Going the distance in Aikido

Aikido

So it happens, for whatever reason you miss a training night, then another and then another. Pretty soon its been several weeks since you trained. Suddenly you feel weird about going back, perhaps you begin to question yourself, – is this really working out?

I can’t quote you specific drop out figures for Aikido, but i can tell you that in Krav Maga when I took the introductory class,  we were soon left with about 10% of students that were still there six months later. In itself that is not a bad thing. I am very much favour of ‘intro’ classes to Martial arts and combat systems. There is no shame in trying something out and realising that it is not for you, what works for one person may not always work for another. Being asked to sign up on the example of a single night on the mat can be an unrealistic expectation.

Still it is also common for medium term students to drop away, this is not exclusive to Aikido, all Martial Arts and Combat Systems experience similar statistics.

Yet it is at this point that it is worth examining your reasons for why you may not wish to continue. For many people this is the point where you may be leaving for no other reason than that your motivation is lacking for something that you may well still love.

Here are some points for overcoming the mid term blues.

#1 Choose carefully in the first place. As above, it is a good thing to try introductory courses and to visit various disciplines to try them out, yet once you do commit to something your decision needs to be resolute and not still wavering in indecision. Otherwise you will begin to question your decision.

#2 If you have made the wrong choice, change. If you are three months into training and you realise that this is not for you, make the hard decision now to leave, not later on when it can become harder and more confusing. When it gets tough at the gradings later on down the track you need to know that this is really what you want to do, not simply the consolation prize because you could not get into what you really wanted.

#3 Understand that you will have to put in the work to motivate yourself. I love watching the various sports at the Winter Olympics. I also have some understanding of the massive amount of sacrifice that those athletes have put into it to be there. The constant 5am training, the strict dietary requirements, the constant pressure to be better. There is no easy way to say it, yet there are many times in training when you will face opposition and if you wish to break through you will have no other option but to take on the attitude of drinking a cup of cement and hardening up.. Sometimes the best feeling of making the grade is when you look back on what you were prepared to do in order to take the journey.

#4 Commit to being in it for the long haul. When training gets hard, you need to be able to draw on the reasons why you are there in the first place. This is why you need to keep a training diary with the reasons for why you are there written into the front pages. You should be able to turn the pages back and be reminded of the goal that you are working towards.

#5 Use your training diary to set and achieve small and large goals. There is more to having goals than just gradings, you need to know what your personal best is at the various techniques and what you can and cannot do and you need to set goals with a view to achieving the things that you cannot. Achieving goals can be addictive and motivating. Being able to track real progress can get you through the bad weeks when it gets tough.

#6 Be inspired by O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. Go take a look at the history of O’Sensei, go right back to his service in the Japan-Russo war. O’Sensei saw and experienced many things that shaped his outlook on life and we are very fortunate in that many things that he said were recorded and translated into english for us to study and ponder upon today. Many people outside of Aikido draw on the philosophical nature of the writings of O’Sensei for encouragement and you will find encouragement to continue your Aikido journey there also.

You will find that when you train, you will have good weeks and bad weeks, you will have good nights where everything just clicks and you will have other nights where what you did well the week before falls in a heap this time around. You will forget things, remember parts of techniques and get confused with content from different techniques. This is something that will continue to happen to you not matter what the colour of the patch is that you have earned along the way, it is something that your Sensei and fellow students have all been through before. Don’t allow this experience to set you back and make you believe that you cannot learn the techniques that are required of you, Repetition and commitment to training will get you there when it counts. Commit to keeping a diary of your training and you will soon be in a place where you look back on what you through you could not do from a place of where you can do those things along with more difficult techniques.

Keep the faith!

Shalom.

Going the distance in Krav Maga.

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So it happens, for whatever reason you miss a training night, then another and then another. Pretty soon its been several weeks since you trained. Suddenly you feel weird about going back, perhaps you begin to question yourself, – is this really working out?

I can’t quote you specific drop out figures for Krav Maga, but i can tell you that from the intro class that I attended we were soon left with about 10% of students that were still there six months later. In itself that is not a bad thing. I am very much favour of ‘intro’ classes to Krav Maga. There is no shame in trying something out and realising that it is not for you, what works for one person may not always work for another.

Still it is also common for medium term students to drop away, this is not exclusive to Krav Maga, all Martial Arts and Combat Systems experience similar statistics.

Yet it is at this point that it is worth examining your reasons for why you may not wish to continue. For many people this is the point where you may be leaving for no other reason than that your motivation is lacking for something that you may well still love.

Here are some points for overcoming the mid term blues.

#1 Choose carefully in the first place. As above, it is a good thing to try introductory courses and to visit various disciplines to try them out, yet once you do commit to something your decision needs to be resolute and not still wavering in indecision. Otherwise you will begin to question your decision.

#2 If you have made the wrong choice, change. If you are three months into training and you realise that this is not for you, make the hard decision now to leave, not later on when it can become harder and more confusing. When it gets tough at the gradings later on down the track you need to know that this is really what you want to do, not simply the consolation prize because you could not get into what you really wanted.

#3 Understand that you will have to put in the work to motivate yourself. I love watching the various sports at the Winter Olympics. I also have some understanding of the massive amount of sacrifice that those athletes have put into it to be there. The constant 5am training, the strict dietary requirements, the constant pressure to be better. There is no easy way to say it, yet there are many times in training when you will face opposition and if you wish to break through you will have no other option but to take on the attitude of drinking a cup of cement and hardening up.. Sometimes the best feeling of making the grade is when you look back on what you were prepared to do in order to take the journey.

#4 Commit to being in it for the long haul. When training gets hard, you need to be able to draw on the reasons why you are there in the first place. This is why you need to keep a training diary with the reasons for why you are there written into the front pages. You should be able to turn the pages back and be reminded of the goal that you are working towards.

#5 Use your training diary to set and achieve small and large goals. There is more to having goals than just gradings, you need to know what your personal best is at the various techniques and what you can and cannot do and you need to set goals with a view to achieving the things that you cannot. Achieving goals can be addictive and motivating. Being able to track real progress can get you through the bad weeks when it gets tough.

#6 Be inspired by Imi Litchtenfeld. Go take a look at the history of the founder of Krav Maga imi Litchtenfeld. Everything he earn’t for himself was via a struggle in the face of overwhelming odds. His training saved  and saves the lives of many people in some of the most heinous situations that you can imagine. Imi has various philosophical points that go along with the standard training in the syllabus. Allow his wisdom to motivate you.

You will find that when you train, you will have good weeks and bad weeks, you will have good nights where everything just clicks and you will have other nights where what you did well the week before falls in a heap this time around. You will forget things, remember parts of techniques and get confused with content from different techniques. This is something that will continue to happen to you not matter what the colour of the patch is that you have earned along the way, it is something that your instructors and fellow students have all been through before. Don’t allow this experience to set you back and make you believe that you cannot learn the techniques that are required of you, Repetition and commitment to training will get you there when it counts. Commit to keeping a diary of your training and you will soon be in a place where you look back on what you through you could not do from a place of where you can do those things along with more difficult techniques.

Keep the faith!

Shalom.

Third Party Protection.

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Have you ever been in a situation where through no fault of your own and as an innocent party you have come across a situation where for whatever reason two adults decide to punch it out and fight in public?

The first observation that I would make is that it is generally nothing like what you might see in a Hollywood movie. Neither is the reaction nor response from the people in the general vicinity.

One morning I was on my way to work and encountered road works. The situation was that one lane was cut off and traffic was required to zip merge into the other lane to get around the roadworks… For various reasons a number of members of the general public seen to have little idea on how to actually complete a zip merge in traffic and other people simply have the aggressiveness that is veneered under their own personality brought out when they get behind the wheel of a car and it often seems to come out in situations like these. Anyway two vehicles approach the zip merge point, one a four wheel drive Nissan and the other a Ford Falcon Station Wagon (Yes they still make the Ford Falcon in Australia!). Naturally neither driver wishes to pull back and allow the other driver to move over, so the end result is that a relatively minor collision takes place. The four wheel drive pushes through and after we have passed the road works, both vehicles come to a halt and the drivers jump out. The driver of the Falcon is perhaps in his 30’s, the Nissan perhaps in his late 40’s. The Falcon driver raises his hands in the air as if to say ‘what is your problem’, the Nissan driver continues walking towards him and punches him in the face and follows it up with a number of pummelling style blows to the face. The other chap responds in the same manner and they slug it out for less than 30 seconds. There is  no ‘winner’, the driver of the Falcon has blood streaming from his nose, they both get back in their vehicles and drive away.  Naturally no details are exchanged to resolve any insurance claims for the accident. For whatever reason the only response from other motorists was to lean on their horns perhaps believing that the sound of a car horn may stop people fighting or draw the attention of witnesses.

What I learned from this experience, is that as an adult there is no joy whatsoever in watching two people fight on the street. The idiots involved become both a danger to themselves and to the other people that get caught up nearby. When it happens at sporting events or on a bus or train, often nearby spectators or passengers have little space to withdraw to. For a younger person or often simply members of the public in general, it can be both intimidating and frightening to view this scenario playing out in front of you and members of your family.

Krav Maga because of its historical roots has a specific focus on training for third party protection i.e. for instances where you come across an instance of an assault of some type and may feel that you have no other option but to intervene. This type of training and putting it into practice is not something taken lightly in the Krav Maga syllabus. Many people have been killed or maimed by getting involved in fights to break them up, especially if a weapon is involved or is  introduced. Krav Maga techniques are nothing like what you see Hollywood demonstrating in movies on TV. It is based around targeted atemi strking and removing yourself from the situation as quickly as possible with the absolute minimum of time spent in that person’s body space. It has to be experienced in close combat training to be correctly understood.

Since the 1950’s and perhaps earlier, the British police have had an interesting approach to dealing with instances where a fight has broken out between two people or a group or people. In a number of cases they simply stand back and allow the people to slug it out.. Police in Britain do not carry side arms and could quickly be overcome by a group of people if they attempted to intervene, alternatively the two people fighting can simply turn on the officer. Fight psychology suggests that in many cases after 30 seconds of intense punching most people that don’t have any training are generally physically spent and often have received injuries that disable them or have injured themselves in the process. That is often the point where the intervention then begins. Naturally it is a different scenario if a person is being attacked, yet in cases where two idiots or groups of idiots have grandstanded one another and are trading blows  they may be simply better left to their own devices rather than someone else risking their own safety by trying to intervene.

My advice to you is to think very carefully before you decide to intervene in two people fighting on the street or in the train carriage on your daily commute. Your best strategy may be to utilise your training to look for exits and the content of your surroundings and to act to protect others from being hit by simply getting them out of the way of what is happening. If you are a Krav Maga student or if you train in another Martial Art or Combat System, you may like to consider speaking with your Sensei or Instructor about the formal training that your organisation offers in this area. This type of training is often more than simple techniques on a mat and in Krav Maga is often an occasion where students are required to learn and be familiar with fighting psychology in parallel with the techniques taught in the syllabus. If your Instructor or Sensei has a time at the conclusion of training where questions are taken, it can be good to bring it up with discussion with them about where they may introduce that level of training to you so you can take it further if you wish to.

When Karate meets Krav Maga and Aikido

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As a number of readers of dontmakemeangrymrmcgee will already know, I am a keen fan of most styles of Martial Arts / Combat Systems and Physical Training in general. I don’t have an agenda to try and prove that one is better than another,  to do so is largely futile in my opinion. I have long taken the view that different Martial Arts & Combat Systems suit different types of people and also suit different people at different stages of the life span. Yet I want to point out that I quite often enjoy visiting and training in various other marital arts and combat systems also as I am sure many of you do too. When you reach the point where you do not feel insecure about what you train in, a whole new world of training and cross training can open up to you if that is your wish. With that in mind I would like to make a few points on what many would see as an old school traditional martial art generically called “Karate”.

It is sad to say, yet needs to be brought up at the outset, that you have to separate the wheat from the chaff when you look at people that claim to represent Karate organisations. Karate exploded in popularity in the 1970’s/80’s and saw a number of people jump on board with the goal of making money and being awarded grading’s that were not earned but given in order to expand different organizations. The popularity of Karate has since receded somewhat, yet like Taekwondo the McDojo movement is still alive and well amongst them. Yet at the same time there are also some very genuine people that are in leadership of Karate organizations and a number of people that train with them that are incredibly good at the style of Karate that they train in. Sadly some of the idiots from the McDojo movement are also migrating across to the likes of Krav Maga, Aikido, Muay Thai and BJJ amongst others, so the problem is not restricted to just the Karate / Taekwondo movement but is something the rest of us need to be across also.

I have always had a strong respect for the old school Karate,- perhaps, there is a little nostalgia in there also,. Yet watching experienced Karateka deliver kicks and strikes with true power is something to see and something great to be a part of if you have the opportunity to train with them. You can learn a lot from an experienced Karateka if you are willing to listen and to observe and to exclude yourself from the debate about the relevance of Kata’s which seems to dominate different people.

It is my view that Karate can offer a lot to a Krav Maga practitioner or to an Aikidoka. Krav Maga has a strong focus on attack patterns that are exclusive to Krav Maga. Aikido has several ‘strikes’ that are used in an attack form to facilitate the response in Aikido. Often these strikes are performed poorly, slowly and without a sense of realism. The Krav Maga striking patterns in contrast are done in repetition and as a result you are ready for the technique from your partner because you know what is coming and you are trained to receive it.  Krav Maga utilises low Savate style kicks as attack kicking, yet this may not be the kicking attack that will be coming for you in an aggressive attack. When asked to replicate Karate styled kicks many Krav Maga & Aikidoka can struggle because it is not something we repetitively practice. When confronted with an actual Karate Kick from an experienced Karateka, delivered at the correct speed and with the right power behind it, many Krav Maga or Aikido people can find that it will in fact blast straight through their defence and land as a direct hit with the resulting injury. I mean no disrespect to anyone here, yet living in fairy land believing that you can deal with any attack that comes your way that you have not practiced for is a good way to get yourself beaten up if you are in fact attacked or going to the aid of someone else. A similar scenario exists for the variety of punches trained for in Karate, as an example there is a Karate punch called a ‘ura zuki’ which resembles what we might know as an uppercut. It is delivered at force to the soft pallet of your attacker and is the kind or punch that can easily crush the throat and cause suffocation. The point that I am driving at is that it is easy to believe that Karate Punches are rigid and slow yet once you actually encounter a real Karateka you will find that is not even remotely the case.

The advantage that Karate offers to the Krav Maga person or the Aikidoka is the capacity to learn how to kick and strike with raw power and efficiency. Ideally if you are trained at the top level of Krav Maga or Aikido, there is an expectation  that you should be able to deal with this type of attack. Yet to be able to deal with it, it is a good strategy to have experienced it first and by doing so, not by being on the receiving end of a weak effort from someone that has not real training at all in these  types of attack techniques.  Training in Karate and learning the basic kicking and striking movements gives you the capacity to do just that and to be able to deliver it yourself to your fellow students on the mat or on the gym floor at training. I know of one Krav Maga centre that has a Karate Sensei that is invited along to training from time to time for exactly this purpose. By having a culture of respect where you train, it gives you the capacity to do this type of thing and to increase your training skills at the same time. – Worth considering anyway.

Why punching is a bad option for Self Defence.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) - Mad Men - Season 5, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

Striking with a clenched fist.

If you take the advice of hollywood movies or youtube clips, it would appear that in order to defend yourself you make a fist and repeatedly strike the atemi points of your attacker. Down they go and you walk out a hero…

The fact is that reality often proves to be quite a lot different. If you rely solely on your fists in a self defence situation and you fail you will like be seriously injured or killed by your attacker in a short space of time.

So what can happen when you strike someone with a clenched fist? – More often than not, the best / most powerful punch you can make will not fell your opponent and will likely break your own knuckle/s in the process. In reality the flurry of bare knuckle punching you see in the movies will break knuckles, bones and destroy the ligaments in your hands. Your hands are made up of a variety of different parts that are all weak and vulnerable to repeated bare knuckle punching, no matter how good you think you are.

In Krav Maga the syllabus teaches the student Western Boxing. Rather than punching in a wild flurry, you are taught how to make a fist and how to deliver punches in conjunction and coordination with the movement of your feet. Yet Krav Maga goes on to teach students how to deliver high speed / force palm and elbow strikes along with knee striking and Savate styled ankle kicks / breaks. For a new student to Krav Maga it can seem an unusual technique to strike with the palm as opposed to the fist. Yet there is a very clear methodology here. Palm and elbow strikes deliver high power hits that have the capacity to do far less damage to the person using them in their striking patterns. Krav Maga moves through a cycle of fist / palm / knee strikes in the introductory levels to get students used to the fact that we don’t want you to rely on fist striking alone in order to defend yourself.

Sadly what can happen is that people panic, and launch into a flurry of fist striking and break their knuckles or the bones in their hands in the process. Try repeatedly striking someone with a broken hand and you will likely find that if that is the limit of your techniques, you are likely going to be beaten up quite badly.

In your class time you will be shown the striking patterns that you need to learn for your grading. I would like to suggest to you that you consider investing in a bag of your own to practice with at home and to learn to feel the force that can be delivered via palm and elbow striking and to practice in such a way that your palm and elbow strikes become delivered via muscle memory with real power.

If your goal is to learn some real Self Defence training, the above is a good example of why Krav Maga is one of the best options to learn to defend yourself with. Krav Maga is set up around real situations and is used in real combat situations, what does and does not work has been evolved over a number of years of the development of the Krav Maga system. If your goal is to learn a martial art for self defence, then do yourself a favour and at least include a Krav Maga gym as you visit local dojo’s in your area. I suspect you may well like what you find there!

Aikido, Anger and Dr David Banner

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Hopefully you are familiar with Dr David Banner and his transformation as a result of the manifestation of Anger into the Incredible Hulk; – Indeed – “Mr McGee, don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”!

Those that follow the series will be aware of the various efforts that Dr David Banner goes through to try and suppress his anger as he works towards finding a cure. A cure that might release him from the burden that he carries of his both his transformation into the Incredible Hulk and the burden of not knowing if the Hulk is responsible for the death of his colleague Dr Elaina Harding Marks. –“ A murder which David Banner can never prove he or the creature didn’t commit. So he must let the world go on thinking that he, too, is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him”.

 Anger is an interesting emotion, interesting in that it is generally viewed in a negative sense. Like Dr David Banner there are many people that work hard to suppress their anger for various reasons, perhaps in cases for the explosive rage and poor decision making processes that can accompany an outburst of anger for many people.

O’Sensei has an interesting commentary on Anger and human emotion in the records of his teachings. As quoted from O’Sensei “Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with natures grand design. Do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things”.

It is interesting that O’Sensei is suggesting that we not be opposed to the cosmic order of these emotions. It is my view that from time to time we need to ‘manage’ our emotions as opposed to ‘suppressing’ our emotions.

Whilst some may see anger as a negative emotion, it is also a necessary emotion to experience. It is quite okay to be angry from time to time. There are things in the world that should make you angry. If you learn to use Anger as ‘Motivation’ you will find that anger actually helps you achieve your goals. Take for example a person that is stuck in a rut of being overweight. I suspect that you may know people that were in a situation like that who tried various things to change and nothing worked, then one day you saw that person and noticed a significant weight loss. If you ask that person what happened and what it was that actually changed they may tell you something along the lines that all of a sudden they just had enough and made the decision right there and then to change and it suddenly clicked for them. What has actually happened in a number of cases is that the actual problem of being overweight has got at that person over a number of years and worn them down, some people simply give up, others go on to experience rising anger at the situation and suddenly it is this anger that gives them the motivation to make it stick and actually change.

I used an example of weight loss, but this same scenario can occur in marital arts training also, particularly if you fail a grading. You can be angry at your Sensei or the Organisation, yet eventually if you are realistic some of that anger may well turn around and be directed at your own self and again there it is, if you accept that the future lies with you, you can use this sense of anger to motivate yourself to train and to do what needs to be done to change things.

Anger can also be for good reasons, there was an occasion recorded in history when Jesus Christ walked into the temple and saw that it was being used as a business to help the wealthy profit from the very poor in society. It is reported that he became angry and pushed over there tables, then made a whip from cords and physically drove those people out of the temple courts and returned that area to the people. The same is true for the rest of us today, when we see things that are wrong and unjust, sometimes there are times when it should make you angry and your response should be to stand up and to do something about it.

Returning to Dr David Banner, it is my view that no amount of Aikido training and philosophy could ever prevent him from becoming angry, simply because that is not what Aikido is for. Aikido is not religious, many of the great Sensei’s that have passed before have taught great philosophy, yet even that is external to Aikido. The hope of O’Sensei was that Aikido would lead people to have a desire to have world peace, yet here is the thing, if the injustices of the world do not make us feel the emotion of anger, how do we find the motivation then to change things, would we not simply carry on as we are and let things simply also stay the same?

Anger, yes it is a choice as are other emotions at times, but it can also be a choice for good, not something negative. Could it be that it is time that you allowed yourself to become angry about a situation that needs to change and got up and did something about it?

What ‘not’ to do at Wing Chun Training

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Are you new to Wing Chun? Would you like some solutions to avoid having a rough time at training? Check out this list for some tips and advice for going the distance in Wing Chun!

#1, The person out the front is called your ‘Sifu’, your Sifu runs the show, – if they are talking, do everyone a favour and try to let them talk. There is plenty of time to ask questions before and after training, if your Sifu wants to answer questions they will make time available during the class and ask. Let them teach and don’t take up the time of the rest of the class asking something you can discuss after class.

#2, Try not to whinge and complain about ‘feeling exhausted’. It is normal to be exhausted and muscle fatigued after a Wing Chun training session. You will get used to it if you put your head down and train. This is a part of what you paid your money for.

#3, Your training centre is called a ‘Kwoon’ and must be treated with every respect. At the front of the Kwoon is an altar, this is not a considered a religious altar because Wing Chun is not ‘the way’ but something that may point you to ‘the way’ if you are seeking. Do not lean on or place items on the altar, bow and or show the attitude of reverence towards the altar as directed by your Sifu.

#5, Don’t bring food into the Kwoon. Its great that you like to pig out on McDonalds before class. Kindly leave it outside of the building or in your car. Try to brush your teeth afterwards if you plan to train.

#6, Use deodorant liberally, Fairly obvious really, if you are wondering why no one wants to pair up with you at class, chances are this may be a reason..

#7, Leave your Ego at the door, Its great that you work out & have experience in XYZ martial arts. Looks are often decieving. that weedy looking guy in the corner will most likely serve you your arse on a plate irrespective of how buff you are or how much you think you know. Try learning from people as opposed to showing them what you know.

#8, If you are hungover, injured, sick, or sunburnt, Do your training partners a favour and don’t train. Simply stay at home, a conscious effort needs to be made to turn up to training with the right attitude. Don’t turn up with an injury and have an expectation that people will want to train techniques with you,

#9, Treat your partner with respect. Your training partner is allowing you to use their body to practice techniques. Show them every respect and don’t do anything that may injure or potentially injure your training partner. idiots that cause injury are often shown the door or soon discover that no one wishes to train with them. Bear in mind that it is a privilege for someone to train Wing Chun with you, not a right.

#10, Pull back on the F and other abusive words. In your own home or workplace you may love to curse or blaspheme. To do so in the Kwoon is considered disrespectful to both your Sifu, fellow students and the founders and liniage of Wing Chun. Don’t be the student that has to be given the quiet word from the Sifu to not to act like an idiot.

#11. Don’t make Anti-Asian or Anti-Chinese statements or remarks. Gradings at the top level in Wing Chun are routinely conducted in China, As are world championships. If you are a racist or have a dislike of other races, Wing Chun is not going to be for you.

#12, If the Sifu asks “who has strong wrists”?, try not to answer.. 🙂

#13, On the subject of wrists, – “if the Sifu asks ‘what would you like to work on today’, don’t say ‘wrist locks‘. the rest of your class mates will hate you for it! 🙂

#14, If you are called out the front of class to do a technique, perform it quickly! – Standing there like a deer caught in the headlights will ensure the technique is performed on you, potentially several times over!

#15, if you have the misfortune to have a partner that does act like a muppet, – this can be a great opportunity to call the instructor over (whilst moving behind your partner) and let them know that you don’t really understand how the Wing Chun wrist and elbow locks work… Repeat until your partner repents! 🙂

#16, Above all, enjoy making new friends and learning something new! – Ip man is quoted as having said “We all have inner demons to fight. We call these demons ‘fear’, and ‘hatred’, and ‘anger’. If you don’t conquer them, then a life of a hundred years… is a tragedy. If you do, a life of a single day can be a triumph.” What you do with Wing Chun and where it takes you comes down to what you want to commit and put into it. Train hard, learn from your Sifu and train your body, above all, enjoy yourself in the process!

 

Having the courage to change your life.

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Many people look at their lives and are not pleased by what they see. Comedian Billy Connolly once toured Australia and made the following observation. “Australian’s are funny people, often they live in a house they don’t particularly like, work at a job they dont particularly like, drive a car they dont particuarly like and are often married to someone they dont particularly like..

Sadly that pretty much sums up the lives of many people, just simply existing day to day and stuck in the same old routine day in and day out. Yet at the same time, many people wish to break out of those ruts and try something new. If you follow the posts here you may be familiar with the “Aikido for Over 40’s” post that chronicles my own decision to begin training in Aikido at over 40. https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/aikido-for-over-40s/ This was not an easy decision, simply leaving the house and turning up to training is hard enough on its own and i recognise that is the case for many of the readers here. With that in mind I would like to speak with you about what you can do to break out of the rut and embrace the changes you want to make in your life.

#1 Ask yourself what it is that you really want to achieve in life? Make a list if that works for you, realistic goals and dreams combined. Do you want to learn Martial Arts or train in a Combat System like Krav Maga? A new career perhaps, a Holiday overseas? The list of options can be endless, yet give it a go and make your list.

#2 Take your list and make a separate piece of paper for each goal that you have written down, here comes the interesting part. For each goal, write down how it is that you are going to achieve that goal. It may be that you have to seek the advice of a third party, well go do that and round out your list with exactly what your plans are going to be.

#3 Look over your list, choose a smaller goal and go and do it. Maybe its to lose 5kg (2 1/2lb) of weight. Take the step out and make it happen. Achieving a goal can become addictive, take something that you realistically can do, write it down and have a go at it.

#4 Follow on with harder goals on your list, If you have goals that require money, get to work on a savings fund and incrementally save towards it. The Dave Ramsey site is a great way to get started to learn about getting rid of debt and accumulating savings for your goals and dreams. – http://www.daveramsey.com/home/

#5 Stand up and fight. Be it Krav Maga, Aikido or any other system, we are taught to face our challenges and overcome them. If you would like some encouragement go look into the founders quotes of these systems – Imi Litchtenfeld and Morihei Ueshiba. These men faced various challenges to be where they are and their quotes are incredibly helpful to people today. As Rory Miller points out above, your body will resist change and if you cannot beat this battle in your mind, you will remain in the prison that you currently find yourself in.

You may not like change, few people really do, yet the benefits can be endless once you realise that you are no longer in the rut that you once found yourself in. Why not test this out with one of the smaller goals and have a go and see for yourself!

Training when you are broke

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So what happens if you are keen to learn self defence or take martial arts / combat training if you are down on your luck and out of cash?

This is a problem that affects more people than perhaps many of us realise, it can also be the reason that some of those faces that you used to see at your club are no longer there any more, although if you meet them in the street they are unlikely to tell you that is the case. There is no shame to me in admitting that you are struggling financially, yet to many others, the social stigma is incredibly hard to overcome.

So as usual for dontmakemeangrymrmcgee, here comes another # list of action points about what you can do about it.

#1 GET THE RIGHT HELP, I can’t stress this enough, This is the most important point, suck up your pride and get help to address the situation that you now find yourself in. DO NOT go to a payday lender nor a company that will deal with all your creditors on a payment plan, – you pay a hefty fee and their own bill is the first bill paid on your weekly repayments. The best way is to phone a telephone counselling service such as Lifeline or the Samaritans or similar and go in for free financial counselling. This wont solve your financial problems initially, but it will put you onto a plan to work through them and put the light back on at the end of your tunnel. When you get back on your feet you can always make them a donation in gratitude for their help, or volunteer there yourself to help others.

#2 Lose weight. – Vicious Circle, you put on weight because you are depressed, you are depressed because you are struggling financially. You eat junk food to make you feel better not realising that eating this crap leads to depression and drags you down. You shut yourself away and stop doing the things you enjoy and remain in a destructive spiral. Recognise what is happening to you and find a way to break that destructive cycle. I suspect that you know what to do to lose weight, don’t let it go until a health problem makes it worse. Sometimes you need to get up off the couch, go to the fridge and dump the lot and then go for a walk. Break the cycle right there and then.

#3 Physical Training and Weight Lifting can cost nothing. Set yourself up with the right programme. Google “Lou Ferrigno” who was awarded Mr Universe in his early 20’s and read about the financial hardship that he grew up in and what he did to manufacture his own weights. If you can access some small cash, a second hand pulley, rope and a bucket from a scrap yard gives your “pull” exercises to go with your push weight training exercises. Concrete or rocks poured into buckets and weighed can give you a functional set of weights. Again if you have some cash to put into it, A pawnbroker or second hand store is a good place to get a bar and you get the weights as you can afford them. – and get training!

#4 Newbies will always struggle to learn a Martial Art or Combat System from a Book or DVD. The only people I know that have ever really done okay at this are people that are already experienced martial artists and have some idea of what they are doing and what the instructor is trying to get across to them. Be very cautious about buying these types of books or DVD’s on eBay as it is easy to get caught up in it and waste your money. The exception to this is a copy of John Hansen’s “Natural Bodybuilding” which is the best book for newbies to weight training that you can invest your money into.

#1- #4 round out your preparatory training to get into the momentum to start training, #5- #7 round out our list on beginning formal training.

#5 Make a List of the Marital Arts / Combat Systems you would like to study. What you are about to quickly discover is that the most popular martial art systems are also the most expensive.. As it ceases to be popular and the students drop away it will find the right pricing level. As a guide in Australia, – Krav Maga, Kapap, Systema, Muay Thai and Brazillian Jujitsu are amongst the highest costed systems to train in. If your desired martial art is out of your price range, you will need to prepare a list and look at what you may be able to train in with a purpose to lead you to where you want to be over a time period set by your counselling in #1. Karate, Aikido, Judo, Taekwondo and Boxing are some examples that often can  be priced lower than your chosen art. I would encourage you to look at the syllabus for each of them and see where it can take you, as a guide, Krav Maga uses techniques from all of these as do others.

#6 Pick up your Yellow Pages, Internet guide and make a list of NOT FOR PROFIT martial arts training centres in your local area. Down at my local YMCA they have a Jujitsu Sensei that trains a class there for $10 per casual visit. This will give you your break falling skills, joint locks, throws and some striking. Not a bad way to get started into martial arts or combat systems. In the outer northern suburbs of my city I know of a small not for profit Karate dojo that trains all manner of people in a community centre. If Karate Striking and Kicking works for you then its another great way to get started. Be prepared however to invest back into the club with training others when the time comes.

#7 Going on from your list, make a list of Dojo – Training Centres that have Casual Training as an option or a 10 visit card option. There is a Taekwondo group in my city that runs $10 training sessions on a casual basis to anyone that wants to train. Many Dojos will not allow casual training as they want what they perceive to be commitment, yet if you are unable to invest into a contract, training casual as you can come up with the coin for it will work for you. The bonus being if you like the club, when you get back on your feet you can always join with a contract if you wish later on.

The easier option is to stay at home, stuck in depression and do nothing at all. Yet it is my view that physical training and training in martial arts or combat systems is a good way to break out of the rut that you find yourself in. Making the decision to change may be the hardest step in this whole process, yet if you can break that cycle and step out and have a go, the next three months really can change your life.

#8 Addendum for Dojo / Gym Owners. Times are always tough and I know that you have significant bills to pay to run your training along with your desire to promote your martial art or combat system. Getting new students and retaining new students is hard work. Yet at the same time, getting the right group in that want to be long term commitments to your training centre is what takes your training to the next level as you build your core group. If someone is missing pick up your phone and give them a call, Perhaps you do not have Casual Visits, yet as a Sensei / Instructor it is your right to change the rules at any given time for the right student. Letting someone come once a week for a small fee is better than losing that person for good. Often financial pressure is short term and can be worked around if you are open to discussing this kind of thing and working out an arrangement that may help people train with you. Go back in your mind over the students that have come and gone, despite what they have said, could it be because they are broke and embarrassed to let you know? – This could be a great opportunity to make some calls and win some students back with your own judgement about what to do next!

The only defence against evil

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I would like to put this quote to you to see if you agree or disagree,

“The only defence against evil, violent people is good people who are more skilled at violence”. Rory Miller.

It is my view that this is true and has been proven to be true over and over again throughout history. At the same time I feel that those that worship the political left cant accept this truth and that is why there is so much killing and violence today in Syria and Iraq. If conservatives were running the government when ISIL rose up, they would have flattened them outright and people would have died to save the many. Because the leftists cant use war or killing to solve the problem of violence in Syria and Iraq, we face a situation where many more men women and children are being slaughtered accordingly.

The movie “Hotel Rwanda” is another good example of UN inaction that led to rampant mass murder. It was only ended when the neighbouring country sent their army in and overpowered those slaughtering the people of Rwanda.

I can go on with example after example along these lines, yet if you would like to have a go and prove me wrong and suggest that the quote above is wrong, please jump in and have a go. I would love to hear your thoughts on how the political left can in fact bring peace to the world without killing anyone?