We circled each other under the pavilion. I kept moving to my left to stay away from his leading hand and he kept following. He had more power in his right, but it was farther away and to throw it required a telegraphing step. The trick wasn’t avoiding getting hit, it was getting into my own range. Sweat was rolling down my sides and it was getting harder to keep the salty brine out of my eyes. In the distance a gray pasture and brown cows looked like something from an impressionist painting. It was summer, the sun felt like standing next to a campfire and the air was heavy and dry.
My opponent suddenly fainted a kick to my shin and then closed with a back fist to my chin. I shifted back to avoid the kick and strike, then countered with a jab to his nose and a right cross to his sternum. The hit to his chest was solid and clean and I was rewarded with a woof of air coming from my opponent’s mouth. He stepped back and held up his hands. The punch had a little more on it than he expected. The timing and range were spot on. We both smiled. That happens sometimes when the training is flowing well. I thought for a moment about what had just happened and realized again the value of simplicity. I had spent a great deal of time shedding techniques and was reaping the benefits.
What’s five times five? Most people can answer that question without having to think about the answer. Twenty-five just pops into their heads and the answer gets blurted out. The same is true of six times seven, or four times three. We don’t have to think about the answer because we’ve done it so many times we know its right. What martial artists frequently forget are the same underlying principals.
The answer, twenty five, is an automatic response as a result of conditioning. Two things are at work beneath the surface. One is the effect of repetition, and the other is the knowledge of a singular answer. There aren’t three answers to five times five, there is only one. If you had three possible answers it would take much longer to find a solution.
Not Collecting Techniques.
Less is more
A Foundation only
One movement, infinite variation instead of infinite movements each with only one variation.
Davin Douma, January 11, 2011
The California Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling yesterday in People V Caballero
Juvenile Law Center firstname.lastname@example.org sm1.kintera.com
California Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Prohibiting Lengthy Sentences for Juveniles Convicted of Non-Homicide Crimes
August 16, 2012
A Prisoner’s Misery Status:
Early death from any cause happens most often to people at the bottom of society’s heap. Studies since the 1960s have found those at the top of the pecking order have the least stressful and most healthy lives. Now science sheds additional light on the subject. There is a biochemical response to low status. There are a class of hormones that regulate the immune system and respond to stress. The response causes chronic inflammation which leads to disease in the body.
My son was a prisoner. He talked about the stress of life behind bars. After years of high blood pressure, severe anxiety and pain from old injuries, he had to take medication for anxiety caused by stress. He could not take strong pain meds because of the inflammation in his bowels. He couldn’t show any weakness because that would make him more vulnerable to the gangs running the prison. By the time Davin was paroled it was too late for him to enjoy his freedom. At least he got to come home to die. Many of his friends died in the infirmary of cancer or heart disease at young ages without the loving touch and care of a family.
By Bonnie Hall
By Davin J. Douma
The goal is the creation of a multi-faceted approach to personal transformation involving multiple agencies and resources. The perfect model is one that addresses the needs of both violent and non-violent prisoners, serving both short and long-term sentences. We are talking about behavior modification, substance abuse therapy, reintegration, education & vocational skills training, victim mediation, and restitution. Part of the effort will also be focused on sentencing reform and focusing attention on alternatives to the modern correctional system.
The following individual programs can be blended into a single, on-going approach to personal transformation.
Behavior Modification Program A program which addresses the way prisoners see themselves and the world around them. An encounter group approach with a coordinator who uses the Socratic Method of enabling participants to reach their own conclusions about their behavior. Their recognition that a problem exists is the springboard to changing the way they think.
Victim Identification Program Who are the people who are injured by criminal acts? What are their stories and what is the impact of crime in their lives? This program would bring small groups of victims into the institution to educate prisoners on the effects of their actions. In comparison to Victim Mediation, no specific victim/perpetrator meetings are sought. Instead the prisoner is encouraged to see the effects of crime generally, and then transpose those stories to their own personal situation, imagining their impacts on victims. This program would sensitize prisoners to the personal effects of their actions.
Scholarship Program Education is the one statistically proved rehabilitation program. Soliciting support and funding for higher education from schools, organizations, and civic minded individuals. If the federal and state government will not assist prisoners in attaining funding for college educations, private groups will. The purpose of the program is to generate scholarship programs for inmates.
Social Restitution Program Individuals would participate in speak-out type programs focusing on youth and crime prevention. Specifically focusing on behaviors, attitudes, and cultural ideas which enable youth to become enmeshed in criminal life styles. Prisoners would be confronting the ideas, myths, and romantic ideals of criminal behavior.
Vocational Training Vo-Tech skills focused on professions and fields open to ex-offenders. Including entrepreneurial skills and small business development.
Volunteer/Reintegration Program The underlying premise is to create a program by which long-term offenders do volunteer work in the local community. For example, prisoners who possess certain skills (such as a plumber) would do work for the poor, elderly, or disenfranchised. The prisoners in the program would be men and women who have served at least ten years on their sentence, have at least five years clear conduct, and no sex offenders.
Each program would be initiated independently but as an element of a larger whole. The focus of Transformational Living is on the individual and a self-actualized approach. Only those who request to participate will be allowed to do so. No prisoner would be forced into the program. No good time would be awarded. The rewards of the Transformational Living program would be manifested in the prisoner’s life.
Assistance would be sought from the following groups and entities.
Department of Corrections
Department of Education
General Equivalency Diploma
Department of Human Services
Department of Mental Health
Probation and Parole
Copyright 2010. Davin J. Douma
Snapshot of A Solution
By Davin Douma
What if I could show you a way to reduce the costs of incarceration by half? What if I could show you a way to get prisoners to change the way they view themselves and the world they live in? What if I could show you a way to reduce the growth of criminal activity in the one place (prison) it seems to flourish the most? What if you could get prisoners to be responsible citizens? What if we could change the whole dynamic of incarceration in this country? Would it be worth your time to listen?
Do you know why rehabilitation programs in prison don’t work? It’s simple really. The amount of time and energy expended in a rehabilitation program is miniscule compared to the negative influence of the prison environment. Please let me explain that statement. Let us say a prisoner, for whatever reason, signs up to take a prison program like Thinking For A Change. The program is basically sound and provides good information and advice to prisoners. The man who takes the course spends about two hours a week for six months in the course. That means he gets a positive influence from the program for a total of fifty-two hours.
Fifty-two hours of good influence looks good in a vacuum, but prison programs don’t operate in vacuums, they operate in prisons. In the same six month time period the prisoner takes the program, he has to face the reality of the world he lives in. The threat of being killed, or assaulted, or robbed, or raped, or abused by a guard. He lives in a world of stress and drugs and gangs. In the same six month time frame he receives 2,860 hours of negative influence. In other words, for every hour of positive influence he gets from a program, he gets fifty-five hours of negative influence. The program simply can not compete with the environment.
The solution to changing the high cost of incarceration and reducing the number of victims and making rehabilitation more effective is the same for each. You have to change the classical model that has proven to be a failure for the past two-hundred and twenty years. It isn’t 1790 anymore. Nor is it 1890. So why are we still building and operating prisons the same way? Haven’t we learned anything in the past two centuries? Are we so entrenched in the way things are that we blind ourselves to the ladder leading out of the hole we are in?
In 1790, and in 1890, and in 1990, and now in 2010 we are still building prisons the same way. Steel and concrete cages. The physical structure of a prison may not sound very important, but it is actually the cause of most of our problems. Early prisons, like the Walnut Street Jail, were built like fortresses so that criminals could be kept inside. Those were the most effective security measures of the time. The walls were stone and brick and the doors were steel and bars. In essence, we built cages for humans like we would for exotic animals in zoos. And as time passed and populations grew we just shoved more and more men into the same small spaces.
The prisons built in 1890 and 1990 are remarkably similar to the ones in 1790. They generate the same kinds of feelings in both prisoners and guards. They generate the same high costs. They generate the same victims. They generate the same violent criminals. When our prisons failed, instead of looking at what we had built, we looked at what we were producing. We thought that since men and women coming out of prisons were worse people, they obviously needed to stay in longer to fix them. We went from giving out five year sentences for robbery to fifty year sentences. We went from giving out six months in jail for a DUI to fifteen years. We went from sending pot-head kids to group homes to incarcerating them in adult prisons for life. Each time the system failed us, we punished the criminals even more. It is similar to the idea that if you just hit your kid harder he will stop misbehaving. That doesn’t work either. It actually makes the kid worse.
Copyright 2010. Davin Douma
Here is a link to an excellent article by award winning journalist, Leonard Pitts JR. He clearly points out the insanity of our current punitive judicial system.
Big Fish In Little Ponds
By Davin Douma
Not long ago I was enjoying a little road time. It was early September and the sky was gray and the day was that pleasant cool we all notice after the heat of summer has run its course. In Oklahoma we call it Indian Summer, but everywhere you go they have a name for it. Road time to a prisoner means you are being transported someplace. Sometimes a prisoner is going for a day and sometimes for a lifetime. In this instance I was manacled and shackled and boxed. Boxed means I had a black box on my cuffs that was attached to a chain around my waist that prevents the picking of locks and keeps the hands in a relatively fixed position. If you wear the box for an hour it is merely uncomfortable. That day I would were it for twelve hours, and feel the pain of it for days. Papillon is never far from my thoughts.
The purpose of the trip for me and the other three guys in the white corrections van was a hospital run. I was getting an ultrasound of my abdominal organs to help determine if I had cancer. Two of the guys with me were going for chemo treatments and the other was getting a check up after his disease had gone into remission. We were all sick or post sick, and all enjoyed the ride and the chance to see the outside world again. For me, the drive through Oklahoma City was the first time I had been outside the prison fences in five years. Five years might not sound like a long time to most people, but it was longer than world war two and I felt every day of it.
Because so much time passes between trips for a lifer, the changes in the outside world are hugely noticeable. All the cars had changed, the speeds were faster, and everywhere I looked there was a driver with a cell-phone stuck to their ear. Many of the business had changed and most of the big billboards on the side of the road had new advertisements. Off all the differences the one I noticed the most was the addition of Indian Casinos. Five years earlier there wasn’t a one, now there were dozens with neon lights, packed parking lots, and posters of curvy women in evening gowns with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The signs were a stark contrast to the blue-haired women and retired men who made up the bulk of the casino’s clientele. Knowing that and understanding the deception just made me want to go there even more.
The drive to the hospital was made in the early morning hours while the sky was still dark and the pull of sleep still strong. It was the ride back after a full day in restraints that showed me the world through the barred windows of the van. Seeing the outside world was like the experience of a five year old in a confectionary store. Everything looked so good and yet you knew you couldn’t get a taste of any of it. There was the hope tinged with desire, but also the loneliness of memory. I thought about what it would be like to walk through the parking lot of the mall we just passed. I thought about what it would be like to be sitting in the car next to the van. The one with the pretty girl on the phone and the yellow skirt that showed me some thigh. The things I missed weighed heavily upon me. The trip was turning out to be an experience of minor torture. There I was stuck behind a glass window and forced to watch a world go by that I could only gaze upon. A world so vast it was beyond my ability to comprehend. In such moments I often think of how much I gave away in that instant of violence over twenty-five years earlier. I thought of what I had given up and what it would have meant to me.
Prison is such a different kind of place and small in comparison. A place where lots of men with no skills or ambitions can rise to the top of the heap through vulgar behavior. A place where the lowest common denominator is the greatest. A place were one is limited in almost every way. But is it really all those things or is that our perception.
It is true that in prison the worst behavior is regarded as the best. It is true that men with no education or training usually end up running the place. It is true that the distance between the fences is tiny compared to the distance between horizons. But do people on the streets really live in all that space? Do men in prison really live between the fences?
As we drove down I-35 and passed the stores and restaurants and casinos I thought about the scale of the world I lived in compared to the free world. The place I live is not actually inside the fences. The place you live is not actually between the horizons. We live in our heads and in our hearts. We live in our memories and in our contrived histories. We live in that place we create for ourselves, be it big or small, gutter or mansion. The outside world, the one beyond the confines of our minds, plays only a small role in the lives we actually live on the inside.
How many people know a successful man or woman who lives in misery? How many lonely couples are there driving on the highway in separate cars? How many poor people do you know that have great sex lives? Since when is the world beyond ourselves the creator of success and happiness? Those things are mined and forged within the cauldron of our consciousness. Who says a man in prison can not find contentment? Who says a woman in jail can not find peace within herself? When we stop allowing the outside world to be a dictator, we find the freedom of choice within.
In prison there is a saying used by those people who are successful in prison and failures on the streets. These are the people who come back, time and again, to the only place they know and understand. “It is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.” The reality is that we are all small fish living in small ponds.
Copyright 2010. Davin Douma