan. ’99-Dec. ’01). The only reason that I stopped was because I was asked to be an instructor at a school of my own. For Christmas that year, knowing my disappointment in not having a Kali teacher (I had never stopped training Kenpo with Manny Reyes Sr. every Tuesday morning in Hialeah), Mindy (my wife) bought me a block of private lessons with Sifu Neil. My intention was for him to teach me Pekiti Tirsia Kali as apposed to the Inosanto System (PTK is a major component of Guro Dan’s Kali). Sifu Neil was a certified instructor in PTK (I believe, under Tom Bisio, if memory serves), but, for some reason, I didn’t get the vibe that he was into teaching me solely PTK, it turned out I was correct and thus began my search for a new Pekiti Tirsia Kali instructor (and episode three of this series).

I am very thankful for my training in JKD, it helped me to understand that I should never be satisfied with, just “knowing” a technique. The experience led me, for the first time in my training (as a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo, mind you), to aquiring some real skills ‘hard wired’, as we say in CTS. Jeet Kune Do was a major upgrade to what is now referred to as #trainingHaastyle. Where to go from here? I wonder…

See you on the mat! RH

There are a lot of avenue’s to CTS, Eric Primm’s was grappling, you can read about it here…

How Grappling Led Me to CTS by Eric Primm


Friday Feature: #FlatMindy

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

Today I get to promote someone very close to my heart, #FlatMindy. The Florida State PTA has started a program called the Flat Mindy project. According to the website, “The purpose of the 2016 Flat Mindy Project is to highlight some of the many wonderful Family Engagement and Health & Wellness activities and concepts that are being put into action with children and youth from around our state.” That’s our own, very special person, (only flat when she sings) Mindy Haas, thank you very much…Mindy in Tally

I am so proud of the difference that Mindy has made in the West Boca community, Palm Beach County and the entire state of Florida, as a leading advocate for children, and in particular, health and wellness.

Mindy and I decided a long time ago that we were going to use the lessons we have learned in martial arts to have as big of an impact on our community as possible. It has been very difficult balancing the demands of her various PTA positions that she has held (including President of Whispering Pines Elementary School PTA two times, President of Palm Beach County Council of PTA’s, and President of Florida State PTA) and her martial arts training. She has achieved black belt rank in both American Kenpo Karate and Cacoy Doce Pares systems and is cuurently ranked at 2nd brown in CTS over the past twenty some years. Somehow, she has managed to avoid the controversy of how sexy she is, and has been able to negotiate the inevitable hypocrites as mentioned in the song…

From the Florida State PTA website:

“Florida PTA is looking forward to receiving lots and lots of Flat Mindy photos! Decorate your Flat Mindy, and take a picture of your group – your school/community/family – enjoying a healthy and fun activity with Flat Mindy and send it in! For complete rules, visit our web site!


Here are some of the wonderful submissions so far:

#FlatMindy getting her Haastyle on with Sensei Gator here at Fuguitt today. Maybe she can show him some of her moves?”10610846_10154261303699123_6346873718919360480_n

#FlatMindy wanted to help count the girls laps during the skate-a-thon tonight. Gotta support your local team and get out and be active! Way to go Pinellas County Junior Derby”12654359_10154261697934123_936166642997395261_n 12647173_10208343840934528_7961222263428704983_n#FlatMindy (Mindy Braunstein Haas) helping @ #Math after a great #Karate class at Haas Style Karate (sic)


At HMAA everyone is so proud to have Mindy representing us, and #FlatMindy representing her. As for me, I’m just lucky to have her!


I want to see some pics of my martial arts friends and CTS brothers and sisters training with #FlatMindy…

  • please tag #FlatMindy #FlatMrsHaas and #trainingHaastyle
  • Then I’ll update the blog post with you and #FlatMindy

See you and #FlatMindy on the mat! RH




Friday Feature: Flashback to Pre CTS

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…a-long-time-ago-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away

Today is for the old school. I’m going back in the archives to share some videos from the days before the birth of CTS. Most of Master Z.’s CTS materials are copy-written in 2007, so I pulled the following from my Haastyle YouTube Channel:

In the days before global warming made the Florida sun so hot that you couldn’t train outside any more, we would set up a little canopy and train in my backyard when Zach came to visit.

Freestyling with the big Pekiti Tirsia sticks.

This is putting together the legendary PTK 64 attacks, for which I was certified in 2005.

When I started with Zach Whitson, it was my intent to learn Pekiti Tirsia kali and Kenpo Counterpoint exclusively. I loved training with Manny Reyes Sr., it just seemed like the next logical step in my progression as a Kenpoist. That was the subject of my latest article.

How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS

These were definitely good times and, if you are wondering, I miss the dreads, but not the extra hundred pounds…

See you on the mat! RH

BTW – If superhero movies interest you, I write for MoviePilot. This post has almost 10,000 views!

4 Characters We Could See in

Captain America: Civil War

4 characters pic

Progress through Resistance by Eric Primm

12491859_1048166891904646_9014650030499049207_oI told you that you should follow Eric Primm! This week he spit out a good one about one of the MOST important aspects of Counterpoint Tactical System training at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and around the country. We refer to it as the “open training model” using progressive resistance. This sure beats the heck out of trying to learn by training with a partner that is just standing there…

Please read:

Progress through Resistance




How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS

So, when I started this blog I, kinda sorta knew, that I was going to have to share my past a bit. In discussing my journey and in discussing the future, indeed, MY future with regards to both Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS), I must write about my martial arts upbringing. Over time, I will get to all of it, but today, the focus is on my days as a student of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo Karate.

I had trained before in another style (for another article), and that did not work out at all. Kenpo is what started me on the road to CTS. Kenpo had all the right things, at the time, to set my proverbial ball rolling. As I trained later, in Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK) systems, it was with teachers that had a strong Kenpo background. This training completes the grand ‘Spar Wars’ trilogy that has left me on the CTS dark side swinging a (relatively) light saber made of rattan…


click on this it’s cool..

Episode I: “Kenpo Genesis”

One thing that I always loved about EP’s Kenpo was the structure. Most specifically, the depth of the structure. Kenpo is set up with a form/kata (a series of preset movements designed to illuminate and instill certain principles of motion) and/or a set (a series of preset motions design to educate the foundation of basics) and a set number of techniques (a series of preset responses to a specific attack). In addition, the forms had a wonderful progression from linear to circular style that caught my eye right away, and the techniques had a consistent modus operendi that was designed to help you find your place on a six count rotation. All of these things fit my sensibility and a need for order in a world surrounded by three girls (my wife and two daughters).12185499_1078245652215724_8915579881498590691_o (2) Where I trained, there were an unusually small group of requirements for each belt level as compared to the average Kenpo Karate school, probably the smallest curriculum that I have ever seen for an adult program. This never phased me because I was there to learn as much as I could, not just a bit so I could achieve a belt and my instructor never held me back. Soon after I began training in West Boca, my instructor had exhausted what he had to offer me, so I began traveling an hour to Hialeiah, one of the worst parts of Miami, to train with Manny Reyes Sr.; time I will always cherish. He taught from a “street fighting” perspective and I learned a lot. Thus, I fell in love with martial arts thanks to American Kenpo Karate.

“(more like) Jeet Kune Don’t”

Early on in my Kenpo training I was introduced to the art of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Long story short (Episode II), my JKD instructor was a former Kenpo guy, so he also had a solid structure to his curriculum and teachings, which makes sense as, Dan Inosanto, the current Senior Instructor/ Practitioner of JKD, ALSO came from a Kenpo background. Forms and techniques were still there, but the introduction of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) concepts and a less rigid training model began to expand my horizons. The problem was that my JKD instructor wanted me to quit Kenpo, he said “…Kenpo training is wrong…” and, let’s just say, I wasn’t ready to hear that (whether he was right or wrong is a nuanced discussion). So, as a Kenpo guy, having started my FMA training in a JKD school, I find myself in a seminar with a man, that has since become a great friend and mentor, Professor* Zach Whitson. Zach was teaching his earliest innovation Kenpo Counterpoint. I am Jacks Smirking Revenge blendGet this, Kenpo Counterpoint was at it’s essence, Kenpo Karate that uses the FMA training model of countering and re-countering. So, rather than denigrating, discounting or deleting the, somewhat flawed, Kenpo training model, he took strides to upgrade it. Seeing this breakthrough made me understand a couple of simple things.

  1. As Bruce Lee said: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely you own.” I feel this is one of his most misunderstood quotes. So many discard what, they feel, is not useful BEFORE training it thoroughly. Mr. Whitson showed me there was more to learn inside the context of American Kenpo Karate by adding something that was his own and encouraging me to do the same.
  2.  Martial arts skills were not going to come to me in the mail. I had to go out and find what I needed to grow. So, a short while later, when I opened my first school, I gave Mataas na Guro** Zach Whitson a call.

Pekiti Gone Wild”

For several years thereafter Master Z.*** would come to visit annually, I would visit him in the Tennessee, and sometimes, at other schools with which he became affiliated. We would train Kenpo Counterpoint and the Pekiti Tirsia Kali system which Master Z. acquired from Tuhon Bill McGrath and Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje. PTK had a massive curriculum which I was willing to go through, but the wheels were spinning in the mind of my guide. Over time, Master Whitson was able to accrue considerable ‘hands on’ with Supreme Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Canete and, through the revelations attained in that time, COUNTERPOINT TACTICAL SYSTEM WAS BORN! And my transition was complete… imageedit_2_9416829634 (2)Other than the successful development of two strong, independent daughters, and my long, beautiful relationship with my wife of almost 30 years, there is NOTHING that I take more pride in than having been there at the genesis of CTS. Kenpo was good to me, I ultimately made it to 3rd degree black belt. CTS has become the foundation of my days.

See you on the mat. RH

PS – If you want to know that there are other avenues to the same end, please read Eric Primm’s

How Grappling Led Me to CTS

*due to his rank at the time of 6th black in Kenpo, that is how he would be titled.

**I came to find that Master Z. was also a master instructor in Pekiti Tirsia Kali an art that I had asked my JKD instructor to teach me and he chose not to.

*** Zach does not dig on extreme formalities so the familiar Master Z., Mr. Whitson or plain Zach became the preferred titles over Professor or Mataas na Guro.


Feature Friday – Follow Eric Primm NOW

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us yet, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

In my previous Friday posts, I have focused on a couple of great individual stories at our school, Tyler K. and Ezara S.. Last week, I presented a group of individuals that have had great success at HMAA, the ladies of the “Fight like a Girl” Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women (FLAG) program. This week I am going to focus on one of our greatest promoters and almost definitely our best and most prolific blogger, Mr. Eric Primm of Saint Louis Counterpoint (maybe I’ll get a T-shirt out of this?).


Eric Primm (w training knife) with Zach Whitson (w handgun)

I’m motivated to do this by the outstanding output and commitment to writing he has displayed over the years. Just today he re-posted about How to Be a Good Training Partner which he wrote a couple of years ago and it reminded me that he has been doing excellent work for a while now. I also noticed that it is a good companion piece for the article that I wrote last week about Haastyle FMA Training Structure.


So, I’ve been talking to Eric, who I like to call Shakespeare, for a several years about wanting to write more, and starting a blog, more specifically. He said “…you should be writing…” Now that I’m doing what I set out to do, he has been incredibly supportive and

Writing Avengers

Steve – Thor – Tony – Bruce

encouraging . His writing is smart and informative. As an Engineer, by trade, he can bring a more technical approach to certain material then you might see from, say, me. I also think it’s great that he kind of put his journey through CTS out there for the world to see. Here is a good primer about whence he came – How Grappling Led Me to CTS by Eric Primm. Eric has become an outstanding martial artist and watching him go through the ranks has been a real treat. To wit:


being-a-good-writerI highly recommend that you peruse the Saint Louis Counterpoint archives and FOLLOW Eric Primm’s blog (Facebook, Twitter, et al). Note: I have found that WordPress is a really good tool for learning, it’s a great tool for writers and the thing I love the most is they don’t send ANY spam, so when you subscribe you will only get what you ask for. Oh, and if you don’t follow me yet, you should …

See you on the mat! RH

Your Martial Art Life Plan from The Martial Arts Woman

It’s been a month or so playing on WordPress and I’m discovering that there are many good writers out there. I’ve decided to follow Andrea “The Martial Arts Woman” because she is a smart and concise writer, and it also seems like we have much in common. Despite the female perspective (I hope Mindy is reading her posts), she and I seem to share a similar approach to learning and training .

Do you have a plan today? If not get one, you can start by reading her latest

Your Martial Art Life Plan


You’re welcome.

See you on the mat!

RHFight Like a Girl FEAR

Bowie Style

Alternate title:

How a Gay, Ginger, Bonk-eyed, Snaggle-toothed Freak in a Dress Led Me on a Path to Martial Arts Success

We interrupt this blog that is primarily dedicated to shamelessly promoting Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and the Counterpoint Tactical System (<– please visit the website for more details), to address a gaping hole in the universe; the passing of one Mr. David Robert Jones (January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016), always known to his fans as David Bowie. I’m aware that most folks reading these words are becoming ever thoroughly dependent upon ingesting my periodic wisdom vis-a-vis martial arts and fight sport, but this day demands another tactic. So, as I have always known since my formative years, and applied for so long now with Master Whitson, you must do what feels right, and the unexpected output may often be the better choice. I know this to be true in martial arts, so let’s see if it carries over to my writing. Master Z is famous for saying “I don’t know, let’s try it and see,” when asked how he would respond to a particular attack. How will this article be received? I don’t know, we’ll see…

My martial arts training has had myriad  influences, probably starting with the G.O.A.T Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee in the early 1970’s, but, around that same time, I was discovering music. The only thing that has impacted my life more than my training is music. David Bowie was one of the musicians that influenced me, beginning as early as I can remember. I don’t know when exactly, I’m thinking it was seeing footage of the screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo singing “Space Oddity” from the documentary, concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which came out in 1973 (I was 9 years old)?

The influence then became unexpectedly reinforced as I sat with my Mom and Dad, thus gaining their approval, for his legendary performance with Bing Crosby in 1977. Here is the Funny or Die version (a fairly reverential take, btw), lest we suffer from Bowie overload this week.

The early influence was solidified with the revolutionary effects in his “Ashes to Ashes” video (from his 1980 disc, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)) that was touted at the time as one of the first music videos. The song itself,  with it’s ‘death of the zeitgeist’ proclamation:

“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky; We know Major Tom’s a junkie; Strung out in heaven’s high, hitting an all-time low”

This was heavy stuff for a 16 year old who could take or leave the ’70’s. This line alone has had a great impact on my life and, indeed, my martial arts training. Things will not stay what they were yesterday; what you once thought, may not be true; and, with perseverance (and the intrusion of alternative influences), hitting an all-time low need not mean the end of the line.

True influence is only achieved through generations. So as I moved on in my life, I continued to feel the great influence the man, now nattily attired in a white suit, presenting himself as a ‘serious, modern man’, had on me. I’ll never forget putting the record (yes, vinyl) on in my dorm room at Tobey Hall on the first day of my sophomore year. By the time I had to flip the record over, half of the hall was gathered listening to the funk get funky and the great, then pretty much unknown, Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar for Bowie’sLemmy-Kilmister-RIP-2015 Let’s Dance (1983). Admittedly, an album of it’s time, but I met a lot of good friends that day. To be sure, most of those guys would like to see a tip of the hat to another recently passed legend, one, Lemmy Kilmister, a man who has also been an influence.

Moving on to the next generation, an early recordings of Bowie’s, turned up as a favorite for sing alongs back in the day at the Haasienda. One of his first singles, “Love You ’til Tuesday” was on a compilation we had of early punk rock influences called “Alter-No-Daze” (I can’t find a link online, but if I do I will update). My daughter Marissa (now the lead singer of the great punk rock band out of Greenville, NC called No Brainer) and I, used to listen to this on a loop. The Ramones, Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees et al., were punks early influences.  The irony in this song was that, despite what a downer Bowie could be in the ’70’s when I was introduced, this was a very fun, uplifting song, and my kids loved it!

I want to wrap up this incredibly self indulgent post by saying that I continue to update my Bowie collection and have followed Bowie’s ch-ch-ch-changes, literally, until the day he died. ChangesOneBowie, his first greatest hits set, has been on my desert island list for more than 30 years without hesitation, and his new record, Blackstar, came out on his 60th birthday just two days before he passed are the bookends. His previous collection called The Next Day came out in 2013 and started up a bit of a Bowie renaissance for me, as I revisited his entire catalog. Has there ever been someone that has combined music and the visual presentation with such amazing diversity, passion and, don’t be mad bro, success, for so many years like he has?

 “His death was no different from his life — a work of Art,”

Tony Visconti, Bowie’s long-time collaborator

No, Bowie was not my favorite, but he has had a tremendous influence on all of them: Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, The Pretenders, Social Distortion, REM, Nirvana and Frank Turner, just to name a few.

I could never do justice to a eulogy, so if you need more, check out this great article from one of my favorites sites, Consequence of Sound, David Bowie Lives! The Cunning Exit of a Post-Modern Lazarus.  It provided the final push, and inspired me to go this route with my writing today.   I also thought this was funny – God Finalizes Supergroup Lineup ; or maybe he had a divine plan, according to this article in The Telegraph (sounds English), David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale.

David Bowie made me understand that I should think outside the box, that I should question what I have been presented, that I don’t have to (and maybe I shouldn’t) be today, the same as I was yesterday and, in his final movement, the finale, if you will, to show grace Under Pressure. These are well known themes that he first helped me with as a child and stay with me to this day, the light of the universe shines ever brighter now that you are among the stars. Godspeed Starman…

Over here on E Street, we’re feeling the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music. Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed. – Bruce

“He was the artist who had the most influence on me, both musically and personally. His courage and fearless creativity was a model to follow. I didn’t know him well, but I will always love him. He was supportive, and lent his help, when it meant the most. There will never be another like him, and the world will not be the same without David Bowie.” – Joan Jett

You were the single flame in the center of it all.
Thank you David
X chrissie

His music got me through a troubled childhood. He provided joy, imagination, and escape. His phrasing when he sings, his poetic and stylish lyrics…this man shaped thousands of boys and girls who went on to be their own rock stars. Thank you, Mr. Bowie, for the special gifts you gave all of us. – Mike Ness

Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off its axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said—I am certain that wherever Bowie is now—I want to be there someday. —Michael Stipe

RIP Bieber


See you on the mat! RH