Lessons from the Mats: The Principles I Learned After Getting Thrown Under the Bus by a Training Center.

Some time ago, I decided to cross train for a while in another setting, with a couple of different styles. Being dedicated to Ninpo and my organization, I was looking for something to supplement my style. At first things went pretty well, I was getting to know the students and instructors, and beginning to feel comfortable in the environment. Then, something happened and suddenly I was “let out of my contract.” Of course, my initial reaction was shock and dismay. The incident involved me and another student doing a difficult and high-level technique, that neither of us should have been doing. I started to lose control and torqued the other student’s shoulder a little too much, but did not actually injure her. I was basically told I was dangerous and a liability and was not welcome back to their school.

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The Inner Life of The Martial Artist

Every person has an internal life. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs, imagination, and etc take place in the mind. Our experiences and personality shape our inner life which in turn frames both our perception and response. Depending on stage of life, levels of stress, beliefs and resiliency one’s internal life can be rich and full or fairly shallow.

This is good news for everyone.

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Monday’s Martial Madness: How to Succeed at Life- The Martial Arts Edition.

Of all the tenets of life, the martial arts has the most preposterous amount of life-altering sayings and philosophies. There are thousands of years, and masters, from whom we’ve derived myriad high-falutin’ ideologies that can, and do, change your life for the better and actually SUCCEED like Chuck Norris, who apparently succeeds without even trying.

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Lineage and Legitimacy, The Imposing Twin Peaks of Martial Arts.

In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?

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Calm Aggression: A Paradoxical Reality of the Martial Arts

I was working with a young girl who I knew struggled with being aggressive in her sparring.  It was just her and me for that particular class so I could slow things down and explain some concepts that she had not intuited yet in her training.  I mean, she’s pretty young, so this concept wouldn’t have occurred to her anyway.  Whenever she sparred with the other students she would get overwhelmed, particularly if one young boy was her partner and freeze in response. We talked about what it means to be aggressive, she gave me a list of definitions that were most centered on being physically aggressive, I added really going after something and a couple of other ideas to the list.  Then we talked about remaining calm while sparring and what that looked like.  I told her that she could be both calm, and aggressive, at the same time.  She was skeptical of that idea. Through a series of exercises I proved that it was possible, and apparently that was a game changer for her according to her dad.

At this point in my training, certain things have become instinctual so I barely think about them until I’m faced with a higher level of danger or commitment.  Being calm, but aggressive is one of those things. It dawned on me after class that being calm AND aggressive at the same time in the face of danger is a bit of a paradox.  The terms seem mutually exclusive and opposites.  How can one remain calm, yet be also aggressive during a fight, or sparring, or during testing?  

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Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast: The Learning Curve

Lately I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with a new white belt during class.  We are working through his first kyu (belt) level so he can complete his first test. Last night we were working on his punching and kicking techniques when Sensei came over to help my fellow student smooth out some parts of his punching technique.  He said to the student, “Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast.”  Our instructor often says he would rather us take our time learning the technique and do it correctly than be fast and hard but doing the technique incorrectly.  Incorrect movement leads to injury, or being defeated.

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The Deluded: The Most Dangerous Enemy in the Martial Arts

During a TV show, the bad guys were discussing an upcoming event.  One of the bad guys made a comment about people who are deluded.  The other responded with something to the effect that we can’t let the deluded run the show.  Delusion happens to anyone and everyone.  The only ingredient needed is resolute faith in something no matter the actual evidence.  On an episode of Dr. Phil a woman said she was 1000% percent convinced that she was pregnant with multiple babies and had been pregnant for multiple years.  She even believed she had more than one uterus.  It didn’t matter if top notch OB/GYN’s did ultrasounds, blood work, or anything else that conventionally shows pregnancy.  She didn’t care about the evidence, she only believed what she wanted to believe.

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