Janelle: You're listening to "Staying in The Game: A Plum Dragon Herbs Podcast" where we have conversations about mindset and techniques for staying at the top of your game. I'm your host, Janelle Leatherwood. Joining us today for a second time is Josh Walker, whose passion for Chinese medicine and martial arts led him to become the original founder of Plum Dragon Herbs in 2005. He currently works as a software engineer and runs the Central U.S. Chapter for the Tabimina Balintawak Group, a combative style of martial arts that originated in the Philippines where he recently visited. We're thrilled that he could join us again today. So, Josh, good to have you on our show again.
Josh: Janelle, thank you.
Janelle: And you just got back from the Philippines. That's exciting. Can you tell us about that trip?
Josh: Yes, absolutely. So, we do this gathering every year. This was like our 10th year to do it. So, it was kind of a big deal. And it's kind of a five-day deal. So, the seniors kind of show up for the first couple of days and we kind of assimilate some information and do some training. And then for the next three days we have kind of a general assembly and everybody shows up and we all get the training in there as well.
Janelle: Oh, okay. Great. And so, are you doing a lot of the training, too?
Josh: Yeah, I do. I mean, I'm really there for training. I've been going, you know, for the last, I guess 10 years now, and specifically for my training and... But I do help teach. I teach it. You know, I help teach the entire...the seminar. All of the seniors kind of get together and help with that whole process. But I'm just as much of a student there as everybody else is.
Janelle: Are you bringing people from your chapter with you?
Josh: I do. I actually have a few students that I bring with me, both from Colorado and across the country. And they kind of come out, I think this year they were four or five of them.
Janelle: Oh, that's great. And tell us, you're over...remind me of which chapter you're over.
Josh: The Central U.S. So, I run the Central and then there's chapter heads that run the East and West Coast. And then Chad Tabimina is kind of our U.S. chapter head.
Janelle: Okay. Now, you got into the Tabimina Balintawak after years of doing Iron Palm training. Can you kind of compare and contrast the two for me?
Josh: Yeah. So, the thing that I really kind of hung on...the thing I really love about both Iron Palm as well as all the Chinese martial arts is that there's just this, you know, this crazy esoteric type of nature to them. And they talk a lot about a variety of different concepts that are really, really interesting to me and I always kind of have attached to the idea of a lot of those concepts. But the problem was is that I didn't feel like there was a good job transferring those skills into something that worked, you know, in a pressurized, real-time situation. And so that was kind of where I found Balintawak. And I was really enamored with it early on and I had spent, you know, who knows how many years training, both in Jeet Kune Do and Inosanto Kali and Southern Praying Mantis and all of these other arts, and even some time in MMA.
I just saw these people training for short periods of time that were able to, you know, move better than I was able to move after so many years. And so, I went over to Balintawak primarily because it has this framework for installing skills under pressure from day one without using, you know, patterns and forms and drills and all that sort of stuff. And so, I kind of, you know, I was able to...you know, when you talk about comparing and contrasting, that's the contrast there is that the mindset is very, very different in the training of those two arts. But then the similarity for me was, is that I was able to take all of my Chinese martial arts training and I was able to kind of set it aside for a little bit and integrate it later.
Everybody always talks about, you know, you have to empty your cup. And my perspective, you know, coming from Balintawak after training China's martial arts is that I didn't empty anything. I kept it all in there because at some point it becomes useful for me when I can kind of install it into myself so.
Janelle: Yeah. That's really cool. So, what would you say are the differences in the mindset?
Josh: Well, in martial arts in general, and this is real common in Chinese martial arts and as well as a lot of other martial arts, is it's a lot of attack. It's attack, attack, attack. And there's not really any really solid kind of foundation for training defense. And a lot of martial artists, I mean, listening to this podcast, they might, you know, be saying in their head like, "Well, the best, you know, the best defense is a good offense," and all these other things. And I think that's the largest, you know, kind of difference there in mindset and training, you know, methodology is that in Balintawak, we spend so much time working on defense.
From the beginning, from the get go, there's no information. I have students and they'll train for some period of time and then I'll have friends who will, "Show me what you're learning." And they can't even show them because it's all kind of this, you know, subconscious. It's a reactionary thing and they don't really even know what it is they're doing. But when I do things to them, they react in ways that I've kind of installed into them. And so, what we really find is that it's flipped. In Balintawak, we're doing all of the like really kind of high pressure, hardcore, you know, training, freestyle training at the very beginning of the art, and most martial arts kind of do that, you know, later down the road.
And then towards the end of the core of Balintawak...and I mean it's infinite, right? It's not like there's an end, but once you become...you get to the more advanced levels, then things become a little bit more informational like they are at the very beginning of other martial arts.
Janelle: That's really interesting. Are you like 100% now in this Balintawak or do you still do Iron Palm training simultaneously?
Josh: No, I've backed off from actually hitting the bag. I still use a lot of the concept in Iron Palm. And I like the striking mechanics there and I brought that in a little bit to Balintawak, but I don't really spend a lot of time actually hitting the Iron Palm bag anymore.
Janelle: Now, for those who are still doing Iron Palm training, what are some things though that like you could recommend to them to help them meet their training goals?
Josh: So, I think there's so many different things, right, because you've got a lot of...there's actually a lot of misinformation, you know, around with that. And it's hard to get information about it. But I think like the first thing that comes to mind is I think about this idea and, in fact, I've even had some emails. I had some people coming out to do some training in the next couple of months. Even they both had the same kind of question. You know, should I be hitting...like should I just be dropping my hand for the first year? Should I just be hitting mung beans for the first year? And I think everybody wants to go so slowly. I mean, I think it's important, you know, obviously, you don't want to go too fast. You don't want to hurt. You don't want to be like, you know, trying to break blocks from day one and, you know, hit iron shot as hard as you can from the beginning.
But I think a lot of people are so worried about, you know, going so slow and just getting all into this idea that if you just drop your hand, that you build this like "internal power" over time that they kind of cut themselves short. And so, Iron Palm is, in a lot of ways, now, physiologically, it's different than a lot of stuff, but in a lot of ways it's not any different than any other activity that you do. And the idea there is that you've got to push yourself a little bit and you've got to push yourself just enough that you're not injuring yourself. And that doesn't even have to be a hard boundary. I usually tell people that like, they should be putting, you know, once they're used to hitting the bag, they should be putting a little bit of power into their strike and they should be hitting something other than, you know, gravel or mung beans within the first couple of months. I think it's important to like change things up. I think it's important to kind of push yourself and kind of make it goal to, you know, to listen to your body in that process.
Janelle: Yeah. It's kind of like in our first podcast that we talked about, you have to walk through the fire.
Josh: Yeah. It's very much like that.
Janelle: You have to be willing to get close to the heat.
Josh: Exactly. And that doesn't mean that, you know, that you're trying to walk on the surface of the sun or something, you know. I mean, it just means that you've got to push. You've got to push through stuff. And, you know, it's something that really kind of creates a change in you, and I think it's really important.
Janelle: Yeah. So, let's talk a minute about like some of the Jows that you would recommend. So, when we talk about Jow, we're referring to Dit Da Jow, for anyone who doesn't know. And these are ancient Chinese liniments that have been passed on through generations. And you helped create a lot of these formulas. Which Jows do you recommend for Iron Palm?
Josh: So, there's a few that I really tend to gravitate towards. I really, really love the kind of the Ku Yu Cheung style Jows, the Iron Palm Jows. And, you know, Ku Yu Cheung and Ark Wong and also like the Hung Gar line are all very similar with just, you know, a few herbs exchanged here and there. And probably if you trace that lineage back, you'd find that at some point they have a common, you know, teacher or lineage or whatever. But those just tend to have a very, very good response for most people. A lot of people can...you know, some people don't like this Jow and they really like that Jow and they don't like this one. I don't know if I've ever met anybody who didn't really like that Ku Yu Cheung line of Jows. And even thinking about the ancestors, which is, you know, significantly more powerful, some people aren't as into it because it's so specific in the type of feeling that it produces and the type of, you know, training that a lot of people like to use it for.
And there's also a couple of other ones, too. There's a couple of less well-known ones. If you want to talk about those, we can get into that as well.
Janelle: Okay. I would like to talk about those in a minute, but, so tell me, do you recommend matching a Jow toward a specific style or toward a training goal?
Josh: So, it is definitely a training goal. And I think we talked a little bit last time that a lot of people like to try to match it to a style, but the style, you know, it doesn't necessarily give you...it's a specificity of training thing. You want to choose something that is specific for what you're doing. And if you look at it...if you take a cross-section by style, then it's not a guarantee that you're actually doing something that is, you know...that that Jow promotes...a particular Jow promotes best. So you always got to look at it by the actual training you're doing regardless of what style you're in.
Janelle: Yeah, that makes sense. So like, let's think about, what are some training goals that people have in martial arts and what would you recommend for those?
Josh: So, a lot of it, especially when we talk about Iron Palm specifically, it's going to be the mechanism that people are using, like the medium that they're actually hitting. And a lot of those different mediums at the end of the day are going to produce a similar kind of results. But they're going to do it in different kinds of ways and there's going to be some changes and some of them are going to hit more on...address the bone. They're going to hit a little deeper in their bone, and some of them are going to be more on the skin. Some people who are hitting harder are hitting softer mediums and, of course, the Jow changes there. And it's all, you know...it's all kind of like, well, our general goal is the same and we can get there in a variety of different ways. But if we go in this way, then we better be using this type of Jow and vice versa.
Janelle: Okay. So what are some specific Jows that you would recommend for like intense training?
Josh: So, the Ancestors has a really good one because it's geared very much towards kind of the heavy hitting where we're penetrating, you know, to the bone. And we're worried about like, people are getting sore joints. If they're getting...if they feel like there's, you know, pain in the joints, if there's any kind of arthritis, if they feel like they're having trouble, like, you know, closing their hands, one thing to consider is that they might be over-training. But you can tell. I mean, it's really not rocket science. Like you can tell when you're over-training on your palm. But those types of activities really the Ancestors really tends to promote that because it's got some really strong blood moving herbs in it, but it's working deeper in the body. It's working with the bone and the joints, and the sinew more than...
For example, Southern Fist is a Jow that is really, really good for intense training. But if you tried to use Southern Fist with like an Iron Palm bag filled with like lead or steel shot that was sealed, the Southern Fist wouldn't probably work well for that. It doesn't have the same type of wind-damp kind of like joint kidney-liver herbs in it that something like Ancestors does. Whereas Southern Fist, if you're hitting, for example, if you're hitting medium that's open and, you know, you've got like what I like to call point contact, and so what ends up happening is when you hit a bag, a closed bag that's filled with a medium, there's nothing to give you any real bruising. It doesn't mean you can't get bruising, but a lot of the damage that you incur from hitting a closed bag comes from like vibrating in the joints, you know, like knocking the joints.
Whereas when you're hitting open medium, you get these little point contacts and it's very, very likely that you can get bruising, but it doesn't really penetrate through to the bone the same way. And so, the Southern Fist is a much better Jow for that type of training. And now, again, we come back, at the end of the day, we're trying to get to roughly the same location regardless which training you do, but you got to make sure that, you know, that you're using the right Jow for the trail up the mountain that you take.
Janelle: So, we have Jows that are really good for conditioning. We have Jows that are good for injuries and we have some that are really good for bruising. Obviously, our bruise juice is excellent for that impact trauma. And then Southern Fist, would you also say along with that Ho Family for injuries?
Josh: Yeah. Ho Family. So where Southern Fist...and, actually, technically, Southern Fist is an iron body Jow. But used as Iron Palm, it works great as well. But, yeah, Ho Family is cool because it does a lot of different things and it works in a lot of different scenarios. So it's kind of, you know, the one-size-fits-all a little bit, but it's fantastic. Actually, when I was doing a bunch of experimentation a long time ago, I used to use an Iron Palm Jow before and I did all manner of different, you know, combinations of stuff, just playing with it. But I used to use an Iron Palm Jow beforehand and then I would use a Ho Family Jow afterwards, just, you know, just to see what the effect was there. And I thought it actually worked out quite well. It's really good for the healing process.
And I tried that particular combination because the Iron Palm Jow is almost kind of sets you up. It's a conditioning Jow. So, it's kind of like your shield against injury from the beginning. And then the Ho Family Jow at the end is like, "Okay. Well, let's heal anything that happened." You know, post-mortem type of deal.
Janelle: Okay. And so, I would also throw in there White Dragon. That would be another conditioning formula along with, what, Ancestors and Hung Gar.
Josh: Yeah. And White Dragon, there's kind of a nice progression in strength from White Dragon to Ku Yu Cheung to Ancestors, Ku Yu Cheung/ Hung Gar. And the White Dragon is just such a cool, interesting Jow in so many ways. But it's more along the lines of the Ancestors in terms of like hitting a little deeper in the body. It's just not nearly as strong. So like it's a good Jow for people, you know, early on that are, you know, starting to get into Iron Palm.
Janelle: Okay. And I think we did talk about White Dragon a little bit in our first podcast as well, if I recall.
Janelle: And then, so, yeah, go ahead. Tell us about some of the more rare formulas that you really like.
Josh: So, there's a couple of formulas that always stick out in my mind. One of them is this Wong Fei Hung formula. And there's like two or three or four different Wong Fei Hung Iron Palm and Injury formulas. And there's one in particular that I always really liked, and it actually uses Ma Huang in it, which is Ephedra. Traditionally, it had used that. It used that and mint, Bo He Chinese field mint, and a number of other things. And I just love that formula. It's got such an interesting aroma to it. It's one of my favorite smelling Jows. I think it also has some either Chen Pi or Cheng Pi in it. And you kind of mix all those like citrusy, aromatic, moving herbs that have all these pinenes and limonenes and all these interesting compounds in it.
And it just has such a cool feel and it has such a cool smell to it. I always, always have loved that formula. And I've even had friends and students give me bottles of it that they've made years down. So, that's a really cool one. And then there's this other formula that...and, you know, like I've mentioned in the past, I mean, there's like dozens and dozens and dozens of these formulas that Plum Dragon has that, you know, are in these databases. And there's this formula called Dit Da Nail Turn Black formula. And it's just so...so like the primary herb in there is Chantui which is the cicada shells. And it's like such an interesting kind of...it's a very cool herb and it's nice putting that in there. And there's a bunch of Hong Hua and Sanchi and some other like kind of cool herbs that are in there.
It's got a bunch of Shu Di Huang and Sheng Di Huang, both the cooked and raw Rehmannia root. And that's just one of these formulas. Like I remember getting the Chinese for it and having it translated. And I remember it coming back and some people call it the sacred chi conditioner, but it's actually Dit Da Nail Turn Black formula. And I just always wonder in my head like, "What were they using that for? Like why Nail Turn Black?" So that was a really fun one. And I have some students who have tried that and experimented with it as well. It's also just one of those fun formulas that if you're like, you know, if you consider yourself like a Dit Da aficionado or collector, then like that's just a really cool one to play around with and try out.
Janelle: Well, I think it would be great to put together some herb packs of these rare formulas and offer it to those who are listening to this podcast.
Josh: That would be fun.
Janelle: Yeah. Okay. Cool. Well, I want to hear a little bit more about your trip to the Philippines. So, offline you were telling me that it started out a little rough?
Josh: Yeah. So, I've had all these people ask me, you know, "Well, how was the trip?" You know, I take two-week vacations every year to go out to the Philippines, and always my answer to that question is, "Well, it was really tiring. I'm ready to, you know, rest." And so, yeah. So we had a group this year...we do these pressure tests and this year we had a group of people who were kind of like coming up in Tabimina Balintawak. And so, we've started doing pressure tests again where we have these feeding lines. And the feeding line is where you basically got kind of...it's not necessarily student-instructor, but it's like feeder-receiver which is...it's kind of like student-instructor. Student to instructor.
And there's a line of us and we have these receivers come in and we do this training. And so, we did a pressure test this year with these up and coming people. All the senior, you know, feeders and chapter heads did this kind of this pressure test. And, yeah, it was rough. You know, it's kind of hard to be in the line and act kind of violent, you know, towards these people. And, you know, some people come up and they're smiling, you know. You've known these people for years and they come up smiling and you start this whole...you know. And all of a sudden their smile starts to disappear because, you know, you're not smiling at all.
Like a lot of that feeling of violence isn't getting hit, right. It's the mental kind of landscape that's being painted. And so, then the smile disappears and they like, wonder, you know. And then... And, you know, and then you disarm the stick and the stick goes flying and you just kind of stand there with your hands on your hips waiting for them to pick it up. And as soon as they get right back in this position... And, you know, and then afterwards it's...you know, you're not smiling. You're not, you know...it's supposed to feel violent. And so, people would come up afterwards and, you know, and they kind of come up and then shaking your hand and all this. And it's almost like you feel the...it's like they want to make sure that you're not actually mad at them. That you're not, you know, pissed off. And it's interesting thinking about that because I got my pressure tests...I was pressure-tested back in 2010.
And way back then, we didn't all know each other. Like I've been hanging out with these guys, these people from all over the world now every once a year for a decade. And when I got my pressure test, we were all kind of...we had just met and we were trying to kind...we call it gathering of the wolves. And so we're trying to...everybody's like trying to sniff each other out like wolves. We're trying to determine like a pecking order and everything is just real tense. And I didn't know that I was going to get pressure-tested. I was just working with somebody and then all of a sudden my stick is getting disarmed and I'm getting punched in the face and I'm getting slashes across my stomach and whatever. And it felt...it certainly felt very violent. And I knew...I mean, it's actually after my pressure tests, it's real hard to kind of hold tears back. And not tears like because it hurts, but tears because it just feels so violent.
And so, I at least, I didn't even know about it. So at least these people knew about it coming in and it's, you know, it's a little bit different of a world now. But it was neat because, you know, you don't really feel like doing this to these people but then you get into your like war mode and you do it. And then you're able...then, actually, you feel like maybe a little bad. Like maybe I hit them too many times too hard, but then you see them off in the distance after they're done and they're like showing their welts to everybody and their smiles and like, you know... And then you go out and have a beer that night. So it was, you know, it was good.
Janelle: And do you guys talk about like, what you're doing and the purpose of it afterwards? Do you all sit around and discuss this or...
Josh: We do a little bit. And there's a little bit...like, we've got some kind of groups. Like I hang out a lot with the chapter head on the East Coast. We're really good friends and kind of training partners. And so we talk a lot about it. We talk to some of the, you know, people that went through it and everybody kind of is interested. Like, "What was your impression of it? Like what did you think about it?" So, yeah, there's definitely discussion.
Janelle: Yeah. How did everyone do under the pressure?
Josh: They did great. Actually, the thing about it is, and the other piece that I didn't really mention is that this year, these set of pressure tests, there's kind of this idea of suppressing the ego. Because you...when you are coming up, it's really easy to get a chip on your shoulder. And I think everybody at some point gets some kind of chip on their shoulder. And so, part of the pressure test is kind of like knocking you down a little bit and saying like, "Hey." One, it's putting you through this thing that you should go through. But, two, it's...like we talked about, it's like making you walk through that fire. But the second piece is, is that it's kind of like, you know, making sure that you understand that you don't have it yet. Like you still have to...like, I don't have it yet.
Like, even, you know, with 10 years training in the art, I still don't really have it, you know. And so this year, kind of part of that suppression of the ego is that the receivers, the people being pressure-tested, were not allowed to attack back. They just had to defend. And that's a hard thing to do. And so they did really well with it. I mean, everybody did great. There were, you know, some people who were better than others, I think, and that's just part of it. But, overall, I think, you know, they did really well. They were good at suppressing that ego and taking that pressure test, you know, in stride. So, it was very positive.
Janelle: Do you feel like most of the participants are battling with a lot of internal pain or challenges in their life and this is like one way for them to deal with it?
Josh: I think some of them do. A lot of the students in, especially in Manila, they're actually very wealthy executives. And some of those people in Manila are doing this to, you know, burn off steam and get away from life. And, you know, some other people do battle with some things I think, some internal kind of like, I guess, demons you could call it. A lot of those demons do kind of present themselves in really interesting ways that, you know, not...like I used to see another martial arts. A lot of it, like that manifestation of ego especially, is such a big thing that...you know, that's the big thing. I think a lot of people really, really battle with that piece of it. You know, battling with... Like the ego, when you tell somebody they're wrong about something, for example, you know, the ego immediately jumps in and starts to analyze and be like, "Well, am I really wrong? Like, under what circumstances am I actually right?"
And so, when you are calling things out to people during training, you're really fighting their ego, right? It's not a physical thing. Like you're really, really kind of fighting that ego. And when you're going through a pressure test, it's the same idea except for now, instead of calling it out, it's so right in your face. It's like, "Well, you're trying to block this and you've blocked it, you know, a thousand times and you're incredibly fast. But now I'm going to do it a whole bunch of times and you're not going to block it at all." So it's really, really...a huge, huge piece of that is just learning to quiet the mind and not let that ego just rage.
Janelle: Yeah. So they really...I mean, you're talking about these executives who are used to being in control and having some level of power and they're really having to surrender that need for control.
Josh: Absolutely. Absolutely. And for some that I've seen come and go, I think probably they quit because, you know, if you're in that position and you're used to that and you come to martial art because you want to learn more power and control in a physical way, well, it just doesn't happen. I mean, it doesn't matter... You know, I've seen it so many times, people come in and they think they can, you know, exert some control or swing a stick and that we won't be able to do anything about it. And it just doesn't work out for them like that. And so a lot of them I think get frustrated and they can't handle the fact that their ego is being pressed on so intensely, and a lot of them leave. But I think that a lot of the...some of the more senior students in Manila who are executives are able to kind of channel that. And I think that in a lot of ways that's a huge, huge piece of the art for Sir Bob.
Like he talks about this not being a martial art. You know, he talks a lot about the mental aspects and being aware of yourself and mastering yourself and mastering...you know, not letting that... And I think a lot of it is very mental and psychological and it's not so physical. I mean, we're doing physical things, but it's not...that's not really the goal state for us necessarily.
Janelle: Yeah. What were some of like the things that impressed you during the trip with either people or any of the training that you guys did? What stands out to you?
Josh: Well, so Flint...and, actually, I hadn't mentioned this previously, but Flint got promoted by Sir Bob. So Sir Bob is in his late '60s, and he promoted Flint to Grandmaster. And so, Flint is now the official Grandmaster of Tabimina Balintawak. And so that by itself is ultra-exciting. But I am just always so impressed with Flint and his ability to...I mean, the best way I can put it is to be creative. He has this kind of methodology which is really what helps Balintawak grow. And he brings ideas to a student and he teaches the student just so openly, because he says when you teach a student something, when you openly teach a student, it comes back to you like three times. Three times is just a number, but like he's saying, in so many martial arts it's like you have to do your stance until it's perfect and you have to do this until it's perfect.
And there's a limited, finite amount of material. And I think in a lot of ours, they're afraid of giving it all up. But here, the mindset is totally the opposite. And so you see Flint giving anything and everything to his student and once his student can do it under pressure, then it forces Flint to grow from that. And so, then he takes that growth and he brings it to his next session and his next session. And he's just so incredible the way that he's able to help continue perpetuating and evolving the art. And so I asked him, he was in the U.S. late last year, and I asked him. I said, "Flint, you are so incredible. Like you've been doing this for so long."
I said, "Where do you see yourself? You know, where do you see yourself in the art?" And he says, "You know what, Josh?" He always says that. "You know what, Josh?" And so he says, "Behind me..." So I'm talking with Flint and he said, "Behind me, everything is well lit and I can see everything behind me." He says, "But if I look in front of me, even just one foot, it's still dark." And so like the control there, you notice, like the humility there, the position that he's in and everything in front of him is still brand new and fresh and he's approaching it like a student would on day one. And then the last follow-up to that is that while Flint has a brilliance, you know, in him, there's wisdom with that, Sir Bob has just done such an incredible job bringing Flint as well as Chad and Dag and the rest of us up to that point that it just...it boggles my mind to, you know, to try to grasp what he's been able to do with this art since he started, you know, kind of publicly teaching it.
Janelle: Yeah. And they want to pass it on to you guys and to teach other people and it just perpetuates. Like you guys want to share it with more and more people as well.
Josh: Right. And the more they pass it on, the more it comes back, the more all of us teach it and pass it on. Not just teaching it for the sake of teaching it, right? Like not just watching and saying, "Okay, good." But like really...like the pressure tests. Like really, really putting a student under pressure. Like we always say like, "I am your evil stimulus." That's Sir Bob's quote. "I am your evil stimulus." And then he turns and he smiles and he says, "But evil stimulus is good stimulus because the harder we make it and the more you overcome that and walk through that fire, I suppose, the more challenging it is for the teacher. And the more challenging it is for the teacher, the more we pass it back to the student." And it's this, you know, this cyclical thing and it just doesn't make any sense to not give every single ounce to your student.
Janelle: Yeah. The cycle between a teacher and student.
Janelle: Well, hey, for a minute, I want to just segue into a book that you wrote, the "Materia Medica for Martial Artists." So that was a Chinese reference material. And I'd love for you to talk about why you wrote it and what it's useful for and...
Josh: So, I wrote that book in part because I felt like there was a gap. I was looking for information and I couldn't find it and I started writing. I have this old notebook that is filled with all of these different ways of categorizing all of the different herbs and stuff. And it was stuff I couldn't find anywhere. And so I was like, "Well, I need to just do this because it'll help my growth in understanding." And I was real passionate about, you know, passing on information and trying to get it all into a place so that it was helpful. And so, I wrote that "Materia Medica" with a very, very specific idea in mind. The templates, the herb templates that, you know, have the different herbs, there's nothing particularly unique about those.
What's really, really unique is that I did a whole bunch of reverse engineering formulas and I put it all in that book. So, you can go right now to any formula that you have and you can see the herbs that are in the formula, but you can't do the opposite. You can't look at the herbs and see what formulas the herbs are in. And so, that's exactly what I did. I wrote these, you know, these templates that gave...like it was very specific. First of all, it was a set of herbs that was very specific for martial arts and, you know, and conditioning and Dit Da and all that. And then I included, you know, notes about it with, you know, in a lot of cases, the chemical compounds and all these other things that don't show up in other Materia Medicas. But, really, like the really hallmark piece of that "Materia Medica" is that reverse engineering that went into all those formulas.
And I didn't put in everything. I didn't put in every formula. And part of that is that, you know, some of those were being held back because I, you know, told people I wouldn't, you know, divulge information about the formula and things like that. But then also because I never would've finished it if I had put in every single formula. But you can literally go through that book and you can look at herbs that were used in particular formulas and it ends up becoming a very meaningful thing. "Oh, this herb was used in this Iron Palm Jow and that Iron Palm Jow and this and that and that. And, oh, this herb was used in this internal formula and this injury Jow and this internal this." And for me, in some ways it's a whole lot more useful for weaving a picture together or putting a puzzle together than trying to read about what an herb does and just, you know, think that that's what your...you know, just hope that you can understand it like that.
Janelle: Yeah. It helps you apply it, how to actually benefit from them.
Josh: Exactly. It helps you follow in the footsteps of the people who made these formulas.
Janelle: Now, if you were to add anything to it several years later, would you add anything to that book or...
Josh: So, that "Materia Medica" is actually written fairly completely. What I would certainly do is add more...a few more herbs. There's probably a few more herbs that I wouldn't mind adding, you know, kind of expanding the overall base of database of herbs in there. But I also think that I would...what I'd like to do is add a little bit more information about the botany of different herbs, add a little bit more information about kind of the chemical composition and the reactions that take place between various herbs. And then, you know, I think that a book like that would be great with pictures. I think both pictures, not for every herb but, you know, randomly] pictures both of the herb, the dried and prepared versions of the herb as well as the pictures of the herbs when they're part of a living plant in the ground.
And I have a one really, really old "Materia Medica" that was given to me by the acupuncturist. I mentioned in the first blog, I worked with an acupuncturist in Huntsville, and he gave me this Materia Medica. And it's a red Materia Medica and it's very old. I wish I knew...I think Lisa has it now. I wish I knew what it was called, but they have these really, really interesting pictures in the book of the herbs when they're...after they've been dried as well as after they've been, you know, cooked, calcined and roasted and cooked in wine or vinegar or whatever. And it's just so interesting seeing that, especially for somebody who might not work with all of these herbs all of the time. It just gives you something a little bit of tactile sense about it instead of keeping it very nebulous.
Janelle: Yeah, I know. And it's really helpful when you can visualize what it looked like when it was alive and dried and so forth, and then used in the formulas. So, yeah. That's interesting. And now you've mentioned in the last interview that you were considering putting together a book with Sir Bob.
Janelle: Is that something that you think is still in the works or is it...
Josh: It is in the works. I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on it. When we last talked, I think I was kind of getting ready to go to the Philippines. And I had some interviews that I'd done with them and I had transcribed. I think I'd finished transcribing those shortly after we talked. And I also, you know, I was getting ready to hit the Philippines and now I'm back from that and I'm actually getting ready to move next month. So, I haven't had a lot of time to work on that, but that is definitely something that I think Sir Bob wants to see done. And I think that it's a really important thing to have available for the community. Not so much for training methods, because the training methods...you can't do the training without, you know, somebody in front of you. In my opinion, I just don't think it's worthwhile. But the big thing is there's history there. There's concepts and ideas. That book will be an incredible supplement for somebody who does train Balintawak already.
Janelle: Yeah. And I don't know if we made this clear, but, I'm just looking over my notes, that Flint is his son. I don't know if that was stated.
Josh: Yes. Sir Bob Tabimina. RM Flint Tabimina is Sir Bob's eldest son.
Janelle: And Sir Bob was the founder of this art. And now, is he retiring or is he still going to be involved?
Josh: He's still teaching. He's still involved. I think that the idea is...the way I see it is that over the next few years he'll slowly kind of become less and less active, you know, naturally, instead of just, you know, stepping out, because we all still very much want to train with him. And he still just moves in a way that we all want to get that because it's just so incredible. But I think over the next few years, I think slowly he'll kind of just, you know, slowly naturally phase out.
Janelle: Well, I know that you are really busy with everything you've got going on, so I appreciate you calling me and taking this time for this interview.
Josh: Absolutely. You know I love it.
Janelle: Oh, good. And I'm sure we'll have another discussion in the near future. We can, you know, maybe find out from our listeners what they would like to have you talk about. I think that would be really good if we can start a discussion online and get some questions.
Josh: I think a Q&A would be great. That would be a lot of fun, I think
Janelle: In the background, I'm laughing because I hear my dog barking. That must be my cue to wrap it up. So with that, you know...and I'm glad to hear you got better quickly. You were telling me that you started your trip off pretty sick.
Josh: Oh, yeah. I had food poisoning on the plane. And so with six hours left on the flight...six hours before I landed in Tokyo, I woke up sweating profusely and ran into that little thing they call the bathroom. And I just collapsed on the floor and I just stayed there for, you know, 10 or 15 minutes going, "I can't believe I have six hours left of this." And it ended up kind of going away. It was food poisoning and I did start to feel better. But, you know, as we talked a little bit earlier, it's kind of, in some ways that was kind of walking through its own little fire, you know. It certainly made me appreciate the hotel room when I finally got to Manila that much more.
Janelle: Oh my goodness. I seriously do not know how you stood that on an airplane, because the same thing happened to me when I was at the tail end of my spring break trip. I was like laying in bed all day long and I was getting ready to leave the next day for a 10-hour drive home. And I'm like telling my husband. "There is no way I'm getting in that car if I'm sick." So that is like you lived out my worst nightmare, being on an airplane.
Josh: It's so terrible. Especially like being stuck away from your home. And, you know, at the time, you don't care about the fire. You know, at the time, like you just want to curl up and die, you know. You'll do anything to get rid of that. But then after it's over, it's in the past and it doesn't even matter anymore.
Janelle: Yeah. Oh, well, I'm glad you're better now.
Josh: Yes, you too. You too.
Janelle: Thank you. All right. Well, you take care and have a great night.
Josh: You too. Thank you. We'll talk soon.
Janelle: And thanks to all our listeners for joining us today. For more great tips from Josh Walker, be sure to visit us at plumdragonherbs.com. We will post show notes and ways to connect with Josh. And if you liked the show, be sure to leave a comment and follow us on our YouTube and iTunes channels. You'll also find our first interview with Josh in Episode 3. Until next time.